Boaters often view bridges as obstacles, but pro Mike Iaconelli says they can be beneficial if you approach them with the right mindset. Snook, tarpon, big jacks, and barracuda often swim beneath or around bridges when sight fishing for flats or cruising the backwaters. With the right attitude in place, bridges offer excellent opportunities to fish for snook, tarpon, big jacks or barracuda from above or below water.
Bridge pilings provide a prime ambush point for bass, while some rock slides and riprap embankments create natural ambush points for these fish.
Constant Water Flow
Bass fisherman often flock to river systems where bridges bring an ever-present water flow. From current breaks and structure to rips in the sand or food flushed down drains, this water movement provides a natural habitat for many species.
Anglers fishing by boat will find that the constant water flow is an advantage, helping guide their bait more naturally across the zone. This is especially helpful for those trying to pinpoint strike zones.
Water under bridges tends to be shallower than the surface level, making it essential to space your bait correctly. Therefore, a leader of 30 lb fluorocarbon should be chosen, preferably on top of braided main line for best results.
Braid material is not only resistant to abrasion and highly sensitive, but it’s more durable than monofilament when snagging on marine growth such as oysters, mussels, barnacles or scallops. No matter the application – from oysters and mussels to barnacles and scallops – braid is your go-to material for success.
In the autumn, when tides begin to recede, bridges can be prime spots for bass to ambush shad as they head up creeks and into deeper waters. At these times, pilings on bridge causeways act as pinch points that funnel baitfish into a tight space where bass will ambush them on either side of the current.
Therefore, the ideal time to fish under bridges is during moderate tides, typically during full and new moon cycles. If possible, avoid fishing during quarter moons, which are much less productive.
One of the most productive bridge fishing techniques involves using a diving plug to target eddies formed as the tide drifts through the channel. It’s an effective way to attract many species, from large grouper to snook and bass.
Another tactic involves fishing the edges of rock piles, reefs and channel edges. As the tide drifts a diving plug into these structures, you can pull it across to attract various types of fish.
Other important bridge fishing tips aside, it’s imperative to remember that safety always comes first and that anglers should abide by all navigational channels and abutments regulations. This includes not anchoring in an established navigation channel and fishing on or around any bridge fender system, navigational marker or fixed bouy.
Changing Water Quality
As watersheds in the Roanoke River basin expand with population growth and development, various concerns could negatively affect water quality. These include habitat degradation from stormwater runoff, fish tissue contamination, and toxic pollutants.
Dissolved Oxygen (DO) is another essential element for the health of surface waters. Unfortunately, concentrations can fluctuate due to temperature, depth, and turbulence – especially in places like the Roanoke River basin, where a large floodplain drainage system and flow management from upstream impoundments can influence DO levels.
Fish populations can be adversely affected by changes to water quality conditions due to changes in hydrologic regimes, such as stream channelization or dam removal. These processes alter the natural riparian environment of streams and may result in reduced aquatic vegetation and higher suspended sediment concentrations.
Fish species such as striped bass, steelhead, salmon and trout may all be affected by changes in water temperatures; this stress could prove fatal for their survival and growth.
In addition to climate change’s effects, an ever-increasing population is living near watersheds. This growth strains existing infrastructure and necessitates municipalities to implement stormwater management policies and enforcement tactics to reduce polluted urban runoff.
DWQ conducts biological assessments of streams and monitors their water quality to address these challenges. This data helps them decide if a waters is within an acceptable range for its intended use.
For instance, DWQ issues fish consumption advisories for specific species to inform fishermen that fishing in waters with this designation is safe and to help them make informed decisions about when and where to fish. With these advisories, people are informed about when it’s safe to fish in these designated waters and can decide when and where to venture out to catch dinner.
In addition to monitoring, DWQ evaluates how waters with consumption advisories are utilized and suggests they be lifted as necessary. As part of this process, DWQ staff works closely with local agencies to guarantee these waters are being utilized responsibly to minimize any negative effects on their water quality.
Rip currents can occur on any beach with breaking waves, but they are most often formed near low spots and breaks on sandbars or around structures like jetties and piers. They may be narrow or extend in width up to hundreds of yards.
Rip Currents can be extremely dangerous, particularly for unseasoned or inexperienced swimmers. According to the United States Lifesaving Association, approximately 100 deaths yearly are attributed to these powerful, channeled currents.
Rip currents move at approximately 1-2 feet per second and can sweep people away into the sea before they even realize what’s happening.
Experienced or fearful swimmers might try to fight the current, leading to exhaustion and drowning. Keep calm and swim parallel to shore in both directions to escape a rip current.
If you can’t swim to shore, float or tread water until the current subsides. Then turn and swim towards shore with someone else nearby if possible.
When you spot a rip current, look for some of these telltale signs: A streak of water with a different color than its surroundings (lighter or darker depending on sunlight angle), which may appear like a river floating away from shore through breaking waves.
A gap in advancing breakers where the rip current is pushing out to sea, or a line of foam stretching from beach to offshore.
Rip currents typically range in color from white to green, and their motion differs from that of regular wave patterns. Depending on where they originate from, they appear muddier and narrower than approaching waves.
When fishing under a bridge, it is essential to watch out for any signs of rip currents. Even if you consider yourself an experienced swimmer, being aware of these hazards and avoiding areas with high risk for rip currents will increase your safety.
Fish Wait at Shadow Lines
At night, overhead lights create shadow lines along the water’s surface that serve as staging and ambush points for tarpon, who feed on baitfish or shellfish.
According to the location and tide, bait can accumulate in shallows or along the center of a bridge near its navigation channel fender system. Tarpon often stage around these concentrations of bait, so targeting areas with high activity is an effective strategy for targeting this species.
Fishing shadow lines with the current is one of the most effective tactics for catching tarpon off bridges. This strategy works whether the bridge is in deep water or shallows, provided the current is flowing properly.
Once you’ve located the shadow line, skip cast your bait towards it. Alternatively, use a small jig to present your baits into the shadow.
You’ll want to bring heavy tackle when fishing shadow lines. This will make bringing up fish from the depths much easier. Additionally, you may need to increase your hook size and sinker weight to keep the lure at the desired depth.
As a general guideline, heavier sinkers are best for deeper waters while lighter ones work well in shallower ones. However, always consult your local guide before determining which sinker and weight works best depending on the fish species you plan to target.
Another essential consideration is that tarpon is typically caught during early morning or sunset hours. This is because they wait for smaller forage species, such as pinfish and mullet, to feed on them while the tide moves in the opposite direction.
Snook are frequently observed under bridges, waiting for small fish to swim or float with the tide to feed on. That is why you may see snook fishing along shadow lines in the early morning or at sundown.
To catch snook under bridges, you must first cast your lure a bit away from the shadow line. This will enable your bait to sway naturally with the tide until the snook catches up to it.