Pylon Brawling – Dan Kaggelis September 2016

When it comes to fishing manmade structures there little which compares to the oyster encrusted pylons of a jetty or wharf. Pylons provide the perfect home for all types of baitfish which in turn attract an array of piscatorial predators.

Pylons have so much more to offer than any other fishing structure because of their unique ability to cover the entire water column. This essentially means they provide habitat for bottom dwelling baitfish, mid water baitfish and those that hang around the surface. As a result of this unique bait attracting ability pylon structure not only draws in bottom dwelling demersels but also mid water and top water pelagics along with just about everything else which swims in the ocean. Pylons also provide consistent cover all year round unlike natural structures such as reefs which can be damaged by rough weather or cyclones. Also unlike natural reefs where bait and fish move around, these manmade structures become permanent homes for large concentrations of bait due to their resilience which makes them a magnet for hungry predators. This bait source consistency can be so strong that even migratory species such as Spanish mackerel can become resident fish. When you combine all these factors it is easy to see why jetties and their pylons provide a veritable smorgasbord of fishing opportunities for the angler. It’s of little wonder why some of the best fishing spots in the world are not your natural coral atolls or sea mounts but manmade structures such as loading jetties, oil rigs or similar man made pylon supported structures. Thankfully there are several of these structures which line our coast and the following is a ‘how to’ to successfully tangle with some serious pylon predators.

One of the first things you need to understand about fishing these structures especially larger ones which are offshore and not land based is expect the unexpected. Forget about time of year or seasonal species, these spots hold all types of fish all year round because they are a veritable piscatorial supermarket. When considering what gear to bring and whether you should go light or heavy its best to bring just about everything you have as you will have the opportunity to use it because of the vast array of species you could potentially target. Starting with top water fishing these spots are renowned for holding some of our best surface target species in particular the mighty giant trevally. The criss cross myriad of pylon structures provide the perfect home for extra over sized GT’s to patrol and hunt. This is because of the way the current and tide push onto the structure which in turn condenses bait fish which makes for an easy feed for these brutes. Moving into the mid water fishing and jigging options you can expect to tangle with the likes of trevally, queen fish, cobia and the various mackerel species including the mighty Spanish mackerel. Not to be outdone, the bottom dwelling bait fishing and jigging can see the tasty delights of coral trout, golden snapper and even saddle tail snapper. Reading through this it is pretty amazing to think you can be fishing in a single spot and have so many options and species available and this is what makes it so awesome. This is why it pays to have a variety of rod and reel combinations so you can make the most of what is feeding at the time.

This moves into the next important understandings about fishing this structure and that is the role of tide and current. Tide and current are basically the two biggest factors which affect the feeding patterns around pylons. When the tide begins to run it is common for a current to push onto an edge of the jetty or wharf creating what is often called a pressure point. It is at these pressure points where bait will be pushed together in tight balls which in turns create sets of a feeding reaction from predatory fish. Sometimes these bait balls are really obvious especially when they are chopping on the surface. This is why it is best to always target fish when the tide is running as slack water will see bait spread far and wide amongst the pylons making predatory fish lethargic and disinterested. The first run of the tide whether it is coming in or running out is always the optimum time to be wetting a line amongst the pylons and the more run the better.
Finding bait is the next important factor and having a good quality sounder is an absolute must. Being able to sound up these tight balls of bait will quickly get you on the fish because where you find bait is where you will find fish. The larger the concentration of bait the better chance you have of finding larger concentrations of fish. It is always best to start at one end of the jetty and work your way to then end to see where the bait hot spots are. Sometimes the bait can be a way off the main structure as well so doesn’t be in too much of a hurry to wet a line and it really does pay to do a bit of searching and investigating first.
Having a sounder which also shows up fish will also provide the perfect snapshot of a bait ball feeding frenzy.
Being able to interpret your sounder is also important as this will tell you what types of fish are feeding on the bait and therefore what types of techniques or lures to use.
The final aspect of chasing pylon predators revolves around techniques and lure choice. When it comes to choosing what techniques to employ around the pylons its hard to beat jigging. For bottom predators slow pitch jigging using large flat metals such as Palms Slow Blatt which flutter on the drop in the bottom third of the water column is really effective. The reason why slow pitched metals are so effective is because silver sided bait fish like small trevally, wolf herring are in abundance in these areas and when these fish are torn to shreds by toothy predators mid water bottom dwellers are quick to pick up the scraps which float to the bottom. This is why it does pay to jig underneath mid water bait schools.
Soft plastics are also very effective in particular medium sized grubs and jerk shads. Working them as close to the pylon structure is highly recommended for chasing bottom fish like trout and golden snapper with a small gentle lift technique recommended. When using soft plastics for mid water predators like Queen fish and mackerel it is best to work them as erratically as possible and don’t give up until your plastic is out of the water as they will often swipe it right at the boat. High speed jigging with metals is also a terrific idea and this will attract the likes of the larger predators such as Spanish mackerel. Dropping your metal jigs right over bait schools and working them back as fast as possible is the key to success here. When it comes to top water large stick baits and poppers are the best choice and the bigger the better!
Finally comes the all important gear choice. When fishing tight to the pylons it can be very much a locked drag affair so loading for bear is a wise choice. However you can still fish light if you use a high quality leader such as Sunline FC100 which will withstand contact with the structure. Most of the mid water pelagic such as the macks and queen fish fight clean, however your surface GT and bottom dwelling trout love the sanctuary of their pylon homes so be prepared to grab that spool and hang on.
Chasing pylon predators is an awesome fishing experience. These man made structures are in every essence true adventure angling play grounds and are certainly worth a visit.