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A look at the keys to unlocking the secrets of targeting breakwall blackfish.
By Joseph Cassone
Tags: inshore

The civil engineers that designed the breakwalls that line New England’s coast did so in order to create calm harbors for the shipping trade. They unknowingly created prime pieces of blackfishing structure that present a unique angling challenge. Breakwalls are among the biggest pieces of structure available to inshore anglers. It can be daunting at first to decide where to anchor up on a pile of rock that’s over a mile long. Finding the “spot on the spot” is the key to being the boat cheering with double-headers.

Most breakwalls are constructed out of large slabs of rock stacked on top of each other. The large overlapping rocks don’t stack perfectly even and create a complex habitat of pockets and crevices. This is an ideal habitat for blackfish as it provides the cover and the food that they need. In addition to the structure, breakwalls offer sharp changes in depth. To borrow a cliché, what we see of a breakwall is merely the tip of the iceberg. From the visible portion of the breakwall downward to bottom the pile of stones extends horizontally creating a steep rocky slope. Depending on the time of season blackfish can be found in holes anywhere along this slope.

A good strategy is to start on the shallow edge of where you suspect the blackfish are hanging and methodically fish down the slope to dial in on their exact depth. Blackfish generally move deeper as the water cools later in the season. All the usual blackfish baits will shine at breakwalls. It’s tough to beat a half of a fresh cut green crab or a whole Asian shore crab. If you happen to be friendly with a lobstermen you might be able to score a few hermit crabs which are a supreme bait.

I have noticed that breakwalls create very different current conditions than what are occurring through out the rest of an area. When current strikes an obstacle it is deflected 90 degrees away in another direction. This phenomenon is most commonly seen in rip lines, where the current collides with the edge of a reef and is forced up and over the reef. Breakwalls are different from reefs in that the water is unable to go up and over them and is deflected parallel to their length. Due to their very large size breakwaters create a different localized pattern of current as it is deflected. This alternate current collides with the primary current pattern at the end of the wall creating an unpredictable swirling current. While this creates excellent fishing conditions it poses a challenge in terms of boat positioning.

Some of the breakwalls are over a mile long so deciding where to drop anchor can be more difficult than Brett Favre deciding if he is going to retire. The ends of a breakwall are top spots. The swirling currents over the rocky point produce an ideal fishing spot. The end of the breakwall acts like a rocky point extending out into the sea. The current sweeps through the rocky holes and brings the fish all the crabs they could eat. As the tide really starts to crank I always felt that blackfish move deeper into their holes and are less apt to roam. When this happens I try to bounce my sinker around and probe into the pockets.

The ends of the breakwater are also great striper spots. While blackfishing we usually throw a chunk of bunker out on an extra rod and this often turns into a bonus bass. It’s no secret to savvy anglers that the end is a great spot to find a pile of tog. You are likely to encounter a number of boats on the end; be sure to use good etiquette and don’t anchor right on top of another boat. There are other spots along breakwalls that receive much less pressure and can be just as productive.

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