Saltwater fishing is an extremely diverse topic. There are so many ways to do it – with a spinning rod and reel, with a spear, with your bare hands, with cages and nets, even with a fly rod.
Though there are many legal methods of taking fish, there is one way that is extremely easy, simple and fruitful, that you might have never heard of, and that’s poke poling.
Oceans have been fished since the dawn of time; for fun, for survival and for profit. One of the most interesting things about fishing our oceans is also the diverse array of species down there. Think of all the great tasting aquatic life that you have never even heard of.
With a poke pole, an angler can catch a variety of underwater rock dwelling critters. It is most common to catch eels and rock fish, however, I’ve witnessed a ling cod and an octopus pulled up from a jetty.
So here’s a crash course in fishing with a poke pole. If, along the way, you think that it sounds too simple, then you are right on track.
Get a poke pole
My favorite poke pole, the collapsible “Wonder Pole” by Shakespeare, can be found in a forgotten bin or backroom of a fishing store within 30 miles of a rocky coastline. Retail is about 15 or 20 bucks for a 10-footer. You can drop the extra buck or two for a 12-footer, but only if you are properly trained to handle that much “poke polage.”
A few extra feet could definitely help, depending on where you go, but I usually go cheap with the 10-footer because they are prone to breaking after a few uses. If you are in a pinch, you can even use a long flexible stick, or a long piece of wire – the possibilities are endless. Be sure to pick up some decent fishing line, a few hooks and some frozen squid.
Pro tip: Buy 2 so you can poke with a friend whom you’ve convinced into a “day at the beach.” That way you also have a back up poke pole.
Find Some Rocks
A rocky jetty will be your best bet. They tend to stretch out into the ocean and offer a habitat for fish to squeeze into. Any steep pile of rocks, descending into the ocean, tend to be fairly bountiful territory for a poke pole angler; just be sure that you can walk down and wedge your poke pole down into some crevasses. Be sure that you are fishing at a low tide – eel and rock fish are going to be found at the lower end of these rocks, so it is a common practice to poke pole at a low tide.
Rig up your pole and get to poking. At the end of the pole there is an eyelet for your leader – use a six inch leader of some relatively strong line, throw a hook on the end (size 2 works well), put a chunk of squid on there, and you are in business. Climb out on the jetty and stick that pole into any opening between rocks. Move the pole slowly and descend it as deep down as possible. You will be truly surprised how deep some of them go.
Give the pole a shake or two, wiggle it around, show off the appetizing squid at the end of it, and hold on tight. When you get a bite you will feel it. Its similar to the feeling of someone on the other end yanking on your poke pole. Pull that thing straight up and see whats on the other end. I like to put my catch into a burlap sack. It is also helpful to toss some salt on the eels to aid in a quick death and to get some of that slime off. Skin them out, make some delicious fresh sushi, invite some girls over, and blow them away with your clever methods of take.
Along with being an efficient method of scoring a fresh seafood meal on a budget, you will make a plethora of friends and become the most interesting/popular guy on that jetty. Don’t be surprised if the skunked fishermen watch in awe at your unique tactic, and ask for a quick lesson in the lost art of poke pole fishing.
Good luck and happy poking.
© Julespenney | Dreamstime.com – Jetty Rocks of Destin Harbor