One thing you need to understand about the jetty is that it is a gateway, a portal between the endless openness of the Gulf and the more familiar inshore flats and waterways. Some jetties frame vast shipping thoroughfares, such as the Corpus Christi Ship Channel or the Houston Ship Channel. These channels are roughly 60 feet and 45 feet deep, respectively. To give you an idea of scale, this makes them deeper than the natural depth of the water over 10 miles offshore from my local area. Tens of millions of gallons of water flow in and out of these bottlenecks each day, providing a ready highway for fishy travelers. Offshore species such as cobia, jacks and spanish mackerel occasionally use this conduit to forage far up into the bay, while inshore gamefish like redfish and black drum require open passes to the gulf to successfully reproduce.
Standing on the end of the jetty during a strong outgoing tide, you can see the turbulence of the current as it rips out to sea. Given the presence of a strongly-blowing onshore breeze, you’ll see large standing waves form at the mouth of the jetty. I like to think of this dangerous phenomenon as a metaphor for the collision of the two totally different worlds; shallow water and estuary slamming into the seemingly infinite mass of the open ocean.
As a fisherman, when you stand on the end to the jetty and look out into the endless distance, it humbles you. For me, it also provides the thrill of the unknown and the spice of the unexpected. On any given cast, I could hook something different. This is the volatile mix that keeps me going back out to the punishing slabs of granite, but it doesn’t explain why I insist on handicapping myself by fly fishing. I suppose I’ll have to think about that and write about it later; for now though, I guess it has to do with pushing myself, testing boundaries. I think that is a big part of why any of us fly fish – proving something to ourselves and to each other. Maybe… maybe it goes back to respect of a difficult thing done well. I have it on good authority from several fishermen whom I deeply respect that fly fishing from the jetty is tantamount to rolling a rock up a never ending hill. I would disagree; instead of a rock, it’s an anvil that you’re trying to roll.
But oh, the what-ifs that exist. What if tomorrow is the day that a sailfish shows up on a baitball within casting distance, and I’m not there. What if a big tiger shark cruises the end of the rocks, pacing like its namesake land predator, before chasing a terrified tarpon down in a spray of blood and foam? What if I miss it!
On the jetty, at the unpredictable portal to the open ocean, you almost always should have been there yesterday.