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Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:17 pm
by kahmad
I am by no means an expert at anything, but I have caught my share of snook, tarpon, sharks, snapper etc around bridges with fast moving water. I feel like a lot of people don't understand the concept of the "stack" or don't know how useful it can be. I hope to help others learn the things it has taken me years to figure out for myself, because I sure as hell would have loved if someone had taught me when I first started.

We've all heard of fish "stacked up," but what exactly does this mean? It means there are multiple fish sitting in one place, waiting for food to come by. Fish stack up in areas with good water movement, because, obviously, this means more food will be passing by. Stacking up in fast current is the most efficient way for fish to eat - they expend virtually no energy chasing down their prey - it is literally swept into their mouths.

So how do we use this to our advantage? Well first off the fast current means the fish have a limited window of opportunity to eat so they won't be asking too many questions lest they miss their opportunity. Secondly, when fish are stacked up we can reliably predict where they will be sitting and how they will be oriented. The classic example is bridge fishing for snook. The fish will always be facing into the current and will be positioned in front of the structure. If there is a well defined shadow line, snook love to sit just shy of the lighted area, and down low. Additionally, any kind of bottleneck, like the freshwater culverts you see going under roads, are excellent places for fish to stack up around. In the case of a culvert, the fish can be both in front of and behind the culvert (so they will be facing into the current on both sides of the road. After a heavy rain when the spillways are open and the water is moving quickly through these culverts, you can catch many trophy largemouth bass, snook and tarpon by fishing these culverts.

Understanding the position of the fish is only part of the equation. The second part is figuring out the presentation. Any bait presented to stacked up fish will have to be the right size/shape as what the fish are expecting, will have to be fished at the right depth, and will have to be moving in a convincing manner. A lot of times when fishing with live mullet or live shrimp, the difference between a bite and a pass is if your live bait makes the right kind of movement (usually a desperate attempt to flee the predator) at the right time. A shrimp that is too lazy or a mullet that is too dead to bother trying to get away from the predator is useless. They will ignore it. Sometimes twitching the line a little just as you think the bait is approaching a stacked up fish will trigger the strike.

When dealing with bridges, like in the keys for example, how the fish will stack up dictates your preferred tidal movements. For example, channel two is absolutely useless to fish on an incoming tide because the tide is moving south to north - and the fishing bridge is to the north of the road bridge. You simply won't be able to present a bait to the fish that are facing into the current and in front of the road bridge. Long Key bridge, however, is the opposite. the fishing bridge is to the south of the road bridge, so you'll be able to fish long key bridge on an incoming tide. In my experience fish will eat on both an incoming and outgoing tide. They may be more finnicky on an incoming tide because of the clearer water but by downsizing your leader and being persistent you can coax them into a bite.

The last thing I want to mention is that a lot of bridges have sight fishing opportunities for stacked up fish. Seven Mile Bridge in marathon is a great example. If you go to seven mile bridge just before dark on a good outgoing tide (as in an hour or two after the high tide - that's when the water really starts to move) you can literally see the tarpon and sharks sitting there. This is the case for many bridges, especially in the keys. Throw a bait in front of them and let the current bring it back to you. With the right bait and the right presentation you will hook up - I guarantee it.

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:36 pm
by fishboy
Thanks for the informative post! This is really helpful!!

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:05 pm
by sepaik
Awesome post! :toast:

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:48 pm
by Green Tide
Thanks for taking the time for a great post. Makes me want to go now!

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Sun Nov 18, 2012 9:49 pm
by DigiCowboy
Great info - Thanks!

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:45 am
by BoatlessFisherman
Very good post, Thank you for sharing and many will benefit from your post. :toast: :toast:

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 6:59 am
by rshields
This was a great post. This is why we read this forum to get helpful tips from those sharing their experience.Thanks for taking the time and this will definitely help those who need tips on practical technique. I applaud your effort. Thanks :cheers:

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:00 am
by jezratty
great read!! thanks for all the info!! :toast:

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 1:34 pm
by gjb2107
Wow, many thanks. I'm new to the whole bridge fishing thing down here. This type of info is exactly why I joined the forum. Thank you!

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:27 pm
by swordfish
Oldie but goodie.. Should be a sticky. It is the vital key piece of information to fishing ANY and all structure... If you know and apply this to your fishing, your success rate WILL sky rocket! Most people who know about this keep it a well guarded secret.

-swordfish

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 5:37 pm
by Greensn95
Good post.

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:34 pm
by keepinitreel
not thats what Im talking about cant wait to hit the bridge at the keys up with all this useful knowledge and new gear :reeling:

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Fri Jan 11, 2013 10:38 pm
by YUDRAS
Great info! Thanks for the wisdom. :toast:

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2013 7:50 pm
by kahmad
You are all most welcome. I really feel like this is an important concept that people simply don't take into consideration. Of course presentation is always important, but if you keep casting to empty water or keep casting behind the fish you could have the latest most expensive lures on the market and still catch nothing but rocks.

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:15 pm
by Beeracuda
Sorry for firing up an old thread but now that I think I understand the concept of the stack, is there a particular rig and or lure that works best for fishing strong current? Also how do I make sure I'm fishing the right depth? Im definitely the guy that casts into current and hopes for the best, and sadly I'm usually just happy if I can get away with not getting hung up on something lol

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Sat Sep 14, 2013 12:08 am
by Username28
Wow....great article!

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2015 9:01 pm
by Green Tide
Should be plenty of current this weekend with the full moon.

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:20 am
by B.O.S.zzzz
Wish I had known this last night lol. Awesome write up!!

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:24 am
by Chasinpoons
This was very informtative! I am going to long key bridge soon and I will implement your tactics! Thanks!

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 10:41 am
by ELBRAVO
Great post! Thank you for sharing.

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:39 pm
by MaisonKZ
This post is great for newbie like me. Thanks for sharing.

Re: Fishing in Current - understanding the "stack"

PostPosted: Mon Apr 15, 2019 3:43 am
by BonFireBob
Have to agree with the rest - great post :-)