How To Get A Buried Fish Out Of Mangroves & Dock Pilings


Catching fish can be an emotional rollercoaster.

One moment, when you see the rod double over and hear the drag scream, you’re on cloud nine…

The next moment, when you realize the fish is headed towards structure and there’s nothing you can do to stop him, “Oh, yeah!” turns to, “Oh NO!” in an instant.

Will the fish, by some miracle, find his way out of the structure, still hooked, with your line still intact?

Or will your line graze the edge of an oyster and get sliced in two, leaving the fish to swim off with a free lunch?

This is a tough situation for any angler, but if you want to increase your chances of landing the fish, there are several things you can do.

Want to see what they are?

Watch the video below where I battle a big fish in the mangroves and talk through how to get him out.

(P.S. I was not expecting to catch one of these fish here!)

How to Get Fish Out Of Mangroves & Docks [VIDEO]

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What a nice surprise!

Another species added to Salt Strong’s upcoming lure, the Slam Shady white paddletail.


If you want to increase your chances of not getting broken off and landing a fish that’s got you stuck in the mangroves, rocks or a dock, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Lighten up on the pressure as soon as you feel the line rubbing on something
    • If you pull harder like your instinct will tell you to do, the line will most likely break
  2. As soon as you feel the fish moving, resume the light pressure to softly guide it out
    • The goal is to make it feel like the easiest path is to follow its tracks back out
  3. Remember that this might take a few times of gaining a few inches, then losing the fish under cover again, but patience pays off big time if you can land the fish!
  4. Once you see the line moving to the side or you stop feeling the rubbing, then it’s time to put the pressure back on

Have any questions about getting a fish out of heavy structure?

Or have any other strategies for getting yourself out of a situation like this?

Let me know in the comments below!

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Victor Gatell
3 years ago

Going back to reef bottom fishing, when snappers would go in the rocks hooked and sit, we would play the line like a guitar string in the hopes the vibration would bother the fish and bring him out. It did work very nicely because if you panic, they break you off.

4 years ago

Luke, Great tip. A very good guide down here also puts his rod tip way down, sometimes in the water. Great.. I think this has happened to all of us. Thank you, Tom Watts, Naples, Fl.

Lenny Grimando
4 years ago

Hey Luke, Just to verify, are you using mono exclusively for mangroves, or for all of your fishing situations?

David Stoots
4 years ago

Sometimes they get so far back in the mangrove roots you’re only option is to get out of the boat! Once when fishing the east side of the Everglades National Park, I thew to a snook right at the edge of the mangroves. She ate right away and then turned to swim back in among the roots and tangles. I opened the bail and we maneuvered the skiff closer to the mangroves. My partner Shannon got in the water and proceeded to part the mangroves and untangle the line until the fish had a straight shot out–and she made a beeline! I closed the bail and fought the fish and successfully landed her!

Steven Free
4 years ago

I have found that if your fishing alone it’s tougher but if your with someone and if the fish is on the other side of where you are I had a jack do that to me and took off on the opposite side of the dock and it was running strong so I got up on the dock and i had my girlfriend hold the rod and then handed it to me and I fought the fish but if alone I have found that if the fish has not wrapped completely around a piling steady pressure but light usually for me they seem to follow the angle that the pressure comes from and a lot of the time will come out from under the dock where I can fight the fish thanks for the tip like and if coarse with ole it is you could always send him under the structure and I’m sure he would get the fish for you ha ha love it thanks great video????

James Wilkinson
4 years ago

There is no X in especially.

Roy B
4 years ago

I am a relative newcomer to backcountry saltwater fishing and have found the learning curve to be much more intensive than I thought it would be. After six years of learning I am finally at a point where I can go out and find Snook consistently. What I cannot do is land the bigger Snook near Mangroves. I lost two 30+ inch Snook in the Mangroves just yesterday. This video came at exactly the right time for me. I will definitely try this technique and maybe I can finally start to land the big girls. Thanks, Salt Strong!

Teresa McCullough
4 years ago

Great tip, I have had to do that many times around docks with the kayak because the fish will pull you to them before you can get your anchor down and sometimes it is good not to get your anchor down and just go to the fish.

Pablo Diaz
4 years ago

Great tip
Nice to see Otis


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