In Fort Lauderdale, one of the best fishing methods is slow-trolling or drifting for massive fish that live near the ocean floor. This is called bottom fishing and it involves rigging tackle and baits that can reach the distance. Fish that feed along the bottom usually move deeper as they grow bigger. While you can catch nice sized snappers, groupers and jacks in the shallower reefs around Florida; you will catch them several times larger in deeper waters. In addition to this, you will be able to target some serious giants such as golden tilefish if you go to extreme depths off the Fort Lauderdale coast.
The biggest advantage of catching bottom feeders is the fact that most of them are utterly delicious. They are also incredibly powerful and will fight you through the depths of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. These fish live in structure such as wrecks, seamounts, underwater canyons and coral reefs. While the golden tilefish prefers soft muddy bottoms; groupers, snappers and amberjacks can be found in more thriving habitats. All of them enjoy sheltering themselves for protection. They will dart around ledges and rocks to find a hole big enough to accommodate them when the need arises. Along with super light tackle, this is the main reason why lines get cut off; and you will need to pull them out before they get in. If you lose your fish, then reeling your bait in to change or check it is a mammoth task when fishing deep waters. Here is some advice to help you catch enormous fish while bottom fishing in Fort Lauderdale:
Make no mistake; bottom dwellers are phenomenally powerful and they are true fighters. It is not advisable to use tackle that is too light. You will certainly los eall the big fish and maybe catch some smaller ones instead. Unless you are attempting a line-class record, we recommend heavier tackle:
- Use circle hooks that are two or three times the size of standard J hooks. Choose those that most resemble a complete circle. Ideally, the point of your circlehook should be positioned at about ninety degrees to the shank. This will drastically improve your hook-up ratio.
- Ensure your rods are capable of heavy duty. They need to easily handle a minimum braid of 100lbs.
- Use a minimum test line of 125lbs for your leaders. Check that there are no abrasions or nicks in the line or you will likely lose your fish.
- The weight you use will depend on how deep you are fishing and the strength of the current. It needs to go down as straight as possible.
- If you are going after deep water monsters such as tilefish, an underwater light may be helpful in attracting them to your bait.
The best bait to use is undeniably live or cut bait fish. You will catch a much larger number. However, lures also work well (especially if combined with cut baits). The fact that you are jigging your lures means that you will feel the bite sooner. This will give you an immediate advantage when preventing the fish from hiding in structure.
- Live baits include pinfish, blue runners, squid, shrimp, mullet, skipjacks and more. Any fish that lives in their environment and makes up their common diet will get your fish biting. They move around in a distressed manner, attracting every fish in the area.
- Cut baits are effective because they release blood into the water. The smell will tempt any fish out of hiding.
- Lures are shiny, noisy and colorful. Use heavy lures in the 7oz range that move erratically.
Depending on what you are targeting, you can start fishing further up the water column. Some enormous amberjacks and snappers can be caught some distance from the bottom. Grouper are primarily caught a few feet from the ocean floor. Here are some techniques that will increase your chances of catching extraordinarily large fish in Fort Lauderdale:
This method works extremely well, provided you are trolling slowly. Simply drop your rigged bait a few feet from the ocean floor and cruise in a grid pattern to cover as much area as possible.
This involves switching off your motor and either drifting with the current or anchoring your boat. You will need to watch the current so that you move with it over the habitat, instead of away from it. Use lighter weights when using this method, especially when the current is not overly strong.
If using lures, you will need to imitate the movement of natural prey fish. Jigs are designed to move in a manner that wins much of the battle for you. Try different jigging techniques and play around with various lures. Sometimes the fish will bite on upward jerks that are long and sharp; other times they may prefer short erratic jerks.
You are able to understand the underwater terrain by bouncing lipped plugs along the bottom while trolling. Grass flats, mud flats, rocky seamounts and more can actually be felt through your gear. Knowing what lies beneath you will help you figure out which fish are likely to be there. It is also important to search for fish as well. Move around in a pattern that allows you to search the area. When the fish are biting, you know where they are.
- Handling the Big Fish
It is imperative that you do not give the fish any leeway once they are hooked. They will attempt to cut you off and snap your line. Braided line offers some protection from sharp, rough edges; but it is better to avoid them at every opportunity. Keep your rod pointed directly down with your bait in contact with the bottom. The moment a fish takes your bait, lift your rod and reel in an inch or two. Hold it there and do not budge for them at all. The second they stop jolting, reel in as much as you can. You really just need to get the fish at least 12ft from the bottom to prevent them bolting into a hole.
Bottom fishing in Florida is not overly complicated. In fact, it is among the easier methods to use. It is also the only way to catch monstrous fish hunting along the ocean floor. If you take these tips into consideration, you will increase your chances of catching some trophy fish tenfold.