Night fishing can be very easy and a lot of fun, or it can be a perfectly miserable experience. I have fished more times at night than I can count, and I learned quite a few tricks to make it easy and successful.
There are not many things as frustrating as trying to locate that pair of pliers, or those 8/0 hooks in the dark. My current boat has indirect lighting all the way around underneath the gunnels.
Have additional flashlights and a good high candle power beam stored dry and safe. Probably most important, if you plan to anchor and bottom fish, is to get out before the sun goes down and get set up.
Few things are more difficult than anchoring a boat properly over a ledge or reef in the dark. Of course sharks are always looking for a free meal, and at night you are likely to encounter the larger versions of the that species as well.
The stern was already taken by grown-ups, and the current would not let us get our baits into the chum slick directly behind the boat. I wonder if that captain would have put us on the stern if he knew ahead of time that he would be in for a good tip......
Deep dropping for tile fish and grouper is becoming more and more popular by the day here in the Gulf of Mexico. I began fishing for these deep-water critters in the mid-1980s, and the sport has grown into a daily routine for many Gulf anglers.
These deep drop techniques will help you find these fish in 400–1,300 feet of water. Mike Parsons with a huge tile fish that measured in at 43 inches and 33.08 pounds.
Warsaw, yellow edge and long tail sea bass are commonly found around mountain tops, hard spots and deep water oil rigs in the 400–900 foot range. Yellow edge grouper are delicious and average 8–18 pounds, with a few 20–30 founders still caught fairly regularly.
For big barrel fish, you want to fish down current from the edges and walls of deep water mountain tops. The edges will have well-defined drops and barrel fish can stack up very thick at the top and bottom of this structure.
Not long ago, tile fish were pretty much unheard of as a rod and reel fish. Now that eyes are opening to the new daytime sword fishing industry here on the Texas coast, more and more tile fish are being boated.
Smaller tiles, averaging 2–10 pounds, can be targeted on the continental shelf wall without any special areas or specific “numbers.” Muddy areas anywhere from 900 to 1,000 feet of open water will hold tile fish. Drop on the down current side of small dips and slopes in 1,000–1,250 feet of water.
Tile fish tend to feed right on the bottom, so try to stop your bait and hold the boat on an area as tight as possible. However, slow drifting will also produce tile fish and is great for covering ground.
Drag the bait against the bottom, stopping often, and then continuing the drift to explore new areas. The biggest ones will hold against ridges at 1,200 feet and are bold enough to follow baits headed for deep water.
Use a large hook and bait to avoid the smaller fish when targeting big tiles. I seem to catch lots of big tiles early in the year, April through May, and sometimes in as shallow as 850–1,000 feet.
Beware of spiny, toothy and venomous critters that you might pull up from the deep. Spiny dogfish are small, deep water sharks that have spikes near the dorsal fins that can cause a painful sting.
Hake, a small brown fish averaging 1–3 pounds, also bite at night and can be a nuisance. The tile fish don’t bite at night but grouper will if you ’re in an area free of eels.
If we are targeting BIG tiles I will rig the weight and light 15 to 20 feet above the bait. The standard double and triple bait drops work well for yellow edge grouper and smaller tile fish.
With a light current and this braid, 3 pounds is a good weight to start with on your standard double bait leaders. I use cannonball style weights because they don’t get hung up as easy on rough, rocky bottoms.
Some of these deep water fish have sharp teeth, so heavy mono leaders are a necessity. Yellow edge, long tail sea bass and other smaller grouper are not so bad but tile fish, eels and small sharks have sharp teeth.
The grouper will wear through light leaders eventually and the tiles will bite clean through them. Tile fish and grouper have no problem snagging themselves on a circle hook and I would say it definitely helps keep the fish on when cranking them up from the deep.
It is a long ride to the deep water fishing grounds and you might lose tackle to rocks and snags. The LP is a deep dropping fishing machine that also has the strength and drag system to handle big Warsaw grouper and swordfish.
Toucan also hand crank tile fish and grouper on conventional tackle but it is a long way up and down. The Reel Frankie is a must-have, great product that can assist in getting your rig up from the bottom fast.
It does a great job of winding up all the line, instead of you wearing out your arm on empty hooks. Toucan also deep drop with two lines but it can be tricky fishing and requires some boat handling.
Avoid hard, bony, bulky baits that can push a fish off the hook. Softer baits like fish fillets and squid will result in better hook ups.
These fish eat lots of shellfish, which can result in some nasty strong tastes in the meat if not taken care of properly. The entire continental shelf from Texas to Louisiana holds great bottom structure, supporting tons of deep water species.
Some fish stay directly on top of structure, some live on the walls, slopes and drop offs and some species are found on flat bottoms. Don’t forget to mark your hook ups on your GPS and keep a track record of your best catches.
Brett Holden is the captain of the Booby Trap, which holds the record for largest swordfish in the Gulf of Mexico. Holden is a pioneer in daytime sword fishing along the Texas coast; he holds numerous bill fishing records and shares his deep drop techniques every year at the Texas Swordfish Seminar.
Posted on Sunday, March 8th, 2020 at 3:50 am | Category Articles, Fishing, Offshore | Tags: barrel fish, booby trap fishing team, Brett Holden, deep drop fishing, deep drop techniques, deep dropping, electric reel fishing, how to catch tile fish, how to deep drop, LP reels, Texas tile fish, tile fish, Warsaw grouper, yellow edge grouper, yellowtail sea bass | Comment | Deep-sea fish provide a very challenging fight for the beginner and advanced fisher alike.
For example, groupers may be found near docks, fishing buildings, or other areas that provide a great place to hide. Just as important, fishers need to understand that the grouper does have an aggressive streak when presented with bait and lures that catch its attention.
The higher the poundage on the line, the heavier the fish a person can catch, so aim high when going for groupers. A large, live bait sunk to the bottom of the ocean probably results in the most success with the grouper.
If going for artificial lures, try to find jerk baits that emulate the look and feel of an injured fish. When reeling in the line, let the lure more in erratic and jerking actions to attract the grouper's attention.
Map out the location using appropriate nautical charts and seek out deep water with thick rock groupings littering the bottom of the ocean bed. These ledges typically hang over fairly rocky areas and provide excellent shade and protection for the mysterious and often quite aloof and grumpy grouper.
Anyone trying to catch a grouper should hire a professional to not only get them out on the water safely, but to also provide even better tips for fishing.