Light spinning tackle is the best choice for yellowtail snapper and other small bottom fish. 80 pound conventional gear is required to winch up a large grouper from a deep water wreck.
Trolling for bill fish requires fairly expensive conventional outfits. Therefore, anglers offshore fishing in Florida will need several outfits in order to be successful.
It can be used to free lined baits for sailfish and cobra as well as heavier bottom fishing for anglers who prefer spinning tackle. Anglers will need several conventional outfits to cover the various fishing situations.
A light conventional outfit with a 7 foot to 7 1/2 foot rod and matching real works great for light tackle bottom fishing as well as trolling for smaller species such as Spanish mackerel and smaller tuna and dolphin. Anglers will find medium conventional rigs in the 40 pound class to be very versatile.
Finally, a heavier rig in the 6/0 class can be used when targeting larger game fish as well as for trolling large planers. However, there are many nuances and tactics that spell the difference between success and failure when bottom fishing.
Leader lengths and strengths vary depending on water depth and species being targeted. Anglers fishing in shallow water will do fine with a 30 pound test fluorocarbon leader of around 3 foot in length.
Anglers fishing deep water wrecks and reefs for grouper and snapper will often times use leaders as long as 20 feet and up to 100 pound test fluorocarbon. It consists of a swivel at the top, a sinker at the bottom, and multiple hooks tied at intervals.
That will result in a more natural presentation as the bait slowly flutters down versus rocketing down to the bottom and making a loud noise. Anglers fishing the Gulf of Mexico are required to use circle hooks.
A very large fish can be caught on a small hook when the drag is set correctly. Baits used when bottom fishing in Florida vary by location and season.
Shrimp, either live or frozen, are an excellent bait when fishing shallow water reefs all season long. They produce snapper, grouper, sleepyhead, trigger fish, porgy, flounder, and just about every (fish) that swims.
Frozen baits such as Spanish sardines, mullet, false albacore, menhaden, and other fish work well. Frozen squid is another universal and effective bait that will catch a variety of species.
Many offshore trips begin with the catching of bait at buoys and hard bottom areas close to shore. Cast nets can also be used to procure pilchards on the flats or other bait fish close to shore.
These include natural ledges, artificial reefs, wrecks, and areas of hard bottom. Generally speaking, bottom fish will hold to some type of structure.
While there are many artificial reefs and ledges where the locations are public, putting in time and finding “private” little spots will result in more fish being caught. Most anglers like to place the stern of the boat upwind and up tide of the spot being fished when possible.
This results in a natural presentation as the bait eases back towards the structure with the tide. Also, luring the fish out of its structure will result in a better chance of landing versus being cut off on the bottom.
The general approach is to put the bow of the boat into the wind and tide, drive over the spot, the drop the anchor and drift back. GPS trolling motors have revolutionized bottom fishing for anglers using bay boats.
When conditions are calm, the angler uses the “anchor” or “spot lock” feature to keep the boat in perfect position. Rod tips are held low close to the water surface.
In either event, once a steady weight is felt the angler reels fast and hard to eliminate any slack in the line than the rod tip is lifted. This technique of reeling and lifting works much better when bottom fishing than setting the hook.
A steady pull will result in the hook ending up in the corner of the mouth. The first few seconds of the fight are crucial as the angler tries to get the fish a few feet away from the structure.
Once accomplished, the angler can take his time and work the fish to the surface. A block of chum is placed in a mesh bag either at the surface or can also be lower to the bottom.
Anglers can also cut up small pieces of the same bait being used on hooks to attract fish. It is a good idea to keep a spinning outfit rigged and ready in the event that fish show up at the surface in the chum.
A hook with no weight can be baited and free lined out and will usually draw a strike. Anglers bottom fishing in Florida will catch a wide variety of species.
In addition, cobra, trigger fish, porgy, sleepyhead, amber jack, and other species will also be taken. It is very important to be able to identify the species that is landed and to know the current Florida fishing regulations.
Seasons, sizes, and bag limits are constantly changing as Florida does its best to manage the resource. It is up to the angler to stay up to date on these regulations which also include tackle requirements and fish releasing procedures.
Trolling is simply driving around while dragging lures or baits behind the boat and waiting for fish to strike. Speed, depth, lures used, and locations all play a part in whether an angler is successful when trolling in Florida.
Artificial baits can be trolled fairly quickly, allowing anglers to cover a lot of water in search of fish. Plugs are very effective and productive lures to use when trolling offshore in Florida.
Plugs have a lip on them which to a great degree determines the depth that they will dive when being trolled. This is advantageous in that it allows anglers to cover a certain depth without the use of other devices such as weights and planers.
In many applications a 6-foot long 80 pound test fluorocarbon leader works well. Plugs work very well in open water for king mackerel, cobra, false albacore, black fin tuna, barracuda, dolphin, and other species.
Deep diving plugs are deadly in shallow water when targeting grouper. This is particularly true in the Gulf of Mexico where the water gradually gets deeper the further and angler gets out from shore.
Anglers simply tie the lures on 40 to 50 pound class conventional outfits and troll around at 4 kn or so. Spoons come in quite a few different sizes and angler should stock up on all of them in order to “match the hatch”.
Trolling spoons are fairly light and do require some device to get them down in the water column. Trolling sinkers are effective but will only get the spoon down in the water column several feet.
The good news is that this is often ideal as many pelagic species feed very close to the surface. Once a fish is hooked, it is reeled and until the sinker is a foot or so from the rod tip.
Planers are a bit more cumbersome but will get the spoon much deeper in the water column. Planers are ingenious devices that use the tension of the water to dive to a certain depth.
They have a sliding ring that once a fish strikes allows the planer to “trip”. There is a #4 planer, but it puts up such a drag that it is too big for most fishing rods and is used attached to a cleat on the stern of the boat.
A black snack swivel is attached to the rear of the planer, reducing line twist when trolling. Then, a 20-foot-long fluorocarbon leader is attached to the snap swivel.
Anglers can run multiple lines at once when trolling offshore in Florida. A good spread for anglers targeting king mackerel, false albacore and other species may go as follows.
Skirted baits are productive lures used by anglers offshore fishing in Florida. Unlike plugs and spoons, they can be trolled at much higher speeds, up to 20 kn.
They are kind of the best of both worlds as the skirt attracts the fish and the scent and taste of the natural bait will add further enticement. Anglers trolling live baits do so at a much slower speed than when using artificial lures.
Often times, the boat is simply bumped into gear and idle along at the slowest possible speed. Most anglers trolling live bait fish use a “stinger rig”.
This is deadly on such fish as king mackerel which like to chop the back half of the bait. Slow trolling a live goggle I in the winter months is a deadly technique in Southeast Florida.
On breezy days, anglers can simply drift a live bait and Lou of using the motor as propulsion. The key is to achieve the proper speed where the bait moves through the water but does not look unnatural.
Trolling is no different from any other form of fishing and that anglers will target specific areas. While pelagic species generally do not need to relate to structure, bait fish do.
Therefore, anglers will generally be more productive when trolling structure such as artificial reefs, wrecks, hard bottom areas, and ledges. Dolphin may be the most popular of all the offshore game fish caught by anglers trolling.
In the United States, they are found along the eastern seaboard and in the Gulf of Mexico. Trolling allows anglers to cover a lot of water in search of these predators.
She also has her USCG Masters license and runs charters for clients desiring to catch a trophy Yahoo. Angelia is generous enough to share her years of experience to help our fishing ladies catching Yahoo.
Isolated structure such as a wreck, reef, or drop off may hold Yahoo. Weed line edges are famous for holding dolphin, but they will also attract Yahoo as well, especially in deeper water.
An area that did not draw a strike in the morning may produce in the afternoon and vice versa. As with any type of offshore fishing, birds working are often an indication of feeding fish.
However, it is not uncommon for a big Yahoo or two to be found under birds and other feeding fish. Tackle and rigging for fishing ladies catching Yahoo needs to be in tip-top shape.
These incredibly fast fish will quickly find any weakness in the line or tackle that is not up to par. If the drag is not set loosely, allowing the fish to tire out, the hook will likely pull, releasing the Yahoo.
While many artificial lures produce Yahoo, Angelia’s to favorite are the diving Papal and her 5 ounce signature skirts over a rigged ballyhoo. These two lures cover the water column well and troll straight and true behind the boat.
Many a spirited conversation has ensued in the evening at the local watering hole when discussing the “best” Yahoo spread! Her combination includes two rigged ballyhoo, two diving plugs, and if needed a flat line.
She feels that this combination covers water column well while still being relatively easy to manage. Like all fishing, there are nuances that spell the difference between success and going for a boat ride.
Angelia puts a 10-foot diving plugs on one corner transom at 600 feet back and then another 20 foot diving plugs on the other transom corner at 800 feet back. While this can be productive and it does allow anglers to cover a lot of water, Angelina prefers to troll at 9 to 10 knots.
Boat handling is crucial once a Yahoo is hooked, particularly if it is a big fish. Like most experienced Yahoo rollers, Angelina does not immediately slow down when a fish is hooked.
Yahoo are known to travel in small packs and often times multiple hookups will ensue. We keep all the Yahoo we are able to due to them being such great table fare, so as long as we have not reached our limit of 2 per person, per day, they all get gaffed and brought on deck.
Sometimes, to keep from being spooled by these fast swimmers, you have to chase them with the boat a bit. Their teeth may not look menacing, but are razor sharp and have ruined many a fisherman’s day, so stay clear of their mouths and always wear gloves when removing hooks.
Anyone on the boat not actively involved with securing the fish on deck should stay completely out of the way! Very few game fish can match the blistering speed that is angry Yahoo attains on its initial run.
Any angler that is interested in this challenge can contact one of our fishing ladies catching Yahoo, Capt. In conclusion, this article on offshore fishing in Florida will help anglers understand the techniques and locations used to be successful.
A anglers offshore fishing Northeast Florida has the opportunity to catch quite a few species. Anglers trolling offshore will target king mackerel, Yahoo, dolphin, tuna, and sailfish.
Bottom fishing produces grouper, snapper, porgy, trigger fish, amber jack, and other species. Tackle used by anglers offshore fishing Northeast Florida is similar to that used in other areas of the state.
Bottom fishing for large grouper and amber jack may require tackle that is a bit stouter. Medium spinning tackle can be used when light tackle bottom fishing in shallower water or casting to breaking fish as well as free lining cut bait into a school of dolphin or tuna.
Anglers offshore fishing Northeast Florida do need to make a longer run then do those in other parts of the state. This requires a longer run to get to the deep water pelagic species.
Jill Carter is our fishing ladies Northeast Florida offshore expert. She started fishing offshore about 10 years ago, mainly tournament fishing on a 32 ft Contender every summer & fall on Team Reel Quick, consisting of her husband and father-in-law.
“Since I was a little girl, I have always had a fishing pole in my hand, whether it be fresh or salt water. “One of my favorite memories of being on the water king fishing was reeling in my biggest king fish which was a 41 founder.
Then caught a 48 founder a couple of hours later and won Ancient City Tournament in St Augustine in 2014”. Jill specializes in catching big King fish mostly by slow trolling live bait.
“King fish are known for biting the tail off the bait to inhibit its ability to swim and escape, then turning back around the eating the rest of the bait, and that’s why most anglers use a double hook or “stinger rig.” I use 25 pound test Diamond Illusion monofilament line to catch king fish. “King fish are generally pelagic, meaning they swim in the open ocean.
The three most effective lures to use when trolling offshore are spoons, plugs, and skirted baits. Serious anglers will employ all three and their trolling spread, depending on the number of rods that they can run at one time.
The lip on the bill will determine the depth the plug will run, as will the speed of the boat. Plugs will produce just about every pelagic species including king mackerel, tuna, Yahoo, and sailfish.
Grouper anglers use special deep diving plugs to work ledges and structure in shallow water as well. Trolling sinkers come in a couple different shapes in a variety of weights.
These baits run right on the surface and are generally trolled very quickly, up to 10 knots and faster. There are quite a few artificial reefs along with areas of good hard bottom and natural ledges.
Grouper and snapper are the primary targets, with grunts, cobra, porgy, trigger fish, and other species also being taken. The most common rig consists of a sliding egg sinker on the main line, a swivel, followed by a fluorocarbon leader in a circle.
Anglers using frozen baits do well with Spanish sardines, mullet, and squid. Any fresh caught fish cut up into strips or chunks will produce as well.
Pin fish, grunts, and craters are caught inshore and are terrific bait for grouper, snapper, cobra, and amber jack. Sardines and other silvery bait fish are jig debit markers using speaking rigs.
The best technique is to try to place the stern of the boat a little up current of the area to be fished. West Palm Beach fishing offers offshore anglers a variety of angling opportunities.
The result is an excellent mix of pelagic and bottom species to target and catch. Larissa is our Fishing Ladies West Palm Beach correspondent.
We were fishing a tournament and I just rigged and put out the bait, weight and buoy all by myself for the first time and worked the line. So, I ended up having to hand reel the harpoon line which left a blister the size of my palm.
Trolling is the most effective technique when fishing for pelagic species in the open Atlantic Ocean. Anglers trolling can either present their lures and baits on the surface or down deeper.
Natural baits, especially rigged ballyhoo, can be fished alone or in conjunction with a skirt. Planers, down riggers, and diving plugs all are effective methods to ply the deeper sections.
Charts provided by the manufacturer can help anglers choose the plug that will dive to the desired depth. Down riggers are a bit cumbersome, but are extremely effective at presenting baits at a desired depth.
Slow trolling with a live bait fish is a deadly technique! It allows anglers to cover some water while presenting a struggling bait fish to the predators.
The second hook either swings free or is inserted into the back of the bait. Anglers can use fluorocarbon rigs when targeting leader shy species.
Anglers need to be up to date on the size and bag limits along with the seasons. The lower east coast of Florida offers anglers some excellent bottom fishing opportunities.
Reefs, natural ledges, and wrecks are plentiful, providing excellent habitat for predator fish. However, grunts, trigger fish, amber jack, cobra, and other species will be encountered when dropping a live or cut bait down on a good piece of structure.
While bottom fishing is relatively straight forward, there are nuances that will prove to be the difference between a fair day and a great one. One issue that Palm Beach anglers face is deeper water and strong currents.
Anglers anchor up tide of a patch reef, ledge, or wreck and drop baited hooks to the bottom. There is no need to spend a bunch of time catching and keeping live bait.
As the chum melts, is dispersed into the water, slowly sinking and drawing bait and predators up in the “slick”. Anglers looking to beat the Florida summer heat often fish at night.
Snapper are famous for their nighttime bites around the full moons in summer. The key to this great fishing is the fact that the water in the Gulf of Mexico gets deeper, faster here than in any other part of Florida.
Trolling is basically the act of putting some lines out and driving the boat around. For that reason, there are special tools and lures used to troll effectively at those speeds.
Brightly colored spoons such as pink and even chartreuse work well. Brittany likes to troll at 5 to 7 knots when targeting king and Spanish mackerel.
A planer is a metal device that digs down into the water causing it to dive. The larger the planer, the heavier the tackle needs to be as it puts quite a strain on the rod.
The approach that works best when trolling is to have the deepest lines closest to the boat. Separating the distances in depths like this will keep the lines from tangling when the boat makes a turn.
A shallow running plug can be put way back, a little behind the number one planer. Yahoo, yellow fin tuna, large king mackerel, cobra, dolphin, and even Bill fishes such as sailfish and marlin will please offshore anglers.
Anglers targeting these species fish water depths from 200 feet and deeper. 2021 products such as the quick chart, the regulations' publication, the calendars and more are coming soon.
Florida ’s rules and regulations are designed to help ensure the safety of all the people in Florida, visitors and residents alike, and to help make sure that one of the state’s most important economic engines is protected and maintained for future generations. Not knowing the rules puts people at risk of seriously damaging everyone’s current and future fishing opportunities.
Not knowing the rules also puts people in the position of breaking them, and that can mean incurring a fine or, in extreme cases, imprisonment. All anglers are legally required to be familiar with the rules and regulations governing the type of fishing they are doing.