Grouper take up residence in these holes and generally respond aggressively when a jig comes bouncing by their dwelling. Randy advises dropping the jig/bait to the bottom and letting the boat’s drift move it along the structure.
As the lure hops and drops into and out of the cheese holes, its buck tail skirt dances and pulsates to give the illusion of a living creature. Swiss cheese bottom also attracts swarms of mangroves, lane and vermilion snapper.
Randy is Vance Time, owner of Tight Lines Tackle in Tampa and founder of Brother Jigs. Although specializing in Tampa Bay trolling, Vance is equally adept at offshore jigging.
Very often, he said, jigs will outperform live bait and the fish you get are generally quality size. Vance figures the size of a jig and bait combination weeds out the little guys and appeals to grouper worth keeping.
So, the next time you head offshore for a round of bottom fishing, take a lesson from Capt. The idea is simple: jerk an artificial lure up and down to imitate a struggling bait fish.
Saltwater or freshwater, the combination of a weighted lure and erratic movements from the rod and reel are just deadly. It’s hard to define jigging without looking at the two main versions of the technique: high speed and slow pitch.
As you can tell from its various names, it focuses on quick up-down movements, designed to imitate a wounded fish that is fleeing from a predator. Popular across the US and beyond, this has been proven to be irresistible for Amber jack (both Great and Yellowtail), all types of Tuna, Striped Bass, King Mackerel, Yahoo, Grouper, Snapper … the list goes on.
In fact, this technique is so popular in Japan and New Zealand, you’d be hard-pushed to find a serious angler who hasn’t tried it. Best of all, it takes the wear and tear away from the angler, keeping the majority of the movement in the rod tip.
Jigging rods need to have fast enough action to create the subtle underwater movements you’re after, while having enough backbone to cope with the monsters you’re targeting. Either way, jigging reels need to be small enough for you to last a day on the water working them hard, while being powerful enough for the species you’re targeting.
They can be hairy (buck tail jigs traditionally used a deer’s hair to imitate prey, and Walleyes’ favorite, Fuzz-E Grubs, look like they were inspired by a kid’s toyboy) or China, they can be weighted on one end or in the center… you get the picture. You need to be in good shape just to last a whole day jigging, let alone reeling in the monster fish you’re hopefully going to catch.
Off the Southeast and Panhandle coasts of Florida, experienced kayak anglers can paddle to waters over 60 feet deep and take advantage of this style of fishing. Early summer is prime time, as the winds and seas calm.
Basically, you drop a heavy metal jig using a high-speed fishing outfit. Once it hits bottom, you retrieve the jig quickly while alternately lifting and dropping the rod tip.
If you’re familiar with inshore and bass plugs, the action is like walking the dog vertically. Most kayak anglers prefer spinning over conventional reels when jigging, finding spinning tackle easier to work and fight a fish when seated in a kayak.
A high speed 4.8:1 or better reel, with 20 pounds of drag, on a 6-foot, 6-inch jigging rod works great. You want a rod matched with a reel capable of holding at least 300 yards of 30-pound-test braided line.
But don’t go too heavy–if a fish takes you down and you hang up with 80-pound braid, you’ll find it almost impossible to break off and it could put you in a dangerous spot. Others, like the Shaman Butterfly and Williamson jigs, have an assist hook at the top.
Off South Florida, where depths of 200 feet are within paddling distance of shore, there are a few times when the current is ripping, and we will use a 7-ounce jig to reach bottom. When the jig hits bottom, work it up 20 feet and then drop it back down.
That means that you may need to lock the drag down and pump the rod hard to be able to stop the fish from taking you into the wreck. You are likely to catch the wreck or hook up on a big fish with little chance to stop it from taking you in.
If you do hook up and chances are good, you will have the current working with you to help pull you and your fish away from the wreck. Jigging Ledges or Reefs: Here you’ll make longer drifts, using wind or current, though you may need to paddle some to stay on course (again, using your GPS).
You have a good chance at a smoker king or Yahoo and a locked drag will end up with a pulled hook or break off. Jigging a Rip or Weed line: Great for kings, Yahoo and dolphin.
Drop your jig 100 feet down and work it back to the kayak. If you see the line speed up or slow down on the drop, put the reel in gear and come tight.
The time nearing the full moon, outstanding catches of the mutton snappers are quite common. Yellowtail snapper goes exceedingly well with gourmet sauces, marinades and chutneys.
The minimum size limit is 12 inches and there is a ten snapper combination bag restriction. Offshore night fishing for mangrove, lane and yellowtail snapper is excellent in early summer, especially the month of June.
King fish and Hero Mackerel may also find their ways onto your hook at certain times of the year. Diced samples of squid and pilchards, or live shrimp are good for attracting yellowtail snapper.
A good tip to catch more yellowtail snapper is to add a shake of oats to your chum-sand mixture. Wind the fishing line around the handball and toss the bait on to the slick of chum.
Be aware that the air temperature on the water is cooler than on land as a rule, because of wind. Much of this week has seen a warming trend coming off last weekend’s cold front and breezy conditions.
Monday and Tuesday anglers saw some decent weather with lighter winds and wave action. For those anglers getting out to nearshore waters ranging from 30-to 60-feet, some good action with mangrove snapper, dogfish, and gag grouper was had.
Watching the bottom machine for suspended schools of bait have produced some nice pinkish. Some artificial reefs off Sarasota and Bradenton are producing gag grouper and mangrove snapper.
Triple tail have been caught off swim buoys, channel markers, and just about any floating object in the Gulf. Rick Grasses, who fishes out of CB Saltwater Outfitters on Siesta Key has been targeting triple tail for his anglers when conditions allow, and fishing fly and also spinning tackle using CAL Jigs, and DOA Shrimp.
Grasses’s anglers are also catching bluefish and some Spanish mackerel along the coastal Gulf as well. It produces more scent and entices fish that are lethargic in the cooler water temperatures.
Denny Clovis of Sarasota with a triple tail caught on a DOA Shrimp while fishing with Capt. Triple tail come inside bays and hang on channel and range markers.
Speckled trout have begun schooling, and with Tuesday’s new moon low tides you can expect to hit the potholes and channel edges and find good numbers of specks. It’s all catch and release from the Hernando/ Pasco County line and south here in the West Central Region for shook, trout, and redfish so handle these fish gently and get them back in the water quickly.
They can be somewhat lethargic but on a warm sunny day on a dark mud flat, these fish and most all others tend to fight harder than they do in the summer with the higher oxygen levels in the water. When using live bait, use in-line circle hooks to reduce gut-hooking and to make release easier with lower mortality.
Suspending lures that can be fished shallow, like the Mirror 17MRPIN Mirroring or Catch 2000 can be very good. Small jerk baits like the Mirror Little’ John and Bunker City Lure’s Slimy Slugs or CAL Jerk baits rigged Texas style on worm hooks or on light jig heads can be deadly.
Spinner baits have produced some excellent action on area lakes and ponds for bass in the 2-to 5-pound range. Lake Tarpon has been pretty good for anglers drift fishing while looking to locate schools of these speckled perch.
Most are using live Missouri minnows but some prefer small crappie jigs like the Hal Fly, Beetle Spin, or Blakemore Roadrunner.