November 15, 2019
Fishing is a bit more than just casting a line and crossing your fingers for a bite at the other end. In fact, it’s a lot more. There’s different fishing lines, gear, and techniques that anglers will use in different settings (rivers, lakes, inshore and offshore) and seasons.
Among the ingredients of a successful fishing trip, is the technique one uses to catch fish. One of the most popular techniques across the fishing industry is bottom fishing.
Simply put, bottom fishing is done by lowering your bait to the bottom of the ocean floor, riverbed floor, or the bottom of any body of water that you’re fishing. This technique can be used while fishing from a pier, the shore, or on a vessel.
When bottom fishing, anglers will use fishing line that’s weighted by a lead sinker and followed by a baited hook dropped to the ocean floor. The heavy sinker helps to get the line down to the bottom and keeps the bait in sight of the fish. The bait can be cut or live bait, such as shrimp or squid, as long as it looks natural to the intended target.
The size and weight of the sinker will be determined by where you’re fishing. Lakes and rivers will have different needs than ocean waters that run deeper and have stronger currents. Don’t use a stronger weight than needed, as it will make it harder to feel the fish bite. It also affects reeling your line back in. It’s important to choose the perfect sinker that will help in your bottom fishing success.
Bottom fishing is a technique used by Lake Michigan charters fishing for trout, Gulf of Mexico charters fishing for snapper, and captains across the country fishing for a variety of bottom dwellers. To put it plainly: charter captains from around the world bottom fish.
The most common rig used for bottom fishing is a “fish finder rig”. This is great for straight down fishing under a pier or boat. Fish finder rigs use a sliding egg sinker that is heavy enough to keep the bait in place but light enough so that the fish can’t feel the weight when they take the bait. This particular rig is very common when fishing for grouper.
When fishing grouper, keep in mind that you have to be right on top of them. One side of the boat could have no action, while the other side is getting bites left and right. When the grouper strikes make sure they don’t go back into their hole, you’ll want to start reeling right away. Grouper are notorious for taking your hook and diving to find a hole, often causing the line to snap as it’s dragged across the structure. They tend to live near structures such as wrecks and reefs.
There are a variety of fish species that are bottom dwellers, attracting the attention of charter captains who are bottom fishing. Lake Michigan trout and Gulf of Mexico snapper are just a few examples. Redfish, snook, grouper, halibut, triggerfish, and flounder are also caught when bottom fishing, depending on the season and location.
Once you’ve decided on a bottom fishing excursion, there are a few other options to consider. Drift or anchor, live or cut bait, or jig fishing are among the decisions you’ll be making when bottom fishing.
Anchoring the vessel is very effective when the fish are in a concentrated area or you decide to use chum to draw them in. Or anglers will drift the bait across a large area when the fish are spread out. This is as simple as putting the boat out of gear and letting it drift naturally on the water. This technique should take into consideration the weather, winds, and current of the area.
Live bait tends to be most effective no matter what kind of technique you use. Although cut bait is easier to get your hands on (available at local bait and tackle shops). If using cut bait, try to make the presentation as natural as possible. Popular live or cut bait include shrimp, sardines, mullet, squid, or minnows depending on what you’re catching.
The use of jigs is another option when bottom fishing. A jig is a type of lure that has a lead sinker and hook molded into it. They are designed to have a jerky, vertical motion to attract the fish. There are different types and sizes of jigs that vary with what you’re looking to catch.
Anglers who fish the reefs and wrecks can tell you that half of the equation of bottom fishing is getting your trophy to the boat. Snappers and grouper are notorious for running for cover and cutting lines with the nearby structures. Or your line can get tangled up in submerged tree roots or grass and you’ll find yourself fighting the nearby natural or artificial structures. You’ll want to start reeling as soon as you feel the fish take the bait.
And remember, with that sinker at the end of the line you’re dragging extra weight back up to the boat. And depending on how big of a fish you’ve got on the hook, you could be dragging an extra 10 to 15 pounds through the depths of the water as well. When you go bottom fishing you know you’re going to get an arm workout!
Bottom fishing is a technique that’s easy to learn, and yet difficult to master. All of the ingredients matter in perfecting the set-up of your bottom fishing rig. From the fishing line, to the sinker, and even the bait. The angler with the most experience usually has the advantage when it comes to successful bottom fishing trips. Those anglers tend to be charter captains or fishing guides. For a successful trip going bottom fishing, hire a local guide that can show you this technique. Then you can work on mastering this technique all on your own.
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