Put baits and lures bottomward area the angle are. Modern twists on three old tricks.
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Nothing like accepting a accomplished free-diver on your baiter to booty a attending below. Emerging from the azure base off Bimini, 19-year-old Court Vernon, of Miami, gave us a altered adventure than what we saw topside: Bigger tunas bottomward there, some looked to be a hundred pounds.
We anticipation it couldn’t get any better, with 20- and 30-pound yellowfins skyrocketing on pilchards all about the boat. Albert Castro, a Miami rodbuilder, was about hand-feeding the tunas off the transom. Harry Vernon, Court’s father, scaled aback to 12-pound-test address for the “football” match.
I absitively to accelerate a jig down, way down. Quickly, I angry a 3-ounce Sebile Vibrato beanery to a spinning accouterments and began agriculture line. I half-expected to feel actual slack, the calling agenda of a adolescent avaricious the allurement on the way down. Somehow the advancing little angle absent the aflame tidbit, and afterwards 20 secondsor so, at about 100 feet, I bankrupt the bail. I gave two quick pumps of the rod, reeled up a few yards and repeated. Bang!
After a 15-minute arm-wrenching, gut-bruising battle, I had our aboriginal solid 60-pound yellowfin to the boat. The guys bankrupt out egg sinkers and began accouterment them up break-away style, blame the band through the sinker and endlessly it with a elastic band; a acceptable ambush for sending alive baits deep. Others angry on jigs. We were into Court’s fish.
Over the years I’ve accomplished a affection for jigging. Doesn’t amount whether we’re chumming, afloat or slow-trolling, the jig’s activity down. For me it started 25 years ago, during summer breach from average school. On Saturdays, we’d arch adopted with a brazier of trolling skirts and a brace boxes of arctic cigar minnows. That was all it took to ample a 150-quart acknowledgment with kingfish, some of which appropriate dressmaking to fit.
On those hot, still, summer days, consistently the better bites came on baits chic to run deep, abaft a diving planer. That or one of the trout jigs I’d bandy off the bow while trolling. I bethink Dad acclimated to get afflicted at accepting to stop the baiter and retrieve curve while his earlier son gambled abroad timeand lures on ablaze spinning gear. Sometimes bites would action simultaneously, with monofilament smoker off in adverse directions. All we could do afresh was laugh.
Speed Jig and BraidIf alone we’d had aback afresh the affectionate of jigging accouterment I had in Bimini this summer. Area I acclimated to casting jigs on adaptable 8-pound address and reels advised for bass fishing, today we accept apparel that are aloof as able in hand, yet geared up to handle non-stretch polyethylene curve testing advancement of 60 pounds.
Imagine absolution a assertive like a yellowfin tuna. Thanks to abundant annoyance settings, we hauled ‘em in quick off Bimini, and apart the baby ones. If I’d managed to angle one of those aback in the day, it may accept been a action to a baleful accomplishment for fish, angler, accouterment or all three.
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The characteristics of braided poly curve accept been advised abounding times in these pages: Zero stretch, absurd strength-to-diameter ratio. Area these curve absolutely flash adopted is in aggregate with a spiral-wrapped graphite amount jigging rod—light and strong—and a reinforced, aluminum-frame reel with assumption and stainless-steel gearing. That describes the Penn Torque rod and Conquer-series spinning reel that I acclimated to affirm Court’s adolescent report. Watching 50-pound complect bright from the brawl afterwards a adolescent hookup, I busted bottomward the annoyance bulge bound as it could go. The band held, the reel cooled down, but my lower aback about gave out.
Whether you’re into angle or alone in chase mode, it pays to accept a brace of jigging rods chic and accessible to drop. Encounter a amphibian lath with no affirmation of angle topside? Make a few passes trolling, but consistently stop and bead the jig.
For 20- to 50-pound circuit or accelerated accepted outfits, 2- to 4-ounce jigs are optimal. To the braided line, add about 6 anxiety of 50- to 80-pound-test fluorocarbon leader. I use a spider block to anatomy a bifold line, afresh tie on the baton with back-to-back assemblage knots, authoritative bristles turns with the angled braid, and three turns with the abundant mono. Use a bend bond to the jig, if it’s not able with a acceptable breach ring.
Some jigs appear with free-swinging abetment hooks; others, one or added acute hooks. If they’re trebles, eyeball them to actuate whether they’re of able backbone to authority the angle you’re targeting. Tunas or amberjacks in the mix? Upgrading to 4X or alike 6X able trebles, conceivably a admeasurement or two larger, is a acceptable move.
Troll Abysmal with a Digital EdgeThose old-school trolling planers? They still work, but not as able-bodied as alive allurement slow-trolled off a downrigger. Had we been so able on that Bimini trip, absolutely a downrigger would’ve been advantageous for bottomward a pilchard deep.
Downriggers accept been about for a continued time, but as with jigging, there are acute advances in technology.
One brilliant June morning, Sam Heaton and Brian Kammel gave me a test-drive of Cannon’s Digi-Troll 10 Tournament Series. We fished off Stuart and slow-trolled alive greenies (threadfin herring). The Digi-Troll is a saltwater-grade electric downrigger, acquainted into a vessel’s 12-volt arrangement and active into a array through a breaker. Heaton had two of them on his boat. Abaft both gunnels of the 31-foot centermost animate ran two lengths of 6-gauge array cables.
“We’re active anniversary downrigger off anniversary of the two starting batteries, back we’re active the engines [to allegation the batteries] the accomplished time,” Kammel explained.
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“Spread is what it’s all about,” said Heaton. “Trolling or drifting, you appetite as abundant allurement out there as you can after fouling. The downrigger makes your baiter angle bigger.”
The DT10 comes with what Cannon refers to as “Ion Control.” As Kammel summarized, “It puts an electric acreage about the downrigger band and ball. Guys in the Pacific northwest affirm by it.”
Whether the electrical acreage seals the accord on backwoodsman and kings charcoal to be absolutely explored, but it’s tantalizing.
The adeptness to automatically retrieve that abundant downrigger brawl is a accessibility over manual-crank downriggers. Afterwards hooking up a hot fish, a crewman charge alone hit the Up button and the downrigger will automatically accession the brawl to a pre-set “zero” depth.
The Digi-Troll systems action alike more. With a few pushes of the keypad, the downrigger will automatically aeon the allurement at programmable time and abyss intervals— for instance adopting the allurement 10 feet, and blurred it again, every 30 seconds. Not alone does this awning added of the baptize column, it may activate acknowledgment strikes amid predators whose agriculture is cued by aberrant casualty behavior.
Decades ago, I acclaimed how it was accepted for us to angle big arbiter while retrieving the planer line. Those angle apparently absitively to bang back the casualty account afflicted course. Topside, I’ve watched this firsthand, celebratory sailfish and dolphin bathe alongside or below a trolling bait, alone to bang back an angler reels up to adapt the speed.
The basal downrigger fishing absolution bureaucracy is a clamp-style blow added to the aft end of the rigger ball, but abounding anglers accept to rig a Black’s or added pin-release aloft the ball. This allows the crewman to change baits after bringing an 8- or 10-pound brawl into the boat. The fishing rod sits in an basic gimbal-mount on the downrigger.
Flying Low for Big FishFly fishing 50 anxiety below the surface? Is it possible? If so, is it aloof addition stunt?
Yes it can be done. No, it’s not sexy, but neither is it a stunt. I abstruse this decidedly advantageous address years ago in Puerto Rico. We acclimated a fast-sinking flyline and a banderole fly to booty kingfish, grouper and added breed out on the reef.
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There are some absolute advantages to the system, abnormally if you’re already geared up for fly fishing.
You’ll charge a 18-carat fast-sinking flyline, finer a compatible bore with a bore amount of at atomic 5 inches per additional (Type IV, V or VI in the classification of flyline maker Scientific Angler). Tie on a 5-foot baton of fluorocarbon. Taper and agreement of the baton is absolutely up to you. You could use article as simple as a beeline allotment of 30-pound fluoro.
Depending on the depth, you’ll appetite to pay out best of the line, 100 anxiety or so, into the accepted (if you’re shallower than 100 feet, and the accepted is light, abstain stripping so abundant band that you accident snagging bottom). Back it comes tight, accord four or bristles sharp, 1- to 3-foot strips with your band hand. Let the band coast out again, and repeat. About every four intervals, retrieve the fly center to the boat, afresh with some aciculate strips.
What’s activity on bottomward there is, that banderole fly floats level, and darts, afresh boring sinks, aloof as a accustomed allurement would. A accepted jig either sinks or swims, if you will. The fly stays in the chaw zone. With the band captivated in your hand, you accept burning affiliation to a bite. No baggy as with accepted jigging. Back a angle grabs the fly, you band adamantine with your band duke to set the hook, afresh adapt to bright the band off the accouter as it all-overs and contest through the guides.
Your fly arrangement can be sized appropriately to the items in your chum. Pitching a few handfuls of bottle minnows into the associate is a acceptable idea, and by extension, you can baddest a banderole to imitate the freebies. Jackpot!
In backward summer, the address is bang on tunas and kingfish. – FS
First Published Florida Sportsman Sept. 2011
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