Let’s Go Bottom Fishing! Leave a reply
Let’s Go Bottom Fishing!
By Jason Brooks
With upcoming halibut day’s ahead, it is time to go out and get some white fleshed meat for the freezer before the salmon arrive! In the next few weeks there are a few select days to catch halibut but other bottom fish that are just as tasty are open for several months in the ocean. Here are a few tips on catching some great eating fish.
Use the right gear. From stout rods for heavy halibut to lighter action short rods for rock fish and near shore lingcod, you need to use the right gear. Starting with the big fish stuff, mainline should be at least 65-pound braid with 80 and even 100-pound braid being common. Leaders are a minimum of 100-pound monofilament. A good rigging for halibut is a 7 ½ inch glow squid skirt with tandem 10/0 Gamakatsu Big River hooks. hPut three large corkies inside the squid skirt to create a buffer with the hooks and some buoyancy that will add to the skirt’s action as it flutters in the currents on the bottom. Tip the Big River hooks with a large “horse” herring (black or purple label) and for a bit of extra enticement a salmon belly or collar. The big river hooks are strong and sharp and they hold well even in the biggest fish.
For smaller fish such as Canary rockfish or black sea bass a short rod with a medium action tip allows you to feel the bite and still pull in bigger fish. Lead jigs work well but to keep them from getting stuck in the rocks take off the bottom treble hook and use double “assist” hooks. These are two large octopus style hooks that are usually 4x in sizes 3/0 or 4/0 and connected with a strong piece of Dacron. Attach them to the top eye of the jig so when it makes contact with the rocky bottom they don’t get hung up.
Scent is crucial. Even when using bait, you will attract more fish by using additional scents. In the halibut rig described above fill the head of the squid skirt with Pro-Cure Super Gel in squid or octopus as both are a favorite food of the big flat sided fish. When using jigs apply the sticky Pro-Cure Super Sauce in anchovy, herring or sardine. As you jig the scent will create a “cloud” and attract more fish.
Look for the right bottom. Rock fish and sea bass like pinnacles, lingcod prefer the bottom around large rocky areas and those same pinnacles. If you are fishing a pinnacle and want to target lingcod, then drop your gear all the way to the bottom before jigging. You run the risk of losing jigs by letting them sink all the way down but if you pause or stop part way down then you are likely to have a sea bass grab it before you get down to where the lings are hiding in cover.
Halibut are where you find them. I realize this doesn’t help much but they tend to move around and you can find them on deep water shoals, reefs, and gravel bottoms but anglers also catch them near pinnacles, and even in bays in shallow water.
Take care of your catch. Bleed it right away and put it in a cooler with ice. Even better is saltwater “slush” which is simply adding some sea water to the ice. Once back at the dock fillet the fish before the ride home and again keep them on ice. White flesh fish is mild and if taken care of properly it is a real treat for everyone. Nothing beats a family fish fry and this is one of the best reason’s to get out and get some bottom fish before the salmon arrive.
The Outdoor Line Field Editor