Hide n' Seek

Grouper, snook, tautog, and Pacific sheepshead all have one thing in common: When you set the hook, they try to run into holes, wrecks, mangroves, or reefs, where you''re likely to become snagged. But don''t give up and break off those fish - these tricks will help you coax them out of their hiding places, so you can fight them into the boat.

  • FOOL THE FISH. Remove all tension by feeding out slack line. After a minute or so, the fish often regains composure and swims out of the structure. When you see or feel the line moving again, reel in the slack and resume the fight.
  • GOAD THE FISH. Put maximum tension on the line, and pluck it like a guitar string. Twang hard and repeatedly. Also, try vigorously tapping your rod. The vibrations may cause the fish to panic and dart out of its hiding place.
  • CONFUSE THE FISH. Change the angle of your line, so the fish feels pressure from different directions. Walk all the way forward or aft, switch sides, and move the boat, if necessary, until the fish comes free. When all else fails, tighten down your drag and pull.