Targeting Bottom Fish

Four tips for targeting sporty and delectable bottom species.

Whether it’s black sea bass and tautog in the Atlantic or vermilion rockfish and lingcod in the Pacific, May is high season for sporty and delectable bottom species. Inhabiting easily accessible grounds and seemingly eager to commit suicide upon a baited hook, these reef, wreck and rock dwellers make for fun family fishing. Here are four tips for targeting them.

Targeting Bottom Fish

Fish Where They Live
Use a chart to locate reefs, wrecks and rock piles where bottom species gather. Expect to use the fish finder to pinpoint the structure. Often, you'll have to run a grid-pattern course to find the habitat.

Anchor Precisely
You must be over the wreck. A few feet off can make the difference between a full cooler and slow fishing. If your screen doesn't show the structure or you're not getting bites, reset the anchor.

Stock Up
The old adage "If you're not losing rigs, you're not fishing in the right place" holds true. Tie up extra rigs in advance, and have leader and a box of hooks on hand, to keep your crew in the action.

Rig It Simple
Tie a loop in the bottom of the leader for your sinker, and tie two dropper loops a foot and two feet above the sinker loop. Hardware increases snags. An overhand knot in the leader between the sinker and hooks makes breaking out of snags easier.