Catching Toothy Fish Offshore
Want to catch big, toothy fish offshore in the Gulf of Mexico this summer? The following are tips and trategies for the most hardcore fish in Gulf waters ranging from live baits to lures and terminal tackle.
King mackerel are the primary target for numerous anglers.
The good news is any kind of cut or live bait will draw strikes from kings.
Big, lipless crankbaits are even better choices. Silver spoons are also great choices, especially those tipped with a jig or cigar minnow are great to troll behind culling shrimp boats.
If you fish the rigs for kings, bring along some chum like menhaden oil or throw out chunks of pogey to attract the big fish. I have found that canned jack mackerel makes great chum and it is very inexpensive.
All you have to do is punch holes in the can and put it in a lingerie washing bag or fish basket tied off to the boat. It will not take long to create a massive (but environmentally safe) oil slick. Spoons are also good for working around the legs of a rig to see if there are any mackerel prowling around. Simply throw out the spoon, let it flutter and float with the current around the structure of the rig.
One can hardly mention kings without talking about sharks because they run together a lot, especially behind the shrimp boats. These fish fight as hard as anything out there does and they are quite tasty as well.
Large circle hooks rigged on steel leaders are the most popular terminal tackle for bagging sharks. Sharks cannot only cut a line with their teeth but also with their skin, which is sharp in its own right. One quick slap of the tail can cut even heavy-duty line with no problem.
For targeting blacktips and spinners, my personal favorite chumming method involves bringing along a bucketful of small menhaden, grabbing a handful and squeezing. Some of them will float, others will sink quickly and others slowly.
This creates a feeding frenzy situation with sharks that can allow you to sight cast to them with cut bait. The ideal setup for this kind of fishing is having one bait on the bottom for species like bull sharks and Atlantic sharpnose and a couple of free lines to get the species that feed in the upper level of the water column.
This time of year, a big bonus for anglers fishing around the rigs are the ling that are starting to show up in good numbers. Locating these unusual fish is no problem. They are suckers for structure in Gulf waters and can often be found hanging around oil platforms, stand pipes, jetties and buoys.
One of the best tactics for locating ling around structure is to rev up the motors take a paddle and pound the water’s surface to get the attention of the fish.
If you would like to catch ling try the standard summer fishing protocol: a handful of cut pogeys thrown overboard, and live crab or fresh cut bait hanging from circle hooks is a great setup.
Crabs in particular are extremely good baits for ling. Almost every ling I have ever cleaned or seen cleaned had a belly full of crabs. Rods loaded with artificials should also be kept within reach since ling don’t mind biting on plastic. Soft plastics like curl-tailed grubs or imitation ribbonfish are good baits for lings. One of my favorite baits is the big six-inch shrimp imitation in brown or chartreuse. Using chartreuse is interesting because most of the offshore guides in Florida swear by it.
When offshore fishing, especially on overnight trips you want to keep your bait and catch cool. Consider Arctic Ice Cooler Packs to get the job done.
Chester Moore, Jr.