Change the Game, With Spadefish

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spadefish angler

Spadefish offer a rather unusual target for anglers looking for a new kind of challenge.

Sure, we love our reds and our snappers and our specks, but sometimes you just want to try fishing for something different. Looking for a change of pace? If so, spadefish make a nifty target. This species is under-rated as both a fighter and a food-fish. They turn their wide body sideways to put up quite a tussle (think of a gigantic bluegill, and you’ll know just how they fight), and when you first taste a spadefish you’ll be surprised by their unique flavor. But catching spades is not at all like catching other species, and you won’t often catch these fish by accident while fishing for other things – you need to focus in like a laser, and go after them using this specific technique.

spadefish angler

Spadefish offer a rather unusual target for anglers looking for a new kind of challenge.

  1. Get a load of clams (at least several pounds).
  2. Pick a location where there’s structure like a wreck or reef in 20 to 80 feet of water. Wrecks that come up well off the bottom (which spadefish like to suspend over) are often considered prime territory, for this species.
  3. Rig up with a small #4 or #6 hook (spadefish have very small mouths) attached to 12-pound monofilament leader. Add a splitshot or two about a foot above the hook, but no more weight than that.
  4. Smash two clams together to break the shells. Then slide the clam meat from one onto a cutting board and slice it, across the belly and mantle, into thin strips. Slide your hook through the mantle (firm) part.
  5. Continue smashing clams together as you hold them over the side of the boat, so clam juice and shell bits fall into the water. When you have a half dozen or so smashed up, put them in a mesh bag and hang it over the side.
  6. Drift your hook bait back in the chum slick you’ve created. It’s usually most effective if some of the anglers aboard drift a bait back and leave it 30 or 40 feet behind the boat while others continually drift the baits, reel them up, and drift them back again.
  7. Every three or four minutes give the mesh bag a shake to keep the tidbits flowing, and every 15 or 20 minutes smash two more clams together and add them to the bag to rejuvenate the chum supply.

Quite often you’ll see the spadefish come into the chum slick, and nip at the clam bits. Sometimes they’ll even come right up to the bag. And once you get a bite you’re likely to have nonstop action until the tide changes or the school wears out. Either way, you’ll have fun trying a new fishery that some folks never even tap into.


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