The summer doldrums with flat calm water and no breeze
can make daytime reef fishing very uncomfortable to say the least. Why
not go out at night? The air is generally 10 degrees cooler, the stars
are beautiful and the fishing is excellent.
Check your running and anchor lights before you leave the dock, also
check your flare kit. A minimum of 200 feet of anchor line is required
for reef fishing. Use a reef grapple anchor with the chain rigged to
the bottom of the anchor. Then using cable tie wraps or fishing line
tie the chain to the top of the anchor shank. Now when you pull the
anchor, the tie will break and the anchor will come out backwards.
Fishing equipment needs to be in the medium to heavy range. Stout boat
rods and reels with 250 to 300 yards of 40 or 50 pound test line are
the best choice. Most of the night fish out there will try to pull you
and your rig in the hole with them! A couple of spinners with 20 pound
test for flat lining will complete the arsenal. On the terminal end
I like to use an Eagle Claw #84 6/0 hook with 3 feet of 60 to 80 pound
test leader and a good quality Sampo or Rosco barrel swivel. Stay away
from the cheap imports. Hook sizes from 3/0 to 8/0 and egg sinkers from
2 through 6 ounce will round out your tackle box. A wire chum basket
with 4 pounds of weight and 100 feet of 1/8 inch nylon braided rope
for chumming on the bottom will get some of those larger reef dwellers
closer to your boat.
The night fishing off Marathon is best 3 or 4 miles west of Sombrero
light. Take a 210 degree heading from Knight's Key and you will be in
the right spot. The first thing to do upon arrival to the target area
is to find the fish! When you get to 50 feet of water slow down and
start watching your fish finder. Globs of stuff marking above the bottom
are fish. Stop where you mark fish, and go over the area several times
to get an exact location of the school. The GPS or Loran can help with
this. Once you have the spot nailed down you need to check current flow
and be able to anchor up current of the fish you just found. Go back
to the spot that you marked the fish and stop. Watch your GPS (if you
have loran set it on LAT/LONG), if LONGITUDE IS increasing you have
a westerly current and you will need to anchor east.of the spot. With
decreasing LONGITUDE the opposite will be true.
The first job to take care of once you are anchored is the chum. Slip
a block of chum inside a chum bag and put the whole thing inside your
wire chum basket. Lower the basket over the side until you feel the
bottom and bring it up about 5 feet or so. Then get another chum block
in the water on the surface using a chum bag only. Cut fresh ballyhoo
or frozen thread herring are the two best baits. Ballyhoo should be
cut in large chunks (2" to 3"). The thread herring can be
cut in half. Let the bait down right behind the boat near the wire chum
basket. When you get a hit, crank the slack out of the line and work
the rod tip down to the water, come up with a hard sweep of the rod
and crank as fast as you can to get the fish coming to the boat.
THE TACKLE BOX WILL HELP YOU GET THE FISHING GEAR YOU NEED!
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