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Night Reef Fishing

Night Reef Fishing

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.


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