Deep jigging or vertical jigging is a fishing method that has been practiced around the world, but is just now getting acceptance from the saltwater anglers on the east coast. California, Mexico and Cuba have been yoyo jigging for years and have been very productive.

The introduction of the Butterfly Jigging system several years ago opened the door for other manufactures producing new versions of jigging products.

Basic

Find a location with moderate current and look for rocky areas, wrecks or other structure. A good bottom sounder is important in order to read not only the bottom, but the fish. Position the boat directly over the structure or fish, and drop a jig. The weight of the jig is determined by the current and depth of water, so I recommend having a good selection of jigs before starting on you jigging trip.



Technique Grouper

This simple technique allows you to drop the jig to the bottom, always staying in touch. By this I mean you must always feel the jig, as this will help in hook setting and also keeping the jig from twisting around your leader or line.

There are several methods of deep jigging. One is positioning the boat directly over the fish or drifting over the bottom across the rocks, ledges, or wreck. Always drift parallel to the rocks or wreck. Once the fish are located, it’s time to decide which lures will work best, metal jigs or soft plastic bait. Please note that your lure should be heavy enough to always touch bottom at all times.

When you drift beyond the ledge, rocks or wreck area, crank up and start another up current drift. Drop down to the bottom, crank one turn on the reel and start the drift again. Once a fish is hooked, drop a marker over the side, as this will give you a reference point for your next drift or to do a stationary drop.

When drifting for your best position in the boat, a good point to remember is that when “the wind is in your face you are in the right place.”

Anchoring is another choice if there is a strong current or strong wind. Position the boat over the structure and start jigging, allowing the jig to hit bottom every time.


Technique Grunts, Seabass

Some great table fair overlooked by many anglers are the grunts and seabass they are tasty in some cases preferred over other species. Your find these fish in the same area as the grouper the only exception is to use small jigs and best worked an piece of FISHBITE CHUNKS in either shrimp or squid flavor it’s a killer and let you catch an average of 5 to 8 grunts on one piece.


Tackle Grouper

With metal jigs in fast currents or deep water, I prefer conventional reels with a fast retrieve medium action rod with 40-pound test braided line and a 36-inch 40-pound test clear mono leader. I find that a good grade of clear monofilament line works well and has a thinner diameter than fluorocarbon.

In shallow waters of 15 to 30-feet I prefer soft baits on spinning tackle, medium action rod spooled with 30-pound test braided line and a 36-inch fluorocarbon leader of 30-pound test.

A tight drag is recommended since you are fishing over structure, and these fish will head for the nearest hole or structure when they strike.

Under normal conditions I would use a conventional reel for grouper fishing, but I find spinning tackle to be less straining and easier to maintain the proper motion for longer periods of time.

Most popular deep jigs on the market.

Good fishing and tight lines.

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Tampa Bay offers a smorgasbord of species to fish for, including redfish, snook, trout, and cobia, just to mention a few. As a charter captain, the most requested inshore species is snook with redfish a close second. One species often overlooked is Paralichthy lethostigma, or in layman’s term Southern Flounder.


Southern Flounder are frequently called “doormats”. These fish can easily camouflage themselves and can be found around sandy or muddy bottoms along the edge of grass beds and channels. These doormats average in size from 2-4 pounds with many tipping the scales at 8 pounds. A strong fighter on light tackle and rated as one of the best in food value, most Southern Flounder are caught by accident while drifting the flats or cuts for redfish and trout.


Although Southern Flounder can be caught all year long, I find the cooling fall season as prime time for catching doormats. November and December are my favorite months to catch them, when other fish are slow to strike the flounder are always ready for an easy meal. Flounders are bottom feeders, and in order to increase your chances at the big ones I recommend several techniques that have worked for me over the years.




Dead or Live Bait Fishing: Drift along the outer edges of grass beds or along side of channels with structure or rubble. A ¼-ounce jig head this method works best in 2-6 feet of water. Hook a small piece of shrimp or Fishbites Shrimp scent on the jig or if you prefer a medium live shrimp. Bounce the jig along the bottom and the drift of the boat will do the rest of the work. In deeper water (6-10 foot), I recommend a 3/8 ounce jig head.


Artificial: A 3/8-ounce jig head with a 3-inch tail works during cold fronts. The last several years with the introduction of artificial baits with fish attractant built in or the use of products like The Fish Bomb (shrimp cocktail) can make a big difference in the amount of fish caught. Anchor on the outer edges of grass beds or deep water channel casting up current or tide. The secret is to bounce the jig along the bottom with a slow retrieve. Flounder will only travel short distances for food, so the presentation must be close. The more casts the better chances

of catching fish. We must not forget the old standby Fishbites Scented shrimp.


Dock Fishing: Is another good way to catch the big ones, while the heat generated around the concrete piling on cold windy days is a natural attractant ¼-ounce sinker setup as a Texas rig with a glow bead between the hook and the sinker for the big ones. It’s my belief that the glow bead just draws attention in the dark bottom and turns the flounder on to strike quicker. Seawalls that have a quick drop into sandy bottom with grass patches are also key spots.


Bridges: Flounder tend to sit and wait for their bait so try fishing the bind side of the bridge where the tide is moving bringing food to them. Here I use 3/8-ounce sinker setup with the glow bead all the time, casting along the edges of the shoreline and working the shrimp towards the drop.


Tackle-My favorite rod is a 7.5 ft. Okuma medium light action rod in the 10 to 17-pound test range, medium size spinning reel like the Okuma Halios 30. Fall months usually means windy days so I prefer using Fins Windtamer 15-pound test braided line. It’s one of the best lines I have found in helping keeping wind knot down to a minimum. Most of my big founder fishing is done around docks and braided line seems to be the most proficient.

Locations

Old Tampa Bay

Big Island cut west end of Howard Frankland Bridge.

4th street bridge on incoming tide.

St. Pete side of Gandy bridge just outside the rocks.

South end of Picnic Island the rock piles.

Tampa Bay

Edges of the rocks along the St. Pete Airport.

Sandy areas on the outside of the artificial reefs east of the Vinoy Resort.

Terra Ceia Bay

Bird Key

Flounder Pass

Southern Flounder will offer a change of pace and taste, so don’t overlook the doormats of Tampa Bay. Please e-mail any questions concerning fishing or tackle and I will be glad to respond.

Caught fishing with Capt. Sergio

Good fishing and tight lines.

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  • Capt. Sergio Atanes


Midday thunderstorms and high temperatures often turn many anglers into night creatures searching for their prey. Several advantages come into play; the night brings out the best in tarpon, snook, trout and black drum fishing and some tolerable conditions.


Fishing from shore Picnic Island fishing pier offers a great location for the whole family to spend several hours on a weekend catching fish. Boaters can launch either at the Courtney Campbell boat ramp or the Salty Sol boat ramp located one mile west of Westshore Blvd. on Gandy Blvd.


The best fishing takes place about an hour after sundown through 2 a.m. Free lined live bait “meaning no weights are added” drifted under the lights will draw the attention of trout, snook and tarpon. Using LED underwater lights make nighttime fishing a breeze. The Hydro Glow LED Fish Light is designed to vertically suspend itself below the surface of the water radiating a bright green glow in all directions. This design utilizes 100% of the light generated by the light for the designed purpose, attracting fish. The bright fluorescent green light gets it effectiveness by attracting the entire aquatic food chain. From microscopic plankton to various sizes of minnow, to many species of game fish, all find the Hydro Glow Fish Light irresistible.


Boaters can also take advantage of dock lights following the same pattern. The live bait should be allowed to drift with the current flow from the shadow line into the light and back into the dark. Most important when dock fishing at night is to always respect the owner’s right to privacy and avoid loud noises by using the stealth system. That means be quiet!


Some of my favorite baits, shad and greenback sardines both can be caught under the bridges at night with a bait cast net. Shrimp are on top of the food chain except summer months they tend to be on the small size and are often rechecked by the big fish.


Artificial baits work well if presented right, mu favorite is Fishbites paddle tail with a 1/8 oz jig head work slowly with the current. Start by casting past the dock and work in from the dark to the edge of the lights, If the lights are on the bottom of the dock bounce it along the edge of the light.


Remenber to pick a spot with light or create your own using a Coleman lantern, Hydro Glow light or on many new boats they are equipped with underwater lighting from the factory. The light must be strong enough to draw small bait fish, be patient and they will come. Do not overlook bottom fishing I have caught snook; cobia and black drum on a bottom rig while catching snook, trout and tarpon on the surface.


Boaters need to anchor or use your trolling motor spot lock if equipped under the bridge with the stern of the boat just even with the shadow line (where the light from the bridge cast shadow) snook and tarpon cruise the dark side and strike the bait fish attracted to the light. The brighter the light you have the better chances of catching fish.


I recommend medium spinning tackle 15 to 20 test line 40-pound test leader with 3/0 hook for surface fishing and conventional tackle with 30 to 40-pound test line 50-pound test leader and 4/0 hook for the bottom rigs some of the black drum caught can range from 20 to 50 pounds.


Black drum are plentiful this month, their favorite bait a half of a fresh blue crab which can be caught along the shoreline or purchased at the local bait and tackle stores.


Here is a tip always add a piece of Fishbites Shrimp flavor chunk strip to increase your catch. This product stays on the hook so if you miss the first bite Fishbites Chucks stays on to give you another chance at catching you prey.


In Tampa Bay I have found the Gandy and Howard Franklin bridges to be the most productive. The smaller bridges of the Skyway and Fort Desoto area are top snook producers. The main span of the Skyway can produce some large mangrove snapper and grouper during the full moon nights during the summer.


Stay cool this summer while fishing on the DARK SIDE.


Good fishing and tight lines.

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