Most anglers know that to target larger gamefish, fishing from shorelines or banks just won’t cut it. Offshore fishing requires the use of a boat or kayak, but the opportunities to add fish species to your bucket list are well worth the extra equipment. Karl Anthony Simon, a medical professional from the greater Houston area of Texas, is an avid sportfisherman. Having traveled the world in search of new species, he shares some of his tips for success in offshore fishing adventures.
Rod and Bait Choices for Offshore Fishing
When venturing offshore to target gamefish, smart anglers bring a variety of rods and tackle. Some of the equipment choices depend on the fish being sought; heavy boat rods are ideal for deepwater jigging and trolling, while light baitcasting or spinning gear is a better choice for fish feeding at or near the surface of the water. No matter what rods you bring, Anthony Simon recommends keeping one rod rigged with an artificial lure like a bucktail or soft plastic swimbait. This way, it is easy to grab when the opportunity strikes, such as checking out the action near oil rigs or if schools of feeding fish are spotted.
Attention to Detail: The Key to Offshore Fishing Success
It is impossible to load one’s boat with every type of rod, reel, and bait, so anglers must often make critical decisions before heading offshore. Here, attention to detail is crucial: selecting commonly-used items or equipment that has been proven to work in the past. Keep a selection of leader materials, hooks, and terminal tackle onboard, but don’t get too carried away; the essentials should be enough to catch all the fish your boat can handle. Waterproof boxes make it a snap to keep tackle organized and reduce clutter aboard the fishing boat.
When choosing equipment, don’t forget to bring along anything that might be used to catch live bait out at sea. A light rod with a sabiki rig or a cast net can help you collect live bait that fish are feeding on, and thus improve your chances of landing a lunker.
Practice Your Knots
The knot holding leader to line or hook/lure to leader is the weakest link in any fishing setup. Seasoned anglers like Anthony Simon know that practicing knot-tying is a great way to hedge your bets offshore. Some of the best knots in terms of strength are the Palomar, fisherman’s knot (improved clinch knot), and the Uni knot. When tying knots in leaders, it is always a good practice to wet the line to reduce friction and damage to the leader material. Finally, some fishermen prefer to add a dab of superglue to their knots to improve their breaking strength.
If there is structure in your preferred fishing area, such as rock piles, reefs, or submerged debris, the deepwater jigging technique can pull up an incredible variety of sportfish. Typically, anglers use heavy boat rods and open-faced reels for jigging, but heavy spinning gear can also be used. The deepwater jig is usually a large 2-3oz. cigar or trapezoid shape, and is often covered with a prismatic or shiny material to entice fish. The technique is simple, too: let the jig touch the bottom, then engage the reel and pump the rod tip vigorously so the jig moves in a vertical pattern. Fish will literally come out from behind cover to attack the jig, and before you know it, your fish box will be full of snappers, grouper, and amberjack.
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