Bottom fishing requires not just skill but a bit of resourcefulness and most of all patience. You have to be familiar or at least get input from people who know the area so you can select the appropriate rig and apply your tactics accordingly.
The main purpose of bottom fishing rigs is to take your bait to the bottom of the water where the bottom-feeders lurk like the grouper and snapper. This technique also hooks migratory pelagics like cobia, amberjack, dolphinfish, mackerel, and tuna which find their way near wrecks and bottom topography to seek food or safety.
Here are three basic bottom rigs that have been proven to generate fish strikes.
The most basic is the three-way rig which is ideal when angling not just on the rocky bottom but also around wrecks and reefs. To create an effective rig, you will need a strong three-way swivel 80 – 130 lb, 20 – 25 lb big game monofilament for your drift weight, 30 – 50 lb big game monofilament for your treble hooks, size 2 – 4 treble hooks, a strong circle hook, and 16 – 24 oz. bank sinker.
The first step is to tie a uni knot with a bimini twist to the top eye of the three-way swivel then secure one end of the fluorocarbon leader with a uni knot on the mid-eye. The second step is to tie a hook with a uni knot to the other end of the fluorocarbon then create a double-ended loop knot on the free end of the swivel using 20 lb mono. The third step is to secure the end but don’t forget to reserve one loop of about 8” trailing behind where you can add and remove weights.
This classic rig is deployed when the boat is anchored or drifting over the area where fish is most likely lurking in shallow depths anywhere between 100 to 300 ft. Live bait and lures such as crankbaits, plastics, spinners, floating jig heads, spoons, and combinations are used to entice fish. This is best used with medium to heavy-power casting rod and medium-capacity baitcasting reel.
Instead of dropping this rig straight down, consider letting it out slowly so that the bait trails behind and at the same time prevent it from spinning. When you get a strike, crank and stay tight until you have successfully secured your catch.
This is perfect when angling on top of reefs or near wrecks while targeting smaller snappers including red, yellowtail, and gray. This setup involves tying the fishing line to a barrel swivel then tying a leader measuring around 5 – 10 ft to the swivel’s opposite eye. You can proceed by adding an egg sinker to the leader then followed by tying the hook on to finish the rig. When it comes to tackle, this simple rig is best matched with a 20-pound spinning outfit.
This configuration allows the bait to stay near the bottom and the movement attracts the attention of snappers and other bottom-dwelling species. When the fish takes the bait, the leader slides and hooks the target on the lip. From this point, you need to maintain a constant pressure in order to successfully retrieve your catch.
In-line snapper rig
The in-line snapper rig is composed of a leader that stretches anywhere between 15 – 25 ft long, egg sinkers up to 16 oz, fluorocarbon, and 8/0 strong hook. This rig is effective when angling the bottom upcurrent of a reef or wreck while targeting bottom residents particularly snappers.
In this arrangement, the long leader lets the live bait swim with minimal restrictions or allows a lure to float naturally with the current. When the in-line egg sinker falls to the bottom, the swimming bait or active lure triggers the fish to bite. Once the hook is set in, you can start reeling your catch.
If you’re the type of angler who is more focused about reeling fish rather than the size of the catch, then bottom fishing is something worth experiencing. Charter a boat to Cabo and have a big chunk of the angling action. You can experience the satisfaction of bringing in catch after catch!