by Jarrod Day
Last week we looked at part one of bottom bouncing and this week in part two we narrow it down explaining all the correct gear, rigs, baits and lure options for successful fishing.
When bottom fishing it is imperative that you use gear that is up to the challenge.
The right gear:
When it comes to bottom bouncing, any rod and reel can be used but the strength of the rod will be dictated by the sinker weights used. I prefer to use a light jig rod around PE 3, which is 5’6' in length. The shorter length rod enables better control of the line and rig when fishing as most of the time the line will be on a slight angle as you drift. The closer to the anger the line, the more control the angler will have. Every so often if you have not had a bite, it does pay to bring the rig back to the surface and left it down again. This is a good technique to keep the line angle as close to the angler as possible and prevents the sinker from lifting up off the bottom. Still, you will have to continually let small amounts of line out to ensure the baits are dragging along the reef.
Depending on the depth your fishing, reels will need to hold a considerate amount of line. Considering most of my bottom bouncing is done in anything from 40 meters to 100 meters, I prefer to use smaller reels such as a Shimano Sustain 10,000 which holds 300 meters of 50lb braid. This reel is more than suitable for bottom bouncing right around the country and with its 13kg’s of drag power has more than enough strength to handle the toughest of species. In saying that, if your targeting blue eye in 400 meters, you may want to opt for an electric reel or if you think this is cheating, you may want to use a Stella 20,000 and manually fish, I bet after one drop you’ll be begging for an electric reel considering at this depth, a 4-5kg sinker will be required to combat the current strength. Yep, that’s a five to ten minute drop with a 30 minute retrieve, good luck with that!
All reels should be spooled with braided lines purely due to the reduction in drag bestowed on the line. The thinner the diameter of the line the less resistance the water will affect it while the bait is on the bottom. This will reduce the bow in the line making it easier to see and feel any bites. Monofilament on the other hand allows too much stretch and while you may get a bite, setting the hook will be near impossible. If there is any current or the drift is fast, the bow on the line will be greater meaning you will have to keep letting great deals of line out to keep the bait on the bottom. Depending on the depth fished, braided lines should range from 50lb to 80lb for deaths in excess of 80 meters.
The humble paternoster rig allows mulitpule fish to be caught.
There are many different ways to rig up for bottom bouncing but all in all it is the humble paternoster rig that will cover all bases.
There are many different ways to tie this rig but each is formed off the same basis. A paternoster rig can be tied with either a single or twin droppers in which the hook is placed. The leader strength will differ depending on what species of fish your targeting but for most of the bread and butter species including flathead, snapper, nannygai and other reef dwellers, the ideal leader strength is around 40-60lb. in saying that, should you be up off the coast of Queensland in search of red emperor or coral trout you will be faced with coral reef bommies whereby you will need to rig up from 80-100lb and if your targeting blue eye, then it is 200lb all the way.
Once the rig is tied, a sinker can be placed on the bottom either directly tied to the end of the leader or just looped on. On each dropper a hook can be looped or tied and the size of the hook will be dictated by the fish being targeted. Hooks size will depend on the species being targeted. For most of my missions, I prefer to use a Black Magic KL design in either a 5/0 or 6/0 size which is suitable for most species.
While bottom bouncing it is very important to have the rig positioned as vertically as possible too the side of the boat. The angler will always have a tight line directly to the sinker and it is this technique that is ideal for the use of circle hooks. Circle hooks work best when the line is tight as the fish will take the bait and be hooked instantly. Other hooks styles require the angler to strike to set the hook. Problems can arise in this situation if the drift speed is fast or if you have a lot of line out creating a bow in the line. Striking will only straighten the bow out rather than have enough strength to securely set the hook. When you have or think you have hooked a fish and begin to wind it up, during the fight, the fish could come off the hooks if they are not set well enough. When using circle hooks, the fish hook themselves without the need for striking and providing the line is tight, there is no chance that they will fall off the hooks when bringing to the surface. Some pre-tied rigs are available for anglers doing this style of fishing and make it a lot easier than having to tie your own. Black Magic’s well known 'Snapper Snatcher' rigs also feature the right size circle hooks, are tied from 80lb trace and are ready to be baited up and sent down straight from the packet.
A typical bait board while bottom bouncing, bait at the ready at all times.
Slap it on the hook:
Gone are the days of bait presentation when it comes to bottom bouncing. At depth, fish certainly are not fussy when it comes to getting a free meal. It is a dog eat dog world down here and once there is something smelly and worth eating, there is no second guessing if it looks appealing or not. If fish are that fussy, they will quickly miss out.
Although bait presentation may not be a factor when putting a bait on a hook, you will still need to ensure that the bait used stays on the hook.
It can be very frustrating when lowering a bait to the bottom only to find you not getting a bite and after winding back to the surface find your bait is missing. In this case it may have fallen off the hook while lowering or as soon as it hit the bottom, some critter quickly stole it.
When placing a bait on the hook it is imperative that the bait used has a bit of the fishes skin on the flesh. This will aid in keeping the bait on the hook providing the hooks point is threaded through the tough skin.
Even Giant Trevally are suckers for bait from time to time.
Some anglers may also use bait mate or bait thread to wrap around the bait to prevent it from being stolen, but at the end of the day, it pays to take a little time in ensuring that it can’t easily be taken off the hook. While any old bait can be used when bottom bouncing, softer more fleshier baits can be a problem. Most common baits used for bottom bouncing include tuna, trevally, salmon and squid as they are tough and can withstand smaller reef fish picking at them. If you do use softer baits just be mindful that you will have to check your baits more regularly to ensure they haven’t fallen off the hook or have been stolen.
Offshore fishing charters around the country specialise in this style of fishing.
Although bait fishing is the preferred method around the country, more and more anglers are looking for other avenues to explore.
Lure fishing is fast becoming a popular fishing style and while fishing at depth is hard enough having to use heavy weights, anglers are now looking towards the used of 'occy' style jigs. Occy jigs are a lead weighted body featuring a rubber skirt containing two small but forged hooks to ensure their strength. They are available in a wide range of weights from 5g through to 200g at this stage.
Occy jigs can be used instead of bait; they can be tied onto the mainline and be fished as they are from the packet although some anglers do like to 'spice' them up by putting small pieces of squid onto the hooks.
To some, this is cheating but regardless of your thoughts, it is a highly effective technique. Occy jigs impersonate a bottom dwellers favorite and most hunted food, the squid or octopus making these lures a worthy asset to any bottom anglers tackle arsenal. Anglers looking for another avenue to explore than plain old bait fishing will find this technique a worthy one to explore.
Offshore, Tasmainian trumpetor are highly prized.
Bottom fishing is a lot of fun as in some areas; you never really know what your going pull up next. If you’re looking to stock the freezer or just want to head offshore to explore the bottom, set yourself up well and get drifting, your next catch is only a drop away.
Bottom bouncing can lead to some very big fish being caught.