Covering the Column

 

Covering the Column

By Capt. Gus Cane

Angling success is tied directly to the laws of probability. The number of baits presented is proportional to the number of fish that can be caught. And the most effective way to present those various baits is by covering the entire water column. Here are several ways to do that:

Start on the surface. A topwater plug that makes a lot of noise or commotion will often attract the interest of any hungry fish, either solo or in a school. Single fish will strike thinking the lure is wounded or crippled. Schoolers will race each other in competition to an easy meal. Casting topwater lures is effective for a variety of species, from redfish, seatrout, stripers and snook to dolphin, king mackerel, and even tuna.

Live bait rigged to stay on or near the surface is enticing as well. Predators push bait to the top during an attack, so a nervous morsel suspended under a kite, balloon or cork is always easy pickings. Baits hooked through the nose, or dorsal fin will stay near the surface whereas those hooked in the stomach or lower tail tend to swim downward. Trolled baits and lures serve the same purpose. The combination of splashing and bubbles, often in conjunction with teasers, help draw the game fish into the surface strike zone.

Surface water temperature, thermoclines, clarity, and subsurface structure or habitat are all determining factors for fishing in the mid-level depths. During the hot summer months, inshore game fish will seek comfort in the cooler levels below. Structure-oriented species such as red snapper, amberjack, and cobia typically concentrate below the surface but above the bottom of wrecks, reefs, and other submerged objects. Adding weight or using weighted lures and baits is the easiest way to reach those targeted depths. Rigging mackerel, ballyhoo, and mullet with chin weights accomplishes the task for big game targets. Heavier bucktails, flutter jigs and suspending or lipped plugs are more ways to go deeper with normal tackle. Fish-finder rigs or pinch weights serve the same purpose. Rigging baits behind planers is another effective tactic, and for the ultimate controlled presentations, downriggers are deadly for keeping a bait in a measured—and repeatable—spot midway down in the water column.

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Adding still more weight is the best way to reach and hold bottom or at least bounce off the bottom. Heavy jigs and swim baits require stout tackle, but they get the job done. The same thing can be said for various weights either tied in-line or designed to break away, like those used for deep-drop rigs for daytime swordfish. Different sinker shapes have to be considered too. Oval egg sinkers allow the line to pull freely to impart more action while pyramid or bank sinkers are designed to stay stationary. Regardless of the shape or heft, use just enough weight to reach and hold the bottom in the current. Going too heavy will make it more difficult to detect subtle taps, especially with line stretch or bows.

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Original Source:  Sportsmans Lifestyle.com

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