Anchor fishing is a particularly great way to target snappers, grouper and other reef dwelling bottom fish. Anchor fishing is mostly done in shallow waters of 20 to 100 feet. The technique of anchor fishing involves anchoring on a spot and chumming the water. Chum is a frozen block of fish parts, which is ground down to particles small enough to get released through holes of a mesh chum bag. The chum is frozen so it releases at a moderate pace continuously as it thaws out. The chum bag releases the small particles and scent, which will attract snapper and other fish from a wide area. The curious reef fish swim closer and closer to the boat to investigate where the chum is coming from. When the fish enter the area around the boat, they are hungry and looking for something to eat. When they come across one of our baited fishing lines, FISH ON!
Anchor fishing is a great way to target snappers, specifically yellowtail, mangrove and mutton snappers. Yellowtails like to lay back in the chum slick, so it is best to drift a line behind the boat with little to no lead. They are smaller fish, only 2-4 pounds, so the lighter the line you use, the better your chances are. The bait will drift naturally back with the small particles flaking off the chum bag. Just keep letting the line back slowly until the line starts going out faster than you’re letting it out. Then just lock up your reel and start winding. When you come tight on the fish, give the rod a gentle but firm tug backwards, to set the hook in the fishes jaw. Then fight him to the boat and send your line out for another one. Yellowtailing can be a lot of fun when you get them all chummed up.
Mangrove and mutton snapper fishing is a little bit different. These snapper prefer to lie near the bottom so you will need to use a sinker. The weight of the sinker will vary depending on the depth and current. A nice chunk bait, ballyhoo plug, baitfish head, or squid are all good baits for mutton and mangroves. Drop your bait all the way to the bottom and wait for a nibble. Small fish like grunts and triggerfish will take little nibbles from your bait, but be patient. A larger snapper will see this happening and rush in to grab the bait away. Snapper are greedy fish. When you feel a bite that seems stronger than little fish pecking at the bait, get ready to wind hard and set the hook. Some people like to give the fish a few seconds to get the bait down his mouth. Other fishermen prefer to ‘try him right away’ so that the fish doesn’t have time to spit the bait. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your technique and do what feels right and works best for you. The great thing about anchor fishing is that you get a lot of bites, so you have a lot of chances to get it right.