Bottom fishing can be one of the most productive fishing methods in Fort Lauderdale for catching big game fish. The ocean bottom in Fort Lauderdale is home to many dozens of shipwrecks. Most of these were sunk intentionally as part of the South Florida artificial reef program. Many species of fish live in and around these sunken wrecks, which offer both food and protection. Fish species that live around shipwrecks can range from tiny grunts, all the way up the food chain to big game sharks. You can catch just about anything when bottom fishing near a shipwreck.
One of the best techniques for wreck fishing in Fort Lauderdale is called ‘wreck hopping’. Using this technique, we will drop our baits to the bottom, just up-current of whatever bottom structure we are targeting. When the sinker hits the bottom, the angler takes the slack out of the line and then we wait for the bite. Using live baits around shipwrecks can be deadly. A live blue runner or small bonito usually doesn’t last long on the bottom without getting a bite. Big game fish come from out of the woodwork of the shipwreck to chomp down on an injured and struggling live bait. If there are any big game fish hanging near the wreck, they’ll eat immediately or not at all. Using this technique, we don’t leave out baits down for very long. We only leave our baits down for 3-5 minutes. If by that time we still haven’t gotten a bite, it is time to wind the baits up and move on to the next spot. Fort Lauderdale is wonderful because you’re never very far away from the next wreck.
Wreck hopping is very effective because you can just fish from spot to spot to spot, until you find a wreck holding some big and aggressive fish. When the bite happens, it happens fast! The rod will bend over hard, jerking down every time the fish shakes his head. When wreck fishing, heavy tackle is a must. Most bottom dwelling fish will try to take you into the wreck structure and rub the line against something, to break you off. This is the only chance the bottom fish has of getting away because once we pull him clear of the wreck, he’s ours! The first thing that we do when we get a nice bite while wreck fishing, is to pull ahead hard with the boat. This is our attempt to get the fish far enough away, that he can’t take a run into the superstructure of the wreck.
You can catch just about anything shipwreck fishing in Ft Lauderdale. Amberjacks are a fierce fighter that we catch often with this technique. Black, gag, scamp, warsaw and snowy groupers are all members of the grouper family that we catch bottom fishing around the wrecks. Barracuda and sharks are 2 of the top predator fish that often lurk near wrecks to hunt their prey and can be caught as well. Another species, less commonly caught than the rest, is cobia. Cobia is a great eating bottom fish that sometimes venture into the vicinity of a shipwreck. We don’t catch them often, but it’s a great surprise when we do. Snappers are a smaller fish which we also catch around wrecks and are one of the best eating fish in the ocean. Of all the different fishing techniques we fish on our charters, bottom fishing can be the most productive for a large catch of big game fish.