Casting the Floater/Sinker Rig

Friday, August 29th, 2014


The fish are deep. You want to get deep and close to the bottom, but there are rocks that can snag you and break off your lure and maybe weeds that can snag the lure hooks. Hmmm… Fortunately, this is not a problem requiring Sherlock Holmes.

The simple answer is with a floater/sinker rig consisting of a sliding sinker a few feet ahead of a simple floating lure. For lots of reasons, the best lure is a simple floating Texas-rigged worm.

The best sinker to use is a clinch-on or similar sinker that you can fasten to the line and will slide easily over the bottom. Fasten this with an additional turn of line around the body of the sinker so it will not slide down the line as you fish. Place this sinker on the line a few feet above the end of the line, then tie on the hook and Texas rig the floating worm. In place of a worm, you can use a floating plastic lizard, floating plastic crayfish or similar lure.

There is also another way you can rig this if you are fearful you will lose the rig if the sinker snags in the rocks. For this, use a three-way swivel or tie in a piece of light line—less than the pound test of the main line you are using—about 3 feet up from the lure attachment. Use a light line of about 2- to 4-pound test a foot or two in length. Fasten several split-shot to this light line to provide the weight needed for casting.

With the light short line and split-shot, any snags will catch the split shot that can then slide off. Alternatively, you can break the light line without affecting the floating soft plastic.

To further keep the lure or hooks from snagging weeds or other structure, use a Texas rig that will bury the hook point in the worm or lizard body so it can’t be snagged. If you want the worm to swim with a little more action, use a similar Florida rig, in which the worm is twisted before burying the hook in it to make the worm rotate. If doing this, you might also want to use a very small swivel several feet up the line to reduce twist in the line.

One eye of the swivel can also be used in place of the three-way swivel for attaching the light line holding the sinker.

With any of these arrangements, the sinker will drag along the bottom to keep the lure deep as you retrieve. The floating soft plastic will keep the lure above the rocks and weeds and free from snagging while also keeping it more visible to fish.

The secret of this fishing is to retrieve the rig, but at a slow enough speed to keep the soft plastic up off of the bottom and visible to fish. It is a great way to fish snaggy water.

While the lure/sinker rig is great for getting deep and catching fish, you can’t cast it the way you “snap cast” a single lure. Instead of a snap cast with quick back-forward movement, you have to treat it like a bait rig.

For this, hold the rod horizontal. Position the sinker about 6 inches down from the rod tip, with the plastic worm hanging straight down. Then keep the rod horizontal and move the outfit so that it is back of you. Pause and then swing—cast—the rig over your head to get maximum distance without hooking yourself. You will get a good long cast without tangling the rig or endangering yourself or others.

The Kingfish Tactics of Clayton Kirby

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Clayton Kirby and team Vengeance are some of the first mackerel fishermen to develop several deadly live bait trolling techniques for kingfish. Kirby has captured two SKA Angler of the Year honors and has won the Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament five times.

Keep in mind that the annual Greater Jacksonville Kingfish Tournament has in the past attracted a full field of 1,000 talented kingfish teams from all parts of the country. It is one of the most difficult fishing tournaments to win, and winning this event five times is an accomplishment only Clayton Kirby can lay claim to.

During 2013’s 33rd Jacksonville tournament, Kirby and team Vengeance proved their king mackerel fishing skills for the fifth time.

“When competing on the SKA tournament trail, our kingfish team employs a key kingfish tactic that we have used for many kingfish seasons now,” Kirby said.  “Quite frankly, it involves a lot of hard work that most kingfish teams may easily pass aside because of the work and time involved.

“It’s critical to have on board plenty of fresh chum for grinding during a full day of king fishing and more importantly, large live menhaden caught in our nets are placed in the boat’s livewell for live baiting tournament-size kingfish. Our fishing team has had little success with frozen chum, it’s the freshly ground chum that interests king mackerel.”

Kirby throws a 10- to 12-foot fast-sinking cast net with a long rope in case menhaden are holding deep. Naturally, a larger fast-sinking net captures enough menhaden more efficiently than a smaller, slow sinking net.

King pogy channel: Taking the time in netting enough menhaden for both chumming and live-bait king fishing is key to any SKA king mackerel team’s success.

Taking the time in netting enough menhaden for both chumming and live-bait king fishing is key to any SKA king mackerel team’s success.

“We will fill two 5-gallon buckets full of cast-netted menhaden, then ice down another 20 pounds of menhaden in an ice bag for chumming later in the day,” Kirby said. “Also, a lot of extra time is spent filling our livewells with 60 large live menhaden for live baiting kingfish.”

Team Vengeance has on board a hand-operated meat grinder that is put into action every five minutes during a long day of slow trolling live baits for kingfish. After grinding a few pounds of fresh menhaden, the chum is placed into a small mesh chum bag and attached to a gunnel cleat. Saltwater flowing through the chum bag allows fresh ground chum to slowly seep from the bag and saturate the upper portion of the water column where smoker kingfish live.

“The key to successfully chumming up tournament-size mackerel is hand grinding fresh menhaden on the boat with a hand-operated meat grinder every five minutes then placing the ground chum right in the chum bags,” Kirby said.  “We also slow troll in the same area where tournament kingfish are more likely to be caught, which creates a huge chum slick in a relatively small area.

“I believe the majority of kingfish, particularly on the east coast, are found holding in the upper half of the water column, especially along the beaches and inlets,” Kirby said. “We seldom kingfish deeper than 10 feet of water. Downrigger baits are set from 5 to 7 feet of water even when fishing in deep water depths. The exception of course is Gulf coastal oil rigs, where kingfish are found holding in deep water. We also are also constantly making changes to our steering so live baits tend to swim down slowly or skitter on the surface in producing kingfish strikes.”

When fishing deep water, Kirby watches his boat’s electronics closely and adjusts his downrigger live baits to the exact depth where kingfish are holding. Kirby fishes large blue runners and goggle eye bait fish when targeting deep-water kingfish. His 2014 36-foot Blackwater tournament boat is plumbed perfectly for large and small live baits.

Fresh bait and chum are key to Clayton Kirby’s tactics that have placed his name on the top of the SKA professional kingfish tournament trail. The livewells on his 36-foot Blackwater are invaluable.

Fresh bait and chum are key to Clayton Kirby’s tactics that have placed his name on the top of the SKA professional kingfish tournament trail. The livewells on his 36-foot Blackwater are invaluable.

“My new Blackwater kingfish boat has 65-gallon and 45-gallon livewells located at the transom, which are plumbed to 2,000 GPH Rule livewell pumps,” Kirby said. “There is also a back-up 2,000 GPH Rule livewell pump for each livewell, which come on automatically if one fails. All four livewell pumps are located in a coffin in the bottom of the boat that eliminates those dreaded air locks.

“However, the big advantage while fishing from my new Blackwater is that both livewells are pressurized, which eliminates my live baits from becoming beat up. Now my expensive offshore live baits stay lively all day, which is extremely important when a major kingfish bite takes place late during a tournament day.”

During the 2014 SKA tournament trail, Kirby and team Vengeance will be competing with a brand new Mercury-powered, 36-foot Blackwater center-console fishing boat. Look for team Vengeance to dominate the king mackerel tournament trail during the 2014 fishing season.

A nice smoker King!

A nice smoker King!

What are some tactics you use for getting those Smoker King’s?

Fishing the Controlled Depths While Drifting or at Anchor

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

[dropcap1]O[/dropcap1]ne of the most effective baits of all is fresh dead or frozen bait presented properly at the correct depth. Fresh dead bait is really effective, however tens of thousands of tuna, dolphin, wahoo and kings have been caught on frozen minnows free lined out the back of the boat while bottom fishing.

How to “Float” Your Trailer, Rather Than Damage it, if You Ever Get “Hung-up”

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

Many years ago, A (very wise) older gentleman at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center Boat Ramp showed me how to get my trailer “un” hung, rather than go swimming in 45 degree water and/or destroy my axel(s) trying to muscle it up, and over, the end of the concrete with the power of the truck.

This is something that I have meant to share with the public for years now, but never have. I have seen the results of people getting aggravated and just give the truck more fuel to force the trailer tires up and over the corner of the concrete at the end of the ramp, and it’s not a pretty picture. (more…)

Know Your Way Around a Boat, And How to Operate It

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

There is more to fishing then just fishing

We talk so much, in fly fishing circles, about how to cast into the wind, fight fish and what types of flies to use, but we rarely cover the importance of being able to operate a skiff if called upon to do so.

It’s about safety

It’s simple. If you’re on the water in a boat, and or skiff, miles offshore or somewhere on the flats, and the guide, captain or fishing buddy for some unforeseen reason is unable to run the skiff due to illness or injury it’s a good idea for you, as the angler, to be able to run the skiff back to shore and safety. This may be a seldom experienced scenario, but it has happened to me, and I am relieved and thankful that I was able to operate the boat and perhaps avoid a tragic ending to a fishing trip. (more…)

Sword Fishing is Hot in the Keys This Time of Year

Friday, June 22nd, 2012

In the last several months, a number of huge swordfish have been caught in the Florida Keys. These big swordfish are a result of banning long line fishing practices from the East Coast all the way down to Florida many years ago. (more…)

Riggin’ and Jiggin’

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Stinger Hook Assembly For Grouper & Snapper

By: Tim Barefoot

To begin, cut a piece of 200- to 250-pound braided line approximately 12 to 16 inches long and fold in half, making a six- to eight-inch-long doubled line. Insert the point of the doubled line through the back of the eye of the stinger hook. The stinger hook size and length of the stinger is variable according to the size bait to be used.

cam-fig-1Figure 1: With approximately 1.5 to two inches of doubled line extending forward from the eye of the hook, make a loop around the shank of the hook and index finger (with the braided line) to form a loop on the shank of the hook. Remove index finger, leaving a loop of the braided line.

cam-fig-2Figure 2: Tie a standard (three loop) Uni-Knot on the shank of the hook with the braided line.

cam-fig-3Figure 3: Using a de-hooker or a nail to secure the doubled line in front of the stinger hook and a pair of pliers for the two tag ends of the braided line, tighten down the Uni-Knot on the shank of the hook and pull the Uni-Knot tightly up against the eye of the hook with the front loop of doubled line. Trim tag ends of braided line off within 3/8 of an inch of Uni-Knot with a sharp knife. Be careful!

cam-fig-4Figure 4: Insert the stinger hook through the loop of braided line around the main jig hook and tighten.

Note: This can be used with many sizes of J hooks or circle hooks and also with several sizes and brands of braided lines.