By Time Barefoot
There is no comparison to anchoring versus drifting for grouper fishing. Catching grouper and big snapper consistently requires you to set up in one location. But there is a time and place for everything. Bear with me…
For grouper and big snapper fishing, you have to anchor or use a long-shank, GPS trolling motor—like a Rhodan—to keep your boat in place. I have talked about this in previous articles. You need to “set the table” for the gags, reds and scamps. While anchored with 4 or 5 anglers onboard, we send down several rounds of whole squid, regardless of what comes up. Whole squid dropped on Decoy Jigs create a chum slick on the bottom directly below the boat. After three or four rounds of these “freebie” squid offerings, we send down the live baits on Decoy Jigs. This is more than grouper and big snapper can mentally digest. They see a live bait caught by a crab or squid. It’s a Happy Meal to them. To do this effectively, your boat must remain in a fixed position.
There are now a few brands of powerful, long-shank, GPS-equipped electric trolling motors on the market that allow offshore anglers the same benefits enjoyed for years by inshore and freshwater anglers. These machines allow you to anchor “virtually” or set a heading, among other things. They are an absolute game-changer. I use a Rhodan, so that’s what I’ll call it.
Using the Rhodan alone is my preferred method. It will keep you in one spot, and it’s so much easier than anchoring in deep water. It is accurate, fast, effortless and time efficient.
If the water is too deep or the current is running too hard, we will sometimes drift with the Rhodan. From barely in gear up to full speed, we use the trolling motor to slow the drift. This creates a good situation in which to drop baits for bottom fish while flying a kite out of the back of the boat. The Rhodan keeps the bow pointed into the wind or current, allowing you to deploy kites with live baits while also bottom fishing. It’s possible to fish for pelegics like wahoo and dolphin while catching bottom fish at the same time. The kite will work the Rhodan hard and reduce battery life, so keep this in mind.
A traditional anchor allows you to fly a kite with baits out for wahoo, while also bottom fishing without taxing the Rhodan to keep the boat in a fixed position. This combo, however, can only be used with a light wind. If the wind or current are up, a slow drift with the Rhodan is the best way to drop baits while tending the kite and float baits.
Like I said, there is a time and condition for one or all of the combos, but I’m sometimes old-school, and you just can’t beat an anchor for grouper fishing when the water depth and current speed are right.
For more information and instructional videos, go to barefootcatsandtackle.com.