By Tim Barefoot
There’s bait, and there’s chum… and there’s one bait that does both. Where I do most of my fishing, we have an abundance of menhaden, pinfish, spots, croakers and beeliners (vermillion snapper) offshore. Whatever you have is what you use. A butterflied bait does a couple things at once. First and foremost, a butterflied bait is a couple open fillets that create a perfect chum slick on the bottom to gather interest from the target species—grouper. This is not a great strategy to use drift fishing, but it will work to catch a fish here and there. This is a practice to use while anchored or while using the Rhodan to GPS anchor. You want to find one piece of pretty bottom with a good mark of fish and bait and then chum it up to attract the grouper, instead of drifting down a ledge to catch one here and there. This is how you get good “stops” with multiple good fish per stop. I cannot say this any more clearly. Anchoring or using the Rhodan is the way to go!
The reason for putting down large butterflied baits is the little fish down there “rattle” the fillets until thousands of small pieces of flesh flow down-current and encourage other fish to join the frenzy. Within a short period of time, the target species will be interested and part of the game. Yes, they are very curious, and, yes, they are very wise and move in cautiously, but at some point… they just can’t take it anymore. This butterflied bait has everything they are looking for. Dropped on a Decoy Jig, it’s the correct visual aspect. It’s big chunks (fillets) of what they eat anyhow, and it’s offered on clean heavy-duty tackle. The smaller fish will feel like a series of “machine gun” bites to you holding the rod, but be patient. When the grouper move in and bite, it will be more than obvious what that bite feels like. The only downside to this style of fishing is you will attract sharks. When sharks show up, it’s time to move. Let me put this in perspective. The mental chain of command amongst grouper is: Red grouper: MORON Scamp grouper: kinda savvy Gag grouper: VERY savvy These fish can all be caught, but you must make the correct offering using the correct presentation. If you are fishing for “bottom fish,” use cut bait. If you are grouper fishing, use butterflied or whole live snapper.
Check out Tim Barefoot’s website at barefootcatsandtackle.com.