A Guide to Deep Drop Fishing in Florida
By Peter Miller, Bass 2 Billfish
An increased number of recreational fishermen are trying out this commercial deep drop fishing tactic – enjoying challenging methods and impressive results.
Recreational anglers have taken a page out of commercial fishermen’s book when it comes to deep drop fishing in Florida – a technique used in deep sea fishing. Commercial fishermen have used these deep sea fishing techniques for years to bring in deep water fish like snowy grouper and rosefish, but with the availability of electric reels and other mass-marketed equipment like terminal tackle, this deep water fishing trend has caught on for weekend fishermen as well. It is important to note, however, that based on current regulations, in Florida, this type of recreational fishing is only legal in the Gulf of Mexico and not in the Atlantic.
The fish found in the ocean’s deep waters are some of the most interesting, tastiest species around. Researchers have just begun tracking the lifestyle and habits of these fascinating creatures, so regulations are likely to evolve.
Deep drop fishing in Florida is not for the faint-hearted. Though there are some intrepid anglers who use conventional gear, it’s challenging at best and frustrating at worst without the right knowledge and equipment. The right bait, a good sonar unit, heavy tackle and an electric reel will get you started, but to really understand the thrill of the sport, you need some deep, dark, cold waters. From a couple hundred feet to a couple thousand, understanding deep dropping gives you access to some of the ocean’s most elusive fish.
Like more conventional fishing, cut bait is a favorite, but consider what you use carefully. Bait needs to be firm and tough enough to stay on the hook during the long drop down to the ocean floor while sustaining the strong currents found in deep water – fresh bait will certainly hold up better than frozen for this kind of fishing. Some anglers add a light stick to their bait in hopes of attracting more interest when fishing for fish like large grouper.
A high-quality sonar unit will give you a picture of the ocean floor so you can carefully navigate, and take advantage of, the crevices and valleys found at such depths. Anglers experienced in deep dropping know that being able to accurately evaluate the ocean bottom beneath the boat will yield wonders like longtail bass and yellowedge grouper – fish that many anglers talk about, but fewer have seen.
Though it may require an initial investment, deep dropping will provide a huge return – both in excitement and fish!