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June 07, 2013

Gulf of Mexico Bottom Fishing Techniques

Brush up on bottom fishing gear and techniques to make the most of your next long-range trip.

When You Get a Big Bite

1. Keep your rod pointed straight down, and always make sure you are in contact with the bottom.

2. Bring your rod straight up, get a turn or two on the reel and hold it there. Don't give an inch.

3. The fish will jolt a few times but almost always quit for just a second. That is your window of opportunity.

4. In that window, get as much line on the reel as possible. Once you've pulled the fish 12 feet or so off the bottom, it's pretty much game over for the fish. The point is to never allow the fish to take any line; if it does, make sure it earns it.

Baits

No question - live baits are an extremely effective way to entice big bites from big fish. Here are some things to keep in mind whenlive-bating for trophy bottomfish.

"Inserting your hook in the bait's lower jaw keeps it from spinning on the way down, which is very important when fishing in depths up to 600 feet," says Davis. Palladeno adds that hooking your baits this way also allows them to breathe and keeps them vigorous. They both agree that if you are specifically targeting trophy bottomfish of any kind, the bigger the bait, the better.

Pinfish and blue runners are always a good bet, but any finfish swimming in the area is more than likely going to be what the big fish are keyed in on. If you can, get baits that are present in the area you're fishing.

"Catch your baits on rod and reel whenever possible," says Palladeno. "This puts the least amount of stress on the baits and will prolong their friskiness."

Palladeno and davis prefer a long leader in order to protect the line from jagged rocks and structure. It also allows your baits to swim on a longer leash, which gives them a more natural appearance.

When the bite is slow, Palladeno suggests using a dead Boston mackerel pinned to a heavy jig. Often the stink in the water will wake things up on the bottom.