West Palm Beach Fishing
West Palm Beach Fishing
West Palm Beach fishing offers offshore anglers a variety of angling opportunities. The Gulf Stream comes very close to shore at this point. It is only five miles or so offshore, depending on conditions. This is as close to shore as anywhere in the country. The result is an excellent mix of pelagic and bottom species to target and catch.
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Larissa is our Fishing Ladies West Palm Beach correspondent. She was born and raised there and knows the fishing quite well. While Larissa mostly fishes offshore, she does hit the back country as well.
“I was born and raised in Florida . I grew up catching fish off the docks of my grandfathers home and my dad took me fishing inshore. Then I found offshore fishing and a whole other level of love for the sport was born! My favorite part is seeing that initial color and see what is on the end of the line. Or, while back country fishing, waiting for the tip to bounce. It makes me so excited!
West Palm Beach Fishing lady Larissa
“Here is my swordfish story. We were fishing a tournament and I just rigged and put out the bait, weight and buoy all by myself for the first time and worked the line. That’s when I saw the the buoy bounce and we decided to pull it in. I took the buoy off and sure enough we were hooked up! We used electric reels so once the fish came up it was harpooned and then dive down 500 feet. So, I ended up having to hand reel the harpoon line which left a blister the size of my palm. After 3 1/2 hr fight we got her on board and she was “banana’d” in the boat! It was my first and I got to keep the bill. We won tournament and beat the record for the tournament!
West Palm Beach fishing; trolling
Trolling is the most effective technique when fishing for pelagic species in the open Atlantic Ocean. Pelagic species (those that constantly are on the move in the upper portion of the water column) require anglers to cover a lot of water. Trolling does just that. Trolling is the technique of driving the boat while dragging artificial lures or live baits behind the boat. It sounds simple, but is in fact quite technical.
Anglers trolling can either present their lures and baits on the surface or down deeper. Many lures are manufactured that are designed to skip on the surface. Some have a concave face that makes a commotion. Others are skirted and skip along the surface. Natural baits, especially rigged ballyhoo, can be fished alone or in conjunction with a skirt.
While surface trolling is visually exciting, most fish caught trolling will take baits that are below the surface. There are several techniques that allow anglers to get their offerings down in the water column. Planers, downriggers, and diving plugs all are effective methods to ply the deeper sections.
These are clever devices that will take a lure down in the water column. Planers come in sizes, with #1, #2, and #3 being used most often. A #4 planer is quite large, some anglers tie them off to the stern. The larger the planer, the deeper the lure will dive. A #1 will go down 5-7 feet. A #2 planer will dive 12-15 feet. A #3 planer can hit 30 feet.
Planers allow anglers to troll fairly fast. This is especially beneficial when targeting king mackerel, which like lures at 5-7 knots. A 20 foot long leader connects the lure and planer. When a fish hits, the planer “trips”. This allows the angler to fight the fish without the drag of the planer. Spoons are most often used with planers. However, plugs with a small lip can be used as well.
Trolling with diving plugs is an easy and very effective technique. Also, no other hardware is needed. Plugs come in a wide variety of colors and sizes. The proper plug can be chosen based on the available forage. Plugs have a lip on the front. This lip determines the depth that the plug will dive along with the action. Charts provided by the manufacturer can help anglers choose the plug that will dive down to the desired depth.
Downriggers are a bit cumbersome, but are extremely effective at presenting baits at a desired depth. They are like a small rod and reel with a heavy ball. This allows for precise bait presentation. The line is inserted into a clip. When a fish strikes, it pulls the line free of the clip. Anglers are limited to slower trolling speeds, as the ball will swing up at faster speeds. Downriggers are deadly when used with live bait.
Live bait trolling
Slow trolling with a live bait fish is a deadly technique! It allows anglers to cover some water while presenting a struggling bait fish to the predators. Many anglers employ a ‘stinger rig”. This has two hooks. The front hook is used to hook the bait fish, usually through the nose. The second hook either swings free or is inserted into the back of the bait. These are usually wire as king mackerel and wahoo will be targeted. Anglers can use flourocarbon rigs when targeting leader shy species.
Florida fishing regulations are constantly changing. Anglers need to be up to date on the size and bag limits along with the seasons. The FWC website is a great resource for this along with some great fishing information.
West Palm Beach bottom fishing
The lower east coast of Florida offers anglers some excellent bottom fishing opportunities. Reefs, natural ledges, and wrecks are plentiful, providing excellent habitat for predator fish. Grouper and snapper are the most commonly targeted bottom species. However, grunts, triggerfish, amberjack, cobia, and other species will be encountered when dropping a live or cut bait down on a good piece of structure.
While bottom fishing is relatively straight forward, there are nuances that will prove to be the difference between a fair day and a great one. One issue that Palm Beach anglers face is deeper water and strong currents. This makes accurate bait presentation a bit tricky. Boat positioning is crucial. Often times, anchoring is not practical. Therefore, drifting is a great option. The boat is positioned up-tide and up-wind of a likely structure. Then, baits are lowered to the bottom as the boat drifts. Heavy weights are often required to reach the bottom.
light tackle bottom fishing
Bottom fishing closer to shore in shallow water is very productive as well. Anglers anchor up tide of a patch reef, ledge, or wreck and drop baited hooks to the bottom. The fish are often smaller, but the tackle can be lightened to to match the fish. Cut bait works well for this. There is no need to spend a bunch of time catching and keeping live bait. This style of fishing is great for “family fishing” and for less experienced anglers.
Chumming will kick start the bite. Chum is live or dead fish used to attract fish to the boat. The most simple method is to use blocks of frozen chum. These are blocks of oily fish that are ground up and frozen. The block is placed into a mesh bag and tied off to the stern. As the chum melts, is is deispersed into the water, slowly sinking and drawing bait and predators up in the “slick”. This technique is favored by anglers targeting yellowtail snapper.
Anglers looking to beat the Florida summer heat often fish at night. Most species bite at night, some better than during the day. Snapper are famous for their night time bites around the full moons in summer. Many other species are caught as well. Sharks are plentiful and feed in the dark. Anglers putting out some chum and a chunk of fresh fish will have success. Even small sharks are fun on light tackle.
In conclusion, anglers West Palm Beach fishing have many choices when it comes to both species and technique. What is your favorite saltwater species?