Fishing the Deep
Deep drop fishing is a unique way to either save the day or add to the variety of a trip. We love the mystery, anticipation, and incredible eating of most deep drop fish. We deep drop here at home in Florida as well as during trips to the Bahamas and it always adds to the excitement of a trip.
Probing the Depths
Fishing the deep takes a handful of specific gear to make it practical. Having good sonar can help you locate spots to drop and see if anyone is home.
When I say deep water, it could be anywhere from 400 to 2000-feet. This queen snapper was holding in 1300-feet and they are a prize catch for the table.
Grunt of the Deep
The wenchman or green snapper is a common catch in the deep. It is the equivalent of shallow water grunts, except they eat much better. This is a pretty big one, but they are all tasty.
Deep Drop Rigs
The rigs used for deep dropping are very simple to make, but need to be sturdy to withstand using 5 to 10-pounds of lead to take the rig down and the possible big fish coming up. Multiple circle hooks on three-way swivels do the trick. Here is how to build the deep drop rig.
Backed in a Corner
Mustad circle hooks are pretty standard tackle for deep drop fishing. They find there way to the corner of the mouth and lock the fish in place, which is handy when your trying to string up multiple fish before you hit the button.
Three’s a Crowd
We love a crowded rig! The circle hooks normally keep the fish hooked while others are jumping on the alternate baits. Sometimes you lose what you first hooked while trying to get more, so there is a decision to be made when your rod starts bouncing.
A Light in the Darkness
There are a variety of ways to add underwater lighting to your deep drop rig. The light enhances your fish-attracting presence in the pitch black darkness of the deep.
What’s for Bait?
It has been my experience that when morsels fall from above, the fish of the deep can’t be picky about what it is. I like to have a cut piece of fish like barracuda for its durability and then we often tip it with squid for flavor of the natural forage.
Elephants Eat Peanuts
It does not take a huge bait to catch a big fish. This mystic grouper ate a small cube of barracuda in 650-feet. It burned up a small electric reel and we hand lined it the rest of the way up.
More Power Captain
After burning up a smaller reel, we went for full power with this Kristal. Now many companies have come out with durable electric reels. Braided line is one of the key factors when fishing the deep.
What Is That Thing!
One of the fun aspects of exploring the underworld is when you catch a species you’ve never seen. Sometimes it takes some research on the computer back home to figure out what you caught. This Atlantic Scombrops is a prime example.
What Big Eyes You Have
This pomfret is a prime example of how fish from the dark and deep waters have oversized eyes to gather the minuscule amounts of light available to find food.
My What Big Teeth You Have
Starting to sound like a nursery rhyme? Well this is the big bad wolf of the deep. We caught this domine fish in 1200-feet off Cape Eleuthera, Bahamas. It has some serious teeth because when you do find a meal in the deep, you darn sure don’t want it to escape.
Not Weird Enough?
If big eyes and teeth aren’t enough, how about giant green-glowing eyes. This sixgill shark, which strangely has no dorsal fin, has eyes that glow in the dark.
These smaller sharks came up from 1500-feet. Some type of cuban dogfish maybe, they all swam away fine. The sharks have no swim bladder, so they are not blown up by the change in pressure during the ascent.
No amount of GasX will help with this bloated feeling. The pressure change is often too much for many fish that do have swim bladders. Luckily they are great eating and nothing goes to waste.
Eye of the Beholder
Occasionally on the way up you lose your fish. The extra weight and occasional “confirmation bounce” stops. Even more rare is when you come up with just an eye to show for it. Ouch! Thats going to leave a mark.
What’s That Floating?
So not long after we caught an eyeball, someone spotted a flash on the surface behind us. A one-eyed queen snapper bobbed to the surface. If a fish comes off after it has blown up with air, then it continues on to the surface unless a shark intervenes.
Maybe you’ve heard of the golden tilefish because they have been commercially fished for years and are relatively common in restaurants and seafood cases. They live in mud bottom, generally in 600-feet plus.
A Little Patience & Luck
Just like any other kind of fishing, deep dropping can take some patience and luck to make it a success. By the nature of it, it takes time to drop baits to the deep and even longer to bring it back up. Moving around and trying different depths is essential to find an area where the fish are biting. Better lucky than good as another mystic grouper hits the surface.
Part of the draw is the anticipation of wondering what species might be coming up this time. This blackfin snapper is a welcome sight as the rig comes into view.
The deepest I’ve ever dropped was in 2100-feet. We had been hearing about wreckfish in the Bahamas and we gave it a go. It takes quite a while to hit bottom, even with 10-pounds of lead, but once there it only took about 10 minutes to get bit. Forever and a day to get back up, but the anticipation and 12-volts keeps you going.
The Bounty of the Deep
I cannot deny that the amazingly delicate, white flesh of deep-water snapper and grouper are one of the many reasons I love exploring the mysteries of the deep.