We’re doing a lot of deep drop fishing off Ft Lauderdale this week and we’re catching some pretty cool stuff. With the surface water temperatures being so hot, it’s sometimes good to go deep this time of year. Snappers and groupers are the main bottom fish that everyone knows. They are biting good around the wrecks. Any wreck in 200+ feet of water should be holding some fish. Our main wrecks are all in the 200-400 ft of water range. Vermilion snapper are a deepwater snapper that we catch by dropping a chicken rig down to the bottom. A chicken rig is a rig with 4 or 5 hooks, each tied individually in a series and each baited with a chunk of squid. The point of the rig is to catch multiple fish on the same drop, or if the snappers are playing with and just picking at the bait, it gives you multiple chances to set the hook on the shy feeding fish. It’s a great rig for bottom fishing and sometimes yields big numbers of fish, very quickly. Vermilion snapper are great because they school up so if you find a spot where you catch 1 or 2, there’s probably a berry patch of them there and if you keep dropping in that area, you might catch a bunch.
Groupers are also biting on the 200-400ft shipwrecks. Black grouper, gag grouper and snowy groupers are our main deep water groupers. They eat squid, live baits, bonito chunks or just about anything you throw down there. They aren’t that picky of eaters, it’s just a matter of finding which spot they have congregated on. The summer and fall months, with their calm, tranquil seas, make for great conditions to go grouper fishing with the deep drop rigs. Warsaw grouper is another kind of grouper that sometimes bite when dropping over these same wrecks. Warsaws are one of the largest grouper species and some of these warsaws are behemoths. They have no predators, except perhaps for our crew, so they can grow to outrageous sizes.
We do a lot of live baiting or chicken rig fishing over the wrecks on our deep sea fishing trips, but that’s only about 1% of the bottom off our coast. There’s a lot of other areas that fish congregate on too. If you go to the super deep stuff, you can catch some crazy fish. Golden tilefish are a great eating gamefish species that we catch deep dropping anywhere from 500-800 ft of water. That’s a bit too deep for hand cranking rods, so we usually use electric reels to catch them. It takes a 10 pound + sinker just to get your bait to the bottom. It takes a tremendous effort just to reel in the weight by hand, not to mention if you also have a fish on the other end of the line. Electric reels are the only feasible way to target these deep dwellers. Using the electric reels, it allows us to blanket a large area with multiple drops in a more reasonable amount of time to try to find where the fish are.
Fishing depths of 500-800ft of water, we catch some pretty unusual stuff. Golden tilefish are the main target, but we also catch rose perch, scorpion grouper, barrelfish, oilfish, lancetfish and sometimes fish that we can’t even identify. These fish live deeeeeep, so some of them have some strange adaptations to their anatomy, making them very different than the regular pelagic fish that we catch. Glow in the dark fins, strange scales, long streamers coming off their fins are a few of the strange adaptations. There is one fish species, a barrelfish, a super deep dweller that we caught a few of this week. They are extremely rare, I’ll be most Ft Lauderdale fishermen haven’t ever caught one. Barrelfish excrete an oil through their skin that flat out stinks. It smells like rotten fish. But when you filet the fish, barrelfish are one of the best eating fish you will ever try. Lancetfish is another odd one that look like a cross between a sailfish and a barracuda if you can imagine that. There are some crazy fish down there, so just when you think you’ve caught everything and there’s nothing new left to catch out there, think again.
If you’re interested in a deep drop fishing trip, it’s one of our specialties. We prefer to use the electric reels, but we’re set up for hand crank also. Give us a call and we’ll set up a deep drop fishing charter for your group. Good luck to everyone fishing with us this week. The fish are out there. Let’s go fishing!
Capt. Andy Roydhouse