Something we do often, to entertain our guests while fishing here in Fort Lauderdale, is drop live baits on some of the deep wrecks and reefs here off our shore. Fort Lauderdale and Broward County have a fairly extensive artificial reef program. Old ships and other objects are placed on the bottom as fish havens. It takes less than a year for these structures to attract all kinds of fish. And this week, these deep spots have been producing some great fishing!
Greater Amberjack are but one of the fish that take up residency around these wrecks and reefs. Their size can vary from low teens to over 40 lbs. And as with most bottom fish, they do not like being taken from their home.
A live bait is dropped and the wait begins. Sometimes 10 or 15 minutes is needed but this week the bite has been fairly quick. The rod tip starts to quiver as the bait tries to escape whatever is looking at him, then the rod begins to bend. It happens quickly and soon the rod is doubled over, the boat is put in gear to pull the fish away from the wreck and it’s up to the angler to land his fish. Amberjacks fight hard all the way and depending on their size? It can be quite a battle even on the International 80 we used to pull these fish from the bottom.
Cobia, large Snapper and Grouper also inhabit these areas and you’re never sure what will bite when you drop that bait. Today, after hitting a few spots, we came to a deep wreck and got quite the bite. With Alex in the chair, the rod doubled over and within seconds of the bite, the fish had wiggled his way back into the wreck. This is usually the point where you pull or break, and it’s usually break as wrecks are immovable. But when we let the line go slack, the fish made his mistake and swam from the wreck to get in a better hole, a few cranks of the reel, a pull with the boat and our fish was free and the fight began.
It took over 20 minutes to bring this Warsaw Grouper to the surface. Alex had his hands full with this 80+lbs. Grouper. We never did weigh it but it’s one of the largest I’ve caught in some time.
Keep em tight… Keep em on.