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Saltwater Jigging: How To Catch Saltwater Fish With Jigs

Saltwater fishing off the Finest Kind Charters

Jigging is one of the most accessible forms of fishing and most enjoyable. It is an action-type of fishing rather than the cast-and-wait type of fishing. Jigging uses an artificial lure that mimics natural prey for certain types of sports fish. The Jig is a head-and-hook combo that you attach to a plastic body. The idea is to imitate a small fish, which is what bigger fish eat. Jigging makes a fun day of fishing and is perfect for the whole family. Kids are natural pros at jigging. Plus, you can catch big, fat, trophy fish on a saltwater jig.

What Is Saltwater Jig Fishing? 

Saltwater Jigging is a method of fishing for small to large trophy fish in shallow or deep water. The jigging technique changes based on the fish you target and the depths of the water in which you fish. Jigging is exciting because you are trying to entice a predatory fish to strike an artificial jig. Therefore, there is strategy involved, making the angler a top-line predator of top-line predatory fish.

You can stick to the shallows and catch small, medium, and large fish, or you can head out to the structures and potentially catch big Yellowfin tuna, Bonito, Longfin Tuna, and others. In addition, inshore fishing allows you to target nearly every species of sports fish that swims in the shallow water. That list includes groupers, flounders, sharks, bonefish, etc. In short, you can spend an entire day targeting many types of game fish simply by changing up your Jig, and for many sports fish, the same old Jig might work just fine.

Different Types of Jigs 

Jigs are two pieces, and you often buy the pieces separately. The parts are the jig head and the body.

A jig head is a shaped head, usually with an eye to mimic a fish head, and it is attached to a hook. The body is soft plastic onto which the jig head and hook are inserted. The two pieces together make a jig. The idea here is to create something that a predatory fish will be attracted to as food. There are many jigs on the market, and you choose those jigs based on two factors—first, the depth of water, and secondly, the type of fish you want to target.

Football Saltwater Jigs: Are wonderful when targeting redfish, speckled trout, sea bass, black bass, etc. It is a good idea to hone up on the species you want to target. The NOAA site offers fish profiles, such as this one for Black Sea Bass. Learning about the fish you want to target allows you to choose better jigs that work well for that species. Successful saltwater jig fishing begins with selecting the correct Jig.

Round Head Jig: Great for deep-sea jigging or fishing the shallows, The weighted head sinks fact and moves in the direction of the pull. A good saltwater jig for left, right jigging, or for up and down jigging. Great for bottom dwellers such as Flounders and groupers.

Live Bait Mimic Jig: There are some super cool live bait mimic jigs out there. They do a beautiful job of mimicking baitfish and can pull in big trophy fish like tuna, bonito, sharks, groupers, etc.

Action Jigs — have a lot of movement. You might try the flipping jig, which can take some practice to make it work well. These are jigs that add movement, such as a baitfish in distress. They light up the predatory drive in big fish and boom — Fish-on!

Bucktail Jig: One of the best jigs around as it will target many predatory fish. If you can only take one type of Jig with you, it would be a bucktail jig. They mimic baitfish, shrimp, crustaceans, etc. You can target almost everything with a bucktail.

There are so many options for jigs that it is impossible to cover them all in a blog. The key here is to get familiar with a few jigs, learn the situations where they work best, and the fish species that love them. If you are new to jigging, you won’t be for long. It is easy to learn how to jig fish. Jigging is very addictive, and the challenge keeps your mind in the game.

How To Rig a Jig

Jig heads come in weights — 1/4 ounce, 3/4 ounce, etc. The body comes in different lengths. It is essential that you pair the head to the body so that the hook is in the correct position. For soft plastic jigs, the hook placement is centered in the soft plastic body. If the hook is too forward, you could miss the hookset. If the hook is too far back, the fish may not strike.

Different types of jig heads work better in different depths of water. Smaller jig heads do better in shallow water. Larger jig heads do better deep sea jigging. An example would be a 1/8 ounce or 1/4 ounce jig that you would use in less than ten feet deep of water. The weight of the jig head increases as the water gets deeper. A 3/8 ounce jig head is perfect for water that is between five-fifteen feet deep. That covers jig selection.

How to Rig The Jig

Once the pairing of the body and the jig head is decided, you want to connect the two. For soft plastic jigs, all you have to do is thread the hook through the top of the body. It is essential that the body fits snugly against the head. There should be no gaps as fish want food that they recognize. A sloppy construction for jigs means fewer strikes. The hook should exit the body just past the middle. Different jig heads will have hooks with shorter or longer shanks. Choose a jig head in the correct weight for the water depth and a hook shank paired to the body. That process gets much easier after you try rigging a few jigs.

Once the jig head and the body are together, it is time to connect the completed Jig to the line. To do this, we use an Improved Clinch Knot. You can learn how to tie essential saltwater knots in our blog that is all about knots.

Saltwater Jig Fishing Techniques 

There are two basic jig actions. The first is the bottom bounce, in which the Jig remains on the bottom and hops a few feet either in a straight line or in a zigzag motion. The jig action occurs when you flick the pole up a few feet, reel in the line a few turns, allow the Jig to sink to the bottom, and then repeat. For example, to get the zigzag pattern, you flick the end of the pole right, reel in the slack, allow the Jig to sink, and then flick the end of the pole to the left. Repeat the process until the line is in, or you have a fish strike. A pole flick is the same as jigging jerks. It is a quick jerk action or flick of the pole. It is easy to learn, and you find a natural rhythm as you fish.

For vertical jigging, you are in deeper water, and the Jig goes straight down from the side of the boat. Once it is at the correct position in the water, you flick the pole up, reel in the slack, let the jig sink, and repeat until the Jig is in, or you have a fish strike.

There is nothing complicated about jigging for fish. An excellent tip to remember is that jigging poles are shorter so that their action is a little slow. That extra tension in the rod helps move the Jig through the water without constantly bending the rod’s tip.

Fishing with Jigs 

You can fish with jigs in rivers and estuaries, which is where you might find speckled trout and redfish, in the shallow flats, in deep water, from the shore, or in a boat. So, long as jigging is an approved way to fish, then you are free to use a jig where you can. Be sure to review the regulations for fishing in unique locations, such as the Everglades National Park or for generalized Florida regulations for saltwater. If you are new to fishing, one of the best ways to learn how to jig is by booking a charter fishing trip.

How To Put Fishing Line on a Closed Face Reel

Putting Line on Closed Face Reel

We have all used a closed face reel at some point in our fishing adventure. It is also known as a push button reel. They are one of the most accessible reels to learn how to use, and they are effective at handling a fish. There are a lot of options out there for reels, and that makes getting started fishing complicated. A closed reel or a closed face fishing pole combo is an excellent place to start if you are new to fishing. Here’s why:

  1. They are easy to use
  2. They are not overly complicated
  3. They are generally affordable.
  4. They work great for a variety of fishing environments.

One of the biggest questions about closed face reels is how to put a new line on them. Keep reading because, in this article, we go through the four steps of adding fishing line to a closed face reel.

Below, we will go over the parts of a closed face reel and the steps needed to change fishing line. Note: If there is already a line on the reel, and you are not sure how long it has been there, change it. It is most likely a monofilament line, which can degrade once it is on the reel.

Parts of a Closed Face Reel 

  1. The handle — connects the reel to the pole.
  2. The Thumb Button — Releases the drum when pushed and holds the drum when released.
  3. The Tension Dial — Also called the drag setting. It allows the reel to give line when battling a large fish.
  4. The Cover — A domed top covering the line drum or spool with a hole in the center where the line is extruded.
  5. The Reel Handle or Crank — works with the drum or spool to rewind the fishing line onto the spool.
  6. The Drum — an internal part that holds the line.

This article aims to teach you how to add line or replace the line on the drum.

The Four Steps To Putting a Fishing Line on a Closed Face Reel 

Step 1: — Remove the cover. To do so, hold the line handle so that it does not turn. With your free hand, gently turn the cover counterclockwise. Be gentle, as most covers are thin metal or plastic. When the cover is free, you can see the drum or spool.

Step 2: Remove the old line if there is any. When the line is gone, visually inspect the spool for debris, such as sand. If the reel is new, it should be clean. If there is debris, gently remove it with a paper towel. Your goal as an angler is always to keep your equipment in top shape. That means cleaning as needed.

Step 3: Respool the line. To do so, you have two options. The best way is to thread the end of the line down through all the eyes on the pole. When you do it this way, it helps keep the line from twisting and spinning back on itself, and it can help prevent knots. The other way is to just let the spool of line wobble all over the place.

To respool the line, take the end and save about one foot as you will need to tie a knot. Wrap the line around the spool 2-3 times. Hold it in place with your finger, and then use the remaining tail to tie a know around the spool. The know will hold the line in place so that you can wind it onto the spool. An overhand knot or any fishing know will do. Learn more about tying fishing knots for saltwater in our article all about knots.

Step 4: Respool the Line. Once you tie the line to the spool, you slowly turn the reel handle clockwise and wind the line onto the spool or drum. The spool is full when the line is about 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch from the top. TIP: It is handy to pre-mark the top of the spool with a sharpie pen. When the reel is full of line, cut the line so that you have enough to reach back from the tip to the reel. The extra line will be the line for tying your leaders to when you go fishing.

Step 5: Gently put the cover back on the reel. Hold the reel handle and gently turn the cover clockwise to thread it onto the reel. Be very careful not to cross-thread the cover. If it feels like it won’t go on, take it off and try again. It can be challenging to align the threads.

What Line Should I Use For a Closed Face Reel? 

Most closed face reels use monofilament line and generally in test pounds of ten or less. You can use a fluorocarbon line. Fluorocarbon is the new Hot thing in clear water fishing. It is pretty much invisible once it hits the water. It is a little more challenging than the monofilament line and a bit thinner. Most closed faced reels can handle up to a 12-pound test fluorocarbon line, which is ideal for jigging.

A braided line would be the last option. It is made for fly-fishing reels and barrel reels. It is more difficult to cast with on a closed faced reel. However, some people prefer braided lines. Given the poundage of fish, you would target with a closed faced reel, the braided line is probably a little overkill.

Before heading to fish, be sure to check the Florida fishing regulations. Not every location is accessible and some species of fish are protected.

Fixing Problems with Closed Faced Reels 

Sometimes, the line will loop around when you are fishing. If that happens, follow the steps above and unspool the line until you reach the looped section. Gently unloop or unknot the line. If the line has a crease or kink in it. It will need replacing as the kink will snap under stress. Here’s some further reading from the State of WI with photos. How to Fix a REEL Problem

Now that you know how to reline a closed face reel, you are ready to start fishing. The process is easy, and you will be fishing in no time.

How to Set Up a Fishing Line for Saltwater 

Fisherman reeling in catch - Saltwater Fishing Line Setup

Setting up a fishing pole for saltwater fishing is one of the most significant challenges you face as a new angler. All those gizmos, knots, tools, and whatever else is in the heap of things inside your tackle box are insanely confusing.

The good news is that learning how to set up a fishing line for saltwater is difficult. Once you understand what rigging is, what the parts do, and the different types of configurations, it is much less stressful.

Let’s get started so you can get to fishing.

Saltwater Rigging Basics

Rigging is the section of line and equipment that connects to your fishing line. It includes:

  • A connector or knot — swivels, connectors, or you can use specific knots to connect line to line.
  • Hooks or lures — You may use hooks and bait hooks and lures or hooks and jigs.
  • Weights — otherwise known as sinkers, splitshot, lead triangles, are what sinks your line in the water column.
  • Line — Mono or monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braided are common types of fishing lines. Some of these overlap in what they do and how we use them, but you often choose your line based on the fish targets.

Tip: You can make rigging ahead of time and keep it in your tackle box. Setup individual rigging and place one set in its own zip bag. You can set them up with the hooks on for specific applications or leave the hook off to add more versatility to the rigging. Setting up fishing line rigging ahead of time saves you a lot of time and work when you are on the water.

NOTE: A saltwater fishing rig, and there are many, changes depending on where you fish, what you target, and the type of weather. For example, on a high wind day, you probably will add more weight. On the other hand, if you are fishing in shallow water, you might place the weight above or below the hook depending on where you want the hook to be.

Before fishing, always check the local fishing regulation

Different Types of Saltwater Rigs 

For the sake of simplicity, as this topic could quickly become a book, we will focus on four types of saltwater rigs. Those include:

  • Surf Fishing — one or two, sometimes three hooks, a weight, and a connector. The goal is to create a situation where the hook and bait or lure dances in the water stream as the wave actions ebbs and wanes. You can set the rigging with the weight above the hooks or below.
  • Fishing with Lures — A Carolina Rig is often the rig we use when fishing with a lure or a jig.
  • Bottom Fishing — Often a two-hook rig with a sinker on the bottom.
  • Pier Fishing — Often a Carolina Rig or a Float Rig, depending on what you target.

When and where you fish and the water conditions and depths often dictate what kind of rig you choose. Below we give you a four-step plan for creating the perfect saltwater fishing line rig.

Learn more about the different environments for fishing.

4 Steps To A Perfect Saltwater Fishing Pole Setup 

The Caroline Rig is one of the most versatile saltwater setups, and it is so easy to learn.

What you will need:

  1. An off-set hook – size depending on what you target.
  2. A Bullet weight
  3. A Bead
  4. A Swivel

Step 1: Slide the sinker or bullet weight onto the fishing line, followed by the bead. The bead and the sinker act together to create a bit of resonance in the water. Fish have a lateral line that allows them to feel vibrations in the water. When the sinker slides down and touches the bead, it creates a resonance that fish can feel. The lateral line on a fish is one of the ways they find food. The bead, and it can be a plastic bead or glass bead, keeps your knot from being damaged by the edge of the sinker. With a Carolina setup, the sinker is free to slide up and down the line.

Step 2: Slide the end of the line through the swivel. A half hitch or improved clinch knot is good.

NOTE: so far, you are working with just the end of the line from the reel. In step three, we add a leader line.

Step 3: Cut a piece of line that is 15-24 inches long. You use a shorter leader when the water is calmer and a longer leader when the water has more movement to it. If you are fishing inshore over weedy patches, a short leader is probably best. If you are fishing in deeper water, then a longer leader is best. Adjust the length of the leader to fit the fishing situation. Leaders can be a yard long, though generally, they are shorter than two feet.

Tie the leader to the swivel

Step 4: Tie the hook, lure, or jig to the end of the leader. An improved clinch knot is good, though you can check out our article all about saltwater knots too.

All that is left to do is bait the hook if you use bait and drop the line. A little TIP: if you are spot casting, a shorter leader is more accurate.

Read more about common fishing rigs.

When Is the Best Time To Go Deep Sea Fishing?

Morning Fishing Trip with Capt Jason and passengers

When is the best time to go deep-sea fishing? If you are an avid angler, you know the answer is “right now” because anytime we can fish is the best time to fish deep-sea fish. However, there are times of the year when it is much better fishing, and for the Gulf of Mexico, late spring to early fall are prime times for deep-sea fishing.

Inside we present a loose guide to help you choose the best times for you and your party to enjoy deep sea fishing off the coast of Destin, FL.

When Is the Best Time to Fish in The Gulf of Mexico?

Every species of fish has a different run time. Some run times overlap, and some are more dependent upon the habits of other fish. What that means for those who are new to fishing in the Gulf of Mexico is that you can target the fish you want based on their run time. For example, if you wanted to target Yellow Fin Tuna, February is a good month. The reason is that the coastal waters are warmer than the deep waters, and you will find Yellowfin Tuna nearer to shore in February. They also will gather around structures where the water is warmer. On the other hand, May-September is generally the best time for deep-sea fishing in the Gulf. Here is a look at fishing by the month and listing what’s an excellent target for deep-sea fishing off Destin, FL.

Spring – Gulf of Mexico Fishing Seasons

February – March — The big fish in the water is the Yellowfin Tuna. You find them more congregated during the winter months as they seek out warmer water in the shallows or just offshore. Oil platforms, shipwrecks, and rock formations are also prime targets for Yellowfin as the smaller baitfish use these structures to hide. In March, the Cobia begin to appear. As the current changes, driven by the wind, and heads north, the Cobia begin to migrate back into the Gulf. You will see them on a windy day, sunning themselves in the upper depths and using the waves to help their migration. March is a prime time to sight-fish Cobia. The best time to go ‘deep-sea fishing for Yellowfin is mid-February before they disperse into the wider areas of the Gulf. In February you can target them around structures.

April – May – April is a game-changer month. The deeper water is warming, and the big fish are moving back into the area. Yellowfin and Cobia are active. The baitfish are leaving the warmer waters and protection of the structures and schooling in the open water. Your best bet is still Yellowfin if you want to target bigger fish. You can also find the leading Groupers as they migrate back to the shallows. They are rare, but fishing is always a treasure hunt. Some species of groupers are off limits.  The best time to go ‘deep-sea fishing for sharks is the end of May. Use live bait or chunks of fish that have an oily, fatty layer. Mackerel is a good bet.

When May rolls around, the action starts to heat up, and deep-sea fishing begins to shimmer with that magic. Expect a lot of Yellowfin and tuna. In addition, the Wahoo and Snapper are growing in numbers. May is also a great time to target Mackerel and Triggerfish. Finally, May is the beginning of the Trophy Fishing Season in the Gulf.

Summer Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico

June and July 

June is just shy of the busiest time of year for charters. The season is getting hotter by the day. Red Snapper season opens in June, and there should be available slots on the best charter boats. June and July are perfect for family adventures of Deep Sea Fishing. Book a charter early if you plan to be in the Destin, Florida, area in July. July is a ramped-up version of June, and the fishing is off the “hook.” Big targets like the Gag Grouper are a favorite. The season for Gag Grouper starts in June and runs through December. Other targets include:

  • Spanish Mackerel
  • King Mackerel
  • Almaco Jack
  • Banded Rudderfish
  • Lesser Amberjack

June and July have plenty of big targets, including the ever-present Yellowfin Tuna. These are the peak months for the Gulf of Mexico tuna season. The  best time to go ‘deep-sea fishing for a variety of medium and larger fish is June or July. You have less competition in June and more so in July. Be sure to check the fishing regulations as they change often. The season opening and closing dates from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is very helpful.

August–September — The season is fully underway, and the fish are enjoying the warm, tropical waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The season for the Greater Amberjack opens on August 1 and closes at the end of October. These are nearly a yard long at 34,” and the fight will tire you. There is a limit of one per person, but the Lesser Amberjack is slightly smaller and maybe more of a fighter. The season for the Lesser Amberjack is year-round.

Weather-wise, August is generally a calm month, and the waters in the Gulf lay down like glass. So if you want to enjoy a family day of deep-sea fishing off the coast of Destin, August is fantastic. The calmer waters make August an excellent month for fishing with kids.

Deep-sea fishing in September is when the King Mackerel season is at its best. Snapper season has usually closed by now, and the many visitors and fishers have mostly gone home. If you want to target trophy deep-sea fish, September is hard to beat. There are fewer people, just as many fish, and more opportunities to pick and choose where you fish, the fish you target, and what you keep.

Fall Deep Sea Fishing off the Coast of Destin, FL.

October-November — The busy time of year has passed, but there is plenty of big, trophy fish available; those include:

    • King Mackerel
    • Amberjack
    • Groupers
    • Mahi Mahi
    • Sailfish

The quality of fishing often gets better before or after the season peaks. For example, Gulf Fishing in October means that the best fishing spots have quieted down. As a result, the fish are not as spooked, and you have more time quality fishing. October and November are perfect months to fish the Gulf for all of these reasons.

Winter Fishing — Destin, Florida 

The wintertime brings cooler water, and some of the best deep-sea fish love the water to be just a bit chilly. Grouper is one of those families of fish that like the water in winter. Other targets for December and January include Yellowtail snapper. You can also target the waters around structures, such as oil platforms. The water there will be slightly warmer, and structures allow the baitfish to hide. However, that little tip can mean easy access to bigger predatory fish, like Yellowfin. Expect some extra wind, but the water and the weather should remain manageable with plenty of access to fishing.

When is the best time to go deep-sea fishing? Almost anytime is the perfect time to fish the deeper waters for trophy fish.

Image source: Sam Carlson

What Is the Best Rod and Reel for Redfish and Speckled Trout?

Redfish and Speckled Trout Rod and Reel

Fishing off the Finest Kind Charter Boat

Redfish and Speckled Trout are very popular sports fish and for a good reason. They are incredible fighters. For that reason, it is essential to pick the best rod and reel for redfish and speckled trout fishing.

Note: Both are Drum fish, and the speckled trout is not a trout at all. If fishing on your own, be sure to check out the regulations for redfish and spotted trout.

It would be easy to list off a few quality fishing rod brands — Penn, Ugly Stick, St. Croix, Shakespeare, etc. — and point you in that direction. The best fishing rod for redfish and trout is the one with the big arch in it and the trophy fish on the other end. The short answer is many good fishing rods are up to the task of hauling in a trophy redfish or speckled sea trout. That doesn’t mean any rod will do. As you read this blog, we will discuss choosing the best rod for redfish, but the answer will not be a blanket statement. Selecting the best rod will become more personalized as you hear us out.

Note: Big Redfish are called Bull Reds, Small Redfish are called Rat Fish, and the ones in the middle are just Red Fish. The record for redfish in Florida is 52 pounds five ounces, and for speckled trout, the record is 17 pounds seven ounces.

What Is the Best Rod and Reel for Redfish and Speckled Trout?

When you choose a fishing rod, do so for quality reasons. A good rod helps stop some serious fishing issues — unhooking, broken lines, poor casting, missed hooksets, bad action for lures and baits, etc. You might wonder why a broken fishing line has anything to do with the rod. If the action is not correct, the line will have to take up more of the battle, leading to the line breaking. If the reel is not great and the drag is too tight, then the line can break. A lot of these issues come down to rod action, rod power, and length.

My Best Rod for Redfish and Trout 

For me, the best rod for redfish and trout is a Penn Fierce III with a 4000 series reel. It is an excellent medium-weight fishing rod that will handle some pretty big fish. A 7.0-foot length and medium action are perfect for casting smaller or larger lures or baits. I prefer a graphite composite for longevity.

I can find those qualities in many brands of fishing rods. What I love about the Penn III is that it fits comfortably in my hand. We talked about making this personal, and this is where that starts. Please pick up the rod and hold it. Squeeze it hard because when you fight that big fish, you will be squeezing the rod hard. It has to be comfortable in both a relaxed or intense situation. If you have larger hands and fish with a small diameter rod, your hand will cramp after a few hours. Fishing needs to be comfortable because it can be an all-day affair. In short, the best fishing rod for redfish or speckled trout is a:

  • Medium or Medium Heavy fishing rod
  • Fast action
  • 7-8 feet long
  • 3,000-4,000 series reel.

For me, the Penn Fierce III is it. Amazon reviewers give it a 4.4-star rating. 

Optionally another Best rod for redfish and trout is the Falcon Coastal Clearwater Spoon/Spinner Bait SWS 74MH rod and reel combo by Falcon. With its design for handling big redfish, the rod is very forgiving. It is a single-piece blank, perfect for those who like to target big Bull Reds – The upper end of the redfish trophy range. The single-piece blank is 7 feet, 4″ long with moderate to heavy action, capable of handling 10-20 lb line, and lures in the 1/4-3/4 of an ounce range. It is just what you need to battle big bull reds.

If you are new to fishing, this might all be Greek to you. However, there is a method to understanding the world of fishing rods.

Power: You can think of “power” in this case, as how much tug or fight it takes for a fish to bend the rod. The power, in this case, is the fish. A smaller power rating on a fishing pole means smaller fish will bend it. A higher power rating on a fishing pole means it takes a bigger fish to bend it. You might use an ultra-light power rod for fishing small fish, such as brook trout or bluegill—an extra heavy-rated rod for fishing Tarpon. For redfish and speckled trout, a medium to medium-heavy power rod is ideal.

Length — affects the quality of your fishing. Rods with a shorter length make it more difficult to cast long distances. They are excellent for close-range fishing. A longer rod allows you to cast farther but may not be as accurate as a shorter rod — Not a big deal for redfish fishing. If you need to cast farther, a longer rod is good. A shorter redfish rod might be a better bet if you are sight fishing near-shore or jigging in the deep water.

Action — is a measurement of two things. First, the time it takes for the rod to return to its straight position once it bends. Second, action is a rating of how much a rod will bend or how much of the rod will bend. For example, a fast-action-rated rod will have more bend in the top end than in the entire rod. Conversely, a medium or light action rod will bend throughout its length. Which is better? They both have their place. When you need to feel the minute tug at a piece of bait, an extra-fast action is the tool you need. If you are fishing deep water with a jig, for example, fast-action rods help translate that bit from deep water to the fishing rod where you can feel it. Slower rod action is what we consider a more forgivable setup.

What Is The Best Fishing Line for Redfish and Speckled Trout

Generally, a 20-30 pound braid is just what you need for redfish. A 15-pound leader for small redfish and speckled trout and a 20-30 pound leader for big red bulls.

You can go lighter but risk losing bigger redfish. On the other hand, you can go stronger and aim for the biggest of the red bulls. In that situation, a 40-50 lb braided line is ideal.

Why choose a braided line? It is excellent for casting and can improve accuracy. It also does not have much stretch to it, which means a better and easier hook setting.

Choosing the best rod for redfish and trout does not need to be difficult. There are a few differences in the two species. If you want to target one over the other, its basically a lighter setup for speckled trout than for trophy red bulls. What is important regardless of the brand is that the rod is comfortable to use, of good manufacturing, and generally a foot or so longer than you are tall. You often catch both redfish and speckled trout in the same locations, so a rod that will cover both species is ideally going to get the most use.

Image source: Sam Carlson

What Is the Best Bait for Shark Fishing?

A Bull Shark off The Finest Kind Charter Boat

A Bull Shark off The Finest Kind

The best bait for shark fishing is a bloody oily chunk or live bait from species that are present in the waters. Sharks are opportunists, but they dial in on what is available when it comes to finding food. These are big predators, and it takes a lot of food to feed a shark. So it should be no surprise that they tend to target what is present and available in more significant numbers.

Characteristics of The Best Shark Bait

Where you fish for sharks is essential to how you choose the best shark bait. Sharks are picky eaters. They are not slow. They are not dumb. They are highly skilled, predatory fish, which is why you are targeting them when you fish. The Characteristics of Shark Bait include:

  • Localized Fish — Take a look at the local population of fish. What are people catching the most of right now? Amberjack? Mullet? Ladyfish? Bonito? The sharks in the waters where you are fishing will target the fish species that are present. They won’t hold out all day waiting for something exotic.
  • Size Matters — Or does it? Forage fish, those that sharks and other predators hunt, are what is essential. You can catch a giant shark on a sardine. Most often, it is not the size of the bait but the condition of it. Oily, firm, fresh, and bloody are four characteristics that make bait the best lure for sharks.
  • Freshness — If Fishing with Chunks, make sure it is fresh. Sharks will scavenge but only as a last resort. The fresher the bait, the more oil and blood residue it has. Sharks are super sniffers, and some can detect the smallest amount of blood in a large amount of water. Frozen bait tends to soften up once in the water and become slushy, which means once the hook is placed, and the line in the water, the bait may float off the hook.

What Is The Best Bait for Shark Fishing In The Gulf of Mexico?

What is the best shark fishing bait? In the Gulf of Mexico, there are many fish that become the best shark fishing bait. Below is a partial list, along with the reasons these fish rock the shark bait menu. The following list is in no particular order. You may also want to look at the difference in baits vs. shark species, such as the blacktip shark.

  1. Bonito — A strong scented and oily fish that is ideal for off-shore shark fishing. Bonito are often present in the deeper water, which is also where you find the trophy sharks. A plus of using Bonito as shark bait is that they are not difficult to catch.
  2. Mackerel — Another pungent and oily fish, the mackerel makes an ideal shark bait. Most species of mackerel are available year-round and have an open season.
  3. Mullet — is excellent shark bait. They range from 9-19 inches and make good live bait or chunk bait. The best features include its heavy, oily skin with a pungent smell. These easily attract sharks, especially if fishing near a school of baitfish.
  4. Barracuda — strong-smelling, oily, and bloody make barracuda a prime fish to draw in sharks from a wide area. Used as chunk bait, you can cast from the shore or fish the deep water and lure sharks in close.
  5. Large Menhaden — grow to about a foot in length. They are a bottom feeder that produces a ton of oil. They make amazing live or chunked bait for sharks due to their thick layer of fat.
  6. Stingray — is a natural prey for sharks, especially hammerhead and tiger sharks. Stingray is not a regulated species, so the season is open all year long, and you can catch what you need for bait. Should you catch a giant hammerhead and land it, be sure to check the inside of its mouth. You will likely find stingray barbs lodged behind the teeth.
  7. Ladyfish (Skipjack) — A universal baitfish that is unregulated. Often found in huge schools, Ladyfish attract predatory fish, including sharks. Fish chunk or live Ladyfish at the fringe of the school. That is where the sharks lurk, waiting to take strays.
  8. Amber Jack — is easy to catch on live sardines, shrimp, or other small baitfish, making them a perfect bait for sharks. Fish live or in chunks; sharks love them. They are full of oil and have a strong smell, which are two traits that attract sharks.
  9. Bluefish — can be a pest to anglers. They will tear your bait apart before the sharks get there. The good news is that bluefish make excellent shark bait. Put a few chunks on your hook, and the other bluefish will leave it alone—sharks like bluefish for food.
  10. Blue Runners — are solid fighters and, as live bait, that can pull in big sharks. As chunk bait, they are only, making them perfect for chum or chunk bait. You can find Blue Runner frozen too, but for the best shark fishing, live or very fresh is always best.
  11. Jack Crevalle — can be large in the 40-inch range but are common in the 12-20 inch range. They make excellent bait for sharks, and specifically for Tiger Sharks.

As you can see, there are plenty of options for fantastic shark bait. Live bait is usually better, but chunked fresh bait can be equally good. Give the tendency for frozen bait to fall to pieces once, in the water, we suggest good fresh bait — live or chunked.

How To Catch Shark Bait

The best shark fishing bait is live. The distress of the live bait draws in sharks quickly. You can catch your live bait using a net or a hook and line.

Mullet, herring, and sardines you can catch with a cast net. Once you locate the school, cast the net out and pull it back onto the boat. Keep the baitfish alive in a bucket and use the excess for chum.

Most other shark bait you catch with a line and a hook. Those fish include larger bait such as Bonito or mackerel. Lures work great to catch predatory fish for bait. Silver spoons, jigs, and flashers are examples of lures that work on most fish on the best shark bait fish list. Remember, on a charter boat; you will have both an opportunity to target sharks with live bait or chunk bait. Half of the fun of shark fishing is catching the bait. Check out the rules and consideration for taking baitfish. Book a charter with the Finest Kind!