Knots & Rigs with Mark Williams
TECHOLOGICAL advances have impacted on the time-honoured art of deepwater bottom bouncing. What was once considered something of a traditional pursuit is now right on the cutting edge of fishing developments. One thing hasn’t changed, though: the prime species targeted are all excellent table fish.
The old paper echo sounders and obligatory note books of secret marks have, in recent years, been replaced by high performance colour sounders and GPS units. The box of mono handlines has made way for super strong, braid-loaded threadline and overhead outfits and even electric reels. The mind boggles at what the old timers would have thought of electric reels being used to take the hard work out of deepwater bottom bouncing. The truth of the matter is that the advent of braided lines changed everything forever. Gelspun’s fine diameter for a given breaking strain, combined with the situation awareness provided by its very low stretch characteristics, means we can now fish deeper water than ever before, using less weight to get down and in stronger currents. The ability to go deeper and wider than previously possible means that to be truly successful you need to be able to obtain peak performance from your sounder/GPS units. Luddites that aren’t into high tech gadgetry will be left behind on the hard-fished grounds inshore while the tech savvy guys go exploring the depths for new fish-filled locations.
My good mate Scotty Thorrington of Haven Charters (ph 0419 440869) on the NSW Central Coast has spent a lot of years putting clients who are into deepwater bottom bouncing onto plenty of great table fish. The system he uses for depths from 12m out to 40m employs a minimum of 10kg GSP braid mainline and a two bait dropper system. He uses a minimum of a four-ounce snapper lead and will go up to eight ounces of lead, depending on the depth being fished and the amount of current that’s prevalent at the time. Being a charter operator Scotty has standardised on using pilchard baits fished on 4/0 Mustad Big Red or Black Magic chemically sharpened hook patterns. It’s vital with this rigging system that the two baits and snapper lead are all spaced far enough apart to ensure they can’t tangle.
When fishing live baits such as slimy mackerel and yellowtail for species such as kingfish or mulloway Scotty recommends a minimum of 24kg braid mainline and four-ounce snapper lead. As far as hooks go he likes to use a chemically sharpened pattern such as the Gamakatsu Octopus in size 7/0 and always hooks the live baits through the nose when fishing deepwater. A trick Scotty has employed in recent times when live baiting for kingfish is to replace the heavy snapper lead with one of the 400gm deepwater knife jigs from the Sakana stable. The added attraction provided by the flashing jig has really improved his results when chasing the big hoodlums.
Once you get out into depths over 80 fathoms (160m) things get tough and electric reels really come into their own. Shimano and Daiwa produce a range of models, and there are various specialist electric reel makers as well. When using the GSP lines required to fish the extreme deepwater for prized table species such as blue eye trevalla and hapuka I’d be looking for a super strong electric reel that featured a level wind mechanism. I’ve seen a high tech model recently that could actually be programmed to employ a range of stop/start jigging retrieves. I can assure you the guy using that outfit wasn’t sweating like the rest of us stuck with the old, traditional high speed jigging outfits!
Circle hooks are recommended for fishing the real deepwater zones for two reasons: firstly, they allow the fish to hook themselves; secondly, they reduce the risk of dropping the fish during the long retrieve to the surface. Some anglers also apply added attractants such as lumo beads or tubing when fishing ultra deep.
Those anglers who haven’t got access to or are not set up to use an electric reel outfit can look forward to a lot of really good winding exercise. When fishing the extreme depths some anglers employ a detachable weight system where some form of cheap disposable weight is attached by way of a lighter trace to the mainline that can be broken off by a sharp jerk to the line prior to the commencement of the long, long wind to the surface. This technique certainly helps ease the load on those anglers that have to do things the hard way.
When fishing the ultra deep water tough baits such as squid, salted tuna or mullet are recommended as it’s quite a time consuming process to retrieve and rebait rigs when there are a lot of pickers around. The proliferation of leatherjackets and their propensity for biting off rigs and through mainlines in recent times has proven a real bane for offshore bottom fishos. I was talking to one guy recently who claimed he was going broke from losing countless metres of expensive GSP braided line to the voracious ’jackets and he was seriously considering spooling his reels up with wire leader to foil their efforts. Desperate times require desperate measures!