Saltwater Roughfishing?

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JK's picture
Saltwater Roughfishing?
<p>Howdy Cowpokes,</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I am travelling south next week to enjoy a couple days fishing the Gulf coast off Corpus Christi, Texas. I have a guide taking me out for a day to throw flies at reds, trout, and hopefully black drum. I&#39;ll have another day to roughfish the gulf on my own, which is what I&#39;d like some advice on.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>I have never fished in the salt by myself and I want to catch anything and everything that bites- no specific target species. With luck, I will need to post a bunch of photos here for species identification. So, I need to figure out what to bring for tackle, hooks, sinkers, lures, etc...</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>Is saltwater roughfishing as simple as using a catfish sized sized lead slip-sinker and circle hook rig (with the proper bait) like I&#39;d use in the Mississippi around here? Do I need a stainless hook or will a standard steel / bronze be OK for short-term use? Any reason I couldn&#39;t chuck some Rapalas or inline spinners into likely looking water and see what bites? It looks like shrimp, live or dead, are the bait of choice. Have any of you guys fished shrimp before? Any rigging tips I should know? What advice can you fellas share with a saltwater noob?</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>JK</p>
the pyromaniac
the pyromaniac's picture
DavidG, Deftik, & Ken can
DavidG, Deftik, & Ken can give you a lot of info on saltwater fishing. Maybe you'll get a spoon-nose eel like DavidG did....




Let there be fire!

TheHugbot's picture
I have been using my

I have been using my ultralight lure rod for saltwater fish recently, the one I use is 6'11" and rated to cast 0.5-7g. I use small soft plastics that imitate mostly sand worms and shrimps on small jigheads or carolina rigs, sometimes I small hook, sliding weight and a bit of shrimp is whats needed to winkle out a few new species.

Good luck!


Hey JK,

Hey JK,


If you want to catch anything and everything, here's what I would suggest...


2 medium 7' spinner with a 2000-3000 size reel, one heavy 7' spinner or conventional with at least a 4000 size reel (or anything that could hold 300 yards of 50lb braid).


With your medium rod, simpliest is to get a sabiki rig. They sell them locally and it usually comes with 6 hooks. They are great rigs...but fishing 6 hooks on a long thin line means tangles...especially when you have one lively fish sqiurming around catching all the hooks in the process. You can catch a lot of cool little species with this...but I don't usually like since one bad tangle equal one useless sabiki rig.


Instead, I like to use high-low rigs. I would use 8lb mono and tie on a high-low rig using 15lb mono. You want heavier line for abrasion resistance (rock, sharp shells...etc). Here's a picture of the high-low rig.



I use the the dropper loop knot as illustrated and I like to have about 3" loops on the line. Once I get these loops, I cut one line of the loop close to the knot (maybe leave about 1/2" of tag end just for the knot). Now you essentially have a 6" length of 15lb leader to tie on your hook. Depending on regulations, I fish up to 3 hooks (hence tie three loops) on my high-low rig...but usually prefers only two hooks. I generally like to use a snell knot to tie the hooks on...for not better reason than I feel there's a more direct hookset with a snell knot, especially if you fish even heavier line like 30lb mono (which you sometimes need in really rocky areas or if the pier pilings are encrusted by barnacles and mussels).


I usually tie the high-low rig in this fashion. Cut a 8' piece of line. Tie on a adequately strong swivel on one end. From the swivel, space out about 3 feet before you tie the first dropper loop. Once done, space out another 2 feet and tie another dropper loop. Then finally, space out anywhere from 12"-24" (depending on who close you wish to fish on bottom as well as how rocky/reefy the area may be) and tie on a simple loop at the end of the line. Make sure this loop is about 2" in length so you can slide on a bank or pyramid sinker.


So in essence, you have a hook fishing 12"-24" from bottom, and another hook about 3 feet off bottom. You can fish this directly on bottom, or fish it suspended in the water column.


For hooks on this rig, I would use #8 BAITHOLDER hooks. I like the smaller hooks because you can catch anything and everything with a smaller hook. Stainless steel hooks are not necessary. I usually use BassPro brand baitholders that are bronze. If you rinse the hooks off after use, you shouldn't see much corrosion. This is strictly speaking when you connect the hook with mono, fluoro or braided line. If you connect the line with a length of steel leader, your hook can corrode even within a few hours! Seen it happens a few times to my own hooks.


If you fish this on bottom, you can cast it out (some piers may limit you to underhand casting...) and work it slowly along the bottom back to you. Alternatively, you can drop it straight down the side of the pier and fish along the pier support pilings. Often there are some smaller fish that congregate around the pilings. I've caught a lot of cool stuff this way. Don't forget, if you can, to sling the rig under the pier as well. A lot of people cast out from the pier...but if you watch any underwater videos of pier structures, you'll see that many times the bigger predators are actually hanging out under the pier.


I would use shrimp or squid as bait. Shrimp gets lots of bites, but it doesn't last long if there are a lot of nibbling fish. Squid stays on longer...but it would not stay on for long if there are any wrasse around. Their little sharp teeth chews everything away.


Common fish you could encounter fishing this way are: Bluerunner, Moonfish, Lookdown, Puffer species, Spadefish, Kingcroaker (aka whiting), Black Drum, Redfish, Grunt species, Pinfish, Catfish species, Speckled seatrout...the list goes on.


You can always downsize line, hook and sinker to imitate a sabiki rig. Use 6lb line for the high-low and #12 hooks. Same deal...and you don't need to buy new rigs every time you get a bad tangle.


If you catch any smaller (around 6" in size) bluerunner, pinfish or grunts, you can now move to rod #2.


This is why I suggested a stronger rod and larger reel with bigger capacity. I would suggest fishing no less than 30lb mono or 50lb braid.


I would use a heavy sliding sinker (amount of weight depending on the current and surf/ want enough weight to hold your rig in place...a good place to start is about 3oz). I actually prefers pyramid sinker since they don't tend to roll around in the current. I would tied on a strong swivel to the mainline, then tie on about 4 feet of 30-60lb mono (depends on what you are after and also the area of course). The heavy leader is for abrasion resistance and also bite deterrent (well...for some species).


To the leader I would tie a 5/0 or larger circle hook...depending on the size of bait. You want to make sure the hook is large enough so the bait doesn't twist around and cover the hook point. I've missed fish before when this happen and I just set the hook into the body of the bait. You can nose hook or bait hook the bait. Live bait generally is better than dead, especially if the area has a lot of crabs (live bait and swim away from a hungry crab). Squid is a good deadbait but crabs can tear squid off the hook pretty easily.


Casting a 6" live bait could be sling them out instead of whipping your rod like you would casting lures. I like to lob them out.


For this large rig, you can expect larger fish like big redfish, big black drum, bigger catfish, stingrays, sharks (Blacktip, Bonnethead, Atlantic Sharpnose, Lemon, Bull...most sharks will be on the small size since the bait is still small by shark standard).


If you want to target sharks...even smaller ones, I would suggest using a steel leader. I wouldn't go less than 40lb steel...even small sharks can bite through that if it was caught in the wrong place between teeth. You should be able to find some pre-rigged shark rigs at local tackle shops. If you are targeting larger sharks and rays, I would suggest using an even longer rub leader. In order to do this, you would connect your mainline to your leader line directly with a knot. I like to use the slim beauty or the PR knot for braid to heavy mono/fluoro since it has a very low profile and cast beautifully. You could also use the Albright knot....but I personally prefer some sort of hybrid slim beauty/PR knot that I made up. It has held up to salmon and a couple of 40lb+ bat ray so far. Anyways, connect the mainline to the leader...and I would suggest no less than 10 feet of leader. The reason for such long leader is in case the shark roll in the leader or the tail kicks the leader. Shark skin is abrasive and frequent rubbing on the line against that skin can wear away the line. Serious shark guys actually use long heavy steel leader instead of heavy mono. If mono is all you have, it would be okay...but I would change out the leader after every fish. To this leader slide on your sinker (possibly going up to 5oz or more for the large live bait) and tie on a large swivel. Then tie on your pre-rigged shark rigs.


You can always cast lures with the medium rods. I like lures like X-raps, Kastmaster spoons, Gotcha, poppers and Zara Spooks and the like, etc. I tried in-line spinners on and off...but for some reason don't do well with saltwater fish. I think saltwater fish like more of a twitching, fast moving I do well with X-raps and spoons that I can work fast with sharp frequent snaps during the retrieve. The only thing I find is that lures are often a little light to cast if you are casting into the wind. You just can't get the distance you need I prefer heavier, more streamlined lures like Kastmasters and Gotchas in heavy wind.


Working lures will often get you mid-size predators like Spanish Mackerel, Bluefish, bigger Bluerunner, Jack Crevalle...etc. Make sure you use heavier mono (30lb) if the bluefish are around...but even 30lb mono will get's not a guarantee...and even 30lb steel leader is not a guarantee against bluefish. They have some nasty snapping jaws with some very sharp careful handling.


Oh, and please make sure you rod is rated for the amount of lead you wish to cast. I've seen people ignore this and snap their rod when they try to cast a 2oz lead with a rod only rated for 3/4oz max. I'm not saying you can't do it, but again, don't whip the rod back like you would with a lure...but use more of a lob motion in your cast. The last thing you want is to snap a rod and have nothing to use...


Good luck...and just go out and have fun! There's no right way or wrong long as what you are doing is catching fish. Experiment and try different lures and techniques. Often that helps a lot to catch some other species when one technique seem to only catch one species of fish.

JK's picture
Thanks Ken

Ken, thanks for all the info, looks to be helpful and comprehensive.




PS- I frequently ignore the weight rating on my rods, but I do understand why it's there. I'm pretty adept at the lob / chuck-n-duck style cast.