I admit it! I’ve been accused of being a fisherman with a very serious sailing problem, so let’s take a look at trolling in deep waters shall we?
The first thing to look at is gear. Rod, reel, line, bait and/or lures go a long way towards determining how successful you will be in catching good edible fish while sailing.
Look for a fairly stiff and strong rod in the five to six-foot range. Seek quality names such as Shakespeare, Penn, Daiwa or Offshore Angler. All of the brands offer several models of ‘offshore’ rods that will do the trick. You don’t want a very heavy rod, but one that is thick, stout and lightweight. I prefer mine to have rollers throughout the eyes. You should be able to get a good, high-quality rod in the $100 to $200 range. Remember, quality is important for longevity.
This is your most important component in the combination because a reel is the only one with multiple working parts. You are looking for a ‘drag reel’. As with rods, there are many brands and models. Here are three I recommend: Penn, Diawa and Offshore Angler. My favorites are Penn Reels – great history (been around over 100 years), excellent quality and performance. My choices are the Penn Senator, Defiance or Squall series of reels. Expect to pay between $80 and $300 for a high-quality reel that will help you be successful.
There are three major types of fishing line: braid, fluorocarbon and monofilament.
My personal preference for trolling offshore is braid. Whichever one you choose, use between 50lb and 80lb test line. You should have 200 to 300 yards of this spooled on your reel. Fish run out line faster than you can imagine.
You should connect a high quality stainless barrel snap swivel to the end of the line to secure the bait.
Your two options are fresh (frozen) or lures. Fresh is a great option at the beginning of your journey. The best is pre-rigged Ballyhoo dressed with a colorful skirt. Lures are next and I will give you several to choose from.
These bounce or skirt on top of the surface and are visible to the fish below who come up and strike.
These are harder lures, usually metal, and they ride just beneath the surface and are always colorful and shiny.
These plastic bodied lures are realistically painted fish bodies that have a ‘spoon’ at the front. The ‘spoon’ makes them dive way below the surface depending on their size.
NOTE: Always use steel leaders on your lures!
You are also going to need a net with small weave and an extendable handle, and a gaff with a long handle.
Fishing techniques to help you catch and keep fish
Play your line out so that it just behind your wake. Set your drag so that it is tight but not too tight as you want the fish to ‘swallow’ your lure. Once you get a ‘fish on’, the first thing you must do is reduce the vessel’s speed. Take the rod, keeping the tip of the rod up at all times, and give gentle tugging motions on the rod so you can ‘feel’ the fish. Start tightening the drag keeping the pressure on while reeling your fish. Place the rod in the rod holder then either gaff or net your catch on board.
The earth is three quarters water, there is plenty of opportunity for you to catch fish and feed yourself and your crew while underway. It doesn’t get much better than that. Enjoy, stay safe and FISH ON!
FISH YOU CAN EXPECT WHILE TROLLING IN TROPICAL WATERS AND HOW THEY RESPOND WHEN CAUGHT
Barracuda: (Good eating under three feet or five pounds), they will strike hard, run out some line and then give very little fight until you get them close to your vessel.
Tuna: All strike hard and will ‘dive’ deep once they are hooked. Even the smallest tuna is going to give you a good, strong fight.
Wahoo / Ono: Will strike hard, fight hard and jump to try and ‘spit’ the hook.
Mahi Mahi: Strike very hard, fight, jump and spin like hell. These guys are masters at spitting the hook!
Mackerels: Strike somewhat hard depending on the size and then are fairly easy to bring in with very little fight.
Kingfish: Hard first strike, they run out line and then fight very little after that.
Editor’s note: Barracuda have been linked to ciguatera poisoning and you may put yourself at risk by eating them.