Bottom Fishing (Anchoring over Structure)

Anchoring over a Wreck

The inshore and offshore Atlantic, off the coast of New Jersey offers many wrecks, natural & artificial reefs, and rocky structures. Fishing at these locations has always provided some of the best fishing available in our waters. Every season brings a host of new species to these wrecks and coming home with a mixed bag of fish is always as exciting as can be delicious. Most bottom species offer excellent table fare and have become the most desirable species in the state.

To locate these structures you boat should have a Loran & GPS. Most bait & tackle shops or marine retail stores offer a selection of waterproof charts for you to keep on your boat. Some GPS' have after market chipsets available with the charts built into the software. There is also some Internet web-sites that offer this information as well. However you acquire your chart, you will be interested in the numbers that will take your boat to the general area.

It is important to plan your first trip to these areas before you leave your marina. Most of the charts will offer you the average depth of the location. This is important because if you plan to anchor, you will have to have enough anchor line to safely hold bottom over the structure. Normally having a 7 to 1 ratio of anchor line is recommended however as little as 3 to 1 will suffice if there is very little wind and current when you get there. This means that if your chart says the wreck is in 50 feet of water, you should have 350 feet of anchor line, at 7 to 1. Manually pulling up 350 feet of anchor line can be a tough chore, so many fisherman who have learned that lesson the hard way have purchased an anchor windlass for their vessel. You may opt to use 2 anchors to help you get your boat over a wreck, be sure that you have at least 3 to 1 for the second anchor.

Once at the location, use your fish/depth finder to locate the structure. Your GPS may not put you directly on the wreck, that's when using a loran will be a little more helpful. You may want to bring a few sash weights attached to some clothesline, with an empty bleach bottle tied to it to help you mark the wreck when you find it. The water depth around the wreck should be pretty close to the chart data, so you will be looking for a mound of structure in the vicinity that will represent the wreck on your depth finder. Reefs on the other hand are usually broad areas so you will be able to tell you are on the reef by the diversity of the readings on the depth finder. It is also a good idea to use your GPS to detect the direction of the drift when your boat is stopped. Dropping an anchor directly on a wreck is a great way to lose an anchor, so you will most likely want to anchor to one side of the wreck, and let the drift take you over the wreck as you pay out more line. When you find the wreck, drop your bleach bottle marker down so you can begin the anchoring detail.

If you are using a single anchor, you may have to re-anchor later in the day if the drift or wind direction changes. Using 2 anchors is the best way to maintain your position over the wreck. To anchor with the first, drop your primary anchor about 100 feet to side of the wreck that the drift starts at. Once hooked up on the bottom, drive your boat slowly across the wreck, marking it once again on your depth finder. When you get to the other side, drop the second anchor and hook it up. Now that you have an anchor on each side of the wreck you can begin adjusting the lengths of anchor lines until your depth finder displays the wreck again. With this hook up, you are ready to start a great day of wreck fishing.

The bait to use when bottom fishing on a wreck is pretty simple. Squid, clams, crabs and chunks of fish are the most obvious choices. The rigs that you use are typically double hook rigs, with hook sizes adjusted to the species you will be fishing for. Use a rod and reel heavy enough to pull fish out of their burrows on the wreck. Be sure to use a sinker heavy enough to go straight down under the boat. Remember there is a wreck down there, so you don't want your rig drifting off the wreck with a light sinker.


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