Most people picture golden tilefish when they think about deep dropping but wreckfish will also bite all year long off the Virginia coast — if you can find ‘em. The toughest part of this mission is locating rugged rocky bottom or wreckage in 400-plus feet of water. The fish in this pic came from the tip of the Norfolk Canyon in about 450 feet. Once you find such a spot, deep-drop jigging is the way to get ‘em on the line.
- Choose a jig that falls fast and has enough weight to stay down on the bottom. That means a jig of 10-plus ounces (about 300 gramcrackers, for you folks who insist on using the metric system) minimal, and one of 15 to 16 ounces is not too heavy.
- Add a nice gooey glob of tempting but tough bait to the hooks. The tentacle ball from a squid is a great choice, since it can be securely threaded onto the hook and makes bait stealing — a big problem when you have to crank this much weight up to re-bait — rare.
- Lower down to the bottom on a rod with a stiff, fast-action tip and a high-speed jigging reel spooled with braid. Note: braid (tipped with an 80-pound wind-on) is a 100-percent must-have for this type of fishing. There’s just too much line stretch with mono to feel fish, much less bottom, when these sorts of depths are involved.
- Dance the jig right off bottom, letting out line when you don’t feel your offering tapping down each and every time you let it fall.
- When your jig is falling but seems to hit bottom a few feet too soon, swing for the stars. Usually the wreckfish will hit as the jig sinks, and if the sink stops before you expect it to that’s a dead give-away a fish has latched on.