There is not just one kind of fishing. A majority of fishing is similar, no matter where you go, what you are trying to do. A lot of it is identical really. If you consider adding in some new activities you are going to enjoy more action and quite honestly, you will be enjoying new species. I’ve talked of all these species before. This time around I’m going to talk more about “how to catch them.” It is an activity that is kind of unique. Great success is there to be had if you gear up right and do it right.
For around Tampa Bay there is a separate activity. A very lucrative activity if you do it right. It is what I call very simply “jigging.” I can tell you that jigging is the most ignored opportunity around here. Most people don’t do it. Pompano, a very underutilized species, pompano are a species that you go “jigging.” Other species where jigging is the way to go: Silver trout, whiting, Spanish mackerel. All of these species have a place in my business. All of these species are generally underutilized and easy to acquire. Silver trout and whiting, generally wintertime species; Pompano and mackerel are available nearly all year long.
There are good jiggers and there are bad jiggers. As a guide and instructor, I teach it. So many times I have to make them stop what they are doing and have them watch me and try to copy my technique. There is technique that is exact. I will catch fish on days other people are struggling. There are different species and different techniques that work on those varying species. A great deal of jigging success has to do with the location of the lure. I use jigs that are heavy enough to easily sink down to the bottom. If you are after pompano, silver trout and whiting you won’t catch any UNLESS your lure is in contact with the bottom. For Spanish mackerel jig location isn’t as important, what is important is that you have that lure “moving.” A way more rapid jigging motion creates better success while mackerel fishing.
Success can also depend on making the adjustments: Just like with other kinds of fishing, there are days where fish can be caught but it takes “changing your ways” to get it to happen. In this kind of fishing I tell people “there’s jigging and there’s jiggling.” A lot of fish I catch when the bite isn’t super strong: Jiggling. “Jigging” is popping the lure so that it rises a foot or more and then flutters back down. “Jiggling” is the act of shaking the lure. It is just wiggling on the bottom and not “jumping” like it does when you are jigging. “Jiggling” has the lure more stationary and the teaser that I use just flashes. The fish see it, they come over and they slurp it up. Try it: It works. Jiggling can work all the time. But it is critical to try it when the action is tougher.
Spanish mackerel are suckers for the pompano jig and teaser. If mackerel are you target, you need to adjust your leader line. Rows of razor blades for teeth I would recommend 40 pound fluorocarbon for leader. For these other species I would recommend 25 pound fluorocarbon. If you can guarantee there will be no ladyfish around you can drop down to 20 if that’s what you have. With 20 you will lose more tackle. With 25 you should not lose a lot of your jigs and teasers.
Silver trout, whiting, pompano, Spanish mackerel: All of these fish are destined to become smoked fish spread around my house. Pompano and mackerel are the easy ones. Bigger fillets, less work. Silver trout and whiting require more work. Smaller structures, you have to spend some time picking bones out of meat. Limits are set for mackerel and pompano. Silver trout and whiting remain unregulated species. Be a sportsman. Don’t go kill 400 fish. Kill what you can use. Even though these are underutilized species we don’t want to overstress anything out there. Pompano rules in Florida: Six per angler, 11 inch minimum. My suggestion: Adopt a personal rule of “13 inch minimum”. Mackerel, you can keep 15, minimum size 12 inches. My suggestion: 15 inch minimum.
Pompano fight great. So do the mackerel. Both can be real speedsters. Pompano are among the best fillet of fish you will ever experience. Mackerel, they have to go on the smoker. Like bluefish, I’m going to leave them in heavy smoke for a long period of time.
Caution: If you adopt the Jig and Teaser this is a two hook system. You have a fish landed, you can have some serious problems. The second hook ends up in peoples hands. I suggest two things. #1, make sure you take a pair of pliers with you. This can keep fingers and hands safely away from the second hook. #2, learn how to “neutralize” the second hook. You slide your fingers down to the jig and teaser and squeeze your thumb and forefinger around BOTH hooks. Now the second hook can’t get you. Ladyfish are the worst. Pompano are second worst: They are slippery, they are tough to keep a hold of. I would recommend leaning a pompano against your pantleg while taking off the hook (the ones you are going to keep). Pompano you are going to release, use the pliers.
Every few trips you hook up to something that is way bigger than these other species. Odds are: You have a cobia. It happens regularly.
When the time is right: We connect big with this kind of fishing. An activity most people just don’t do, if you haven’t jigged up some of these fish, you have missed out on some fun.
Owner and Guide Strikethreekayakfishing.com