A weather-window at this time of year can allow for one last shot at deep-water bottom-dwellers like blueline tilefish and knot-head sea bass (see Bass 'N Blue and watch our Offshore Bottom Fishing video, to see how it's done). On occasion off our coast you can also hook into wreckfish. Very similar to grouper, this species does require some specific tactics if you want to target it in particular. To hook into a wreckfish, remember to:

  • Fish a bit deeper than you usually would, for these other species. While you may encounter wreckfish in 300 feet of water, the chances go way up when fishing in the 400 to 500 foot range. (Yes, you will still get bluelines at the upper range of this zone, though their number do tend to thin out as you get deeper and deeper).
  • Find hard, rocky bottom. These fish aren’t inclined to hang around areas where there’s sand or mud, unless there’s a wreck. Find hard bottom, however, and you have a shot at ‘em. As long as you fish with braid, you’ll be able to feel the difference between hard bottom and soft bottom when your weight or jig bounces off of it. You want to feel a sharp ping, as opposed to a soft plop.
  • Try meat-jigging with a jig of 500 or more grams. This tactic is deadly on wreckfish. If you’re not familiar with it, go to FishTalkMag.com and click on the Prospecting for Golden Tilefish article in the How To section. Then watch the video; about halfway through we talk about how it’s done. Squid and cut fish are prime bait choices.
  • If you snag bottom, don’t break off your jig. Instead creep the boat up until your line is vertical, so you’re directly overtop the snag, and drop some more baits down there. Yes, it’s a bit risky because you might lose more rigs. But the fact that you snagged in the first place indicates that you’re over some gnarly structure — which is exactly what the wreckfish like. Take advantage of your discovery.
wreckfish fishing in mid-atlantic
This wreckfish came from 425 feet of water, just inside of Norfolk Canyon.