As the oceanic waters warm up and angling options expand by leaps and bounds, one target of opportunity that provides a great change of pace is the spadefish. Found at inshore wreck and reef sites from OC down through Virginia and in the lower reaches of the Bay, any significant structure within sight of shore and out to 12 or 14 miles could hold concentrations of spades. And while targeting them is a fairly straightforward deal (just type “spadefish” into the search box here on our site if you need to learn the basics), a few subtle tactics can mean the difference between catching a few fish, or hooking up constantly.
- Most anglers use clam bits for bait and chum, and this does work. But spadefish love jellyfish. As you cruise to the fishing grounds, look for cannonball jellies (the ones that look like a mushroom). These are firm enough to cut into baits and stay on the hook, and spadefish will lose all inhibition when presented with a chunk of cannonball jelly. If you can get enough to chum with, you’re likely in for a banner day.
- Spadefish like to stick close to the structure they school near, so make sure your boat is anchored so that your chum bits flow right to the fish. If you’re directly above the structure, you’ll probably catch more fish if you reposition up-current.
- Keep a pitch-bait rod at the ready. Sometimes the entire school will follow a hooked fish right up to the boat. When this happens, you want to be ready to capitalize on your luck and enjoy multiple hook-ups.
Check out Spadefish and Triggerfish at the CBBT to find out how to target these tasty fish at the CBBT.