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Bottom Fishing for Tilefish
The golden tilefish, also known as golden bass, golden snapper, great northern tilefish and rainbow tilefish is widely distributed throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Mid-Atlantic. Tilefish inhabit a very specific band of ocean floor in warmer waters along the upper reaches of the continental slope. Deep dropping or bottom fishing is how you target these savory fish.
Tilefish can grow up to 4 feet and 80 pounds, although 5 to 10 pound fish are average. Now, this average reflects more of what is caught by commercial boats up the east coast. A unique part of South Florida tilefishing is that the average fish tends to be a bit larger than what is typically caught further up the Gulf Stream. In Miami, 15-20 lb fish are considered big.
In Miami, these golden tilefish are abundantly found in 600-800 feet of water where the bottom consists of soft mud. The key to bottom fishing for golden tilefish is finding this soft muddy bottom. This is where they create burrow for protection. You can use your depth sounder to read the bottom. There is a distinct difference in the way the ocean floor appears on your machine. We will point this out for you, so you can tell what good bottom looks like. Once you have found what appears to be good bottom, you can verify this by the way your lead gets stuck in the mud when you drop. It is the act of dropping the lead to bottom that acts like a door bell. Tilefish are curious. They will come out of their dens to investigate what the commotion is about. Your presentation of baits then gets them fired up.
What we are going to do in this In The Spread Bottom Fishing for Golden Tilefish video is team up with Miami fishing guru Mike Dumas. He will explain and demonstrate every facet of deep dropping for tilefish. Mike will make this very easy for you. It really is not hard.
Learn how to find the area you need to be in, what good bottom fishing rigs consist of, what kind of bait works well, how to bait and drop the rig, how to recognize bites and most importantly how to drift the gulf stream. For the deep dropping rig, we explain what terminal tackle is used, the spacing on your droppers, hooks and how much lead you need.
The mechanics of the drop are not that difficult. We will walk you through several demonstrations. When dropping your rig, keep in mind that the baits need to be on the bottom, if you expect to get bites. Mike will even show you how to trigger second bites, if you miss on the first one.
As for the baits that work well, bonito, tuna, squid, mackerel and barracuda work well. Tilefish are scent and sight feeders. Drop the lead in their backyard to get their attention, draw them in with the scent and then get them to bite your tasty looking offering. It is simple.
The most difficult part of bottom fishing in south Florida is dealing with the current. The Gulf Stream averages 3-5 knots, so if you are not aware, you will drift right past the spot you need to be fishing before you know it. Mike will show you how to stem or drive into the current while you drift backwards. This will enable you to stay on productive spots longer and get max exposure for your baits in the target range.
For the most part, golden tilefish are sought after for their oh so delicious flavor. One of their favorite foods is crabs. This gives them a firmer texture and sweeter flavor. Here are a few rules of thumb for how to handle your fillets and cooking. Tilefish meat in the first or second day will be chewy, having lobster like texture. On about day 3, the meat begins to relax and will have the texture of grouper. Both a fantastic. It all depends on how you like your meat. The flavor is often compared to lobster or crab, which is not surprising, since the tilefish’s diet is largely crustaceans.
As a side note, the golden tilefish season in Florida is somewhat fluid, so make sure you check with the Florida Fish and WildlifeConservation Commission or FWC to be in the know before you go. You can find them here FWC Tilefish
Learn more about Bottom Fishing with our other Bottom Fishing Videos
Total time: 24:46