Bottom Fishing For Reef Fish


On the ocean floor, the pronounced bottom topography generally acts as a beacon that attracts fish from vast distances. The sea bottom offers a prime structure that generally concentrates different fish species. Migratory pelagic predators, including the mackerels, amberjack, cobia, tunas, and dolphinfish often make an appearance over good bottom topography for orientation, safety, and food.

A combination of knowing how to bottom fish and positioning yourself properly over the sea bottom should make reef fishing easier for you. After reading this article, you should be able to grab your fishing hat and confidently go after the reef fish.

Make Sure You Understand the Bottom

Most beginning fishermen have the impression that the bottom only features the live coral reef. The bottom, however, is generally not formless and flat. In some places, the reef features a depth of more than 100 feet. In areas featuring low tides, the reef can be out of the waters.

When reef fishing, it is essential that you understand the bottom. Unlike what most people who are learning how to bottom fish think, the shallow reef outcropping can be hard. This means that it can damage the lower unit of the fishing boat engine if you are not careful.

Where to Find Reef Fish

To succeed at reeling in a catch when reef fishing, you should locate the patches. The reef fish generally frequents the patches.

Simply defined, the term “patches” refers to the edges next to the reef. These areas feature a “reefy” bottom. The patches are a habitat to most of the tropical reef fish that commercial and sport fish anglers like to catch, after learning how to bottom fish.

Some of the reef fish you may be able to hook up when using your fishing line in the patches include:

  • The yellowtail
  • Mutton
  • Porgies
  • Hogfish
  • Gag
  • Nassau grouper

The Patch Reefs’ Features

When reef fishing on the patch reefs, you will need to pick a patch that is separated from the major reef structure. If you are fishing in the US, in the Hawk Channel to be specific, you should expect the bottom to feature turtle grass or sand. The bottom is usually flat.

Generally, patch reefs stick from the flat bottom, in some instances, as much as 15 – 20 feet. It is not uncommon for the patch reefs in 40 feet of water to have a 30 feet diameter. The water depth above the reefs could be anywhere between 10 feet to 15 feet deep.

The patch reefs feature holes, crannies, and nooks which form an ideal home for various bottom fish species, including the snapper. This tells you that casting your spinning rod close to the patch reefs may be a good idea. However, before the casting, anchoring is often necessary.

Anchoring When Reef Fishing


Before anchoring your fishing boat, you must ensure that you are in an area where anchoring is allowed. For example, in the US, anchoring on the majority of the ocean side of the Florida Keys is not permitted.

You should make sure that you do not anchor on top of the patch reef where you intend to use your saltwater fishing rod. Judge both the wind and the current and then move alongside the reef patch. Anchoring beside the patch, on the sand bottom is recommended by reef fishing experts.

Anchoring beside the patch, on the sand bottom is recommended by reef fishing experts.

After moving up the current and anchoring your fishing boat, you can allow it to be carried by the current, back to the reef patch. Irrespective of whether you are reef fishing at night or during the day, fishing as close as possible to the patch, without fishing right on the reef patch, is always an excellent idea.

Reef Fishing Gear and Lure

To know how to bottom fish, you need to understand the rigs and lures you should use. When reef fishing, you can make use of a hook and an egg sinker. The sinker should be on the line and should have the ability to slide all the way down to your hook.

Using a 20-pound test line is always a good idea. This line will eliminate the need to use a leader. You will need to cast your rig with your live shrimp for bait. Ensure that the bait reaches the bottom and it is as close as possible to the edge of the reef patch.

If the fishing is too slow, you can go ahead and draw the baitfish and ballyhoo out using chum. When the ballyhoo shows up, you can catch and use them as bait. Generally, the mutton snapper finds a properly presented ballyhoo irresistible.

Globo Surf Overview

When reef fishing, knowing what you might catch is generally impossible. This is because the patch reefs host numerous fish species. With knowledge of how to bottom fish, reef fishing shouldn’t be too tough for you. It is, however, worth noting that when you are getting started, things might be a little bit difficult for you.

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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!