When it’s calm enough, troll the beaches to pick up awesome bluewater live baits.
Abundant around the state, a 6- to 9-inch runner is perfect for big kings, sailfish, wahoo, you name it.
Fishing in hard-pressured Palm Beach County, I’ve found one method that, with a little tweaking, quickly accounts for enough runners to fill a day: trolling with small jigs.
There are three factors to consider. First, use light tackle and no leader. While you can catch runners by using all the way up to straight 20-pound test, you’ll catch more using lighter line. I use either a 1⁄8- or ¼-ounce jig on 10-poundtest monofilament. This thinner line allows the lure to be deployed faster behind the moving boat without casting.
For bait-fishing, it makes sense to use the cheapest jigs you can find. Fairly light line means you’ll see some cutoffs from and bluefish. I’ve started using freshwater speck (crappie) jigs, sometimes trimming the hair.
When runners are biting fast and furious, they’ll hit a slow-moving jig, but if they’re acting finicky, pick up the pace. When the bite is hot, runners will feed right in the propwash, but on calm, clear days, you’ll get more hits on a longer line. What I tell anglers on my boat is, “When you think you have put it back far enough, start putting it back.” About 10 lengths, at least.
Finally, depth: While runners can be caught out past 20 feet of water while trolling jigs, the problem is, the deeper you get, the more mackerel and bluefish bites you’ll attract. I like to target my runners in somewhere between six and eight feet of water, which along Palm Beach can be quite close to the beach. – FS
First Published Florida Sportsman Feb. 2011