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Drift-Fishing Amberjack on the Wrecks: The Easy Way

Drift-Fishing Amberjack on the Wrecks: The Easy Way
Drift-Fishing Amberjack on the Wrecks: The Easy Way

The following four steps will ensure you’ll rarely miss a wreck, regardless of wind or tide. Bonus Coverage for "Jacks of All Shades" (FS June '05).

Why bother with a throwable marker buoy, or its expensive chartplotter equivalent? And for heaven’s sake, if the water’s deeper than 100 feet, why anchor? Get a basic GPS unit, even a cheapo-handheld model. No electronic “chart” is needed. The following four steps will ensure you’ll rarely miss a wreck, regardless of wind or tide.

1) Punch up the latitude and longitude for your wreck as a Waypoint on your GPS; hit Goto. Confirm the location on your fishfinder screen, amending the waypoint as needed.


2) Shift into neutral and have a soda. Watch on your GPS which way you’re drifting—your “Heading.” Remember that number. You will drift according to wind and tide. You may not drift fast, but you will drift. (If it’s dead calm, all this is irrelevant anyway; just stop and drop.)


3) Also watch your “Range”—how far you are from the waypoint—and be mindful of how long it takes you to reach a particular Range (say, one minute to travel .05 nautical miles)

4) Run your boat back upcurrent of the wreck until your “Bearing” to the wreck equals the “Heading” you established in step 2. Choose your Range based on how long it takes to get your baits to a desired depth, or how much radial coverage you desire when fishing a particular wreck—some species, like AJs, may hold off to one side or the other. Shift into neutral and drop ’em. Use your engine(s) to make minute corrections in Heading until it matches Bearing.




A typical drift might be “300 and .05”—the bearing and range you’ll look for on your GPS when you set up for a new drift. Keep in mind it will likely change if you move to a wreck in a different depth, or if the wind shifts.


AJs are not picky eaters. Where they haven’t been pressured, they’ll slam a white bucktail or plastic-tail jig of sufficient weight for the depth and current you’re fishing (think 1 ½ ounces per 50 feet, as a general rule). Good live baits include pinfish, grunts and the all-time favorite, blue runner. In some areas, if you concentrate hard enough on catching a grouper or snapper--on any bait, any rig--you’re just about guaranteed to wrangle a big jack. Over some wrecks, AJs charge to the surface to investigate chugger-type lures, or live chum.

FS



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