The Bite Is On

North winds mean the sailfish bite is on; here are some baits and rigs to hit the high seas with. For you guys who love to fish offshore, now is the time to crank out those kites and get to it.

The first cold front we had this year reminded me of this time last year when I was starting to fish the sailfish tournament circuit with Capt. Ray Rosher. Once the wind begins to go in a more northerly direction, it tends to trigger a pretty good sailfish bite. And, judging by the chilly temperatures the past few mornings, those fish should be on fire right now.

One of the things I want to emphasize is, as good as the north wind is for offshore fishing, it has an equal effect on the fish inshore. It’s my understanding that sailfishing here in South Florida has been very good in recent days. That’s not to say you won’t catch a dolphin or two, but the north wind is really going to trigger those sails to bite. If the winds kick into a more southerly direction, the dolphin bite will increase and the sails will fall off.

There is a new rig that has become very popular for hooking live bait in a bridle fashion. It’s called the Gerry Rig. Basically, it is a piece of wire you can use to bridle the fish and attach a circle hook to it. What you do is thread a piece of wire through the nose of the threadfin, goggle-eye, pinfish or pilchard you’re going to use for bait and tie it in a loop. There is an elastic band on the shank of the circle hook that attaches the hook to the wire. This setup allows the hook to remain separate from the bait, which means the pilchard or threadfin will be able to swim effortlessly through the water. This also seems to help the bait last a lot longer, too.

Kite fishing is a very popular way to target sailfish. One thing I want to remind you offshore enthusiasts is to use big baits with the rods you use as long rods and smaller baits like the threadies, pilchards on your short rods and flat lines.

Finding Live Bait

Live bait fishing has one problem: Finding the bait. It can be very difficult to find and net the schools of perfect bait fish for your day offshore. Sabikiing your bait might be one way to get bait. All you have to do is find the reef or ledge where they are hanging.

Another way is to use the many different sources that are available to you. Fishing buddies can sometimes lead you to bait; or maybe there’s an offshore fishing bait salesman operating in your inlet. It’s very simple to make a reservation with him, pull up to his boat on the way out and fill your wells with his hard work.

Goggle-eyes, threadfins and pilchards, even a blue runner, a pinfish or a mullet, are all good substitutes when it comes to live bait.

Another thing to be on the lookout for are big wahoo. These northern winds can sometimes spark that bite, especially in the deeper water. This is the time of year when Bimini holds most of its wahoo tournaments and a lot of guys go out of Miami and make the trek across looking for these speedsters.

Tight Lines and Good Fishing,
Captain Rick Murphy