Downriggers for Bottom Fishing - Snaggy Bottoms
By Charlie Wray
In areas where the bottom is littered with snag filled rocks and debris, all is not lost. It only takes a few snags with the lures or downrigger weight to send even the most dedicated angler looking for new waters, but let me tell you, these areas are not only loaded with fish, but no fishing pressure at all. One technique I have been using for several years has caught me fish when no one else dared to go near areas, and yes, still with my trusty downriggers.
First let me describe a situation. The snag filled bottom is in 80 feet, and of course, I do not want to snag my downrigger weights either, but I will still use my downrigger to take my set up most of the way, down to the 60 foot level, safe and away from all snags. My set up consists of a floating Jet Diver, that is rigged on a 3 - 4 foot dropper line of 40 lb test Seaguar leader material, from a three-way swivel, with my lure trailing 8 feet behind. I use this set up to take the lure the additional 20 feet to the bottom, and bounce across the floor with my lure swimming a few feet above the snags ( do not use a diving lure ), spoons like the Gibbs Gator spoons are perfect for this. The Jet Diver ticks along the bottom, and rigged on the dropper line, has an amazing ability to bounce across snags. Depending on the resistance of the lures used and trolling speeds, expect a lead of about 50 feet from the ball to make up the 20 feet to the bottom.
Even though I love using no-stretch Tuf-Line XP line as often as possible, this is one situation where the stretch from a premium fluorocarbon line, like Seaguar Abrazx is a must. This also helps stretch and bounce the set up along the snags. When a snag happens, and they will, the mono line simply pulls from the release clip, and with the tension gone, the now floating diver floats up and away from the snag, and also floats the spoon or lure up and away from resting in the bottom filled with other snags!!! Reel in and set up again without any lost tackle. This set up does work wonderfully, just make sure you have only just enough line out to contact and tick along bottom. Excessive amounts of line will only cause you to re-set more than you need to, and waste fishing time in productive waters. This is another reason to use a line counter reel. Downriggers simply can not be beat when it comes to fishing deep, but don’t think that bottom fishing is restricted to jigs. With a different mind set, your downriggers can be every bit as successful on deep water structure, as you have come to rely on them for suspended fish.