Edge Fishing the Seaway : The Countdown Technique
When fishing the seaway one important thing to remember is that the fish have alot of room to play with. The average depth in the seaway would be around 10 metres and there's alot of places they can choose to sit, many of which are not neccesarily where you might think. Current lines are classic fish holding locations and there's a few in the seaway but alot of the time the fish just seem to pick a random spot somewhere along the walls and will sit there at a certain depth in a tight school. Tarpon, Trevally, Yellowtail Kingfish and Tailor are the main species that do this. Lures cast into this holding area will pick up fish one after the other but anywhere outside of this area will yield nothing. See the sounder picture to the right, which was a school of Tarpon sitting between 4 & 7 metres down over a rocky bottom. Using 1/2 oz jigheads with a sink time of 7-10 seconds, every cast was a fish. Plastics on light jigheads that only ran to 2-3 metres were ignored, a perfect example of finding the right depth.
So how do you go about finding these fish. Well the countdown technique and a bit of time is all you need. Mainly used with plastics and jigheads of various weights, you can also use it with metals fishing along current lines. We'll concentrate on plastics usage as its a bit more technical.
See the diagram down below, this shows 3 schools of fish. One sitting in the top couple of metres, one sitting midwater, the other holding close to the bottom. Each school requires a different sink time to fish effectively.
First thing you have to do is pick your starting weight. I usually start with 3/8 oz and go from there. Its a good weight because you can fish it shallow and with extra sink time can be fished in 10m or more. If the fish are hanging lower than 5m though you are better off going with 1/2 oz weights to reduce sink times. If the fish are hanging in a current zone you'll often have very little time(10 seconds or less) to get the lure to the right depth before the current moves it out of the strike zone which is why going heavier is more important than presenting a more natural lure. Plastic size is kept small to imitate the average size of baitfish which is around 7cm. Fish Arrow Flash J 3", Ecogear Grass Minnow M, Gulp 3" Minn0ws, Squidgy 65mm Slick Rigs(roughly 3/8oz) and Slider bass grubs are ideal plastics for this type of work but anything around that size should work ok.
Ideally you want to cast in as close to the rocks as you dare, a little knowledge of each spot is good because there may be rocky ledges just under the water which you want to avoid. 3/8oz jigheads will sink at a rate of roughly 50cm per second so keep that in mind if you want to stay off the bottom. Your first cast into any likely location should be retrieved almost instantly, it will track roughly 1 metre under the surface of the water. You don't need to do any fancy jigging on the retrieve either, just a slow wind back to the boat is fine. Next cast give it 3 seconds of sink time then wind it in slow. Next cast 5 seconds, then 7 seconds, then 10 seconds then go 15 seconds if you are fishing in a deeper area. Pay attention to whats happening, if you get a hit that doesn't hookup then do the retrieve again with the same sink time. Sometimes the fish need to be stirred up a bit and once the first fish is hooked, it creates alot of competition in the school and subsequent casts should get hit instantly. Once you figure out the depth they are holding at you can change the jighead to suit, for fish close to the surface go up to a 1/4oz head, for fish that are sitting more than 5 metres down go to a 1/2 oz jighead. Between 2 and 5 metres 3/8oz is the perfect size.
This technique can be dynamite if you find the school, but its certainly not a guaranteed technique if the fish are shut down, and if they are shut down then you wont be catching them on anything else anyway. Be prepared to get stuck on the rocks occasionally, the closer to the rocks you get the more likely you will find the school. Ideally all your casts should be landing no more than 2 metres away from the rock wall and you should be aiming for the spot where the sand meets the edge of the rocks, see the second picture below; the red line is where you need to be aiming for. That section is just an example, you can use the technique along the entire south and north walls. You want to space out your locations as well with about 5 metres between each casting spot.