Bottom Bashing Secrets
Bottom fishing or bottom bashing as it is more commonly known is a widely used method of offshore fishing that has been around for centuries. It involves dropping a lump of lead followed by two hooks set on dropper loops suspended above it. This rig is referred to as the ’paternoster rig’. The main target species when bottom bashing are usually fish that live and hang around the bottom and include fish such as snapper, pearl perch, sweetlip, emperor, nannygai, cod and much more. It is a method aimed at filling the esky rather than specifically targeting the bigger fish. Nevertheless, bottom fishing is fun and when the fish are on, it can be a very rewarding and action-packed day.
Bottom fish such as snapper and pearl perch inhabit areas consisting of reef, weed, pinnacles, ledges, and wrecks. Once you have located some good structure on the sounder, it’s best to head up current, berley up and fish at anchor. The less noise you make, the better your chances are of catching fish so try to get your anchoring right at the first attempt. If you must drift, do not drive over the strike zone and drive around it. Fish can and will be easily spooked by engine noise which will put them off the bite particularly if fishing relatively shallow water. A drift anchor will dramatically slow down the speed of the drift if the current is running hard so it certainly pays to have one on board.
Bottom bashing rigs are commonly baited up with strips or cubes of dead frozen baits such as pilchards or squid. Other people have had success using live bait and even soft plastics. The technique is simply lowering the rig to the ocean floor and turning the reel a couple of times once the sinker has hit the bottom. The movement of the boat and current is often enough to give the plastic and strip baits a life-like appearance which appeal to the fish. Some anglers like to hold their rods whereas others prefer to sit them in the rod holders and let the fish hook themselves. It is personal preference and what you choose should be what you’re most comfortable with.
Monofilament line is the most popular choice for bottom bashing however some swear by braided line believing that the zero-stretch factor helps them to feel the bites better and put more fish in the esky. Personally, I prefer mono as it has served me well and I feel no need to change from what I am comfortable with. Popular hooks for bottom bashing are the octopus style hooks in Gamakatsu, Mustad and Owner. The use of circle hooks is gaining huge popularity on the theory that “When fish get hooked, they stay hooked” with their odd design. If using circle hooks, the most important thing to remember is not to strike at a bite. Allow the rod to load up then simply fight the fish with a lift and wind motion. I’m not a big fan of circle hooks because I feel that not striking at a bite or when the fish runs takes away the enjoyment and defeats the purpose of fishing.
When choosing a rod, short stokers are the way to go so look for something under 6ft. Anything longer than this will place too much bend and pressure on the rod tip before even hooking a fish. Depending on where your fishing, the rod should be rated at about 10-24kg. Popular reels for this kind of fishing are the overhead reels. The Shimano TLD series and Penn senators are very good choices but there are lots more to choose from in the Daiwa range, Okuma, Pflueger, and Finnor. Look for reels with a lower gear ratio from 4.0:1 to 4.9:1 as they have more torque to help extract big fish from the deep. Do not buy a reel that is too heavy because you are sometimes required to hold your rod for most of the day and you will have a dead arm before the sun breaks the horizon.
Tying a paternoster rig starts with forming a short double on the main line for extra strength. Then tie the double directly to a swivel. Next, you will need a roll of leader anywhere between 50-100lb subject to where your fishing and what your fishing for. Tie a small loop knot at the tag end of the leader. This is where your sinker will be attached. The first dropper loop is then tied 50cm above the sinker. Move up another 50cm and tie the second dropper loop. You will then need to cut off the leader line about 30cm above the second dropper loop. The rig is finished off by tying the other tag end of the leader to your swivel. For added attraction, use jinkai luminescent beads or tubes directly above the hook. Tubes also help to protect the line from being cut off by the fish’s teeth.
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