Shocking tricks can be used to attract game fish with downriggers and for a wide variety of saltwater species.
"I like to keep my downrigger fishing simple," says Dave Workman, a three time past winner of the SKA's Top Angler of the Year. "I want my downriggers to go down and to come up, that's what my Penn model 835 electric downriggers do everytime without failure."
Certainly winning the coveted Southern Kingfish Association's Top Angler of the Year title three times requires some special king fishing skills. Dave Workman has not only found an ocean full of kingfish tricks, but has learned how to attract tournament-winning kingfish to his barbed kingfish baits by fine tuning his downrigger techniques.
"I fish with two electric Penn downriggers, one on each side of the transom of my team Donzi kingfish boat. And in many cases, our "Strike Zone" fishing team includes only two or three fishermen. With a limited number of fishermen on board, the electric Penn downriggers allow us to retrieve the downrigger weights with the flip of a switch. This is very important when a big king is hooked up and we need to run down the speedy king mackerel in a hurry. We require our downrigger weights to come up in a hurry, that's what our Penn electric downriggers accomplish every time!"
Workman also takes advantage of how exhaust noises and prop wash turbulence from his Mercury outboards attract kingfish to the transom of his fishing boat.
"I fish our downrigger baits 15 feet deep and with a setback distance of 15 feet as well," instructs Workman. "We normally fish with ribbonfish, which not only attract strikes from tournament winning kingfish, but they don't foul as easy as live baits do.
One downrigger trick that has proven very successful to our king fishing includes using a five-pound downrigger weight when fishing in rough seas. Here I have found the up and down motion of the boat makes the lighter downrigger bait swim up and down as well, which ultimately becomes too irresistible to foraging king mackerel. I also prefer to use the fish weights because they seem to track better than the round weights."
Dave Workman also connects a section of 100-pound mono leader to his downrigger cable with a sleeve and crimps the sleeve. An Aftco release clip is then attached to the mono line just above the downrigger weight and is crimped with sleeves as well.
"I prefer to keep the downrigger ball in the water and have the release clip out of the water for easy access," says Workman. "I also prefer the Aftco release over the pad type releases, because you never know how far back in the pad to set your fishing line. Finally, I twist the fishing line eight times before installing it in the Aftco release clip."
Dave Workman does have the complete mono leader, Aftco release clip and hardware available as a package, which is offered by Aftco. You can look at this downrigger setup and other fine Aftco products by visiting http://www.aftco.com.
Cannon downrigger manufacturers have come up with another shocking fishing discovery: creating a steady electrical charge into the water. Nearby game fish are attracted to the mild electrical waves, which can be adjusted at the downrigger. The new fish-attracting electrical charge is called "Cannon's Adjustable Ion Control." The new fish-attracting device is available on their brand new electric downrigger, the Cannon Mag-20. T
he electric Cannon Mag-20 has a new low-amp motor and is guaranteed for life. A new and improved short stop electrical mode, stops the downrigger weight at the water's surface when raised and has a positive lock system when the downrigger weight is lowered. The Mag-20 also comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
Chumming from downriggers can also enhance your chances of catching fish. Gluing a sponge on both sides of your downrigger weight, then soaking the sponges with fish oil has been a very successful downrigger technique for game fish that have a strong sense of smell. Obviously, as fisherman slow troll their live baits or lures from the downrigger, the flow of saltwater through the sponge dispenses the fish oil out into the water. This type of chumming is very effective when downrigger weights are trolled deep.
Plastic soda bottles can also be filled with fish oil and secured to the back of the downrigger weight with a cord or monofilament fishing line for downrigger chumming as well. An eyehook is attached to the cap of the bottle where the downrigger line is then secured with a large snap swivel. The cap is removed when the bottle is filled with fish oil and several small holes are drilled in the bottom of the soda bottle allowing the fish oil to seep slowly into the water. Finally the downrigger release clip is installed just above the downrigger weight. Obviously this sets up a real fish smelly operation as fishermen are able to troll lures or baits just behind the soda bottle filled with fish oil. Finally the soda bottle can be sprayed with black paint to disguise its presence.
Bottom fishermen have also learned how to attract a wide variety of bottom species while chumming from their boat's downriggers as well. Drift fishermen often attach a mesh chum bag filled with ground chum to their downrigger weight and set the depth of the downrigger weight so that it is five to ten feet off the bottom. Obviously, the current flowing through the mesh bag creates a chum slick over the reef attracting nearby baitfish and ultimately, large reef species.
For many fishing seasons saltwater fishermen have often wondered about that loud hum that is made by downrigger cables. King mackerel fishermen have swapped out the cables for 100-pound monofilament lines to stop the loud hum. However, a neat trick that is employed by fishermen that prefer downrigger cables is to attach a cork float to the cable just above the downrigger weight. Drilling a larger hole in the float allows the float to stay on the surface when the downrigger weight is lowered and, more importantly, the cork float then absorbs the loud hum of the cable.
On the other hand, certain species of game fish can be attracted to trolled baits and lures by the loud hum of the downrigger cable. Included are amberjack, cobia and barracuda and a wide variety of pelagic saltwater species that are in an aggressive feeding mood.
A few saltwater charter captains have found by running large "Dodgers" from their downrigger weights, the flash attracts nearby game fish and triggers the aggressive strikes from predator fish as well. Here the dodger is rigged some ten feet behind the downrigger weight. The lure or bait is trolled some five feet behind the dodger and five feet above the dodger, by rigging the line above the downrigger weight with the release clip rigged to the downrigger cable.
Finally if fishing is slow, fishermen can sit by their electric downrigger control pad and periodically raise and lower their downrigger baits or lures. The sudden changes in depth are certain to attract strikes from nearby and distant game fish when all other methods of fishing fail.
If you are new to downrigger fishing, the first and most important tip is to remember to raise your downrigger weight before navigating your boat to a new fishing location. Leaving the downrigger weight down will almost always result in losing a costly downrigger weight. With this in mind, it is always a great idea to store spare downrigger weights on your saltwater fishing boat.
Before leaving the marina for a day of saltwater fishing, be sure that your downrigger is mounted securely to your boat. A loose mount can cause your expensive downrigger to take a dive into the ocean. With this in mind, you can attach a cable both to the downrigger and to the boat with a large clip to avoid this problem at sea.
Downrigger weights should also be stored in a bucket or attached to a clip on the downrigger boom while navigating your boat.
Downriggers can be a valuable fishing tool when used properly and with shocking results!