The term “offshore” varies greatly based on which captain in which part of the world you ask but it’s generally accepted that when you can’t see land any more, you’re offshore. You’re looking at fishing waters from 50’ to several hundred feet deep, although after 300’ it’s considered Deep Sea Fishing. With great depths, come great sea beasts – offshore is where the hottest saltwater action happens!
What to Catch
The species you can go offshore fishing for vary greatly, from delicious bottom-feeders to the most prestigious pelagic predators. Many anglers have at least one blue water beast on their bucket list, with good reason! Offshore fishing is one of the most exciting activities you can do in the deep blue. All sorts of Tuna, Sailfish, Swordfish, Amberjack, Red Snapper, Tilefish, Mahi Mahi, Wahoo, and many, many others give fishers a fight of a lifetime and long-lasting memories.
Common Offshore Fishing Techniques
You can hook up offshore fish using a wide range of different styles, depending on the species you’re targeting as well as the part of the world you’re fishing in.
Trolling is one of the most popular offshore fishing techniques, not by chance. This style of angling revolves around you dragging bait behind the boat to attract baitfish and predators alike. Your boat acts as a big lure, thanks to the noise your engine makes and the wake you create. Trolling setups are different from captain to captain but they all work the same way: you want as many lines in the water as possible, spaced out evenly. To this end, having many rod holders, outriggers, downriggers, and other equipment will increase your chances of getting a strike. Choosing the right speed, bait, and line placement determines how successful you’ll be. All of this preparation and required knowledge pays off: Sailfish, Mahi Mahi, Billfish, and many other top-tier pelagic fish can be caught while trolling.
A new technique in North America, kite fishing was most likely invented in the Polynesian Islands. This style is kind of like trolling, in the air. You deploy a kite (or several, if you’re a pro!) from your boat and allow it to carry the bait far out. The bait will splash around as the kite allows it to just barely touch the surface of the water. This is almost irresistible to Marlin, Sailfish, and other Billfish – getting multiple hookups in a single day is the norm. This technique is so effective that it’s been banned in several bluewater fishing tournaments – which speaks volumes about just how good it is.
Although it’s arguably one of the most difficult offshore fishing techniques around, landing a Tuna on the fly is a memory you’ll keep forever! It takes practice, knowledge, and lots of patience but fly fishing offshore fish is a viable style that’ll make all of your angling friends jealous. Make sure to get the heaviest line you possibly can, since you won’t have any weights. You want to bring heavy-duty rods between 8 and 12 wt – you’re going after some big beasts, after all. Big fish require big gear, so bring large flies and big hooks to have the best chance at a strike. Attracting fish to the boat can be done in several ways: some anglers prefer to chum the water to bring the fish from the depths and then present their flies. Others combine trolling with fly fishing – you entice the predator by trolling and then do a bait-and-switch by present the fly at the right time. You can land a variety of species on the fly offshore, from Bluefin Tuna, across various Billfish, to the colorful Mahi Mahi.
Deep dropping is basically bottom fishing turned up to 11. One of the most important pieces of equipment for deep dropping is an electric reel – reeling in 800’ of line by hand is challenging, to say the least! This style generally refers to fishing the bottom at depths of 350’ to 1200’. Everything is amped up, your weights will weigh from 3 lb to 10 lb or even 15 lb. Rigs usually have between 3 and 5 hooks on them and the line has to be very strong as well. Using wire leaders (dozens of feet of wire leader in fact) is recommended as some of the bottom-dwelling beasts can easily slice your line. Some of the most delicious fish can be caught this way like Red Snapper, Tilefish, Barrelfish, various Groupers, and more.
Popular Offshore Destinations Around The World
Since the oceans cover 71% of the planet’s surface, offshore fishing is practically a given on Earth! However, several locations have capitalized on their bluewater bounty and have a strong angling infrastructure. It’s like a well-oiled machine whose sole purpose is to put you on the hottest offshore bite.
“The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” – it’s not called that by accident. Destin’s fantastic location allows captains to be out in the deep waters after a short boat ride from the marina. Launching from Destin, you’re almost guaranteed to experience some of the finest bluewater fishing that the Gulf of Mexico has to offer: Red Snapper, Sailfish, Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna, to name just a few species. The captains there are well-versed in the art of hooking into offshore beasts and they’ll happily take you on an adventure!
Cabo San Lucas
Nestled at the southernmost tip of Baja California, Cabo San Lucas is one of the hottest launching points for offshore action on the Pacific side of North America. Thousands of anglers flock to this fishing hotspot every year in pursuit of Roosterfish, Sailfish, Tuna, Mahi Mahi, and many other iconic offshore species. Start your day on the blue and end it on a palm-covered beach – tough to beat that for a day in Mexico!
North Queensland holds one of the most important blue water fishing destinations in the world – Cairns. It’s famous worldwide for its heavy tackle deep sea fishing. But there’s a lot more to it. Juvenile Black Marlin, huge Spanish and King Mackerel, Sailfish, and many other species are regularly caught offshore throughout the year. This destination is so popular that Cairns fishing charters are often booked many months in advance, sometimes a full year!
Your tropical vacation will get even hotter if you head out with a Bahamian captain into the deep blue! Dozens of charters with top-tier captains take anglers out in search of Marlin, Yellowfin Tuna, Wahoo, Mahi Mahi, and many other species. Spend the day wetting your lines and the nights enjoying the beach – what more could you want out of a visit to the Bahamas?
The sea has attracted mankind since time immemorial – you can see just why we love the pull of the blue once you lose the sight of land and all you see is that gorgeous pearlescent horizon. If you’ve never fished offshore before, you have to at least give it a try – you’ll most likely be hooked straight away, just ask any old sea wolf.