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Bottom Fishing, Wreck Fishing In Fort Lauderdale

We are fortunate in Broward County to have three excellent reef lines offshore that extend fully across the Fort Lauderdale area. When you factor in natural structure and shipwrecks, as well as artificial ones, (purposely sunk by our reef program) you can expect angling opportunities of all shapes, sizes and varieties. The Broward county Artificial Reef program has been in effect for over 25 years and is a model for other programs throughout the coastal areas of the entire U. S., not just the Florida coast.

Tug Boat - Soon to be a Fort lauderdale wreck

There are over 40 wrecks (natural and created) within 10 nautical miles of Port Everglades Inlet, our home port. These wrecks range in size from smaller sailboats, 15 to 45 feet in length (eg Hog Heaven, a sailboat in 45’ of water to the Te Amo, a 45 footer resting in just over 200’) to sunken barges, airplanes, unfortunate pleasure and commercial vessels (Trio Bravo, a tugboat in 145’) to full sized freighters ( The Rebel, a 150’ Norwegian freighter in 11’, the Jim Atria, 240’ in length in 135’, the Bill Boyd’s a 211’ freighter in 265’ and the Bud Krohn, a 183’ Spanish freighter in 4oo’ of water).

We fish the famous Match ship sunk during World War II by a German sub in 460’ said to have stained the surface with sulfur for weeks afterward. Being in the sport fishing business, we also have our own structure and wreck locations which (surprise!) we won’t list here.

On the Marlin My Darlin we can and will target any bottom species you desire. From your youngest holding a spinning rod and reel, enjoying the tug of a one pound Yellowtail, (most our Snappers are under 5 pounds, but occasionally exceed 20) to a full grown Amberjack or Grouper on the tackle of your choice. We will put you on the spots with our knowledge and our Northstar and Furuno GPS systems.

Fort Lauderdale Wreck Fishing

Grouper caught off a Fort Lauderdale wreck

Offshore wrecks offer shelter and cover for bottom fish. An important factor in ALL structure fishing is that it also attracts baitfish that will hold above or typically, just up current from that structure. These bait fish can range anywhere in the water column from the bottom to the surface.

Baitfish, of course, attract the bottom fish (various grouper, snapper and jacks) we mention in this article. What is often encountered is the presence of mid depth and surface feeding pelagics such as Cobia (Ling), Dolphin ( Mahi Mahi), Sailfish and various members of the Tuna and Mackerel families. Live baiting is best for these fish and a presentation of the same baitfish that are in presence (match the hatch) increases the chances for a hook up. Intact (whole) dead baits can work well also.

Chumming with ground fish as well as live bait can enhance your efforts by bringing desirable fish (and baitfish) up from below and close to you as they draw near the source of the chum. Some fish will stay at or near the bottom, requiring true bottom baits. Proper deployment of chum can lead to reckless and voracious behavior by fish. A properly deployed bait on an appropriate leader often leads to good fishing.
Leader selection varies from 12 lb test to above 100# depending upon the fish you target and their location relative to the wrecks or structure. Rods and reels should typically match the choice of leader.

The “Golden Rule”…
You cannot catch the fish if you can’t get the bite.

Sound simplistic? Don’t be rigid in your methods. Murky water allows you to fish heavier leader material. A calm day coupled with crystal clear water necessitates adjustments in your program. (And sometimes, two aspirin). Depending on depths fished, Flourocarbon and scaled down leader (strengths and thickness) as well as increasing the actual lengths of your leader improve your chances for getting that all important “bite”. If the fish are piling on your offerings with abandon, step up your leader selection to lessen the possibilities of break offs.

Proper bait placement is very important. Just up current or squarely on the wreck will typically get the most attention. Baits placed directly on the structure often necessitate heavier tackle to remove the adversary from the surrounding shelter he has chosen. Grouper require heavier leader for abrasion protection.

The use of circle hooks as opposed to “J” hooks will allow you some degree of comfort due to the design of the hook, which is to pull free from the throat and lodge in the corner of the jaw. Let them grind their teeth on that steel hook as opposed to chafing on your monofilament leader. Offsetting a circle hook will compromise its ability to penetrate the jaw area, causing it to hook deep inside the throat or mouth before the hook can be drawn to the corner of the jaw. Occasionally we may “open” a circle slightly at the throat of the hook to generate a larger “sweet spot”. Miniscule increments here, as you can compromise the hooks strength. Circle hooks allow you to really pull when necessary because your leader material is outside the mouth and free from abrasion.

Fish with sharp, prominent teeth require wire leaders. These fish can be taken on mono but can cut you off in a flash if that mono touches a tooth. Most toothy fish encountered around wrecks are mid depth to the surface. These would be various Mackerels (King, Cero and Spanish), Wahoo, Barracuda and generally smaller sharks. Larger sharks tend to hold close to the wreck. Circle hooks work with wire leaders, but we lean toward “J” hooks if wire is required. Using lighter wire increases chances for a strike, except for most species of sharks, which will take a heavy leader readily.

The more you go doesn’t necessarily mean the more you know. I broke into this business a long way back with a salty older charter Captain who was kind enough to allow me to stick around and begin to learn the ropes. After several years of tutelage, one day feeling cocky, I questioned one of his fishing decisions. His response was… “Well, when you think you know more than me, then maybe you know half of it”.

Keep your eyes and ears open and adapt to modern technology. You will see your fishing fortunes rise.

Still learning after all these years…
and loving (almost) every minute.

Captain Rick Brady
Marlin my Darlin Sport Fishing
Bahia Mar Hotel and Marina
A1A on the beach
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

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Marlin My Darlin Sport Fishing

Bahia Mar, Ft. Lauderdale
Florida 33316

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