One of the easiest types of fishing is bottom fishing, and it’s also very productive. Many fish species prowl along the bottom of a river, lake, pond, or the ocean in search of food. This method of angling doesn’t require a lot of work or strategic moves. It uses a fish’s natural instincts and behavior to entice it to take a bait.
Fish spend most of their time in search of food, and some do so mostly on the bottom. Other species aren’t so specialized, and they might hunt in several different levels of the water.
Bottom fishing is simple and basically involves two methods. One is to simply cast a line and leave it in place until you get a strike, and the other is to cast the bait and slowly retrieve it along the bottom with a jigging motion. The first method requires live or natural baits, while the second might use live baits, natural baits, or artificials like plastic worms or plastic jigs.
Most types of rods can be used for fishing on the bottom. You’ll need weight on the line to ensure that the bait stays on or near the bottom. Once your line is cast, keep it tight. Watch the tip of your rod for movement to indicate that a fish is nibbling at your bait. Larger fish probably won’t “nibble” – they’ll just grab your bait and make a run.
Freshwater Bottom Fishing
The most popular type of fishing on the bottom in freshwater is catfishing. Catfish use their whiskers to search for food on the bottom of lakes, ponds, and rivers, and they also have a highly developed sense of smell. For this reason, “stink baits” are often used to catch catfish. Other baits that work well include chicken livers, chicken gizzards, and earthworms.
While catfish are almost exclusively bottom feeders, bass are not. Bass do hang near the bottom, however, in very hot weather and very cold weather. The best bass baits for fishing near the bottom include live minnows, plastic worms, and jigs that resemble crayfish. When you’re using an artificial for bass, you need to keep the bait moving. In cold months, the bass are sluggish, so you should use a very slow retrieve.
Saltwater Bottom Fishing
Fishing on or near the bottom can be very productive for saltwater fish species, too, both inshore and offshore. One of the most popular inshore fish is the flounder. These flatfish often plant themselves on the bottom and cover themselves with sand in order to camouflage their presence. The best flounder baits include live shrimp, live finger mullet, and live mud minnows. You’ll need a wire leader to avoid having your line cut by the flounder’s sharp teeth.
Fishing for redfish is extremely popular, and they can also be caught on the bottom. Reds aren’t as finicky as flounder when it comes to eating a meal, so more baits will prove productive. The best are live and dead shrimp, shrimp mammies, live minnows, small blue crabs, sand fleas, fiddler crabs, and cut bait.
Spotted seatrout, sometimes called “speckled trout” or “specs,” can often be taken while fishing on the bottom. They seem to prefer live shrimp, but they’ll also hit minnows and cut bait.
Several deep sea fish species are found almost exclusively on the bottom, often at great depths. For example, grouper, amberjack, tilefish, cod, and snapper are usually found near bottom structures like wrecks and reefs. Unless you have an adequate boat and are familiar with local waters, you’ll need to enlist the aid of fishing charters or fishing guides to take you out to deep water.
Sharks are opportunistic feeders and will seek prey at several different water levels, including the bottom. A variety of sharks can usually be found in both inshore waters and offshore waters. Sharks will hit a wide variety of baits, including live or dead shrimp, live minnows, and just about any type of dead fish or meat. If you’re trying to catch big sharks, use big bait. If you decide to use a whole dead fresh fish for shark bait, make several slashes in the fish to allow it to bleed. The current will carry the blood and alert the sharks that there’s wounded prey nearby.