Try Sailboat Fishing from Your Anchored or Moored Boat!

If sailboat fishing underway didn't produce the goods, and you've arrived fishless and famished at your destination - all is not lost!

But before you drop the hook or pick up a mooring, take a look at the large scale chart and consider the fish-holding possibilities of the anchorage.

Look for a deepwater mooring, or maybe some broken ground. Of course, safety considerations come first but perhaps you could anchor in deeper water than you might normally?

So now you've chosen your spot and dropped anchor, or picked up a mooring. You're happy that you're secure and your thoughts turn to a fish or two for the grill. Now what?

Sailboat Fishing; How to Go About it at Anchor

Snapper caught at anchor in Prickly Bay, GrenadaYou're not looking to catch a marlin! This snapper will provide a delicious lunch for two people.

At anchor, don't expect any of the monsters that sailboat fishing underway can get you involved with; succulent panfish that spend their time poking around near the seabed will be your quarry here.

We'll be targeting the fish that are under the boat, so there's no need to cast away from it; our line will be straight down.

And if you don't have a rod and reel aboard, no problem - a handline will do just fine.

If you're using a handline, the main line needs to be quite thick; not for reasons of breaking strain but for ease of handling - nylon monofilament of around 100lb breaking strain would be about right.

Wind your handline around a plastic yoyo (left pic) if you can find one in a tackle shop, or a line holder cut from a scrap of ply (right pic).

Using a YoYoUsing a YoYo
A fishing line holderA simple plywood line holder

At the end of your line tie on the rig shown here - a two-hook paternoster rig.

This is made up with thinner, less visible nylon - 20lb breaking strain nylon monofilament will be fine, and the overall length of the rig is about 5 feet (1.5m).

The hooks are cow-hitched to the stand-off loops, each of which should be around 3 inches (75mm) long.

The bottom hook is 6 inches (150mm) or so above the snap swivel, and the upper loop about 1 foot (300mm) above the lower one.

Provided the space between the loops is greater than the combined lengths of the loops they'll be less likely to tangle together.

a two-hook paternoster rigA two-hook paternoster rig

Use uni-knots to attach the swivels, and attach a sinker to the snap swivel.

If you don't have the swivels it's not a problem, but you are more likely to get twists and kinks in the line.

A suitably sized nut or bolt will work fine as a sinker if you don't have a tackle-shop version.

Dropper Loops? Uni-knots? Cow-hitches? What's all that about?

The Dropper Loop

Dropper Loop - Stage 1Dropper Loop - Stage 1

Stage 1

First, form a simple loop like this, then take the top of the loop and...

Dropper Loop - Stage 2Dropper Loop - Stage 2

Stage 2

Then, pass it through the gap shown so it looks like this. Now take the top of the loop formed and pass it through the square gap shown.

Dropper Loop - Stage 3Dropper Loop - Stage 3

Stage 3

You could repeat the process for added security, but for most practical purposes you've done enough. So...

Dropper Loop - Stage 4Dropper Loop - Stage 4

Stage 4

Finally, lubricate with saliva and draw the knot up tight. Attach your hook link to it by cow-hitching the two loops together. Alternatively you can cow-hitch the hook directly to the dropper loop. 

The Cow-Hitch

The cow hitchThe cow hitch

Use it to connect a dropper loop to a hook snood or directly to an eyed hook as shown here.

The Uni-Knot

Uni-knot - Stage 1Uni-knot - Stage 1

Stage 1

First, pass a line through the eye of the hook and form a loop as shown here.

Uni-knot - Stage 2Uni-knot - Stage 2

Stage 2

Now make at least four turns (more for light lines) around both strands and through the loop. Wet the knot with saliva and start tightening it by first pulling on the tag end in the direction of the arrow

Uni-knot - Stage 3Uni-knot - Stage 3

Stage 3

Then, with the knot now well consolidated, snip the end off close and pull on the line to slide it down towards the hook.

Uni-knot - Stage 4Uni-knot - Stage 4

Stage 4

And that's it, the finished knot, as it's tied for attaching the line to swivels, hooks and lures.

Artwork by Andrew Simpson

Hey, that's it, you're ready to go catch a panfish!

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The eBook that contains everything you need to know about catching fish from a sailboat!

If you're serious about catching fish while underway, then you really should take a look at it.

Considering its true value, you'll be absolutely amazed at its price! In a nice way, of course...

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And the Bait?

I nearly forgot; you need to bait the hooks. Nothing beats small slivers of fresh oily fish or squid, but an excellent standby is pork luncheon meat.

A few tips:~

  • The bait size should be appropriate to the size of the fish that are down there. Large enough to be of interest, but not so large that they can't take it in one go.
  • The hook should be big enough to hold the bait but not so big as to be blatantly obvious or so big the fish can't get it in its mouth.
  • If you keep getting bites but not hooking the fish, then the hook is probably too big.
  • If you hook the fish then lose it on the way up, the hook may well be too small.
  • Not getting any bites? Try jiggling the rig up and down a little to get the fishes' attention.
  • The best time to fish is during the hours of darkness.

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