Wreck Fishing in Fort Lauderdale
By Captain Tom Zsak
Wreck fishing in Fort Lauderdale has many options you must think about when deciding where to fish. You can choose to fish shallow wrecks or deep water wrecks and because the continental shelf gets deep very fast you don't have to run very far to get to the deep wrecks. From Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale to Hillsboro Inlet there are over 25 wrecks to choose from. Of course some wrecks are much more productive than others. How to approach each wreck is different from the next. All structures are in different shapes and sizes some of which are ships, barges, cutters, sailboats or planes.
Now when you choose a wreck there are many things to take into consideration. First the depth and what types of fish you will be targeting. If you are fishing shallow wrecks like the Mercedes (90 ft depth), Jay Scutti (70 ft depth), Rodeo 25 (130 ft depth), or the Trio Bravo (145 ft depth) you will be most likely targeting Barracuda, Snapper and Cobia. The best rig for Barracuda is to use a 7 foot leader of number 6 or 7 wire using a double or triple treble hook set with a 30’ shock cord.
When fishing the shallow wrecks you will most likely need a one or two pound cannon ball weight. With the Barracuda you should fish one bait just above the wreck and one bait on the surface. Be careful to not hook bottom. Options in baitfish are Bonito, Tinker Mackerel or Goggleye. The best tackle to use on shallow wrecks would be either a TLD 25 or Penn 4/0 and even a Penn Spinner 850. Always try to match the desired size fish with the tackle, mostly being form the 5 to 45 pound range. All the mentioned wrecks are between Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale and Hillsboro Inlet. Also be on the lookout for Sailfish or Mahi feeding on top of the wreck. Whenever there is structure and bait many different species will hold.
Fishing on a deep wreck you will be targeting species like Grouper, Greater Amberjack, Cobia and Shark. Focusing on Grouper and Amberjack you will be using a 30 foot leader of 100lb test monofilament. Most of the time we use a 3 pound cannon ball with options to use greater weight with stronger current or very deeeep wrecks. Some of the deeper wrecks we fish include the Bill Boyds (265ft), Deep Tennaco (195ft), Nova (210ft), FLA (400ft), and the C&C (285ft). When fishing deeper wrecks there are much larger fish so we always use heavier tackle. Depending on size and what is running that particular time of year we may use an 8/0 or even a 10/0 hook. Average size Amberjack is around 40 lbs and can get up to 80 lbs. Some Sharks and Groupers caught can be well over 150 lbs.
Now once you have your selected wreck to fish and have armed yourself with a large circle hook attached to a live bait you are ready to engage in battle. Get yourself in front of the wreck up current and slowly drop your bait to prevent tangles. Once hitting the bottom take 15 turns off the bottom. Wait patiently until the bait is fully engulfed and the rod will begin to bend. At that time come tight and if possible go ahead with your boat. Be careful that you can quickly enough drag your fish away from the structure. If you are on a chartered wreck fishing trip with any of the local Fort Lauderdale fishing charters then you won't have to worry about finding the wreck or any of the operational details as your Captain and Mate will handle all your baits, rigs, gear, and tactics. You can just sit back, hook the fish, and enjoy the fight.
These are some general tips and tactics for wreck fishing in Fort Lauderdale.
If you are looking for a Fort Lauderdale charter fishing trip our 46’ Hatteras is available for charter year round.
Capt. Tom Zsak