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Tips on How to Use Wreck/Grapple Anchors
Locating a Structure
To ensure a successful fishing trip, there's a few things I like to consider once I locate a wreck or structure. Before dropping anchor, I
prefer to circle the area slowly and take notes each time I see a piece of the wreck or structure. After a couple of passes, I get
an idea of how the wreck or structure lies and its overall size. I also watch the sonar for signs of fish. Sometimes clues on the fish-
finder can help determine the types of fish present on the wreck or structure. Are there schools of marks at mid-depth or high in the
Choosing the season to fish a given wreck or structure is important. A more efficient way to think of this is to develop a plan of
possible wrecks or structures to target on any given day. Some wrecks or structures are hot only during cold weather while
other wrecks or structures produce better results during the warmer-summer months. I like to have a plan which entails
fishing 3 or 4 wrecks or pieces of structure in a morning, each in a slightly different environment. Another plan is to mix a brief
drop on a wreck or structure with other types of fishing during the day. A mixed bag is always welcomed in my house.
Before the trip, I always try to obtain good-quality fresh and/or live bait. Tautogs require hard crabs or clams as a
primary choice of bait. Clam is the basic Sea Bass bait.
Most often, I drift the boat over the wreck, watching the plotter as a drift pattern emerges. I don't like to extend my drift more
than about 75 feet after the structure disappears from the fish-finder. This allows you to cover all of the wreck or structure and
pinpoint better areas. This method allows for a more diverse catch as the various species of fish may inhabit different zones of the
wreck or structure.
I deploy a grappling hook or more commonly known as a wreck anchor, which is intended to hinge onto the wreck or structure.
The wreck anchor (grappling hook) is designed with a specific shape that is most often connected to a light chain and a very small
diameter of rope.
Another anchoring technique is through use of a wreck anchor made of hot rolled steel. To ensure a strong hold, move your
boat up current from the wreck or reef, drop the anchor and as the boat drifts, the anchor will be forced to drag along the bottom
until the wreck anchor hooks onto the structure. The anchor rope shortens so the boat is directly over the wreck or reef. You
can then tie the rope off to a bow cleat. A minimal amount of anchor rope is in the water when this technique is used. When finished
fishing, forcefully pull on the anchor rope, which causes the wreck anchor to bend, freeing the anchor from the structure. The anchor
can later be bent into its original shape and used again.
October and November are prime times for Tautog. These stocky, powerful fish are caught along the Atlantic coast on hard
structures such as wrecks, artificial reefs, rock piles, and boulders at the bases of lighthouses. Tog maneuver through the cracks and
crevices of these structures and use their thick, rubbery lips to pull off blue mussels from the structure. Their large teeth crack open
the shell allowing the Tog to consume the meat and discard the bits of shell. Tog also use their mouths to crack open crab, shrimp,
clams and even lobster.
The key to catching Tautog is anchoring directly over the structure, which will enable you to drop your bait straight down
into the twisted, tangled, jumbled structure where Tog dwell. It's imperative to fish in the structure. Bait presented on the open
bottom, even if only a few feet from structure, will be ignored.
If you plan to pursue rock- and wreck hugging inshore fish, such as Tautog (blackfish), Fluke, Sea bass and Scup, you’ll
need to know a few things about anchoring over structure.
- Precision anchoring takes skill and experience but it pays big dividends, as being just a few feet off the part of the wreck,
reef or rock pile where the fish are. Holding your position can make all the difference between scoring dinner and
coming home empty-handed. The best bottom fishermen will set and reset the hook several times until their boat is
directly over the precise spot they want to fish. They don’t settle for “close enough.” Fortunately, there are a few simple
tricks you can use to work a piece of structure effectively without having to re-anchor.
---Don't make a "wreck" out of your next trip
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