How to Bottom Fish

Anglers in certain areas tend to develop their own set of terminology and lingo. This is a very natural thing for folks to do, but it can make matters confusing in some cases. One good example of this would be folks telling each other, often on the other side of the country, that bottom fishing is the way to go for some species. A term like bottom fishing can mean wholly unique things to different people in different locations. Here’s a list of the most popular methods of bottom fishing.

1. Try Bobbers and Worms

If someone tells you to bottom fish for brook trout or some other species that commonly resides in a creek or pond, they’re likely suggesting the use of a bobber and simplistic bait. You guess at the general depth of the water and toss your bait out into a likely looking spot. Some pond fish greatly prefer live bait suspended just off the bottom, and this classic method will always be a winner. It might seem a bit old-fashioned, but the fish have no idea it’s out of style. Try to find a worm that’s still flopping to maximize your chances.

2. Try Sinkers and Hook Arrangement

If you’re told to bottom fish for catfish or carp, chances are the use of sinkers and treble hooks are probably being recommended. Hook a big hunk of smelly something on the end of your line. Further, using sinkers to pitch it down the bait to the bottom. If you make sure the hook is well concealed in the bait, your hook won’t snag while it’s down in the mud. Smelly bait works best with this method. If you don’t want this stuff in the boat with you, you’re probably on the right track. Hey, sometimes fishing isn’t pretty.

spinner baits

Image credits: LUM3N via Pixabay

3. Try Sinkers and Spinner Baits

If you’re looking to fish in a large, shallow, relatively still body of water, a spinner bait, and a small sinker are a good way to go. Cast the bait and sinker out into the water as far as possible and let them both sink before you start reeling. Done properly, this action will mimic a small critter moving through the silt and drive the fish nuts. If using a metallic spinner, steady movement will showcase gill flash and draw any nearby fish. Try to find bait with somewhat concealed hooks to avoid snags. This method will work in both stagnant ponds or tidal flats, depending on your preference.

4. Try a Downrigger and Heavy Lines

Nevertheless, if bottom fishing for saltwater species, it’s suggested to use a downrigger. This gizmo is basically a smaller version of the winch on your boat trailer. The cable of the downrigger normally has a large lead weight attached to it. The lead weight is used to tow your bait and line down to the depths of the sea.

Thus, with this setup, a stiff jerk on the line will detach your bait from the lead weight. Yeah, it’s a slightly complicated process. But it works well and will save you a lot of time and effort if fishing on the sea floor. Of course, some people will recommend the use of a downrigger on lakes, but it has to be a pretty deep lake.

a lead weight

Image credits: mxart via Pixabay

The Last Word

No matter which method of bottom fishing you have recommended to you, or which you choose to employ, they all have a few things in common. First, if you’re going to spool out a lot of line, or drag your bait through mud, you’ll want to get some heavier line than you might ordinarily use. It doesn’t have to be airplane cable, just a bit buffer than usual. Second, this is not the sort of activity you want to use your favorite or expensive baits for. There’s a good chance you’ll suffer some casualties dragging your bait on the bottom. Losing a few is just a fact of life.

Finally, if you’re employing organic baits like worms or meat chunks: the smellier, the better. The bottom of a lake or pond is a muddy, blurry environment, and the fish probably aren’t going to see your bait down there. They might smell it, though. Chances are, anything from chicken chunks to cat food might work, but you’ll want to let it ripen up in the sun for a while beforehand.