KEYS PLUG­GING

Saltwater Sportsman - - Hunt For Ocean Tigers -

In the Florida Keys, wa­hoo gather over wrecks and along the slope of off­shore mounts and reefs. Off Key West, vet­eran cap­tains fish hot spots like the Sub, Wood’s Wall, Coal­bin Rock, Re­becca Shoals, Cos­grove Shoals, Tail End Buoy, and the end of The Bar, a long reef off Boca Grande Key, where the bot­tom plum­mets from 30 feet to con­sid­er­able depths over a short span.

Wa­hoo num­bers in the Keys be­gin to build in au­tumn and peak in the win­ter, when some an­glers troll strictly ar­ti­fi­cials at high speeds to cover more wa­ter and trig­ger strikes from fish com­pet­ing with oth­ers in the same area.

Bal­ly­hoo with Iland lures in front and one or two smok­ers like the Sea Searcher or Iland Ex­press far­ther back are ideal for the task. Yet heavy-duty div­ing plugs, like the Ra­pala X-rap Mag­num, Yo-zuri Sashimi Bonita or Mag Bay Des­per­ado, trolled in a V for­ma­tion and stag­gered at var­i­ous depths cover the wa­ter col­umn bet­ter with­out down­rig­gers or plan­ers.

1. Ra­pala X-rap Mag­num 20 pulled 120 feet back. 2. X-rap Mag­num 30 set 20 feet closer. 3. An­other Mag­num 30 placed 80 feet be­hind the tran­som. 4. Mag­num 40 run 60 feet back. 5. If pos­si­ble, add Yo-zuri Sashimi Boni­tas or Mag Bay Des­per­a­dos 175 and 150 feet back.

FYI: Rec­om­mended speed is 8 to 12 knots. Mag­nums troll slower but dive deeper than Boni­tas and Des­per­a­dos.

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