Fishing with Max! Fishing in shipwrecks

We are deep diving with our friend Max, learning about fishing in shipwrecks, a technique which fascinates all fishermen who have a boat

Fishing on shipwrecks is a fishing technique which fascinates all fishermen who own a boat, a bit for that aura of mystery held by the tragedies of each sinking of a ship, airplane or boat, and a bit for the prey that have made their homes in the many nooks and crevices of the wreckage, like snapper, grouper, hake, moray eels, conger eels, John Dory, forkbeards, etc., and the entire food chain that is created around them.


Fishing on shipwrecks: echo sounder


Before beginning to fish near any wreckage is it important to collect information on a nautical map or on the internet: what type of vessel it is, if you can fish on it, or if dropping anchor is prohibited for various reasons (not least for weapons of war), how long it is and how it is placed on the sea floor, straight or if it is broken in multiple pieces (the best situation) this is to streamline fishing, which varies depending on the information. Based on the areas, wreckage can be found at all depths, from 20 metres to 150. In Liguria there are many which can be fished over: I prefer the ones that are at around 100 metres deep, both because they are less explored by divers, as well as for the species living at that depth.



Anchoring on shipwrecks

Good anchoring is at the base of the technique and is acquired through practice and experience. Calculating the wind, the lee of the boat, and the current are fundamental. In addition, you need to go over the wreckage a number of times and, through the use of the echo sounder, know the length of it well, meaning where it starts and where it ends: I usually stop windward, put the engine into neutral and calculate how many minutes go by before the wind takes me away from the wreckage, because this will be useful to know when I drop anchor in the established point (this too, based on the depth of the sea floor and its weight, will need a certain amount of time to drop).


Afterwards, I try to understand which is the best side to fish on, meaning where underwater life has developed more, and, generally, it is the upper part of the hull, the deck, where corals and sea fans reign and where the entire food chain develops. Especially if the wreckage is positioned on its side, for experience, the fishing side will always be the one with more crannies and possible burrows, so avoid the keel side. What’s more, it is always best to position yourself a dozen metres from the wreckage and never above it, to avoid getting the assembly or anchor trapped.


The type of anchor used is called a grappler, where the flukes can be easily opened in case they get hooked on something, together with 10 metres of chain and the rest lanyard in an appropriate diameter for the boat: you tie the lanyard to a bollard on the boat and slowly accelerating with the engine, the flukes open up, making it easier to recover the anchor. Personally, I use two anchors. Having dropped the first, I release between 50 to 100 metres of line and slowly allow myself to be transported by the current, after which I drop the second vertically and slowly recover the line dropped from the first, while giving more line to the second. Having reached a midpoint between the first and second anchors, I begin to pull the two lines (one to the bow and one to the stern): in this manner I can keep the boat still without sudden movements or changes in direction when the wind changes and I can keep fishing in the same area.


Fishing on shipwrecks: gear and bait


The rod should be strong and three metres long, preferably in two pieces, the insert and the feeder, because usually only this type of rod has the power reserve necessary and can hold weights ranging from 500g to a kg. The reels can be a fixed spool (good 5000 or 8000) or electric. For ease of use, I prefer these: spooled with a good braided line of 40 or 50 lb, with the last 30 metres in nylon of at least 0.60 to avoid cutting the multi-fibre caused by pieces of metal or corals surrounding the wreckage. What’s more, you have to take into account that you may catch large prey, like conger eels, grouper and snapper, capable of putting your equipment to the test, so it is advisable to have fishing gear that might be a bit oversized: good options are eagle claw 1|0 hooks, 80lb pulley rigs and sinkers from 300g to a kg.


Fishing on shipwrecks: rig



The leader will be 150 cm of the 0.60 fluorocarbon with an end weight, hooked pulley rig and two sections (one, called “break away”, which will be positioned on the sea floor, the other will be about a metre above) tied to a good sinker weight set with the proper glue to two beads. The sections, also in 0.50 fluorocarbon for medium sized fish, will increase in diameter if you are fishing at night, and you can also use the specific sleeves with sinker to clamp directly onto the leader. The weight of the sinkers should be chosen dependent on the current but, on average, on a 100m seafloor you would use 500g weights.



Fishing on shipwrecks: how to chum


Personally, in the first half-hour of fishing, I begin to chum with pieces of sardines through release baskets which are easy to buy. The line with a lead of up to a few metres for the seabed and give a good yank to open the basket and drop the sardines down below. The fish will not take long to arrive, coming a few metres away from the wreckage to eat our chum. The bait I usually use is a sardine cut in half, because it works fairly well with all fish, but with certain types of fish, like for example red bream, it is better to use fresh shrimp or even live shrimp (to be as selective as possible).


It is preferable to only use one fishing rod and concentrate on that, because as soon as you see the tip go down it is important you pull up strong, and with a strong pull, try and immediately bring the fish up from the sea floor, stopping it from burrowing, which would happen if you made the mistake of giving the fish line. Often, the strikes are for nothing because the boat’s movement may be confused for a bite, but it is always better to have an empty strike than a missed bite. With time it becomes easier to recognise the bites.


Fishing on shipwrecks

It is important to frequently check the bait, even when you don’t think you have seen any bites, because the bits and pieces present on the wreckage can ruin the trigger. The first fish to arrive are almost always small or medium sized, the larger ones are more suspicious, but afterwards they should come closer too, curious about the banquet, and will easily take the bait.

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