BOAT HANDLING AND EQUIPMENT:
Drifting and Anchoring
There are a few boat handling techniques useful for grouper fishing.
Next, pull up next to the buoy and let the boat drift away from it. After drifting 50-100ft head back to the buoy noting the compass heading, Keep going past the buoy on the same heading until you are a distance 2-3x the depth of the water away from the buoy. You can monitor the distance by marking where the buoy is on the gps and using the gps to do the measurement.
Put the engines in neutral and wait for the forward progress to stop. At that time drop the anchor. Allow the boat to drift back while playing out the anchor rode. If the drift is slow use the engines to power back.
Feed the rode out as the boat drifts back towards the buoy. Once or twice, cleat the rode to bury the anchor in the sea bottom. When the anchor is holding the boat will swing, aligning with the current and the rode will pull firmly. Let the boat drift to a postiton just up-current to the buoy. Keep the gps track on to make sure the anchor is holding.
To drift a spot, either mark it on the GPS or with a marker buoy. It is best to always have a GPS mark to help locate the marker buoy for retieval. Another useful procedure it to use the GPS tracking function.
Tracking is the same as breadcrumbs, a real-time continuous line on the gps map showing where you have been. Using tracking enables adjustments to the drift starting point to ensure covering the area thoroughly. Start with a drift to carry the boat dead center through the marked spot. On the next drift, adjust the starting point so the new drift is parallel but offset from the prior one. When you find a track that produces fish focus on that area.
When drifting, turning the engines (which are not running) hard port or starbord will force the boat to drift in a sideways manner. Depending on the size of the boat and engine configuration this will have a varying effect. Experiment on the optimum enginne postion for your boat.
Obvioulsy you will want to fish on the side of the boat opposite to the direction of the drift,
A very useful device to bring along is the marker buoy. This is a float attached to a weighted line.
Marker buoys can be rigged up using a plastic jug and heavy sinker or dive weight. Wrap about 120' of string around the jug and tie the weight to the end. When thrown overboard the jug will spin until the weight hits bottom, marking the spot.
Commercial marker buoys are available and worth a look. Some have a ratchet line dispenser stopping the line as soon as the weight hits bottom. This keeps the buoy directly over the spot. The gold standadrd for this buoy is Suremarker.
NEXT: RULES AND REGULATIONS