Just look out onto the coast of Florida during any month of the year, and you will see hundreds of tournament and recreational boats alike all trying to score the big catch. A majority of the boats will be targeting pelagic species such as the Kingfish (King Mackerel), Dolphin (Mahi Mahi), and Wahoo. There are two main ways to effectively target these fish. The first method is trolling. Tried and true, everyone knows that trolling can catch fish. However, live baiting has become the preferred tactic for many anglers. This would beg the question, what is the best live bait? To keep it simplistic we have narrowed it down to two. The Goggle Eye and the Blue Runner. Of course there are many more species of bait fish that could be used as live bait, but these just happen to be the most common/popular.
Blue runners would rank as one of the easiest baitfish to locate and catch. Unlike other species, they can be caught throughout the day. Many other baitfish can only be found within small windows of time. An extremely effective way to catch runners in large numbers is to fish a shallow structure with a sabiki rig. It is best to do this while chumming the water. This can really get them fired up and biting on all cylinders. If you don’t have nearby structure that you can fish, try trolling a small spoons in depths between 20-50 feet of water. Although this method isn’t as effective as fishing structure, it should produce most of the time.
There is one fish that blue runners attract probably better than any other baitfish. That would be the Kingfish. Many tournament kingfish anglers swear by these hardy baits. It is quite common to hear they are the ticket to the “BIG ONE.” Runners tend to outlive other live baits. They are extremely durable baits and easy to keep alive. Put one down deep on the the downrigger and bump troll is over reefs and wrecks. Its chances of getting eaten by something is almost guaranteed. We recommend using a stinger rig with #7 wire to prevent kings and wahoos from shopping your bait or line in half.
Gogs are not that difficult to catch contrary to what you might hear. Anglers tend to keep quiet when it comes to catching them. Because of how valuable they are to the professionals who make a living selling them, you won’t get much helpful info on them. It's all about locating the fish, and waiting for the bite to turn on. It requires a great deal of patience and expect to lose a bit of sleep. They will eventually start chewing. When they do, you need to be ready to catch as many as possible. The bite will shut off just as fast as it turned on. They can be located along coastal structures like piers, buoys and jetties. Additionally they can be found in areas with wrecks, reefs and rocky bottoms. Depth ranges from extremely shallow up to 500 feet deep. Should you not be able to find these golden nuggets, be prepared to cough up 80$ a dozen!
When I think of using goggle eyes for bait, one thing comes to mind. Kite Fishing. It’s like these big eyed baits have special fish attracting powers when dangling on the surface. Most well known for being the bait of choice among top sailfish teams, goggle eyes are just as enticing to kingfish, dolphin, wahoo and BIG tunas. A live gog will give you the best chance of hooking up with a yellow fin tuna if there is any around. Goggle eyes are best rigged by bridling them using a rubber band. This allows them to swim more naturally and gives a more natural feel to sailfish. This isn’t really necessary when targeting meat fish.
If I was forced to use one species for the rest of my fishing life, I would have to choose a goggle eye. But it's really up to you. Remember to consider all the different variables. You might not be able to catch one kind on a certain day, or the fish just might not be interested. Also, I always tell anglers to use what they are confident in. It helps to talk to some of the charter captains in you area to gain some local knowledge.
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