Electric Boogaloo - Fishing 400 Metres Deep

June 01, 2018

Electric Boogaloo - Fishing 400 Metres Deep

Question from a reader:

"Love to understand more about Browns. I think you have some info on your website I will read. Is it mainly a bottom bashing exercise with electric reels or is it also a trolling spot?"

Good timing! Out there on Monday on a friend’s boat. We had some success:

Launching a friends boat for a day fishing at Browns Mountain

I reckon the key is bait presentation. Think for a minute about the reality of life for a fish living at 400 metres?
Pitch dark;
very cold water;
and most importantly,
low oxygen content.
Watch Florida daytime swordfish videos. You will see the anglers carefully studying the rod tip for any movement. And when it gets a tiny bump like a whiting bite it means you’ve hooked up the most powerful fish on fins. Here’s a good example:

Why is that?
Because at that depth, the fish are almost in suspended animation from the cold, the dark, and the low oxygen levels.
How is that relevant to us, fishing for blue eye and gem fish?
Same depth, same cold water, same zero light, same low oxygen. And therefore same low energy fish. Consider our experience on Monday. We followed the same method I always use. That is, go directly to the highest point we have found on Brown’s, which is about 360 metres deep. 

Browns Mountain shown on the sounder

Put the boat into neutral and over zoom the plotter, while we attach rigs and cut the baits. Then, check rate and direction of drift. Yesterday, that was from the north at between 1.8 and 2.1 knots. According to my calculations that’s around a metre per second. Can most of these deep water species swim 60 metres per minute to catch and eat - on a circle hook, which needs to go down the throat - a bait that’s moving away from them in the pitch dark? I don’t think they can easily do that:

Knots to metres conversion

Another question from a reader:

"Hi Andrew hope you’ve been well! Just wondering if you could give some advice in terms of fishing browns for blue eye. I’m sure it’s like any fishing from last experience in terms of a lot of it being based on luck but it has been some time since we have landed a decent blue eye and my aim is to try and get my girlfriend her first this year! I just wanted to know if there is any part of the mountain in particular that is renowned for producing or if it is just a case of having fresh bait and being in the right place at the right time. Any advice is appreciated and we will be sure to send you some photos next time we get out! (Provided this weather backs off in the coming weeks!)"

Let’s talk about the rig. I gotta be careful here because a lot of people have their favourite setups and they get pretty antsy if you don’t do it their way. But here is what works for me, and why:
Firstly, the prime directive is to get to the bottom fast. When you first free spool your reel the heavy weight takes things down so fast that overruns are not uncommon. But as you get to 300 or 400 metres the rate of descent can slow to a crawl. Why? Because of drag. Anything you add to your line adds to the drag caused by friction, on the way down. For me, that means avoiding anything that adds to drag and slows the drop. That includes:
big baits
chemical or battery-powered lights
shark clips
weights other than lead - sash weights, cement cans, reinforcing rod, bricks etc.
I use;

Tools and items used for Browns Mountain rigs

80 pound main line
130 pound droppers
9/0 Mutsu offset semi circle hooks
160 pound 3 way Crane swivels
Green lumo beads
Aluminium crimps
2 – 4 pound weights, connected by a loop
And all tag ends are melted and flared, so they can’t slide back through the crimp:
To baits. Have you seen the pic showing what happens when a Styrofoam cup is dropped to the bottom in 400 metres? It’s reduced in size by about two thirds, by the intense pressure. That factor is super relevant to bait selection. Why? Because it means you can use way smaller baits when fishing deep then you can, in shallow water. Especially if you use oily fish flesh like mullet, slimy mackerel, or pilchards. It’s important to use long thin fillets hooked just once through the top of the bait. No folds. And when I say long, just as long as your middle finger is enough. At 400 metres, the pressure will force the oil out of your bait, making it become its own burley trail and giving it a signature way bigger than its actual size. We used long thin strips of mullet for this double hook up on Monday:

And here’s the fish coming aboard. Our best guess, 22 kilos:

So we’ve talked about the importance of using low drag terminal tackle, to get to the bottom as fast as possible. And we’ve talked about using small oily fish bait, to generate a burley signature using water pressure, at 400 metres. Now let’s talk about tactics.

"Hi Andrew, Let me know what you have and I might buy when I drop off rod. My mate is determined to get a blue eye as we have only been able to land gems an the half dozen attempts over the last 5 years. Any pointers on bait, rigs, best times location or anything that you think will help us in landing a blue eye would be great"

I’m very fortunate in being able to fish any day of the week. That’s why, in most of our Youtube videos, the seas are either calm - or even, glassed out - in the background.

Tanacom set up and ready to go at Browns Mountain off Sydney

But most blokes don’t have that opportunity. They hope and pray that one day on the weekend will have weather good enough to permit a long run offshore. It often doesn’t work out that way. The wind is often stronger and the chop is often steeper than you’d want. Which is why the drift rate mentioned earlier is so important. I believe the single biggest factor in success or failure at fishing 400 metres down is managing the drift rate. Because most of the time, you are pulling your bait away from the fish trying to eat it.
There are a few ways to increase your strike rate.
Use a sea anchor to slow the drift. Note that this only works for drift caused by wind. It won’t help when the drift is caused by the current. It will more likely make it worse;
Reverse the boat into the current, trying to keep the lines vertical;

Sounder in action at Browns Mountain

Learn how to optimise the performance of your depth sounder. It’s not essential to mark fish on the screen, but it is essential to know whether you are going into shallower or deeper water. If you are going into shallower water, you need to wind up your lines. Otherwise, you’ll get snagged. If you are drifting into deeper water, you need to let out line. Otherwise, your baits will steadily rise in the water column until they are way above the fish. Here’s a good place to start:

One thing that works for me - but might not be for everybody - is to use a lighter rod, reel, and line than usual. I use a Daiwa Tanacom 750 reel spooled with 24 kilo line and a soft action matching rod. That combo shows the bites beautifully, because of the sensitive rod tip. As soon as I see a tap tap tap on the rod tip, I either put the boat in hard reverse or, free spool the reel. What’s happening is the fish is swimming after and pecking at the bait. The forward progress of the bait has to stop so the fish can catch and swallow it. After maybe five seconds I slowly bring up the power lever. Usually, the rod loads up: 

More details on our Tanacom 750 combo here: 

 Click here to buy the Tanacom 750 Combo

We also offer the bigger Tanacom 1000 reel, in a bent butt rod combo. Here’s both size combos in action. The Tanacom 750 to starboard, and the Tanacom 1000 to port. Both pulling up big gemfish:

Details on our Tanacom 1000 combo here:

The Downrigger Shop Tanacom 1000 set up

 Click here to buy the Tanacom 1000 Combo

For those on a budget or who just want to fish occasionally, we are developing a new economy combo:

Downrigger Shop economy electric reel

More to follow on that one after testing is finished:

Downrigger Shop economy electric reel 2

Get back to me with any questions whatsoever? Deep drop season on the east coast traditionally starts on the 1st of June, and runs through to October. Meaning we have six months fishing ahead. Let me tell you, the only thing better than swinging a good blue eye aboard is sitting down at the table to eat it:

Blue eye caught at Browns Mountain

Thanks for reading,
Andrew Hestelow
Managing Director

Tel. 0402075000
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