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Dick Ellis Blog:
1/21/2020
On occasion, On Wisconsin Outdoors is asked to participate in various events to help raise funds for the disabled, blood drives, children in need of healthcare, wounded veterans or many other worthwhile campaigns that people in Wisconsin get behind with a passion. Silent auction winner John May works Wern Valley during a pheasant hunt to benefit New Berlin West athletics and activities. It might be trapshooting, or a fishing event, or whateve...
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Bottoms Up! Warm water bliss

Denny Murawska

It is that interface between the air world and the water world that we seek to penetrate. There be mysteries down there, and few things titillate the senses more than dipping our dimensional probes deep into the unseen fathoms of imagination. It is for this reason, and many others, that when given a choice, I prefer bottom fishing.

 Here in the States we might simply fish with a slip bobber, jig, or submerge a weight with a floating jig head on it and truly bottom fish. For those of us lucky enough to spend part of winter in sultry, warm ocean environs, it is simply called “bottom fishing.” I have caught sailfish, giant dorado, great barracuda and other big game fish in years past. It is a thrill beyond measure. For pure fun, though, I will take bottom fishing when given the choice.

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Feisty large mutton snapper hit while trolling a Husky Jerk. Tasty!

Big fishies don’t bite well all the time, and a four-hour charter often ends up being a queasy, expensive boat ride. That is not often the case when probing the bottom. This is not usually finesse fishing when you go down to 60 feet and more. A chunk of lead, a couple of hooks and some bait chunks are all that is needed. Casting is not mandatory. A seasoned captain can put you over a reef, rock pile or other structure that holds fish. Drop your rig over the side and the action can begin almost immediately. One can often fill a bucket in just a little time. The spoils are always a tantalizing guess. Snapper, grouper, grunts, porgy … you just never know. That, of course, is part of the fun. This is panfishing on steroids. A nice triggerfish is like a giant bluegill that will put up a muscle-straining fight to the bitter end. Could it be a grouper you have on? Better haul it right up. They love to dive into caves from which they are hard to extract. Snapper? Cooked or raw, as in sashimi, it’s one of the best eating fish ever.

 Going from hotspot to hotspot, it never hurts to troll a wriggling Rapala or Husky Jerk. You can pick up barracuda, jacks and really large snapper this way. As you sit quietly on the sea, there are other treats that often come to call. Smaller fish thrown back are not wasted for long. Graceful frigate birds looking like stealth fighters will swoop down and take them from right under your nose. Tortugas (sea turtles) often nuzzle up close to your boat, and a curious pod of dolphins might nose around.

 As I write this, I am sitting far south of Cancun on the Caribbean side of the Yucatan Peninsula. Not much to say about the warmth to come in my native Wisconsin. It is steamy, jungle-hot here right now. The larger boats come into the harbor bearing flags of various fish they have scored. This is surely not primetime. A few sailfish and wahoo flags come in now and then, but mostly disappointed gringos. Bottom fishing for an exciting, fun day on the water is the way to go, especially if you like bringing home a heavy bag of fish to fillet for the grill or frying pan. Find a guide who will do this for you. They often take part in the laidback afternoon and add to your cooler. They seem to enjoy it as much as I do and smile and sing through an afternoon of pure, childlike fun as it was meant to be had.

 Denny Murawska has been a contributor to the wacky UP Magazine, Wishigan, Verse Wisconsin, and The Pulse. His church is the pine cathedral that surrounds him at his home near Black River Falls.

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