When anglers pull up to a reef, wreck or offshore rock pile, their thoughts typically turn to bottom fish such as group and snapper. Nothing wrong there, but, don’t overlook the topwater potential.
Pelagic predators such as barracuda, kingfish, Spanish mackerel and bonito commonly patrol these sites and a big, noisy topwater like a Heddon Saltwater Chug’N Spook, or a walking bait like the Bomber Saltwater Grade Badonk-A-Donk HP or even a 6-inch Cotton Cordell Pencil Popper. can fool one of these toothy fish into thinking they’ve found baitfish schooling at the surface.
Ideally, you’ll want a fairly calm day so the fish can spot your bait. A light chop helps break up the surface, but too much wave action will hide your bait. Fan cast all around the site, but if you spot breaking fish, or surfacing bait pods, target your fire toward the likely areas.
Here’s a trick perfected in the Florida Keys, but totally applicable to offshore sites: Rig a large diving plug like the Bomber Saltwater Grade Magnum Long A on a heavy spinning outfit with 40-pound braid and three feet of 80-pound fluorocarbon leader, break the bill off the plug and skip it across the surface. The slender bait hopping over the waves resembles a frightened ballyhoo — an image that will bring cudas, kings and mackerel charging topside for crushing strikes.