Over the last few years on the Capricorn Coast it’s been no secret that I have spent most of my spare time concentrating on the topwater pelagic action in the region. However, it had always played on my mind what I was missing out on when I would ignore the shows on the sounder to persevere with fish that would take lures on top. With a small window of good weather on the forecast, (being an ever reliable tradesman) jobs were soon put on hold, the boat was fuelled, and with good friend Mathew Scholz in the passenger seat, we set off to scratch that itch. The plan in mind was to drop the focus of fishing topwater and spend the majority of time micro and slow pitch jigging some inshore islands and reef systems.
After seeing success on a heap of different style jigs I couldn’t help being a little captivated by Shimano’s bottom ship jigs. On first appearance these jigs look to have a fair bit going on with a slightly unorthodox rigging style and a trailing skirt over the top of twin assist hooks. Do not be fooled though, while these look like fairly technical gadgets they are quite simple to use and certainly catch fish!
The bottom ships come in three different sizes, 90,110 and 135 gram. We geared up with a number of different outfits from specialised jigging rods to low profile baitcasters but a 4000 Sustain/5-10kg Anarchy rod spooled with 20lb Power Pro and 40lb fluorocarbon leader was my main choice of weaponry. I found it suited well to the smaller 90 gram jigs in the relatively shallow water we were fishing. We ran the heavier jigs on slightly heavier line class setups up to pe3 mainline to 60lb fluorocarbon leader and still managed a couple of bust offs. With a large amount of fish being hooked you are always at risk of hooking fish that are just not meant to see the inside of a boat!
We covered a huge amount of area and terrain fishing drop offs, points, pressure edges, back eddies, deep reef and plateau patches in water from 10 to 40m deep. Quite a lot of fish were caught on the drop simply trying to get the jig to the bottom and we found almost every style of jigging action caught fish when used in the right application. Mechanical style jigging with short lifts almost like a vertical “walk the dog” and slow pitch jigging with longer, slower rod lifts both worked equally well. Another interesting and effective technique was letting the jig get contact with the bottom then just lift and drop the rod tip without retrieving any line almost like a soft plastic. This technique worked particularly well when the fish would only hit the jig worked slowly and they would almost peck away at it like a piece of bait until the twin assists found a home.
We saw so much action with these jigs it allowed us the ability to really put them to the test. After catching such an awesome array of species on the first day with every retrieve you could imagine, versatility and variety were ticked off the list. Strength and durability was tested with a bunch of Trevally species and a decent cod that decided to give my thumbs a little bit of “heat treatment” on the baitcast gear! To be completely honest I thought the hooks that came standard looked a little thin gauge to be running on the heavier setups, so I prepared to rig up some upgrades but to my surprise we only straightened one set of hooks when a Queenfish was foul hooked. The main way we lost fish was to busted leaders after being reefed and a couple of sneaky mackerel bite offs. The plus side to the hooks being a fine gauge though was the hook-up rate, even the most subtle hits were converted to boated fish.
After the amount of success we saw on this trip, bottom ship jigs became a “must have” in my offshore fishing arsenal. I cant wait to give them a run in the southern waters as I’m seeing a growing number of people have huge success on kingfish and snapper! A huge thanks to Mathew Scholz for helping me put these jigs to the test and donating a large portion of them to “unstoppable” fish. Next time you’re browsing though the local tackle store, don’t be scared to pick a few of these jigs up and give them a try! Once you set sail on the bottom ship there will be no turning around! Cheers!