wreck fishing from a boat

The Enjoyable Art of Wreck Fishing

Wreck fishing is when you fish over submerged wrecks of boats, submarines, and even aircraft. As these hulks drop to the sea bed and start to decay they become a haven for small marine creatures. Over time they create a whole eco-system, attracting larger predator species like Cod, Pollock, Bass, Ling, and Conger.

wreck fishing

Wrecks lay at various depths. Some break the surface at very low tides, others in the mid-channel are over 300 feet deep. They are also at different distances from the shore. Some lay very close, others are over 40 miles out to sea! Often there is a reef or large banks of sand created by the wreck and the way it affects water flow around it. The features add to the fish holding capacity of the wreck.

Art of Wreck Fishing

The art of wreck fishing is having a skipper with great knowledge of the wrecks in your chosen area. They need to know which way the wreck is lying, how to best drift over the wreck, which species are on which wreck, and the current productivity of each wreck. This knowledge cannot be bought and is often handed down over generations!

When drifting over a wreck the skipper has to place the boat up current, allowing the fishing boat to drift over the wreck allowing for the wind, putting your lines and gear into the exact right position. Then it is up to you to catch the fish you are targeting ie Bass, Pollock, Cod, and Ling.

You might also anchor over the wreck. this is difficult as the skipper has to consider exactly where you are going to end up with the tide and the wind, also where your lines are going to go. This method would be more commonly used to bottom fish beside or behind the wreck for Conger Eel and other bottom loving species.

Wreck fishing Tackle

Rods really need to be around 20lb class for jigging and other lure work – Pollock, Bass, etc. A good quality rod will last you years.

For bottom fishing for Conger then I would suggest 50lb class tackle. You will have a real battle on your hands keeping a 50lb conger out of the wreck as it seeks cover and protection. You will need the power of a heavier rod like this.

Here are some perfect boat rods

Boat fishing reels need to be powerful. you will be putting a lot of stress on the reels so quality and build are important factors. Most people use multipliers for wreck fishing, however for shallower wrecks the modern high-quality fixed spool reels work well, but they will make a dent in your pocket.

The reel is going to cost you a bit more to get real value

The line is a really important factor when wreck fishing at depth in strong currents. A low diameter line will be far less affected and this means the use of braid. Also, there is much less stretch in the line so greater contact when feeling for the wreck and hooking into fish. Monofilament is far more forgiving, so could be a good starting point until you get the hang of things.

Lures/pirks or shads – these are artificial lures that attract the fish so you can catch it. Some work on vibration, other vibration, and scent. Even sound is used to attract the fish. Interested in buying some? take a look here – Wreck Fishing lures

Basic Flying Collar Worm and Shad Rig

Where the hook is you can thread on your jelly worm or another lure. The leader length needs to be a min. of 8 feet, if the fishing is tough increase this length. If it gets tangled use a longer boom, shorter leader, or heavier breaking strain for stiffness.

flying collar rig for wreck fishing

The Method

You are on the boat and have located the wreck. the skipper will steam to a point that should allow the fishing boat to drift nicely back over the wreck. If people are fishing different leads or methods he might put you on a different side of the boat. Small weights and flat lures will be pulled further away from the boat as it drifts and if you are on the wrong side it will tangle with people fishing heavier leads going straight down.

He will say when you can start fishing. Lower your rig down to the bottom, just when you feel it hit the sea bed start winding up and working your jig/lure or pirk, count the turns. When you get halfway up, drop it down to the bottom.

As you get close to the wreck (skipper is watching his fish finder) he will say something like “Wreck coming up” now you know you are likely to engage fish and you need to be careful not to snag the wreck. As soon as you feel the wreck (you will!) wind up to get clear and keep working that lure. When you have a fish interested, nipping at the lure ignore it and keep winding, your rod will become heavy, keep winding you have a fish, now wind it clear of the wreck and into the boat.

If you remembered to count you will find fish at the same level next drift. Get your line back into the water as quickly as you can and get fishing again. As you leave the wreck the skipper will ask you to bring your lines up so he can return the boat to start another drift.

When you bring the lines up be really careful not to bank the hull with the sinker (lead) it will really upset your skipper. Also, I wrap the last 2 inches of line before the lead around the handle of the reel to keep the rig safe from swinging around and ripping someone’s eye out”

Here is a video that explains the entire process well


Wreck fishing tips

  • When you lower your sinker (weight) towards the wreck, use light thumb pressure on the spool to avoid overrun.
  • While you retrieve the sinker count the turns as you will often find fish at the same level next drift.
  • Vary the speed of the retrieve to hunt the fish out, remember what works for the next drift over the wreck.
  • Make sure you are well supported as freak swells often cause the boat to rock violently.
  • Pre-tie some rigs so if you snag you can get wreck fishing quickly.
  • Fish longer traces if the fish are hard to catch.
  • Wear sun protection as I have seen many burnt wreck anglers.

and enjoy your day out!

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