Wreck and Reef Fishing

Wrecks and Reefs


Reef fishing and wreck fishing are very popular fishing techniques in the United States and abroad. To indulge in the sport there are great fishing spots, versatile equipment, an abundant variety of fish species and more than all some very enthusiastic, talented, experienced and daring men and women who keep the sport alive. You too could join this adventurous band of men and women by learning and apprising yourself of the finer points and undergoing some basic training from a “know it all” in the sport, pick out the season, get your equipment and entice the fish to take the bite of your bait.

Unlike other types of deep sea fishing reef fishing and wreck fishing are confined closer to the coast line and use only fishing tackle, line, hooks and bait. This gives the fish an equal chance, to either be enticed by the bait we would use and take that all important bite or take you for “an opportunist” and swim away looking the other way. Hence with an unaccountable quantum of fish beneath the boat, only one fish would come along and give you the chance of becoming that “opportunist in the boat”, take the bait and fight the fish into your boat.

Other game sports where a powerful firearm would invariably be used with a long range high definition telescopic sight, does not give the animal that comes in between the cross hairs a snowball in hell chance, to avoid the hunter from pulling the trigger, it might not know that danger is lurking behind a tree or camouflaged hideout till the bullet hits and it drops dead. It is the equality of the game between you and the fish that makes reef fishing and wreck fishing that much more exciting and humane. It could either be thrown back into the sea and be lucky to live another day or end up on the dinner plate if the battle is won by the angler.

From West Quoddy Head in the State of Maine the northern most extreme point, to Key West the southern most extreme point on the eastern seaboard of the United States, a coast line stretching for 2069 miles with a rich diversity of marine life, is what Nature has offered sport anglers to conquer on their quests to take in the biggest catch, if they have the right equipment, stamina, perseverance and patience. With a very long coastline the reef fishing and wreck fishing seasons would vary to a very great extent due to the difference in the weather patterns at the top and bottom extremes. The weather plays a major role in determining what species of fish you could catch where, as they migrate with the change in currents, spawning periods and food availability. Hence before you boat out to sea, it would be prudent to apprise yourself about the possibility of fish being there for you to catch or you would be throwing your bait and hook with no success, because all the fish would have left that particular areas and gone elsewhere.

The eastern seaboard on the Atlantic Ocean has been perennially a very rich hunting ground for all types of fishing from trawlers to the simple fishing rod or also called a fishing tackle. Trying to take in a catch with a fishing rod and reel is one of the most exciting experiences anyone could indulge in the vast open seas. Once you have caught the fish it is your choice to either keep the fish or return it to its home, the sea. You need not necessarily be a fish eater to go angling and feel the real excitement so it is a sport for everyone and is becoming even much more popular day by day especially with those who want to smell the salty breeze and taste the sea spray around their lips. There are quite a few pertinent points that an aspiring angler willing to take up the challenges that he or she would face out in the open and wild Atlantic Ocean, would need to consider before stepping into a boat and pushing the limits of their adrenaline to the optimum.

We have endeavored to bring some of those points to the knowledge of our readers especially those who are trying their amateur hands at this very exciting and interesting sport.

Fishing enthusiasm


To try your hand at reef fishing and wreck fishing you would first need to have the enthusiasm to go do it, and without it the whole purpose would be lost, so getting yourself into the right frame of mind is very important and if you don’t have what it takes to be a good angler, then you would probably give it up half way through. Get the adrenalines pumping within you, if you really want to go out to sea and catch a few fish to keep either your dinner plate full or just for the fun of it.

Fishing Season

Fishing season

Where you would fish will be very important if you are lucky to catch some because between West Quoddy Head, Maine and Key West, in Florida the availability of fish for reef fishing and wreck fishing could vary quite appreciably. For instance towards the middle of the coastline around Virginia the season would be ideally be between June, July and August where most of the popular and better varieties of fish could be easily enticed to take the bite because there are ample of them closer to the surface of the water. There are some very popular fish that you could bait during these months and also during May and September around the seas of Virginia but going further north or south the season could vary.This does not mean that there are no fish during the other months of the year around Virginia, they are there but not in abundance like the peak seasons, which is true for fishing anywhere around the world. Fish behave with the weather patterns and are peculiar in their breeding and feeding habits and to be a good angler you would need to study the weather patterns and the appropriate seasons if you are expecting to catch the bigger and better species.

Reef Fishing

Reef fishing Visit our Map Based searchable Reef Database

There are ordinary reefs and coral reefs and of them the latter are living organisms whilst the former are secreted skeletons of invertebrate animals containing Calcium Carbonate and built up over time. The animals may die but their secreted skeletons remain to eternity protecting the coastal lines and also giving us rich marine life which could be consumed and to give us the exciting sport of reef fishing and wreck fishing. Both protect the coast lines of countries and could be seen in more than 100 countries around the world and here in the United States’ eastern seaboard too. The reefs are formed over millions of years and diverse organisms like algae, mollusks, sponges and worms help to sustain the world’s ecosystem by helping to build these elaborate and mammoth undersea structures. Marine biologists envisage that around 25% of all marine life is found around the coastal reefs and in some countries they are tourist attractions and here in the USA the coral reefs of Florida brings in around US $ 1.2 billion annually to the state coffers. Whilst tourism brings in a substantial quantum of revenue so does the fishing industry, with the reefs off the Florida Keys clocking a US $ 50 million annually. The popularity of the Florida Keys for reef fishing is known worldwide and there are professional anglers who make the trip during the season to try their hand to net the biggest catches endeavoring to get their names into the record books for the largest and heaviest Snappers, King Mackerel, Mangrove snapper, Yellow tail snapper or Groupers. Reef fishing and wreck fishing are immensely helped by the diverse marine life around the reefs which attract the larger fish that are predators that come for a quick meal and then get back further into the sea. The coral reefs are delicate and could be easily damaged by human error or other disturbances but not the ordinary reefs of which the foundations are very solid and would stand the test of time for many more millions of years. Reef fishing and wreck fishing needs the right intuition if you are to get the better of the fish and knowing a little bit of the tactics could help you to be successful and would hold you in good stead when you embark on this very exciting sport.

Wreck Fishing

Wreck fishing Visit our Map Based searchable Wreck Database

It is reefs that have brought the wrecks and to better understand it, it could be put very simply that years of shipping has contributed to what we call as wreck fishing today. For a little more than a couple of hundred years since the first settlers arrived on the eastern coast of the now United States of America navigating them into berth was a very difficult endeavor because there was no technological expertise like we have now. Invariably what happened was if the weather was rough the ships that tried to come into the ports on the eastern coast crashed onto the reefs beneath. There are thousands of ships along the eastern seaboard and the other coastal areas of the United States and other countries of the world and these have been taken over by the different varieties of fish as their habitats. They breed and practically live within the wrecks thereby giving a rich diversity of different species of fish for us as well as for other marine life to coexist within this vast Nature’s wonder we call the reef.

Fishing Techniques

Fishing Techniques

Mastering the required fishing techniques would be vital if you are embarking on reef fishing and wreck fishing because it needs some in-depth knowledge as to how weather and currents could affect the movement of fish in the sea especially more inshore where you would be trying your hand to bait a good catch. Picking the appropriate spot nearest to the reef where your boat can be anchored safely and precisely where the fish are feeding would need some experience even though you may burn the midnight oil and try to learn it from the books or online for various websites including this. Your boat could be a hundred feet to the right or to the left when you put down the anchor because that would precisely determine if you are going home with a King Mackerel or any other fish, home in the evening. Unlike a few years ago technology is also helping us today, and we have electronic radar and sonar to locate exactly where fish are feeding and even though they may be the smaller varieties like the silver sides or similar fish you could use the ingenuity of chumming to attract the larger species like the above. It is imperative that everything is done properly and expertly if you are to be successful to get them to bite and this is what makes this sport such an interesting one. From the spot you would fish, to the hook that you choose, should be appropriate for the fish you would catch otherwise reef fishing and wreck fishing would be a bore for you as you would not have caught any.

Wreck Anchoring


Anchoring at the right spot for reef fishing and wreck fishing is very important as you could be where the fish are but tens of feet away and you would be near but yet so far. Your sonar should be able to tell you, where exactly you should be dropping anchor and once you have mastered the art of anchoring the boat, the fish would all be yours. If you are going in your boat you would need to ensure that you know this art well but if you are with an experienced captain of a reef fishing or wreck fishing boat, he would be able to anchor at the right spot for you to get the fish to start biting your bait. There is enough equipment to ensure that you pick the right place and using them prudently would be your perogative if you want to be successful angler especially when it is reef fishing and wreck fishing both of which needs experience to master to get those bites on your line.



Chumming helps immensely in reef fishing and wreck fishing, where you could place the chum in a strategic position so as not to interfere with the fishing lines and still get the optimum results. There are four types of chumming that are generally practiced by experienced anglers along the eastern seaboard of the United States, to ensure that they get the fish that they envisage to catch in double quick time. Chumming tactics could be used to catch bait fish too, which would help to hook the bigger fish. Here the smell of blood from the fish in the chum which we call as chumming helps to ensure that the scent of blood is spread over a wider area. The frozen block chum is a good ruse to catch any fish from the King Mackerel, Snappers, Groupers and others like them where the chum is frozen but thawed overnight before the fishing trip. For the frozen chum you could use menhaden fish or anything else and keeping the chum closer to the boat and the spread of scent once you send it down deeper are going to draw some good fish closer to you.

Frozen menhaden is also mixed with masonry sand and made into sand balls and are thrown overboard and the sand being heavy sinks down and the menhaden is left at deeper depths which would attract a good cross section of fish which you have been contemplating to catch. Some anglers place the bait and hook inside the frozen chum and then release it down with the hook well concealed in the chum, and when it goes down the sand separates and the chum and bait is exposed.

Live bait chumming is another popularly used tactic to get at the bigger fish everybody are interested in but it is necessary to avoid over doing it as live bait is good to attract the bigger fish but the live bait would not wait to be consumed by a bigger fish they would swim around the area with the bigger fish running behind with your purpose lost completely in a run and chase going on undersea. Keeping the attention of the bigger fish and throwing only a few, could keep the King Mackerels, Snappers and the Groupers near you and interested.

Chunking is another of the different gimmicks that have worked for anglers by trial and error which they have mastered now and are proving successful in the end. Here chunks of bait fish are thrown around the boat to release the smell of fish blood to attract the ones you would be after, the bigger Snappers, Groupers and King Mackerels. Even here over doing it is to be avoided just like in the live bait strategy because then the fish that you would want to bait could move away from where you could sling your bait.

Last but not the least are fish oil extracts which are also very smart for chumming where the scent of the fish oil which are invariably of tuna, spreads far and wide with the bigger King Mackerel, Snappers and Groupers picking up the scent from a very long distance and would come to see what is cooking for dinner.Fish oils are also injected into bait and it gives a very strong scent, just what would draw the big boys out, closer to where you are anchored because it is inviting the fish closer to you that really matters.

Equipment Visit our Fishing Tackle section for local deals from local bait and tackle stores.

You must procure the right equipment for your reef fishing and wreck fishing endeavors like any other sport or anything you would do for that matter. Employing the right fishing tackle to get that much anticipated bite as well as winning the battle of the fight. It is important to undertand you need the right equipment for each application. For example if we were to go tuna chunking off jersey we would need completely different fishing tackle then if we were to go cod fishing off Montauk. Thats a completely different article and I will stop there.

Variety of fish

There are a wide variety of impressive and very delicious fish in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean on the eastern seaboard of the United States, which have been traditionally either netted or hooked perennially. Mangrove Snapper, Mutton Snapper, Yellow tail Snapper, Late Snapper, Tarpon, Red Grouper, Black Grouper, Goliath Grouper and King Mackerel are just some of the fish found in the southern waters, while Sea bass, blackfish, codfish, porgies, fluke and flounder are some of the northern targets.

There are bait fish such as silver sides, menhaden and other smaller varieties that are extensively used for as bait to lure the larger ones closer to the anglers.

You also have the bigger boys the sharks and when you are looking for them you would need the right equipment as there is an abundant of Lemon Sharks, Black Tip Sharks, Bonnet Head Sharks, Nurse Sharks and Bull Sharks among a diverse variety of more in the southern waters, while the northern waters are sometimes plauged by dogfish or commonly called sand sharks.


There are strict statutory regulations that you would need to follow and adhere to when you are out fishing which is to protect the environment and our much needed resources, if our future generations are also able to do the same reef fishing and wreck fishing that we are doing today.