I was thinking of trying fishing the Thunderbolt wreck when I am in Marathon (April 16-24) if the winds allow. Are there likely to be AJs there at that time? Never fished a wreck before. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
My favorite wreck. Best bet to see if there are AJs on it when you are there is to check with a dive shop while you're down there.
My hope is that there will be permit on the T-bolt in early May.
The T-bolt can be tricky to fish. It's 115 feet down and the current is usually swift. I've drift fished it with good success when there were a few us out there. When it's just me and a couple non-fishing partners, it's hectic. If you want to anchor, pick up an extra 100 feet of 1/2" anchor rope. You're rental boat is likely to not have enough rope to anchor that deep.
If you feel up to it, there is a mooring ball - but it's 15 feet under water. If I have another adult on board to man the helm, I'll dive in with a rope in hand and tie off to the ball. Hopefully there won't already be a dive boat there. I usually wrap the rope once and bring the tag end back to the boat with me and also cleat that to the bow cleat. That way, when we leave, I can just uncleat and pull the rope back in. I don't have to go back in the water after chumming for 4 hours.
There are a lot of fish on the T-bolt. If you chum, you're going to see A LOT of fish behind the boat. A lot of bar jacks and stuff like that, but also big mangroves, some yellowtails, perhaps some kingfish and cero macks while you are there. On the bottom, you may have some muttons and big grouper. There are definitely some BIG goliath grouper down there. Good luck getting them out of the wreck.
One other thing you will find a lot of there - barracuda. And some big ones. They will eat a lot of your fish. You can nail them by casting a tube lure and reeling it in as fast as you can. If you want, you can fillet a barracuda and hang the carcass off the boat with the chum. Use a filet as bait with a big hook and some wire. You'll probably find a really big shark.
I actually caught a couple of mahi on th the T-bolt a few years ago. One got munched by a cuda.
I think we will just try drifting it. Sounds like mighty deep water to anchor and tying off on the mooring buoy probably wont work because it will most likely be me and the boys out there. When you drift it, do you fish with jigs or cut bait or something else?
I have not yet tried to fish a wreck that deep and would probaly try drifting also let us know how you do.
Yeah, you definitely don't want to jump in the water and leave the kids in the boat. We would have a few flat lines with whole ballyhoo and drop down either live pinfish or cut bait. I've used a Carolina rig. Big egg sinker above the swivel, 3 feet of leader material below the swivel and to the hook. You could also use a large jig sweeten it up with a ballyhoo plug. Basically, the whole ballyhoo minus the head and tail.
If the current's not ripping too fast and there's not a lot of wind, you could try suspending some smaller jigs with lived shrimp or crab. You could pick up some nice snapper and permit if they're on the wreck.
When you drift the wreck, keep a chum block or two in the water. You can still create a nice slick even if you're not anchored. The fish will stay with the boat unless you get too far from the wreck.