Most of the time I like to chum these patch reefs with ground up Menhaden. Sometimes on the shallower reefs I do not chum right away because it can attract a lot of smaller fish too. I always chum on the deeper rock piles because kingfish are likely to be out there. Mostly, I like fishing with pink banana jigs from 1/8oz to 1.5oz. Live pilchards are the best, but I will use all kinds of bait from live pinfish and ballyhoo, to bonita strips, squid, and shrimp. Drift the jigs back with the current, obviously the heavy jigs will sink faster, but mess around with the jig sizes and see what is working best for you. By putting a live bait way back on the surface with wire leader and you can catch kingfish, jacks, barracudas or sharks. I like using lighter spinning gear with 20-30lb bullbuster braid and 20-30lb bullbuster fluorocarbon leaders, depending on the size of the jig I am using. Of course, if I am shark fishing I will use heavier gear.
Everyone has their own style and technique for fishing certain places. These are just a few tactics I use when I fish the patch reefs. The fishing changes so much from day to day, I constantly have to change things such as leader size, jig size, bait, etc. One thing I do know, is that being able to fish these rock piles productively will make your winter fishing in the keys a lot more enjoyable. You will not be able to make it offshore everyday, but being able to sit in the leeward side of the keys and put quality fish on the table is essential when the fronts come in and the wind picks up.
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