Deep drop strategy
Now that you have your spots marked out, and your rigs sorted, it’s time to put everything into practise. When looking at your depth sounder, bait or fish will appear either as a “furry” layer over the bottom, or you may see a thick band in mid-water or just above the bottom, which can be anywhere from 50 to 300m thick. This layer is known as the “deep scattering” layer or the “scatter” layer and is an accumulation of various organisms which can include lanternfish, squid, hydrozoans, and pelagic tunicates.
All of these organisms are sought after prey items for deep sea bottom fish, therefore seeing a thick scatter layer on your sounder is a very good sign. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re guaranteed to catch fish, as sometimes the predators are not present or they’re simply not willing to take a bait. At times it’s worth having a prospective drop even if there are no signs of life present on the sounder.
When dropping your baits down, be aware that your reel line counter will always show more line out than the depth you’re fishing, due to the excess belly in the line. To reduce the belly as much as possible, ensure you use an appropriate sized sinker for the conditions, and reverse back on the line if needed, so it drops as close to vertical as possible.
If you see a scatter layer on the sounder it’s worth stopping your bait in that zone to see if there are any fish feeding within it. However more often than not, if the bottom fish are present they will stop your sinker from dropping when they grab the baits, which will appear as though you have reached the bottom prematurely. If this happens, flick the reel in gear, watch the bites, and wait for the rod to load up then start the retrieve.