Deep dropping is a specialized technique for catching golden tilefish, snowy grouper, black sea bass, and other bottom-dwelling species. Off the Mid Atlantic coast, anglers use a variety of gear in order to reach depths of 600 feet or more. Some anglers employ electric reels while others prefer manual reels.
Because of the extreme depths associated with the fishery, deep dropping requires special tackle. Most anglers use braided line or single strand wire in order to eliminate line stretch. Weights must also be oversized in order to compensate for strong currents. It is not unusual for conditions to warrant using weights of 2 pounds or more when fishing cut baits.
Circle hooks are commonly used although other styles are also popular. Anglers fish with either a single bait or a two hook rig. A variety of baits are used, including squid, clams, strips of freshly caught fish, or other saltwater baits.
Jigging with artificial lures is proven to be effective, especially when targeting grouper and tilefish. Diamond jigs and other large metal jigs are the most common types of lures. Large bucktail jigs are also effective, especially when rigged with strip baits.
The best locations for deep dropping are sometimes treated as highly secret. The most sensitive waypoints usually involve colonies of tilefish burrows. Other top spots for deep dropping include rocky outcrops, deep coral formations, or other underwater obstructions, especially those that lie along offshore canyon walls.
Occasionally, good fishing occurs in as little as 30 fathoms. More often, deep dropping is done along the ledges of offshore canyons as deep as 100 fathoms (600 feet).
Some of the most popular areas in the Mid Atlantic for deep dropping include the Wilmington, Poor Man’s, Washington, Norfolk, and Hatteras Canyons.