Often when travelling offshore out of Freeport or Galveston, Texas, on a Party Boat or a charter, and fishing for Red Snapper, you start hearing people on the boat bringing up Beeliners. When your regular Red Snapper drops are not catching snapper, and you see Vermillions coming up, it’s time to change your rig, and start catching some fish.
When I make bottom drop rigs, and I always make at least five per trip, I will make two sizes rigs to catch most species of fish that are commonly at the bottom of the sea (including snapper and grouper). The large rig consists of a 100-200 lb. test line that has three hook loops and a loop on the bottom for a weight attached to a heavy swivel. The large rig will work for any snapper and grouper and will occassionally bring in some ling (cobia), amerberjack and even sharks. However, when it comes to catching snapper and beeliners, I will always use this smaller rig, as it you can use different hooks to catch either snapper or beeliners. The smaller rig is made with 60 lb. monofilament with a medium-sized swivel and five hook loops and a loop at the bottom for a weight (usually a 20 oz. lead weight). I use 50-60 lb. test line, as you can use just about any sized hook needed to catch the fish that you find at the bottom.
Beeliners have smaller mouths than snapper and need much smaller hooks to catch then regularly. Smaller hooks are also great for catching Triggerfish and other reef fish. I always keep a couple of 60 lb. 5 drops rigs in my bag that are pre-rigged with small hooks for occassions when you find a beeliner hole. The hooks you will need for a beeliner rig are the smallest circle hooks you can find (1/0 or 2/0 Mustads work great) with large eyes large enough to fit through the hooks loops of the rigs. Any line higher than 60 lb. will not fit through these tiny hooks. However, I use 50-60 lb. test as you want to make sure you use the largest diameter of line for these multi-rigs that you can in order to ensure its strength and not break when you have 2-4 fish on your line.
When you hear that beeliners are coming up, switch your rig to the beeliner rig that has the small hooks. Attach it to your snap and start fishing. You will find that you will bring up tons of beeliners and will often catch Triggers at the same time.
One more simple tip I left out is to make sure you use squid as bait for beeliner rigs and cut the bait into very small pieces using a knife. I often precut a cup full of tiny squid pieces on the way out to a spot, as you will use a ton of it when reef fishing.
Captains sometimes moan about fishermen using five drops due to the fact that they often get tangled up with others’ line and they are really difficult to untangle without cutting. With this in mind, please make sure to practice some common sense when deploying your beeliner killers. Make sure to fish on the side of the boat that has the current, as you will really piss the deck hands off if your rig gets tagled with those on the other side. Also, when you place your rig into the watch, pay attention to where the other lines are. Start your drop out and away from the other lines in the watch, and you can avoid the dreaded line twist. The others on the boat will silently thank you for it.
If you use the small five drops on beeliner, you might even come up with an Oceanliner or two.
Bent Poles & No Bananas!