Oddly shaped and often shy, tripletail make up for their unusual appearance and behavior with strong fighting ability, acrobatics, and as delicious table fare. Bluewater anglers find them lurking around sargassum weed lines offshore, but nearshore enthusiasts can also get in on the fun. Tripletail love to hang around channel buoys and markers, trap floats and floating debris. Here are some proven ways to whip these scrappers:
The fish are often spotted floating on their side near the surface around any structure. A stealthy, long-distance approach won’t send them down. Drifting or using the trolling motor on the lowest setting possible will close the casting distance.
Tripletail are ambush predators, hiding in the shadows or floating motionless to lure their prey into range. They feed on shrimp, crabs and small baitfish, so live or fresh dead baits or realistic lures mimicking those prey are prime offerings.
Free-lining the bait or lure is a good way to work a spotted fish. Cast as close as possible, accounting for wind and current. Let the bait drift past the fish. If they are hungry, the reaction is usually quick. If they follow a short distance but don’t strike, twitch the bait slightly. Sometimes even the smallest movement will trigger a reaction.
Suspending the bait/lure under a cork is another effective presentation, since fish also hold down in the water column around the buoy chain or piling. An adjustable cork compensates for various depths. Again, toss the cork/bait as close as possible and let it drift into range. Letting the cork/lure sweep around the structure covers the entire zone since the fish usually hold in the ebb current.
Quick reactions are necessary on the strike to keep fish out of the structure. A partner on the throttle can back the boat away and let the angler continue the fight. Tripletail jump frequently and are extremely strong due to their body shape.
Strong and tasty, tripletail are a worthy summer adversary all along the Southeastern and Gulf coasts.
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