Exploring California’s Deep Waters: Mastering Slow Pitch Jigging Techniques for Rockfish
Slow pitch jig fishing has been a popular technique among anglers in recent years. This method is particularly effective in catching fish in deep waters exceeding 600 ft on rocky reefs. The key to success in slow pitch jig fishing is to use the right equipment, including the right rod, braided line, and leader material. In this article, we will explore the best equipment to use for slow pitch jig fishing in California waters, as well as the fish frequently caught at those depths. We will also discuss the relation between depth and the size of the jig and the key features of the slope rockfish habitat.
Slow pitch jigging is a relatively new technique that has gained popularity among anglers in California, especially after the new fishing regulations passed in 2023. With these regulations, anglers are now allowed to fish in waters exceeding 600 ft, which has opened up new opportunities for those who are crazy enough to drop down to the unseen bottom.
Slow pitch jigging is a fishing technique that involves using slow and deliberate movements to mimic the natural motion of prey in the water or possibly dying prey. This technique can be effective for catching a variety of fish, including tuna, yellowtail, and halibut, but especially rockfish. It is especially useful when fishing in deep waters, as the slow and steady approach allows the jig to reach the bottom and attract fish in a large area.
Fishing in waters exceeding 600 ft has several benefits. For one, it allows anglers to access areas that were previously off-limits due to fishing regulations. This means that there are more opportunities to catch different species of fish, which can make for a more exciting and rewarding fishing experience. Additionally, fishing in deeper waters can be a great way to escape the crowds and enjoy some solitude on the water.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when using the slow pitch jigging technique is to choose the right gear. This includes a slow action rod, a reel with a lot of line, line that is suitable for deep sea fishing, and a heavy slow pitch jig to get to the bottom. It’s also important to choose the right jig, as different jigs are designed for different types of fish and water conditions.
Another important aspect of slow pitch jigging is technique. This technique requires patience and skill, as it involves making slow and deliberate movements to attract fish to the jig. It’s important to maintain a consistent rhythm and to pay close attention to the movements of the jig to ensure that it is attracting fish in the area.
The reason a slow pitch jig falls erratically
When an object is submerged in water, it experiences a number of forces acting upon it. These forces include gravity, buoyancy, drag, and added mass. The interaction between these forces can result in an object falling erratically underwater, especially if it is heavy (yes, even 600 grams) and asymmetrical in shape.
Gravity is the force that pulls the object downwards towards the bottom of the body of water. The weight of the object determines the strength of this force. If the object is heavy, it will experience a stronger force of gravity.
Buoyancy is the upward force that is exerted on an object submerged in a fluid. It is determined by the volume of the object and the density of the fluid. If the object is less dense than the fluid, it will experience a buoyant force that opposes the force of gravity. Conversely, if the object is more dense than the fluid, it will experience a buoyant force that adds to the force of gravity.
Drag is the resistance that the object encounters as it moves through the water. It is dependent on the speed of the object, the density of the water, and the shape of the object. An asymmetrical object will experience different levels of drag on different sides, which can cause it to tilt or spin as it falls.
Added mass is a phenomenon that occurs when an object moves through a fluid. The fluid is displaced by the object, creating a mass of water that moves along with it. This additional mass can affect the object’s motion, especially if the object is asymmetrical in shape.
When a heavy, asymmetrical object falls through water, the forces of gravity and buoyancy interact in a complex manner. As the object begins to fall, it may tilt or spin due to the uneven drag forces acting on different sides of the object. This can cause it to experience different levels of buoyancy, which in turn can further affect its motion. The added mass of the water displaced by the object can also have an impact on its trajectory, causing it to fall in an erratic manner.
Overall, the combination of gravity, buoyancy, drag, and added mass can cause a heavy, asymmetrical object to fall in an unpredictable way when submerged in water. Understanding these forces can help explain why objects behave the way they do underwater and can be useful in designing slow pitch jigs.
Slow Pitch Jigging Equipment
To begin with, the right equipment is critical to successful slow pitch jig fishing. One of the most important pieces of equipment is the rod. For slow pitch jig fishing, a medium to heavy power rod is recommended, with a length of around 5’6″ to 7″. A specially made slow pitch jigging rod like the Taipan Rods LowPitch Rod is best. The rod should have a fast action, allowing for quick and precise movements of the jig.
The reel needs to be able to hold at least 700 yrds of 30 lb braided line. A reel spool that is not filled up all the way will have a lower retrieve rate than you might be expecting. This will add to the length of time it takes to reel the line all the way up from 600+ feet. A narrow spooled reel does help in placing the line evenly to ensure you do not overload the spool on one side.
Another crucial piece of equipment is the line. Braided line is recommended for slow pitch jig fishing, with a strength of either 20 or 30 lbs. Braided line is more sensitive than monofilament, allowing the angler to feel even the slightest bites. It also cuts through the water to get your jig down quickly to the deeper 600’+ reefs. Additionally, it has less stretch, which means that the angler can set the hook more easily and quickly.
Finally, leader material is also essential for slow pitch jig fishing. Monofilament of fluorocarbon leader material is recommended, with a strength of around 40 lbs. Fluorocarbon is invisible underwater, making it less likely to spook fish. Many monofilaments have high abrasion resistance contrary to many reports comparing fluorocarbon to mono. Either one will work great.
The right sized SPJ
The size of the jig is an essential factor in slow pitch jig fishing. A ratio of 1:1 is recommended between the depth and the size of the jig. This means that for every foot of depth, the jig should weigh around 1 gram. For example, if you are fishing at a depth of 600 feet, a 600-gram jig would be appropriate. If you are fishing 20 feet, a 20-gram jig would be ideal.
On very flat calm days you may be able to drop down in weight to have your jig flutter through the water column more slowly. Windier conditions will require heavier weights to stay closer to the bottom where these deeper fish live.
In our opinion the 400 gram Submission Fishing Co. Samurai in any color is a great jig for the depths ranging from 400-750 ft. The 400 gram is a great sized jig to get started, but eventually you will want to try the 600 gram sized jigs to get the most out of your deeper drops. The fish have no problem eating the extra heavy jigs and we do see larger fish eating the 600 gram more often with less smaller fish bycatch.
Slope rockfish species
The waters off California’s coast are home to a diverse range of fish species, many of which can be caught using slow pitch jig fishing techniques. Some of the most common fish species caught at depths exceeding 600 ft on rocky reefs include:
Boccacio (Sebastes paucispinis), Mexican rockfish (Sebastes macdonaldi), vermilion rockfish (Sebastes miniatus), chilipepper rockfish (Sebastes goodei), widow rockfish (Sebastes entomelas), lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus), bronzespotted rockfish (Sebastes gilli), cowcod (Sebastes levis), and yelloweye rockfish (Sebastes ruberrimus) are some of the most important species that inhabit the waters of California between 300 and 2,000 feet.
In California, the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) regulates fishing to protect these species and ensure their sustainability. The DFW sets catch limits, minimum size limits, and fishing seasons to prevent overfishing and ensure that these species can continue to thrive.
See regulations here: Link to 2023 CA Rockfish Regulations
California slope rockfish species are a group of fishes that inhabit the deeper waters of the Pacific Ocean, ranging from depths of 600 to 1,500 feet. These fishes are known for their unique physical characteristics and their ability to survive in harsh underwater environments. In this article section, we will explore some of the key features that California slope rockfish species prefer when it comes to habitat.
One of the primary features that California slope rockfish species like to inhabit is rocky terrain. These fishes are often found in areas with steep slopes, cliffs, and rocky outcroppings. This is because these areas provide shelter and protection from predators, as well as ample hiding places to ambush prey. The rocky terrain also provides a diverse range of microhabitats, which allows for a variety of food sources and spawning opportunities.
Another key feature that California slope rockfish species prefer is areas with strong currents. Strong currents create a constant flow of oxygen-rich water, which is essential for the survival of these fishes. They also help to transport nutrients and food sources, which attracts prey and increases the availability of food for the rockfish.
In addition to rocky terrain and strong currents, California slope rockfish species also tend to prefer areas with moderate to high levels of seafloor relief. This means that they like to inhabit areas with changes in depth and contour, such as canyons, ridges, and underwater mountains. These features provide a diverse range of microhabitats and create areas of upwelling, which increases the availability of food and nutrients.
Finally, California slope rockfish species also tend to prefer areas with low levels of human activity. These fishes are often impacted by commercial fishing and other human activities, which can disrupt their habitats and deplete their populations. By inhabiting areas with low levels of human activity, these fishes can avoid such disturbances and thrive in their natural environment.
Keeping a boat in position when fishing in deep water can be challenging, but there are a few methods you can use to keep your boat in one spot. Here’s a breakdown of how to keep your boat in position when fishing in deep water, while also keeping your braided fishing line vertical:
- Spot Lock: If your boat has a trolling motor equipped with spot lock, you can use it to keep your boat in one spot. Spot lock is a GPS-based system that uses satellite signals to keep your boat in one place. It works by anchoring the boat to its current position, and it can hold the boat steady in wind and waves. With spot lock, you can work your 400-600 gram slow pitch jig and impart the erratic movements without worrying about the boat’s movement.
- Drift Sock: A drift sock is a cone-shaped piece of fabric that slows down the boat’s drift by increasing drag in the water. By deploying a drift sock, you can slow down your boat’s drift, allowing you to fish in one spot while keeping your braided fishing line vertical. Drift socks come in different sizes, so you should choose one that matches the size of your boat.
It’s also important to consider the weight of your jig and the length of your fishing line. If your slow pitch is too light, it may not be able to keep your line vertical in deep water. On the other hand, if your jig is too heavy, it may drag on the bottom and prevent you from imparting the desired movements. You should also use a longer fishing line to help keep your line vertical and prevent it from dragging on the bottom.
In conclusion, slow pitch jigging has proven to be a successful and exciting method for targeting rockfish in deep waters off the California coast. This technique allows anglers to present their lures in a more natural and enticing manner, increasing the chances of attracting bites from the bottom-dwelling species. With the right equipment and technique, slow pitch jigging can be a rewarding and memorable experience for anglers of all skill levels. However, it is important to always prioritize safety and conservation by following regulations and releasing any non-target species. As the popularity of slow pitch jigging continues to grow, let’s remember to respect and protect our precious marine resources for future generations to enjoy.