Trolling vs. Bottom Fishing – Understanding Methods Used by Cocoa Beach Offshore Charters

To those with no experience, fishing involves nothing more than dropping a line with some bait into the water, waiting for a bite and reeling the fish in. To experienced anglers and offshore fishing charters, this is just plain crazy. Getting the fish from the water into the boat involves much more than this.

As we’ll explain below, which method you use will depend on the type of fish you’re after. Just as there are diverse species of fish in the Atlantic, so too are their preferences and habits. Some fish just hang around the bottom while others swim higher up in the water column where their food of choice is.

Also, contrary to first impressions, fish are not stupid. You can’t just throw something in the water willy-nilly and expect to come back with a Grouper, Snapper, Speckled Trout, Redfish, Cobia or any other type of fish for that matter. Fish will quickly determine that your rig doesn’t belong and avoid it.

We invite you to continue reading to learn more about the two main offshore fishing methods charters around Cocoa Beach and elsewhere use on their trips.

Trolling – moving from spot to spot with bait zipping through the mid- or upper-parts of the water column

Trolling is a popular fishing method, especially with more experienced anglers since it can be very exciting. When a boat is trolling, the bait is cast from the boat while it is still moving. Once they reach the water and move along with the boat, these bait (i.e. squid, small fish or even shrimp) look like a fish’s prey waiting to be caught.

Fishing charters will keep the boat moving slowly to draw the bait through the water. Since the fish have to move fast to catch the bait, they are known to put up an especially vigorous fight.

Besides the vigorous fight, anglers aboard a fishing charter enjoy the breezes as the boat moves from place to place. Trolling also allows anglers to try many different spots throughout the day.

Examples of fish you may catch while trolling include some giants like Sailfish, Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Tuna, Wahoo and more.

Many people confuse trolling and trawling. The latter is a commercial fishing method where a large net is drug through the water. “Trawling” isn’t legal in Florida.

Bottom fishing is stationary and more closely resembles the idea of fishing that many novice anglers have

Instead of casting lines out of a moving boat and trailing them through the water, Cocoa Beach offshore fishing charters will bottom fish. This method is completely stationary unless the captain decides to get up and move to another spot.

A hook with the bait is attached to a weighted leader that will take the bait to the ocean floor.

Many fishing charters prefer bottom fishing, especially for clients with little fishing experience since feeling a bite can take a little getting used to. Many captains will also have their own private artificial reefs where they will pull up and drop a line down. These reefs are not very well known, so the chances of reeling in a healthy catch are much greater than random bottom fishing.

Examples of species where bottom fishing is the right method include Snapper (Red, White and Black), Grouper, Triggerfish, Amberjack and more.

However, it’s not uncommon for anglers to feel all sorts of nibbles when they drop their bait to the bottom, so pay attention to your captain’s instructions on when to reel in. If you’re using a circle hook and feel a pretty sizable bite, just start reeling. The action and the fish’s movements will set the hook, so don’t jerk the rod if you feel a good bite, just reel.

Spanish Mackerel Naples fishing boat

Which method will Cocoa Beach offshore fishing charters choose?

It really depends on the conditions and the fish you are after. If it’s a bad day to get farther offshore for some Cobia and Wahoo, the captain will definitely have to stay closer in and likely bottom fish. However, if it’s a decent day and you have a bit more experience, they may troll for a chance at one of the big boys.

Captain Alex Sorice of Ofishal Business Charters has extensive experience with both trolling and bottom fishing. He will plan your trip around the weather conditions, the length of time you’ll be out, what you’re trying to catch and so on. Visit for more information about offshore fishing in Cocoa Beach, including info on rates and expeditions Capt. Alex can take you on.


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