Popular Deep Sea – Offshore Fish (Saltwater)

Deep Sea – Offshore Fishing

Below are some of the popular fish that anglers target offshore.


The Amberjack consists of 3 different types of fish from the Carangidae family (genus Seriola), which includes the jacks and the pompanos.  The 3 species are known as the greater amberjack, lesser amberjack and the banded rudderfish.  Anglers target greater amberjack offshore on rocky reefs, wrecks, buoys, oil rigs and debris in deep water.

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Bluefish are very popular and they are beloved by anglers because they are easily accessible, they provide some excellent action and they are good table fare.  Bluefish are mostly an inshore fish which means they can be reached easily by charter, party and private boats.  Some people say that bluefish will eat anything that swims that can’t eat it first.

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Bonito are medium-sized, predatory fish of the genus Sarda, in the mackerel family.  The Atlantic bonito is a fish that travels in huge schools within 20 miles of the shoreline.  It is located in the southern Atlantic and the Gulf Coasts year round and in the northeast during the summer when waters are warmer.  Fishermen with smaller boats usually target the Atlantic bonito.  A surface feeder, the Atlantic bonito usually averages from 3 to 8 pounds.  Most anglers prefer trolling for these fish.  Pacific bonito can grow to about 25 pounds, although they are usually much smaller.  These fish are found inshore to about 100 miles offshore from northern Vancouver Island to Chile.  It usually travels in schools and they feed on fish and squid.  Trolling and still fishing with spoons, feathered jigs and live bait will work well for Pacific bonito.

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California Yellowtail

The California Yellowtail is a species of ray-finned fish of the family Carangidae.  The California Yellowtail is carnivorous and feeds on a variety of fish such as mackerel, sardines, anchovies, crab and squid.  California Yellowtail are typically found in schools feeding at the surface of the water, as well as deeper down in the water column.  The California Yellowtail are often confused with some tuna species such as Yellowfin, Bluefin and Skipjack tuna.

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The different species of grouper usually vary little from species to species making it tough to identify them.  They can be found along the bottom in deep water.  Grouper feed off the bottom.  Some grouper can be caught inshore; however, most of these fish are caught in offshore waters.  Heavy line and tackle is required because light line will not hold up along the sharp bottom where these fish are found.  A bottom rig fished with live bait is usually all you need to catch grouper.

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Halibut are a flatfish that inhabit both the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans.  Halibut are a favorite among many anglers because of their enormous size and excellent taste.  In Alaska, thousands of people hire charters for the excellent halibut fishing.  Average halibut are in the 25 to 30 pound range, but they can exceed 600 pounds.

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The lingcod is a popular fish from California to Alaska.  It can be found along the inshore waters and way out in offshore waters as well.  It is definitely one of the uglier-looking saltwater fish, but it provides anglers with some fun action and a fine meal.  It can grow as large as 75 pounds, but most fish are caught in the 5 to 25 pound range.  Anglers will anchor and drift for lingcod.  Lingcod are found along the bottom so heavy sinkers are a must.  Stiff action rods set up with herring and chunks of other fish is the most productive method for catching these fish.

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Mahi Mahi

The mahi-mahi (in Hawaiian) is also known as dolphin-fish or dorado, calitos, maverikos, or lampuki (in Maltese).  They are surface-dwelling ray-finned fish that are found in offshore temperate, tropical and subtropical waters worldwide.  These fish are blue with yellow on their sides and belly.  They also have areas of green on their back.  Dolphin fish are found worldwide in warm ocean waters.  These fish can grow to more than 70 pounds.  They are often caught on accident by anglers trolling for marlin and tuna.

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Marlin are considered one of the most prized fish of all freshwater and saltwater game fish.  Marlin grow very big and they display incredible strength combined with extraordianary speed for a fish.  They are known to swim faster than 65 mph.  For more detailed information on the different types of marlin, take a look at the following links:   White MarlinStriped Marlin, Blue Marlin and Black Marlin.


There are over 250 different species of rockfish.  Even though there are so many different species, they all have similar behaviors.  They are bottom feeders and they hang out in very deep water.  Most fishermen catch these fish in 100 to 300 feet of water.  Heavy tackle is needed for rockfish, but not because of their size.  They are not huge, but you can catch some good-sized fish.  You need heavy tackle because you are fishing such deep water.  Heavy weights are a must to get you down a couple of hundred feet.  A heavy rod with 30 to 50 pound test is a must when fishing for rockfish.  The best baits for rockfish are herring and squid.

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Sailfish are found on the west coast, gulf coast, throughout Florida and up to the Outer Banks of the Carolinas.  These fish can be found offshore.  They are known for their acrobatic jumps and tail walks along the surface.  The Pacific Sailfish grows to about twice the size of Atlantic Sailfish.  Pacific Sailfish can grow up to 250 pounds.

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Sea Bass

There are numerous types of sea bass that thrive in the ocean.  They can be found inshore during the summer and offshore throughout the winter.  A double hook rig is the most popular method for catching sea bass.  One bait will be along the bottom while the other bait will be about a foot above the bottom.  Set up your line with small hooks and strips of squid, pieces of clam, mussel, bloodworms, sandworms, conch and snails for bait.  Anglers do catch sea bass on artificials as well. Jigs with plastic tails and jigging spoons tend to work best.  Sea bass taste excellent and holds its flavor very well when frozen.

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With more than 250 species of sharks, you would have to really study sharks to see the differences in all of these different species.  Sharks are supported by cartilage instead of bones making them much different than the other types of saltwater fish.  Sharks are extremely vicious.  They can travel in schools and they will prey on sick or wounded fish that can’t get away.  Sharks have become popular for sport fishermen.  The most common types of shark that are fished for are the mako, thresher, tiger, hammerhead, great white and porbeagle.

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The snapper family shares some similarities with the grouper family.  There are many different species of snapper and they hang out on the same reefs, wrecks and rocky areas that the grouper are found.  Snapper are popular from the Carolinas to Florida on the Atlantic, across the Gulf coast to Texas, and in the water of the Bahamas, Bermuda and Caribbean.

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Swordfish can be found throughout the entire world in warm waters.  Commercial fisheries have reduced the populations of swordfish, but there are still many available and they are worth traveling many miles to catch.  They are very big and they are very exciting to catch.

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Tarpon are mostly found inshore.  There isn’t another fish in the sea that can out jump the tarpon.  There are other fish that are very acrobatic, but the tarpon are in another class all by themselves.  They are so exciting to catch and they are available right from the shore in some places.  Popular baits for tarpon are live natural baits such as pinfish, mullet, squirrel fish, menhaden, spot and blue crabs.  Lures will also work.  Spoons, plugs, jigs and flies are all very productive.

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Tuna are some of the more popular ocean-dwelling fish.  This fish is in high demand among commercial fishermen and sport fishermen.  Tuna are extremely fast swimmers that put up a tremendous fight and they also taste great on the dinner table.  There are many species of tuna, but some of the most popular species among anglers are the albacore tuna, blackfin tuna, bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna and skipjack tuna.

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Wahoo are an offshore fish that are known for their tremendous speed and excellent strength.  Known as ono in Hawaii, wahoo are an excellent fish for eating, which helps make them such a popular game fish among saltwater anglers.  They are often caught in very deep water.  Many offshore fishing charters will troll for other fish, but they are known to set up one rod very deep for an occasional wahoo.  While some fishing charters may go out and target these fish, most of the time, wahoo are considered a bonus fish.

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