One of my favorite fish to catch this time of year is the humble Spot. They are a small fish when compared to their larger cousin , the Red Drum , but Spots are easier to catch and excellent table fare once they reach a pound in weight. Norfolk Spots travel in schools that contain hundreds of fish , so once one is hooked and landed it is almost guaranteed that you will catch more.
In my opinion , they are more fun to catch on light tackle. A 7' Medium Heavy (MH) action rod with a reel capable of holding 120 yards of 20 lb. monofilament is more than enough to handle 2 or even 3 spots at a time.
Most people use the bottom fishing rigs sold at tackle shops that sell saltwater fishing equipment. This is unnecessary and can be expensive if you lose too many rigs. I tie my own out of 30 lb. monofilament and have always had good luck with them.
To tie a bottom fishing rig for Spots , start with a 5' piece of 30 lb. line. Tie a size 7 brass barrel swivel to one end using a Palomar Knot then tie a Dropper Loop about 8-10 inches below the swivel. I leave the loop around 3 inches long. Now tie another Dropper Loop 8-10 inches below the first and another 8-10 inches below the second. Some people use 2 and I have seen some use as many as 5 , but 3 has always worked for me. After you finish tying the loops you can either tie a 3 ounce Pyramid Sinker directly to the end of the rig or you can tie a Snap Swivel to the end so you can change the sinker as needed. Now tie the brass barrel swivel to your main line. Next you will need to put hooks on the Dropper Loops. I use stainless size 1/0 O'Shaugnessy Hooks. Pinch the loop and thread it through the eye of the hook then pass the hook through the loop and pull it tight. This is called a Handshake Loop connection and it allows you to easily change hooks or remove them. Add some bait and you are ready to fish!
Spots will readily take several different baits. One of the most commonly used baits is the bloodworm , but in recent years Fishbites Imitation Bloodworms have been gaining popularity because they are easier to handle and not as messy. Either way , you only need a small piece so use these expensive baits sparingly! Another good choice for Spot is shrimp. Peel them and cut them into small pieces for smaller fish , cut them in half or use them whole for larger fish. Another option would be cut bait , which is basically small pieces of the first suitable fish you catch.
My favorite place to fish for Spots is just behind the inner sandbar from any of the many piers on the East Coast. Short casts or even just dropping the rig straight down into the water are all that is really necessary , so they are a great fish to target if you have young children fishing with you
Norfolk Spots begin their migration to warmer waters every year in mid to late September. This is usually when large schools are seen , but Spot can be caught almost any time during the year. Fishing piers from Virginia to South Carolina are usually very busy during a Spot run because they are easy to catch and great to eat.
My favorite way to prepare them is to scale and fillet them , then soak them in saltwater and lemon juice overnight. Rinse them off and dip them in beer batter and deep fry them. Serve with hush puppies and coleslaw. Delicious!
I'll try to cover what is suitable for " Cut Bait " and also some other species of fish that can be caught using the above methods in the next week or so.
Edited 10/26/2010 to add : I was never satisfied with the way I described tying your own rigs in this article. I have since written a better ( I hope ) description with pictures. You can find it here
Have a great week!