2. Goggle-Eye (Southeast, Mexico)
Captains consider goggle-eyes a standard for live-baiting sailfish off southeast Florida. They're also favored in Baja, Mexico, where they're known as caballitos and carried by every boat heading offshore from Cabo seeking billfish. In Mexico, rigging and fishing cabs is straightforward: a hook through the back and enough weight to get them to the marlin. South Florida anglers generally dangle goggle-eyes from kites - a competitive and specialized game.
Few anglers know the goggle-eye routine off south Florida as well as veteran captain Ray Rosher of Miss Britt Charters in Miami (www.missbritt.com).
Find: Goggle-eye gathering occurs almost exclusively at night. "We drift around anchored freighters or structure with lights," says Rosher. He concentrates on ships and structure in 30 to 100 feet of water inshore and up to 300 feet offshore.
Catch: Rosher uses sabikis he manufactures: models GI6, GI8, GI10 sold by R & R Tackle (www.randrtackle.com). "A dehooker is mandatory," he says. "Do not touch the baits with your hands. If they hit the deck or bleed, we throw them back."
Keep: This is where a bit of alchemy comes into play. Before fishing with goggle-eyes, knowledgeable anglers keep the baits in a wire pen until they acclimate to captivity. Rosher says the gogs begin feeding within three to five days. After several weeks, they develop an extra-heavy layer of slime on their bodies, become friskier and remain far hardier. At that point they're seasoned baits. "A big part of our success is we use seasoned baits," says Rosher.
Goggle-eyes need to have plenty of space in the well: One gallon per fish, three-fourths of a gallon for smaller baits, is ideal, Rosher says. Space proves more important than high-volume water exchange.
"We use big-volume wells and want fresh water circulation but not a huge volume. I prefer aerating my water with a bubbler or a spray."
Rig/Deploy: Rigging goggle-eyes for sailfish starts with a loop of rigging floss or a rubber band pulled through the bait's back with a rigging needle. Run a 5/0 to 7/0 non-offset circle hook through both ends of the floss; then twist and tuck the hook point between the floss and the bait's back. Rosher uses 15 feet of 50-pound Berkley Big Game Steel Blue mono for leader and fishes with 12- to 20-pound tackle off a kite.