If you’ve never tried Golden Tilefish, add it to your list. You will find them in warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean from Massachusetts down to sunny South Florida. Golden Tilefish are a deep water catch, usually around 500-800 feet of water, and like to snack on shellfish such as lobsters and crabs. Since their diet contains primarily shellfish, they tend to have a shellfish taste. These fish are bottom dwellers and their burrow is a specific type of seabed, clay, or mud, which makes them a much easier catch when comparing them to grouper or snapper.
The preferred type of rigging to catch these fish would be a multi-hook, deep drop lay-down rig. Attaching two weights on the sides of your main leader, while having about 3-5 inches of space between your 3-way swivels. It’s suggested to use a 130-150 lb main leader with 4-6 lb lead to hit bottom. Tilefish live in colonies, so have 3-4 hooks ready on your lay-down rig. There is a large possibility you will come up with more than one. Once your lay-down rig hits and drags across the bottom, the vibration of the lead weights and kicking up of sediment will strike their curiosity, causing them to come out of their burrows to investigate. A necessity for your lay-down rig is a light to attract their attention. When dropping that deep, only a small portion of light will travel to where they inhabit.
Although Golden Tilefish like to feast on crustaceans, the type of bait you can use are squid or fish chunks. If you’re using fish chunks, bonito is always a good choice. You will want a strong circle hook for your bait (8/0 – 12/0), and a rod with a 50-80 pound braid for your main line. Bouncing the bottom is ideal for stirring up that sediment, but while you’re dropped, pay attention to the current. You don’t want to drift away from potential tilefish burrows.
- Tilefish are most active on calm sunny days
- Never jig a lay-down rig. It could pull the circle hook right out of the fish’s mouth.
- Fresh bait is key.
- It’s ok to get stuck in the mud. That’s where they like to dwell, so stick around that muddy spot.
- Try to keep your boat stationary. Tilefish are lazy.