Most fishermen would have fished or at least heard of fish attracting devices (FADS) and how well these man made contraptions attract fish so it’s no surprise that floating debris has the same effect or if not better as they travel in the currents over large distances. I would have to say it’s more common to find floating debris with fish on the wider offshore grounds where the currents are more predominantly found. When ever you see floating debris on the water it’s always a good idea to check it out and see what might be hanging around it
As most would know the one fish that loves floating objects is the dolphin fish (Mahi Mahi) and a lot of the time you will spot these fish hanging around an object as you motor up to inspect what it is. I will never forget one time off Double Island Point when we spotted a heap of balled up orange rope floating the surface about 30km from the bar. As we drove towards it I could see dolphin fish everywhere under the boat and I was still a couple hundred meters from the rope. The rope was holding hundreds and hundreds of dolphin fish and although they weren’t of a big size they were nice fish all the same and this was one of the most spectacular sites I have ever seen. We caught 4 or 5 straightaway and then they shut down and wouldn’t feed on anything we threw at them which was interesting when there was so many of them swimming around. An awesome experience and I have never seen so much life around a floating object as we did that day.
Another time a few years back we found an upturned 27 foot powercat boat out near the shelf and the amount of growth this boat had on it meant that it had been in the ocean for a long period of time. I thought for sure it would have been loaded with fish and in particular Dolphin Fish but much to our surprise it only had two very large Bull dolphin fish, a small shark and hundreds of trigger fish surrounding it. We couldn’t tempt the dolphin fish into taking any baits, lures or plastics with only the shark being hooked which was disappointing.
Other times I have found logs and other small objects to hold dolphin fish in good numbers along with Wahoo as well. Even a small float can be enough to attract small baitfish, which in turn attracts predatory fish. As pictured I found a small float once that had a nice sized Triple Tail laying beside it with some small bait fish hanging close by. It just shows that no matter what size the object is it may or may not hold fish so be sure to check it out and see what could be lurking around or below it. This goes for Fads and wave rider buoys as well as they often hold good surprises and they can reward you with a good feed of fish or some fantastic sport. It also pays to alter your way of thinking and techniques when fishing floating objects, fads and wave rider buoys. By this I mean don’t always assume that dolphin fish will be the only species of fish to be surrounding an object as Wahoo, mackerel and even Bill fish are commonly found feeding on the smaller fish that are attracted to floating objects.
When fishing floating objects you may want to consider how you approach it and what technique to use for the best results. Dolphin fish can be finicky feeders at times and I’m sure many readers have experienced on occasions one or several big dolphin fish swimming around the boat that will not take anything you offer them. More often then not they will take an un weighted pilchard but for the bigger fish the key is to use live bait and even a shy fish will often surcome to a live offering. They can and will often take a lures of various kinds being trolled in open water or around floating objects but be cautious when trolling around an object as wahoo may very well be in the area and unless you are using wire trace then expect to kiss your lures good bye to those super razor sharp teeth. On the subject of wahoo I have had some great success over the years trolling hard body lures and hex heads around floating objects including wave rider buoys. A lot of fishermen don’t give it a thought that wahoo are in these areas and tend to target dolphin fish with techniques that wahoo won’t tend to like. Often fishermen can see dolphin fish in the water and tend to target these fish purely because they can see them but always keep in mind that wahoo can be out of sight and away from the boat so my advice would be to troll some lures around the area to see if wahoo are present. Ultimately using live bait on a small length of single strand wire is the killer technique for any species in the area so if it’s possible to use live bait then this would be the first option by a long shot