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Fishing in Deep Water vs Shallow – Differences?

A person carrying a large red fish wearing gloves.

As a fishing enthusiast, I’m alive to the fact that where you throw your bait determines your likelihood of a catch. Fish are common in many water bodies, most of them residing in freshwater. But they’re more abundant in some waters than others. Ever wondered why this is so? It could be due to the amount of water available and how deep the water reservoir goes.

So, is there a difference between deep water and shallow water fishing? In this article, I will be discussing the nitty grittiest of deep and shallow water fishing to determine the differences and the most appropriate method if you’re aiming at a large catch.

What is Deep Water Fishing?

A person wearing orange jacket on deep water fishing.

Deepwater, also known as bottom fishing, is fishing that occurs in the deeper parts of freshwater bodies or the ocean ( at least 100ft or 30 meters deep). A common type of deepwater fishing is the deep sea, common in the open ocean. This practice is done after carefully evaluating the weather and other navigation issues.

You won’t be able to see your fishing line or other equipment on the boat when fishing in deep water. With all of your artificial lights turned off, you’ll need a light source, such as a spotlight or flashlight, to see what is going on around you.

However, you won’t be able to see the fish swimming around in deep water because the light is not visible to them. The fish will also not come close enough to interact with you.

Fishing in the open ocean should only be attempted by confident and experienced fishermen. Specialized tackle and boats are often necessary to successfully and safely target fish species in the open ocean. Booking a fishing charter is the most convenient option for anglers without larger vessels.

Fish species found in deep fresh waters include:

  • Tiny shiners
  • Sunfish
  • Nile perch
  • Bass
  • Crappie
  • Lake trout
  • Eels
  • Catfish
  • Atlantic salmon
  • Salmon and more.

Fish found in deep salty waters include:

  • Flashlight fish
  • Dolphin
  • Tuna
  • Sharks
  • Bristlemouths
  • Atlantic Cod
  • Anglerfish
  • Barramundi
  • Viperfish and more
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What is Shallow Water Fishing?

Traditional fishing on shallow waters.

Shallow water fishing is done in the shallow waters of lakes, rivers, and ponds with a high concentration of moss (1-5 meters deep or 3-16ft). It’s also referred to as skinny fishing or sometimes shallow flats fishing. This type of fishing is also entertaining, like deep water fishing, and can be done by anglers of all experience levels. It also provides a good experience for saltwater anglers.

Fish found in shallow freshwater include:

  • Common carp
  • Wels catfish
  •  Northern Pike
  • Tench
  • Golden Shiner
  • Brown bullhead catfish (Ameiurus nebulosus)
  • Guppy and more

Fish found in shallow salty waters include:

  • Bonefish
  • Atlantic croaker
  • Mackerel
  • Trout
  •  Red mullet or surmullet (in deep and shallow waters)
  • Mahi-Mahi (in deep and shallow waters)
  • Pollack
  • Brown bullhead catfish (Ameiurus nebulosus)
  • Clown Fish and more

Deepwater Vs. Shallow Water Fishing Equipment

A person fishing on shallow water lagoon.

When contrasting deepwater fishing with shallow-water fishing, several equipment differences must be considered. First, you will need more lines, lures, and hooks for long-distance fishing. Remember, rocks and deepwater coral reefs can be found in deep water near the shores. In this case, you’ll need the proper footwear and a snagging line.

Deepwater fishing isn’t just about having good fishing gear. You also need a good anchor system to make sure the boat doesn’t move if you hit coral or rocks and to make it possible to move around to reel in the fish without issues. It’s also a brilliant idea to bring along an extra line just because the one you have gets snagged on something in the water.

For shallow water fishing, you’ll only be concerned about the bottom of your boat touching the floor and fish jumping out of the water.

Fishing Baits and Lures

Different kinds of fishing lure in a box.

In terms of bait, deepwater fishing is more about using lures and baits such as worms, leeches, minnows, and insects to catch fish. It is much more challenging to catch fish when they jump out of the water or swim to the boat. However, corn can be used as bait for fishing in shallow water because the fish tend to congregate in one spot, allowing them to grab a spot and reel in a good catch quickly.

Worms are a bait shop staple, and fishing with them is the most popular live bait option in the United States. Nightcrawlers and Red Worms are popular options that you can buy or dig up from the soil. They are sold or stored in breathable foam containers. A dozen or two worms should suffice for a day’s fishing excursion.

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Essential Tips For Deep Water Fishing

Fishing isn’t just rowing a boat in a mass of water with plenty of fish. It requires tactics and experience. It may take you some time to become an experienced angler if you’re a beginner. Below are some tips for successful deep water fishing.

1. Consider the Rocks, Wrecks, and Reefs

Some of the best deep-sea fishing spots can be found on and around rocks, reefs, and wrecks. As a refuge for every species in the food chain, these structures offer fish a safe sanctuary from the strong ocean currents. Keep in mind that fish may be lurking around artificial or natural reefs for as much as 100 yards away from the structure.

2. Locate Towers and navigation Tools

Both fish and anglers benefit from artificial structures such as towers and navigational aids, but for entirely different reasons. Some species prefer to hide deep within the structure, while others prefer to keep watch at the edges. Using a fishfinder device or recreational sonar is the greatest way to find where the fish congregates. Check with your local authorities to see if there are any restrictions on access.

3. Explore the Hills and Mountains

Underwater mountain ranges and hills create ideal offshore fishing sites. The water temperature, salt levels, and lighting may not be ideal for a particular fish type at the bottom of a seamount but just perfect at the top. Always keep an eye out for surface features like ripples or tide lines. These can indicate changes in water temperature, saltiness, or clarity.

4. Watch Out for Seagulls or Other Birds

The presence of seagulls or other birds in an area indicates that there may be a school of small fish nearby. It’s possible that the birds are on the prowl for lunch and that larger fish are following suit.

5. Be Ware of Motion/Sea Sickness

A person on a small boat having seasick.

Motion or sea sickness can spoil your day. However, do not be alarmed; there are techniques to ensure that you remain well so that you can fully concentrate on the job at hand. Before embarking on a trip, it is a good idea to take some kind of medication.

If you feel sick, staying on deck breathing in some fresh air can help relieve the symptoms. You can also look at the horizon to help with brain-ear coordination.

Essential Tips For Deep Water Fishing

Below is how to make your shallow water fishing experience a success:

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1. Know The Fish You’re Targeting

Find out what temperature range the fish prefers, as well as what it will tolerate at the extremes. To determine where to focus your efforts, study the species’ seasonal movements and common habitats.

2. Know The Importance of Water Temperature

The majority of fish species have a cold-blooded nature and are unable to adjust their body temperature. As a result, their metabolisms are forced to adjust to the temperature of the water surrounding them. As a result, fish tend to slow down in cooler waters and require less food to survive.

On the other hand, they are much more active in warmer waters, and as a result, they require more food. There is also more oxygen in cold water, which enables fish to breathe better than in warm water. Knowing this can help you determine when and where to fish.

3. Understand The Influence of Tides

A fisherman casting net on shallow waters.

Some places have high and low tides every day. In the summer, a high-tide area may be full of fish, but in the winter, the water could be afoot deeper and with fewer fish. It’s important to spend time on the water and use a tide table or an app to figure out when fishing will be good. Tidal charts can help you figure out where and when to fish.

4. Understand Your Fishing Boat’s capabilities

You should know the amount of water it takes for your boat to float with all the crew on board. When the tide is coming in and your boat drafts more than 12 inches, there’s no point in following the tails of species like bonefish or redfish. These types move up the flat. It’s also a good idea to stay close to the nearest channel when fishing in two feet of water with a fast falling tide.

5. Do More Practice

In order to make an accurate shot when it matters, you need to practice casting from different angles and distances. Practice when it’s windy and when it’s not with the different kinds of lures you’d use on the water. When you cast, be sure to make the least splash possible.

Bottom Line

Kids on a boat holding their catch fish.

Deep water and shallow water fishing are all fun activities you can enjoy with friends and family. Once you have gathered the right equipment, checked the weather and you know the type of fish you’re targeting, you’re all set for a fun expedition. It’s always good to go fishing with experienced anglers to help out in case any issues arise.