Ng: Top Man for the Bottom
(Re-printed with permission from Carolina Adventure Magazine
By Jerry Dilsaver
Anthony Ng (pronounced “ing”) of Winterville is an offshore bottom
fisherman with few equals. At times
it seems as though he can almost smell grouper. His very successful pursuit of
them is the main reason that he became involved in the tackle industry. From his
experiences with tackle, he has zeroed in on a few specific items that are
designed for the serious offshore bottom fisherman and included them in the
product line for his company, Fish-Ng Accessories. And he hasn’t let success
get in the way of his fishing.
Even though Anthony Ng is a licensed commercial fisherman, he is always
willing to offer tips to recreational fishermen. Many successful grouper
fishermen owe credit for at least part of their success to him. I am a member of
that group and am thrilled to be able to pass on some of his techniques and
knowledge. He has spoken at various seminars and fishing schools across the
years and will again be one of the instructors at the
Like many other fishermen, Ng started off catching spots, croakers and the
other inshore bottom fish. Those early trips were with his father and brother,
who both still like to go occasionally. Over the past 20 years, Ng has refined
his approach and techniques, but is still willing to experiment with ideas that
appear promising. Through all this time, he says he has never thought of fishing
as a job. He still enjoys catching fish as much as he ever has.
While Ng’s favorite fish to catch is grouper, he has caught a wide
variety of fish over the years. He said that one of the attractions of bottom
fishing is, “you just never know what you may hook out there.”
His list of unusual catches shows this. He said his most unusual catch was
a trumpet fish, but he has caught frog fish, spiny lobster, wahoo, tuna, kings,
sharks of many species, and eve a sailfish while drifting a light line.
Ng said that the key to successful bottom fishing is patience and just
using good common sense. An example would be a situation where you are marking a
large concentration of fish along a piece of structure and the fish aren’t
biting. Changing baits, trying to find something that turns them on, and/or
waiting for them to start feeding, will usually move that trip to the successful
The equipment for successful offshore bottom fishing is pretty simple.
First you need a good stable platform. If the boat is rocking badly, it’s
difficult to distinguish bites. Larger, wide beam boats will help calm the seas
considerably. Ng uses a 30-foot Grady White center console and compliments it as
being near perfect for the job. Of course powering such a large boat requires
big motors. He said that a pair of 250 Horsepower Yamaha outboards does the job
admirably and with reasonable fuel economy. He doesn’t overnight on the water,
so some speed is required to get to and from the offshore grouper holes and
still have some good fishing time.
For reels, Ng recommends the Penn 4/0 and 6/0 senators. They are durable
reels that can withstand lots of use. The reels with the black side plates (113
and 114) have a lower retrieve ratio and generate more power. The reels with the
red side plates (113H and 114H) have a faster retrieve rate but can require more
effort to wind, especially on a large fish. The Precision Electric Reels will
attach to both series and also the 9/0 or 115 Senator.
Ng suggests that most fishermen will be well suited to use a 5-1/2 or 6 foot stand up style rod. These rods have a soft tip to help detect
bites, but quickly stiffen and provide lots of lifting power. He suggests
completing the outfit by using an 80 po9und or heavier top shot of one of the
super braid lines. The lines are smaller in diameter, so they cut through any
current easily, and have virtually no stretch. This allows you to feel even the
subtlest strike. Ng prefers Tuff Line by Western Filament. Breaking out in a
grin, he said it’s so sensitive that he can occasionally feel a fish swim by.
are two basic rigs that Ng uses all of the time. One is a two-drop rig that is
basically just an over-sized bottom rig. He starts by connecting a pair of 2/0
three-way swivels with a piece of 125 pound mono so that they are three feet
apart. To one of the three-way swivels he ties a short piece of 80 pound mono
and then makes a loop in the other end to attach to a banks style sinker. This
allows the sinker to break away, if snagged, without losing the entire rig. To
the other eye of this three-way swivel, he attaches a 2-1/2 foot piece of 125
pound mono. This is the bottom of the rig. At the other three-way swivel, he
attaches a two foot piece of 125 pound mono. The other eye of this swivel is
used to tie the rig to the line from the reel. For grouper, Ng attaches either
8/0 or 9/0 hooks to the short pieces of mono. For snapper he downsizes the hooks
to 5/0 or 6/0. His favorite hook is an Eagle Claw series 84 which is offset and
The other rig is much simpler. It uses a 2 foot piece of 125 pound mono
that has the hook on one end and a 2/0 barrel swivel on the other. An egg sinker
is placed on the line from the reel, which is then connected to the other eye of
the barrel swivel. The hook sizes and style remain the same. If the fish are
picky or skittish, fluorocarbon may be substituted for the mono. Heavy sinkers
are needed to get the rigs down in deeper water. The single hook rig will
usually work with sinkers from 8 to 16 ounces. The double hook rig may require
as much as 24 ounces at times. Ng says that if a 24 ounce sinker cannot hold the
bottom, he looks for somewhere else to fish.
Upon arriving at his fishing destination, Ng looks for concentrations of
fish. A good color scope is of prime importance in locating the fish. Grouper,
along with many other species, will mark heavily on the bottom. Snapper will
sometimes hovering just off the bottom. Once
the fish are found, it is of the utmost importance to anchor so that your baits
are dropping to them. Ng said that sometimes getting anchored just right may
take several attempt, but to keep trying and get it right. He added that the
fish are concentrated and that missing them by even a few feet will mean the
difference between success and failure.
Ng said that for grouper, big chunks of oily bait are the way to go. He
likes menhaden, herring, bluefish, sardines and cigar minnows, and will even
sometimes use squid. His idea is that the smaller fish will immediately start to
pick at the bait, releasing the oil and small particles of the bait into the
current on the bottom.
The feeding activity of the smaller fish and the smell of
dinner combine to excite the grouper into leaving his hole and feeding. He said
that when things are slow, he would grind some chum, and then lower it down from
a rod on the bow. The chum is used to stimulate the action. Ng says that big
pieces of bait are needed to last long enough for the grouper to have something
to bite once he emerges.
With this in mind, Ng cautioned not to react to the machinegun-like bite
of the smaller fish. It is rare to hook one and continuous jerking tends to pull
the bait off the hook. The grouper bite is often a very subtle, solid pull that
just seems to be a sudden extra weight on the line. It usually takes some time
and experience to develop the “feel” for a grouper bite. Snapper are usually
a softer feel of the rat-tat-tat bite of the grunts and smaller fish. However,
when on a strong “feed”, both grouper and snapper will occasionally strike
Ng said to fight bottom fish to the boat with the same pump and wind
action as w2ith any fish. He added that the first 10 feet of the fight are the
most critical. This is when the fish, especially grouper, is the strongest and
trying to get back to cover. Ng said, “You must keep a grouper from getting
back to his house if you are going to catch him.” The same goes, to a lesser
degree, for all the bottom dwellers.
Ng said that with the exception of red grouper, fall through spring is the
best fishing time for most offshore bottom fish. There are seasons and limits
that must be observed. Although many of the bottom dwellers don’t get the
press the pelagic species do, Anthony Ng has made a hobby (and living) on being
on top of the bottom.
Precision Electric Reels are manufactured by Fish-Ng Accessories. They are
designed and built to handle continuous hard use by commercial and serious
recreational fishermen. In addition to targeting snapper and grouper, they have
been tested as kite reels and on the giant bluefin tuna that have been visiting
coast for the past few years. Precision Electric Reels are manufactured to
attach to the Penn Senator reel series and to be powered by the boat or a 12
volt battery. They also have a model for some of the Penn GTI Series reels.
Another smaller series of electric reels, “John’s Electric Reels” are
distributed by Fish-Ng Accessories. These are much smaller electric reels that
are designed to fit the Abu Garcia Ambassadeur baitcasting reels in the 5500 and
6500 sizes. There is also a John’s Reel to fit the Zebco 444 series spincast
reel. For increased portability The John’s Electric reels are powered by a
6-volt battery pack that is attached to a waist belt.
Some of their other products, such as the Mister chummer line of chum
grinders and the Fish-Ng De-hookers, are outsourced, but manufactured to Ng’s
specifications. In addition, there are other specialty products that Ng
considers best for an offshore bottom fishing application. Fish-Ng Accessories
is available by phone at 800-720-Fish or on the Internet at www.fish-ng.com .