Blackfish (tautog), wreck fishing chartersStriped bass (stripers) charters, trolling and chunking Karen Ann II - New Jersey Charter Boat35' Custom Downeast Sportfisherman / New Jersey Charterboat Bluefin tuna, yellowfin tuna, chunking and trolling, inshore and canyonMako shark, offshore fishing
  Wrecks - Bottom - Trolling - Inshore - Offshore 23 April 2018
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Building a Better Marker Buoy

Marker buoys were originally designed by wreckfishermen who, after locating the wreck using ranges or electronic means, wanted to mark the wreck for themselves. I find the marker buoy useful for all types of fishing, though. It can be used to mark a lump when drifting fluke; you can mark a school or mackerel with one. There are a myriad of uses. And while an effective marker buoy is a simple empty bleach bottle, here is the type of marker I have found to be most versatile and effective.

While bleach bottles are fine, they have two inherent problems: 1) they are white and get lost in the waves; and 2) they are easily damaged and often fill with water. While many fishermen have combatted the first problem by painting the marker a high visibility orange or red, the paint often flakes off all over the boat; I'm still finding flakes from years ago! The solution is to use a pot buoy.

Pot buoys are bullet shaped objects, usually around a foot to eighteen inches in length and six to eight inches in diameter. They usually have a hole down the middle of the buoy. The ones I use are used locally for crab pot buoys and can be purchased at some bait & tackle stores, although I had to do some searching before I found a local supplier for myself (Chestnut Neck Boat Yard, Port Republic). I have also seen them recently in some marine catalogs as well as most all commercial fishermen outfitter catalogs. The advantages to using one make it worth the little bit of effort to get one.

Why go through the effort of using a pot buoy as a marker buoy? First, they are virtually indestructible. They are constructed of dense foam or styrofoam and can be kicked, stepped on, and thrown, all with out showing any wear and without damaging anything on your boat. Second, they are made out of high visibility colors, usually orange. This makes them easy to pick out of the white caps. Another reason why I like to use them is that when rigged properly, they are very effective at showing the direction of the wind and current.

The steps to rigging one are as follows. I like to rig my buoys with 1/8" nylon trap line. I've found monofilament and lighter cords tangle too easily; the 1/8" nylon is perfect. Measure off about 120' (or the maximum depth you intend to fish, plus 20': 10' for the day you go that extra half mile and the other 10' for what you lose when the marker gets hung in the wreck a few times). Put the end of the line through the whole and secure to the buoy. I like to use a few square knots and then pull the line tight around the marker. Be sure the knot is towards the pointy end of the marker and leave about a six inch tag end. Be sure to burn the ends of the nylon with a lighter to avoid fraying.

Second, wrap all of the line around the buoy. Be sure it's tight. Put about a foot long loop in the end to attach sash weights to keep the marker whre you drop it. Attach a sash weight and stow the marker on the boat. While you are at it, make two more.

As you approach the wreck, you will have a pretty good idea of the depth of the water. Measure off this much line plus a little extra, especially if there is a heavy swell. To measure line, use your arms! For example, I know my "wingspan" is aobut 6', so sixty feet is ten stretches. It's that simple. Once you've measured off the right depth, put a clove hitch around the buoy to keep more line from coming off. Finally, use the six inch piece you left before to tie a bowline around the line coming from the clove hitch. Wrap the line tightly around the buoy and you are all set. Simply throw the marker and sash over at the right time and you're all set.

The bowline is used to get the marker to point into the wind and current. One marker will point fairly true, but two markers are really effective. When you have two markers over, line them both up in the direction they are pointing and you will know exactly what direction to head to lay the anchor.

If the sash gets hung in the wreck, tie the line off around a cleat and power away. Either the sash will pull out or the line will break.

So there you have it: the most effective wreck and structure marker that I know of. Rig one up for yourself today. Good fishing!

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