Average Size: 8- to 14-inches
AKA: Hardtail, Hardnose, Runner
Overall Rating: 6.5 / 10
Best Rigging Method
Blue runner are far more effective alive than dead. Hook through the nostrils when slow trolling and behind the dorsal fin when kite fishing. A wire stinger rig is recommended when fishing the edge. For deep-water wreck fishing impale the hook behind the anal cavity. Bridled to a large J-hook, runners are also used for nighttime swordfishing.
Blue runner spawn offshore. Once they find their way inshore, runners inhabit every piece of structure they can find up and down both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Forming schools with individuals of similar size, blue runner occupy inshore shallows, concrete seawalls, inlets, piers, near-shore reefs, wrecks and ledges, and can also be found cruising sandy shorelines.
Due to widespread availability, procuring a handful of blue runner isn’t difficult. While tiny jigs work, the R&R HTC-16 Blue Runner Sabiki Rig is an ideal option when chumming over any piece of structure in 10- to 30-feet. Slow trolling small drone spoons behind 4 oz. torpedo sinkers or #1 planers while zigzagging from 10- to 40-feet is another way to load the livewell.
Runners take well to captivity and thrive in large bait cages. These hardy baits can be handled more rigorously than most other offerings. For best results, feed regularly when penned for extended periods of time.
An excellent big fish bait—professional king mackerel fishermen swear by blue runner. Wahoo, dolphin, tuna and every billfish species will attack a live runner, as will large amberjack and monster crevalle. On the inshore scene, giant snook and tarpon have fallen victim to live-lined blue runner.
Average Size: 6- to 10-inches
AKA: Bigeye Scad, Gogs, Cojinua
Overall Rating: 7 / 10
Best Rigging Method
Carefully bridling through the eye socket or just in front of the dorsal fin is key to longevity when drifting and kite fishing. A 7/0 thin gauge octopus live bait hook is ideal when fishing fresh cut baits along the bottom.
Caught year-round from Jupiter to The Florida Keys. Action is subject to moon-phase, with bright, full moon periods to be avoided. While rare across west central Florida, goggle eye are popular across the Panhandle where the small-scaled scad intermingle with other baitfish species outside area inlets.
Perhaps the most secretive fishery in the state, gogs are not challenging to catch once located. However, success may come in 10-feet of water along coastal buoys and piers, to open water as deep as 500-feet. Searching for goggle eye near anchored container ships waiting to enter ports has proven to be a successful approach. In any scenario, a Tackle Crafters Florida Goggle Eye Rig with 12 oz. sinker worked under the cover of darkness offers the best chance for consistent success. Gogs are temperamental and turn on and off like a light switch. When the bite is on, catch as many as you can as quickly as you can. Expect to lose sleep baitfishing or spend upwards of $80 a dozen.
Goggle eye survive from dawn to dusk in adequately plumbed livewells. They can also be recharged with a dose of highly oxygenated seawater. Handled properly, penned gogs live for extended periods in large bait cages, especially when the cages are sunk to avoid temperature and salinity changes.
When targeting prized pelagics, frisky goggle eye are worth their weight in silver. A fresh goggle eye sliced in half diagonally offers lead slingers an irresistible snapper and grouper bait. Goggle eye have little value across inshore venues.
The Winner: Goggle Eye
This heavyweight bout was as close as they get. While blue runner are easier to locate and catch during all hours of the day, goggle eye are slightly favored by offshore enthusiasts for their fish-enticing ability. The goggle eye’s versatility as deadly snapper and grouper bait also makes it the top choice for Florida offshore fishing.