How long do you fish the spot ?

As I was patiently waiting for bluefish to arrive one thought has been spinning in my head on continuous basis. You’ll understand why as I fill you in on exactly how I was  prospecting for these fish but I am curious of how many of you look at your spots

I have few spots that I’ve written about them before.  One is where Bob lived until a guy in Grady White ate him. It seems like he also ate his cousins BillyBob and Billy Ray, his niece Babbette and his brother Bobby. This kind of spot, if you showed up at “right” tide and wind , you were guaranteed fish over the years. Sometimes on the 5th cast , sometimes on a first but they would be there. It would change slightly over the year. First, big blues would show up late April or early May, then small bass in May. Eventually some weakfish would filter in and small bay blues. June was a shmagosboard, usually blues in daytime and bass and weakfish in dark and so on..In August it was almost 90 % weakfish. Did I ever get skunked there ? Hell yeah, even when fishing was good. Sometimes fish are just not there but when they were there, you usually knew within 5 casts. It could be because you really do not need a rod to fish some of these spots as the rip is literally 5 yards from shore.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I call this my 5 minute spot. For example three times last week I drove to it, made 20 (and that is too many) short 30 feet cast and left. If blues were there I expected them on first and every cast. It sure would not take 20 casts for them to announce their presence. This takes about 5 to 10 minutes and then I am gone, on the way home. I know to some of you , preparation, driving 1/2 hour than walking 15 minutes to a spot to make 10 casts and then going back home seems stupid..or at least a little insane. But I don’t have an intern to send him to my spots to check it out. Yes, I can read on FB where this fish are and I can go there, but at this point in my life I probably won’t. I will either catch fish my way in places where I want or stay home. My days of running around chasing reports are long over.

So this spot, even during summer when there are more fish available, i treat the same way. Five to 10 minutes and I am gone to either next place or back home. Usually during the season I will have few more similar spots in vicinity i can hit along the way. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.

I don’t fish sandy beaches away from inlets (for example in my area that would be RM5, Gilgo or SP) that often. You probably will find me closer to any of LI inlets, usually on the west side and at a particular tide. So when I do fish the sand, for example Gilgo beach, after about 10 casts I ask myself “why am I here?” If I don’t see any bait or fish caught, I’ll probably lose interest in ten to fifteen minutes. Now place me a mile east at Sore Thumb on outgoing current and similar structure , my mindset changes dramatically. I am willing to “wait out” to see if anything will happen for an hour or two as the current either increases or decreases.

I should mention that all the things, tide, current, wind time of the season and so on are equally important and can each be THE only reason why you have a banner night or get a skunk. Having said that, the tide level is the one that I am concerned with the least. Since 99% of my time is spend fishing the current flow, the tide is almost irrelevant to me. In Jones Inlet the current will start flowing out an hour or so after high tide where in Fire Island inlet few miles east the current may start flowing out MANY hours after high tide.P1010041r455555555aaa

So those kind of spots , I can do an hour or two…or three. Very rarely will I fish the spot longer. Even if its fish on ever cast, after awhile I’ll go back to my truck for camera. Its just the way my brain works. I’ve fish with friends who like to fish the ENTIRE current cycle in the inlet, hoping the fish will be at first of ebb, then middle, then last.

So is there a place where I can fish for hours at the time even if i am NOT catching? Only one that I’ve ever found. I can spend ten hours on rock at Cuttyhunk casting into nothing. Hell, I’ve done it and did not complain once. Why? Probably because I am the least familiar with that place. Going there once or twice a year is not enough to understand it or know what works with consistency. Yeah, you might figure out the tide but there is wind, bait and other things that you did not. When fishing in MTK for example 99.9% of places you fish, at some point you are going to run out of water,they will get too shallow. In Cuttyhunk, you can swim to rocks a 100 yards of shore where at low tide you are casting at 18 feet of water! That is a big difference

And yeah, having  blues show up on the last day of April with vengeance was fun..Zeno-4

A Striper Experiment: A Season Without Eels By Steve McKenna

This article by Steve McKenna originally appeared in issue number 4 (yes 4!!!) of the Surfcaster’s Journal Magazine at www.surfcastersjournal.com

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A Striper Experiment: A Season Without Eels

By Steve McKenna

I don’t know exactly when I got the idea for this “experiment”. I think the notion began sometime in late October of 2008. I recall that I received a phone call around that time from one of my old surf buddies who had recently gone over to the dark side and was now catching his striped bass from an 18 foot center console. Billy told me that he had been catching some nice fish right at first light directly in front of an old surf spot we had both fished many times together in the past. He related that he was so close to shore while he was catching these bass that he could touch the shoreline rocks with the tip of his 7 foot rod.  He added that he had fish up to the 40 pound range on live bunker. After hearing this I knew that I would have to set my alarm for 3 AM the next morning and drag my butt out of the rack just to see if I could sample some of this great bass fishing from shore.

Early the next day I arrived “Johnny on the spot”. The spot was along the east facing shoreline of Narragansett, Rhode Island.  I remember that this cold, fall morning was amazingly still. No wind with flat calm conditions and very little white water around the rocky shoreline. I quickly readied my gear and walked with a fast step to the rocky point where Bill had been experiencing all the action. It was still pretty dark when I made my first cast. I think I started out tossing a live or rigged eel into the 20 foot drop off directly in front of the large boulder I was standing on. Fifty or so casts later with notakers on the eel, the first signs of the new day appeared on the eastern horizon. With the new day dawning, I decided to take off the eel and snap on a wooden metal lip surface swimmer which was always standard operating procedure with me when these conditions presented themselves. I remembered that Bill said he had most of his action on bunker at first light so I was going to try to mimic his live bait with my parrot colored Danny plug.

The sun had just begun to peak over the island of Jamestown when I saw a large swirl in back of my Danny boy. I continued to reel slowly watching the plug a little more intently with my tired eyes. I remember that just as I was about to lift the plug out of the water to make another cast I saw and felt simultaneously a massive swirl and hit on the plug. The large fish inhaled the Danny and made its way eastward with a quick and very powerful run. About five minutes later and after a great fight I gilled a striper which looked to be about 40 pounds. I immediately unhooked the three sets of trebles, placed the fish up on the bank behind me and readied myself for another cast. I cast the Danny for another half an hour or so as I watched the sun take a high, almost blinding position in the sky. It was then that I decided the action was over and it was time to pack up my gear and get the large bass to the local tackle shop for the official weigh in. I kept the fish because I was in a club contest and knew
it was a contender. The weight of the striper on the digital scale was 40.3 pounds.

On the drive home I thought about the big fish and the manner in which I had caught it. It was the biggest striper I had taken on a wooden swimming plug in quite a while. It was at that moment that I began to think about metal lip wooden swimmers and what it would be like to fish with them exclusively for an entire bass season. I wrestled with the notion all that winter mainly because I was a tried and true live/rigged eel fisherman and only used artificials during specific situations like the aforementioned dawn scenario. I did, however, have some experience with using strictly artificials as I fished for stripers with nothing but nine inch Slug-gos for several years and had excellent success.

Over the winter of 2008/2009 I thought about the metal lip swimmer, learned as much as I could about them and bought many of them to use during the upcoming season. I was now locked in. No backing out. I would use the metal lips for the entire season and promised myself that I would not go near a live or rigged eel. Also, I would only use wood. No plastic or rubber allowed either. I decided to start my informal “experiment” on May 15 since this is about the time when bigger bass arrive inmy area and they almost always go “on the night feed” around that time.

There is one provision though that I must mention before I detail my experiences and findings of 2009. There are a lot of wooden, metal lip plug makers out there. An informal count shows about 64 of them and that doesn’t include part time or private builders. I am only one person and I could not physically use every one of these plug maker’s wares. What I did do is that I tried to fish with plugs that I had used in the past and with which I had caught fish. I also relied heavily on intel I gathered over the winter from surf fishing friends, the internet, books and magazines. I bought and p1101used those recommended plugs. I even selected several other builders’ stuff that I thought just looked like “fish catchers”.

In the end, I spent a lot of money and acquired quite a few wooden metal lips to use over the 2009 striper season. I can tell you too that most of the plugs that I used were effective but some were not. That is just the way it is. Some builders out there can make some plugs well and others not so well. If you decide to fish with wooden plugs, this article will hopefully assist you in picking the right plug for the right situation. As you might assume, I was really excited to begin the season and this is what happened!

First of all, I think we should establish that there are three types of wooden, metal lip swimmers. They are surface swimmers, shallow and medium depth swimmers and deep swimmers.  Surf fishermen should carry all three types if they want to adequately cover the water column. In my experiment I used all three styles. Let’s break them down starting with surface swimmers.

SURFACE METAL LIPS

I believe that when most surf fisherman think of a wooden metal lip swimmer they think of the surface swimmer. It is certainly the most popular and all good plug builders/manufacturers turn them out to some degree. Furthermore, the most popular surface metal lip is the “Danny” plug. This plug was originally designed by the late master plug builder Daniel Pichney of Jackson Heights, New York. Dan made a super surface swimmer in three sizes, 1 ½, 2 ¼ and 3 ¼ oz. The 2 1/4 oz., 6 inch model was the most popular and the most copied since Dan’s death in 1985.

The surface metal lip should do just that, swim on the surface from splash down to the end of the retrieve. A good surface swimmer will do that right out of the package however some have to be tuned in order for them to perform correctly. “Tuning” them is easy. Just use small pliers to bend the line tie in the downward position. That’s the place on the front of the plug where you attach your line or snap. Bend it in small increments until you achieve the correct action. The good surface swimmer should have an alluring “S” type motion while rotating side to side on a slow retrieve all the time staying on the surface. If your plug does not do that then it has no business in your surf bag. Use it as a paperweight! A good surface swimmer will let you know if it’s going to produce. Just throw it in the water, during daylight hours to check its action. A good surface swimmer will look like a wounded bait fish crawling to reach safety in the rocks or in the shallows.

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There is another type of wooden, metal lip surface swimmer too. It is called a “Surfster” style plug. They look a little different than the Danny but achieve the same thing, swimming in an alluring manner on the surface. Surfster type plugs are popular but for some reason not as much as the Danny.  I think because the Surfster might be a little tougher to make. The Surfster swimmer can also be tuned like the Danny style lure. Just bend the line tie wire down in small increments until it swims right on the surface from start to finish. Please note that I advocate tying your leader directly to the plug. If you must use a snap I highly recommend using a quality snap with a rounded nose like the new Breakaway F11. Utilizing such a snap will only make the action better on any swimming plug you want to use.

During my experiment of 2009, I used both the Danny and Surfster style surface swimmers a lot. The surface swimmer was my most productive swimmer by far. I used both the Danny and the Surfster during daylight hours, at dusk and dawn and after dark. My largest fish came after dark. They performed well from the middle of May until the end of November. My biggest fish of the year came on a surface swimmer, a Gary 2 chartreuse colored Surfster. I caught the 35 pounder at Deep Hole, South Kingston, R.I. in early November. In addition, Surfsters accounted for several other 30 pound bass over the course of the year. The Danny was a close second though as far as size and numbers. I particularly like to use either surface plug around the rocky shoreline of Narragansett, R.I. where I normally fish all season long. The 2 ¼ oz. style was by far my favorite size in that area for most of the season but I did very well with a smaller Danny in late May and early June up in Narragansett Bay, R.I. when the area was loaded with adult menhaden. Unaccountably, the smaller 1 I/2 oz. Danny surface swimmer was one of the best plugs up there with good action during daylight hours around mid morning.  I also did well with the smallest Lefty swimmer in yellow or chartreuse. The Lefty, by the way, is another surface swimmer produced by the late plug maker Lefty Carr. His swimmers are very similar to Surfsters and could be considered in the same category. I had fish up to the low twenties on the smaller Danny’s and Lefty‘s. It is interesting to note that I did absolutely nothing with the larger size ( plus 3 ounce) surface swimmers even though there were larger bait fish ( adult menhaden) all over the place!

I also found that the more white water in the area to be fished the better the surface swimmers worked. However, it was not always necessary particularly in Narragansett Bay. It seemed though that casting surface swimmers was always better, day or night, as long as there was some white water around the rocks. The only place/scenario where I didn’t do well and actually really could not use the surface swimmers was in rip or inlet situations. The Danny or Surfster were not made to be used in fast current like you would find in an inlet or breach way. The surface swimmer just will not perform correctly in current but there are other metal lips that will and I’ll detail them later in this story.

During my experiment with surface swimmers I found brighter colors to be more productive. I did very well with chartreuse, parrot (green over yellow), white, all yellow, yellow over white , green over white and all green. Chartreuse was by far the best color though in the Danny and the Surfster. It accounted for all but one of my bigger bass. It also didn’t matter if it was day or night, full moon, new moon or whatever. The chartreuse color was number one. I also tried darker colors like blacks, purples, burple, blue and blue white. My most consistent darker colored Danny or Surfster was black back purple sides and belly. I think I had a few twenties and one thirty pound bass on that color combination. As a result, I really don’t subscribe to the dark plug/dark night, light plug/light night theory anymore. Light colored surface plugs work best for me no matter how dark or light it was. I believe light colors work so well because the bass can see them easily, particularly in rough or dirty water. It should be noted also that most of my surface swimming plug fishing was done in fairly shallow water. I don’t think they are deep water plugs and would always use the two other type plugs mentioned that I will discuss later in this article. I think surface swimmers lose their appeal to bass in water over 10 to 15 feet deep.

SHALLOW/MEDIUM RUNNING METAL LIPS

This is another important group of swimmers that a striped bass surf fisherman should become familiar with. There are a variety of different types of these swimmers around and almost all plug builders make them. Here again I am very lucky to have been around when Dan Pichney was alive and building plugs. I bought directly from him. Most of his stuff was $5 to $7.50 each (wow)! I still have some of his stuff left over from yesteryear and still use his Danny’s and other subsurface plugs which I purchased back then and more recently. He made wonderful plugs which have accounted for thousands of surf caught fish. If you can get your hands on any of his stuff, you should. Believe it or not Pichney plugs can be bought on internet websites. There are still a lot of them around in new condition. I would never hesitate to buy one. They work.

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With that said let’s look at subsurface wooden metal lip swimmers that run just below the surface to about 6 feet down. As stated, there are a lot of these swimmers available on the market today. When buying, stick with plug makers that make metal lips with fish catching reputations. They include but not limited to Lordship, RM Smith, GRS, Fixter, LP, Gibbs, Big Fish, Afterhours, Beachmaster, Tsunami, Greenpoint and the like. I know I left a few out but space does not allow it. Hats off to the private builders too who offered their plugs to me when they heard of my experiment. Thanks to Paul Moriarty (Professor M) and Mike Maffeo of Long Island, N.Y. I was fortunate to have met these two men and their plugs are superior bass catchers. During my experiment I used Pichney subsurface swimmers like his Atom Junior, Atom 40 and Bootleg, as well as other maker’s copies of those Pichneys.  All produced in water up to 6 or 7 feet.  All of these had wonderful action. Subsurface swimmer’s action is a little different than surface swimmers. Subsurface plugs have more of a side to side motion as if they were pivoting back and forth on a steel rod in the middle of them. Believe me, you’ll know when you see a good plug swimming. They will look alive!

All of the metal lips in this category caught bass in inlets around R.I. They were at home in moving water and, truth be told, caught very few bass elsewhere. I used them around rocky shorelines and other structure with little success.  I did much better with them after dark and really didn’t fish them during the day much. I kind of think they were all designed for low light and after dark situations.  I never took a bass during daylight hours on any one of them except the Greenpoint swimmer. I think they work well during the day (and night) because they are a metal lip, wooden copy of a plastic Rebel or Red-Fin type plug which can be effective during daylight hours. In particular, I liked Greenpoint’s 5 inch version. I did well with the Greenpoints throughout the season, especially in the summer months from mid July and all of August. Greenpoint’s really saved my butt during the doldrums because they really mimicked the predominant sand eel bait that was in the area that I fished. The Greenpoint plug “matched the hatch” perfectly with its thinner profile of the sand eel and out fished all other subsurface wooden artificials.

I must admit that I “cheated” a little during those summer months by using a small 4 inch rubber Red Gill teaser up ahead of the 5, 6 or 7 inch Greenpoint plugs. This combo worked great with double headers a common occurrence. The yellow Greenpoint and the pearl or all black Red Gill was deadly! If it wasn’t for the Greenpoint’s/Red Gills I think I would have cracked under the pressure of frustrating summer fishing and used live or rigged eels.

Other subsurface swimmers like the Atom Junior worked well most of the season particularly in the Narrow River inlet which I fished often. The Beachmaster Junior Atom in yellow, cotton candy, white and chartreuse hooked the largest stripers of the year for me in June and again in September and October around Narragansett. These plugs worked well in shallow to medium depth and in locales with current. White water also helped these plugs be more effective but it wasn’t as important as with the surface swimmers. The colors of these subsurface swimmers was similar to the first group of plugs. Bright, attractor colors like yellows, white, pinks and greens/chartreuse worked well. I didn’t have much success with black, blues or purples with the exception of the all black Lordship 40. This plug was also an exception in the size of the shallow/medium swimmers that I employed. Most of these swimmers were in the 5 to 6 inch range like the favorite size surface metal lips. I did particularly well with that mid range size and did poorly with smaller and larger plugs except the black Lordship.
DEEP SWIMMERS

Deep swimming metal lips are what I call the Rodney Dangerfield lures of surf casting because they don’t “get any respect”. I think so because number one, most guys don’t really know about them or how to fish them. Moreover, not many plug makers build them and if they do, they don’t produce many. Deep swimmers have every right to be in a surf men’s bag because they are perfect plugs for the right situation. And that situation is deep, fast moving water. Most surf fishermen are scared off by these spots and usually don’t wet a line in them because they are the toughest places to fish. If they end up fishing them it is usually with heavy lead headed buck tails. The deep swimming metal lip is the perfect plug for these locations and the deep swimmer makes them a breeze to fish. Just cast up current and let them dig in. Just reel slowly until the plug returns to you down current. Repeat. It is that easy. The well made deep swimmer is made to swim deep, up to 12 to 15 feet, effortlessly. Moreover, a well made deep swimming metal lip will get down to a lurking bass hiding behind a boulder 12 feet down. It offers that bottom dwelling striper a bigger meal than the small lead headed buck tail. And that might be just the ticket to a good night rather than a skunking. During my experiment I found, on several trips, that bass wanted a deeper running offering. The deep swimmer fills the bill.

Good luck finding a true deep swimmer though. Beachmaster makes several like the Cowboy, CONRADCowboy Junior, Conrad and the Slope head on occasion. If you see one of these, buy it because it will catch bass for you. Tattoo Plugs produces another deep swimmer called the Deep Diver. I think it’s more of a trolling lure but it will get down and is somewhat readily available.  It is at home in strong current. Their construction allows them to have unbelievable stability in fast moving water. You could fish them easily in places like the Cape Cod Canal in Massachusetts. By the way, deep swimmers are like surface and subsurface plugs in that they can be tuned by adjusting or bending the line tie up in small increments.   I’ll say it again because it’s important. When tuning a plug always test it in daylight before actually fishing it. The action on a good deep swimmer should be just like the other shallow/medium subsurface swimmers I described. One more important point on tuning! Some plugs cannot be tuned, i.e., they cannot be altered to swim the way they are supposed to swim. I have bought several that were supposed to swim one way and just wouldn’t after much adjustment. They just won’t work. They became expensive paperweights.  Other deep swimmers can be had by Surf Asylum (Conrad) and Greenpoint (deep swimmer). Again, if you can find any Pichney deep swimmers like his Conrad or Slope head Conrad, by all means spend the money. They are the best.

In the course of my experiment I used the deep swimmers a lot. My favorite color was white. I tried other shades but the white one took the most and the best. I even caught a 4 lb. fluke on it. Now that’s getting down.

As with any experiment there are some facts, figures and findings.
When the season without eels experiment ended, the total results where surprising. In 2008 I had approx. 350 bass on live eels. I made about 88 trips from the middle of May to the middle of November. My biggest striper on an eel in 2008 was 37 pounds.

In 2009, I caught about 287 bass on metal lips swimmers of the three types mentioned in this article. I made about the same amount of trips, 85, during the same amount of time. My biggest bass on a metal lip was 35 pounds.
The two seasons were very similar. I was surprised! I would say that the only big difference between 08 and 09 was the average size of the fish. The eel year, the stripers were larger. I caught a lot more 20 pounders in 2008 than 2009 and I caught more smaller bass in 09 on the plugs then I did on eels in 2008.

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Conventional wisdom turned upside down!

Bare with me as I wrote this 13 years ago and just found it on my PC…LOL

Trying to fit a word “consistency” in a same sentence with “surf fishing” is akin to words “no traffic” and “LIE”, Yeah ,they both happen occasionally but the duration is usually short lived. The spots that produce fish one day shut down the next for no apparent reason, other than the fact you weren’t there yesterday but you hear about it and showed up “today”. Beach structure undergoes changes after each onshore blow and baitfish is known to stage  disappearing act with regularity. The only “consistency” in this sport is that is inconsistent. There are few concepts that have over the years became a part of surfcasting lore. Part fiction, part wishful thinking and a lot of misinformation went a long way to make these “cant miss” occurrences an accepted practice in the eyes of some surfcasters. Many have accepted these ,for a lack of a better word “misconceptions” as if they were gospel passed on by some surfcasting Gods from good old days. I think this is a mistake. A surfcaster should never fb21.jpgbox himself into a narrow frame of mind. A good surfcaster should always be willing to expand his horizon in search of a new feeding ,bait or weather patterns. Its bad enough already  we as surfcasters are limited to certain areas because of access restrictions .

Weakfish feed only at night. Really?

The “cheat sheet” always said that weakfish come to play only at night and if you want to tangle with them then you should do the same. This is simply an exaggeration and nothing more than that. Heck, my two biggest weaks, were caught around midday on cloudless, sunny days with temperature pushing well into the 90’s in August. I’ll agree that if you seek quantity or consistence, nighttime offers much better opportunities to succeed. But if you can find deep water within casting proximity of the shore and if that area is not a highly traveled by boats in daytime, your chances of tangling up with a weakfish are quite good. Jetties and rocky seawalls due to their ability to offer baitfish shelter are first places you should explore with deep holes in back bays reachable with a cast from shore a good second choice.

Fish the higher tides

If I heard it once I heard it thousand times “best fishing is found on first of outgoing tide”. First let me explain where I am coming from to give you better understanding why I think this kind of thinking if flawed. I don’t fish areas without current flow. Although few times each season you might find me on a open beach throwing bait, 99% of the time I prefer to cast artificials in areas with current flow.Gamefish seek structure which when coupled with current flow create opportunistic feeding areas in which they are able to use structure and flow to their advantage. Their approach to feeding is simple, ”use least amount of energy to fill their belies”. In the area that I primarily fish, be that mouth of the inlets or back bays, first of the outgoing tide feature little or in some cases no current flow. For example, in Jones inlet ebbing current does not start to noticeably flow until one to two hours after the high tide, depending on moon stage and wind direction. Another reason why “high water out” is overrated is that there is just too much darn water at the time of high tide therefore increasing the territory the baitfish can use to hide from predators. I prefer decreased water level to condense the baitfish making it easier for gamefish to coral and ambush. At this stage of the tide current is not flowing therefore rips are not formed and bait is dispersed all over the place.No two places are the same and there are plenty of places where first of the outgoing is the best time to fish. Heck, last of the incoming tide has probably been the best time to fish the Montauk Lighthouse since they built the place. But each spot has its own tide  preferences. Generalities about surf fishing usually never work. The tide that works in one spot might suck at another spot. The mthly thing that works in every place is the fact that you cant catch them from your couch.

And stay away from bottom of the tide…

Strangely  enough, the low water or low tide stage is detested by many surfcasters who wrongly assume that you need deep water in order too catch fish. Nothing could be further from the truth. Many of my favorite hunting grounds are most productive during the last two hours of outgoing tide or the first hour of incoming water as baitfish is forced to congregate in less and less water, concentrating them in numbers that makes it appealing to gamefish. Remember that no gamefish worth its salt, be that bass, blue or weakfish will chase the baitfish around the ocean, expanding more energy in the process than they will gain it once they consume. Unlike you and me, gamefish don’t feed for “fun” like we do when we grab that bag of chips just because its there. They feed to survive and are constantly searching for opportunities to do so in the manner that is most advantageous to their cause, meaning eat as much as possible while spending least amount of energy doing so.

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There is no denying that the most visually exciting part of surfcasting is enticing a gamefish to rise from the bottom and hit a top water lure. Water spraying everywhere and at times near misses, seem to only enrage the fish even more as it attacks the plug again and again until hooks are firmly planted in its jaws. But visual action notwithstanding, is popping plugs productive enough to justify their standing as one of the most commonly used lures in daytime? I believe for every fish that you raise to the surface to attack a popping plug, there are probably dozens cruising under the surface ,not showing any sign of their presence. So if you are raising fish but not hooking up as often as you would like try going under the surface with a bucktail or a similar lure. I would bet that your score goes way up.

Is dusk overrated?

Surfcasting around the time of dusk easily attracts more anglers than any other time of a day or night. Part of the reason for this is obviously due to our work and family obligations, which take up most of the daylight hours. But is it most productive time to fish? Judging by sheer numbers of surfcasters present in the water the answer seems to be overwhelmingly yes. But following the crowds in this instance might be a wrong thing to do. Tide, currents and wind conditions have greater impact on when the fish will become active than the time of the day itself. Having said that fishing during the night hours and at first light have always been most productive during the course of the season if we take out of equation those precious few weeks in the fall when bass and blues go on their feeding binges in the daytime. During the summer months water temperatures are at their highest during late afternoon and gamefish generally seek shelter at this time in the deep holes of back bays or cool ocean waters. Add to that a swimming public and boat traffic and you have a recipe for a lousy fishing. Think of it this way, do you really think that after hundreds of boats have crisscrossed the inlet in search of fluke filets during the day the fish will flip the switch, forget about the 70+ degree water temperature and go on the feeding binge, just because the sun its dipping on horizon? I wish it were that easy. The fact is if you seek consistent success with good size fish you must concentrate on night tides. It might take some sleep deprivation but in this sport you only get out what you put in.rgftrf

Leaders – what for?

Thankfully, majority of anglers have come top realization that they need a leader between their running line and a lure. They are aware that their main lines, be that mono or braid is not design to withstand abrasion from the rocks or sharp teeth of gamefish as leader material is. Even the jaw of striped bass which lacks a defined teeth structure will weaken your line when rubbed against it. Considering that bluefish are able to cut even the heaviest leader in seconds with their razor sharp teeth you can only imagine how long you will have service of your lure if you are casting without the leader while bluefish are present in the area. Leaders take tremendous punishment from our tackle, from absorbing shocks during casts, taking a hit from the fish or being held onto while releasing fish. Trying to grab your braided line while you have a trashing fish on business end is a recipe for a disaster. Due to its thin diameter and strength the braid will cut your hands to the bone in short order with a trashing fish on. The only reasonable argument against use of leader that makes sense at all is that by adding two more knots to out line we increase the chance that our rig will fail. True, but if you take the time to draw your knots slowly, making sure you wet them with saliva before you tighten them and paying attention that your loops on the finished knot are one on top of another instead of crisscrossed you virtually eliminate the possibility of failure. Most plugs are lost because of poorly tied knots or open snaps, not because your leader broke. Then there are those who insist that a fish can see a leader and therefore shy away from a lure that is attached to it. Yeah, maybe in Bahamas but not in the murky waters of Northeast. Shifting sediment, plankton growth and fast current make the waters we fish in cloudy on the best of days. Most of the time I can’t see my boots while wading in the water and that’s size 13 Wide, and you are worried about see-through piece of monofilament?

Bunker heads

I have friends who insist on using these 1 and ½ slivers of bunker and are often left wondering why are they catching primarily small bass. I tried over the years to get them to chunk a head out once in awhile but they do it with enthusiasm I usually reserve for cold pizza. Unfortunately they are not in the minority among surfcasters, as many are shying away from tossing heads or even large chunks. You heard about the expression “big lures catch big fish “ right? Well, same of that can be said when baitfishing too. Think about it for a moment’s a decent bass, not monster, but anything above teen fish can swallow adult bunker whole! And you are wondering about your chunk being too big? Add to the equation that bass feeds head first and swallows everything they eat whole and a head should be you favorite piece of bunker, not the least favorite one. Part of the aversion from tossing heads is use of a tackle not suited for baitfishing in general. Six to eight ounces of lead plus a head requires beefy tackle and if your rod cant handle this load you are most likely fishing with what I like to call a “spaghetti” rod, a stick too light for the job.  I use a conventional outfit, Lamiglas 1361MH, an 11 foot stick and I can honestly say that even with 8&bait this rod is just getting started to load. Another reason for using heads is the fact that small fish, sand sharks and skates will often leave the head alone while they mercilessly munching on your buddies chunk. I was fishing with few buddies and after landing third consecutive sand shark I was getting annoyed so when I re-baited, I cut bunker in a half and impaled the front half on the hook under the chin and out thru the nose. Of course my friend were chuckling as I lobed this monstrosity into the surf. They faces froze in grimaces when within few minute I slid a 35lb bass on the sand. Two heads are better than one, right?

Yes, i had few “extra” pounds then..lol
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just a heads up

Night Crew shirts and hoodies are back in the online store after a long absence . more stuff coming up..new color on caps, new hats, striper pins

www.surfcastersgear.comZip_B2-300x300dd_large

Spring STRIPERTHON 2016

Its is our pleasure to announce  Spring STRIPERTHON 2016 Catch & Release Tournament sponsored by VanStaal Reels, June 3rd to June 5th

We are psyched to have Van Staal as sponsors of not only Spring but also the Fall  Striperthon and of course , the StriperDay 2017. This also extends all the brands below too. We are truly fortunate to have as friends and sponsors some very remarkable people and great companies.

As much we and everyone else give credit to Van Staal reels for being a tough customer in the surf and for being able to take on punishing surf  fishing conditions, I still don’t think they get enough credit for something which to most surfcasters these days might be as important as the actual act of catching the fish.

You’ve seen VS Rep Craig Cantelmo in numerous videos and at shows advocating for sustainable harvest and for protection of striped bass stocks. It wasn’t a position they took up like many others after they’ve seen the other shoe drop. Do a little Google search and you will find it that Van Staal  Reels, often in cooperation with Edge Angling in Rhode Island has for many years trying to promote Catch & Release Tournaments to advocate Catch & Release and plight of declining striped bass stocks. Yes, Surfcaster’s Journal has been doing it from day one of our existence but not many major brands were willing to go down that path and actually commit to spend time and resources in promoting catch and release tournaments. Most of them probably said, let someone else do it. Well Van Stall did it.

And I just wanted to take a minute to recognize that.image001

In addition I want to recognize Super Strike Lures who have been on a forefront of striped bass conservation for years. From changing their advertising message to reflect how they are feeling ; yes catch the fish, have a good time BUT also respect that fish and respect the sport….

to not featuring dead fish in the social media campaigns, supporting catch and release programs and tournaments and of course, in case of great Don Musso, literally educating  anglers on the beach daily about importance of conservation and proper catch and release techniques.f f fc

Having said all this, no company that I am aware of it has bigger national footprint and influence when it comes to conservation and protection of species and natural habitats than Costa Del Mar. From sponsoring national tv shows and adventures that promote conservation and sportsmanship, to supporting local and regional contest like hours, Costa Del Mar is in the forefront of what a successful company can accomplish when its fabric is in the salt and fish. We are proud to be partnering with them in promoting Catch and Release  efforts and becoming good stewards of our natural resources

costa-del-mar-logo (1)Last but not least, in fact in many of your little black books they are probably first on the list,Peter and Wayne Hess from Guppy Lures. Guppy Lures has always been one of the first companies that reaches out to us regardless of what type of event are we doing and ask “how can we help”. They know that Surfcaster’s Journal is on the forefront of catch and release since its inception and although we will never ridicule someone for taking home a fish or keeping his PB we will continue along with our sponsors to advocate for responsible and sustainable harvest of not only striped bass but all species.guppy__01010.1428952779.1280.1280

Look for more details for this Tournament that stretches from Nova Scotia to California in few days