ICAST videos, John Skinner videos and SJ Store Sale

First we want to wish you all happy 4th of July

We are about a week away from the ICAST 2015 show in Orlando Florida so we’ll try to keep you aware of things you might be interested in

Here are two just released videos from PENN fishing about their new products

Clash is a brand new reel from PENN

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Next up PENN Fierce II

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And in case you live under the rock and have not seen any recent john Skinner videos, here they are

Striped bass Underwater view 

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Underwater Fluke Video

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and lastly, a 4th of July Sale in SJ Online Store

Everthying in store is 20%OFF

use coupon code


Offer valid until midnight Monday, July 4th


Enjoy your weekend

Win Tactical Angler’s Gear from the Surfcaster’s Journal and Tactical Anglers

This week’s giveaway is a courtesy of SJ columnist Crazy Ablerto Knie and his Tactical Angler co. Al has been busy racking up frequent flier miles and zipping across the country doing seminars and fishing. Lots going on in his life with new crossover TA lures and working on his new TV show. That is when he is not putting hurting on giant tarpon, red fish and anything that swims

Winner will receive a

4 oz TA BombPopper

2 oz TA SeaPencil

TA Hat

Good luck to all our readers, new issue of SJ comes out in few weeks


Step Into The Freezer

ugh 011I was at the Canal Thursday. The results were atypical for a famous “breaking tide”. There were the expected pods of breaking fish, the expected reports of a few big fish landed, the expected schools of mackerel hugging the banks—but there was no consistency to the bite, no pushes of bass traveling through. Some isolated pockets of fast action did make a few anglers’ days though.

One such angler was a guy that I would guess was in his early 20s, someone who is most definitely in the early stages of his love for our sport. There were two nice fish displayed on the access road, a 36-pounder for an older guy nearby and a 28-pounder for this younger guy I stopped to talk with.

He told me that the fish had taken an SP Minnow thrown among a large school of macks. He added that it was his first good fish and he was very excited about it. You can’t blame him for that, 28 pounds is a nice fish for sure. We compared notes on the action throughout the morning, my results of five fish from a schoolie to a 22-pounder matched up roughly with his, although his fish was bigger than my biggest. I showed him the mackerel-colored Guppy Pencil that took all but one of my fish. He told me that he’d never been able to get a fish to hit a topwater plug. We talked about that for a bit and shook hands, but as he was walking away he said something that stuck in my mind.

“Well, now I have to go home and YouTube how to cook this thing!”

I offered up a basic recipe for my favorite way to eat the few bass I keep each year. In case you’re wondering, battered and fried bass makes great fish tacos with the right fixings. I was quick to add that a 28-pounder would make enough tacos for his entire neighborhood, but I don’t think my words landed where I hoped they would.

I don’t fault anyone for keeping a fish, I do it now and then and think that it’s a practice that should always be a part of our sport. But taking a fish just to take one is not a good practice. I would obviously give this guy a free pass, he was fired up—and I wouldn’t want to take that away from him, I only use this example because it’s fresh in my mind. But, if you don’t even know what you’re going to do with it when you get home, you should really release the fish. If you’ve ever thrown a fish into a dumpster after killing it you should feel bad about it. I hope that my new friend from the Canal had a great dinner with family and friends that night and I hope he a gets a 38 tomorrow. But what I hope above all else is that he realized that a fish of that size is enough to feed a family function and that the mythical 38 I just hooked him up with in the near future is much more valuable alive.

As the tides we’ve come to rely on become less and less consistent, it is going to become increasingly important that we all harvest with extreme care. People make the argument for ‘gamefish status’ but I have to wonder if a no-harvest fishery would hurt or help the sport overall. Personally, it wouldn’t stop me from fishing, but I think a large percentage of the people that can’t fish four nights (or more) per week like I usually can, depend on taking a fish for the table as the justification for the expenditure of their precious time and money.

Of course, this is abused as well. Striped bass just doesn’t belong in your freezer, unless you’re very good about how you care for it and you make sure that you eat it within six months of the catch. Some of my friends that are charter captains tell me that they hear the same line laughed over and over from their patrons, “Now we can throw away the fish from last year!” That’s every bit as bad as the dumpster crew. The striped bass shoulders a huge amount of the recreational fishing load here in the Northeast, it’s high time that we get our heads on straight.

Striperthon wrap up and winner of a Guided trip with Bill Wetzel

I would like to thank again all the sponsors and participants of the SJ Spring Striperthon 2015. We are glad you all had fun and won some awesome prizes from our sponsons,

Our sincerest thanks goes to the sponsors for making this possible, PENN Fishing,Lou Caruso, StormR, Guppy Lures, Super Strike lures and Spiderwire. We are really lucky to have such great sponsors and readers who share out belief that in the days when there is a drastic reduction in numbers of striped bass, we should be supporting and promoting catch and release.

Again, congratulations to all winners.

The winning fish came from New Jersey where Ryan Sherwood feed a Super Strike Darter to this 47.5 lb cow.

Let’s do it again in the fall !

The winner of a full day, 6 hours guided trip with NY Surf Fishing Gide extraordinary Bill Wetzel is Dan Radman…danielradman@optonline.net

trip is for one or two casters for a full 6 hour trip. Giveaway excludes trophy trips. Trip must be booked on or before 5/15/16. Winner should contact Bill Wetzel at 631-987-6919 and mention SJ giveaway.

I hope you guys are catching fish, I hope the have stripes, God knows this is the worst spring I have ever fished through in my life. But if you live and fish the Canal or RI you are probably having a decent spring. If you fishing NJ, you had a really, really good run in April/May. If you fish LI and you had an awesome spring with bass, my hat is off to you. Since I decided to kind of pull the throttle back a little to give myself more time for family and to fish, I fished and fished and fished. In fact, I might have fished more in last month and a half than in last two years combined. You have to understand that between writting the blog, contests,, giveaway, FB and twitter page, advertising sales, billing, video and God know what else, it does not leave a lot of time to do what i like most…fish. And I am glad Dave Anderson is stepping to the plate with his weekly contribution

bad elbow gave me the excuse not to fish last two years but now i am thankfully feeling better and fishing like I used to….however I am not catching like i used to !


but tomorrow is another tide…and I am psyched ..because just a thought of casting a plug in those legendary waters gives me the chills.

But more about that next time

Have fun, catch them up and have a great spring


Catch & Release Competitions


After another successful Striperthon it seems like the right time to talk about the evolution of the striper tournament. The phrase “no kill” is often used to emphasize the fact that most (if not all) of the fish entered into one of these tournaments will be released. It’s a concept I really believe in, some of you may know that I run GoTight.Net which is the online home of a very successful season-long catch and release surfcasting tournament.

There has been plenty of debate about the likelihood of survival for fish that are brought to shore for photographic documentation and, when done carelessly, I would agree that survival rates are below what any of us would prefer. But, when done correctly the fish are really not kept out of the water any longer than they are during a normal shore landing.

The right way to compete in one of these tournaments is to prepare to measure your fish before making your first cast. I compete in my own tournament but, of course, I can’t win anything I just enjoy the camaraderie that comes with playing the game every week. When I arrive at my spot of choice, I start by finding a good place to document my catch. The best places are flat areas of smooth gravel, flat boulders or, best of all, patches of wet weeds uncovered by the tide. When I find a suitable spot, I unfold and lay out my measuring device (in my case it’s a fiberglass folding ruler) and then make sure I have my tag and camera in an easily accessible spot before I make my first cast (I also make sure the flash is turned on). One of the big no-no’s of competing in these C&R events is recording your fish on dry sand, if your fish looks like a cinnamon doughnut when you go to release it, no matter how fast you are, it’s not going to do well. Sand in their slime, gills and eyes can cause infection and can be very hard for them to rid themselves of, if you fish the open beach you should document on hard, wet sand or bring a small tarp or towel to take your photos on.

From the moment you hook up, you should be thinking about the documentation process and hear a clock ticking in your head. Try to get the fish in as quickly as possible, I prefer to unhook the fish right when I catch it and then bring it over to the ruler. Lay the fish down near the ruler, move the ruler (not the fish) to line up with the tip of the tail and take the photo, pick the fish up for a quick selfie and the documentation process is done. Now I usually set a rock on the tag so it doesn’t blow away, I stuff my camera in my jacket or the neck of my wetsuit and then I hurry the fish back to the water where I will take whatever time is necessary (as I always do) to revive it. Written out, this sounds like it takes a long time, but I can usually document a fish and have it back in the water for revival in less than 30 seconds.

When you catch a big fish, there is a little more to the process. Bigger fish are usually on the line longer and have fought pretty hard. If I had to run a 30 yard dash and then go hold my breath underwater for 30 to 60 seconds I don’t think I’d be feeling too great by the end of my swim. The accepted process is to land the fish, remove the hook and then spend a minute or two reviving the fish on a Boga Grip or other lip-gripper tool before taking it to shore. After that short time in the water, I bring the fish in and go about the documentation process as I would for any other fish. This same basic process is used for any fish caught wetsuiting that has to be swum back to shore, keep the fish on the gripper and in the water until the last possible second before quickly documenting and releasing the fish.

Is this a perfect process? No. Is there a measure of release mortality? Yes. But, when done properly, I doubt very much that it’s any higher than regular fishing practices. One thing you can guarantee is that the mortality rate for every conventional “weigh-in” style striper tournament is 100%. If you compete with swift and proper release in mind, you should not have any problem safely releasing all of your fish. Just remember that being quick while the fish are out of the water and taking ample time for revival and release are the two major keys to release success—whether you’re in competition or not.



All winners,  please email us your shipping address to info@surfcastersjournal.com



Ryan Sherwood 48 inches

Jerry Audet 45 inch

Brett Rainer 41 inhes

Steven Seeberger 40 inches

Chris Neves 39 inches

Dominic Rosello 39 inches

Michael Carr 39 inches

Frank Murphy 38 inches

now that is one impressive fish !!!




You MUST have this tag in the picture along with fish and measurement. Of course, the fish must be released unharmed as this is a catch and Release contest. Please read the whole rules before entering fish.



Good luck to all of you and please, if you are not familiar with rules click on 2015 STRIPERTHON brought to you by PENN button above for all the rules

give us nice CLEAR picture with measuring tape on the SIDE of the fish, not over or on it

Good luck to allfjyth



June 5-7, 2015

The STRIPERTHON 2015 is open to all Surfcaster’s Journal subscribers with active subscriptions. There is no entry fee, as a subscriber you are automatically entered. (Subscribe today atwww.surfcastersjournal.com to become eligible).

Only saltwater striped bass may be entered into the tournament.

All fish entered into the STRIPERTHON 2015 must be caught in a surfcasting situation. A surfcasting situation constitutes contacting the ground, rocks, beach or a dock with ones feet. Any means may be used to reach these destinations, such as boat, ferry, swimming or kayaking but the fish must be hooked and landed while the angler’s feet are in contact with the Earth or something permanently affixed to the Earth.

All fish entered must be caught using a rod and reel and a legal live (or dead) bait or lure.

The CONTEST TAG will be posted on the blog at 5 pm on Friday June 5th. The TAG must be included in the photo for each fish entered into the tournament. You may also download it onto your cell phone and show the TAG on your phone screen in the photo as well

All measurements will be ROUNDED UP to the nearest whole inch.

All qualifying fish have to be photographed with the CONTEST TAG and next to a measuring tape showing entire length of the fish in inches visible in the photo accompanied by a SECOND photo of the angler holding the fish. This event is intended to be a CATCH AND RELEASE competition, remember all fish must be photographed alive. Minimum size 32 inches

The largest fish by length will win first prize, second largest second prize and so on. In case of a tie, the first entry submitted will be placed ahead of a second entry of the identical size.

You must send us your entry pictures by 5PM on Sunday June 7th. Email pictures to info@surfcastersjournal.com with email heading “SPRING STRIPERTHON 2015″.  Include your name and phone contact.

Anyone caught cheating in any way will be disqualified, ejected and publicly shamed.  This means any photo editing, unannounced substitutions, entering fish caught by non-members etc, will result in disqualification. We reserve the right to disqualify any entries in which the measurements are not clearly visible without enlargement. The SJ tournament committee will have final say in all disputes concerning the legitimacy of photos, size of the fish and quality of the photo submitted. Photos entered without a CONTEST TAG shown will not be counted, no exceptions.

Your CONTEST TAG must be printed at a size of 6 inches by 6 inches or larger.

You are urged to take whatever means necessary to protect the TAG. Designating a page in your leader wallet is a great way to protect the tag. It is also wise to print several extras because, water and paper don’t mesh well.

All anglers fishing in any STRIPERTHON 2015 tournament agree to do so at their own risk. Surfcaster’s Journal, it’s owner, partners, sponsors or employees are in no way liable for any injuries or accidents that may occur during the act of fishing or traveling, walking, boating or kayaking to or from a fishing location. By printing the CONTEST TAG you agree to indemnify and defend Surfcaster’s Journal, it’s owner and/or employees against all claims, causes of action, damages, judgments, costs or expenses, including attorney fees and other litigation costs which may, in any way, arise from your  participation in the STRIPERTHON 2015.


  • First Place PENN Torque Spinning Reel + 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid
  • Second Place StormR Surf Top and Gloves + 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid
  • Third Place PENN 706Z reel + 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid
  • Fourth Place Sabre 11′ one piece rod by Lou Caruso + 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid
  • Fifth Place PENN Spinfisher reel + 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid
  • Sixth Place Set of Lures from Super Strike + 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid
  • Seventh Place Set of Lures from Guppy Lures + 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid
  • Eight Place SJ Gear package (SJ hoodie, shirt and hat)+ 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid



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.SJ Tournament_2015

STRIPERTHON 2015 this weekend !

Ok, we are two days away from SJ STRIPERTHON 2015 sponsored by PENN, STORMR, Guppy Lures,Super Strike Lures, Spiderwire and SJ. Our sincerest thanks to all STRIPERTHON 2015 sponsors

The tag will be posted here Friday at 5 PM. Print it, have fun and be careful. Remember that we are ultimate judges when it comes to quality of your picture and being able to correctly measure it

No kinked measuring tapes and yes, we are aware that measuring fish on the rock is almost impossible in a  wetsuit. But we rather you just release the fish in good condition instead hurting it by taking too long trying to take the picture

Click on STRIPERTHON blog button for all the rules please…and mist importantly have fun

Here is list of prizes SPRING 2015 STRIPERTHON

First Place PENN Torque Spinning Reel + 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid

Second Place StormR Surf Top and Gloves + 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid

Third Place PENN 706Z reel + 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid

Fourth Place Sabre 11′ one piece rod by Lou Caruso + 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid

Fifth Place PENN Spinfisher reel + 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid

Sixth Place Set of Lures from Super Strike + 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid

Seventh Place Set of Lures from Guppy Lures + 300 yard of Spiderwire Braid

Eight Place SJ Gear package (SJ hoodie, shirt and hat)+ 300 yard of Spiderwire BraidStormr-Mens-Surf-Top-Front-6371.jpgAAADSC_4385W

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SJ Tournament_2015

L51806 9500

Death By Bunker


When I first started getting really into surfcasting, I can remember reading stories about big fish pushing big baits; mackerel, sea herring, hickory shad and, of course, bunker were the big names I read over and over. I also remember thinking that those baitfish seemed to be curiously absent from the menu in the local wash. There could be a million reasons for this, perhaps the most likely is that I just didn’t know what I was really looking for—but there was enough outcry on the message boards to “save the bait” to make me believe that they just weren’t around in any real numbers.

I was working in a coastal Massachusetts town at the time called Mattapoisett and I used to drive down to the pier every day at lunch to absorb some of that feeling only the ocean can give you. As is typical of most piers in the fall, there always seemed to be someone looking for snapper blues there. One day I was just sitting there eating my lunch and I could hear some grunts of frustration as one of these snapper chasers was casting to a particularly animated school but the fish wouldn’t eat his fly and float combo. I walked over and could see with my polarized sunglasses on that these were bigger than your typical snapper and they were swimming in a large tornado pattern with those at the top of the school splashing on the surface.

As always, I had a rod in the car and I grabbed a tin with a treble hook on it, cast it over the school and snagged one, lo and behold, it was a sizeable bunker, probably close to two pounds. I let it swim around out there with an 8/0 octopus hook in its nose for another 20 minutes but no one was home—this was my first experience with bunker.

As I was driving home that day my mind reached back to a story I read about a Columbus Day Blitz on Martha’s Vineyard back in the early 1980’s. This event lasted, as I recall, almost an entire day as giant bass into the 50-pound class pushed bunker up onto the sand. Needless to say it was hard to win the daily in the Derby that day!

A few weeks later I was exploring a deep spot I spied on a map. I walked out onto a shallow flat, casting a Bomber in the late morning sunlight. My first cast was followed by at least five small bass, my next cast was eaten by one of them and then my third cast was eaten as well—the fish were cookie cutters, 26 inches or so. I got the idea that if I was catching small fish on plugs that I might get a bigger one on an eel, so I re-rigged and gave it a shot. My first cast was inhaled by a 20-pounder! A few casts later I had another! As I walked out further, I hit back-to-back 26-pounders and several others between 18 and 22. As I was skirting the edge of the drop, something odd caught my eye—flashes with repetitive motion. My eyes wouldn’t focus on the motion, it was almost as if whatever it was, was reflecting the bottom coloration back at me. Then, finally, my eyes focused and I saw a small pod of bunker—no more than 30 of them. But it was immediately apparent why all these fish were eating under a bright sun in this little deep pocket!

In twelve years since that day, bunker have made a dramatic comeback. Regulations on commercial harvest have really helped bring these protein-packed baitfish back to the menu in the surf. The downside to their return is that there are too many inexperienced fishermen using them for bait and causing true harm to fish that they intend to release. To be clear, I’m not faulting them for being inexperienced; I’m faulting a lack of information on how to catch fish on live bunker.

A couple years ago I was at the Canal with my usual fishing partner and a friend of ours. The fishing was good, but not “all out”. It was late in the tide but about 300 yards up-current of us there were a couple guys who kept catching big fish when no one else was even really casting. They were too far away for me to be sure what they were using, but they caught some big fish! Then, like a lit fuse, more anglers began hooking and the bent rods were getting closer and closer. Right in tight to the shore we saw a massive bulge streaking toward us… it was a speeding school of bunker being chased by some very big bass!

I don’t usually carry a snag hook and today was no different, but I quickly snapped a needlefish on and let it sink to the bottom right where I expected them to come through. They came by fast, a pod of at least 300—when they covered my needle I hauled back viciously and snagged one. These were pound and a half bunker and our friend looked at me and asked “What are you going to do with THAT!?”

“Just watch this,” was all I said.

I pulled an eel rig out of my pouch, cut the hook off and snapped it right to my snap. Then I threaded the hook through its nostrils and lobbed it out into the current. The bunker was in the water maybe 30 seconds before we saw a large swirl open up near the bait and then a wide wake fell into place behind the terrified bunker. My bunker made one half-assed attempt at jumping but just kind of rolled over on its side and then I felt the “tick” as the fish engulfed the bunker.

I had the line off the rolled on my Van Staal and I let that fish take line for about two seconds, maybe three. Then I hooked the line on the roller and gave two short but powerful tugs to sink the hook. The fish was very heavy and unfortunately, won the battle when she dove over the ledge, buried her face in the rocks and cut my 80-pound leader.

But it’s not the catching of the fish that’s the important part of this story it’s the feel and the timing. Sometimes bass will play with your bunker—most of the time this is a small fish, but it might also be the condition of your bait that’s keeping a big fish from eating it. The hit, in my experience, is not usually a smash, it’s usually a soft ‘tick’ like the first tap on a live eel. But no matter if it’s a light tick or a heart-stopping smash, the fish should not be allowed to swim off for 30 seconds; it should be allowed to swim for no more than FIVE seconds that’s all you need to hook a good one. If you pull the bait out of its mouth, odds are it was a small fish that couldn’t choke the bunker down.

I’m sure there are several people scoffing at me right now, but this is fact as I’ve come to know it. Releasing a fish that’s pouring blood out of both gills is no different than throwing it up into the rocks to rot. The fish you really want to catch is going to get that bunker down fast, because it is feeding competitively, and swimming around with half a bunker sticking out of its mouth is an invitation to have it stolen! When you get into a snag-and-drop situation, feel the hit and count to three (or five if you have to), you might miss a few small ones but your release mortality will go way down and that’s really what’s most important. A bloody bass is a dead bass—think about that—is it worth it?