All Hail To The Mighty Bluefish

I’ll admit right up front that my preparation for the season is drastically different than most of you. How do I know that ? Well, I am friends on FB with many of you and see where your mind is at at any given time. Many of you have already went balls to the wall in pursuit of stripers and yes, few of you are tired of sticking your arms so far out to make those schoolies look a bit more fierce.

I’ve been there. I’ve done it all from small Redfin’s with thick gloves to deal with frost to chunking bunker with big Lami conventional reel for some of the biggest bass of the year in April on north shore of LI. But in last few years I became a late starter. Not sure if its the fact that we spend so much time away from home in winter with our regular jobs and then doing shows on weekend. Plus traveling to visit colleges with my daughter and going to gym six days a week all take a tool. Then you got the crippling pain in shoulder and wrist than makes me almost useless on a construction site after few hours.

I am perfectly content to wait until bluefish show up in force on the south shore. Usually on Long Island that means last week of April or first week of May depending on migration. I’ve seen reports of blues in Carolinas last week and this week I’ve seen plenty reports from South Jersey which means that everything is more of less on schedule.

Why blues and no bass?

Few reasons. Wherever I left my plugs on Thanksgiving weekend, in a jumbled tangled mess in back of my truck, they are still there. I used to change hooks on hundred or more plugs every winter but you know what I found out? That i will only use about dozen plugs a year with regularity. And probably ten of those will be Super Strike. So I only change hooks on about dozen plugs and then change the rest during year as necessary. I have no desire however to use plugs, or I should say trebles on a very angry and often large spring bluefish. But what I do have a desire to do is to throw plugs at them attached to the camera. All I do is snip the rusty hook tips so they don’t get hooked and I can get multiple strikes on the plug IF (and only IF) if you don’t have tension on the line.

Bluefish can be insanely thick as you can see and they will cut your line in short order if you put tension on it. Look at this trying to eat  camera twice

When I am actually trying to catch one, I’ll use a bucktail or a West End or A.O.K metal. A single hook makes it a little easier to unhook.(fairly lose drag in this video)


Notice I did not say “easy”. There is nothing easy about bluefish. Not the way they hit your lure, the way they pursue your lure, the way they fight and yes, the way it claps down its choppers when you are trying to remove a hook. Trust me , many of you, yours truly included, will get tired of big blues after a few days days of this bruising battle. They will shred your leaders and chomp on your lures, they will fight you to exhaustion and put your tackle to test. But while its on, its on of  the most glorious events of the season

Big SJ Gear Giveaway

In case you missed Bill Wetzel in Surf Fishing 101 Episode # 22 Lures for Montauk Surf , we will make it public in few days so stay tuned.

First , lets get you guys outfitted with some new SJ gear.

This giveaway will be for some new gear now in our online store at (for those of you that keep asking for zippered Night Crew hoodies, limited numbers will be in online store  this weekend)

So lets do this…

One winner , in his choice of size, our new Mean Bass Shirt4119C491-C21D-4F52-A846-6A94E45FB0FF

One winner in his choice of size , Tactical Creeping while Sleeping shirtwxsz

One winner , one color of his choice of SJ 100% wool cap (blue,olive,brown,black)all capsOne winner , SJ Striper Pin4648

Enter the giveaway here by inserting your email address. Winners will be randomly picked by app and  notified via email

All of these and more can be found in our online store at

Now that show season is over, we are restocking everything and last thing to add will be Night shift crew shirts and zip hoodies this weekend

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Surf Fishing 101 video series Preview of Episodes 27-29

There are 3 new Surf Fishing 101 videos included in the new march 2017 Issue #42 of the Surfcaster’s Journal Online Magazine

  • Episode 27 Bill Wetzel on fishing needlefish
  • Episode 28 Bill Jakob on his plugs for Montauk Night Surf
  • Episode 29 Lou Caruso on reel seats for your rods

here is a video preview

To view full length version of any videos please log into your Surfcaster’s Journal Account

New Tip of the Week video # 15

I want to get back to a regular schedule of talking about fishing and all things fishing related now that the show season has ended. We have one more Flea Market in Patchogue this upcoming Sunday and then its back to fishing full time for  SJ crew. We’ll maybe not for me as I am awaiting for a surgeon to call me on Monday to discuss my shoulder MRI results. It is what it is, we’ll see what happens. I have few very special trips planned for this year so I hope that I don’t have to cancel them.

I know many of you are already wetting lines and some even catching few striped ones in the process. Yes, I know there are few who catch the holdovers all winter too. There are also few guys who actually fish with DMag plugs too but there is no point in bringing more attention to that either, right?  The most asked question at fishing shows is “Are you antsy to get back to fishing? “ to which my answer is …hell no.

I watched my kids seemingly grow up from wearing diapers to college graduates over night, I no longer wish my life away. Hell, I do not want Sunday afternoon to come any faster than it already will as I type this on Sunday morning. The spring will come, the fish will come, I am not wishing for one minute of my day to go by any faster  than it already will. For some of you younger guys, you’ll get this at some point later in your lives.

Here is the video I shot last year in early fall but kind of forgot about it. I was introduced to another product in the fall, Otter Tails after using Jig Strips and I can say that they are both excellent replacement for pork rind. I will also admit that there is something special about that supple pork rind that has been beaten up and chew up and spit by stripers. But products do come and go and these new bucktail trailers to me are more than a sufficient replacement for a pork rind

Otter tails website

Fat Cow Fishing  website

North Bar Bottle Darters

A little disturbing news while we waiting for the new issue of the SJ Magazine.

We know that plug buying/selling has reached crescendo last few weeks and in fact its probably slacking off now that everyone turned their attention to fishing and better weather. All it takes is few warm days in the spring for most guys to forget about buying plugs and start thinking about where to make first few casts of the spring.

Although the few plug builders that make lures only for winter shows have closed their shops the standbys that most of us fish with, the Super Strikes or North Bar lures continue their production so that you can find them on your local store shelf when you need them.

I always admired Larry’s Welcome resolve, financial and emotional , to invest in this (fairly small) sport via his North Bar line of bottle darters. To first design the lure and then to go through countless plastic prototypes and finally to invest a sizable chuck of change into making a mold cant be easy. I mean, the guy has one good product but its still only one product! I know that he always have things in his head that he wants to bring to the market but you can understand that this takes a considerable resources. From what he told me he never took one dime out of North Bar line but reinvested everything back into the business. And yes, because his lures are 100% made here is USA they are priced at slight premium over similar lures.

So it came as a shock to me when i heard that his bottle darer was copied to the “T” by someone and sold as Darting Swimmer under Capt’ Bill Custom Tackle brand. From what I understand there were offered for retail sale at RISAA at price that is UNDER his actual production cost! I am not a hypocrite and I am definitely not  a huge “buy  USA’”  guy as i am typing this on the phone made in China while sitting in truck with 90% of parts from Mexico while wearing a underwear made in Bangladesh. (too much info ? lol)

And I understand  that although these lure builders , be that Gibbs, North Bar, SS are not protected by patents, that does not make it ok to make copies out of inferior material abroad and them peddle them to fisherman and stores as their own. I would be furious and i know Tommy loses his shit every time he feels his artwork is being copied. I am ok with anyone coming out with their OWN VERSION of whatever but to copy another’s man work is just wrong. I have not seen these in person and all i can go by is pictures I was sent but  to me it looks like a pure copy (and was told by a third party that resemblance is ridiculously identical)

I  am staying away from these plugs until i can more info and I suggest you do your own due diligence. I can only give you info that I have.I still cant believe that other dude is selling copies of SS needles as if its no big deal, now we got this. The fishing world is losing all sense of ethics


Surf Fishing 101 video Episode # 21 Shads with Crazy Alberto Knie

While we are  waiting for Tommy to finish the new issue # 42 of the Surfcaster’s Journal Magazine,here is Surf Fishing 101 Episode # 21 with Crazy Alberto Knie.

in the March Issue we have three new Surf Fishing 101 videos

Episode 27 Bill Wetzel on needlefish

Episode 28 Bill Jakob on Night Time Plugs for Montauk

Episode 29 Lou Caruso on reel seat for your rods

Savage Gear Long Sleeve Shirts giveaway

We are interrupting your regular scheduled programing to bring you a …….Giveaway, what else?

We have been traveling all over doing shows and we are thrilled to be back and working on our next issue (about a week late)

While we wait for Tommy to get that done…lets have a giveaway

Today giveaway is a Savage Gear USA long shirt with a Striped bass logo

Two winners picked at random, each will receive a long sleeve Striped Bass Shirt from Savage Gear

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ritual de lo habitual by John Papciak

The Midnight Rambler

John Papciak

Ritual de lo habitualimage1

(To surfcasters, at this time of year, that means permits)

I don’t need to look at the calendar. I simply know that about 60 days after the winter solstice, I’m feeling the urge to get my fishing permits. The sun stays up a little longer, and by then Mother Nature usually delivers that first tease with a spring-like day. That’s exactly what happened a couple of weeks ago in Montauk. The afternoon temps nudged up to almost 60, and a little voice in my head told me, ‘it’s time.’

My native Long Island offers some of the best 4×4 access south of Cape Cod. Miles and miles of beautiful soft sand to fry your transmission on. I’m not being sarcastic here at all. Years ago the sand of Long Island, especially Smith Point and East Hampton, proved a little too tough for the transmission of my old Ford Explorer.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I aired down and all of that. But just be be sure, I decided to run a scientific experiment – I put in another transmission (actually my mechanic did), and sure enough, I did it all over again… about two years later.

Ok, I’m lying about the experiment part.

So if the fun part is driving miles of beaches looking for structure and birds, the not so fun part is running all over creation, and digging deep into your wallet to get the required permits before the issuing authorities cut you off.

In my case, those authorities would be the State of New York, the County of Suffolk and the Town of East Hampton. I’ve been known to get a number of other permits over the years, but I’d rather not get into it here and mention any smaller places. No sense in getting accused of spot burning and all of that.

The State permits are the ones you need to listen up on here. The main state 4×4 permit allows you to drive on the beach in a limited number of locations, but it doubles as a night fishing permit. In years past they, they used to sell it until April 31, but now I’m told they promise to stop selling them at the end of March. Remember..  these are FISHING permits, and you can get a fine or have your permit taken away if you are not “fishing.”

That typically means you can’t let your soccer mom wife take your rig to the beach with the kids, armed only with beach chairs. You’ll need fishing equipment, …ahem… but Snoopy rods will do.  I can’t tell you how many soccer moms I’ve dug out over the years. So please fellas, if she is gonna fish, teach her about airing down!

But this year, when I went for my permits at Montauk Downs, dear Ms. Carol (who also works at the lighthouse lot) the thought she had me stumped.

“Ok , now I also need to see your Marine Registry Fishing Permit,” she announced.

I did get a little nervous there for a second, but luckily I had a copy in my Jeep! Not so fast, not this time, Carol.

So I got the NY State Permit… and the Empire Passport… and the Camp Hero Permit.image2

I will admit, it’s a bit silly that I actually need three separate permits to fish/drive/park in the same one square mile of state land at Montauk Point 24/7/365. Luckily I visit enough that I actually think it’s almost worth it. Almost.

The Camp Hero Permit brings back some memories. Used to be that they only issued a limited number of permits, and you had to show up in person at the lighthouse parking lot on April 1 to be assured a Permit… and a key to the locked gate.

How many readers remember sleeping in your truck in the parking lot on the last Saturday of March, and then lining up for permits at 8am?image3

I remember the BBQs in the lighthouse lot the night before… and fishing stories that usually went on way past midnight. To be honest, it was usually a bit rough for me getting up for that Permit, but I remember pounding on the windows of a couple of Surfcasters, telling them they were going to miss their chance if they didn’t get up pronto.   

Once we had permits in hand, we usually went to John’s Pancake in town to tell more stories before scattered to the west.image4

Anyway, I got my permits now, except for the Suffolk Permit. I will get that when they open that office – April 1 I’m told.

And now begins the ‘way too early but what the hell’ false-hope fishing excursions.

These begin as a stroll the tidal creeks in the waders, and always end up making at least a hundred casts. I usually surprise myself and hook, perhaps a herring, or a shad, or maybe even a short bass. Thus continues the ritual.Montauk Dreamin'-Edit-Edit