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Sunday, October 23, 2016
Thursday, October 20, 2016
The days are getting shorter, the weather snottier, and opportunities to get out and fish the salt water are quickly dwindling. Before too long, the
New England winter will be descending, and
I will begin a protracted battle with cabin fever and a longing to head back
south. Occasionally, I may sneak in a trip, but more than likely I'll be holed
up, hoping for an early spring. It's a great time to get in a few books, and I
love a good story centered around the sea. Several years ago I picked up Hatteras Blues: A Story from the Edge of
America by Tom Carlson. It's the story of a place I love, where my own family
connections run back generations. It's
the story of the birth of sportfishing in the Outer Banks, as a local Ernal
Foster decided their might just be something in taking folks out to fish
charters. My Aunt Betts was the first woman to land a marlin fishing out of the
OBX aboard the Albatross with Capt. Ernal in the early 50s. The book chronicles
the history of what was a tiny, isolated village and its people, tied to the
sea, and it's evolution into one of the sport fishing capitals of North
America. Hatteras Blues is
a nautical history of perseverance in the face of war, natural disasters and
changing times, the struggle of a traditional way of life dependent on the seas
against times that seek to bulldoze the past and replace it with McMansions. Tom
Carlson has written a page turner that follows the Foster family through all of
this. I loved this book and it instilled in me a need to get back down to the
OBX and take a trip with Capt. Ernie, now himself in his 70s, to capture a bit
of a bygone era of fishing, which is a whole other story! If you're going to be holed up for a spell
this winter, give Hatteras Blues: A Story
from the Edge of a read. I think you'll enjoy it. America
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Plum Island Swim Baits really do. Let me preface this by saying that I fish a TON of soft plastics in both fresh and salt water. I live less than a mile from Lunker City, who’s Sluggos have been a staple for years. I have literally bins full of soft plastics from dozens of manufactures. Some stuff is great and will always be in my bag or on my boat, others not so much so. So why have I fished Plum Island almost exclusively this season?
I picked up a few packs of Plum Island River Eels 7.5”, Flukushima OGs and Flukishima Mondos this spring after seeing a few online posts about this local company that was making some great soft plastics. With every soft plastic, the balancing act comes between a bait with great action and durability. The stuff with the best action is typically really soft and tears up pretty quickly. Super durable often equals too stiff and a lot less action. Plum Island seems to have hit the nail right on the head. Their baits have great action in the water, feel super soft, and are tough as nails, often holding up to a day of striper fishing or numerous bluefish strikes. Did I mention that they are scent impregnated as well? These things are not your rock hard GULP baits!
It turns out that one of the guys behind Plum Island, Gabe Ravizza, lives ten minutes away from me, and invited me over to check out some of the stuff they’ve been working on. We talked fishing for awhile, and I left with a goody-bag of soft plastics, including a bunch of new designs and color combinations. Among my favorites were some of the albie baits that were absolutely slaughtered the last few weeks. I’m sure you’ll be seeing some more of these next fall. I had the chance to get out on the water with Gabe this past week, and try out even more styles and color combinations on fall run stripers and blues.
The list of shops carrying Plum Island Swim Baits is expanding , though Gabe emphasized their commitment to maintaining the quality of the baits over the growing shop demands for expansion. Want a custom color combination? They can probably do that for you as well. Check out Plum Island Swim Baits. You won’t be disappointed.
Tight Lines, and Remember - BUY LOCAL/BUY AMERICAN
Take a look at the Fishin' Magician's Skid Stik lure as I fish it for stripers in the mouth of the Connecticut River.
Sunday, September 25, 2016
|Jeff with a nice fish on a Hogy Epoxy Jig|
The fall run is now well underway in
waters, from bluefin off Cape Cod to the inshore
craziness as fish tear into the abundant bait in preparation for the runs south
or winter holdovers. Leading off this fantastic fall fishery are the albies and
bonito that arrive along the southern coasts chasing bay anchovies, silverside,
squid and more. Guys up here wait all season for what is typically a pretty
short albie run, hoping to catch these little speedsters on light tackle or the
fly. As soon as the first few reports trickle in, the craziness erupts. If
you're really lucky and can get out after them during the beginning of the run
on a weekday, chances are good of racking up double digit tallies on fish that
are looking to hit just about anything. Such was my buddy's luck on a two dozen
plus day in a kayak. Unfortunately for me, the run usually coincides with my
return to the classroom, relegating me to the role of weekend warrior with most
of the rest of the world. By the end of the first weekend or two, those fish
have been run over by about a thousand boats and seen every type of lure and
fly presentation. They can get pretty damned picky.
The most popular spots are busier than ever as soon as the first pictures start appearing online, something of which we're all guilty. Places like (OK - Spotburn Alert!) Watch Hill, RI might see three to four dozen boats of all sizes intermingled with kayakers all vying for those green speedsters, and anyone who's fished them is familiar with the Run and Gun Club. Fish pop up, and boats come gunning from all directions. Fish go down. Fish pop up a quarter mile away. Repeat the process. Few fish are actually hooked. Tempers flare. Even if you don't want to play, you get sucked in. I arrived at Watch Hill past Saturday with boats stretched from the point to the outer reef. I just wanted to get through and push further east, away from other boats. Dropping down to idle speed I find some open water to pass through. Another boat comes across my bow and I disengage my motor and let him pass. I bump back into gear and as I do so, the albies briefly pop up in front of me and then disappear. I've now got the guy who just cut across cussing me out for putting down the fish. Part of me wanted to tell him to go f&*k himself, while the other part knew he was pretty much an idiot wasting his time and not worth the effort.
|RNA with a fish that fell to an Albie Snax|
As I mentioned in a previous article, my biggest rule for fishing these fish is to STAY AWAY from other boats. If a school starts blitzing 300 yards away and boats are heading in that direction, don't waste your time. Find some open water on the edges, kill your engine and wait. Chances are pretty good the fish will resurface nearby because the bait and the chasing albies will be moving to a place away from all of the surface commotion. Look for the one or two birds circling way away from the gaggle of boats. If you figure it out, you'll never have to chase the albies. If you've got lots of fish and boats but the fish just aren't biting, break away from the pack. In doing so this past weekend, we were able to fish some blitzes completely on our own with fish much more willing to hit our presentations.
So here are my best tips for "chasing" albies:
· Don't chase, observe the patterns and let them come to you.
· Maneuver slowly. Avoid the temptation to gun it forward. Chances are you're just going to put the fish down.
· Kill you motor as you near the blitz, and don't sit around with your motor idling either.
· Stay away from other boats by hanging on the outskirts or striking out on your own.
Gear I like to use:
M/MH inshore spinning rods like the
St. Croix Tidemaster 7'6"
20/30lb. superbraid w/ 15lb. flouro leaders.
Hogy Epoxy Jigs
Plum Island Swimbaits (http://plumislandbaits.com/)
Any flies that mimic bay anchovies, silversides, peanut bunker etc.
As always, Tight Lines,
Monday, September 5, 2016
SO I got a few goods report that the albies were in off the West Wall. Naturally, with Tropical Storm Hermine bearing down, I had to go see for myself. I put the word out that I wanted to go fish in a storm, and my buddy Jim decided to join me on his first surf fishing excursion. I told him that the whole idea was a crap shoot, with 10-13' seas forecast for the Block Island Sound.
We arrived around 8:30 a.m, a few hours before the predicted high tide, and while the surf itself was as predicted, the water beyond was fairly smooth. Winds were maybe pushing 20-25kt. We fished for about 45 minutes with no luck and no visual signs of fish. The day's excitement came as three individuals decided to head in, having to cross the low section that was beginning to wash over. As they tried to run across the wet rocks to avoid waves and to stay dry (incredibly stupid), they were caught unprepared by the first of a large set sweeping the jetty. All three disappeared, with one surfacing 20' off the rocks in the water. As they scrambled and swam back to the rocks, attempting to retrieve gear, they were swept by a second wave and all ended up off the jetty. From our location, all we could do was watch and hope they could swim. They managed to get back to the rocks and across the section, minus all of their rods, coolers, buckets, jackets and more that was drifting out to sea. Jim and I decided that waiting too much longer, risking getting caught with another 1-1/2 hour of incoming, wasn't worth it, so we also headed in. Crossing the section with Korkers and a little common sense was much easier.
We checked out some surfing, the Charlestown breachway, and had lunch at Jim's Dock https://www.facebook.com/Jims-Dock-125058440878262/?fref=ts, before giving it another shot on the outgoing tide. While the surf dropped, the wind picked up to 45-50mph gusts. A few albies were breaking past the fish traps, but the point was still getting buried by large waves. We threw in the towel.
Good fishing or not, I love just experiencing the raw power of the ocean in a big storm. Whether or not this blows in those albies, or sends them shooting right past us, has yet to be seen. Here's hoping for the latter!
First shot - break in the jetties were the three guys would later be swept off.
#2 Surfing off Green Hill
#3 Charlestown beachway
#2 Surfing off Green Hill
#3 Charlestown beachway
Tuesday, August 30, 2016
About the time the late summer doldrums really start hitting home, the “funny fish” begin to arrive to living things back up and usher in the fall season, first with the bonito followed by the false albacore. Not only are bonito and false albacore some of the more exotic looking fish to visit our shores, they’re also some of the most fun to catch, offering frantic adrenaline rushes as you snap cast to a breaking school knowing you have perhaps just a few seconds to hook up to what can be a blistering run. The bonito make some of the best table fare, either as sashimi or perhaps seared steaks, as opposed to the albies, who provide more excitement on the line, but much less so at the dinner table (sharks and other large pelagics aside).
While typically targeted in eastern CT, RI and NY waters around Fishers Island, last seasons saw albies thick in as far west as Milford. Other seasons, they seem to almost completely bypass us. These fish are all chasing the schools of squid, silversides, bay anchovies, peanut bunker and other small baits present in large numbers in late August and September. Surfcasters need to combine knowledge and luck to land these fish, as they can travel at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. Obviously points and jetties provide prime locations, but you can also score from the open beach, particularly when conditions are pushing the small bait in close. From a boat or a yak, things get a bit easier to either set up off points where the fish are likely to pass, or to slow cruise along open stretches of beach with the tide and bait, watching for telltale signs on the surface or working birds. These fish often are mixed in or around smaller blues, but their distinctive green back will give them away on the surface. Don’t be afraid to blind cast though, and don’t just key on birds, as these things move so fast. My biggest rule, however, and one that I believe yields me higher hookup ratios than a lot of other boats, is to stay away from other boats! There simply isn’t much point in hanging around a group of other idling boats, waiting for the fish to show back up, or running and gunning to get to a breaking school in the distance. Places like Watch Hill, RI get absolutely ridiculous during the albie runs. Fish away from the pack.
As to gear, you’d better be rigged and ready. I like fishing both fly (saving for another post) and 7-1/2 foot medium fast spinning rods with 30lb. superbraid and 15-20lb. fluorocarbon leaders. The bonito will often take larger baits, and my favorites are 5-/12” Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows or similar stick baits in flashy colors, mackerel patterns, soft plastics like local Plum Island (http://plumislandbaits.com) and Cobra Baits (http://www.cobrabait.com/) on bullet jigs, Deadly Dicks, etc. For the albies, you will likely need to downsize as they are ripping through clouds of bay anchovies, silversides, peanut bunker and other small profile baits, typically at the top of the water column. I love unweighted Albie Snax (http://longcastplastics.com), Zoom flukes and will be trying Cobra Baits new Bay Anchovy soft plastic. Of course, make sure to include smaller Deadly Dicks, Shimano Waxwings, Hogy Epoxy Jigs and similar type hard lures. My other favorite is spin casting flies or epoxy teasers tied to a a 2” Deadly Dick type body with 2’ of 15lb. fluoro (See below). Albies can be finicky, so don’t hesitate to switch it up. I generally keep a rod ready rigged with each of the above, as there is no time to be messing around with tying on new lures.
If you haven’t been out on the bonito yet, you’d better get going. Meanwhile, let’s cross our fingers and say a prayer to the fish gods that this year produces another strong albie run as well!
P.S. - This was a real short primer. If you have questions or want to know more, shoot me a message.
Telling them apart:
Here’s a good video to check out.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5v9rzJwlJL8
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Fishing Block Island Under the Cover of Darkness - On The Water: Follow these tips for fishing Block Island at night and maybe you’ll land the next record-breaking bass.
Posted by RNA at 11:29 PM
Saturday, July 2, 2016
After a two week hiatus, I was back out fishing the salt in CT. As the wind was picking up a bit, I opted to stick to some of the inshore reefs near the mouth of the CT River. Good news is that the bunker are moving east in large numbers. You could walk from Cornfield to the mouth of the CT River on adult bunker while Harbor One and North Cove were filled with 5-6" juvenile fish. On the flip side, there were not too many fish blowing up through all of this. I only landed a handful of run of the mill fish in the low-mid 30" range. That's not to say that there aren't big fish around. Plenty of fish have filled in from both the South and West, and I know of a couple of 50lb.+ landed last night and today. Water temps were still in the mid-60s. Big blues are still further to the west, but I expect to see more and more hot on the heels of these bunker. Fourth of July Weekend also marks the start of summer for the pleasure boaters and other on the water idiots. If you're bored and looking for some entertainment, check out the local boat launches. I did a slalom run with my trailer to back around two guys who where prepping their boats on the ramp and waiting for about a three trailer width opening to back down. I'll be taking the next two days off, and fishing more weekdays evenings through the summer.
Posted by RNA at 8:50 PM
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Here's a look at some spring live line CT striper fishing. The truth is, most all of the main rivers hold over fish, and as soon as the herring, shad and bunker return, these fish put on the feed bag, providing excellent early season action. There is no mystery to the method. I was simply bump trolling live bunker on 8/0 circle hooks past structure, points, and the edge of flats. As the waters warm, these fish will drop down into the Long Island Sound to join the migratory fish moving in from the Hudson or Chesapeake Bay.
Posted by RNA at 10:47 PM