Sunday, September 25, 2016

Crazy Albie Days and Avoiding the Run and Gun Club.



Jeff with a nice fish on a Hogy Epoxy Jig
The fall run is now well underway in New England 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.
8wt flyrods
Hogy Epoxy Jigs
Deadly Dicks
Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows
Albi Snax
Plum Island Swimbaits (http://plumislandbaits.com/)
Any flies that mimic bay anchovies, silversides, peanut bunker etc.

As always, Tight Lines,
The RedneckAngler


Monday, September 5, 2016

Albies (or not) and Tropical Storm Hermine

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


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Eastern Connecticut’s Fall Funny Fish

Eastern Connecticut’s Fall Funny Fish


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!


Tight Lines,
Redneck Angler


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

Saturday, July 2, 2016

CT/Eastern Long Island Sound


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.

Tight Lines!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Casino Cows - Stripers on the Thames River

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.


Fishin' Blue Cats on the James

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Shady Rays - Cool Shades That Look Great And Won't Break the Bank

Shades are a must whenever I'm on the water, regardless of conditions. I need protection from glare and wind, against sharp objects, and bug impacts at high speeds.

I've gone through dozens of brands from cheap stuff like Booyah's and Calcuttas (Florida - when I left ALL my shades back home) to Maui Jims and Costas. Finding a pair that fits my big mellon, provides wrap coverage and doesn't slip or fog, while meeting the aforementioned criteria is tough. The high end glasses keep going up in price while their customer service goes down. When it comes to shades, I don't have a great track record. I've placed more than one pair on the brim of my hat, only to take my hat off at 30-40mph. I've lost them in the boat, finding them scratched to hell days or weeks later. Sometimes, I just never know what became of them. I came across Shady Rays (https://shadyrays.com
) from a friend online, as they were preparing to launch their X-Series wrap glasses. The $45 price tag and the free replacement program caught my attention. I figured that even as a spare pair or two for the boat, if they were half way decent and with my history, I'd give them a try. I contacted the company, and they sent me the X-Series Emerald and Infrared Polarized glasses out ahead of their end of May release. I've been wearing them for the last two weeks, and I have to say, have been pretty pleased. They provide clear visibility comparable to glasses twice the price, with decent polarization, and that was comparing them to Orvis/Zeiss lenses that cost three times as much (which I scratched by dropping in the Salmon River, NY). The frames wrapped well providing great, non-slip coverage while underway on the boat. Both of the Shady Ray lenses are best suited for bright sunlight. I'd like to see an amber lens for low light, stream fishing. Maybe they'll consider this at some point down the road. I hate to admit it, but I did manage to scratch a pair already (hat thing), and Shady Ray's response was, "if the scratches bother you just let us know and we can send you one of your replacement pairs." So if you want a pair of good glasses that won't break the bank, check out Shady Rays.

Shady Ray's X-Series $45
www.shadyrays.com

https://www.facebook.com/WearShadyRays
• Sport frame with strong grip made for high speeds. Great for running, hiking and climbing, watersports, and other high impact activities.
• Durable matte black wrap-around frame with soft touch finish
• HD Polarized Emerald Green Mirror Lenses for crystal clear visibility without glare - razor thin and shatter-resistant with UV400 protection
• Includes Microfiber Cleansing Pouch
• Free Replacement if Lost or Broken for life (just pay S+H, max 2 per pair purchased)
• Free Standard Shipping
• Completely Free, Easy Returns if not 100% satisfied
• Every order provides 11 meals to those most in need of food in the U.S. through Feeding America

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Rhode Island Requires Anglers to Clip Fin on Harvested Bass - On The Water

Rhode Island Requires Anglers to Clip Fin on Harvested Bass - On The Water: The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that it has enacted new regulations to help prevent the illegal harvest and sale of Atlantic striped bass. Read more →

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Legal vs. Ethical


Johnny "Bucktails" Contello has drawn quite a lot of fire from thousands of viewers on my site and others after posting a video of himself doing it "Johnny Bucktail Style" in which to a vast majority of viewers he appears to be culling fish. 
Contello has gone pretty quiet since yesterday evening, as I don't think his video has brought him the type of response he was hoping for. While a handful of folks have come to his defense, stating that the gills were still moving and the fish were alive, that he had done nothing illegal (questionable), and that you can't prove those fish didn't survive (true), I find it pretty damned hard to argue that his actions are remotely ethical. When I asked 2-3 charter captains that quickly jumped to his defense if this was the way they handled fish on their boats, their silence spoke volumes. This is not a debate about keeping fish or CPR, it's about the ethical handling of fish you will release and intent of regulations prohibiting culling.
When that fish comes over the rail, a brief period of unhooking and quick picks are OK, but it should be released as soon as practically possible. If you've got 4,5, 6 or more fish in a short time span, if you've reached your limit, it should be a matter of unhooking them and sending them right back where they came from. Once you toss them on the deck in a pile, to go back and discard smaller fish is definitely culling. While I'm mostly C&R, I have nothing against the guys in the video keeping fish, and if I've got folks on my boat who want to keep them, I'll encourage keeping smaller fish like those he's discarding. Better eating anyway. If you catch larger fish later on, too bad. Take a nice picture with your arms way extended, the camera right in front of the fish, post it to Facebook and be happy. Those fish may be "alive," but their survival chances are pretty much zilch. They'll be belly up.
For those calling for the full weight of the American justice system to be levied upon Johnny Bucktails, I doubt he'll face any consequences beyond the damage to his reputation. He wanted to be an internet sensation, and now everyone is talking about him. In the end, perhaps the best thing the guy can do is just issue an apology and consider being more of an ethical angler in the future.
Redneckangler