Saltwater Fishing Tips Articles
Most anyone you talk to about fishing for tautog, or blackfish as they are commonly referred to, will tell tales of dropping hooked crabs and sandworms over the side of the gunwale, and moments later playing tug of war with a rod bent under the boat as they try to winch a large blackfish from the rock piles below. Well, what if you don’t have a boat? What if you don’t have access to a boat? No worries. Though it’s tough to find any information on blackfishing from the shore it is an option that you should explore.
The porgy, also referred to as scup, are the saltwater equivalent to the freshwater bluegill. They are relatively small, tasty and when you find one, you will usually find more. There is no better way to introduce the uninitiated to the saltwater world than to introduce them to porgy fishing. They are easy to find and the action can be fast and furious.
Baitcasting reels are a huge asset to your fishing arsenal especially if you’re using lures larger that ¼ oz. – 3/8 oz. But, in the northern reaches of the country most anglers do not grow up using baitcasting reels. One reason may be that northern anglers target trout more so than southern anglers and most trout applications require the use of very light line which baitcast reels do not handle very well. Many are wary of using a baitcasting reel due to its tendency to backlash or create a “birds nest” when casting. This is something that can be easily overcome with proper instruction and a little backyard practice casting.
Every spring, my wife and I sort through the freezer for our annual “freezer cleaning” ritual. This usually involves my wife pulling out zip lock freezer bags and asking me to try to identify the contents. Most of these packages are so full of ice crystals that making more than an educated guess at what the bag holds is a near impossibility. If it can’t be identified it makes its way into the household garbage. If it is freezer burnt it finds a new home in that same container. After a couple of years of going through this ritual and tossing away what I knew to once be succulent blackfish and fluke fillets, now inedible due to excessive freezer burning.
So, being outdoors is about roughing it; getting your hands dirty, taking one on the chin, dealing with whatever cards Mother Nature deals you….Right? Well, not necessarily in my book! Let’s face it. You can go out there for an 8 hour adventure, ill prepared, and get the job done. But how much fun are you really having if you’re cold, wet and miserable? How well can you concentrate on your fishing when that cold trickle of water is seeping in under your collar and slowly running down your back? Well, if you’re prepared for changing weather conditions then you’re dressed to succeed and dressed for comfort.
Now that we have the basics learned in the first article let’s get down to business. What you will learn in this article represents one author’s methods and opinions. They are built on traditional methods with modern improvements and they are proven to produce fish into the double digits. As you pursue blackfish you will develop your own preferred methods and rigs for putting fish in the boat.
Also known as bunker or porgy, the menhaden is hands down the best bait going when it comes to striped bass. Back in the day, bunker made up roughly 80% of the stripers diet. Bunker is a fatty, oily, high calorie bait that is an easy target for stripers. These days there is a large commercial fishery for the bunker. The oils in the bunker are used in everything from medicines to margarine to pet food. Next time you are in the grocery store with your wife, look at how many labels contain Omega-3 oils. The number of products that use bunker oil is staggering. The commercial fleets are incredibly efficient at wiping out entire schools of bunker in a single pass with their net. Some of the larger companies use spotter planes to locate the schools and radio the coordinates to the big boats. They swoop in using a technique called purse seining where a ship pays out a large net that encircles the entire school. As important a bait source as they are, they play an even bigger ecological role. Bunker are filter feeders meaning that they feed by straining suspended matter and food particles from water. Bunker swim in massive schools that can number in the millions.
Many people refer to them as scup. They are a very hardy bait that is easily caught. One of the advantages to using them as bait over some of the other choices is that they are easy to keep alive in a very basic live well. They don’t require as much water exchange as shad do and don’t seem to care what shape the tank is. Porgy begin to show up on the reefs and mussel beds in May. By June, they can be found at all depths on just about any kind of structure. Porgy and bass go hand in hand; they can both be caught on the same rock pile. In fact, a few years ago, I had my wife on board and she was having a ball catching one porgy after another. I would take one off her hook and put it right back on mine and drop it back down on the other side of the boat and hook up almost immediately.
Here in southern New England we are blessed with a variety of striper baits to pick from when targeting striped bass. One of the most excititng fish to catch is the hickory shad or “Poor Man’s Tarpon”. Many anglers specifically target these fish because of their great fight on light gear. A light action rod spooled with four pound test, a handful of shad darts, willow leafs or small jigs and you can spend hours catching them. Hickory shad will average eighteen to twenty two inches and will commonly run in the two to three pound range. The largest I’ve seen in my boat was a monster that measured twenty eight inches long, we estimated the fish to be close to seven pounds. Check your local fishing regulations. The surrounding states in our area all have their own rules regarding creel limits.
Choosing the correct fishing rod to buy seems like it should be an easy task. It can be if you’re buying a starter rod and reel combo. But, if you have reached a level in your fishing skills where you need different rods for different fishing applications, it can become tricky. One way to get yourself totally overwhelmed is to walk into a fishing retailer and try to select one rod to out of their vast inventory.