Saltwater Fish Species Guide
American Shad can be found in various parts of the United States. It is a larger sized fish and is prized for its white meat. The roe of the American Shad is also considered good for some types of caviar. The American Shad is often confused with the Hickory Shad, that is a member of the same family but is found mostly in Southern regions. The scientific name for the American Shad is Alosa Sapidissima although it is usually called Connecticut River Shad, Potomac Shad or White Shad.
Striped bass, scientifically named Morone saxatilis and nicknamed the rockfish, are school moving fish. They migrate in packs for their whole lives. The first two years of their lives are spent in small packs, but they migrate in larger school groups during adulthood. Striped bass normally live in the east coast of North America, ranging from Canada all the way down to Florida. They were introduced to the Pacific coast in the late 19th century, so they can now be found from Washington down to California. They like to live inshore along reefs and other areas that create constant movement. They are anadromous and migratory, never staying in one place for too long.
The Tautog (Tautoga Onitis), more commonly known as a Blackfish, belongs to a group of fish called Wrasse. The Wrasse family is one of the largest families of fish with over 450 known species. This family covers a range of fish from tiny to large. The Tautog is one of the smaller members of this family, weighing in at an average of only one to three pounds, and reaching a maximum length of about three feet.
The Pacific Cod (Gadus Macrocephalus), also known by fishermen as the gray cod, is known to live along the Western coastlines of North America. The fish are known to travel as far north as Alaska and as far south as Santa Monica in California. They can be found from the Bering Strait all the way to the Yellow Sea, and have been seen as far east as Asia. However, this species of fish is mostly found between Oregon and Alaska despite its expansive range.
Summer Flounder, also known as a Fluke, are known for having a large mouth that extends past the eyes. The scientific name is Paralichthys dentatus, and they are members of the flatfish family. This means that both eyes are located on one side of the body. They lay on the ocean floor, keeping both eyes up to avoid predation, as well as hunt. These fish have the ability to change skin color and blend into the ocean floor, hiding their whereabouts from unsuspecting prey. As a small fish passes over their motionless bodies, the Summer Flounder can ambush its prey.
Tarpon, scientifically known as Megalops Atlantics, are nicknamed “The Silver King”. Tarpon prefer warmer waters, and can be found mostly in the tropical areas of the Atlantic Ocean, although some migrate inland and live in fresh or brackish water. They have been seen as far north as Nova Scotia and as far south as Brazil.
Hickory Shad, or Alosa Mediocre, are known for packing a big fight in their small bodies. They aren’t much of a commercial fish, and people do desire them for food. But, it’s because of the fight that the Hickory Shad has quickly become a highly desired recreational fish. This desire has only happened in recent years, but it was enough to get the fish into sport fishing magazines across the nation.
Black Sea Bass, also known as Rock Bass, can be found in the western waters of the Northern Atlantic Ocean. They range along the eastern coast of North America, from Massachusetts south to the Gulf of Mexico. Though they span along a wide area, most black sea bass are found between New York and South Carolina. They usually stay in shoreline waters, but they have been found in waters over 400 feet in depth.
King Mackerel, or Scomberomorus Cavalla, are a popular sport and commercial fish. They share a long tapered body associated with all mackerels. They are dark gray on top with white underbellies. In the first stages of their lives, King Mackerel look similar to their cousins the Spanish mackerel. They have similar spotted markings, but kingfish lose the spots as they mature. Adult mackerel differ in the number of spines they have in their first dorsal fin, with King Mackerels having less than the Spanish.
Weakfish, also known as a Gray Trout, are indigenous to eastern North America. They lurk in the depths of the choppy coastal waters of the Atlantic Ocean. These fish range from the edge of Florida north to Massachusetts. There are records, however, of them migrating as far as Nova Scotia. In the winter, weakfish are usually found along the eastern coast of North America between North Carolina to Florida, while in the summer they stay along the shoreline between Delaware and New York. They move seasonally based on the temperature of the water and the availability of food.
The Atlantic Salmon (Salmo Salar), also known as Kennebec Salmon, Sebago Salmon, or Black Salmon, is one of the most widely known species of fish. It is mainly found in the Northern Atlantic, and ranges from southern Greenland to Iceland, and from the Connecticut River to Quebec. The Atlantic Salmon can also be found ranging from the Arctic Circle to parts of Portugal. There are some populations that are considered to be strictly freshwater fish, but most migrate from the sea to freshwater for spawning purposes, and can spawn multiple times before they die.
The Atlantic Spanish Mackerel, more commonly known simply as the Spanish Mackerel, lives primarily in the western Atlantic Ocean. It can be found in large areas of water, including oceanic areas from Massachusetts all the way down to warm tropical waters near the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. Spanish Mackerel are migratory fish, moving from place to place at all times. This means that this species of fish maintains a seasonal structure. Everything from where it breeds, where it searches for food, where it needs to be for warmth, and where the best chances for survival are, all effects its migrational movement. It can be found migrating during spring around the Gulf of Mexico, and later in the fall, it returns to the warm waters around Florida.
The Bigeye Tuna, scientifically known as Thunnus Obesus, is a well known and extremely desired big game fish. They live throughout the tropics, and can be found almost anywhere the water is warm. They have been known to make migrations of extreme lengths in distance, will travel throughout the Atlantic, Pacific and the Indian Oceans.
The Pacific Halibut, scientifically known as Hippoglossus Stenolepis, closely resembles the Atlantic Halibut, and is known as the largest flatfish in the Pacific Ocean. It is also known as the northern halibut, right halibut, and alabato. Its body color usually ranges from dark brown or grayish brown with occasional light spots. Being a flatfish, the Pacific Halibut has both eyes on the upward facing side of the body. The bottom side has no eyes, and is light in color.
Red Snapper, or Lutjanus Campechanus, are prized fish, and in recent years have become closely protected in US waters. They are considered to be the most valuable snapper in their area, found in regions along the Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic. They are seen as far north as Massachusetts, but most rarely travel north of the Carolinas. Northern Red Snapper are not found in the Caribbean like their southern brothers are. The younger members of the species are usually found in shallow waters in and around mud floors. The adults are found in deeper water, where they surround themselves in shipwrecks and rough, rocky terrain.
The swordfish, scientifically known as Xiphias Gladius, and nicknamed “broadbill,” is one of the most recognizable and desired fish in the water. Known and named for the sword on the front of their face, the elongated bill combined with their sleek bodies, allow the Swordfish to glide straight through the water. The sword isn’t actually used to stab like manmade ones, rather they use their long noses to slash at and debilitate their prey, making it easier to catch.
The Pollock, a member of the cod family, is scientifically known as Pollachius Virens. It’s distinguished by several features that set it apart from the rest of the cod family. Possessing a lower jaw that projects beyond the upper jaw, the pollock also has a forked tail that differs from the straight ones on the rest of the species. The lateral line that runs along the sides of their body is straight, unlike the curved lines on other cod. Their bodies are greenish brown or olive green, varying along the top, with yellowish green and gray flanks. They are often called green cod or coalfish because of their coloration.
The Bonefish, scientific name Albula Vulpes, is one of the most popular sport fish in the world. They aren’t much for eating because their bodies are full of hundreds of tiny bones as indicated by their name. They are often called silver ghosts or phantoms because of their silvery skin color.
Black Marlin, usually confused with the Blue Marlin because of their similarities in appearance, are members of the billfish family because of the long bills on the front of their faces. They have long, slender bodies with prominent pectoral fins. These fins don’t fold against their bodies like most pectoral fins, so they remain erect at all times. Some Black Marlin are dark blue in color, while others have black upper bodies, but all Black Marlin have a silver/white color on their bellies. They have a distinct face with very small teeth and upper jaws that flow out into a beak or spear-looking nose.
The Black Grouper (Mycteroperca Bonaci), nicknamed the marbled rockfish, is part of a large group known as the “perciform fish“. They can change skin color slightly, but most of the time has a rectangular pattern across their bodies consisting of dark grey blotches. Their fins fade from the dark grey blotches to dark black. They have anal, dorsal and caudal fins, all of which follow the same color pattern. The top and bottom of the fish are also darker than the center, fading similarly to the fins.
As springtime arrives in the northeast, the landscape begins to come alive. Trees blossom, flowers bloom and the striped bass return to tidal river systems by the hordes. Warming water temps draw them in for a few reasons depending on the river system. In some rivers they return to spawn. In others, they are simply there to gorge themselves on the buffet of herring, shad and other river species that are so abundant at this time of year.
When I was nine years old, I discovered fishing and pursued it relentlessly. My uncle took me fishing and taught me all kinds if things about chasing trout and bass in freshwater. Then, the summer I turned twelve, he bought a 17’ center console and took me fishing on the saltwater for the first time.
After a long, hot summer, anglers in the northeast welcome the cooling temperatures of the fall. The weather becomes more comfortable and the cooling water temps bring bait and game fish closer to the shorelines. And with these seasonal changes also arrives the false albacore.
The Albright knot is a great solution for tying together two filament lines that are of a different thickness. The thinner line usually slides through the thicker one, so the Albright knot ensures that they remain attached together. It can be used for a variety of different fishing needs, but it is most commonly used to attach a fly reel backing line to a fly line. Other uses of the Albright knot include attaching filament to braided lines. It is easy to assemble, and almost anyone can make an Albright knot after a little practice.
The Blood knot is used to link two lines of the same diameter together. It is often used to make the line on the reel of a fishing rod longer or possibly to add a leader to a line. It is only usable when the two lines are the same size though. If the lines have two different diameters, you should choose the Albright knot as the clinch of the knot is designed so that the smaller line doesn’t slide out of the larger line. The Blood knot is pretty simple to construct, and almost anybody can do it.
Based on the name alone, it’s easy to see what the Arbor Knot is used for. It’s most practical use is to attach a line or line backing to the spool, or arbor. It’s one of the most basic knots for an angler to learn and not very difficult to learn.
The Double Uni Knot is just a modification of the Single Uni Knot, and a common knot used by most anglers. It is best used when tying two lines of similar or the same diameter, but can also be used for matching two different size lines. The resulting performance may be diminished, so choosing an Albright Knot in that instance may be a better decision. The Double Uni Knot is most commonly used to tie the main line to a leader, or for tying backing to a main line. Most people consider it easier to use than a Blood Knot, and it’s much more versatile.
The Nail Knot is commonly used to secure two lines of different diameters. It is closely related to the Albright Knot, although a little more difficult to construct. It works great for attaching a leader to a fly line, and it is actually preferred over the Albright Knot because of its smooth finish once complete. It is slightly difficult to learn because of the addition of a straw or a small tube to the knot tying process, but it’s nothing that can’t be mastered with a little practice. In the end, the Nail Knot’s performance makes it well worth the effort, and can be used in a variety of different situations.
The Dropper Knot creates an inline loop that can be used to attach leaders, hooks, bait rigs and sinkers. Bottom fishermen choose it because it can be used to attach a lure or rubber worm right above a jig. It’s also great to add several hooks on the same line. A well made Dropper Knot can be quite helpful when you need to add a little something extra to your rig.
The Palomar Knot is used to join line to a hook, swivel or lure. It is often the knot of choice when using the new braid style lines, and the International Game Fish Association regards it as the strongest fishing knot known. It’s very popular among fishermen and is easy to master. It’s also a knot that you can tie in the darkness of night with a little practice. Tying the knot only takes a few steps. With a few minutes of practice, and you should be able to master it.
The Rapala Knot was developed by the Rapala Company, and was intended to be used with Rapala lures. This knot doesn’t impede the lure’s action, and allows it to run true and look more realistic during the retrieve. Using other knots to attach lures may restrict the action and decrease its effectiveness. Although it was originally designed to be used with Rapala lures, it is versatile enough to be used for other types of hooks or lures, as well. It can be used to attach monofilament and fluorocarbon leaders.
The Snell Knot is considered a hitch knot and is primarily used to attach a line to a hook. It attaches itself to the hook by wrapping itself around it, resulting in a strong knot which can be done in seconds. It is one of the older knots that was developed in Great Britain many years ago. It was developed to solve the problem of most hooks not having eyes. Even though hooks nowadays have eyes, the Snell Knot is still useful today, mainly because of its 100% hook strength and reliability.
The Clinch Knot is one of the common knots used by anglers to secure a hook, lure or swivel to fishing line. It is one of the basic knots an angler should know when first starting out. The “improved” Clinch Knot is named for the extra step that it has at the end of the tying process. This extra step drastically improves the strength of the Clinch Knot, and is simple to do. An Improved Clinch Knot is easy to tie, but it is not recommended to use with braided line or anything over a 30 pound test.
Saltwater Fishing Tips
Sandworms and Bloodworms are the ubiquitous bait for a multitude of ocean gamefish. The following refers to harvested worms and not farmed worms. Sandworms “Nereis Succinea” are reddish brown marine worms that can exceed 10” in length when mature. They are free swimming scavengers which feed on algae and other smaller worms. They live in the estuary areas and are harvested in Maine. Sandworms are now farmed and are available at a premium price for those willing to pay the extra money. The consistency in size seems to be better and the shelf life the same.
Many anglers new to our sport (and some not-so-new) have a challenge finding fish, or just knowing if they are working a fishy spot. Angling from a boat rigged with an electronic fish finder, depth, temperature, and GPS coordinates does give the inshore saltwater angler a distinct advantage. Such is the ability to easily move out of unproductive areas, the ability to mark fish beneath the surface and to log in the water temperature, the depth, and even log a global position for later use.
What is a leader? Why should I use a leader? When should I use a leader? Well, the world of sport fishing is vast and we won’t be able to address every fishing scenario. But, let’s start will some basic salt and freshwater situations to get started. The information you gleam from this article should help you in understanding the concepts and how to apply them in other settings.
Topwater action is probably the most exciting method of fishing with artificial lures. Sure, you’ve thrown the poppers and the chuggers but have you have taken the dog for a walk? Here is a lure that catches nearly any fish that feeds on the water’s surface. Whether its largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, pike, musky, bluefish, striper or schooling tuna, this system works and provides some of the most eye-popping strikes you will ever see.
Conventional and baitcasting reel repairs and maintenance are generally best left to the professionals. An assortment of necessary tools, oil, reel grease and some mechanical know-how are required to be successful in completing the needed maintenance. But, there may be times when you just can’t wait for someone else to fix your reel. You may find yourself in a far away location (like on a Fly-in Canadian fishing trip) and you just have to get that reel working again right away. The following information will give you some guidance and some confidence in cracking open that pesky reel and getting her back into fish catching condition. This information will also aid the beginner in learning the ins and outs of spinning reel repair. Most conventional reels work on the same basic gear drive design. There may be some parts variations on some reel models that are not mentioned in these procedures. But, they mostly all work in the same general fashion.
Many inshore saltwater anglers ask us, “Should I buy a filler spool of line and put it on the reel at home, or have you guys do it in the shop from your bulk spool?”
The answer for us is always to have the reel spooled in the shop, and here is why. With professional spooling on a line winding machine, with professional, competent staff at the controls, you will get exactly the right amount of line for the reel, zero line twist, and the proper tension applied.
Surf fishing is most often perceived as casting large sinkers paired with various types of live and dead baits with the aid of a stout spinning rod exceeding 10 feet in length. A large spinning reel spooled with hundreds of yards of 20 – 30 pound test monofilament line has historically been the norm. And, of course, with this comes the fatigue brought on by hours of casting this rig into the rolling waves. It is often necessary to use outfits of these specifications to get baits into proper placement when the surf is high, rolling and crashing against the beach. But in many surf situations this just ends up being overkill and the angler winds up exerting much more energy than is needed. With recent advances in fishing technology, the surf angler can put together rod and reel combos that are lighter, shorter and easier to cast than the traditional surf sticks that tend to be so unwieldy.
The waves are crashing into the beach. The smell of salt is in the air. You can walk for miles along the sandy shores. What an environment to surround yourself in. And, you could be pulling some fish from those frothy waves. But, where do you start? What makes a good fishing beach? What kind of tackle do you need? Is this going to cost me an arm and a leg to get started?
These are all valid questions so let’s get to answering them!
Spinning reel repairs and maintenance are generally best left to the professionals. An assortment of necessary tools, oil, reel grease and some mechanical know-how are required to be successful in completing the needed maintenance. But, there may be times when you just can’t wait for someone else to fix your reel. You may find yourself in a far away location (like on a Fly-in Canadian fishing trip) and you just have to get that reel working again right away. The following information will give you some guidance and confidence in cracking open that pesky reel and getting her back into fish-catching condition. This information will also aid the beginner in learning the ins and outs of spinning reel repair. Most spinning reels work on the same basic gear drive design. There may be some parts variations on some reel models that are not mentioned in these procedures. But, they mostly all work in the same general fashion.
Fluke. The summer flounder. The toothy cousin of the northeast’s smaller winter flounder. A flatfish with a real attitude. They lie flat against the ocean floor, camouflaging themselves in the sand and they ambush their prey with lightning fast reflexes. Few fish on the east coast are as sought after for their delicate white fillets and their fighting ability as the summer flounder.
During the winter months in the Northeast, there are not a lot of opportunities for catching saltwater fish. Most anglers either wait out the cold season in the warmth of their homes or some others may venture inland to ice fish on the frozen lakes and ponds in pursuit of sweet water species. Tidal rivers begin to see an influx of schoolie sized striped bass as March rolls through. As March gives way to April the winter flounder, or fluke, returns to the coastline to spawn.
After many years of relentlessly chasing the summer flounder, I have come to accept my status as a certifiable “flounder pounder”. Fluke are one of the few species I catch that I keep for the table which is one small reason for my interest. Additionally, they are a summertime species that can readily be caught during the daytime in bright sunny conditions.
The beaches and shorelines of the northeast are what you would call rocky terrain. Much of the New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts coastlines are covered in boulders, rocks and gravel which creates fantastic habitat for the predator fish and their table fare. While fishing the immediate beaches and their associated rock piles, another man-made rock structure must never be overlooked by the angler.
Blackfish, also known as Tautog, are one of tastiest and hardest fighting fish found in the North East. They are relatively easy to catch but also provide the angler with a battle that will put their skills and tackle to the test. From boat, jetty or shoreline blackfish are readily available throughout the reefs and rock piles from Massachusetts to New Jersey.
Sounds like a big undertaking, huh? Not really. A lot of information has been published about saltwater fly fishing and its accessories that it is often times quite overwhelming to someone who has never picked up a fly rod. Like any type of fishing, fly fishing can be as simple or as complex as one would like to make it. But, to get yourself started you do not need excessive amounts of knowledge or equipment. Nor, do you need to spend your life savings on the equipment that will put fish in your boat. Let’s run down through the necessary equipment that will get you started.
Big stripers are caught every year up and down the East Coast on all kinds of tackle using all kinds of methods. However, if you want to maximize your chances for a striped bass over 40 inches, then live bait on a 3-way rig is the way to go. The most popular baits in the New England area are eels, hickory shad, scup and everyone’s favorite the menhaden AKA porgy or bunker. Live baits work well 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’ll start fishing in earnest for stripers in May and continue till ice becomes a problem on the deck of the boat in late November. Day or night, it doesn’t matter. I’ve taken bass over 60 pounds at night and I’ve taken bass that big during broad daylight.
Stripers are all about structure. Find the structure and you will find the bass. Boulder piles, wrecks and reefs are all magnets for these fish. I fish several well known reefs on the Connecticut side of Long Island Sound. A reef is nothing but a hill underwater. The relative height of the top of the reef doesn’t matter at all. I fish some areas that come up to as little as 10 feet of water and other days I can be in over 80 feet of water. Generally speaking, the steeper the hill the better. Reefs are the perfect ambush point and act as funnels, concentrating all the bait scattered across the entire water column and squeezing it into much skinnier water as it flows over the crest. As the tide flows up the hill, it carries bait to stripers that have taken up feeding stations near the crest of the peak. The crest of a reef can be 20 or 120 feet deep, it’s not the depth that matters as much as funnel it offers. The rip line marks the approximate crest of any reef.
Eels are the quintessential striper bait. Recently there has been a lot of talk about imposing strict limits on possession of eels and possibly putting them on the endangered species list. There has been a dramatic decrease in the American eel population over the last few years and there are fingers being pointed in all directions. I tend to believe that it is a combination of things occurring. The American eel is born in the Sargasso Sea and makes its way back up the rivers and streams all up and down the East Coast. The eel takes nearly 15 years to mature sexually and to return to the Sargasso to spawn. Many people feel that over the last 15 to 20 years the increase in the numbers of hydro electric dams has taken a huge toll. Others feel it has more to do with the sale of glass eels in fish markets over seas. Studies are being done on just what is happening and for now the ASMFC has decided not to recommend any changes in the laws regarding eels until more information is gathered, so it appears that we are safe for the next few years anyways.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 waves are crashing into the beach. The smell of salt is in the air. You can walk for miles along the sandy shores. What an environment to surround yourself in. And, you could be pulling some fish from those frothy waves. But, where do you start? What makes a good fishing beach? What kind of tackle do you need? Is this going to cost me an arm and a leg to get started? These are all valid questions so let’s get to answering them!
The slider rig (A.K.A. “fish finder”) is an effective way to fish inshore saltwater from shore with a variety of ocean baits that puts you closer in touch with the strike. Old-style 3 way rig fishing from shore has been replaced by those in the know with the slider rig. The original 3 way at best uses a 3 way swivel at the terminal end of the line. The 3 way swivel has three rings to tie into. To one ring of the three way the line is tied.
In the world of saltwater fishing, there is a time and a place for artificial lures. At times, there is no better choice than a top water plug splashing across the surface or a 16 oz. diamond jig being dropped quickly to the bottom to intercept a school of bluefish. And, at other times, there is no better choice than fresh live bait plucked right from the ocean.
In the spring of 2007, I was fishing the mouth of a tidal river in the northeast for striped bass. It had been a great season, catching stripers up to 25 pounds in shallow water on artificial lures. On this particular day though, it was like someone had flipped a switch and the fish seemed scarce, if not non-existent.
There are periods of time throughout the northeastern summers where in-shore fishing isn’t as productive as it was earlier in the season. As the shallower waters warm the oxygen levels often become depleted forcing game fish and bait fish in search of deeper, cooler waters. Instead of flogging the same old waters to find few fish, head to where the fish have gone, the deeper reefs.
If you live in the wintery, snow stricken corners of the United States, you probably spend your winters like many house bound anglers do; thumbing through fishing magazines, watching fishing shows and waiting for the first robins to appear in the back yard. If you still have a few bucks in your bank account after the holidays maybe you’re planning a week long getaway to catch a few bonefish in the Bahamas, just to relieve the itch. If not, a good way to spend those winter evenings is getting your tackle ready for springtime on your home waters.
Once Memorial Day arrives in the Northeast, the boating season unofficially begins. Boats have been taken out of storage and readied for the summer and brought to the boat launch for the first foray of the season. The line of trucks and trailers leading to the ramp seems endless and tensions are running high. Everyone starts to lose patience while waiting for the guy at the front of the line who is still unbuckling straps, hanging fenders and rummaging through his boat looking for his dock lines. Let’s talk about how not to be that guy that everyone is cursing at the boat ramp.
When it comes to fishing, every day on the water is a learning experience. And, as an angler continues to fish, they become more educated on their techniques and approaches as well as the fish they are after. The same is true for proper catch and release practices and we have learned over many years that some of our fish handling skills need some updating.
Crankbaits have long been regarded as a lure that no angler can do without, when it comes to freshwater bass fishing. But, little is ever mentioned of the use of crankbaits in the saltwater arena. There are a number of lipless crankbait designs used for trolling and casting in saltwater but it seems there are few of the lipped variety being used except by a few that are wise to the cranking technique. In recent years, many lure manufacturers have been addressing this with the creation of a whole new generation of saltwater crankbaits.
It was just before noon on a hot August day, as we departed New Jersey’s Manasquan Inlet. The sleek thirty-two-foot Blackfin, “Notorious,” plied through the waves effortlessly. Her twin Caterpillar 3208’s rumbled through the ship’s black hull as they propelled us toward the numbers Captain Dave Rieman had entered into his GPS unit. Our destination, The Hudson Canyon.
The Daiwa Black Gold (BG) series is a longtime contender in the world of tested and true saltwater fishing reels. This reel has remained virtually unchanged for many, many years and there is surely a reason for that. These reels have claimed everything from 2 lb. trout to sailfish and marlin.
The Shimano Stradic fishing reel has recently gone through some very big changes. No longer does it bear the tell-tale white paint job that has made these reels so popular throughout the years. Say, “So Long!” to the wooden dowel reel handle knob that has made the series so recognizable. But, change is always imminent and we just hope that the new design lives up to its predecessors.
Okuma has come a long way over the years in developing new reel designs at very reasonable price points. Here we have the Okuma Salina Series. For our field testing purposes we chose the SA45 which is a perfect size for inshore and near shore fishing. The Salina is built with saltwater exposure in mind as well as showing off some of Okuma’s revolutionary spinning reel features.
Penn fishing reels have always been built with longevity in mind. The Slammer series is another one of those reels created upon that same philosophy. Continuing with tradition, the Slammer is dressed in the same black and gold uniform that make Penn reels so recognizable.
Here is another of Penn’s best selling reels, the Spinfisher SSM series. The SSM is built in all larger sizes, geared towards saltwater fishing with the smallest size being the 650SSM. The series features full metal bodies and side plates for perfect gear alignment and top notch corrosion resistance.
The Daiwa Tierra is a small profile spinning reel built for both freshwater and saltwater applications. The sizes range from a 1500 to a 4000 model, so they are somewhat restricted to inshore species in the saltwater realm. One of the few blue bodied spinning reels on the market, the Tierra is a handsome little reel with a rugged appearance. It has gained some recent popularity in both the bass tournament world and the redfish tournament arena.
Daiwa has been a forerunner in the market when it comes to line counter reels. Line counters are essential tools when dialing in and reproducing a trolling bite. Accurate presentations while trolling will make the difference between just a day on the water and a day of fish catching memories.
With a recent redesign in aesthetics, Okuma introduces the Epixor-B Series. Building off of a tried and true 10 ball bearing drive system, the Epixor-B brings the angler the same great value oriented price point that fishermen have come to expect from Okuma while delivering a great looking reel that has been pleasing the public for many years. Okuma has come a long way in recent years, gaining a reputation for great products at fair prices.
The Daiwa Emblem Pro is a large capacity reel that is designed for long distance casting like you’d find in the surf casting environment. This is a fairly large spinning reel that is available in two sizes. These reels feature a large, tapered spool for maximum casting ability and high line capacity. They also come equipped with a no-fail, manual bail system to eliminate accidental bail closings.
The Daiwa Luna series is Daiwa’s highly refined and traditionally designed round baitcasting reel that is built for both freshwater and saltwater use. The Luna was introduced a few years back to replace the older Millionaire series, a reel that had already earned a reputation for solid performance. The Luna puts Daiwa in direct competition with the Shimano Calcutta round baitcasting series of reels, being positioned in a similar price range.
The Penn Levelwind series is another Penn work horse. These reels are built to perform like all Penn conventional reels and have been available for years with few design changes made during that time. The levelwind feature relieves the angler of the task of leveling the line across the spool with their thumb during line retrieval. These reels are available in three different sizes, the 9M, 209M and the 309M. The 209 is also available with a Line Counter or a left hand retrieve option. Known for their durability, reliability and affordable price tag, these reels are often seen used on party boats and charter boats. These reels are used not only in the salt but are also popular for salmon and trout trolling on the Great Lakes. Even big river cat fishermen have been known to use the Levelwind series to land big blue and flathead cats on the river banks.
As I was motoring up towards a rip line on top of a reef in Long Island Sound, I noticed dozens of gulls and terns swirling and diving into the choppy water. Baitfish were scattering across the surface like raindrops. Suddenly, the surface of the water erupted as striped bass began to smash the bait sending water flying everywhere.
Fishing sure was a lot simpler when I was a kid. I had a rod, a reel, a two tray tackle box with some hooks and sinkers…and my dog. Oh yeah, my reel usually had a less than full spool of monofilament line on it. And I caught some nice fish, too. Now, I have around thirty rods and reels, all spooled with various types of fishing line. And, every one of those lines, just like the rods and reels that they’re spooled on, all serve a particular purpose.
Choosing a fillet knife is relatively simple if you are always cleaning the same size fish. Things get trickier when you’re looking for one knife to cover a number of different tasks. The answer is no one knife will do it all. If you’re cleaning a variety of different sized fish then it pays to have multiple knives.
There are a multitude of hook styles to choose from in the fishing retail world. The common “J” style hook is still the most popular hook on the market but the circle hook has dramatically gained great attention in the last ten years. Anglers have discovered that, when used properly, circle hooks greatly increase fish survival when caught and released.
In the world of fishing lures, there are a number of baits out there that were realized many years ago and are still being used today. Some of these lures have remained unchanged in design throughout their history and some others have gone through countless changes. And some lure designs simply fell to the wayside by way of lack of advertising, lack of effectiveness or lack of proper lure development. The swimbait is one of those designs that have, in the past, been subjected to all of the pitfalls described above. That is, until recently.
Finding the correct fishing rod and reel begins with understanding the following: What type of fishing you enjoy (Surf Fishing, Trolling, Bottom Fishing, or Casting), What type of fish your are chasing, and the types of equipment involved. Below you will find a series of articles to help you with this decision and shed some light on technology designed to help you make your time on the water more enjoyable.
Well, we gave it a good five minutes but this fish just was too tired to make it. So we're going to harvest it. There's no shame in that. I like keeping my fill of striper. I smoke a lot of it. I bake a lot of it. This one will eat good.
Blaine: Alright, we just pulled up to one of my favorite rock piles here. We're losing the tide. So we've got right up on top of these boulders. We're kind of flat out here surrounded by big rocks and the stripers are hiding right in around the structure here. And the way we present the bait to them, right now we're in 26 to 30 feet of water. We have a rig that's called a three way.
Well, so far, we're 0 for 2. We had one on the live line, one on the three way, dropped them both. The tide's starting to slack. I'm going to turn around and get back up on this pile and take advantage of what we've got left here. I guarantee we're going to get one. So let's do it.
Blaine: Tight up the drag, a little bit here. There we go. Now, last time we were talking about the two speed here. Right now I'm in high gear and this fish is really taking some line. When I get him stopped, I can switch into low gear here and just literally crank this fish in, give him a much better chance of survival here.
Good morning. This morning we're going to talk about a little gill netting, something I've learned in my 25 years from the school of hard knocks unfortunately of netting and current.
Let's touch base a little bit on the rigs we're using today. What we got here is our main line. I got over 300 years of 80 pound PowerPro. No stretch. Extremely strong line. Diameter probably 20 pound mono.
It's all sand bottom so all we're doing is letting the weight drag right on the bottom. We don't have to worry about any hangups or nothing. It's just all beautiful sand. The fish, they all gather here this time of year. The bait's coming out of the river and there's a lot of, uh, influence between the salt water mixing with the outgoing fresh water here. It creates a lot of disturbance in the water. It brings the bait fish and the bass in every year and it's a great fishery.
Well, we're at the end of our day here. We decided to keep one fish for the grill, a lot of people asking for it so. We gotta filet him up here. We got our Timberline Montauk series filet knifes here. These are great knifes. I like them for a couple reasons. It is a very flexible blade and it's long. A lot of knives I've been using in the past are too short.
When I purchased this boat, it had an old, original square live well in the back of the boat. I guess it worked okay in it's day. But nowadays we have these great new tanks that are out. The old ones are square. The bunker get in the corner of these tanks; the water doesn't move very well on them.
When I'm running live bait, there's two different types of hooks that we use. The treble and the circle. Talk about the treble here. It's an Eagle Claw product. It's a 3/0, 4x strong hook. But it's made out of bronze. It's not your typical stainless hook. If we do have to leave a hook in a fish, these rust out extremely quick in salt water. It's not very long.
We're pretty much out of our drift here. We've gone way off the edge of the reef and we're out of that structure. So we're going to pick up and make another drift. I'm noticing too that I'm starting to get a little bit of line scope, meaning that the line, as the tide picks up, the resistance against the line is starting to create an angle. We don't want that because we're working so hard to keep it that 3-6 feet off the bottom, taking our two turns.
We're in this cove over here, off the Connecticut River here and my son Colby's putting out this rubber mat that we have, our rubber bed that's actually a (inaudible) blow up bed. It's very heavy plastic, works real well for putting out the gill net that we have. I've got a 200 foot gill net, very fine lining. It gets caught on anything.
This morning out on the river we talked about using the Houdini nine inch shads. Wind seems to have picked up a little bit so we came inside here to duck out of the wind and I just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the type of equipment that we use.
All of my reels here are spooled with Daiwa's Saltiga Boat Braid. This happens to be 55 pound test here. I'm a huge believer in braid. It gives us several advantages over monofilament. The single biggest advantage is that it's decreased line diameter. This 55 pound here is the same line diameter as a 12 pound monofilament.
I'm Captain Blaine Anderson. I wanted to take a couple of minutes this morning to talk about the reels that I use in my charters and my personal fishing.
Spinning reels are probably the easiest style of fishing reel to learn how to operate. Yet, many individuals still do not use all of the functions of the spinning reel to their advantage, often times costing them the fish of a lifetime. Take the time to learn all of the abilities of a spinning reel to maximize your fish catching potential.
When it comes to purchasing fishing reels, the options seem to be endless. Walk into any fishing retail store and you can easily become overwhelmed by the endless reel displays. Between various manufacturers, spinning reels, bait casting reels and multiple variations on reel designs, how does a beginner or novice decide what is right for their fishing needs?
Conventional and baitcasting reels share many similarities, but their differences really dictate their application for anglers in both salt and freshwater. Both look very different from spinning reels, but not so different from each other. So how do you tell the difference? A few models I will mention a little later may be used in both fishing styles, but generally speaking, non-spinning reels are either built to fish vertically from a boat or to be cast.
Many inshore saltwater anglers ask us to help them decide between purchasing a level wind conventional reel and an “open” style conventional reel that does not have the level wind features. Each of the two styles has its attributes and its challenges.
Spinning reels are a necessary tool to fishing success. The spinning reel can handle light lines extremely efficiently as opposed to baitcasting reels. Spinning reels will also allow you to cast the lightest lures with ease. They also require the least amount of practice to master.
Working in a full service tackle shop, customers present you with a multitude of questions and requests regarding their spinning reels. Most commonly, folks always want to know if they can spool the reel with heavier line, how to improve their casting distance and what line choice is best for their fishing needs. Fortunately, there are solutions to all of the questions.
Baitcasters have become most popular through the tournament bass industry where bass anglers have found them to be indispensable tools for their pursuits. Baitcasting reels handle larger line diameters far better than spinning reels and heavy lines are often needed to wrestle large fish out of weed beds. These reels also have a completely different drive gear system from spinning reels that provides a lot more power for the angler. This makes the retrieval of many lure types much easier on the angler, especially after long hours of constant casting and cranking.
Centrifugal brakes work by using tiny sliding weights mounted around the axis point of the spool that are forced to the outside perimeter of the spool during the cast. The weight adds more mass to the perimeter of the spool, causing the spool to rotate more slowly during the cast. These weights can be locked into place at their axis point so they do not engage during the cast or they can be unlocked so they slide towards the outside of the spool during the cast, engaging the braking system.
A magnetic brake system works on a magnets attracting force to slow down the spool. By rotating a dial on the side of the reel, the angler controls a magnet that is moved closer or further away from the side of the spool depending on the position of the dial. When the magnet is moved closer to the spool it exerts a magnetic pull on the spool which slows down the spools rotation speed.
Baitcasting reels and conventional reels use spool braking systems to control the speed at which the spool of the reel spins when the reel is in free spool mode. This is how the angler can minimize the chance of getting backlashes during the casting process. Both baitcasting and conventional reels use a brake that applies pressure to the spools axis to slow down its rotation. This brake is adjusted with a knob located under the reel handle. This brake is often referred to as the tension brake and is found on nearly all baitcasting and conventional reels.
There's a lot of talk about how many bearings fishing reels have. Often advertised with high price tags, it appears as if the number of bearings a reel has relates directly to the quality of the reel itself. And, what about bushings? They are often mentioned in reel advertising as well. Exactly, what are they trying to sell us here? Let's dive a little deeper into the role that bearings and bushings play in a fine tuned fishing reel.
The choices to make when it comes to deciding on a fishing rod can be a little overwhelming. With all the different rod lengths, styles and blank thicknesses, making the proper selection can seem like a daunting task. Fishing rods have a lot of information printed on them to help you make your decision like what line strength the rod is rated for as well as the lure weights that a rod will cast comfortably. And then you have some other rating listed in there too like rod power and rod action.....what exactly does that mean? Let's talk a little bit about action and power.
Spinning reels tend to be a top choice for anglers buying new fishing reels. There are multiple reasons but the most common reason is their general ease of use. Spinning reels are probably the easiest reel to learn to cast with, besides a spincast cast reel which has many limitations. Learning to cast a spinning reel only takes a few minutes before someone can begin fishing successfully with one. An overall understanding of how a spinning reel works will guide you to successful casting.
When most people take up fishing for their first time, they are often given a rod and reel as a gift or they purchase a rod and reel combo that has already been matched up by the manufacturer. Most pre-matched combos are designed for introductory fishing purposes and do not excel in quality but they do the job just fine for the novice. But, as an angler becomes more obsessed with fishing, the need for a larger arsenal of rods and reels increases. This is the time when the knowledge of how to properly match up a rod and reel combo becomes important.
The purpose of the bail is to act as a gate for the line on the spool. When the bail is engaged, the line is prevented from unwinding from the spool. When the bail is disengaged, as it would be for casting, the bail releases the line from the spool. During line retrieval, as the rotor spins, the bail serves to guide the line back onto the spool.
Once an angler gains some experience and confidence in using the one or two rods that they have in their arsenal of fishing tackle, the need for more specialized rods and technique specific rods usually becomes apparent. For instance, a fisherman who has been using their standard spinning rod and reel to cast big chunks of cut bait with heavy sinkers attached will quickly learn that the rod they have been using to cast half ounce lures just doesn't have the back bone to launch a bulky bait rig into the strike zone. This is the time to assess the type of fishing you are doing and what rod types will best handle your specific needs.
Spinning reel drag systems are built into the spool of the spinning reel and consists of a series of metal and fabric washers that all have a hole in the center. The washers are stacked on top of one another, alternating between the metal and fabric washers as they are stacked inside the center of the spool. As with most drag washers, the washers are lightly lubricated to slide against one another smoothly and without hesitation. They are held in place by a retaining ring that is then capped with a drag adjustment knob.
Conventional reels traditionally use what is called a star drag system but many conventional reels are now made with a lever drag system. This system uses a sliding lever mounting on the top side of the reel to make drag adjustments. The positioning of the drag adjustment lever is often preferred by anglers over the star drag design for it easy accessibility.
The rod is bent over, the line is very tight and you are holding on for dear life. At this point, something has to give. Either the line will reach its breaking strength and snap or the rod, which is bent to its maximum capacity, will finally break into pieces. This is where the drag comes into play. In this article you will learn how to properly adjust the star drag on your conventional or baitcasting reel.