The Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared". With the latest developments in fishing techniques, adaptation is key. Some of my customers choose my charter service due to the light tackle approach that I choose to use to catch fish. Others simply go with the first captain that calls them back. Lately some fish have been found laying on the bottom under a voracious horde of bluefish and dogfish. The usual method of catching stripers like this is to troll very slowly with the current, using enough wire to bump the jig along the bottom. This requires a lot of wire and when you get one a lot of reeling to get the fish in. The new "butterfly" jigs, coupled with a quality braided line and the proper knots and leaders, allow one to drop straight through the blues and dogfish and get to where the striped bass are quickly and without all the wire.
There is a problem though. These jigs cost near $20 apiece and then there is the expense of rigging a couple hooks to them and the split rings and solid rings that in my opinion get the jig to fish better. The kevlar "assist" hooks are $6-8 bucks a pack too, so a jig like this can set you back as much as $30 when it is rigged properly. The blues bite through the kevlar assist leaders easily. A bluefish can bite you off in less than a minute ! The blues get so exited seeing one of their brothers swimming around with a "bait" in their mouth they go and try to bite the bait out of the mouth of the hooked blue, biting you off and causing you to lose the fish and the jig. The dogfish are trouble too. When hooked they twist and roll around and roll the line around themselves, eventually getting the line in their open mouth and biting themselves free of the line and the $30 jig !
I have re-rigged all of my jigs with 175 pound test braided 7-strand wire and crimped on Gamakatsu live bait hooks, swiveled to the split rings. The swivels add life to the braided wire as the alligator blues will eventually bite through them too ! You can get a jig to last the morning this way. The braided lines are rigged with a Bimini twist and a 2 foot leader of 130 or 150 lb test flourocarbon, tied on with the "Carnes" knot. One of the coolest knots I have learned. (thanks Franny !)
The fish have been biting better in the afternoon tide this last week, but there are still decent bass being caught in the morning. Yesterday the Fedele charter caught 12 bass and 11 blues on the am trip. The previous day we landed a dozen 20 pound stripers and 22 blues on the afternoon 4 hour trip!
Bookings have improved considerably. Folks are calling every day and asking for availability for the next morning or 2 days away. I wonder what happened to making a reservation in advance ? I had a guy call the other day and wanted the am trip. When I told him my mornings were booked and offered him the afternoon trip, he declined saying it was his experience that the afternoon trips were not "productive". The day I offered him the trip Jeremy Deleski and his fourth grade son, Jack, caught over 35 fish, mixed blues and stripers, many of the stripers were over 20 pounds, and it was all on light tackle ! I have the trip on video, soon to be posted to Facebook. Call ahead, reserve your dates early and you wont be scrambling for a lesser trip on short notice. Be Prepared !
Thanks very much,
Bruce & "Marilyn S"