Surfcasting with
DJ Muller
                         

ARTICLES FROM DJ


The “summer doldrums” are the terrible months of striper fishing, July and August, the time between migration periods, it is the “lull” period where most stripermen take time to re-build their Brownie Point Collections, by cutting grass, painting the house or shampooing the carpets, while at the same time thinking about the impending fall migration and its fishing.

Three of us rolled into Cuttyhunk looking for some action during the "doldrums." This was a guide trip, the characters were Greg G. from the Philadelphia area and Mark G. a great repeat customer from Westchester, NY. Greg was a first-time wetsuiter, spunky and looking to learn the intricacies of wetsuiting in association with catching bass, while Mark was now a “seasoned vet” with me, looking for the escape from a grueling and demanding job, primed and ready to up his game. This was his fifth trip with me and the second one to Cuttyhunk. I set my expectations high for him, it was time. He needed a solid trip, and was due for a solid trip as far as I was concerned.

Let me start by saying any trip to Cuttyhunk is a great trip to Cuttyhunk but on this one specifically, I had my work cut out for me.

 

Double Trouble from the Start

The trip started out in double-jeopardy because the pre-trip marine forecast called for what I call terrible winds, out of the west at 5. Downright gross! However when we arrived on Cuttyhunk we were met by much worse, extremely hard winds out of the southwest. When they blow as hard as they did, the wind blows right down both sides of the island and since the finger-shaped Cuttyhunk sits pointing SW it dirties up all waters. By dirty I mean badly stained, yes, but worse, suspended matter, in this case loads of mung with a smattering of eel grass. Disgusting stuff that sticks to everything. In a word, “unfishable.“ I was thrust almost into panic mode right from the start. I had the entire trip pre-planned, knowing each spot that I wanted to fish with the guys at certain stages of the tide, but this was an unexpected wrench-toss, I didn’t see it coming, but that is surfcasting. Adjust and adapt.

 

Being that we were on an island I knew that there had to be possibilities, areas in the lee of the wind, only a couple times have I seen an island get totally blown out and those were with much higher winds. We hit a spot in the lee where the wind whipped down the side of the island and swept water around this corner as it cut into a big cove. I put Greg on a fairly easy rock for his confidence, on the corner where wind-pushed water met calm water, it just had to be good! He began by penciling and he did well, his first Cuttyhunk bass came on short order, with a few more fish to follow. It was highlighted by some awesome surface explosions, he was pumped to say the least. The hit didn’t last as the water continued to dirty up as the tide rose, just before full-dark, I made the tough decision to make a move in hopes of finding clean and calmer water. Taking guys to water we have not scouted yet, is not something I like to do however I felt we needed to continue catching fish. It was a hike off to Canapitsit.                  First time wetsuiter Greg didn't waste anytime getting his first Cuttyhunk bass, on a pencil popper.

Canapitsit

Canapitsit is one of the forsaken areas on Cuttyhunk. It is the top most area of the island where the Canapitsit Channel divides Cuttyhunk from the massive neighboring island of Nashawena. Most surfcasters opt for the opposite direction, the rocky boulderfields to the south and west. I like Canapitsit because it has the channel (good moving water) and the a nice boulderfield facing Martha’s Vineyard that has never disappointed me. I spread the guys out and we fished for a while, everyone had at least one fish.

 

I sent the light signal which meant we we’re moving and we headed for the channel proper. We waded out as far as we could on the rocky bottom and cast towards Nashawena, the current swept and the bass cooperated. A few more moves and the night crept away, we continued to work and search, playing the hand we were dealt. We got back to the club, ate some grub and got ready for some sleep. It was a decent night, the boys were happy, as we still managed some fish but I wasn’t satisfied. I thought about our next move as I laid falling asleep. I didn’t think for long as the hour was around 4 a.m. and the eastern sky began to lighten, but what I did know without a doubt was, one, I had to find some fish, two, I had to find clean water in order to make that happen.

 

More Trouble

The next morning we turned the weather radio on and listened to the forecast, it called for hard winds, rain, hail, and lightning for our night session, it was in serious jeopardy. I hated the thought of losing a precious night to this kind of condition. The wind and rain and even hale I could deal with, but the lightning factor was the killer (no pun intended). We prepared ourselves for the worst and the boys took it extremely well, better than me! We considered the possibly of doing a rare (for me) morning session if necessary after this front passed through.

 

Two Rolls of the Dice and God Smiled Upon Us

As day two progressed the sky never really threaten, I wanted the front to move through so we could get out post-storm and get some business done but no storm nor threatening sky, just clouds and sun. After a great meal thanks to Greg’s home-made pasta sauce, we listened to the weather radio again and it said real bad weather was going to hit the Cape Cod Canal, (north and east of us) so we took the gamble and geared up, figuring it was passing north of us. With the same winds on tap (stiff SW), just not as hard we again eyed the north side of the island, a place that I have never fished. It was a real long walk for a gamble. I thought it was our best choice and I am a gambler, so based on wind direction and topography, throw in the fact that we saw tons of terns working this area as we came in on the ferry signifying a bait build up, I thought scientifically, it was time to roll the dice.

            
             Day Two-The veteren Mark G. chats it up with Greg before heading out for a night on the rocks, in a
             day that started with several serious concerns, it turned out to be a night for the ages.
 

Time to Work

Well to make a very long and almost ugly story short, we ended up on the beach, as we had hoped, it was flat and tranquil. We picked spots and started fishing…all quiet, and quiet is not good. My feet naturally migrated towards the area where the strong winds met the tranquil water, a patch of good water had formed there. I found a good perch and began casting trying to find fish and figure out a pattern as the sun began to set.

I was scared to death that the water would be too weedy so I put on a Junior to see how much mung I could collect. First cast, nothing, I was pleasantly surprised, second exploratory cast, BAM, I took a good hit and was in. Mark was 100 yards from me and I signal that there were bass in front of me. On my next retrieve with the Goo-Goo Man Super Junior, out in front of me about 25 yards, came a huge swirl over top of the swimmer, the fish looked big as I caught it out of the corner of my eye. I signal to Mark with more urgency, now telling him to come to where I was, he denied. From that point forth as darkness took over the day, the bass, and there had to be hundreds, took over the night. They moved into this area and went on a remarkable feed, where over the next three hours I had 31 bass to around 20 pounds. The “rubba’s,” the Mega-Shads, Got-Stryper’s and Hogy’s, ruled the roost.
             
              Uggghhh a bluefish!!! The pre-dark hours is a great time to work pencils as the bass move into the
              shallows from deeper water. Boy was I surprised when this fighter came up. Blues are rare at
              Cuttyhunk.

The Mega-Shads were taking care of the majority of the business (as usual), I was hooking up on almost every other cast, maybe every third or fourth. Casting out, letting it sink, getting contact and then reeling with a slow to medium retrieve.

I had a lot of things going on at once happening on this particular night as I was on my rock, now shin-deep in the water, with waves coming perpendicular and hitting my flank, wind hard in my left ear. Besides banging fish, watching waves some of which were almost waist-high, I then had to deal with losing shads…with fish attached! The shad and the fish, slipped off my paper clip type clip while I was trying to get control of the fish, believe me I wasn’t happy with this! After the second one I cut off the clip and tied direct for the rest of the night. It was back to Duo-Locks the next night! It hurt especially on a night when the Mega-Shads were on the striper’s menu and my supply was dwindling fast. The soft M/S can only hold up to about 4 or 5 fish as a rule.

 


Fixing Something That Wasn’t Broken

The next thing that happened open my eyes and believe it or not helped my production (like it needed help). On one bass, I got it up and proceeded to unhook a Hogy from the bass’ mouth, as I looked in I saw the tail of a lobster sticking out of the bass’ throat. “Ahhh, OK, so that is what they were feeding on!” At least some of them. It was after this observation that I said, I need to get even deeper than I was, which I figured was around mid-column. So this time I cast out, let it sink, caught up with a slow to moderate retrieve (same as before), then I stopped momentarily in order to let it sink a couple feet deeper then retrieved it even slower. I still never hit bottom so no harm no foul. I then began to hit fish on every cast. All of these fish were good, over 28-inches up to 20 pounds  All well fed, juiced up, and good fighting bass.
    
                     Sometimes you are given hints that help you to become a more productive bassman.

I had my light on every 3 minutes unhooking fish, Mark and Greg were behind me now on shore taking a break and watching me, I turned around an said to Mark for about the fourth time, “Now do you want this rock?” This time instead of a very polite and assertive “No,” I got a pronounced, “Yes!” “Did you say yes?” I fired back, over the sound of the crashing water. “Then get out here! Its about time!”

Mark made his way out and got up on the rock, it was big enough for two to stand on, (not to fish off of), and began casting, I gave him instruction as he fished. “Cast out, let it sink, catch up, reel slow…then slow it down some more.” He made five casts without a hook up. “Let me show you,” I said. I took his rod and handed him mine, I cast out and went through the system, BAM, fish on. Mark fired, “WOW! That is so cool!” That was it, I handed him the rod, fish still on, grabbed my rod and slipped off into the night water and got back to shore, this time it was my turn for a break. Mark proceeded to hit 5 bass on his next ten casts, and he was very happy with the small adjustment that we went over.

    
                                         Color didn't matter. Cast out, let sink, reel slow.

The next night, while Greg and I went to a different spot, where we had good clean water and more bass. We threw eels and plugs and hit bass throughout the session. Greg lost a “decent’ fish that he had close enough see and give him a taste of large, only to have it gt away like water through his hands. The upside was it gave him fuel for his big fish fire and something to look forward to on our next trip.
       
       We eeled too and the results were the same. We try to use eels to increase size, but on this trip it didn't seem to 
       matter, my biggest bass, around 24 pounds, came on a silver Got-Stryper after I gave my rock to Mark.

Mark on the other hand, retuned to the scene of the previous nights conquest and with his new-found confidence had the best night of his surf fishing career with 40-50 bass, an excellent night by any standard, surprisingly he took the majority of his fish with a Junior, which he has since enshrined.

The trip ended up being one of my best trips ever to the great island of Cuttyhunk, the guys being psyched iced the cake. New ground was covered and there was no shortage of bass. We rode the ferry home haggard and happy.
                  
             The July "doldrums" trip got the big thumbs up from all participants. Here the West End pyramids
             were our backdrop.
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                                                                                    By DJ Muller

 

The June Block trip was a huge success! It always is.

The first week was guide week I had two groups come up. The first for two nights, the second for three. The first group Mike and Julio was a good mix, both aspiring guys and both with decent skill sets. We didn’t waste any time finding fish and on those first two nights we let the bass have it. We were fishing some very fast moving water where the fish set up on the downside of a hump and as you hope when going out to your spot, the bass where there and hungry. We did really well on Megs-Shads and some on needles.


The first group of Guide Week, Mike and Julio from Boston. We got off to a good start, it didn't take us long to fine the hot hit. I bet you didn't know Adidas made surf tops?  

The next group was Mag, and upstart rat, wet suiting for the first time and Joe from Delaware, a slightly older gentleman, who was doing the waders-only thing, as that is what this trip was originally set up as, an all-wader trip. I had my work cut out for me on this one, trying to please both fellows. But as it usually does it worked out. I put Joe on a sand beach, with a bunch of flyrodders, where he could fish back to where me and Mag were fishing on some tasty boulders about ¾ of a mile away. Joe had a couple fish, at which time he was then mugged “Jersey-style” by the fly guys, after all they were from Jersey too. 
           
      Joe worked the beach while Mag worked the boulders. It all worked out pretty well, with the contrasting styles.

I liked our spot, Mag could get out and up on a boulder without taking the beating that often times the south and east sides can give you, we were on the west side. He did OK, and then graduated to the south side waters the next night and did well there too.

 

The funny thing was we lost the school that we had earlier in the week, a trip back to the rip we came up empty. They moved south and we missed them as the fly guys came back the next morning with glaring reports, we covered that area again that night, but came up with only a few bass as the wind turned and the bass shut off. The one thing about striper fishing is that there are no guarantees, just because you crush them at one spot on one night, does not guarantee you a repeat performance the next. My last two nights produced 0 fish and 2 fish, even Mag outfished me, it was a far cry from the nights previous, needless to say it left me a little frustrated. But Joe and Mag, learning and absorbing at an alarming rate, were content.

 

Week 2

Now that guide week was complete it was time to go unbridled. After a quick trip home thanks to Joe and Mag, a wedding Saturday night, it was back on the pavement, back to Block on Sunday morning early, this time with some of my cronies. We look forward to and talk about this trip all winter needless to say. After the last week petered out and leaving me thinking hard about our next move I decided to go to a couple of my favorite spots on the south side of the island, places I have always done pretty good at. And??? There was no pay-off, cool water and a lack of fish. Time to go back north to were we had good fishing a week ago now, try to find that body of bass and hopefully find some good size fish to boot. The decision was good and things began to get interesting.

 
No location is safe from the dogfish. On one of the slow nights on the southside rocks I thought I had finally tied into a good striper only to find out when I lit it up that it was a big doggie, four foot long, almost 20 pounds. They like the Mega-Shads as much as the stripers do!


The Desolate Place

I headed to a desolate place where I had done very well in the past with both number and size. I knew that if there was still that body of fish on the top half of the island, they surely could have been there, they were. The night was typical, I had 10 bass to 14 pounds into the dark. After dark the hit slowed and I was getting stiff and tired, three hours in one place where you can’t move your feet more than an inch or two, left or right, can wear on you. I was also feeling the effects of a full-blown wedding that I attended just 24 hours previous, well I don’t need to say more, I was tired. So I dropped off my rock into chest-deep water and tried to race in the 50 yards to the beach before the next set of waves buried me in whitewater. I got out took off my Korkers and I began my long walk back to where the boys where set up about a half mile away.

 

On my way back to the group, while in cruise mode, you know walking full speed, not fishing or reading water, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I should make a couple casts here instead of cruising by this long stretch of good water, so I did. Now where I was, I had 10 fish in 3 hours in what I would classify as a slow pick, really working hard. Here I picked up 6 bass in 20 minutes in what I classify as a hot hit. Hmmm, interesting.

 

I’m not smart. The next evening we went south again, in what I later considered an extremely questionable move on my behalf. We had fish to the north, why go back south? Again same result, no notable fishing. Back north we went…again! We went back to the stretch I did well at the night before and hmmm, what do you know, the fish were there…and they were getting bigger. On one of my first two casts I hit a lu-lu on a chartreuse Mega-Shad, 45-inches, mid-30 fish, can you say “Butter!!”?? We then spanked fish for a while then headed back.
    
A pleasant surprise! One of my first cast while prospecting, produced a nice mid-30 pound striper on a Mega-Shad.
The fish was released to the night waters. It was a good battle but took me over 10 minutes of being in the water with her to finally revive her. It was the longest I had ever stayed with a fish in the water.

He next night, no, no south side, we headed back north, loaded for bear, gunning for elephant. My cohorts, Ed, Mike, Mark and Koz, and me went with rigged eels. Mark had the hotspot, he hit fish of 35, 25, some low 20’s and others under 20. I was probably 75 yards away and had much slower action, one bass, but it was a bass of about 26 pounds. I’ll take it!! We were pumped needless to say, taking some bigger fish as opposed to the normal teen-sized fish, this lead to a small celebration back at the fort, lots of toasting and tapping of beer cans long into the night or should I say dawn, times were good.

Mark had the hot hand on Wednesday night with a mid-30 (pictured), a mid-20, and several more decent fish. It was a decent night all around. Mark had a real good trip and seemed to really enjoy learning this great fishery. The fish was released after photo.

Then Came the Rains

The next morning the rains came hard and heavy, that means all bets were off for the repeat performance as mud and clay from the cliffs and heavy rain make for dirty water. It was back to square one, but first I took a personal detour, that would wind me up on the Surfcasting Disabled List. While the rains fell we decided to take a run to see the water clarity, as I ran from the house to the X-machine in the downpour, I took a nasty slip on the grassy slope and landed on my head. I was knocked a little lulu. Don’t remember much, but I knew fishing was going to have to take a backseat for at least one night, the ice bag and Advil moved to the forefront. I had cobwebs and a headache to clear before the next night rolled around, the boys went out and I laid low. After relaxing for a while I ended up going over to the dock with Scott, (I can’t sit still) and we loaded up with squid for the boys for tomorrows snack time.


While the Mega-Shad reigns supreme, the Got-Stryper is a tougher bait and more durable when the hit gets hot. I will carry roughly 12 or more baits in my MAK bag at all times while fishing the islands. I carry various weights and colors as well as back ups to all of them...just in case.

 

A Lost String

The next night, Friday, I still wasn’t feeling great with a residual headache that felt similar to a bad hangover, a very sore neck, and still some fog, I couldn’t miss another night so back to my "desolate" spot I hiked, where the fish were more than cooperative with the change of wind. The hit was solid with 16 bass to 18 pounds, all on artificials and I was happy.

 

Later on in the evening I decided to make a run to the west side of the island were I had scouted a sweet line of rocks protruding out, with a good crease set up off the end rock, I just knew it had to hold fish and I wanted to check it out!

You don’t know dark, like the dark we experienced a few nights on this trip, heavy dark clouds and little wind with heavy fog, now that is BLACK! Trying to find a string of rocks you scouted a few days ago, in blackness, is like trying to find a needle in a haystack…in the dark. Let me add that shining a light into fog is also futile as the light bounces back at you off the fog causing a blinding effect. I knew kind of where it was but wasn‘t sure so I said screw it, I just walked out into the water into the general area with my light on looking for the string, I couldn’t find it but I knew I was close, so I waded out a found a submersed boulder that looked friendly enough to use. I got up and began casting out into the blackness, but I got nothing, I couldn’t see anything, it was tough even to get my sense of direction, but I felt as though I needed to get to a little better place, I wasn’t “feeling” it.

Suddenly a light pierced the darkness from behind me, another surfcaster had come down on the beach, apparently knowing his way around, lit up the string then proceeded to start climbing out towards the tip, it was at this point that I realized I had just missed it by not more than 10 yards, it was just to my right. I wasn’t about to give up my missed spot, so I shined my light back towards him signifying that some one was out here and already on the rock he wanted (although I technically wasn‘t), I bluffed in the blackness. The bluff worked, he backed out of the water and scurried down the beach looking for another spot. I quietly slid off my rock and meandered over to the lead rock that I had just missed and had fish immediately. BINGO! Boy did that ever feel good!! Seeing the seam in the day and them executing it in the dark. Three nice bass to 18 pounds in 40 minutes and I felt like I had accomplished what I had set out for. Nursing my bruised brain I rounded up the boys and head back to the fort.

 

Koz, one of the best young surfcasters I know and fish with, makes his way out to a boulder, typical of what we look for. He is unusually canny and works extremely hard.

And Then There Were Three

And then it was down to “three” on the last night, as every one else had to get back to reality, Mark, Mike and myself. Mark and Mike took excellent perches, in chest deep water, Mark’s spot had been good to him and I think he found a little home away from home. Mike’s rock was out in some real good water as well about 60 yards off shore. We had collectively scouted a point early in the day, I had never fished it before and wanted to give it a shot as it was very inviting. The point had two huge boulders, the outer boulder had sweet water movement around it and looked like deep water. I didn’t think that I could get the outer boulder but there was another good sized boulder right behind about 30 yards that I thought I could get. So into the water I went and being that it was on a point some medium sized waves swept across the point, just enough to be a pain in the ass. I waded deeper and deeper trying to get to the second boulder. By the time I got to it the water was neck deep and I got a good look at the rock and saw that it was pointed with no real good foot platform and I knew I would be see-sawing on it all night with it a major pain, so I opted out. Off to the left I saw another boulder that I thought looked hot so I gave it a shot, as I got closer the water got deeper to the point that it was over my head and I had no idea if I could get on it so again I opted out with darkness coming, I wanted to get a platform where I could see the water I was to fish before black.

 

The problem we dealt with the entire trip was mung or “monkey hair,“ a fine, root-looking weed that clings to everything and anything, really annoying stuff. Everywhere we went the mung was sure to go…or be. Every time you brought your lure or eel up, you had to check it for mung and a lot of the nights it was really dark so you had to do it strictly by feel which meant running your hand down the leader until it hit the lure or eel and then carefully feel your clip and hook for this junk, it was a pain but it had to be done! If you had some on your offering the bass wouldn’t hit it. The objective was to wade out past the mung-crap, once you did you had crystal clean water to fish in.

 

My water this night was a little mung-ee and a little foggy or stained from previous heavy rains that had left the water dirty a couple days earlier. I knew longer cast would be in order, since I could see that 30 yards out the water pulled and was clean. I was sure Mike and Mark were in clean water which they later told me they were, no surprise based how far out they were. I thought I would be in better water honestly and as the tide dropped my water got worse. My hopes for a big night faded as the mung balls got bigger. I realized that my strike zone (the end of my cast) was get smaller especially with an eel on the business end. As the night went on I looked over to Mike about 150 yards down and I saw his light on a lot which meant he was into fish, I thought about moving. I had no bass before dark only one small bass come up and take a swipe at my Got-Stryper just before I took it out of the water (it did look cool).

I threw artificials before dark and darkness fell and it was time for the snakes to come out. I rigged my first and tossed it out, nothing, for a while nothing, I was starting to consider a move, then finally bang! A bass, but it was small around 28 inches, not cool, and it knock out my eel, which I kind of liked, I like them more dead than alive. About 30 minutes later another BOOM, another teenage bass, fair but not was I was looing for and my eel was gone. Damn! While in knee deep wate with swell, getting an eel out of the bag and putting it on the hook is an art, let a lone a pain in the ass, big time! Another eel soared into the night. Nothing for another 40 minutes then BOOM (it woke me up). I swung and missed and cursed aloud. I put it right back out, now that I knew there was a hungry bass in the neighborhood, sure enough, BAM, I was in another small bass hammered this extremely frisky eel, I was kind of glad because it was too hyper. The eel was stunned, the way I like it, I cast out again and worked it like I do a riggie, kind of like penciling but under water with pauses mixed in, I felt a sudden, hard strike and let my tip down. The line went taught and I slammed the rod back and I connected, the rod doubled over, the fish paused and then turned towards deep water and made a terrific run. I was cool! A very good battle ensued, my best of the trip hands down. A long run and then a long battle where I had to do my best to keep this fish between two big boulders, I didn’t care for any bang-offs on this slow night. Soon she came within light range and I lit her up and held on for the next run, the “light run” which a fish makes when lit up. She didn’t look huge at first until I pulled her along the front of my boulder then I saw she was a good bass of 30 pounds-plus, not a monster but a good fish. I pulled her up into the bubble weed, did a quick rod measurement and Boga-ed her lip, got her up quickly, the Boga bounced to rest, “30-something” I said. I dropped her back down, thanked her and away she kicked into the night, I was surprised by her recovery being so quick, the 34 I had a few days earlier which I had to stay with for over 10 minutes. A few more casts and another good smack, a decent 18 pound fish, was quickly brought up, unhooked and released. Mike flashed me the “it’s time to roll” signal, we had agreed upon a witching hour because the next day was a travel day, so I was done. It was a good ending to a good trip.


A low-30 pound striped bass. Not a great photo, but a great fight, one of my best of the season. This was an epic battle, she took a real long run and then I had to try to work her in between two big boulders, just what they look for to rub a lure off. I wasn't going to let that happen!  A grerat ending to a great trip!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Striper Roads 2010: My Year in Review

By DJ Muller

 

                 

Put another year in the books, it was an interesting year in the striper surf. I had the good fortune of once again traveling a lot and learning a good deal of new things while fishing the greatest striper waters in the world! I realize that I am fortunate to be able what I do. I am not sure personally of what the future holds and what sits around the next corner, due to things in my life. I don’t know how much longer I will be able to ‘run and gun’ so to speak. I will do what I can but I understand that a couple events could end my run, I certainly hope not as it is something that I really love.

I do of course travel to fish but also travel to teach. I come from a family of teachers, I guess it is in my blood. This year I did a significant amount of guided trips which enabled me to fish more. I take the advantage of the extra time on the water and extra learning and I give it right back to clients joining me on the trips and readers of my writings, I feel that it is those that receive the most and first-hand benefits from my traveling and fishing observations.

 

There is one thing about fishing that is terribly important and that is figuring out the daily pattern. As soon as I hit the water and begin casting I have one goal in mind, to immediately find out what the fish want, where they are holding, and how they are attacking. Once I catch a fish, I say to myself, OK why was that fish there in that particular spot? I try to figure out a pattern, once you have it figured out, you have a big edge, not only for that spot but also several in relative proximity to that spot. When I guide with individuals or small groups, I fish right along with them, to learn the pattern and then transfer my observations to the clients who can then learn firsthand by seeing what is happening in the water in front of them. They can then learn how to attack it in the particular situation and condition. Also, they watch me set up and fish learning from my technical example and work ethic (until dark that is). There is no better way for one to learn surfcasting. It works very well!

 

If there is one thing I have learned thoroughly about striper fishing is that you never ever stop learning about this great fish, once you think you get a pattern or technique down, the rules seem to change. I think it is part of the lure. How it moves, how it attacks, how it migrates, the things it likes, oh so much, and then just when you think you have the fish figured out, you realize that you don’t really know anything. You got to love it! 

 

Let me share my year in the striper surf, 2010.

 

It Got Good Early

April Surprise

If there is one thing a surfcaster can’t wait for it is for the season to get started, to feel that first strike on a bait or lure, it is something that is much anticipated. I usually clear the cobwebs by heading out into the bay and soaking clams after a series of sun drenched days in mid to late-March or early April. It is nothing terribly exciting but it does get you out and gives you a little bend in the rod, occasionally it will produce a good early season fish.

 

Well speaking of good early season fish, a couple of my bass brothers and I were putting together some intelligence, variables such as, a lot of bait around, higher than normal air and water temperatures, and some reports of bass showing up in the shallows. We decided to work a couple spots that we wouldn’t have hit until May. We hit pay dirt! We got a solid hit of stripers early, we were probably thinking about some of the big blues that usually show up in May but ended up whacking good bass up to 20 pounds on numerous nights and needless to say we were psyched, especially since we had the normally busy months of May and June still a head.

Guess what the hot lure was? You got it…the loaded red fin. Guess what color? Wrong, not bone…chicken scratch! There is something in a bunker that stripers (and bluefish) see as a color that they want to strike. That color is yellow. Yellow is a great color to use when bunker are present.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While we had good bass fishing early and the hit soon turned, as it usually does, to big blues as the calendar flipped over to May. We had some great sessions catching big blues on red fins and big metal-lip swimmers. If you surfcast you have to love catching big blues, what a blast!! Brutal fish! On one trip I had a guide customer, Chris R. come down from Boston to fish the Jersey waters. The pressure was on, I had to show the New Englander that we in NJ can have a blast and take some good fish too, similar to what our northern brethren do. Well Mark Jolliffe, Chris and I banged big blues for a couple hours straight and we basically quit because our arms and biceps were just locked. That was the night the wind blew something like 50-60 out of the northwest. I have never been sand blasted like that before, whew! I must have had a ¼ inch of sand plastered to my skull that night when I hit the showers. I foolishly and accidentally wore my visor out that night instead of one of my regular ball caps. What a mess that was! What a night! Did I mention we also quit fishing because we expended so much energy that we were on the verge of starvation. So we headed into a nearby town and found an awesome Mexican restaurant. We sucked down some cold Coronas, ate some hot Mexican cuisine, a swapped yarns and the world was a better place for a little while. 

The blues got big and extremely fiesty, downright onery, which is something they do after a couple weeks of feeding on adult menhaden. I felt the need to get ornery too!

Mundane Montauk in May
Three upstart surfcasters and myself headed to the Mecca for some May bass fishing. In this game sometimes you calculate, you figure, you do physics, calculus and all that fun stuff, based on numerous factors; history, experience, moon phase, tides and even hearsay, you add the many variables together and a lot of times it plays out right and you hit a nail on the head. Well I sat and figured and reviewed all the components for this Montauk trip and well, I got it dead wrong. The big stumbling block when we got there was the water was COLD and the bass were close to non-existent. There was a lot of bait present, namely squid, but it didn’t help us, not on this trip!                                            We didn't catch shit, but we sure looked good!

Now I give these guys a lot of credit because they took it all so well. The thing that saved me I believe was the fact that they were all first time wetsuiters and they just wanted to get the experience under their belts, they weren’t terribly set on catchingfish. When you are starting out wearing a wetsuit, it is good for you to just get into the water and get comfortable with the entire experience, which we did.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mob Crowd

Well back at home things stayed active with big bass blitzing adult bunker. The month of May which usually highlights big bluefish and increasing bass action, sported a lot of big bass action. The blitzes would happen at any time at anyplace. It is and was 100% unpredictable yet the crowds stood waiting. They would drive up and down the streets watching and waiting, standing in groups at popular blitzes spots. They would have their cell phone ringers volumes turned all the way up, not to miss a blitz call, their batteries all charged, gas gauges on full. I see people that call themselves surfcasters in the spring that I only see in the spring. Van Staal reels attached to ten foot Lami’s, sticking out of the sun roofs of sports cars. Really gross stuff. I bitched five years ago because during one of the bunker-bass blitzes I counted 28 guys on a single jetty, (with another 50 on the beach), well little did I know of what I would someday see. This year during one big blitz I counted a new personal high of 53 people on a single jetty. The entire scene seriously disgusted me, this year was the first year that I did not even attempt to fish the big bass blitzes, it just wasn’t worth the aggravation for me. I just can’t stand it! I’d rather catch my bass the way they were meant to be caught, dark nights, with big artificials or eels, white water, true battles.

What it has become today with so many big dead fish, with guys killing just to say “Yeah I killed it!” It is grotesque.


A lot of the spring and summer big bass fishing from the beach has lost a lot of its luster due to oppressing crowds, to the point where I didn't even participate this year. I counted 52 guys on this jetty, so many I could not fit them all into the photo.

A terrible case in point would be what I observed at the infamous Allenhurst jetty where I met up with the conservation officer, ‘the warden,’ the day following a big blitz. He told me the day previous he stayed at the scene until every caster left, he went down onto the jetty and counted over 20 huge bass left behind by guys that didn’t care about killing. They killed more than their limit, saw the warden and left behind all their extra, “culled” fish. I remember watching a caster take a dead 25-30 pound fish, give it a half-assed, 10 second revival attempt and let in go, the fish was long dead. A-hole! It was at the same time that another fellow standing there watching, told me that his father managed the Allenhurst Beach Club and he said that the next morning his father found 6 huge bass in one of the garbage cans as he was cleaning up. Sick stuff!

There are some that call themselves surfcasters, remaining nameless, that show up at every blitz, every day, every time. My question is how many big fish can these people catch…and kill? There is no regard for the future. This is unbelievable and unacceptable killing of big bass, the big spawners! (I need tochange the subject).

Let me put it in these terms. A 30 pound bass will lay approximately 4,000,000 eggs each spring. Of those four million, 1% may survive and inject 4,000 new stripers into the system. In general terms, for every 30 pounder that gets killed so do roughly 4,000 bass from rivers next spring spawn.

 

The Canal Blew Up

Meanwhile back in reality, I loaded up the X-Machine and headed for the Cape Cod Canal, it was early June. I had a free canal clinic planned for a Monday morning, 6 guys signed up and so did a busload of bass (actually a lot more than that), it was a classic morning, everybody banged some fish. The action was off the charts. The mackerel were there in number, shoals of them, they ran the edges of the canal and the bass sporadically attacked. The simple sight of seeing all-out blitzes with bass vs. bait in the canal is one of the coolest things that you will ever see. The crystal clear water enhances the experience to say the least.

Now before I go any further I need to say that my good friend Dave Anderson, whom I cannot say enough good stuff about, a canal sharp-shooter, worked with me on this clinic giving inexperienced, up-and-coming canal surf rats some super pointers on understanding the canal and its strong tides and hard pulling, deep currents. Anderson is a funny man with a great sense of humor. I can not tell you how much laughing we do in between fish. He is also a very good teacher. One thing we do when teaching and it is something I believe firmly in when forming good surfcasters, is never give away the farm, never give too much or too detailed info. I believe that the aspiring caster needs to discover his own way, not to be told where to go and exactly what to do. We help in understanding, understanding leads to competence, competence leads to confidence and autonomy. Surf autonomy is my goal.

 
The Cape Cod Canal fishery is an entire world unto itself. Here Dave Anderson sports one of the many bass we caught in a three day deluge of stripers, as they assaulted mackerel and herring continiously.

The following two days Dave and I caught a good number of bass as the bass continued their assault. For the next two days however there was a slight change, it wasn’t mackerel they were pounding, it was sea herring. Different bait-same effect. The blitzes and visuals were unbelievable.

On one of the days (I can’t recall which) as Dave and I were walking the path back from a spot we had fished, we noticed a blitz take place below us in the water. The bass had a pod of herring pinned against the wall and all hell had broken loose. Dave started down the slope, I grabbed his arm and said, “Hold on let’s watch this for a little while.” With no one around, we watched as the bass pounded the pinned the herring to the side of the canal, the herring were jumping all over the rocks, it was SO cool to watch the striper's tact.

 

This was just one instance of what we witnessed over the couple days we were there. It was fun just to sit and watch as the stripers would corale the bait and then attack. We felt it necessary after a while to help the bait by taking a few bass from this attack.

It was at this point that we began to feel pity on the herring and realized that we needed to intervene and save the bait from a certain doom. So we jockied down the slope and pounded some bass on the incredible Sebile Magic Swimmer, giving the herring a window of escape. Please! No need to thank us!

 

Rock the Block

Mid-June

Block Island, this is one of my favorite trips of the year, the June trip with my little posse of friends and awesome fishermen, to a notable basshold. These guys are absolute aces, all you could ask for in brothers of the bass, smart, focused, and hard working not to mention great individuals. Last year it was Martha’s Vineyard, this year it was back to the Block. Block Island is one of my favorite places, for one it is loaded with bass, second there is always somewhere new to fish (I hardly do the same spot twice in a row).

 We sit around, change hooks and split rings, and re-load our plugbags after we wake up and have breakfast.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                  
 We eat good when on the road. We like to have a big meal in middle of the afternoon and then gear up just before
  dusk.
The most amazing thing about this trip was that despite six days of hard fishing, we never broke 20 pounds. We got numerous reports that there were good (large) bass just off the beach in a couple places around the island but we just couldn’t find them close to the beach in the dark. We covered the island with a fine toothed comb, believe me, and I feel very comfortable in saying that there just were not many, or any, big fish close enough to the beach for us to take. One of my mantra’s: “You can only catch what is in front of you."     
                             
 Andy and I burned some hours together. We caught lots of bass in the dark, the strange thing was we didn't take a fish over 20-pounds all week.

The action was solid all week. One of the unusual and fascinating hits that we had came on our second to last night in what I nicknamed, “The Grass Bass Hit.” A nasty blow came in from the SW with big winds, lightning and rain, it lasted about an hour as these summer storms often do. John Sweiton at the Maples told us that the west side usually lights up after such a blow. We listened to the words of experience and headed out a couple hours before dark. 
The water was thick with eel grass when we arrived. The wild sky was clearing from the storm that just passed the island. We spread out found some rocks to use as platforms. The weed was so thick that if you threw anything that swam sub-surface or dived you would be weeded up instantly. The only option was a popper more specifically a pencil popper. We worked them hard, and if you stayed clean for more than 10 seconds, you had a respectable bass. It was a lot of work but it produced. I think any body that saw this condition would have simply walked a way (me included) deeming the spot as unfishable. We had fish for two hours solid using this technique and it was cool to experience.   
         
The grass was so thick that it would seem impossible to fish there. However we tried any way and the payoff was good!

I also had some decent 20+ fish nights at Black Rock, Southwest Point and Lewis Point.  
There is one thing for sure, when the bass move into the Block Island waters they do so in good number. My favorite June condition is when they are accompanied by bluefish and squid. The surfcasting can get downright nuts!
 

A Hot Busy Summer

Fireworks in July

Cuttyhunk #1 Mid-July

Note: When I guide folks to the islands and so-called tougher areas to fish, I take casters with decent skill levels, and the gist is not to “baby sit” or hand-hold but rather to simply fish. Learning new areas and it’s techniques is what it is about. I do a lot of my instructional guiding in a much different setting, where we work on technical casting, lure selection, reading water, and we cover a lot of the basics, but when we fish these areas the emphasis is on the fishing, catching and landing fish. Thus I do a lot of fishing right along with the guys on these trips. I lead by example, I work on figuring out the patterns which I in turn teach the clients once discovered.

 

The next trip was a two night guide trip to the fabled Cuttyhunk, hands down one of my favorite places to fish in the striper kingdom. I was with two clients Mike B. and Chris B. We began that late afternoon by walking the entire south side, checking out its awesome structure and we found it big and dirty so we headed west to seek out some clean water. We found the clean water and then we found the bass. The action before dark was slow but as soon as the lights went out the action warmed up very nicely! Everybody got fish and good numbers.

Note that the water we were fishing was fairly deep and moving well on the tide.

I nicknamed this trip “The Trip of Hits.” The interesting thing was the number of hits I got. It was amazing. On some retrieves I would get one hit, on some retrieves I would get three or four hits, yet the hook-ups weren‘t coming. It was strange, very few hook-ups. I ended up with a lot of fish because I worked all night, but the hit to catch ratio was not good. The second night I started counting my hits to hook-up ratio, just to see what the numbers were. My first bass came on hit 14, my second on hit 17 and my third on 22. I stopped counting at 7 fish on 56 hits.

This hybrid Goo-Goo Man Danny worked very well when retrieved very quickly. 

I started to increase my hook-up ratio as I made adjustments throughout the session (very important to do).  My thought process were as follows: I thought the bass were getting too good a look at my offerings, the water was gin clear, so what was I to do?

Let me back up a little. Before dark while in position and waiting for full dark I often pass the time by swimming and studying some of my less familiar plugs. I had one particular Danny, one given to me by a very good plug builder form Plum Island (Mass.), Goo-Goo Man, Glenn Lewis, I noticed it acted very non-conventionally, thus I noted it as a hybrid Danny. What it was doing was swimming deep around 20-inches. Danny’s are supposed to swim on the surface. As I watched it I did a couple other things I often do when testing swimmers, I speed them up to as fast as I can reel to see how they swim/hold, see if they look normal, I also give hard, sharp strikes or jerks, to see if they dive a bit and keep swimming, if the lure does, it is worth something. If it pops out or rolls, it is headed for the kindling pile. This plug swam swimmingly (no pun intended) even on a really fast retrieve.
So, my answer to the multiple hits with hook-ups a little hard to come by was one, a faster retrieve which worked like a charm, my hook up ratio increased drastically. The second thing I did that also increased my hook-ups was I switched lures often, and changed my water column position, giving the fish (which there must have been hundreds) multiple looks while I stayed in the same area/location, as opposed to moving frequently. While doing this I increased my confidence in several very good, but unproven, lures in my arsenal. One was the Afterhours Junior Jointed Eel. It swims 5-7 feet, vibrates a lot, and the fish love it! Super hard strikes! The third lure I did really good on was the Mega-Shad (formerly known as a Tiki Wave Shaddick) with a 1 1/8 ounce jig head (1½ ounce is too heavy). Again the bass hit this lure violently which you like as a bassman. The other lures I did well on were two of my staples: the blurple loaded Red Fin and chartreuse bucktail with pork rind.


The Mega-Shad proved a bass favorite this season, every where I threw it.

8 Night Blockbuster

My next trip was back to Block Island. This trip was grueling, 8 consecutive all-nighters, a real butt-kicker, I‘m not sure what I was thinking, The old adage rings true, you live and you learn. Though whooped, the fishing was sweeter than a ripe, suculant, peach.

I had scheduled 3, two night guide trips. I planned to fish my first two nights alone. I felt that in order to be effective as a guide I needed a couple nights just to get the “feel” and to learn a couple patterns.

                                                  
The first night I started at sunset on a rocky point in favorable conditions with a pencil popper and I did well! Five bass in an hour is a good sign that the fishing after dark will be good. It was. I did really well and my big taker was the loaded Super Strike N-Fish, mackerel. Man did that thing catch some fish on this trip!! After I had my way with that spot, I decided to hit a longstanding favorite spot on the east side. Partly because I wanted to return to a place with good personal history, second, because I wasn’t ready to call it a night quite yet, my energy level was too high. I did OK there, it was a little slow but with a couple bass it made it worth the extra effort. My trip was off to a solid start...but it didn’t last long. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next night the winds blew foul. The wave repetitions were constant and quick. I went back to the same spot that I kicked ass at the night previous. The wind was hard and the surf was what I call driving, big and white, no breaks in between sets. To get to my favorite rock which the night before took me less than 5 minutes to get to (in my wetsuit) from the time I hit the water, this time took me 15 minutes and I couldn’t get to it. The waves kept driving me back and back and back. I would try again. It was frustrating and very tiring. But I am a stubborn German and kept trying and trying. The whitewater and waves kept rolling and rolling, knocking me back and knocking me back, after 20 minutes I was getting really gassed. I realized it wasn’t going to happen although I had visions of grandeur. Big and white, to me, is beautiful! I also recognized that I was a lone runner on this big, wild night with no one anywhere close by, I thought about my wife and daughter whom I love much and I gave in and headed off to a more attainable goal.

This peaceful looking point is not terribly tough to navigate while wetsuiting. The two arrows point to two of my favorite boulders. I usually can get to them, and get onto them within minutes of entering the water. On a night with a driving onshore wind, my rock on the left took me twenty minutes and I still never made it giving you an idea of how tough the tempest can be at times. 

Near the point I was on was a smaller point, one not as big and a little more protected from the big waters, I spotted a rock in the moon-lit, windy night and figured it would be a piece of cake. An easy target with some good water in front of it! Right? Wrong!!  Oh I got to rock (after another sustained effort) but it was no piece of cake!! In my 40 minute beating on that rock I managed two bass both under 28-inches. Disappointed, I dropped off the rock into the warm, whitewater of summer and let the waves carry me back to the beach. I set off to find greener “calmer” pastures. 

The night was young so I decided to give Southwest Point a visit. I fished it in great conditions, wind with tide, pretty much a guaranty. Nada. I fished it hard and the old golden goose laid for me an egg. I fished it until the wee hours at which time I decided that it wasn’t going to happen, the night was a bust. I went for a couple hours of sleep in my X-Machine before hitting the 8 a.m. ferry off the island.

 

My three guide groups on this trip were great. Each with different experience levels, each with eyes wide open! (It’s hard not to do.) We have good times together I must say, both when fishing and when hanging out waiting for the next session. I really enjoy the enthusiasm of the guys and their eagerness to learn and to develop, and more so to catch fish which we did! I really enjoy watching guys discover the right way to do things and to watch their confidence grow as they catch fish, it is very cool and  probably why I like the guiding aspect of this job so much. Note that I am happiest when alone with fish in front of me, but guiding guys to build their dreams is equally as good!

 

On the first night of the first group (night 3), I worked with Scott and Dave L., brothers from Hingham, Mass, we started in the southside rocks and did well while the tide was moving with fish up to 16 pounds. The big takers were again the SS mackerel needle and the Mega-Shad set up the same way I previously mentioned. When the hit slowed we moved north for the wee hours. We worked a nice sized boulderfield. I had gotten wind that the area was holding some nice sized bass, taken from the boats, so I thought it might be worth a shot for some bigger fish.

It was late and I was gassed but I had a good boulder and I had good water in front of me. I was throwing my mackerel needle and was trying with all my might to stay awake as I awaited dawn, praying for sunrise at which point we would relax and head back to the ferry lot. Well at one point as I was on my perch in waist deep water, I caught myself falling as I had dozed off just after a long cast. Aggravated, I terminated my retrieve, which means just reel it in as fast as I could in order to get the hell off my rock and get back to shore for a nap in the boulders. Well I couldn’t believe it as I was retrieving my lure at the speed of sound, I had a solid hit and a fish. Hmmm a 32-inch bass, I was surprised. So I made another cast in a slightly different direction. I retrieved again very fast, BOOM! Another fish and this one was 18 pounds, not bad. I shot another cast BAM another fish, this was all happening after 45 minutes of nothing remember. Then another BAM, 20 pounds, another BAM, 23 pounds. Wow, 10 more casts and I would have a 50 at this rate!

  
The Super Strike mackerel pattern was very, very good to me last year especially at Block Island where I am beginning to think that maybe the sand eel takes a lot of the credit for that action that possibly the mackerel may provide.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My next cast, well this was a good fish, really smoked my Zee Baas. I fought the fish for a couple minutes and the fish did the one thing that I couldn’t have it do, it ran around a huge boulder that I had straight out in front of me (I was casting to between 9 and 11 o’clock). I really put the screws hard to this fish, I am a gambler that way, I was trying to muscle this fish before it deep-sixed me, I was in the process of pulling it back around the rock when “DOINK.” It was my first straighten hook of the trip. A good battle, a big fish and an ugly loss.

I am not one that likes to get slapped in the face but I got a good one on my last night on the island, night number 8. It wasn’t anything big that happen it was actually a fairly quiet night and I chose to fish the east side of the island due to a hard driving southwest wind, we needed shelter. We were getting some fish and I was completely and utterly exhausted yet I kept fishing, it is not hard to do something you really love but it is better to do with some sleep. Over the eight days I averaged probably four hours of sleep per night (day) if I was lucky! I never worked so hard to stay awake, I was pulling every trick out of the book, singing, dancing, nothing helped, I was wasted. All I could think about was a soft pillow and crisp sheets.

(No slap yet). Well it happened right near the end, I was swimming my custom painted green, loaded Red Fin (I love that thing). It just passed a boulder (nemesis) out in front of me when I experienced a super hard strike, it instantly jerked me full awake! I saw the huge swirl about twenty feet in front of me, “Cool its close!“ Then my drag moaned and the line dumped from my spool and a battle ensued. 

This was a good fish, a heavy weight. I worked her patiently praying that she stayed out of the boulders to my right. The problem was my fatigue. Believe it or not I was too tired to really care enough. I decided that all I wanted to do was to see how big she was, I don’t particularly like stressing these big girls anyway and I am certainly not going to keep it! I was falling asleep as I fought her. Sure enough she wrapped around a rock and I put the screws to her, trying to pull her around. I had fought the fish for 5-7 minutes and she was now 20 yards away. I pulled and kept a lot of pressure on her. I felt my line slide along the rock, then finally I felt the line give and she was free from the rock I worked her hard in towards me, I had won. (No slap yet). It was just a matter of horsing her in. She was close enough now where I reached for my neck light, I just wanted to see her size, then I would let the pressure off, if the lure came out and she got I away I would go to the beach and sleep, I didn’t care. Well God didn’t like my attitude I guess, for just as I grabbed neck light and put my thumb on the on/off switch, with the fish 15 feet in front of me…she came unbuttoned. I never saw her. That was straightened hook #3 by the way. (No slap yet).

I made another cast. Halfway in I listed hard left and fell asleep, dropping my rod and dropping my body onto my table top boulder, after the crash I woke quickly and grabbed for my rod. It banged off the boulder and was sinking into the chest-deep water in front of me. My side wreathed in pain from where I hit my side on the barnacle covered rock. I chopped up the palm of my one hand where it hit the barnacles on top of the rock. I slapped myself for numerous reasons and then made my way back to the beach where I found the nearest cluster of soft rocks and slept. I was done. (Still no slap).

 

Utterly Shocking News

Shortly after I got home I was on the phone with Jimmy Fee (another ridiculous basshound) from On The Water, talking about the Block (here comes the slap) and how he’d got word of a surf-caught 50 coming off the Block recently. Of course I grilled him on it as I just got back from 8 days there. He said it was caught on my last night there. I was totally shocked by this news and I simply didn’t believe a word of it, I thought it to be a BIG lie! To make a long story short, I did some detective work, I got his source and called to confirm the catch. To boot, I figured out that it was caught right near where I was fishing. But there was no one in that area!!!!

 

Then it hit me. I recalled the night, my last night, the night I lost the big fish and fell asleep standing up. I remember at one point looking hard to my right and seeing a green headlamp at the water’s edge. I dismissed it because it stayed on for a while so I figured it was a goog or some kids goofing off, never did I think it could be a good bassman playing the same game I was playing, only smarter because he took it on an eel. (BIG SLAP!) Son of a bitch!!! I was so wrapped up in plugging and playing around with various artificials, I never even consider using eels on this entire trip. Rubber stamp “JACKASS” on my forehead.

 

For the next three days I was very angry with myself, in a real bad mood and beat myself up quite a bit. How could I fish 8 days in July/August on Block Island and not sling any snakes?! How stupid was I?!?!  Again…you live and you learn.

 

Cuttyhunk Two

Redemption

Mid-August

The next trip was back to Cuttyhunk. Two good fellows, Paul M. from Jersey and Mark G. from N.Y., and myself. I still had a foul taste in my mouth and was still mumbling under my proverbial breath, aggravated from the Block trip. I work so damn hard for positioning, you know being in the right place at the right time. Having an acceptable offering, bait or artificial, in the water so when a big fish swims past your carefully planned spot it takes notice. And to think that I was in that spot and did not have enough clarity of thought to throw the right offering, or perhaps I was just lazy, either way it really bothered me. Well you better believe that I had snakes in a bucket this time around. I wasn’t about to make the same flub twice.

We arrived on Cuttyhunk, unloaded and hiked out to our spot for the night. We spread out and picked good-looking boulders and prepared for the night.
After both of the clients got comfortable I moved down and found a decent rock that has since become one of my favorites. I waded out into the chest deep water and climbed up on my rock. I like to throw plugs during the fast tides and then go to eels as the tide slows. On the moving water I picked a few bass nothing great but enough to keep me interested, I’d classify the action that night, as a slow pick. As the tide slowed I made the switch.

I started eeling an hour before the supposed high tide, and took a couple teen-sized bass. Five minutes before the tide slacked out (I realized later by checking the time stamp on the picture) there came a ‘knock on the door.’ My eel hit panic mode and I immediately intensified my attention. I lowered my tip, I was sensitive to every move and nuance and slowly reeled up any slack as the line pulled slowly taught, when I felt the moment was right I, hammered back hard on my stick. The hook hit a solid spot, but the fish didn’t really flinch at first, it kept swimming in front of me left to right, then it realized something was a rye and it B-lined for open water. The line poured off my spool and all I could do was hold on. It was a long sustained run and the longer it ran the higher my hopes went for it being a true soaker. I felt the power, this was a good fish! This was the fish I hunt for, the kind of fish I work so hard for. As a bass hunter you just never know when it is going to happen, as previously started, you just keep pounding away, working hard and sooner or later your chance comes.

I fought the fish for a relatively long period of time, I’d guess about 7 minutes. I am using big equipment, the 10’6” St. Croix Legend and a VS200, which I was using because I had banged up my Zee at the Block and sent in for repair. Good high quality equipment is a must in my book and even when the fish is big the rod is so powerful that as long as you have little obstruction (which I did), I made fairly quick work of the fish.

So I had this “good fish” on but at this point I still didn’t know its size, I was anxious to get her close enough to light up. She came in in textbook fashion, cool! I navigated her close, and wanted to be sure I had a good high percentage grab, at least a hold on the leader before I lit he up. I didn’t want her bolting at the sight of the light, so I reached down and got hold of the leader and reached for my neck light. I turned it on and I saw a big beautiful striper at the edge of my boulder. Sheer adrenaline! By this time, Paul, one of my good fellows, heard the commotion and was moving in from his rock not far from where I was.  I took several (poor) shots with my camera but Paul had a better camera and we did a quick photo shoot with me and the fish on the rock, and then I dropped into the water for some more in-water shoots. Although the thought crossed my mind, I had no intentions of keeping this fish, I did have any reason to kill it. Similar to the fish in Montauk a year earlier this fish was going to be returned to her home. The photo shoot was complete and now it was time for her to return to the dark deep waters surrounding Cuttyhunk.

              
A redemption fish if there ever was such a thing!
The fish was well over 50 inches, probably about 54-plus inches, with a humungous head (almost as big as mine), with a good girth, as you can see in the one photo, she is sitting cradled in my right arm. Although I had a scale in my backpack, it didn’t mean enough to me to weigh it causing more stress to this already stressed fish. While the fish could have been 50-plus I credit it around 45 pounds. A good thick fish but not an overtly fat fish, but definitely a long fish which would give it more weight.

                                   


It then came time for the release, it was very important for me to get this fish released in good shape. She was well spent, exhausted from the long battle (and probably from the photo shoot). As usual I have one hand up front with my thumb in her mouth and my other hand is under her tail. Back and forth through the night waters I worked her. The tide was slack so I got no help from the current. I kept working her and talking to her to come on and to get going. It wasn’t working as she showed no sign of life. I got nervous. “F***!! Come on!!!” I exclaimed. I was really starting to think she wasn’t going to survive, but I didn’t give up, but things weren’t looking good. I stayed very patient, imploring her to get along. Finally she clamped down on my thumb and her dorsal stood back up, a great sign! I still didn’t let  her go, she wasn’t ready. I knew this because I briefly let go of her and she listed, I grabbed on to her again and kept her moving through the water. Finally she kicked hard and clamped down hard on my thumb, she thrust hard and I did all I could to hold her. I gave her a long hard push and then let her go. She listed briefly then that big tail swiped hard and she was gone with a hardy splash of water. Regardless of what else could happen, it was a good fish…a good night. Lesson engrained! Redemption had come…for me.

 

Cool Down and a Warm Up-Cuttyhunk Three

End of August

I did another guide trip to Cuttyhunk in the last week of August and was hoping to possibly get an early shot at fall migrators, which some years will produce great numbers and often great size, unfortunately, this trip it didn’t happen. Granted we caught fish, just not a lot of large. It’s still fishing and you still have to work on an unpredictable adversary.

 

September rolled in and I readied myself for a surfcasting tear which would include week-long trips to Cuttyhunk, Montauk and Block Island, in that order. I was licking my chops.

 

First of a Run-Cuttyhunk Four

All I can say about this annual trip is that Cuttyhunk can get downright wild at times, lots of fish, lots of options. Cuttyhunk this time around was strangely and mysteriously beautiful and strangely quiet. The fishing ended up a far cry from the norm (last year I had 100 bass, same week). I don’t know if it was the quietness of the island as the summer hustle and bustled wound down or if it was the slow fishing and the extra time we had to actually recognize Cuttyhunk’s breath-taking beauty. There is something uniquely beautiful about Cuttyhunk and something sad as well.

If you ever spent just a little time looking into Cuttyhunk’s past you will quickly see that it was an island full of people that willed to survive in less than desirable conditions. The true islanders and their families have survived for generations of extreme hardships and unimaginable sadness. Shipwrecks, frigid winters, storms, sickness and losses at sea.

 

Myself and two good friends, Mike D. and Bill L. had some serious conversations about “things relative” that went on at times for hours, about a multitude of things surrounding our passion. We talked, shared laughed, until we all just talked ourselves out and eventually gave in to the loud call of sleep.

Now don’t get me wrong, when at one of the best bassholds in the world, taking the trip off because the fishing is slow is NOT an option for me, I will always work hard for as long as I can, until I just give up realizing that it just isn’t going to happen. Push me down and I will work harder.

Kill me! I don't take trips off. But I have to admit when the fishing is dead slow and you have no place to go, some times the time spent with good friends and delicious food can more than make up for the lack of cooperation on the fishes behalf. Here Mike D., Bill L. (top), and (bottom) Don Guimelli enjoy the food and good times.

Personally my trip was again saved by a hard north wind and a long, lonely walk to the west end, I was determined to finally succeed. I arrived and much to my surprise I was alone, most guys fear hard winds. I was shocked as the area had been drawing a lot of casters. Cuttyhunk is not forsaken anymore!
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was probably because the wind was hauling out of the north at around 25-30 miles per hour, hard right to left, that it was desolate. After wading out far enough to stay comfortable and finding a good mountable boulder, I began casting, trying to figure out a pattern. I worked hard. The wind was blowing, I soon determined that the tide was moving left to right and the only way I got it to work was by casting hard uptide and reeling back with the tide which meant I had to reel twice as fast to keep up with the moving water. As I did the fish surprisingly responded. I took 8 bass in the next hour, it was hard work but it felt good.

As the tide rose I dropped off my rock and retreated towards shore. If these were big fish I would have been much more determined but they weren’t. I was an easy out as the warmth and expensive whiskey mixed with the good conversation of the Club company made this uncomplicated, I geared down and made the long walk home.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Sometimes the conversations get so deep and heavy duty during the lulls. You really learn a lot about your comrades when you have nothing to do but sit and think and discuss. Here Dave Rose from MAK Bags hangs out in the Club and shares some thoughts with me and the boys.

Montauk the Mecca?
It was off to Montauk and like the year previous we were haunted by unfavorable strong winds and a lack of fish, it seems we were a week early as the next week things really blew up like a bomb and I had to hear about it from afar.
This was a guide trip with a group of fellows that I either am or have become very close to, again the bonds are formed when you work together with a common focus, stripers. The group included Mark G. from New York; one of my right hand men, Tom Koz; Sal, a guide customer from Jersey doing his second annual Montauk excusion with me, and the man we stayed with, Wade. A vicious basshound and a diamond in the rough. He and his wife rent a house in Montauk each year from early September until early November, oh the sights he must experience in two these months at the Mecca. His wife is a sweet lady that I am sure she keeps Wade on his toes. She enjoys the outdoors as well and spends a lot of time kayaking the many bays and ponds in the area. She will on occasion fish with Wade.

A Night at an Outflow

This trip as with many trips was salvaged by making drastic moves towards the unknown. When I get a little aggravated I work a lot harder than normal. Anyway the fishing was off, the hard west winds made the point dirty and I was getting ornery, so I canvassed a map that Wade had thumb tacked on the wall (he had two), hung there for just this reason. Being that we were haunted by hard west winds and dirty water I looked for something where the wind would aid my cause. A good ways west I found a huge tidal pond that dumped indirectly into the sound, the mouth faced west, I told Wade that we needed to go for a ride. He was an active and willing participant, you got to love it! We worked our way towards the spot, figuring and doing K-turns quite often. Being that Wade had been renting the house for five years or so, he knew a lot more about the back roads than me especially since he like to kayak a lot of the back bay spots with his dear wife. Well sure enough we found the mouth of this saltwater pond, it was a perfect scenario. It was 60 yards wide at its narrowest point and the water flowed hard and clean, there was bait all over the frigging place to boot. With a driving west wind and an outgoing tide I figure the sluiceway almost had to be good. We figured the optimal tide for after dark where wind would blast against tide, I was anxious to see what the result would be. It was good.
Bass and big blues kept us busy for a couple hours in the wee hours. The water verses wind created a huge rip and loud too. A cast up current and allowing the bait to get swept was the ticket, I did very well on the Tsunami paddle tail eel. By doing large lift and drops as it swept, drew good strikes of bass that sat along the bottom. It was a great hit and a gratifying one to boot. Hits made from nothing always feel good.


Mark weighs one of the big blues that was taken that night. This one was 12 pounds if my memory serves me right.

 
Wade, Mark, and Tom Koz, (Sal not pictured showed up a day later). It is amazing how close strangers become in  five days of bass hunting together.

Sal and I ventured out onto a point late in the week to hit blitzing fish, unfortunately they were all blues. Still cool to watch when they are all around your boulder. This was the first time in a long time that I actually wore waders and drytop again. I didn't wear a wetsuit all week. After a close call with high water and a couple of tumbles, I easily remembered how much I enjoyed the freedom of my wetsuit.  

As the school of blitzing fish moved right into our area, I quickly recognized that they were mostly bluefish. So I put on a loaded SS needle and went long and deep in hopes of big bass on the perimeter. Obviously they weren't there.


Block Island in September

Striper fishing at Block Island in late September should be the setting of realizing a beautiful dream about striped bass fishing, one of few great places where the rod is bent more than it is straight! Block Island has so much to offer by the way of striper terrain. You have the great rip of Sandy point to the north, you have the sandy beaches on the west side and the great boulder fields to the south. God had striper men in mind when he built Block Island.

The year previous gave us seriously good fishing and we expected more this time around only it wasn’t meant to be. Although it was a great time to hit the island, the water was (too) warm and the conditions were more like summer patterns than that of a migration period. At the beginning of the week the water temps were in the high 60’s, and the fishing was fairly slow. Every day I looked at the chalkboard that hangs outside the Twin Maples shop, hoping for the number to drop. Thankfully by weeks end the temperature had dropped four degrees and the fish responded accordingly. I fished, using my Mega-Shads, and had searing hit’s the last two nights with good numbers taken, well up into the double digits. It savaged what had gotten off to an uncommonly slow week in September.

 

A Reality Check-A Look Ahead or a Look Behind?

Well in rolled late-October and the need to hit the Block again rose its head, so I booked the lodging and ferry and headed off to Block Island with a couple close basshounds, Murty and Minch. The expectations were high, after all it was late October! I had previously done very well in this this period so I expected more of the same. This was as close to a sure thing as you can ask for! I naturally couldn’t get there fast enough.

 

Well needless to say, A HUGE slice of reality pie was served up. Four nights at a striper stronghold, (during a migration period) we fished six different locations, a couple of them numerous times and the results were minimal. I was shocked. As often as I fish for this great adversary of the shallow water, I never cease to be impressed by just how unpredictable this fish can be. I finished the 4 night effort with a measly 10 stripers, a 2.5 bass per night average, unbelievable to most, more so to me! Believe it or not 6 of those came on the last night and I worked my ass off for those. The winds largely hampered our efforts and I strongly believe that a high bright moon did likewise. However I am not one to blame poor fishing on the moon, I have never bought into this premise. Over the summer I banged numerous fish under the watch of a high moon looking down upon my work.

 

While there are times when things like poor fishing happens, the whole thing made me really scratch my head in wonderment. It made we wonder if the highly speculated “end” was really nearer than I believed. After all if I told most surfcasters that I fished the Block in late September and did poorly, I’d be called a liar, if I told them the same thing happened a month later I would lose all my credibility. Oh and one more screwy thing to throw one more wrench into the works, both Newport and Montauk were red-hot this entire week. The Block is in between these two, how could BI be cold while the book ends are smoking?

 

My best night of the trip came on my last night with a big six bass (all small, under 32-inches). Six bass in a night is not a big number by any standard, but when you fish three nights previous with four bass to show for it, six is a god-send! I could have done Saturday Night Fever dancing. But let me add this, I worked my ass off for these fish and boy did those six feel good.

 

Here are the details if you are interested. In an ocean that seemed void of stripers, in an ocean that normally had no shortage in abundance, I relished in the fact that despite a bright, high moon, I had a hard driving wind in the face at one of my favorite bouldery points. I licked my chops and headed out alone, I love big surf!! It was a good promontory with good water on all three sides. I worked the left side of the point as the waves drove in towards me, I made my casts out to the deep pulling water, water that has treated me well prior, as a matter of fact I took a fair fish on a loaded Red Fin there a couple nights previous, I couldn’t believe that no callers came knocking. I pondered my next move I was going to move out onto the tip of the point, I searched in the moonlight for a rock that I thought I could both attain and be comfortable on in the big rolling, white water. But before I left my normally productive spot, I did what I call make a couple “what the hell” casts, which are basically casts to water that I normally would not cast to. I don’t expect much but if I do produce, I try to figure out why I did well there and that usually leads to a learning experience.

I made a cast from my rock back to my hard left straight towards the beach where the waves were pushing across the shallow edge of the reef, causing a bed of whitewater, I knew my lure would run dangerously close to a huge boulder and would possibly hang up, but I saw a seam that formed as the water swept just around the big stone. Bang! There was a bass, my first, I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. I hit the same spot about ten minutes later for my second.  I continued to two more spots on the point, I dissected the water carefully and thoroughly and goose egg. Just a little frustrating!

 

I decided to head over to a much smaller point nearby. A point one of my buddies, Andrew, just loves and has done well on, he even insisted that we nickname it “Andy’s Point” which we did because we could. I again planned to chop the point into three sections, the two sides and front. I got up on the front and really had to work. I saw a sweet seam form that really called me, one of those that you know just has to hold some bass. I cast to it several times but due to wind and wave, I just couldn't hit the sweet spot, so I moved for a better angle. Moving is a pain in the buttocks! I found a barely acceptable rock, mounted it and although it was uncomfortable it gave me a clear shot at this seam. The first time I hit it, BAM! Fish on. I worked the spot for another 30 minutes takeing three more bass while getting hit by incoming surf irattling the privates. I had enough! i was very happy needless to say as I blew my previous night away. I conceeded to the Block Island surf, and headed back to the apartment for some sleep.

 

If this photo alone doesn't do something to get your surfcasting engine running full bore, then you may want to take up bungy jumping or parachuting. Sandy Point is one of the best rips in striper country, if not the best!

The next day Murty and I (out of boredom) decided to try Sandy Point. Sandy Point is one of those places on Block Island that I have yet to figure out. That said I haven’t spent a lot of time there either, it is not tops on my “to do” list probably because it doesn’t have the appeal of the great bouldfields to the south. A friend of mine that fished Block a few weeks previous had a couple good hits at Sandy Point, one of them was something along the lines of fish from 1-6:30 p.m. on every cast with fish up to 30-pounds plus. Uh yeah!!! I will give it some work! It is a place that needs to be fished exclusively on certain conditions. We had similar conditions as my buddy did and worked it one night and one afternoon. The night hit produced a big blue and a decent bass on the first few casts, the day hit produced a big, ugly blue. On both trips the fish came on the first or second cast and set the bar high, only to lead to more disappointment.


One of my first cast of the day, across a hauling west wind at 40, and I was fast to a nice fish. It felt like a big bass the way it fought. Unfortunately it was a big, foul hooked blue. The only lure I had that would cut across the wind and penetrate enough was a loaded Cotton-Cordell pencil popper.

                   

It was a brutal, fiesty, blue that battled hard. Check out the rear hook on the popper. The fish I figured was the first of hopefully many that afternoon but it wasn't meant to be, this battle may have well saved a less-than-desirable trip.

The trip ended as one of my worst to Block Island. The end of October, 10 bass in 4 days, very questionable bass behavior. After talking to some long-time Block casters, independently, I got the impression that it was quite possibly the bright high moon, as both mentioned that as the possible culprit. After all it was the middle of the migration and there was tons of bait everywhere I looked. This trip blew my feeble mind.

 

Jersey’s Fall Blast

A 45 and a 49 pounder within a day in September will get anyone’s attention let alone a local surfcaster's, after all this was the fall run in Jersey. A 20-pounder was typically the talk of the local tackle shop. For the longest time the big fish didn’t come to the beach in NJ, they stayed offshore in 40-60 feet of water feeding on an endless amount of bait. But with the re-emergence of the sand eels and with an ever-growing (in size) striper stock, our fall run has becoming more and more enjoyable…and sizable.

 

The Front Side on an October Night

The night was like any other, my buddy Andy and I headed out to one of the front side beaches. We were doing as we usually do, fishing based on tides and wind direction. We seldom ever fish based on reports. It started as a bright night with high bright moon. We parked and headed out to the beach, we started casting and it wasn’t long before a hard strike hit my Mega-Shad, the first bass came to my feet. After a slow start, I handed Andy my key lime Mega-Shad and Andy heated up…big time. The bass where honed in on the chartreuse. Andy started kicking my ass. (Not that we compete but he was clearly outfishing me, good for him), I was throwing a black over silver MS. We fished a good distance of beach as we like to cover some ground as we fish and there were fish all along. Andy had 10 fish to my 1. He is my good friend and I was very happy to see him do well. I eventually heated up with a 9” Got-Stryper on a leadhead. I wore that thing out.

 

We continued on our assault, most fish were 28-inches or better. Andy had a nice fish into the 20’s as well as some nice teenagers. Then it clouded up quickly and started to drizzle,  the tide dropped out, it was sometime after 2 a.m. and Andy had to roll, in order to be home in time to get his girls up and ready for school at 6 a.m. (he has a 2 hour drive). I was going to head out with him but my hit seemed to be getting better. Andy drifted off into the night, back to where we parked and I never saw him again. My hit turned red hot, I started hitting fish on just about every cast. I was all alone. The biggest fish of the night came around 2:30 a.m. I didn’t weigh it but it was somewhere between 25 and 30 pounds, a beautiful fish. Most were over 15 pounds.

                        
Andy and I had our way with the bass that night and we were all alone, it doesn't get much better than that. Andy's biggest pushed 25 pounds.

It was on this fish, of course, as I washed it up I suddenly got this weird feeling, I looked over my left shoulder and saw two silhouettes in the night coming my way, “Shit!” I said. I am a stickler for stealth and keeping good info hush-hush is an absolute must! Now I was in jeopardy of losing my secret hot spot! Oh Lord this stuff might end up on the friggin internet!!! Now with a bit of panic in me, I quickly went down and assessed the fish, no light of course. Naturally where 95% of the fish are lip hooked this one was down deep, I glanced over to see the two strangers making there way to me but they were still a ways off. I lifted the fish with two hands, gripped tight with the left and then slid my hand down into the throat of the bass and felt for the bend of the hook. I found it, and I put my middle finger on the bend and pushed down extremely hard, the hook popped (remember I don’t use barbs). I jiggled my leader a bit and the long rubber bait popped out of the fishes mouth I looked again and saw the two looking my way. I didn’t know if they knew I was working on a fish, the night was now dark, I had my back to them and I did all this while standing straight up, bending over or kneeling is a dead give away. .I was in freak-mode as to not give up anything! I clumsily scooted down into the wash holding the big fish and as soon as a good sized wave washed up I dropped the big girl into the wave and she shot back into the night, I fumbled with my rod, acting like something was wrong with it as to act like there was no fish and I was just a clod. I looked again and I saw the two silhouettes turn and move away back into the night. I breathed a sigh of relief and went back to my fishing. I finished the night, not because the hit died but because I almost died…of fatigue. I wondered what time it was as it seemed like Andy left days ago. I reached for my ’watch pocket’ on my plug bag and I grabbed the watch. “5:15 !!!!” What the heck?!! I had to get the hell out of there. I began my long walk back to my truck as I had drifted quite a ways from my starting point. In the darkness ahead of me, I couldn’t believe what I saw, headlamps and seven silhouettes, the dawn patrol had arrived. I quickly took my lure off and put on one that was not relevant, I pulled my hood up and walked quickly along the beach past the guys some of whom where already fast to a fish. I was satisfied with my night of over 20 good bass with almost no shorts and I wasn’t about to give up any secrets to any strangers.

 

A Text Book Northeaster

I religiously ascertain that in the fall, when you have west winds and tons of bait on the beach, as soon as you get a hard northeaster, you should cancel all scheduled events (work included) and get to the beach that morning.

I shot off a text to very close bass-buddy Murty, that we needed to hit Island Beach in the a.m. because the winds were going hard NE. Murty is no fool probably one of the smartest bassmen I know, he readily agreed and it was game on for a morning beach run in his sweet beach buggy.

Murty and I spend a lot of time in the fall on Island Beach, reading and fishing the endless soft structure there. It is one of my absolute favorite ways to fish. We take good numbers fishing this technique. Murt and I get the mojo working good.


When I finally settled in to some NJ fishing, I teamed up with bass master Murty, we drove Island Beach State Park daily, guiding clients and hunting down stripers. It was a good run, not a great one by any stretch!
               
Murty and I had really two good days. One day when the herring came through and I had six nice bass, and then the day when adult bunker swam close. We took fish up into the mid-20's. It was the storm before the calm. For 10 days straight after the bunker showed we got zero fish. I feel the bunker took with them any and all of the bass we had. No bass filled the void. It was frustrating!

After a stop at Betty and Nick’s (a longtime favorite stop of mine) for some breakfast, we aired down and rolled on at Gilkins. The wind was howling, the raining was falling, the surf was big and wild, the beach sporting just a few diehard clam-soakers, it was perfect, just the way we like it. Where the bass where few and far between the days previous, they had taken up the void in the feeding trough on this day. I can not believe the amount of bass we saw in the rolling whitewater, they were all over the frigging place, it was unbelievable!! We experimented with several different lures and looks, but it ended up that the old stand by produced the most bass, the A-27 behind a teaser did the damage. Once the tide started coming in good the fishing peaked and we banged fish at every stop we made. It was textbook. We finished the run leaving the bass biting, we were a little wet but it is good wet!! You feel good, you get dry clothes on and then back to Betty and Nicks for some hot chili, and life is good for another day.

       

The fall run could be labeled fair at best. We did catch a decent amount of bass when they were there but the times in between good runs was long and borderline unfair in my opinion. But then there is no one to complain to, it is simply the way of the mighty striper. Murty caught a good brace of fish this fall, he is one of the best.

The Aging Surfcaster-Physical Preparation and Execution

I am aging, no doubt, but only physically. Mentally I am a bucking bronco ready to run and buck at every and any challenge. Now when you combine a young fiery spirit that never wants to quit with a body that has other intentions, if your body doesn‘t go…quite simply you don‘t go. All of what you want to accomplish comes down to two words: discipline and fitness.

 

My goals or objectives when I physically condition to prepare for trips or runs are as follows: to easily conquer/ascend steep slopes (very common in some places), quickly and easily mount a waist to chest deep boulder, recover adequately in terms of cardio-vascular fitness, and stay alert while fishing (fatigue will knock you out quickly).

 

I am an extreme surfcaster, by that I mean, I fish hard, I will walk miles, wade chest-deep waters through boulder-strewn fields, get hit by large incoming waves and swell, fish all night in order to get my fish, preferably large. All that I just mentioned however takes a good amount of physical exertion/output. Thus conditioning is imperative!

Seeing that my body, physically, when called upon did not respond every time it was called upon in the 2009 season, I noted my physical shortcomings in my journal and made preparatory adjustments for my 2010 season. The adjustments paid off.

 

I am and always have been, a huge advocate of strong legs, a lot of what we do is about legs. Last year (‘09) I noted that my upper body was sore or unable to perform a couple times (getting knocked off and remounting a rock 25 times in a night will do that) so I integrated a heavier workout regiment for my upper body this past winter and early spring to offset the inefficiencies and they worked well.

I did gain more weight last winter than ever before, writing a book will do that, and it took me quite a while to get back down to my regular weight. Where normally I would have dropped my weight in 6 weeks this year it took 3 months (not good). I notice that my metabolism has slowed as I have aged, thus I need to work harder on fitness throughout the year. A notable example is the fact that I started walking last year when there was ice and snow on the ground and I couldn’t get my weight down to where I wanted it until almost August, imagine how I would have fared if I waited until March or April to start conditioning.

The bottom line: I have to work hard in preparation and get my fishing done the way I do, for as long as I can, hopefully until I am at least 60, then I’ll probably have to buy a friggin’ boat.

 

Final Thoughts

The 2010 season started with a good surge of fish. Waters warmed quickly, bunker showed up early, and things got off to a real good start. The earth was an awesome planet to live on. The summer in the islands were all you could ask for, however the fall on the road was unusually poor. I think it was more bad timing on my behalf than something to be alarmed about, but time will tell. The talking heads tell us stripers are on a down turn.

 

Back in NJ the fall run started with a bang, sputtered and then crashed and burned, done before the second week in December. This was alarming and frustrating but the water temperatures dropped very quickly and the fish stayed off the beach, again. Thank god for the sandeels and a good run of herring along the beach, it saved us.

 

I am not sure what the future holds, based on reports, I would say there is a good amount of uncertainty, to say that I am overtly optimistic would be a little much but you can’t be a fisherman without being an optimist! But you must also be a realist. How many times can you keep trying with nothing to show before you admit that it is done for a while. (Been there done that). Although I experienced good numbers from spring through summer, my outlook on the future gets summed up like this: enjoy it today for tomorrow it may all be gone, that is the overwhelming consensus.

Season Notes
-My number one combo this season: 10'6" St. Croix Legend and Zee Baas ZX 25 with a 27 spool.
-Favorite Line: Sufix Braid 50 pound test
-Most Productive Lures: Mega-Shad, loaded Red Fin, loaded SS mackerel pattern, afterhours Junior Jointed Eel.

THE END

 

Burn Baby Burn:
2009-My Surfcasting Year in Review

By DJ Muller

 

2009 in a word WOW!!!!! I get all jacked up just thinking about the past season! For me 2009 was an absolutely great year in the striper surf!! The road and I were good buddies (we were already pretty good acquaintances), I put a lot miles on my Goodyears, covering multiple locales, experimenting with non-traditional times in time honored places, and dispelled a lot of surfcasting myths. The striped bass showed me just how versatile and spread out and how unpredictable it can be. The road this year took me to Cape Cod early in the season, then back to the Cape Cod Canal a month later for a few days in May. Throw in week long trips to Martha’s Vineyard, Montauk and Cuttyhunk, as well as numerous one and two day, “commando” (quick in an out) runs to Block Island, Cuttyhunk, and Montauk. At every place I was able to take big fish (30 pounds-plus) as well as hit good numbers of fish to boot.

 The loaded red fin shined this year. God I love that plug, what a great producer! I might as well officially call it (trumpet please): “The Year of the Red Fin!” I took so many bass in so many places on that plug, if I were even more of a fool than I am, I would only carry red fins in my plug bag...OK so I am getting a little crazy here but the loaded Cotton Cordell is killer!

Speaking of great lures I also did some serious fish-catching with Dave Anderson’s, Surf Asylum, Flat-Glide Needle, which I now classify as the best wood needle on the market! It’s the needle that beat Hab’s in my book. The two things that make it outstanding are the fact that is doesn’t sink and it doesn’t come to the surface, I have never seen a lure suspend like this, it makes it so valuable in water with rocky bottom, I have no fear of hang ups. The second thing is I love about it is the way it darts while suspended, it darts and then slows down still level where bass then crush the easy target, this lures draws awesome strikes, similar to a darter. I believe the slower action takes huge strikes because a bass can sized it up better. Get a good look at it and then accelerate quickly onto it.

Now while I am in lure mode, I need to add that I have completed my third year of extensive experimentation with loading the Super Strike N-Fish or needle. It has rocketed to the top of my “must have in the bag” list because by loading it I have at least doubled its ability to catch.  Not only does it cast further it also sinks deeper…further and deeper is always better when fishing for stripers. I have loaded all the N-Fish from the one ounce needle, up to 1.7 ounces; to the 1 ½ and 1 ¾ ounce up to anywhere between 2.2 to 3.5 ounces, it all depends on surf condition, wind, and water speed as to which one gets the nod. The amount of fish taken on these this past year was also notable.
(To see my You Tube video of loading the SS needle click here.)

When you mix the 3 lures (the loaded red fin, the Flat-Glide, and the loaded SS) switching them out throughout the night makes you feel… well…like Superman!! At times it is good to keep changing up what you are throwing, the bass like that. I think that sometimes when they are set up in a rip they tend to get used to seeing a certain plug or color and then need to see something different, so believe me the “change up” works. The Flat-Glide stays roughly about a foot or two below the surface. The SS covers the deep and the dark where the big girls like to hang and the red fin stays close to the surface where the profile of a disorientated fish in panic mode is obvious against the night sky and calls bass from the depths.  

The Road

This year I was able to put a lot of time in on the road. I love fishing on the road because I really enjoy the scouting, planning strategies and then execution of the plan, the payoff comes with success (fish caught). To me, finding fish to catch is like is figuring out a puzzle each time out, similar I guess to doing a new crossword puzzle each day.

There are endless areas to figure along the striper coast, thousands of games, some big some small. The striper is such a versatile fish, it adapts so perfectly to its environment, it will go just about anywhere and eat most anything living. For me as a surfcaster it is learning how to hunt them and figuring out how to catch them that makes this game so challenging.

 

Cape Cod Canal

It is no secret that this is a great place to fish. It holds all kinds of possibilities and it is no wonder why it is favored by so many. Not only are there plenty of bass there but there are also numerous techniques and places to learn in that 17 mile stretch. My buddy Tom K. and I had a good trip to the CC Canal where we caught fish on pencils to the mid-20’s in low light conditions as well a good number of teenagers while throwing swimmers and shads in the wee hours. In the daylight there isn’t much not to like about casting to breaking stripers 100 yards away and then watching a bass turn its attention to your offering and blowing it out of the water several times before taking it deep.

 

Majestic Martha’s Vineyard

I spent a week in the Vineyard with a group of awesome travel buddies. Murty, Roon, Raymond, and myself. We stayed on the south west corner of the island in Aquinnah, formerly known as Gay Head, at a very good friend of mine’s place. We were literally 5 minutes from one of the most scenic lighthouses in the country, Gay Head. Standing high upon the bluffs at the lighthouse you get the awesome views of the entire south side of the island as well as Cuttyhunk as she lay to the southeast, on the southern-most tip of the Elizabeth Islands, that lay directly to the west.

Martha’s Vineyard is a huge island and we concentrated most of our fishing to the locales in our vicinity and believe me, it was enough to keep our hands full! The south east corner includes some legendary bass waters such as Gay Head, Philbin Beach, Pilot’s Landing, Dogfish Bar, Menemsha, and Squibnocket with its notorious mussel/gravel bar.

The only time we did drift from the south west corner was when we hit Chappaquiddick Island which in and of itself is an endless adventure. I have spent week long campaigns on Chappy with all its good fishing real estate there, but when you mention Chappy you have to mention the crown jewel of Chappaquiddick Island, the rip at Wasque (pronounced WAYS-QWEE).

This is one of the best rips on the striper coast, the water rips around the bottom corner of the island and the bass and bluefish stack up in these rips. We only fished there for a very short period as we had our hands full with all our southwest options.

Based on my observations of the rip I don’t think most of the locals (10-plus guys) that were lined up there really fish it right, I saw a lot of metal, tins, and bluefish while there. I fished it for only 15 minutes and had two bass while the locals looked on in wonderment. Apparently the high riding tins were hitting the high riding blues while the bass, as usual, hung closer to the bottom. Without any kind of penetration the locals where hitting the blues. I threw a quick sinking lure and had a bass within a few cast as did Rooney who was thinking along the same lines.

The trip was so diversified; fishing sandy Gay Head is the total opposite of the rocky Squibnocket, and Dogfish Bar different than both of those. I truly love beach at Gay Head and I have always done well there with fish into the 30’s on eels. It was good to re-visit that beach and even better to find bass there again. Rooney hit a couple big bass near 30 pounds and the rest of us had good fish to boot, mostly on Slug-Go’s.

We spent a lot of time crawling around Squibnocket and had moderate success there as one day we fished it in calm conditions, the next day in a driving wind. It was your typical boulderfield set-up but I was not overly impressed with the gradual drop off into deeper water, I prefer a faster drop-off like the ones Cuttyhunk and Block offer.

 

We had a great and successful fishing trip in the Vineyard I feel that Martha’s Vineyard is a huge and relatively untapped resource in terms of surfcasting. It sports endless opportunities and I am fairly certain that even more big bass, than those already taken, could be had from the surf with more application. I would love to fish there for a month straight from mid-June to mid-July. That said I would like to continue to uncover many of its deeply buried surfcasting secrets, the land of endless options.  

Cuttyhunk Calling

The first run of the season to Cuttyhunk was a two-night commando run with my two good buddies Ray and Turner (he could only do one night mind you) in July. A commando run is where you fish all night and then get out of town in the morning. We did a two-nighter so we needed to stay over somewhere so we booked a quick night at the fabled Cuttyhunk Fishing Club and used that as our base. I have to admit we have very good friends within those walls. They took very good care of us.

The fishing was good! On the rising tide we banged fish mostly teenagers and down on artificials (Slug-Go’s, needles and red fins). As the tide slacked we went to eels and took some good fish. Our nemesis on this trip came unexpectedly and took us down hard…mosquitos!! When the night winds stopped the mosquito’s took over pushing us in to “run, don’t walk mode,” they were the worst I had ever seen! It was unbelievable! They were in my eyes and ears relentlessly and within seconds. It was the worst kind of torture, you couldn't even cast and retrieve with these annoying pests mauling you! Who would have thought to remember to bring bug spray while in Cuttyhunk?

 

The next night we did indeed bring a couple gallons of bug spray and we were right back into fish again. I flirted with a good bass but in the end the hook pulled (for no apparent reason, Grrrr!) leaving me scratching my noodle for answers. The night was curtailed when Ray broke his (one and only) rod at around 2:30 a.m. while wrestling a lunker in the neck deep waters of the boulderfield. We hadn’t slept in two nights and easily decided that we would walk back to the club and get some much needed sleep. The morning came too quick as we almost missed the only ferry off the island, the trip was as good one can get needless to say.

 

Block Island Commando

It was about 3 weeks later when Raymond, Lell, and me met up in Galilee and got ready to board the Block Island Ferry. We sat on the deck of a waterside restaurant and planned how we would attack the island in another commando raid. The ferry ride was beautiful, as always, and we hit the dock in Old Harbor and then we B-lined it for the taxi stand. We were then transported to our premeditated destination were we did a walk and then donned our wetsuits and got a feeling for the area as night began to fall. The fishing was slow…until the lights went out and then it was, as Ray always says, “Game on!!!” We hit fish good for two nights straight. We all had endless fish to 20 pounds and I had the good fortune of a 30 pound-plus when the eels came out. The first night I did major damage on Asylum’s Flat-Glide needle, my new number one needlefish! On the second night it was the loaded red fin that they preferred for the encore performance. It was lights out fishing until the tide slacked and the water dropped out and then it was time to curl up on a cozy rock pile for some shut-eye. YEAH RIGHT!! It was a new definition for pain!

 Finding a soft rock can be a tough job.

As morning came we peeled off our seal costumes and were found sitting on one of the benches at the ferry terminal fighting off sleep in our civvies, waiting to board the first boat to the mainland. The road called and I think we all took long distance calls from our soft comfortable beds back home in NJ. The adrenaline and the stories kept our sleep depraved minds entertained all the way home, until our exit sign ended another great trip. Put it in the books!

 

Sleeper in Montauk

It was late August and I was determined to make a trip to Montauk for some summer large. I called my good LI friend Matt and he was up for the task. I took the train this time (and probably the last time) from my local train station in Manasquan to Penn Station and then from there to the Merrick station on the LIRR where Matt was going to pick me up. I think I only poked two or three people with my rod while carrying it on the train and through the station. Gee you would think that people would be more understanding. I told the one guy that they can put eyeballs back in nowadays...I am not sure he believed me though.
Anyway we were off and we were psyched (for no obvious reasons) and we were happy to be hanging again and heading to the Mecca for an all-nighter on the rocks.

Well it happens some times. We fished our asses off, north side, south side, under the lamp and all for naught. Not a damn hit all night. So we hit Johnny’s for breakfast and headed west…I had to catch a train.

 

Celestial in Cuttyhunk

On the next trip the travel team once again reassembled and what a team it was!! Murty, Raymond, Doc, Lellis, Koz (a first timer, but you wouldn’t know it), ace Jolliffe, and yours truly, we were headed out for a week on the legendary island of Cuttyhunk, a place of myth and legend. This crew is like a dream team, all great fishermen, all independent fisherman that have their own goals and work ethic, no follow-the-leader games here. Each very component, complete and loaded for serious fishing. Not a jean and sneaker fishermen amongst us! The thing I love about my travel team is that it is a collection of independent fishermen that have no problem wondering out alone into the night and feeling perfectly comfortable working alone. That said each member also knows how to fish correctly with other members, if and when a small group heads out to fish. The group either paired off in small groups or fished alone and each guy had his own highlights of the trip, awesome people to compare notes with at the end.

 

Cuttyhunk is highly hyped and misinterpreted by the unknowing. A great place to fish but not the “guarantee” some would convince you to think that it is. Cuttyhunk is big time hit or miss, if anyone thinks it is a sure thing, prepare for disappointment and let me say as a neutralizer, all that glitters is not gold, and some that speak do so with forked tongue in mouth and dollar signs in their eyes. Cuttyhunk has equals and many of them. If you go to Cuttyhunk, go with big work ethic in mind not with big dreams. All you can hope for is that you hit it at the right time, for if you do…the world will be your oyster. 

I worked extremely hard to dispel myths and to find big bass on this trip. I based all my locations on what I considered good looking water, not based on places of historical significance. I chose four areas where I believed big bass would pass by or hold, areas that I thought would produce a lunker or two. At each of the four points/areas, (all of areas were diametrically opposed to each other yet all produced the same result) the numbers were good with fish up to 20 pounds, each night I produced double digit catches, yet the big fish didn’t come, not unusual for Cuttyhunk. I knew that it wasn’t just me as there were a good number of surfcasters out and about and news travels fast of a big fish on a small island, all week there was not one big fish taken. The big fish simply were not around the island. Again…it happens there.

Finally after a week of fish, none over 20, a stiff wind made enough of a change that I hit a high 20 pound fish on our last night a good sign that possibly some better fish had moved in around the island. Now mind you I will agree with you that a high 20 isn’t a great fish, but after a week of hard work and small fish, that 20+ sure felt good! It is all relative, right?

The loaded red fin and the Asylum Flat-Glide again ruled the roost although my trusty loaded SS needle also held its own.

Did I mention about the food and social side of week-long trips? Ah maybe later. On we go.

 

Windy Montauk

It was a very quick turn around and a large reason why I love my wife so much, it is because she is so cool...and understanding…either that or else she just wants to get rid of me! Hmmm I will have to ponder that! Anyway, I got home Saturday and Monday morning I drove into the village of Montauk for a five day adventure (Montauk is always an adventure!) It was early October and the excitement raced through my veins the way a big weakfish races through a school of spearing.

The trip was marred by foul, hard blowing westerly wind. A good wind is always welcome in Montauk…except for the ones that we had. Even a good northwest is alright but not at 40-50.

Me and my group worked hard, we did a lot of scouting and searching for some good, fishable water. On Tuesday night the winds went south and I hit the south side rocks, wetsuiting in a decent swell. I spent a lot of time in the water on that Tuesday night as the waves or swell would knock me off and back a few yards, it built as the tide came in. The waves and swell started around foot level, a couple hours later I was taking them in the knees and thighs. However the beating has its reward as I hit good fish, 14 I believe it was to 18 pounds for a good hour or so on bucktails. The good hit felt good but the moon popped out and the fishing died so off I went.

The next morning the gale blew south real hard so it was to the town beaches, huge driving surf with a mix of sand eels and bluefish and bass. I got off to a terribly slow start as one of my buddies smoked the bass on almost every cast, they were digging the yellow teaser he had tied on. I finally got my pattern/technique down and started smoking as well in the raging, angry surf. The lure that was getting the deed done was the A-47 with no tail. I was able to drive this far enough through the wind to where the bass were sitting just beyond the break. All were keeper-size. Once I had the pattern figured out I just stuck to it, banging fish on almost every cast until the conditions deteriorated to the point where it was sweeping so hard that I couldn’t keep the tin down and in front of me at all. The beach, which at one point had a hundred plus guys, was now vacated as it became unfishable. Eggs and sausage sounded good, time for breakfast!

Thursday night the good Lord finally turned the fan off and the winds were almost non-existent, just slightly puffing out of the NW. It was back to the southside rocks. I once again found a leading boulder which I never fished before and set up on it and began casting. This night was much different in regards to conditions. Where the swell and waves pounded me on Tuesday night, knocking me off my rock at least 25 times, tonight was just a gentle swell that rose over my feet and through my legs. The night started quiet but then came the first hit followed closely by the first bass, it was a decent bass, over 30” and it was the first of several that would come over the next hour all teen-sized…and up. The good fish came towards the end of that hour-long hit in a bass that went thirty-plus maybe bigger I don’t know, I didn’t weigh it, but it was decent. On this fish I was fortunate enough to have a couple buddies sitting behind me on the beach, so I swam her in for a quick photo shoot and then release. I find a lot more satisfaction in the releasing of a big “egg producer” than I do taking it for other reasons. I had no good reason to keep it.

 

And Again…The Mecca

Ray, Doc and me planned a quick trip back out to Montauk, we were going to meet up with our buddy “The Fish Finder” Dave R. who had been out there a couple days already. We planned to fish a southside spot and began our trek before dusk. We did not get very far when we ran across some very heavy fish feeding activity right in a cove, the action built and built before our eyes until an all-out, classic Montauk blitz erupted right in front of us. Hey what were we to do? So we did. We blitzed bass and blues for two hours non-stop, fish on every cast. An incredible site! Bass at 360 degrees, all around us, chasing white bait in between the boulders, bay anchovies jumping up onto the boulders to escape a certain doom. The next morning the wind howled ugly again and home we went.

 

 Back to the Block

The phone rang and I answered it, the road called again and the next trip was to Block Island again in late October. I had to sneak one more in before the curtain dropped so off I went with Doc and Mike for a quick 3 day bass barrage. Block Island is a lot of fun and this year it was very good because the sand eels moved in and then stayed there all year, the bass did like-wise.

The thing I like best about the Block is the wetsuiting opportunities. Block Island in my estimation is the best wetsuiting island of them all, just because well located boulders with access to deep water are all over the place. I like leading rocks on rocky, bouldery points, it’s heaven to me, with good moving, deep water, with structure in the form of submersed rock piles out in front, it doesn’t get any better than that for stripers. 

The first night was great we hit one of the south corners of the island before dark to get a feel for the terrain. After dark we found bass in good number. This was a wild hit because the tide was dead low and the water was rolling across the long shallow gravel bars and then dropping into the deep trough at our feet. The bass where stacked up in the troughs and they were of fair size (up to 20 pounds, nothing under 12 pounds). They hammered the red fins unmercifully. The other hot spot was on the deep edges of the rocky points where the water was dumping back out to the ocean. It seemed the bass were in there waiting in ambush as these waters dumped. We walked down a ways, working up bass all along.

It was a long day and we were whopped after the good hit and the boys wanted to hit the rack so I dropped them off back at the B&B. I was still amped up so I went back out to a place where I had done well in the past. The swell was fairly big and I needed to be careful wetsuiting alone (I like to team up) but I was fairly familiar with the stretch. I cautiously made my way out to a good rock and fished for 45 minutes where I was able to hit 2 more bass to 18 pounds on a red fin and an Asylum Flat-Glide. That seemed to satisfy my insatiable desire to fish for that day either that or I just ran out of gas. The hit petered out and I had to get some sleep before the next adventure so I headed back for some rest before the next opportunity presented itself.

The next night Andy, my buddy from Pa. showed up and we started on the south end of the island at dusk where Andy promptly hit a nice 20 pound bass on a Junior, it was what I called his welcome to the island. He accepted it gratefully and on we went.

And then I saw Doc hit 3 nice bass beside a distant point. I was in a bucktail mood and the bass were too. I caught several. The bass were super high energy bass, man they fought incredibly hard! These were real black-backed, well-fed, high octane bass.  

We left there and again hit a south corner and the fishing began again. The wind had changed direction and the water was much different scenario from the night previous, we worked the same pattern but it wasn’t as good as the previous night. I eyed the boulderfield then went hunting for a good boulder, found a good leading rock and went to town. The town was good to me. Good sweeping water pulling left to right, the red fin again worked great short while the new acquired afterhours stubby needle did the long range damage. What a good lure!! The hit wasn’t smoking hot but the fish were “juiced”!!! Man the power of these fish was scary, twice I knew I had 30 pounders hooked only to find they were only just under 20 pounds when I lit them up. I think I pulled a muscle in my jaw from the long drops.

Day three provided a massive blowout with winds exceeding 50 m.p.h. I thought for sure the house that we were staying in was going to get blown down. The ferry was shut down and we were stuck on Block with nowhere to fish. The winds subsided enough the next afternoon allowing us to escape. Another memorable trip was in the books.

 

Home Sweet Home?

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my own home waters of New Jersey which sports possibly the best spring/summer striper/bunker run on the east coast and I might go as far as to say perhaps one of the best runs in striper coast history. Your chances for a big fish are very good while this takes place. There is one small speed bump mind you and that is that you will in all likelihood have to take a beating and get abused in order to get one. The sheer numbers of people trying to catch a lunker is oppressing and it takes most of the fun out of the fishing. The internet and the cell phone crowd have in essence ruined the fishery. If you happen to be lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time with fish in front of you, once you have been spotted by a cell phone spy, one call and with in minutes you will have more friends by your side than you can imagine. I have seen jetties go from 3 guys (the ones actually fishing) to 28 guys in fifteen minutes thanks to the cell phone contingency. It really stinks because say you hook up to a nice 30 pound fish in broad day light, you know that within minutes you will be completely and thoroughly mugged. So your overall feeling instead of shher excitement is that of panic and haste. You want to hurry to get your fish in and unhooked and try to get off at least one more cast before you end up in a web of braid. I have nicknamed it ‘combat fishing’ where it would not be a bad idea to wear a helmet, safety goggles, chest protector and shin guards (and oh yeah guys…a cup) when heading out onto a rock pile…lures, gaffs, and Mexicans flying all over the damn place.

Now all that said, these bass blitzes when they come in on the huge bunker schools are truly an amazing sight to behold. I have had the good fortune of being in on these blitzes and watching first hand as the bass go crazy on their favorite food. Again it is amazing!

As an example, a couple years back we had what I labeled “The Blitz of the Century.” Bass attacked the beach in unison over about a 5 mile stretch. Every jetty in that stretch had bass to 50 pounds, (don’t get excited most were 20-30). On my jetty that night me and five others hooked up on every cast for hours, I finished the night with over 20 bass to 38 pounds. I was totally and completely exhausted. I stopped fishing only because I simply couldn’t fish anymore.

Last year I was in on another in the middle of the afternoon, it was your typical bass-bunker blitz, where I got something like 14 bass to 38.6 pounds, I released all.

 

Before each season starts, I sit down with my journal and I pen my goals for the upcoming year. I have done this for years; it gives me something to work towards. This year one of my NJ goals was to catch a big bunker-bass, in what I call the honest way; night time, throwing artificials. Anyone can catch a big bass in a bunker blitz, no real skill is needed just luck. If a Mexican can pull a 40 off a jetty, anybody can, I see nothing special. When it gets nuts, hitting a big bass is as easy as catching snappers in the river on an August evening on a snapper popper, the only difference is everything is bigger, from tackle to fish. Working the night waters for a wily foe and then taking one to me is the essence of our sport.

 

I am grateful. This season, late one night, while working the tides at 3 a.m. I was able to hit a good bass (36.5 pounds) in the dark. That fish meant so much more to me than most of those big blitz fish because I had to really earn it. It was a huge battle with wave and rock and fish, the kind where all of your skill-sets are called upon for completion of the task. Battling a great fish in the dark, waves knocking you around as you get low to the water, near the edge on slimy rocks and trying to gaff a big fish in darkness, while trying to keep your light on her, where at any minute she can suddenly turn and cut you off on a barnacle encrusted rock, it was clearly a classic battle! God I love that stuff!
 

 

 

 

                                               I checked that one off my goal list.

 All this big bass talk brings me to my last point of this exposition and that would be…our future as bassmen and the future of the mighty striper. If we want to continue to have bass fishing like we do now all along the striper coast we need to seriously consider tomorrow. Each of us, need to realize that our future lies with these big fish and we as striped bass fishermen, both from boat and surf, are killing way too many of them! A 30 pound-class bass lays roughly 4.5 million eggs per spawn and these fish spawn every year. Once they get bigger (mid-40 pound-class and up) they become less fecund and spawn maybe every 4 years and laying fewer eggs. For every 30 pound-class fish you kill you take that many eggs out of next years Young of the Year (YOY) index. Please remeber this.

 

Now maybe you want to point the finger at me, feel free. I do take big fish every year for a tournament I fish in, The Striper Cup, but I do it for team camaraderie and for good competition. That said I have set rules for myself, I will take two big fish for the Cup and that is it. I could take a hell of a lot more, like some do, but I want fish for tomorrow and for our children to enjoy. It doesn’t mean anything to me to kill just to kill or to kill and then cull, this is bull and it has to stop!! I have instilled a personal standard of “Love ‘em and Leave ‘Em,” or as my good friend says, CPR, catch-photo-release. When heading out when huge fish dominate the scene I make sure that I have two essentials along with the usual and obvious; my scale and my camera. I bang the fish, weigh it to eliminate “lies and exaggerations,” photograph it for the ages, and then I give my girl and honorable release because she deserves it.

I would ask that you strongly consider this as an option and I would ask that you consider it while being of sober mind and spirit, no I don’t be booze, I mean adrenaline. If you make a decision after a battle with a large, you are then faced with a huge and emotion-filled decision…should I keep her? If you have run through your options while calm and collected it can make the decision much easier for when you are in the heat of the battle.

See you on the beach!
THE END.

 

 
Email questions to: djmull13@msn.com
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