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SURFCASTER’S j o u r n a l

Rock bottom? Th

hat's a fishing term. -Sir Charles Sheen 2011

This issue of the Surfcasters Journal Magazine represents a turning point in our existence. This publication grew out of our passion for the sport. A few of us got together and decided to attempt to do something that we were told wasn't possible. We wanted to create a magazine for those who fish from the shore. We were told that we can't do it without burning spots, that this sport we dearly love is not big enough to warrant a publication, that others have failed pursuing their passion before. But we were undeterred. We thought that if we stayed true to our passion, we could create not only the best looking publication in the world but also something that you as surfcasters could be proud to call your own. We are thankful that so many of you wrote to us, called us or told us at the show that the Surfcaster's Journal is the best thing since sliced bread. Ok, maybe not sliced bread but definitely the best thing that has come onto the surf scene since Snooky and The Situation. My sincerest thanks goes to all the writers who contributed articles, the fellows who sat down for interviews, our editing and design staff and our wives who were more than accommodating in our pursuit of creating the best darn surfcasting magazine on the planet. I would remiss if I did not thank our supporters and advertisers and all of you who threw in a few bucks via the donation button on our blog. I am particularly thankful to people like Rob from LI Outdoorsman, Scott from Saltybugger, the fabulous Musso boys from Super Strike Lures, Armand from RI Poppers, Scott from East End Tackle, Ray from Line Stretcher, Jeff from St Croix rods , Pat from River's End, Rob from Lordship and many others who supported us sight unseen from the first day. And of course, to all of our current supporters and advertisers who make it possible for this magazine to remain subscription free.

If some of you think that the advertising you see in the pages of this magazine is purely designed to sell products and services, you will be surprised at what I am about to tell you. Many of our advertisers have told us that they don't have e-commerce websites to which their ads would drive traffic. They told us that spending money on advertising is not something they can easily afford or from which they could see a meaningful return on their investment. Then why do they do it? Most of them said they want to support the Surfcaster's Journal Magazine because they are surfcasters too. They also want to promote the sport and help increase participation in it. They feel that by supporting us they are giving something back to the surf fishing community that has been good to them over the years. All of us here at the Surfcaster's Journal are eternally grateful. Why did I mention that this issue represents a turning point in our short history? Because as of this issue the Surfcaster's Journal will become a bi-monthly publication appearing at your PC every two months instead of quarterly. We are also expanding our coverage to include fly fishing from the shore. Let's be honest, fishing with a spinning rod, with a lure, hand line, chunk or a fly rod is still surfcasting. We are pretty excited to offer our readers a glimpse into techniques that they might have only dreamed of doing in the past and hopefully giving some of you the little push you needed to try them. We will also feature stories on surfcasting around the globe. Many of us are traveling more frequently and carrying our rods on our vacations.

Last but certainly not least, we are happy to announce some exciting editions to our staff. Many of you know Dave Anderson as a plug builder behind Surf Asylum lures and the former editor of the Fisherman Magazine in New England. Dave will have the thankless task of writing a regular column about lures, a subject that is akin to walking in a minefield while wearing a magnetic suit. After all, for every opinion on lures, from which colors work the best, to which hooks are the strongest, there seems to be ten opposing views on the same subject on the internet boards. We are also happy to tell you that noted chef Andrew Chase, currently a co-owner of Katja Cafe in New York City, will help us bring you some great recipes and ideas about how to get even more enjoyment out of this sport. We are happy to announce that John Papciak, a most respected surf fisherman with both surf and fly rods, will join us in writing about fly fishing from the surf. The reason I am particularly stroked about this is that John has a surfcaster's mentality and I am very much looking forward to what he has to say. This is an exciting time to be a reader of the Surfcaster's Journal Magazine. Not only will you get the best content and the coolest looking publication on the internet but now you will be able to read it more frequently. The only bad part is that some of us will be chained to our computers longer, making sure everything comes together smoothly. So if you happen to see us on the beach, don't ask us why we are cranky. :-)

Sincerely Zeno Hromin

Surfcaster’ s Journal Issue #6 SPRING 2011 14-Geared Up 27-The Rod Corner - Caruso 35-Fly Fishing Update - Papciak 49-Plugaholics Anonymous - Anderson 61-Beach To Table - Chase 75-Nicola Zingarelli Photography 89-Unimog:The Ultimate Beach Buggy - Hromin 111-3 Spring Lures:Favorites Of The Experts 136-Jersey Channel Islands - Keith & Kevin White 163-Bernard Calitri - Dennison 183-Flyrod In The Surf Zone - Popovics 191-Flip Pallot Interview - Hromin 204-Contributors editor in chief head photographer: Zeno Hromin art director/garfunkel: Tommy Corrigan head copy editor: Roger Martin boss of the head copy editor: Marie Martin rod guru: Lou Caruso executive chef: Andrew Chase plug guru: Dave Anderson fly guru: John Papciak cover photo: Zeno Hromin Surfcaster's Journal is published quarterly by Surfcasting LLC. Publisher reserves the right to accept or reject any advertising submitted for publication. Surfcasting LLC and Surfcaster's Journal assume no responsibility for errors made except to republish in future issue any advertisement having an error. Use of this material without express written permission of Surfcasting LLC and Surfcaster's Journal is strictly prohibited.

© 2011 Pure Fishing, Inc.


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I am on a drug. It's called Charlie Sheen.

Dave Rose, the maker of MAK Surf Bags has taken his lumps on the internet boards the last few years for his inability to meet the surging demand for his custom bags. Most of us assumed that Dave, like many before him in a similar predicament just disconnected his phone and disappeared. We were pleasantly surprised when, this past Christmas, Dave unveiled a new website featuring his bags. These are in stock and ready for delivery! We are not going to gush over his bags as if he reinvented the wheel, instead we will point out to you some features which you can then compare to other bags on the market. First, there is a lifetime warranty on each bag. It is an obvious sign that Dave is proud of the craftsmanship and material that go into making each one of his bags. The bag that we received to test was a single row, 4 tube beauty and the first thing we noticed was a feature that some might find irrelevant, but we know better. There is nothing worse than having the tail hook of your lure get hung up in the drain hole on the bottom of one of the tubes making it impossible to extract the plug. This happens just when the fish begin to bust in front of you. MAK bags feature drain holes drilled at the edge of the base of the tubes going around the tube in a perfect circle. There is no way that your hook will get jammed in there.

We questioned why they put a small Velcro strip on the top of the flaps that cover the tubes. After further review, we realized that a small Velcro strip on the upper side of our bag was there so we can fasten the flaps and put them out of the way when not needed. Simple yet very smart! The whole bag is constructed with double stitching. There is a small pocket on the inside of the top flap and the flap itself features a generous 4 inches of Velcro. The added benefit is that when you use a very large lure and can’t close the bag fully you’ll still have plenty of Velcro to close it tight. There is a large slot pocket in the back of the tubes for your rubber lures, extra lights or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In front of the lures there is a bucktail or tin holder that will accommodate 6 lures. Another nice feature is the way the tubes are held together. Instead of welding the tubes (which weakens them), gluing them or using caulk to hold them together (which eventually separates) Dave uses a special fastener that aircraft makers use when they can't get a rivet into tight places. The bottom is made out of a special hypalon rubber as this part of the bag usually takes more of a beating than the rest of it. All this in a quality surf bag at a very reasonable price!

There is a tendency to think of some lures as either being local products used mainly on our shores or that only lures from large manufacturers are used around the world. For a local lure maker to find acceptance around the world is fairly unusual. However there is one local Long Island, New York lure maker whose lures are used in just about every continent in the world. Super Strike lures are truly a local product. Their yellow Darter is a staple of Montauk regulars while a Block Island sharpie would never get on a rock without one of their Needlefish in his bag. As well regarded as their lures are there is one lure in their line that has captured the imagination of not only striper fanatics but tropical anglers too. The Super Strike Little Neck Popper has fooled more striped bass and bluefish over the years in the northeast than any other popping lure we can think of. But in recent years we've seen it used successfully on tuna, roosterfish, giant needlefish, barracuda and who knows how many other species. How did a local builder get such a large and loyal following around the world? The answer is easy: superior design, rigorous manufacturing standards and quality construction. The lures are designed to outcast just about any other popper of equal weight and size and are constructed out of plastic making them virtually indestructible. This is particularly important to anglers who are fishing in the tropics and targeting species with very sharp teeth. But many lures can be cast a long distance, right? Although that is true, many of the poppers on the market today are designed with only one thing in mind, creating a big splash. Super Strike Little Neck Poppers not only throw a lot of water but because of their hourglass design and weight placement, they also have an enticing swimming motion.

Their most popular model, the sinking 2 3/8 ounce Little Neck Popper, is a staple of surfcasters in the northeast. Not only does it cast like a bullet but its sinking properties make it appear like a struggling baitfish much more closely than poppers that float on the surface. After all, no baitfish, healthy or injured, can stay on the surface at all times. The productivity of Super Strike Little Neck sinking poppers at night is the worst kept secret among night owls in the surf. Just cast them out at night and retrieve them with a straight, slow retrieve and hold on to your rod. But you didn't hear that from us, ok?

In recent years elongated rubber lures became the rage along the northeast coast. Not only have they proven to be deadly on stripers but also on pelagic species like tuna. The recent reappearance of large sand eels undoubtedly has helped their popularity but for a surfcaster, any lure that imitates an American Eel without the slime and smell of the real thing is sure to find a fan in us. We already have written about the Hogy Doublewide as one of our favorite rubber lures to toss un-weighted into the surf, but what about some of their thinner models? At first you might think that these are not as conductive to long and easy casting as their wider brethren and you'd be right. However, no manufacturer has worked harder to help you get your lure into the strike zone than Hogy. They offer a myriad of rigging options from weighted swim bait hooks, swimming tins, darter heads, jig heads, tandem rigs and many more contraptions, all designed to get your Hogy into productive water. We always liked the tandem hook rig. It takes only seconds to put together and it lacks any weight so you can make your Hogy lure dance sexier than Shakira's hips.

We also had good success with their Swimming Tin. Just impale your Hogy on the tin’s hook and retrieve it straight. The Swimming Tin will provide not only all the action you'll ever need but its weight will help you get a bit more distance. For calmer water and back bays you can't beat their 7 inch models, fishing weightlessly with just a twitch. For the surf we prefer 10 and 14 inch models with either a swim plate, tandem hooks, swim bait hook or a jig head. There are so many brands out there, you might ask why we prefer Hogy? Because they are one of the supplest baits around which translates into lifelike motion under the surface. But although they are supple and soft, you won't give up durability in comparison to other baits on the market. We also like that they are not dyed but instead they are made with color pigment. All in all, Hogy is one of our favorites and with their record of constantly improving their line of products we have no doubt that they will be high on our list for years to come.

When we are fishing in waters where darters excel, we are prone to load our bag with Super Strike darters. If the water is deep or the baitfish in the area have been large in size, we might take along some of Salty’s large darters. Conversely, when the bait is on the smaller side in the spring we might include a few Yo-Zuri Mag Darters. The thing is, Mag Darters, although great fish catchers, are really not darters in the traditional sense. They are a kind of lipless swimming plug that wobbles. The marketing boys at Yo-Zuri did a good job when they called it a darter.

There are a lot of times when we wish we had a true darter but in a smaller size. We have struggled with this for years. Not many plug builders know how to make a good darter. Some are petrified of producing a plug that might or might not work. So over the years this has left a large hole in our lure arsenal until we discovered the Choopy Darter. At 5 inches and 1¾ ounces this darter perfectly filled in the gap in our darter arsenal. Maybe many of you do not often toss darters either because you don’t have confidence in the lure or maybe you feel the conditions in the area you fish are not conducive for using these lures. Perhaps you just can't get the “feel” that you are retrieving it right. We, on the other hand, are darter junkies. We could make a darter zig and zag in our bathtub if we had to. What do we like specifically about Choopy darters? We liked the attitude for starters. Choopy Lures in general get very little hype yet all they do is make quality lures that catch fish. Maybe it’s because they decided a long time ago to let their products speak for themselves. They did not post pictures on the Internet of “eel caught” fish in whose mouths lures were stuck for a quick photo-op. You think we didn't know? We love the affordable price. But most of all we like its fish catching ability. Choopy Darters have an “all over the place” motion during the retrieve, much more pronounced than Super Strike or Yo Zuri darters. They cast well for their size and will make a great addition to your bag when bait like peanut bunker, squid and small herring are around. We like to toss them along the seawall on a jetty regardless of which bait predominates. Due to its smaller size and unpredictable darting action you will be presenting a target too hard to pass up for any game fish. Quality, affordability and fish catching ability without hype...what is not to like?

In all honesty we were a bit perplexed when we received our first Edge Trembler Minnow from Yo-Zuri super rep, George Large, at a gathering more than a year ago. Why? It was shaped a bit weird to say the least. The whole line of Edge Trembler Minnows (floater, suspended and sinking minnows) all feature three distinctive flat sides. The profile of these lures is also much thinner than most plastic swimmers we’ve used over the years. What's up with three sides you are probably asking? You will notice almost immediately that these lures, because of their "Triad shape" design, reflect light from three angles in three different directions making it more visible to gamefish. Its flat belly allows the sinking model to fall horizontally through the water column at about a half a foot per second. Since the sinking Edge Minnows do not feature a plastic lip it is left up to the angler to breathe life into them. Because of their shape, they cut through the water with ease and can be manipulated very easily. Our favorite retrieve was to let the lure sink a little and then employ the “walk the dog” retrieve as the lure jerks sharply from left to right. The floater and suspended models do have plastic lips and on a fast retrieve the lures wobble wildly while on a slower retrieve they have a tighter wobble. We used the 5" models for a full season and although they weigh anywhere from 11/16 to 1 ounce for sinking models, they cast like a darn bullet, particularly the sinking model. There is no secret why either. You will find Yo-Zuri’s patented weight transfer system in the Edge Trembler Minnows series, the same weight transfer that we fell in love with when Yo-Zuri Mag Darters first appeared on the scene. For those of you who are fans of Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows, and we know there are lots of you out there, you now have two more patterns to add to your arsenal: Bunker Flash and Blue Back Herring. The only thing that would make our wish list complete would be for the folks at Yo-Zuri to add these two patterns to their Crystal Minnow Magnum line.

At some point, most flyrodders will experience the need to present patterns much deeper in the water column. Swapping spools and changing to a full length sinking line is not always practical, especially when rock hopping or wading at night. Enter shooting heads. With a handful of different heads packed into a leader wallet, it is possible to swap from intermediate to slow sink to fast sink within a few short minutes. When you really want to plumb the depths of steep drop-offs with heavy currents (if you've ever bucktailed an inlet, you know what we are talking about) you might need to “get the lead out.� We've tried numerous products for conquering the depths, but we keep coming back to one product - Cortland's LC (Lead Core) 13. This product is a no-frills lead core weighted line that can be turned into an ultra fast sinking shooting head by adding loops to either end. As the name suggests, this is a "core" line, as opposed to a fly line weighted with metal particles mixed into the coating. It needs to be stretched slightly to remove any kinks from storage. What makes LC13 especially effective is its narrow diameter, considerably thinner than most commercial fly lines and sinking shooting heads. We've fished many other shooting heads over the years that were technically "heavier," but most rode up in fast currents due to a thicker diameter - regardless of what the grain count or IPS (inch per second) sink rate was suggested on the packaging. You might think that lead line like this would overload all but the heaviest rods, but we found that most fast-action 10-weight rods easily tossed a 30 foot head made of LC13. We even got by in a pinch casting the same head on some 9-weights.

Sticker shock price tags are all too common in fly fishing, but you won't find it here. A 30 foot section of LC13 will set you back a whopping $12 and is available from numerous specialty fly fishing internet sites. Some fly shops offer an even better option by selling you LC 13 by the foot. You'll need to invest some practice time casting these home-made heads to get the timing down, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll be hard pressed to find a quicker way to go deep.

We will remember you when we get to Hollwood... we promise.



Lou Caruso

So You Want To Build Fishing Rods Lately I’ve noticed that a lot of guys are looking to build their own fishing rods. Maybe it’s this long, dreary, never ending winter or the fact that guys see more and more posts on the internet related to rod building. I think it's great and building your own rod can be a source of great pride. When I started back in 1970/1971 (I know, I’m really old!) I started with a cookbook, a cardboard box and a Jell-O cup. I cut two V’s in the box to cradle the rod blank. The book was used to apply tension to the thread and the Jell-O cup was used to hold the spool of thread. At the time I was building a few rods a year for friends and myself. I didn’t actually buy a wrapper until 1976. This was a big step for me at the time. One area I didn’t skimp on was learning the basics. I read every book or magazine I could to gain as much knowledge as possible. Also I spent many hours wrapping with a few seasoned friends who had been spinning rods much longer than myself. We would compare notes on what worked and what didn’t. Over the years there were many innovations in blank materials, finishes, guides and guide layouts. As a rod builder, it is important to keep up with this technology.

Today, you can find almost any information you need by looking it up on the Internet. For the most part, gone are the days of testing by trial and error. Seasoned builders have this concept ingrained in their minds as an important step in the process. People today seem to be looking for an easy answer. Need a guide layout for a 10’ blank? Go to a rod building forum and post the question. It goes something like this: “I’m building a 10’ GSB 1201M (or any blank for that matter). Does anyone have the guide sizes and spacing?”This drives me nuts !!! There are 1001 layouts for that blank based on reel seat placement, type and size of reel, type of fishing to be done, etc, etc. Instead of asking how to determine the guide size and placement, this person has not done his homework and is trying to take the easy way out. Someone trying to be helpful puts up his or her measurements from the tip and the original poster goes on his merry way. Meanwhile the original poster is 5’ 6” tall and has a reel seat placement at 22” and the responder is 6’ and has his set at 26”. Will the build work? Maybe, but not likely at its maximum potential. The new builder will have wasted a lot of time, effort and money and may end up with a piece of junk.

The point I’m trying to make is that there is a lot of science that goes into building a fishing rod. It’s not rocket science but science none the less. There are fine videos and books out there that will help the new builder along. Before you even think about starting your first build watch a video or two and read, read, read. Understand what you are doing before you start. The pieces will fall into place if you have a basic understanding and you will build a better rod.. If you have read the books and watched the videos and still have a question, don’t be afraid to ask. There is a wealth of knowledge on the rod building forums and these guys for the most part are very willing to help and share information. I would not recommend going out and buying a high-end wrapper if you’re not sure you would continue wrapping after your first rod or even the first few. Nothing is worse than having all that expensive equipment collecting dust in a closet or basement. If you do take up this hobby, enjoy it. There is nothing more rewarding than landing a large bass or bluefish on a rod you built.

Visit Lou online at:


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Welcome to the Surfcaster's Journal "Fly Fishing" column! In the months ahead I will be bringing you regular observations and updates about fly fishing. I intend to focus on the same terra firma and conditions favored by most regional surfcasters: fishing the sand, rocks and sod banks of the Northeast coast, primarily at night. This might be a tall order, but I hope to offer you relevant and informative material on surfcasting - whether you fly fish or not.

In terms of background, I grew up in New Jersey and spent my early saltwater fly fishing years up and down the NJ coast. I've since fished from Cape May to Cape Cod, but most of my week to week efforts are currently concentrated on Long Island. A significant portion of the year is spent in Montauk. Like many of the Montauk regulars, I am a wetsuiter. I have logged a great deal of time fishing plugs, bucktails and rigged eels, but my number one favorite thing to do is to swim out to a rock at night with my fly rod. Likewise, the thrill of wading out onto a bar at night, and sending a fly out into the rip motivates me to keep tying all winter long. I will do my best to address newbie topics as they come up, but do understand that fly fishing from shore should be classified as an advanced surfcasting topic. Sure, anyone can drop a credit card at the cash register and walk out with impressive gear. Reality sets in when our newly minted surfcaster/flyrodder ventures to the outer beach at night, and realizes just how intimidating the ocean can feel. I've long felt that anyone starting out from shore should first put in time plugging and bait fishing. As many of you know, the learning curve for becoming proficient in the surf is steep enough already.

Along the way, if you have questions or requests, please feel free to drop me a line at I will do my best to make sure this column stays true to the Surfcaster's Journal mission of bringing you thought-provoking perspectives on Northeast surfcasting.

Getting Through Winter As I write this column, a winter storm rages outside my window. Snow has given way to ice and rain. My front yard now looks like a giant slurpee. The wind has shifted east and is now gusting to almost 30 knots. NOAA is forecasting seas to build to over ten feet before the day is out. The beaches of Montauk have already been stripped of countless acres of sand from the past two storms.

This was the scene in front of the Royal Atlantic in downtown Montauk on the morning of January 15th. There was large earth moving equipment waiting in the parking lot on the other side of the dune here, but this narrow beach (and the hotels) won't be around much longer if these storms have their way. Further west, the changes in structure along the ocean facing beaches are equally as dramatic. For now, I'll spare you the science and politics of shifting sands, but the implications for surfcasting are obvious. The recent erosion underscores how dynamic our beloved surf zone really is - and it reminds us how important it is to spend some time over the coming months scouting the beach. By late February, I generally begin walking certain beaches and back bay areas, looking for interesting structure. Years ago I would take a notebook and draw detailed diagrams. My faded notebook looks real old school, with mention of mile markers and triangulation. Arrows sometimes marked current direction and tide stage. These days I still use the notebook, but the GPS often takes care of marking locations. A small digital camera now can capture what I could never quite convey on paper.

This is all very important for fly fishing, since I always have to factor in the practical limitations of depth and distance. On some scouting trips I'll even bring a rod or two, just to compare how certain lures or flies work in a few of the more interesting rips or eddies. The sight of me walking back to the truck in waders, rod in hand, on a cold winter morning often produces double takes from the parking lot. I know of at least one of two fishermen who saw me and couldn't resist coming back with a rod to make a few casts themselves. I guess they never did believe me when I told them I was not really fishing, just scouting and practice casting.

It’s Show Time Like most seasoned surfcasters, I've gotten a bit jaded when it comes to the winter fishing shows. I am long past the point of going to every show just to get out of the house. I would rather go shopping with my wife for scented candles than walk down another isle filled with Beef Jerky and Jelly Worms (ok, maybe that's a stretch). One show that draws me back each year is the Fly Fishing Show in Somerset New Jersey (there are similar shows throughout the country with stops in Marlborough, Mass and Philadelphia, Pa).

This event caters to freshwater and saltwater enthusiasts, and continues to cram an overflow of major manufacturers and local retailers into the isles. It also brings some of the most familiar names in fly fishing under one roof. This Friday-Sunday event is one of the few area shows where it is impossible to see everything. This year, I went on a crowded Saturday and made it through most of exhibits, but none of the seminars.

Somerset, NJ

There is a fly casting pool where you can test rods, but on a crowded Saturday, with a line of fishermen anxiously awaiting their turn, it was not practical to take a series of rods and/or lines and try them all. Likewise, for a saltwater fly fisherman, it was not practical in the limited space (at least in the past when I tried) to really load a rod and test how far you could shoot some line. Yes, under supervision you can sometimes take a rod outside, but it was 15 degrees on the day of the show. I’ll leave that to the Salmon River Steelhead crowd.

THE RETURN OF A CLASSIC. Secrets of the masters: Al Bentsen, Fred Golofaro and Roger Martin “The knowledge contained between these covers is an invaluable resource that would take you a few lifetimes to gather on your own.” -Zeno Hromin





Tackle options for saltwater fly fishing are now almost overwhelming. The good news is that several rod companies have gained market share by offering exceptional quality at very reasonable prices. Most of the high-end manufacturers do offer products at the introductory “price point� (I hate that term), but Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) stands out as being entirely committed to the sub $300 and sub $200 market. Virtually all rods in the nine and ten weight bracket are priced at this level. I myself am a long-time user of a Sage rod, but even the TFO Lefty Kreh Signature Series 10 wt priced at $120 felt like it had the action and backbone to rival my Sage in both casting and fishingfighting ability.

I spent the majority of my time playing with various reels targeted for salt water anglers, inspecting the overall workmanship and examining how the drag engaged through the entire range of settings. If you have the “green�, you will experience no buyer’s remorse with reels from Abel, Islander, Van Staal or Tibor, to name just a few of the high-end reels. All will hold up well for local applications in the surf zone. The saltwater versions of these reels typically start in the $700 range, and most still employ a basic cork drag. As a point of reference, my Islander reel (the same model as pictured here) has performed flawlessly since 1996, despite all the wetsuiting and prolonged use underwater. I simply rinse it after each trip and apply oil to the cork every month or so.

There were many-lesser priced reels to play with at Somerset, but I was most impressed with a California company called Galvan. The ‘Rush� series reel (pictured here) felt every bit as smooth and solid as any of the high-end names I mentioned above, but with a sticker price of about $350. They also have a fully ported Torque� LA series for about $100 more.

Clearly, fly gear pricing, and reel pricing in particular, is a story worth digging into in a future column.

plugaholics anonymous dave anderson

I know we’re still looking at a few months until things turn on for real along the striper coast, but it’s not too early to get into the fish-catching mind set. When I think spring, I think of the fact that this is the time of year when we have the best shot at fishing around big baits. Things just aren’t like they used to be (or so I’m told). Old timers tell stories of bunker, baby weaks, macks, squid, sea herring, juvenile pollock and huge sand eels pushing onto the beach year round. Have you ever heard an old timer use the word “silversides” or “peanut bunker”? No! You know why? Because they would ignore those minibar snacks and run past them to the school of hickories being assaulted in the first wave, but I digress. These days we don’t have such luxuries, so we have to take full advantage of the biggest baits while they are here and that means a lot of spring fishing. Before we get into the “pluggy” parts of this story, allow me to inject a little logic into the text. Too many people rely on reports to tell them exactly where to go but there is a huge hole in this practice. Guess why! When you follow reports that closely you are already too late! If the fish were on a pile of bait, by the time you react to the report both the bass and the bait may have relied on their God-given fins to swim somewhere else. But there is a bright side in all this. There are two logical strategies. First, if you must clean up yesterday’s scraps, apply some method to your madness and move around. Take note of the winds over the past 24 hours and the tidal movements, use this information to give you a direction to move in and systematically eliminate nearby areas, heading in that logical direction, until you find something in which to sink your hooks. Second, if you want to be really successful, make your own reports by exploring local areas known to hold bait. The fish may have moved there.

There are two spring baits that can be counted on to be in specific areas year after year: squid and river herring. I am not one of those guys who want to stand right at the mouth of the herring run or just outside of the lights of the local squid hotspot. Being someone who throws artificials, the last thing I want is to swim my chunk of wood through hundreds or even thousands of the real thing. I wouldn’t fight Evander Holyfield just because I had a nice pair of boxing gloves and I won’t stack the fishing odds against me by fishing the mouth of the run just because I have a perfectly painted Atom 40 that looks exactly like a herring. I pick all my plugs based on action first—ok I’ll admit I have bought more than a few plugs because their color got my attention—but if color meant that much to the stripers DON’T YOU THINK THEY’D NOTICE THE DAMN HOOKS?!? Instead of panting over the finer points of the iridescent hues in a river herring, take a fast look at a picture of a herring and pick plugs that exude the overall look of the live fish (or just use white!) Same goes for squid, you don’t need a plug that looks like it might squirt you with ink. Choose whites, pinks, browns and reds. Done!

Next we need to adjust our spot choices. Look at your herring run or lighted “squid” dock. There are acres of water around them right? The stripers need to navigate through these waters to get to the banquet. To up your odds, throw them some appetizers in areas far away from the doors of the sushi bar. Now I am not suggesting you arbitrarily choose a spot five football fields away and just start blind casting. Use logic! If the run or lighted marina is in a bay, backwater or river, start at choke points—places where the pathway is narrowed down dramatically from the rest of the estuary. Don’t overlook the mouths of these areas either. If the party is taking place nearer to the oceanfront or along a beach, exploit the striper’s love for ambush points. Work visible structure and known twists in the channel to the fullest. You want your lure to be the first thing a striper sees as she moves in to feed. She’ll be much more likely to bang your plug when she hasn’t seen and smelled 1,000 of the real thing. Instead of giving you a mile-long rundown of all the plugs that might fit the bill in these situations I’m going to make it easy and give you just two. I also want to adjust your instinct a little bit before we move forward. Concentrate your efforts on the period of time between 3:00 and 7:00 A.M. Try to pick days that are cloudy and windy with a slight chop on the water. Always keep in mind the fact that your lure is supposed to be alive—the built in action alone will not always sell your plug. The two plugs I recommend are the Danny and the Needlefish.

For bass that are focused on squid, my top choice is far and away the needlefish. I use a few different kinds depending on the situation and the size of the squid. When the bigger spring squid show, I use Afterhours 2.5 ounce needlefish, Beachmaster Wadds and my own Surf Asylum Flat-Glide Needles. These are all relatively slow-sink needles that can replicate the dart and stop action of a live squid. I like to use these in simple colors, white, white/pink, pink and brown. I favor a slow, sloshy retrieve with periods of rest followed by short bursts of speed. I learned how to work a needle like a squid by watching a school of squid working bait below a lighted dock. Their hovering/gliding motion is a miracle of nature and when you get it right, bass won’t leave it alone. When the squid are smaller, I like to use the Super Strike Bullet in white, squid or bright pink. I work the bullet on or near the surface with a quickened retrieve with minor jiggles of the rod tip. In a way it’s kind of like forcing the Bullet to work like a pencil popper. Feel free to tie elaborate tails for your needles to make them look like they have tentacles—personally though I don’t bother. When you look at a squid swimming, their tentacles are pursed together so they look cigar-shaped, kind of like a needlefish! The quiet motion of a needlefish is probably the most natural of any plug and I will throw them when I’m trying to replicate herring also, with a more subtle and straight retrieve.

But when the bass are pushing herring, no wood plug grabs their attention like a Danny swimmer. The slow surface action of this metal lip urges a hungry striper to strike as it swims like a dying herring. In keeping with what I said above, find locations away from the actual herring run where stripers are either likely to ambush the bait or areas that funnel the fish. This narrow passageway raises your chances of crossing their path. My advice is to work the plug very slowly and interrupt that constant wiggle with changes in speed. This will make your swimmer appear alive and I feel that it makes the bass more likely to take it down. My first color choice for herring is solid white, with herring (blue/pink/white), blue/silver and black/silver sharing the second place vote. It is also my preference to rig them with a pair of cut trebles on the belly and a flag on the tail. Since the stripers almost always take the body or head of the plug, the use of a tail hook actually reduces your chances of landing the fish. All too often the tail hook finds purchase on the outside of the face and then gives the bass a leverage point to work the plug free. When the fish swims away from you, the plug will act like a crowbar. With everyone using superbraids, you have the power to bend the belly trebles or tear them free. This is something I learned over several years tossing Dannys and losing fish. Please know that I am not saying that these two choices are the only choices when faced with piles of herring or squid. There are dozens more that fill my bag. I have had great success with these plugs when trying to imitate these two great bait fish. Put your time in this spring and I will almost guarantee that you will find yourself reaching for these two workhorse plugs before your pencils and Red Fins. I know I do.



skate For surfcasters, skate are normally regarded as a nuisance and a disappointment, which of course they are if you’re trying to catch bass or blues. All the same, they happen to be one of the best eating fish out there. Catching one big enough to cook is usually the only difficulty. You’ll want one whose wings are a good 1 ½ inches at the thickest point to get fillets you can work with. They are also readily available at the fish market, are inexpensive (ie. “cheap-skate”) and very easy to prepare. Skates are relatives of the shark and like their cousins, have no real bones. Their wings consist of a top and a bottom filet separated by cartilage. The meat is arranged in a ridged pattern that prompts some people to call the meat stringy but it’s actually very tender. When cooked, the meat will separate easily along those ridges. You can prepare the skate wing “on the bone” by roasting it or poaching it whole but most find it easier to separate the top and bottom fillets before cooking. In any case, the skin is always removed before cooking.

A classic preparation is to saute the fillets until crisp, brown some butter in the pan, add some capers and a squeeze of lemon and pour it over the fish. Another great way to serve this fish is to poach it in a flavorful court bouillon, chill it and then pull the fish into strips and drape it over a salad. For a slightly more involved but not too difficult preparation, stuffing the skate by folding the filets over a filling and then braising them with a little white wine and butter is pretty awesome. While it’s possible to overcook skate, it’s fairly forgiving so you’ve got a little leeway with your cooking time. You can use any stuffing that you like. Crabmeat would be a good match for the sweet flavor of the meat. Below I’ve given you a simple and tasty spinach/mushroom filling that works well. One last note; skate has a tendency to smell like ammonia if held for any length of time. If you’ve caught one, ice it quickly and serve it straightaway. If you’re getting it at the fish-market, smell it before you buy it!

Spinach-Filled Skate with White Wine and Butter: If you’ve got a whole skate, start by cutting the wings off the main body of the fish. Wear a glove or use a dish-towel to protect yourself from the sharp spines. Separate the top and bottom fillets by running your knife along the cartilage and then skin the fillets. Remove any bits of “silver-skin” or connective tissue, wipe the filets clean and refrigerate. For the stuffing (makes plenty for 2 good sized fillets): Salt each cooked ingredient lightly as you go. Then add and adjust seasoning again after all ingredients are combined. ½ of a 10oz package of spinach, wilted in a little butter until soft, then squeezed dry (yield 1/3 cup) 8 large button mushrooms, chopped fine and sautéed until they’re golden and have given up all their liquid (yield 1/3 cup) ¼ of a medium onion, minced and “sweated” in a dab of butter until translucent and soft (yield 2 tablespoons) optional but worth it: add the leaves of 2 sprigs fresh thyme to the onions while they’re cooking ¼ cup ricotta ½ beaten egg 1 tablespoon dry breadcrumbs salt and fresh black pepper Mix all ingredients thoroughly, then adjust salt and black pepper to taste.

For the fish: spinach/mushroom stuffing 2 skate fillets 2 shallots or ¼ small onion, chopped (optional) 1/3 cup white wine 4 tablespoons butter few sprigs fresh thyme lemon, if needed

Remove the skate fillets from the refrigerator, pat them dry and season both sides lightly. Turn fillets so the skin-side (lighter-colored flesh) is facing down and spread the filling over half of each fillet (the darker side) keeping it to ½”- ¾” thick.

Fold over fillet to enclose the stuffing and place in a buttered oven-proof dish (the bottom of which can be scattered with 2 tablespoons of chopped shallot or onion and a sprig or two of fresh thyme). The baking dish should be just large enough to hold the fish comfortably. Dot each piece of fish with 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over a scant 1/3 cup white wine. You may need a bit more wine depending on the size of your baking dish.

Bake at 375F for about 15 minutes, basting with the juices once or twice. Check doneness by poking the tip of a knife in between the ridges of flesh and see that they separate easily. Swirl the juices in the pan so that the butter is well incorporated, then taste. At this point you can add a bit of lemon juice, salt or a tad more butter until you have the taste and consistency you want. Serve the fish right in the baking dish or plate individually with the juices spooned over. The fish is the main event here so I would choose a simple accompaniment like boiled new potatoes.


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This image was taken on the beach of the lodge early in the morning, before breakfast and before we went out fishing. I love this image because it “talks” a lot. The surfcaster waiting to see some action (feeding frenzy was happening every second), the sun hidden behind a bit of mist and glass calm water, a very peaceful atmosphere. Keré Island, Bijagos, Guinea Bissau.

This is one of my favourite and trickiest fish to shoot: a Corvina. It is a good looking animal with very shiny scales that reflect the light like a mirror, causing highlights impossible to recover. An incredible day of shore fishing from the beach of Iguela, in Gabon. Non stop strikes with Corvinas and Giant African Threadfin in the 15 to 25lb range. Probably my best day ever of shore fishing in an unforgettable scenario.

If you haven’t hooked one of these fish you are really missing something. This is a Giant African Threadfin, an aggressive beast that pulls like a raging bull. Look at the size and shape of the tail and you can figure it out for yourself. Another great sunset at the Iguela beach in Gabon, third day of a successful series of sessions, then the fish would disappear and we hopped on the boats to fish outside the mouth of the river.

Fishing for Giant Trevally from shore sounds like a challenging thing to try. We did that at Kenn reef, 300 miles offshore of the Australian east coast. We were dropped off on a tiny coral island for a couple of hours where we successfully hooked and landed a few Giant Trevallys of modest size and this beautiful Coral Trout, a fish that I like better in a photo. Actually the guy holding the fish is me so I believe that the one who shot it was Kenji Konishi. He is the owner of Carpenter fishing rods, who was fishing with me that day.

The reason why I love this photo is because somehow I managed to shoot it while the fish was still in the water. In fact, the Sea Bass in the foreground is mine and my friend Tomรกs is holding his. It was a memorable session with dozens of Sea Bass caught on top water lures during an extremely good tide. We are in Kerry, Ireland.

Ireland has been an incredible source of photographic opportunities for me. It’s probably one of the places where I actually spend much more time shooting pictures than fishing. During this trip I had my tripod with me and played a bit with long exposures. Sunrise along the Kerry coast, a friend fishing one of the points and a shaft of light coming through the dark clouds. I love this image.

Born in Florence, Italy, a few years ago and now living in Madrid, Spain. I’m a professional recreational fisherman. In fact what pays the bills are the sales from my shop on-line at , the articles I write for several magazines in Italy, Spain, UK, Germany, France and the US, my images and the trips I organize in the tropics for crazy travelling fishermen. I’m a lure fisherman and have been for quite a long time, obviously too long to mention in a public document. Almost a couple of decades ago, I started exploring tropical lure fishing, now called Popping. In 2003 my Japanese friends introduced me to a new craze called Jigging and with their support I pioneered it in Spain, France and have also been the first person talking about it in the US in a long article for Sport Fishing. You can follow my rants in English on Facebook. If you speak Spanish you can also visit him at at

ANNUAL CLUB SHOW Buy, Sell and trade swap meet for collectors of vintage and contemporary Striped Bass lures and Surf Fishing items.

SATURDAY April, 30, 2011 8am to 4pm Trowbrigde Tavern & Canal Club 100 Trowbridge Rd. Bourne, Mass.

Admission $5

Bring your fishing tackle to the show for free appraisals or submit to live auction!!

For more information about the show and membership go to

Your fishing partner since 1986. O L D S AY B R O O K . C O N N E C T I C U T . 8 6 0 . 3 8 8 . 2 2 8 3



You’re standing next to your tricked up beach buggy and you’re feeling pretty good. You’ve got yourself a sweet cooler rack and a locking roof rack to secure your fancy reels and custom made rods. The plastic bins in the back of your truck have more Plano boxes stuffed with more lures than the fishing department at the Sports Authority. You even carry a milk jug with water to rinse down your reels and a mini Coleman grill to cook your catch. Your sleeping bag is rolled in a ball and stuffed behind your seat. Your waders, Korkers and wetsuits are neatly folded and packed in the cooler. You even have a battery operated eel caddy on your front seat humming along. You are feeling pretty good about yourself and your tricked-out ride, sneering at googans as they drive by with rods sticking out of the windows. “Life is good”, you say to yourself as you pull out a folding chair next to your rig. You parked your rig in such a way that you took two spots instead of one. Why not? You are the King of the Beach. Let everyone see that you are a sharpie! Then you hear a low rumbling coming from behind the dunes. Another heavy-duty pickup loaded with day-trippers you think to yourself as you crack open another beer from your soft cooler. In a moment they will be admiring your stupendous rig as they drive by. But today is not your day. Today is the day your awesomeness will be challenged. Because that rumbling behind the dunes is not emitting from a super heavy-duty Ram truck. Nope, not a Ford, Chevrolet or even a Hummer. The guys named Bob, Billy Ray and Skeet did not work on this baby. Instead the purring sound is coming from an engine that has been put together by guys named Franz, Klaus, Bruno, Otto and Urs. What the hell is that thing, you might ask?

Meet the UNIMOG, The Ultimate Beach Buggy.

The first time we laid our eyes on the UNIMOG was many years ago at the New York Surf Fishing Contest’s annual meeting at Cedar Beach Marina on a cold and snowy February night. Although at the time it looked impressive and unusual, it was still only a “project in the making” for its owner Lou DeRicco. As you discovered all the features that were added to this stupendous fishing machine over the years, you might have thought that its owner must have had a huge ego to trick out an UNIMOG and make it into a beach vehicle. And you would be wrong, so wrong… I have met thousands of surfcasters over the years traveling though the Northeast doing shows and seminars. I’ve met surfcasters at the beach, at work and even at my kids’ parent-teacher conferences. But I have met only a few surfcasters as sweet and humble as Lou DeRicco. Not only is he an exceptional surfcaster who has won many awards for his prowess in the surf but he is one the nicest people you’ll ever meet on the beach or anywhere else. Lou has always been active in the surfcasting community and is a member of LIBBA, MBBA, Gateway Striper Club and The Montauk Surfcasters Association among other organizations. We recently had a chance to chat with Lou about his UNIMOG truck. I wanted to know how he acquired it and to learn about the features he added over the years. We apologize in advance if we miss mentioning some things but there are so many features built into this truck, it’s impossible to remember them all. Lou is good with his hands and much of the stuff you are about to see in pictures has been built by him and his friends.

The features on the UNIMOG today have taken years to be incorporated into the vehicle. Lou might be quick to make a cast when fish are blitzing but this truck was not designed in a hurry. A lot of planning went into coming up with the concept and actually building features into the truck. Lou’s idea behind this project was to incorporate all the things you might want to have in your truck but had either no room or place for them. For example, most of us will toss our wet waders in one of two places. Either into a cooler where in a few hours they will develop pungent fumes strong enough to be used in Guantanamo Bay or we will toss them on the cooler rack or hood to dry. Lou had a better idea. He installed side mounted wader and jacket holders for rinsing and air drying up to three sets of waders and jackets.

You want to cook some food for dinner on the beach? Not a problem, just slide out a massive stainless steel gas grill that is hidden within the body of the truck. Of course, Lou had to design a condiment tray and even a paper towel holder to go along with the grill. Need some fresh water to rinse your gear or take a quick shower? Don’t fret, there is a 15 gallon custom fabricated freshwater stainless steel tank pressurized by an onboard compressed air system. There are even two additional “Jerry Cans� for added water capacity. Of course, no one said you can't fill them up with beer. Turning to lures, does it seem a little inconvenient to you to open giant trays to get the lure you want? Like I told you before, a lot of thought went into making this the ultimate beach buggy. Lure placement and availably was critical. Open the cooler on the front rack and you will find a hundred lures lined up like little soldiers ready for battle. On one side is a fourteen gallon aerated live bait well with a removable eel caddy so you can lift and grab your eels in a snap instead of hunting for them with your net. This is one of the neatest contraptions for carrying live eels I've ever seen. Then again, this truck is full of surprises. The custom fabricated stainless steel cooler racks have many neat features such as eight permanent rod holders, two removable rod holders and even fly rod holders. The vehicle also has a removable custom fabricated lexan drain basket for temporary storage of wet surf bags and belts while riding the beach. That is not all! In addition to all these features, there are two high output driving lights for added lightning on the road and two low output fog lights for minimal lightning for off-road beach driving.

This particular UNIMOG was originally a Danish troop carrier with a Mercedes Benz Diesel engine. It features a four wheel drive, manual transmission with eight forward gears (yeah you’ve read that right) and four reverse gears. The original troop carrier body was removed and replaced with a “Radio Box”, a body type that was mounted on Unimogs for use by the NATO allies during the cold war period. In a nutshell, it is a truck body that was designed to house an elaborate network of field communication equipment in the back of a mobile platform. It was manned by two soldiers and had its own diesel fired heater to heat the rear compartment that was separate from the driver’s cab. It had four roof mounted access ports through which specialized antenna systems could be piped into the box and attached to the radio equipment. Lou traded the troop carrier body (that was on his original chassis) with a doctor from Virginia who happened to have the radio box . It was perfect timing………..he had a radio box and wanted the troop carrier, and Lou had the troop carrier and wanted a radio box. He had to do some minor modifications to make it fit, but it worked out perfectly. He gutted the radio box and turned it into a surf fishing beach buggy. This beast features portal type axles in which the actual axle shaft meets the drive wheels at the top of and not at the hub of each wheel. This is the same axle design used in US Military issue Humvees. It provides superior ground clearance because all drive components are elevated. Of course, there is also an integral differential locking system which allows all differentials to be locked therefore providing equal torque to all drive wheels. When we say this is the ultimate beach buggy, we are not joking!

You never have to worry about getting bogged down in the sand with Staun internal bead lockers installed in all wheels for deflation capability of less than 10 PSI per tire. There are two spring loaded hose reels, one for compressed air and one for pressurized fresh water. If that wasn’t enough there are three chassis mounted air storage tanks for additional air volume that is needed while inflating large tires. If you ever get buried to your axles in sand with your own beach buggy, say a prayer that a UNIMOG is in the area. Why? With two winches, one mounted on the front and one in the back, each with capacity of 15 000 pounds, it’s a safe bet that UNIMOG can pull your truck out of the rut without breaking a sweat. Did we forget anything? Probably! Things like a custom fabricated disappearing step system for entry into and out of the truck body and a cab-top mounted external steel luggage rack. What about inside the cab? In the cabin you will find a custom cab roof mounted, overhead console which includes the following: an I-Pod compatible AM/FM receiver, a CD player, a 25 watt VHF Marine radio with roof mounted antenna and three 12 volt DC plug outlets for use with additional electronic devices. It is funny that we went through all these features without really mentioning fishing rods and their transportation. You don't need to fret that they were not getting their due however. There are ceiling mounted rod holders for internal storage of seven fishing rods up to 11 1/2 feet in length and passenger side mounted removable rod holders for external storage of three fishing rods up to 12 1/2 feet in length.

This buggy has more bells and whistles than any other beach vehicle we ever seen but you know what? Not one of them seems excessive. They are all basic things that a surfcaster might need in his travels. Speaking of travelling it has a convoy lighting system which allows for almost “lights out” driving. This is very helpful when you are trying to sneak down the beach at night without your driving lights or brake lights giving away your location. For lures and gear there are two 7 foot long interior storage fully extendable self supporting stainless steel storage drawers, with custom made boat cushions above for sleeping. There are also custom fabricated, aluminum diamond plate, door mounted storage compartments and three additional custom fabricated interior steel storage cabinets. This beauty is built to provide the surfcaster all the comforts of home while away. However getting to the chosen destination will take time. Its top speed is somewhere around 50 miles per hour if you don’t mind driving while the whole rig shakes like a leaf. The optimal cruising speed is around 40 to 45 miles per hour with fuel consumption about 12 to 13 miles per gallon of diesel. The truck has been on almost every accessible beach from Breezy Point and Montauk Point, New York, to Race Point on Cape Cod. And there are plans to get it on to Block Island. Although this buggy might appear different than other trucks on the beach, you should have no preconceived notion that this bad boy is anything but a fishing machine. Lou has incorporated into the UNIMOG all the little things he found lacking over the years. From air drying his waders, to extra rod storage or an eel caddy, all these features were built into the truck with one thing in mind, maximum enjoyment of the sport of surf fishing.



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It’s only Christmas time as I sit at my desk writing this and yet I find myself already yearning for spring. I am starting to see why my poor wife calls surf fishing a disease and not a sport. After all, sports have definitive seasons. They don’t play football all year long! There is a break here, there or somewhere in between. With surfcasting, there is no such thing. You either follow the fish down the coast or you turn into a keyboard fisherman. Sadly, keyboard fishing has turned into a combat sport where even the good guys seem to grow devilish horns overnight and charge the chatboards looking to cut someone down to size. Sharing information has been replaced by insults, chest puffing and of course, constant arguments about whose rod is bigger. So I figured I'd share some real information with you, something that you can easily understand and use to catch some fish.

My idea here is to share my favorite three lures for spring fishing because everyone I know wants to know what other people are using. Even those who profess ignorance of anything and everything! Even they are curious as to what others are using. How do I know? That’s easy! I am one of those ignoramuses. Then it hit me, no one really cares what I have to say. I quickly polled my wife and then my kids and yup, my ignorance was unanimous. Definitely no one in this household cared to hear what I had to say. Then my wife said something really profound. She asked me "Why don't you ask some guys who actually catch fish what they like"? What a concept!!! Instead of reading the scribbling of a keyboard fisherman, I went out and got you some information from real surfcasters. I decided to poll some of my good friends about what they feel are their three most important lures for spring. Of course, they immediately proceeded to flood my email box with questions and confuse me even more. "Early spring, mid spring or late spring? Am I targeting schoolies or cows? Are rigged eels considered lures? I use different lures when I fish inlets than when I fish sand....and on and on". At first I thought of throwing in the towel but then I realized that each guy should have the freedom to answer this question any way he pleases. After all, we don't all feel the same way about fishing in the spring and we don't have the same opportunities or seasons. By the time a fellow in Massachusetts catches a bass, a surfcaster in New Jersey might already have a sore shoulder from pulling in fish. I did not want to ask the same talking heads that possess talent on loan from God and who are always asked by paper publications for their expert advice. Instead I decided to broaden this inquiry to include not only some of the best surfcasters, authors and surf guides, but also tackle shop owners and some lure builders. I know each one of these fellows and I would be honored to wet a line alongside each and every one of them.

John Skinner - NY Surfcaster - If I had nothing but Bombers, bucktails and rigged eels, I could make it through the spring just fine. The Bombers take care of the South Shore bays and North Shore. My favorite is a 6-inch straight yellow. Bucktails are good everywhere, but get heavy use in the South Shore Inlets. As of this past fall, my favorite bucktails are the Blue Frog "Surf Style" fixed hook jigs. White is a fine color, and I tip them with either #50 or #70 pork rind. Rigged eels take care of the big bass on both shores.


Manny Moreno - NY Surfcaster My first fish of the year are usually on Yo-Zuri Mag Darters which really behave more like a swimmer than a darter. These little plugs stay with me throughout the season and often come out when the fish are finicky. My spring secret weapon for two decades and counting has been the Nils Master Invincible. These deep-diving swimmers are deadly when fished slowly in a strong rip. Don’t be fooled by their delicate appearance. These balsa wood swimmers produce big fish in fast-moving waters where nothing else works quite right. For dusk and dawn fishing, it’s hard to beat pencil poppers. The extra effort of working a pencil popper is often rewarded with the most exciting strikes and some of the biggest fish of the spring.

The Nils Master in the picture was wrecked by a bass over 30 lbs.


A l p b a h c P

William "Doc" Muller, NY Surfcaster

Although I use roughly six styles of lures regularly, the request here is for three. My go-to lure, night and day, is a white Uncle Josh bucktail along with a strip of 240-S red and white porkrind. My second choice at night is an A-Salt Bomber in either "chicken scratch" or black back, because along with small bucktails this lure covers me from April until the fall and has a propensity to attract hits from bigger fish. To compliment the bucktail in daylight I must have pencil poppers. My favorites include the one-ounce Cordell (black or blue with chrome), the Gibbs two and 3/8th ounce (white), and Tactical Anglers two-ounce Sea Pencil (golden or blue).

Cordell Pencil Popper

Paulie Apostolides,

NY – Paulie’s Tackle of Montauk - Since spring is a season of rapid changes in bait and weather patterns, I’ll concentrate on my lure preferences from around the second week of April, until around the middle of May. Keep in mind that after the first big moon in May (full or new whichever comes first), my choices change drastically. First lure out of the bag is always a white bucktail, usually between ½ - 1 ounce. Sometimes I fish them naked, usually I trailer them with whatever looks good. Could be pork, could be plastic or it could be a shoelace. If it looks good, I fish it. Right behind that is a 5” white/red head Cotton Cordell Redfin.The plug will take fish year round, but I use it the most in this time frame. My third choice would be a YoZuri Mag darter in any color. I hate the price and I hate the finish, but I absolutely love its ability to take fish under a variety of conditions.


Lou Caruso NY - Lou's Custom Rods - When Zeno asked me to do a quick write up on my 3 favorite springtime lures I thought wow, something I don’t have to sit and ponder for a change. My favorite springtime lure without a doubt is a Bomber or Mambo Minnow. I just love letting them swing out into the current working them ever so slowly. My second choice would be a lead head with either a 3” or 4” rubber shad such as a Cocahoe Minnow or Riptide Mullet. The Riptide has a very subtle action to it. My third choice would have to be a Sluggo, rigged weightless and drifted in the current. A good friend put me on to them a few years back. Since then they have been a very consistent producer for me.

Bill Wetzel - NY Surf Guide - I preach to my customers that you have to fish conditions, conditions, conditions! Therefore I do not really have favorite plugs. My favorite is the one that works in the conditions that you encounter. However, if I had to live with only three lure choices for the spring, I would first and foremost choose a bucktail. I’ll take ¼ up to 4ounces please, and make them white and lime green Andrus Jetty Casters and Rip Splitters. I need some curly tails for the smaller sizes and #70 pork rind for the larger sizes. With this choice I can work all water depths from early spring back bay drains to South Shore deep inlets. I could not leave my buggy without a Super Strike darter. I’ll take gold with a pink tint white belly, thank you. The darter will get you into that bunker, herring, and porgy bite, especially in Montauk where I do most of my fishing. Last but not least give me a green 1-¾ ounce Super Strike needlefish. This would be a go-to machine from mid May to early July when the principal bait is sand eels. I can use it at any depth, I can load it, it cover lots of water fairly quickly, and if needed I can use it as a pencil popper. Now I got myself all psyched up to hit the suds!

Super Strike Darter


Rich Troxler - NY surfcaster Very early in the spring I'm deep in the South Shore bays, covering water and throwing 5 1/4" Super Strike Needlefish. They cast well and can be fished at different depths. When bunker start showing I may move to large size bottle plugs, typically Gibbs. Both plugs in yellow/white for most nights and blue/white on dark nights. I also swap the hooks for larger size VMC's right out of the package. And lastly, for deep, fast moving water nothing beats lead in my opinion. I'll either fish my own lead and rubber creations or white Andrus bucktails with #70 white rind.

Andrus Jetty caster

Steve McKenna - RI Surfcaster There are a lot of lures and plugs which will work for spring time stripers but if I had to select two artificials which would give me the best shot at landing a bunch of early season bass. it would be the following. My first choice is the Cocahoe Minnow by H and H Coastal Tackle. I like the 3 inch version of this rubber bait in pearl color. When it is threaded and glued on a simple 1/2 to 1 oz. bare, lead headed jig it is absolutely a "killer" for striped bass. It works so well along the Rhode Island coastline that many spring time bass fisherman use nothing else. My second spring favorite is the "Danny" style, metal lip swimming plug. I prefer the 6 inch, 2 1/4 oz. model made by Beachmaster lures. I really like it in white, yellow, parrot and all black or burple for luring larger stripers in late April, May and June. I think it works so well because this plug closely resembles bigger bait like the river herring and squid which predominate in the Rhode Island area at this time of the year.

photo-Dave Pickering

Don Guimelli - RI Afterhours lures - When Zeno asked me to write this I reminded him that I only fish my own plugs. He said just be honest with your answers, so here goes. Spring...ahh, the return of our beloved striped bass. I'm not out there to meet the first schoolies that arrive as I believe more damage than good is done by many who do. Once I feel that some bigger fish are here, it's game on. In RI our first good fish follow the herring and squid runs. My #1 spring plug has to be the Afterhours JR Blip...a long casting flat bottomed pencil in herring scale, pink over white, and pale yellow. I like casting these in the rivers and around the mouths of herring runs. My #2 is the Afterhours Sr. Needle...a white 3.5oz floater. This plug flat out raises fish off the bottom whether around the islands, rivers or the Cape Cod Canal. #3 would have to be a squid type plug like an Afterhours Squid or Reverse Eye Rascal in natural color tossed in locales known to hold squid.

Afterhours Plugs

Gary Soldati - MA Big Water Lures - I start my spring fishing in late May to coincide with the arrival of the bigger fish in open water. It is usually a smorgasbord of different size fish and baits at this time of year. So, I cull out the bigger fish with a Giant Pikie in Blackfish finish (8" 4oz.), I have done very well with this plug in past spring outings. My backup is a SLIM in "Black Scale" Medium Diver (8" 4oz.) in case the fish are keyed in on a slimmer bait. Again, a bigger plug to discourage the smaller fish! This spring I will also rely on my Sand Pike (8" 3oz.) a lipless Pikie that is a cross between a spook and a needlefish. I did very well with this plug on bigger fish last fall when the sand eels were in.

Janet Messineo - MA Surf Guide - When migrating striped bass are following the spring run of alewives they cannot resist a Danny. When I am fishing the rocky areas of the north shore of Martha’s Vineyard, a white or black Danny can work magic. I fish it slow so it leaves a wake on the surface and tempts fish out from the shadows of the weed covered boulders. I love getting my Danny plug caught in the current from a rip so I barely need to reel and it undulates on the surface as my rod tip vibrates making it swim irresistibly. When the sun begins to set in the evening or peaks out just over the horizon in the morning, a popper is my “go to” favorite. I slowly work it to imitate a squid pulsating through the water. Although there are many poppers to choose from, the old blue and white Atom Striper Swiper has never let me down. When I’m on the beach in bright daylight I am always armed with some metal. My new favorite metal lure is a 2 oz or 3 oz T-Hex that is made by the AOK Tackle Co. It is heavy enough so I can cast through a strong wind but it has a slim profile imitating sand eels or silversides. They have a beautiful shine and seem to never get dull. I have caught bluefish, bass and false albacore on them.

Dennis Zambrotta - RI surfcaster Striped bass fishing in Rhode Island during April and early May is mainly a small bucktail and soft plastics game. But once the larger bass arrive sometime around mid-May I start using larger presentations. May usually provides an abundance of squid and sometimes sand eels. The three plugs that produce most consistently for me are a 7 inch C10 series Cotton Cordell Redfin in a “bone” or “Chicken Scratch” finish and loaded with 10ccs of water; a 2 3/8 ounce Super Strike Zig Zag in the classic Yellow Back/White Belly pattern; and finally a Super Strike 1¾ ounce Needlefish in Yellow Back/White Belly. The Zig Zag and light colored Redfin work well when squid are the prevalent bait. Both the SS Needlefish and Redfin will also work well when sand eels are present. I’ve been using these three plugs effectively for so many years that they have in fact become my best producers throughout the entire season (although the color patterns may change). I supplement these plugs with Red Gill teasers and eels when bass become selective.

Red Gill Teasers

Toby Lapinski - CT surfcaster My surf bag is usually filled with only 2 or 3 different types of lures on any given outing, so it is easy for me to say what my three go-to spring lures would be. Spring fishing for me takes place along the shores of the three main rivers in Connecticut. I only do a little bit of day time fishing for stripers throughout the course of an average season, but the early spring daytime fishery in Connecticut is something I look forward to each year. Long, accurate casts are a must to reach breaking fish, and the Gibbs canal pencil popper in is my go to lure in this situation. When I switch over to the night hunt, my bag is loaded with 2 different types of lures; 7” Finnish swimmers such as those made by Bomber and Red-Fin and 9” rubber stick baits like those made by Slug-Go and Ledgerunner. I will interchange Bombers and Red-fins (loaded and un-loaded) based on the river flow of a given night. Towards the end of the spring run, as the water level drops and temperatures climb, the 9” rubber stick bait is often the first lure out of my bag. I keep my color patterns simple and opt for solid light and dark offerings.


Pat Abate – Rivers End Tackle - CT - Here in Connecticut we await the arrival of river herring as the starting bell to try for bigger bass. Though they may be way down in numbers, alewives and blue back herring are the prized meal for migrating and wintering over larger bass. A 6 pound bass will gulp down a couple of herring, but larger bass target them to the exclusion of smaller prey. Even though herring are here early in April, the forage in estuaries is primarily minnows and grass shrimp. Later that month the larger girls will seek out herring until bunker and other large meals arrive. I like a Leadhead/Shad Combo. Early fishing seems to be on the bottom half of the water column where bass might be trying to scrounge up a meal of shrimp, minnows, crabs or anything that might be appetizing. The key is to put something in range that’s edible. The Yozuri Mag Darter fishes most of the mid water depths we find around the estuaries. I feel comfortable whether they’re feeding on minnows or herring if I put the darter in their path. When I know it’s herring time I like the unweighted 7” Cordell Red Fin to fish the top of the water column. Color may vary from bone to black depending on light and water clarity.

Mag Darter

DJ Muller - NJ surf guide - When it comes to my favorite lures for the spring in the New Jersey surf, two artificials by far supersede all others: a big pencil popper and a big swimmer. Why? In brief: adult bunker and large stripers. These are two absolute musts! If you don’t carry these you will greatly impede your chances of possibly taking the biggest fish you have ever caught or will ever catch. By big pencil I mean in the 10-inch, 3.5-4-ounce category. You can find them in the off season if you look hard for them. Gibbs 3 ½ ounce pencil popper is a good example. Other great builders include Afterhours, Fish On, and D-Mag. When it comes to big swimmers there are a couple of very good options: big Danny’s or big pikies. Some of the top builders for big Danny’s are Surf Asylum and Afterhours. GRS, Mike Fixter and Bob Hahn have notable huge pikies that would serve your purpose very well. I mention these but there are surely others, however finding great all around swimmers, those that cast and swim well, can be a tough chore. The premise here is to attract a bass’s attention as it chases adult bunker all around the beach or jetty. You need a big lure to draw the fish’s attention. Once it has its attention your job is half complete. The other half, of course, is the battle to the beach with old Nellie.

Russ Paoline – NJ - Big Rock Lures - Spring in New Jersey can be summed up by 2 simple words, BIG BUNKER! As spring rolls in, huge schools of adult bunker flood the waters off the coast on New Jersey. With luck and a west wind they come within casting distance of our beaches. With water temperatures climbing it won’t be long until monster striped bass and yellow eyed Jersey piranha, a.k.a. bluefish up to 20lbs, will be right on their tails. You can bet I’ll be at the ends of the nastiest rock piles I can find waiting for them. This set of conditions has proven to be most productive for me when worked with a specific set of lures. Generally “top water” rules this time of year and most of my bag is filled with top water plugs that have produced consistently for me over the years. I’ll start out with my “go to” outfit, a custom wrapped Lamiglas rod made by an excellent local rod builder and good friend John Nixon. It’s a Lamiglas GSB-132 1M rod matched with a Van Staal VS-250 reel and 50lb Fireline Tracer braid. I top this off with a 4’ leader of 80lb mono tied on with a 230lb Spro swivel and a large Backlash Sportfishing quick clip. The first lure to hit the water is a pencil popper, and 2 of the best in my opinion are made by Big Ed’s and One Star. The One Star will outcast anything else made, and the Big Ed’s has a huge, thick girth that doesn’t travel as far as the One Star but makes the biggest commotion of all and practically works itself. If such an aggressive approach doesn’t entice the fish, I will move to a more subtle approach and switch to a One Star

Polaris Popper. It has a big profile and casts like a rocket, but sits at just the right angle to throw a huge spray of water with a short pull, and it floats so I can test my nerves by letting it sit for what seems like an eternity but is probably about 4 seconds until I pull it again. Now we reach my favorite situation. The bunker make a mad dash over the bar to escape the hoards of marauding game fish right on their tails or get pinned in the north pocket of a jetty or groin. Out comes the spring killer, my own Big Rock 6.2 metal lipped swimmer. It is 6” long and weighs 2oz and has a thick profile with a custom made thick stainless steel spoon lip, but it’s not a Surfster. It’s a surface swimmer with an enticing side to side wiggle that rides high on the surface of the water, BUT there is one major difference from other swimmers. I can drop my rod tip and take 2 fast cranks of my reel handle and the plug will go sub-surface from 6” to about 12”, allowing me to swim it under the white water and not roll out. I don’t know about you but white water is where I want to be most of the time and many other metal lips I have tried will roll out when they hit the rough stuff. Along with these plugs, I toss in a few 9” Storm Shads and 4oz bucktails, because I find many times that the bass that I want to catch, the big girls, are lying back behind and below the feeding frenzy and I need to make a long cast and get to the bottom fast. I always carry metals in the spring as well, the staples being a 3oz AOK T-Hex and an AOK 2oz PB-40, as well as a Kastmaster and a Krocodile. I also always keep at least a dozen pre-tied plug leaders in my bag. But never teaser leaders, it only took one double header of pissed off 15lb bluefish to cure me of that. Now let’s all concentrate real hard and make winter disappear, OK?


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I'd like to start by saying that, if we'd been asked to write this article even as little as two years ago, the picture would have been very different. It would have been easy but now that is simply not the case. I've been staring at the keyboard wondering how to fit everything in because quite simply, fishing here on lures has been totally transformed by ourselves and a bunch of dedicated anglers during those two years. We see no reason why what will be described here cannot be transposed to other parts of the world. Welcome to the Island of Jersey, a place so shrouded in history and mystery it’s going to be hard to know where to begin the journey. Even though it’s only fourteen or so miles from the northwest coast of France, this small nine by five mile island has developed its own distinct flavor over the years due to its mixed cultural influences. Although it’s mainly English speaking, its place names and road signs tend to be in French. Its uniqueness belongs, not only in its history of battles fought long ago, but also with its ties to Britain and France. The reason you have a New Jersey in the states goes back to the year 1651, when King Charles II gave the governor, Sir George Carteret some land in America, in appreciation for the loyalty which the island had shown when the king was exiled here. The land was promptly re-named New Jersey.

Because the coastline of this small island is diverse and forever changing, you have to adapt to all conditions if you are going to be a successful fisherman. It is much like dealing with the changing of the seasons: if you are not prepared you will suffer the consequences. You can’t rely on fishing using just one method. You’ll need many to succeed. Our methods have been adapted, borrowed, stolen and devised. No part of the world is safe from our research. Every type of angling, anywhere there is water, has crossover value. We laugh and call the assimilation of these fishing techniques“Borg Fishing”as in "We will add your distinctiveness to our own". (Star Trek Stuff). More on this later. As we look out over St. Ouen’s beach on Jersey's west coast on a summer evening as the sun lowers in the sky, it will look like it's resting on the shoulders of the sea. As you look around, you’ll see years of history: the Martello Towers that were built to keep out the French, the Corbiere Lighthouse to the southwest which steered ships away from this huge reef and behind you high sand dunes covered with wild grass and flowers. This surf beach gets pounded with high winds and large waves as the swells gather and speed across the Atlantic Ocean. Here is where the bass feed on sand eels and crabs that get torn from their burrows.

Taking a look at our eastern seaboard, this coast doesn’t get a pounding from the swells d protection afforded by the French shoreline. Here we stand in awe of Mont Orgueil Castle a on the dropping tide with 1/10 to 1/8 ounce jig heads, 7 foot rods, 10lb braided line cou small soft plastic lures ranging in size from two to three inches in length. We fish these lur deep fast current feeling for the tell tale signs of a take, which is just the slightest of taps a sucks in the bait. With just a quick flick of the wrist we set the hook on what could be a larg big wrasse or a pollack. (In the USA blackfish/tautog are in the wrasse family.)

Our favorite playground, the southeast corner of Jersey, has a huge tidal range of up to 40 foot tidal swing is seen as a very small tide indeed and no one gets excited. Low tides ex reef for over two miles off shore. These SE, SW and NW coastlines are where we wade a the gutters or channels on the ebb and flood tides. Skishing involves wearing a buoy wetsuit and being carried by our strong currents out from shore with long free-dive style f fish with a 7 or 8 foot rod and a Van Staal 100 reel with 15 to 20 pound braid. We gener camo gear, carry two lights and a knife. To give an indication of current speed and water pu inadvertently hook the bottom on the skish your drag might run like you tied off to the back moving truck ! Too tight a drag can pull you under. It's a game of balance. We do this mostl sometimes covering over five miles out and back on a skish in water that varies from a fe deep to 40 plus feet. At times, we can be an actual 2 miles from the real shoreline We are n far from structure or a deep crease line or perhaps a rip created by strong currents flow submerged rock heads. This is one example where we took a great idea from the USA and it to suit our waters. It’s like a maze out there. It’s taken 20 years to learn the area. Experie stages of the tide has been a massive challenge, very rewarding at times but not to be a without an in-depth knowledge of the area.

due to the as we fish upled with res in the as the fish ge bass, a

feet. A 24 xpose the and skish yant 7mm flippers to rally wear ush, if you k of a fast ly at night ew inches never too wing over d adapted encing all attempted

As the water ebbs it reveals gutters or channels, big drop offs, bars and wadeable flats. This is not a place to go unless you know what you are doing. On the ebb tide it's easy to wade out further than safety allows. You’ll get into trouble a lot faster than you can get out of it. The current here averages about three or four knots, but when constricted can easily get to 6-7 knots even if only for a few minutes. We fish the flood tide too, often staying “out there” way after most others have quit and we do it at night. The techniques have to change all the time to suit the ever changing environment around you. One minute you’ll have no water and after just a few minutes more you’ll have several feet of water. The current changes rapidly. Just when you have that weightless Senko going through a perfect drift, you’ll now need to add or subtract some weight to get the same presentation. This could be adjusting weight via split shot or just changing up Senko size either in length or, if length is a major issue for getting the take, going up slightly in diameter. You could likely compare this method with using Needlefish lures. While we do throw hard needles across current, we mostly throw weightless, weedless soft lures to do the same job wherever possible. The Senko comes real close to being perfect as a level sinking“soft”needlefish or sand eel in our case. You have to wade extra quietly so as not to spook the bass in 18 inches of crystal clear water. Even in the darkness, wading under the stars at waist depth you can often see your feet clearly.

As mentioned earlier, techniques have been developed, chopped, changed and adopted full time or discarded from a vast array of world-wide fishing systems. Our skishing is done in very fast moving water and we often adopt western USA steelhead techniques like float jigging, side drifting and boon dogging while in the water. Many of the techniques require good flipper control and intimate knowledge of the major and minor flows. We have a huge advantage over a Kayak because we are totally“hands free”from a control standpoint. We have adopted shore based techniques derived from Japanese methods like LRF (Light Rock Fishing) using light action rods, very thin lines and small lures. We catch small fish that were only caught once in a while as by-catch. Daiwa Japan coined the term HRF (Hard Rock Fishing) to describe the use of heavier tackle. The “Rock” comes from the fact that our wrasse is also called “Rockfish.” The wrasse fishing uses techniques that many would recognize immediately as coming from US freshwater bass fishing. Techniques have been taken from Scandinavia, Australia, the UK, and the USA. We might cast light weight, “wacky” rigged soft lures such as 4 inch Senko worms but it is more usual to throw 1/8 oz to 1/4 oz jigheads with straight tailed Goby lures or Xlayer styles if the bottom terrain allows for it. These latter soft lures have been hugely successful. Not all methods have been derived from fishing. Some concepts have come from observing the behavior of fish under the water while diving. In fact, this changed our fishing more than we could ever have imagined. Viewing the fishing from depths exceeding 60ft on a single breath gives you a perspective many cannot even start to appreciate. I would say that this perspective and the knowledge imparted from divers far more experienced than myself, has had a huge impact on our methods and techniques. Of course, many of these techniques are completely transferable to our skishing where we can access water and features unreachable on foot and unapproachable by boat.

It is still very rare for the British angler to fish at night yet we learned two decades ago that this was the way to go. Trying not to sound self promoting, we can honestly say that our results over the years have been outstanding and far outweigh daylight catches of bass by a considerable margin. This doesn't matter whether it's shore fishing or skishing. Fishing at night, for bass has been outstandingly successful. We are in the process of trying to encourage as many people as possible to make the switch to night plugging or soft plastics’ techniques but it's hard work breaking old traditions. It's a sad fact that unlike parts of the USA where the bass fishery seems to be at least stable, our fishing isn't. It is under immense pressure hence our need to evolve as anglers or find another sport. However, it's not all bad and as we write this, we have hooked up to 730 bass during 2010 so far, of which 99.9% have been in the dark. There is a big swing to catch and release and we actively promote it. Our bass are European Sea Bass (Dicentrarchus Labrax ). A ten pounder is a Holy Grail sized fish although 16 pound fish have been caught.

We wanted to be able to catch fish on lures throughout the entire year. While we can catch bass here year round, it becomes extremely hard at certain times due to weather, etc. That was why we adopted and developed LRF (Light Rock Fishing) and Eging (pronounced "Egging") or squid fishing with lures. Now, LRF is new to Great Britain and had its birthplace in the UK right here in Jersey. We know that's a big claim but we believe it to be true. We researched Japanese light rock fishing and adapted it to our species. LRF works right throughout the season catching a multitude of species. The big plus point is that it gets you through the winter. We use rods rated for 1/8 to 1/4 oz weights with tiny soft and hard lures on lines that are hard to see. Special eight strand braids can cost a fortune but have transformed our HRF (Hard Rock Fishing). The feel that comes with this balanced tackle is hard to describe but put quite simply, we think our catch rates would be halved if we removed it from the equation. It simply works. We balance our tackle to match the species and size fish available to be caught given the season and time of year and we do it using lures. It’s about fishing for what is there, when it is there. The lures are soft plastic, metal, bucktails, spinners, spoons and all manner of things.

People have been jigging for squid in Jersey for as long as we can remember but we have adopted techniques from the Far East to try to take this game to the next level by using lures to catch squid. We can get squid to seven pounds and they pull too. Jet propelled, remember! What we can’t accept is that in the States you have great big striped bass and small squid and we get huge squid and tiny bass! It’s not fair!

In the north of Jersey you fish from rocks high above deep water. On the south east corner

there is a huge fast tidal area that we favor for skishing. It's not impossible to cover a 5 mile route out there over both ebbing and rising tides. It does require immense knowledge even on foot. It can be dangerous! Horses have been out-galloped by our fast currents. The image shown in this picture will have 37ft of water over it in 6 hours! Time these tides right and find

the twists and turns of the current. Be there on the darkest of nights with stealth, confidence and the right method and great things can happen. It can, for British waters, turn up some outstanding results. These special moments come from extensive knowledge of tides and habits. Anyone can do it.

Welcome to Jersey, CI, Great Britain. Hope to see you real soon!



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Bernard Calitri

By: Dave Dennison

Bernard Calitri outside Anchor Restaurant on High St. The restaurant was owned by his uncle. Circa 1945

For years I have collected vintage striped bass lures and items from the “Golden Age” of surf fishing. My basement has been called a “treasure trove” by many a visitor. I enjoy collecting striped bass lures and other fishing items and they have provided me with many years of enjoyment. My favorite part of this great hobby is probing into the past and researching the history behind the men who created these lures. Since most of the great vintage striper lures were made in the late 1940’s into the 1960’s it makes finding the creators almost impossible. Most have passed on and now lure collectors want to know the history behind the making of these great “artifacts”. Hundreds of hours can sometimes go into chasing down a lead only to come up empty handed. I will make endless phone calls and research relatives on ancestry websites. But that’s the name of the game and I enjoy it. There is a great thrill in uncovering new information about something so old and the people who created it. One fantastic lure in my collection called a Striper X-Pert was made in Rhode Island. Printed on the box are the following words “This Plug is endorsed by Bernard Calitri National Striped Bass Champion”. The same endorsement is also found on many Point Jude Baits boxes I have. Every time I look at the box I always wonder who Bernard Calitri was and why was he so great that his name would appear on the box. I also have in my collection a beautiful lure in its original box called the Cal-Kay Bass Challenger Lure. This box also bears Bernard Calitri’s name on it. My mission was set and I was bound and determined to find out who Bernard Calitri was. My research brought me to a couple doorsteps and finally in contact with Bernard Calitri’s son, Domenic Calitri. Domenic answered many of my questions and gave insight into just who his father was and why his name was on the Striper X-Pert and Point

Jude Baits boxes. I also learned so much about Bernard’s lure company, named CalKay. The story uncovered the incredible history of the Rhode Island striped bass lure makers and I’m really excited to share it with you. Bernard Calitri was born August 14th , 1914 in South Kingston, Rhode Island. By 1945, he had made quite a name for himself with the striper crowd. He spent day and night fishing the rocky shoreline of Rhode Island. He always carried a rod and reel in his truck and was ready to fish at the drop of a dime. His son told me he fished alongside surf icons such as Jerry Sylvester and Joe Tartorie. It is amazing that all three of these gentlemen not only owned tackle shops in Narragansett, but all three made lures to sell to the surf fishing crowd. Sylvester made his own line of lures and Tartorie owned Point Jude Baits. What really gave Calitri notoriety was the 61 ½ pound striper he caught in the National Striped Bass championship in 1945. He was awarded a wonderful trophy from the Narragansett Salt Water Fishing Club. He was working for his Uncle at the Anchor Restaurant at the time and didn’t make a whole lot of money. It cost 75 cents a pound to have the fish mounted; unfortunately, he couldn’t afford to have it done so he donated the fish to a local school. The following year, he started making his own line of striper lures in the basement of his family home on High Street in Wakefield, Rhode Island. He only made his Cal-Kay Bass Challenger Lure for a couple years; since production numbers were so low they are extremely hard to find today. In 1950 he opened a tackle shop called Fisherman’s Haven. Calitri’s reputation for being a great fisherman grew quickly and fishermen traveled from all over New England to fish with him. His tackle shop became a real hangout for the striper surf crowd.

Even though this photo says Bernards it was taken outside Jerry Sylveters place. The guys would change the sign hanging over the fish for photo ops.

(Far Left) Bernard Calitri, (Far Right) Jerry sylvester. The guys were being interviewed on radio in Providence Rhode Island for an article that appeared in the Saturday Evening Post called “Surf Fishing Is No Sport For Sissies�

When the “Three Amigos” (Calitri, Tartorie & Sylvester), as they were called, caught striped bass together, they would bring all the fish down to Jerry Sylvester’s tackle shop on the main strip in Narragansett and hang them out for all to see; it was a calling card of sorts for the guys driving in and around Narragansett. These photos would circulate and bring business to the community. For photo opportunities they would just change the sign that was placed over the fish, sometimes the sign overhead would say “Bernard’s Fishing Tackle” and sometimes “Jerry’s Fishing Tackle” but usually the fish were the same in the photograph. Bernard Calitri’s reputation grew as a flourishing striper angler and he was eventually paid about $50.00 a year to endorse other companies making lures, which was a lot of money for the 40’s and 50’s. This explains why his name is printed on the Striper X-Pert and Point Jude Baits boxes. I was thrilled to finally solve the mystery that many lure collectors and striper historians had been trying for figure out for years.

Bernard Calitri and his surf fishing rig near Kozy Korners in Narragansett, RI. He is holding his Cal-Kay lure box to promote his lures.

Joe Tartorie owner of Point Jude Lures and his Point Jude Restaurant in Rhode Island in 1945.

truck outside the Anchor

Bernard Calitri outside Anchor Restaurant with Point Jude truck. 1945

Trophy Bernard Calitri won for his 61 pound fish This was given to him by the Narragansett Salt Water Fishing Club in 1945

Jerry Sylvester (left) Joe Tartorie (center) Bernard Calitri (Right) outside Jerry’s Tackle shop in Narragansett Rhode Island. All pictured with Calitri’s winning 61 pound fish.

This is an original Cal-Kay flaptail with original box. Calitri made these in very limited production in the late 1940’s.

I called a close friend and fellow striper lure collector Frank Richardson to share my news on Calitri. A few days later, he called me back to tell me he found some very interesting advertisements in a 1946 Saltwater Sportsman Magazine. It appears my new information inspired Frank to go on a hunt of his own. I had always known that Jerry Sylvester made a lure called the Jerry’s Mullet and the Jerry’s 61, but it wasn’t until I shared my new information and a few photos with Frank that he made a huge connection. When Frank found the old advertisements it tied everything together and solved yet another mystery. Jerry’s earlier lure was called the Mullet before 1945 and was renamed Jerry’s 61 after Calitri caught the 61 ½ pound striper in 1945. So in researching one name on an old box we not only found out who he was and why his name was on the box, but also why Jerry Sylvester had a lure called the Jerry’s 61. It appears Calitri was using Jerry Sylvester’s lure when he caught the 61 pound striper.

This is the model lure Bernard Calitri was using when he caught his 61 pound fish. Jerry Sylvester named it after the fish. This bait was made around 1945 or 46.

This is a Point Jude lure that was made by Joe Tarorie of Point Jude Baits. Notice Calitri’s name on the box. Calitri was paid about 50 dollars a year to have his name on the box.

This lure was made in Rhode Island and believed to have a connection with Point Jude Lures. This lure also was endorsed by Bernard Calitri on the box.

There is so much history waiting to be discovered and so many untold stories just waiting to be told. As striper anglers we have a lot to be thankful for when it comes to the men who started it all. They designed and built the lures that most lures are modeled after today and we should never forget where or how it all started. Next time you are throwing your lure into the surf and the ocean is ebbing around you with the salty spray hitting upon your face, take a look up into the sky and thank those who walked in the footsteps before you; for they are gone and missed by many.

There are still many mysteries to be solved when it comes to vintage striped bass lures, I have many mysteries of surf lure makers yet to uncover; sometimes I feel like the Sherlock Holmes of lure makers. I would love to learn about Charlie Russo from New York. Who made the Fuller Brothers lures from Buzzards Bay? Who was responsible for making Bxyline Lures from Connecticut? These are just a few of the mysteries out there I am planning to delve into in hopes of solving. If anyone has information or even a small piece of the puzzle to the history behind a surf lure or its creator, I would love to hear from you. It’s time their story be told. Last year a new non profit club was formed called the SWLCC or Salt Water Lure Collectors Club. It is a large group of collectors’ who have joined together to share knowledge and information on the subject of vintage striped bass lures. I was lucky enough to be voted the Vice President and was thrilled to be chosen. If any of you readers enjoy collecting the surf fishing classics or just enjoy the history behind the sport you are in for a treat. The next club show is April 30th, 2011 in Bourne, Mass. There will be lots of vintage striped bass lures and tackle as well as contemporary builders. Stop by we would love to meet you. The club web site is Readers wishing to contact the author may email or call (603) 401-2387.



Along the northeastern Atlantic coast, surf fishermen outfitted with waders, spinning rods, reels, and trusty plug bags, seek the striped bass in the surf zone. This fertile feeding area is prized by the shore bound angler. It is often said: a surf fisherman will gladly take one fish from the beach to five from a boat. This is a special zone. Surf fishing offers a diverse environment with challenges aplenty. The surf can be calm and placid one day and a wild place with unpredictable conditions the next. In this ever changing environment, it’s important to have the proper gear to face the unexpected in the surf zone. That being true, why is a fisherman fly fishing against such elements? Realistically, it would take endless hours to try to understand why, but the fact is, they do. Fly fishing in the "zone" is well entrenched in our surf fishing culture. We only need to take a closer look at fly fishing and its gear to see why. Basically, a fisherman wants to catch fish. It’s that simple! He uses specific tools to accomplish this. A surf fisherman chooses his tackle: conventional, spinning or fly. One choice or all three? Great fun and satisfaction abound in each. It's all fishing. But does fly fishing belong on the beach or jetty? Can it handle the challenging conditions of wind, waves and big strong fish? Today’s fly tackle has evolved enormously over the past 50 years. This is not your great grandfather’s fly rod. Gone is the bamboo, and hello to the carbon era. Also gone are metal ferrules or tiny guides and overwhelming corrosion problems. Born is fly tackle capable of doing much greater things than ever before, including handling the challenge of landing large striped bass in a demanding surf. Fly reels are now made specifically for the saltwater enthusiast. Old heavy reels, that challenged the fly fisherman with tons of maintenance, have been pushed aside in favor of new advancements. Reels have become more durable, have shed a lot of weight, and their

improved drag systems now rival modern conventional or spinning reels. These advancements make for greater enjoyment all around. New fly line designs appear almost daily. With these a fisherman can cast farther and easier and fly lines can float, sink or hover in the water column.

These advances have helped overcome many obstacles and brought success in situations that in the past often sent a fly fisherman home early. Fly design evolved, producing a much wider array of imitations. Flies got bigger, tougher, and more realistic. Weighted flies became the biggest advancement in the fly box, accounting for more catches than any other fly. Big flies could be cast farther with water shedding designs made from new synthetic materials. The "stripping basket" may have helped the surf or jetty fly fisherman as much as any other advancement. It is used to control excess line while fishing, keeping it free from tangling around feet, rocks and debris. The “Old School� taught you to manage excess fly line by hand, with numerous coils held at your side or in your mouth. This was fine for short distances but now, the fly fisherman demands more distance and needs better control of more line. Line management frustrations were addressed with the popularity of the stripping basket.

Occasionally, salt water fly fishing articles appeared in traditional magazines and newspapers, but the publishing, in the early nineties, of "Salt Water Fly Fishing" magazine broke new ground. Now, salt water fly fishing had a real voice. Stories, “How-To's� and step by step instructional columns shared the fly fishing experience with anyone eager to learn. Better communication increased the sport's numbers dramatically in a few short years. Knowledge about saltwater fly fishing then jumped to the Internet where today it is available worldwide. Consequently, the word is out. Fly fishing the surf is a fun, challenging and very effective way to catch fish. Fishing legend, Charlie Waterman, described fly fishing as "a sport of self imposed limitations". It has changed my life! Over forty years of fly fishing in the surf, I have learned one very important fact. Although fly fishing and conventional surf anglers use different tools, they all are surf fishermen. Each makes the effort to understand the same game of tides, current, baits, retrieves, reading the beach and more. Fly fishing is just another way to do what we love: go fishing!



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L U R E T U B E S . C O M

an interview with

zeno hromin

Wading the salt water shallows of the Northern Abacos, in the Bahama Islands, is what defines both wading and bone fishing. Still, summer and fall mornings reflect towering cumulous cloud formations which in turn create dramatic backdrops for flickering bonefish tails breaking the surface of incoming tides. You obviously could have chosen trolling or deep sea jigging but instead you chose a fly rod as your weapon of choice. Tell us why... I love FISHING........and fish with all kinds of tackle...spinning, plug tackle and I even enjoy trolling. Just being there is a tremendous part of the equation for me and always has been. When I have the opportunity to do what I really enjoy the most, I reach for a fly rod! I've been a fly fisher since I was a youngster. Salt water fly fishing and I have grown up together and in the process I've been able to observe, and sometimes even participate, in milestones that the lifestyle has witnessed and embraced. What is it about catching a fish on the fly rod that appeals to you? Fly fishing in saltwater is all about actually seeing the fish, presenting the fly that you have selected, and maybe even tied yourself....then causing the fly to behave so much like food that the fish is persuaded to eat it. You actually get to be a part of all of this.

Your were one of the people that brought saltwater fly fishing into people's living rooms each weekend and expanded its popularity. For that we will all be eternally grateful. But there is usually someone who gave you a helping hand in your youth. Who was your inspiration and who challenged you to chase after saltwater fish with a fly rod? When I started fly fishing in the 1960's, I fished with friends: Chico Fernandez, John Emery and Norman Duncan. The three of us were inseparable fishing buddies and our adventures could be the basis of a television series...but the folks who really inspired me were Lefty Kreh and Stu Apte. Each in his own way helped and inspired me without asking anything in return. They continue to be friends and mentors whom I try to emulate in fishing and in life. Is there one fish that you like to target with a fly rod? I suppose the fish that I most enjoy throwing flies to would have to be the snook! It's not so much the fish itself as it is his house...the Florida Everglades! Snook have evolved in the very ecosystem where I grew up home waters, so to speak. Snook fishing there is very casting intensive and that's just fine with me!

If we could transport Flip Pallot back in to the past, to one day of his life that he wishes he can re-live, where would we find Flip?. My wife Diane struggled for several years trying to catch a tarpon on fly. There were many clean misses, many near misses, many that got away...They jumped off, broke the tippet, swam under the boat and broke off, the rod broke, the cast was short, long, left or right of target and once a mackerel ate the knot at the bite tippet and she lost the tarpon at boat side.

One afternoon, an hour before dark, the breeze dropped to nothing. She and I dropped the skiff in at a ramp on Mosquito Lagoon and ran to a cove where tarpon often lie around in three feet of water. Diane spotted a dorsal and tail fin motionless above the surface and cast a worm fly just ahead of where the head should be. The fish’s tail kicked ahead and its mouth broke the surface as it closed on the small fly. As darkness fell Diane and I leaned over the gunnel to release her first tarpon. There was no photo, no shriek of triumph...just the sound of the splash as the tarpon dashed away and the sun set on one of the greatest fishing days of my life! What do you find to be the biggest difference in saltwater fly fishing when compared with the days when you started with a fly rod in the Everglades to the present day? In the very early 1960's, when I started fly fishing in salt water, South Florida was its epicenter. Very few folks even dreamed of casting flies to fish such as tarpon, snook, bonefish, sailfish and the like. I knew, or knew of almost everyone who had ever tried it and the resource was virtually untapped. Fish had never seen flies or fly fishers. Today, fifty years later, fly fishers in the salt have become legion and they fish all across the planet. In some ways this is sad and makes me miss the old, lonely days on the water...but viewing the bigger picture I realize that without this legion of fly fishers we would never be able to preserve and protect what remains of resources and habitat. I hope we're up to the task!

Is there something special about hooking into a feisty fish on a fly while your feet are firmly planted on the ground? Fishing while wading or walking the beach adds another handicap to the fishing equation and that's not a bad thing. There are actually some cases where it's an advantage. Boats, no matter what kind, are magic carpets that, at least in your mind, give you an edge. When we first started this interview we asked you what was your favorite place to cast a fly from the shore. You didn’t say the Bahamas, Belize or some exotic location. Instead you said Idaho. Although our readers are primarily saltwater fishermen we have to ask, why Idaho? Over the years I've been lucky to have fly fished all over the world (and it ain't over yet). The American Rocky Mountains, and most especially the meadow streams of Idaho offer the best trout fishing and perfect solitude that ever I have found. The most important lesson that I've learned from fishing is that it's not about the size or species of fish so much as it's about where you get to go to find them. You thrilled and entertained us with your Walker’s Cay series. From spectacular action to beautiful scenery and virgin waters, we ate it up with a giant spoon. We understand you have a new show in the works? Tell us about it.

I'm hoping that fisher folk will discover "Ford's Fishing Frontiers" on the Outdoor Channel starting in January of 2011. I'll be hosting a number of these shows which are produced by Orion Multimedia (the folks who did Pirates of the Flats). Already filmed are episodes along the Louisiana marsh for redfish, tarpon in the Everglades and a great largemouth bass show in Texas with Lefty Kreh! Diane and I leave next week for Deep Water Cay in the Bahamas for a bonefish show and I'm hoping for good weather!!!!!

OUR MISSION IS SIMPLE: The stated purpose of CCA is to advise and educate the public on conservation of marine resources. The objective of CCA is to conserve, promote and enhance the present and future availability of these coastal resources for the benefit and enjoyment of the general public.




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Roger Martin has fished the rocky beaches of Rhode Island, plowed through soft sand on Cape Cod beaches and navigated the treacherous rocks of Montauk. But most of the time, you'll find him close to home, on the sandy beaches or the back bay marshes of Long Island’s south shore. Over the last half century he has written numerous articles, authored a chapter in William Muller's book “The Secrets of Surf Fishing at Night” and given many presentations on the subject of surf fishing. He was taught how to rig eels by his friend, the late Al Bentsen, and has passed this knowledge on to many others. Roger and his wife Marie are co-editors of the Surfcaster's Journal and they are the ones who labor over our sloppy writing, bad grammar and terrible pronunciation errors. For that alone they should be saluted. Zeno Hromin is the author of two recent bestselling books, “The Art of Surfcasting with Lures” and “The Hunt for Big Stripers.” He is a budding angling photographer who has won numerous awards for his camera skills. He is one of the founders of the Surfcaster's Journal and a frequent contributor to the Surfcaster's Journal Blog. You can get more information about Zeno on his website Email him at Lou Caruso is a long time member of the Farragut Striper Club, Surfcaster's Journal official "Rod Guru" and one of the most well regarded custom rod builders on Long Island, NY. His web site is

Tommy Corrigan is an insanely driven, ridiculously talented dude who designs the Surfcaster's Journal magazine from his head. No guidelines, no drafts and no boxes into which to plug articles. Everything that you see is the result of late night inspirations on those nights when his better half makes him stay home. When he manages to sneak out you will probably find him on a local beach, plying his craft. His talents are vast and range from music CD cover designs, to posters, books and tshirts. Don't be surprised if the design on the shirt you or your kid is wearing was created by our design guru. Email him at William "Doc" Muller is one of the most dedicated and successful surf fishermen on the east coast. An accomplished author, publisher, editor, lecturer and professor, he possesses a wealth of knowledge about the ocean and how to fish it. He authored and coauthored many books on surfcasting and recently teamed up with Zeno Hromin to bring to market an updated edition of his bestselling book “Secrets of Surf Fishing at Night.” Doc has also written two novels. His latest, “Vanishing Cures” received many accolades and has earned him an Editor Award. Doc published “The Surf Fishing Magazine” in 1990's, an excellent publication which inspired us to start the Surfcaster's Journal magazine. Dave Anderson is an editor of “The Fisherman Magazine”, New England edition. You have probably read many of the articles on surf fishing he has written over the years for that magazine and other publications. What you probably did not know was that Dave is also a well respected plug builder who creates exceptional lures under the name Surf Asylum. You can receive his newsletter by dropping him a line at

Rich Troxler has roamed the south shore bridges on Long Island under the cover of darkness longer than he is willing to admit. A very observant angler, he spends many nights following the migration of baitfish in the back bays in order to gain a better understanding of the striper’s feeding habits. Rich is well respected among his peers for his tenacity as well as for his skills. John Papciak is a well known New York surfcaster who is equally comfortable with a fly rod or a surf rod. John is one of the most fearless surfcasters of this generation and one of the rare anglers who fish from the far rocks with a fly rod. As much as we all admire his fearlessness when swimming to the rocks in the middle of the night, we are even more impressed with his conservation ethic. He was one of the people involved in Bring Back Big Bass campaign in recent years and he has been always on the forefront of the conservation movement among the surf fishing community. You can email him at Toby Lapinski is a well respected Connecticut angler. You might find him wet suiting on Cuttyhunk or hopping among the boulders of the rocky Rhode Island coast. But he always returns to his first love, the beaches and rivers of Long Island Sound. Manny Moreno is considered by many to be one of today's most prolific big fish hunters. His exploits are well known whether you fish Block Island, Cuttyhunk, Cape Cod or Montauk Point. He is a contributing author of the book “The Hunt for Big Stripers” and possibly one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet at the beach. Just don't ask him where he catches all his big fish.

Bill Wetzel is probably the most respected New York surf guide in recent years. You might find him in the calm waters of the north shore or on the south shore sandy beaches or in the back bays depending on the time of year. Most of the time however you will find him guiding his clients at the Mecca of Surfcasting, Montauk Point, NY. Bill is also one of the contributing authors of the book, “The Hunt for Big Stripers.� His web site is Pat Abate is considered one of the most knowledgeable surfcasters walking the beaches today. For decades Pat has fished all the hotspots along the striper coast and still does to this day. He owns Rivers End Bait and Tackle in Old Saybrook, CT, one of the finest surf shops in the Northeast. His web site is Paul Apostolides is a man whose tackle store serves as an epicenter of anything that is happening on the legendary beaches of Montauk Point, NY. He will always greet you with a smile on his face and a fresh pot of coffee. After all, he is a surfcaster too. As an owner of Paulies Bait and Tackle in the "Surfcasting Capital of the World", Montauk Point, NY, Paul is well in tune to what is going on in the surf line at any given time. His web site is Dennis Zombrotta is a well respected Rhode Island surfcaster and author of many articles on surfcasting that have appeared in northeast publications. Although you will often find him prowling the local beaches around his home, he is most at peace when fishing the legendary shores of Block Island.

Russ Paoline is well known plug builder from New Jersey who makes lures under the name Big Rock Custom Lures. His lures are very much in demand and only sold at few local New Jersey shows over the winter. His web site is Don Guimelli is a designer and maker of the very popular Afterhours Custom Plugs, a good fisherman and a hell of a nice guy. Although from Rhode Island and a regular at the Cape Cod Canal, Don can be found daydreaming about Cuttyhunk rocky shores more than any other place. His web site is Steve McKenna is one of New England’s most respected anglers of the past few decades. His humble persona and lack of an oversized ego, often found among surfcasters of his caliber, make him one of the most liked surfcasters walking the beach today. Based in Rhode Island, Steve has found success not only at home but in most places he has visited: Cuttyhunk, Block Island and Cape Cod. Put the rod in the man's hand, stand back, watch and learn. Steve has written numerous articles over the years for many Northeast publications including a chapter in Zeno Hromin's book, “The Hunt for Big Stripers.” DJ Muller is a surf guide and author of three books on surfcasting. His latest book, “Striper Tails” is a collection of surfcasting stories from along the coast. He is a frequent contributor to many northeast publications and one of the most sought after seminar speakers in the Northeast. To contact DJ please visit his website at:

Dave Dennison is a vintage saltwater lure collector who was also instrumental in forming the Salt Water Lure Collectors Club. Dave has one of the largest collections of surf fishing memorabilia and photos in the Northeast. His web site is Keith and Kevin White are surfcasting guides based on the Island of Jersey in the English Channel. Even though it’s only fourteen or so miles from the northwest coast of France, this small nine by five mile island has developed its own distinct flavor over the years due to its mixed cultural influences. Although it’s mainly English speaking, its place names and road signs tend to be in French. Keith and Kevin practice some unique techniques in their guiding including "skishing" or floating with the current in a wetsuit as they fish. Check them out at their web site Gary Soldati is a custom lure maker from Massachusetts who specializes in making big wood under the name Big Water Lures. His line of giant pikies are well regarded by surfcasters who hunt for large stripers. His web address is Janet Messineo is a surf guide in one of the fishiest locations on the striper coast, the island of Martha's Vineyard. Janet is also a well renowned taxidermist. Her web site is

John Skinner is one of the most respected surfcasters on the striper coast. He authored “A Season on the Edge” and he also was a contributing author in the book “The Hunt for Big Stripers.” John is a stickler for details and his meticulous attention to detail has paid off over the years resulting in catches of some very large stripers. His propensity for obsessing over every little detail led him to develop the very popular “Fishers Log” software, which is used to record information on each fishing trip you make so that you can analyze past catches based on moon, tides ,winds and many other variables. His web site is Nicola Zingarelli was born in Florence, Italy and is now living in Madrid, Spain. He is a professional photographer and author whose pictures and writings have graced magazines in the US and abroad. Nicola is a passionate recreational angler who has travelled extensively around the globe in the pursuit of his passion. You can follow his rants in English on Facebook. Nicola's website is


Criticism? We can handle it.

issue 6  

Th reckoning force of surfcasting publications is back. Now with fly fishing!

issue 6  

Th reckoning force of surfcasting publications is back. Now with fly fishing!