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Surfcaster’s Paradise... Located 12 miles off the Massachusetts coast. 1 hour boat trip from historic New Bedford MA.


May Until EarlyOctober Mid


1864 For reservations or brochures call


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There will be days when the fishing is be

others when it is far worse. Eithe

etter than one's most optimistic forecast,

er is a gain over just staying home. ~Roderick Haig-Brown, Fisherman's Spring, 1951

INTRO "Don't worry about proving yourself; just improve yourself� That quote had such an effect on me that I ripped the accompanying article written by Dewitt Jones out of Outdoor Photographer magazine. Why did this quote have such a powerful effect on me? It wasn't just the quote but the premise of a whole article, an idea that there is more to be gained by sharing than hoarding. My most gratifying moment when giving seminars in the winter months usually occurs long after the seminar has ended and the room has cleared out. An old crusty salt who sits in the back is usually the only one left as I pack my gear. He will walk up to my desk and say "Kid, you are giving away way too much information. It took me a lifetime to learn all that stuff". My answer is always the same: by sharing with others what I have learned over the years I hope that they will share their knowledge with me one day. My days of trying to "prove" myself are well behind me. It took me too long to realize, I was no less skilled if I just fished instead of fishing to prove something. Once I realized that the only thing I accomplished by trying to prove to others that I belonged in their tight knit circle was one very pissed off wife at home. I came to my senses and decided that sharing what I've learned is more important than what my pecking order is in this sport.

Listen to this quote from the magazine article by Mr. Jones: "Over the years I watched countless photographers waste countless hours trying to prove themselves to others rather than spending those same hours improving their technique and sharpening their eye. I've seen both the amateurs and pros refuse to share some techniques that made their photography special, rather than sharing their vision with others. Folks, don't go there. You get better a lot faster by focusing on improving rather than proving. You learn far more by sharing than hoarding." Did you ever wonder how someone who wasn't even forty years old could write two highly acclaimed surf fishing books? It certainly wasn't because I drank some magic surf fishing potion and suddenly possessed the knowledge to write about anything and everything about surf fishing. Those books are not only the result of my experiences but in both of them you will find knowledge that others have shared with me over the years. There is no shortcut to success in this sport. There are no guarantees either, as the fish that were here today might be gone tomorrow. The only certainty I find is to give what you can to those who are looking for advice and don't ask anything in return. He who looks from above will take care of that. -Zeno Hromin July 2011

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urfcaster’s journal blog ENDS AT MIDNIGHT ON 12/1/2011.

Surfcaster’ s Journal Issue #8 July 2011 14-Geared Up 33-The Rod Corner - Caruso 39-Beach To Table - Chase 49-Rollin’With The Rock - Paoline 63-Fly Fishing Update - Papciak 75-Plugaholics Anonymous - Anderson 83-Jerry Ferrone - Pintauro 99-Cutty - DiCostanzo 109-Choopy Lures Interview - Hromin 131-Kyaks From A Surfcasters Perspective - Skinner 147-Licensing Salt Water Anglers - Witek 164-Contributors editor in chief head photographer: Zeno Hromin art director/garfunkle-oates-ringo: 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 advertising and other inquiries Surfcaster's Journal is published bi-monthly 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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Red Gills They say that everything old becomes new again and we could not agree more. Decades ago, before the current soft rubber lure craze, in the days when sand eels dominated the surf scene, one rubber lure stood head and shoulders above the rest. Some of the anglers that are new to the sport might look at Red Gills as if they were newcomers but rest assured that every seasoned rat knows just how deadly these lures are. There was a period when they were as hard to acquire as our president’s birth certificate. Surfcasters were hording them and using them sparingly as not to deplete their stash. Fortunately Red Gills are once again widely available and not a moment too soon. The sand eels are once again the predominant bait in the surf in the northeast and long, slender baits have always been your best choice when game fish are feeding on silvery, elongated baitfish. Why are Red Gills so revered among surfcasters? Although many lures are hyped up on the internet boards as the next best things since sliced bread, few have actually had the body of work to back up their claim. Red Gills have been a staple for striped bass fishermen for decades. There was a time when a Red Gill was the predominant choice of a teaser to use in front of your swimming lure but as other baitfish like peanut bunker and herring came to dominate the surf scene, the Red Gills became sort of an afterthought. Had they stopped producing good catches? Not at all, but surfcasters, always looking for a magic lure, cast bigger and wider bodied lures trying to “match the hatch�. Those fortunate enough to have had a stash somewhere in their basements continued to rack up impressive catches but they kept quiet, not knowing if they would be able to replenish their stash.


Today, with the resurgence of sand eels, the trend has come full circle and long slender lures are top producers in the surf. New from Red Gill is a two part modular system comprised of jig heads and interchangeable bodies based on the original Red Gill design. What can you expect to catch on these lures? Anything that feeds on sand eels, of course, which is a category with no lack of participants. Fluke, bonito, striped bass, cod fish and many other species count on sand eels to keep their bellies full throughout the season. Regardless of whether you use new jig heads with incredibly realistic bodies or you attach a Red Gill teaser in front of your lure, you can be assured that you are using one of the best sand eel imitations ever to be cast into the surf. And that is no bull.


Bimini Bay High Performance Shirts What are the chances of seeing the same brand and type of shirt at a northeast fishing show in the winter, in Costa Rica a few weeks later, and in Florida in the spring? You probably think this is some giant brand of yuppie clothing made to catch the fancy of fishermen. You couldn't be more wrong. We are talking about a High Performance line of shirts from Bimini Bay Outfitters. Recently we’ve been seeing their shirts at the shows, on the beach and on flats boats. That piqued our interest so we bought a few. Some of you might not know, but the fellows who make these shirts are also behind those ubiquitous Tsunami shads, Airwave rods and lures. Why are these shirts so popular among fishermen? First and foremost: quality and style. Let's be honest no one is going to wear a shirt that makes him look like Mr. Farley on Three's Company or one that fades away after the first washing. But why Bimini Bay? There certainly are other brands out there. Well, these shirts are priced favorably and in these tough economic times a reasonable price is a great selling point. But at the end of the day, the thing that really matters is how the garment performs when you are out fishing.

Bimini Bay gear does a great job of wicking away moisture and keeping you cool in the sun. Made out of 100% Cool Tek quick-drying nylon with UV protection and featuring a breathable caped back with a mesh liner, you can fish on the hottest of days and keep cool. UPF protected, two flap-top bellows pockets, and a rod loop are just some of the other features. We fished with these shirts in 90 degree weather in Florida recently and enjoyed every minute of it. Not only that but they are stylish enough to take your better half out to dinner afterwards.


Columbia Sportswear Drainmaker Water Shoe We readily admit that some of us at Surfcaster's Journal are huge Columbia Sportswear fans. It's hard not to be since these folk design clothes, shoes and accessories with you, the outdoorsman, in mind. Seriously, do you think Calvin Klein knows you exist other than the fact that he cursed you out when you dared to drive your 4x4 (legally mind you) in front of his East Hampton mansion? Hey, how were you supposed to know that the big white tent was there for a beach wedding instead of a drive-through car wash? Jeeez, some people are too sensitive. It must be the East Hampton town taxes that are making them cranky. Anyway, back to the fine folks at Columbia’s design department. Here is what we asked them. Design us water shoes we can wear to a casual dinner, because we are too lazy to change. Ones that we can wear on the beach because our waders are making us sweat in the midsummer heat. Can you put some lug outsoles with OmniGrip Wet Grip rubber on them so we don't kill ourselves when walking on slippery surfaces. Can you make them drain quickly so that as soon as we exit the water they feel like running shoes and not goulashes. Make them light, breathable and stylish.

Are we asking a lot? We didn't think so! Neither did the folks at Columbia Sportswear who came up with Drainmaker, a hybrid water shoe that they call a "water shoe with the heart of a running shoe." Ok, so we didn't have anything to do with the design but if we designed a dashing water shoe, it would look a lot like Drainmaker, except it would have Striped Bass plastered all over it. When you need gear to stay dry by all means don your waders. When you need a good water shoe for hot summer months, check out Drainmaker from Columbia Sportswear.


Food Saver We at Surfcaster's Journal Magazine are big believers in encouraging catch and release, particularly of those big breeders. Hopefully through angler education and careful management of the fishery we will leave behind a sustainable resource for our children to enjoy. Having said this, we admit that we enjoy sharing with our loved ones a fresh fish on the grill or a pot of game stew on the stove. Years ago, when we would shoot a deer or keep a few fish, we'd end up giving more away to our friends than we kept for ourselves. The simple reason for this was freezer burn. We just hated how a fish, so delicious when eaten fresh, tasted like cardboard after defrosting it a few months later. But we found a cure for that. Since we bought our first Food Saver, we can tell our friends how great our fish and game taste but that is about as close as they get to tasting any. We found that by using the Food Saver vacuum system we could not only freeze enough fish and game to last us through the winter but we also could vacuum seal all the meats bought on our monthly Costco trips. Steaks, ground meat, ribs, chicken, pork chops‌.. you name it, we vacuum seal it. When we get through all that, if and only if, the wife is in a good mood, she lets us vacuum seal our eels for long term storage. The vacuum seal removes air and moisture but keeps in freshness and taste, so when you open that package of fish filet you caught a few months ago, you will not believe how deliciously fresh it will look and taste. Recently we had a chance to try another product from Food Saver called GameSaver Silver. This particular model is designed for heavy-duty repetitive use, perfect for

successful fishing trips or hunting expeditions. It has a built in roll storage and cutter, and a large capacity drop tray. We loved its ease of use and the results. According to Food Saver, by using their Food Saver Vacuum Packaging System the meat, fish and garden bounty will last up to 5 times longer than conventional packaging. We also loved big, easy to operate buttons and the unit’s simplicity. No menus to go through to achieve the desired results, just big "Seal" and "Vac/Seal" buttons. The GameSaver Silver also comes with a vacuum hose which you can use in conjunction with optional FoodSaver Canisters to vacuum seal dry goods, liquids or items that might get crushed in the bags. If you have ever used a Food saver Vacuum Packaging System, you know that life without it would be, well, not as tasty. And we are sure you always wondered how wonderful it would be to take your Food Saver on your trips but the lack of an electric power supply prevented you in doing so. Not any longer. The GameSaver Silver features a 12 Volt DC adaptor that supplies full strength, portable power from your truck’s outlet.


The Complete Guide to Surfcasting We've read books that used as their title the "Ultimate" something or other. Some were on fishing, others on camping and one even on crocheting (you might roll your eyes all you want but our Granma loves when we do it). Many of these books could be classified as...well, turds, for the lack of a better word. However a few months ago The Complete Guide to Surfcasting landed on our desk. It was written by Joe Cermele and published this spring by Burford Books. We reserved judgment until we finished reading it. Here is our verdict: it is definitely not a wanna-be. In fact, it might be the most complete book on surfcasting the shores of the United States we have ever read. Large in size and over 300 pages, this book leaves no stone unturned. From tides and storied hotspots, to every imaginable species you can catch from the beach, jetty or pier, this book covers it. It deals with knots, baits, tackle, fighting fish, fish by regions, weather and much more. Everything

but cooking the darn catch is in there. The author, Joe Cermele, is a veteran New Jersey surf angler. You might know him as a Fishing Editor of Field & Stream magazine or from Salt Water Sportsman. He has also written articles for Men's Journal, Angling Trade and On The Water. Look, we don't like bull any more than you so here is our honest opinion. This book is a great resource for anyone who wants to learn about surfcasting. Are there more in depth books available that deal with specific aspects of surfcasting like lure fishing or bait? Yes. But to our knowledge there is no book out there that deserves to be called a Complete Guide more than this one. It covers almost every darn species you can catch from Maine to the Pacific Northwest. Joe has a way with words and this book has many but they will fly by as you immerse yourself in the material.


Secrets of Surf Fishing at Night We have fond memories of buying the book “Secrets of Surf Fishing at Night” when it was first published in 1993. Maybe this was for no other reason than the fact that we still had hair back then…and a waist! So what do we make of the current reprinted issue, twenty years later? You are barking up the wrong tree if you think we would give anything but an enthusiastic two thumbs up to this updated version. First, one of the contributors, the late Al Bentsen, was a personal friend and in our opinion one of the best surfcasters to ever set foot in the brine. His chapters on how to rig and fish rigged eels are masterpieces that will educate anglers for generations to come. Another contributor to the book, Roger Martin along with his better half Marie, is now an editor of the Surfcaster’s Journal magazine. We wouldn’t dare say anything bad about the man as he is probably the last person on this earth actually willing to deal with our third grade level pronunciation, grammar and spelling. Last and definitely not least is the star of the book: William “Doc” Muller. Doc has been writing about his love of surf fishing for decades in a multitude of regional and national publications. After the incredible success of his book “Surf Fishing with the Experts” in

the 1980’s, Doc published “Secrets of Surf Fishing at Night”. It’s THE book that got many of us turned on to striped bass fishing and we use it as a reference to this very day. Only now, the book has been updated with new information, especially fishing with bucktails. He has updated his recommendations on braid, reels, rods, and tackle in general. Doc’s sound advice will make you a better surfcaster. If you are not sure what the hype about fishing at night is all about, you will understand it after reading this book. We are excited to learn that William “Doc” Muller is working on a new book on surfcasting. Look for it on the shelves of your local tackle store this fall.


Guide Choice Old School Swimmer How many of you have bought a plastic swimming lure that looked great in the package but left a lot to be desired when cast into the surf? We all seen lures with hooks that are sold as “saltwater grade” yet they don’t measure up. We’ve all had plastic lips of swimming plugs break off the first time they hit a rock and some of us have had lures mangled beyond repair by the first fish we caught. You need not have these concerns when you purchase Old School Swimmers made by Guides Choice Lures. Not only do they come in an array of finishes that are hard as a rock but they also include the best hardware available today including stainless steel, quality swivels and yes, VMC hooks. Considering the incredible number of plastic lip swimmers that hit the market over the past years, you might be asking, why buy a Guides Choice Old School Swimmer, besides the great hardware. After all hardware might help you catch a fish but you still need good action to get the fish to hit the lure. Have no fear because that is the department where the Old School Swimmer really shines. You have to excuse us for having such an affinity for plastic lures. They are virtually indestructible, if made well and most are very affordable and consistent. The Guide Choice lures are the brainchild of Frank Crescitelli a well known Staten Island, NY guide. Although we know

that many big manufacturers spend good coin on designing their products, when you put your own good name behind a line of products, it speaks volumes. The Old School swimmer is Frank's spin on a lure that was a deadly striped bass weapon of the past, the Rebel 80 Windcheater. He added a fin, more weight and made it three times thicker than the original Rebel. For its size, it casts very well. With sand eels dominating the surf the last few years, it is a great imitation of that baitfish. We have had good success with this lure during last season casting it into the Montauk rips and slowly retrieving it. Unfortunately the night bite in the fall was as awful as we’ve seen in a long time and tins dominated the action during the day but we still managed to fool a few fish on our local beaches and jetties. We followed it up this spring when the sand eels returned and had some good nights on jetties and on sandy beaches. We like the quality, we like the price, we like its fish catching ability and yes, we also like the local flavor.


Islander FR3 Classic Fly Reel In an age of sealed drags, increasingly complex features, and escalating prices, it’s nice to see a reel company still offering the same bullet-proof design that it started out with. In 1996, we began fishing with a reel nearly identical to the currently offered Islander FR3, a machined standard arbor reel. The FR3 comes in a number of high gloss finishes, but the company remains committed to a simple design with few moving parts. In fact, you can disassemble most of the reel without any tools, and need only a screwdriver to remove the handle. The reel is all business in the drag department, where cork is still favored over more complex sealed drag systems offered by numerous competitors. Some of us here at Surfcaster’s Journal still scratch our heads at the industry trend toward sealed drag systems. We have found a high quality but simple cork drag system fully effective and reliable in the most unforgiving of surf conditions. The FR3 drag allows for a continuous range of settings, from “free spool” right down to “pop goes your leader.” We’ve taken the reel swimming many more times than we can count, to catch hundreds upon hundreds of bluefish, striped bass, weakfish, false albacore, fluke and a host of other exotic species. Over the years, the reel has been repeatedly buried in both mud and sand, and a simple dunk in salt water was all that was ever necessary to flush it out so we could keep fishing.

The reel requires nothing more than a rinse in fresh water at the end of a trip, along with a dab of Neatsfoot Oil for the cork during periods of heavy fishing. According to Islander’s web site “These versatile reels have been recovered from house fires and from the bottom of the ocean, and, while the finish suffered damage, with a little service these reels are back in working order.” We can believe it. The Islander FR3 (lines 10-12, total weight 11.3 ounces, capacity WF10F + 300 yards of 20#) will set you back about $460. Unless you are a bonfide “gear-ho,” you will probably never need another reel for the northeast surf.



Lou Caruso

Some time back, I wrote that CTS rods were making quite a splash here on the East Coast. As I usually do, before I can recommend a product to my customers, I will usually build one or two rods for myself and beat the snot out of them to see how they hold up. The first CTS blanks I got my hands on were a prototype 11’ blank rated 2 – 4 ozs and a prototype 10’ beast rated 3 – 6 ozs. I built both and started using the 11’ prototype on the open beach during that fall sand eel bite we had on the south shore of Long Island. First thing I noticed was it cast a 1½-oz tin a mile. That helped on a number of occasions when the bigger fish were out on the second bar. It was very parabolic, and had the backbone to muscle 18 to 20 pound bass up on the beach with little effort. The rod was great on the open beach but I was hesitant to fish it around structure. I took the 10’ beast out to test cast it a few times but never really had a chance to put it through its paces.

Over the winter I mulled over what I wanted in a 2-piece rod. I have always been a Lami 1-piece guy but these rods were getting to me. I thought if the 11’ prototype had a little more backbone I would be in heaven. During one of the shows I met up with Rich of RH Custom rods and had some time to spend really looking at and bending blanks. He showed me the Vapor Trail 11’ (3 – 6 oz) and I knew that was what I was looking for. Picked one up from Rich and built it up. Couldn’t wait to use it in some of the sticky spots I fish during spring. After using it for a few months, it’s what I was looking for. A Lami GSB on steroids! Casts extremely well and handles fish like a dream. I will say this; I believe the rating on the bottom end should be 1 – 1 ½ oz, not 3, which makes this rod even more versatile. As the fish started making their way to the local inlets this spring, I seized the opportunity to test the 10’ beast. The prototype has since been put into production and it’s the Plug & Jig series. I have the PJ1008-2. The rod has the backbone of a meat stick yet it still has a nice flexible tip. I have been throwing everything from 1 ½ oz bucktails to 4oz jigheads with 1 ½ oz rubber. The rod is pretty amazing. I have had bass hit 2 hours into a full moon tide that was screaming out and the rod muscles them in effortlessly. The last series of rods that have been going over well around here are the S8 surf series. These things cast like a rocket!!! The 11’ 6” (1 – 3 oz) is unbelievable. I have watched guys throw 400’ to 450’ without breaking a sweat. The 12’ is also very popular. Go to the CTS website and check them out for yourself. WWW.LOUSCUSTOMRODS.COM




I’m amazed at how common it’s become these days for people to eat raw fish. I mean, when Costco starts selling sushi, I guess you’ve got yourself a national trend.

Ceviche is a delicious compromise between raw and cooked fish where the active ingredient is lime and/or another citrus juice which “cooks” the proteins in the flesh, firming the fish and complementing its flavor. The rest of the ingredients are optional and can be varied to suit whatever mood you’re in. You can keep it true to its Latin American roots with just lime and cilantro or you can give it an Asian twist with some ginger and soy sauce. One thing I like to do is to add something fatty to soften the acid and give a richer texture to the dish. Extra virgin olive oil, coconut milk or avocado could all play this role. Oh yeah, don’t forget something spicy to play against the other flavors, fresh green chiles if you’re going Latin or maybe fresh ginger in an Asian rendition.

The amount of time you marinate your fish will depend on how “cooked” you like it, how acidic your marinade is, what fish you’ve chosen and how you cut it. Since you have impeccably fresh fish that can be eaten raw it’s impossible to go wrong. Anywhere from a few minutes time, in which the marinade really serves as a dressing for the thinly-sliced, almost raw fish, up to a few hours in which the fish actually becomes opaque throughout like a cooked filet. Either way will give you something delicious. Raw fish may not appeal to everyone however, so if you have guests and are un-sure of their preferences you may want to do the more well-marinated version. Most of the lean, white-fleshed fish we catch here in the Northeast are perfect candidates for ceviche. Fluke, black sea-bass and striper will all work perfectly but so will the fattier, stronger tasting fishes like blues or mackerel. Serve your ceviche in a chilled glass like a seafood cocktail for a sit-down dinner appetizer or just mound it up on crisp tortilla chips to pass around as an informal snack. A crisp, hoppy pilsner would be my beverage recommendation here as the dish’s acidity is going to make wine a tough option. I hadn’t made ceviche for a while and I really enjoyed creating this one. It’s dead-simple, and very satisfying. Use it as is or as a template for creating your own. This ceviche has all the familiar flavors of lime, cilantro and red-onion. Its acid is offset with the sweetness of ripe mango and the richness of avocado and extra-virgin olive oil. I served it in a chilled martini glass and accompanied it with some tortilla chips.

Latin-Style Ceviche with Mango, Avocado and Chiles serves 4 as an appetizer 8oz. fresh fish filet, cut into 3/8” dice 3 med. limes, zested and juiced (about 1/3 cup of juice) ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil ½ teaspoon sugar ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon finely grated ginger ½ teaspoon finely grated jalapeno 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro 2 Tablespoons minced red onion ¾ medium avocado, cut into 3/8” dice 1 small tomato, seeded and cut into 3/8” dice ½ medium mango, peeled and cut into 3/8” dice Cut fish into dice and chill while you prepare the rest of your ingredients. I like to use a scrupulously clean stainless steel mixing bowl set inside another larger bowl that is half-filled with ice and a little water to keep everything cold as I work. Whisk together the lime juice with the salt, sugar, ginger and jalapeno and then add the oil. Now carefully fold in the fish, all the vegetables and the mango. Cover well with plastic wrap and refrigerate, keeping the mixing bowl submerged in the ice-bath.I marinated the ceviche for 3 hours and it was still slightly pink but nicely “cooked”.

Try it as it’s marinating and decide for yourself how far you want to go. It won’t really “overcook” so you’ve got some leeway. Taste the finished ceviche before you serve it and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt if needed. Mound nicely in chilled glasses or small bowls and serve with tortilla chips or grilled slices of crusty bread.

a n d r e w c h a s e




“Doc” Muller’s

The Ultimate Surf Fishing Guide

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Hello there my fellow surf rats, it’s Big Rock here, hoping to provide some valuable insights into the art of beach driving and vehicle maintenance. My father was a master mechanic for his entire life and shared much of his knowledge with me, knowledge that I have used to help me driving on the beach and maintaining my buggy and I intend to share this knowledge with you.


THE ROCK Russ “Big Rock” Paoline

Let's start off by addressing the fact that not all surf casters drive on sand, but for those of us who do, there are many obstacles we face. I personally drive on the beach here in New Jersey at just about every access point available to 4X4 traffic, anywhere from Brick Beach to Holgate. Each specific area presents its own set of unique problems, and hopefully in future articles I will be able to touch upon the subtleties of each area, but for now let me stay on track and address the basics.

First and foremost, you must have a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Right about now everyone is saying “Oh great, another rocket scientist. Gee thanks Rock, we never would have figured that one out”. Well you’re welcome, because you can't imagine how many people drive onto the beach in all wheel drive vehicles and small “on demand” 4 wheel drive vehicles and end up stuck. You may get on the beach by following the tire tracks but as soon as you try to maneuver you are stuck. Many of these vehicles only engage 4 wheel drive once the primary drive wheels start to lose traction, i.e. spin. Once your wheels spin you are just about stuck, so it's a little late for the other wheels to help. There is also the issue of ground clearance. Many all wheel drive vehicles barely have 6” of ground clearance, then when you air down to the proper pressure (more on that later) you end up with 5” of clearance. The first patch of soft sand you hit and your wheels are no longer making contact and you are stuck. So I will make this my first piece of advice: if you wish to drive on the beach and have the least amount of headaches, you should be driving a 4 wheel drive vehicle with 8” of ground clearance, selectable 4 wheel drive with a 4 wheel low range. The second most important issue is tire selection and pressure. You do not want tires with an aggressive off road tread, a smooth street tire will out perform these types of tires in most all beach conditions. Bigger sized tires are fine but not bigger tread. The wider the tire the more surface area it provides to carry your vehicle on top of the sand as opposed to digging into the sand. You are in effect attempting to float on the surface as opposed to plowing through it, and anything that causes your vehicle to sink into the sand is your enemy. No matter what size your tires, unless they are huge sand cat models, you must air down. Airing down is letting out air until your tires are softer and

show a pronounced sag in the sidewalls. The amount of pressure you run will depend on the size of your tires and the weight of your vehicle. I am currently driving a 2009 Nissan Pathfinder with P265/65R17 tires that run at a standard street pressure of 35psi. For general beach driving conditions here in NJ, I air them down to 17psi. If I am running on really soft sand with a lot of ruts and tracks I will lower them to 15psi or even 14psi if I get stuck. It seems that airing down to approximately 50% of your tires rated driving pressure is a good starting point, then make adjustments as necessary to improve traction. I only go as low as I need to for proper traction because when tires are under inflated there is a chance they might roll off the bead when turning, which leads me to my next point, beach driving.

Your driving habits have to change when driving on under inflated tires on sand. This is issue number three: you have to ease into acceleration, not jump on the gas pedal, you have to ease to a stop, not jump on the brake pedal, and above all do not make sharp turns. Drive slowly as the speed limit is generally 10mph to 15 mph on the beach, and plan your turns and maneuvers ahead of time. Scan the sand and look for the best place to turn around, find a flat area with harder packed sand to stop or park your vehicle. Remember that inclines are harder to ascend than dry ground, and trying to turn while climbing is almost a sure way to bury your truck. Chances are that there has been a fair amount of traffic on the beach already and you will find many sets of tire tracks when you arrive. It’s always a better bet to drive in tracks that someone else has made rather than try to make your own, and besides the more sets of tracks there are the harder it is to maneuver across them. There is nothing worse than having fish blitzing a half a mile down the beach and you have your truck buried to the skid plates in soft sand, which leads me directly into issue number four: permit gear. Every beach that issues a permit for over the sand 4X4 access has a list of required gear you must have to drive on the beach. I have my own list, as I'm sure you suspected. The first item is a full sized long handled spade, or pointed shovel. Do not skimp here, buy a good one, because until you try to dig out your truck with a folding military shovel you do not have a true idea of misery. You will be on your knees covered in sand, sweating and cursing as you realize you can't reach that pesky pile of sand under your skid plate, you know, the one that has all four of your wheels off the ground. Second on my list is a strong tow strap, the higher the pull rating the better, eventually you will need it. Also make sure you have places to anchor it to your vehicle as most straps come with just looped ends. I carry two tow hooks and clevises with my tow strap, so my attachment options are pretty much endless.

My third item is a tire inflation system. Many guys carry portable compressors that run on 12v dc. They will inflate tires but are slow and can't push out a large volume of air at one time. I personally use the Power Tank CO2 inflation system. It is a 10lb CO2 cylinder that has a high flow regulator and an air hose with a locking chuck. It is not under high pressure like an air cylinder and is about 600psi when full, so it’s not an explosion threat. It can blow up my tire in about 45 seconds, and it also can re-seat a tire on its bead should it roll off during a hard turn, you know, the one I warned you against making. It can also power air tools, so if you have an impact wrench you can change that flat tire a whole lot easier. A full 10lb cylinder of CO2 costs about $12 at a welding supply house and will inflate about 30 tires from 17psi to 35psi, and there are other models for larger tires and bigger capacity tires as well. It is definitely something to look into.

My fourth and fifth items are a good set of tire deflator's and a good air pressure gauge. I'm just too old and beat up to kneel down and let the air out of each tire manually. There are many good companies that sell these. My personal choice is Staun, an off road company from Austrailia. They make good heavy duty deflators from machined brass with a solid locking adjustment system that doesn't require tools to set. Many deflators will only work if the tire pressure is double what the deflator is set for or it won’t turn on. If your tire pressure is 35psi and you want to drop to 20psi they will not engage, the Staun deflators will engage if only 2psi below the tire pressure. A good quality pressure gauge is a must for re-inflating your tires. Get one that is made for the pressure range you run in your tires.

Item number 6 is a pair of 3/4�x3'x3' plywood jack boards. Trying to change a tire in the sand is bad enough, but trying to find some driftwood to stop your jack from sinking in the sand just adds insult to injury. I always include a tool kit, a tire repair kit with plugging tools and spare valve stems, a fire extinguisher, a good first aid kit with pain relievers and assorted remedies, as well as hand cleaner, mechanics gloves, paper towels and Windex for that annoying salt mist. You should also make sure you have at least three quarters of a tank of gas when you drive on, getting stuck can burn up a quarter of a tank alone, and driving in 4 wheel drive increases fuel consumption dramatically. Make sure your vehicle is well maintained and oil changes are done on time and air filters are frequently checked and changed. Salt and sand are not friends to your under carriage, so wash your vehicle after beach runs and make sure the under carriage gets rinsed as well. My local car wash has an under carriage washing device that functions with regular car washes and it goes a long way to protecting your vehicle. So we have covered the basics here in this first article, and I have a lot more to share in future pieces if Z and Tommy don't fire me for being too long winded on this one.....till next time, Tight Lines!


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Writing a column like this a couple of weeks in advance puts me in the precarious position of having to make a few predictions on how things are likely to play out by the time of the Surfcaster’s Journal’s release date. Predictions are a risky business in this profession, but where is the fun without putting it out there? Ok, here goes. By early July: (1) Anthony Weiner will have resigned from office, (2) both shores of the Long Island sound will have entertained flyrodders with Hudson fish, but this action will now be on the wane, and (3) the muchheralded Jersey Shore daytime bunker bonanza will have largely subsided. Speaking of Jersey, the other day I shared a Long Island Railroad ride home with long-time friend Manny Moreno. Manny is a truly “plugged-in” type of guy and his obsessive passion is all about big fish. Not many cows hit the sand within a 12-hour drive, without him somehow getting wind of it. Manny was trying to make sense of the Jersey phenomenon. He did his best to tempt me to play hooky the following day to hit Jersey. His contacts along North Jersey (once dubbed “jetty country”) only confirmed what I had been hearing from my own sources. “John, in all of your years of fishing Jersey, was there ever anything like this?” he asked. I shrugged my shoulders. For the record, I fished North Jersey with some regularity from 1976 to 1993, before moving to Long Island after the fall run of that year. Along the way, I can faithfully say that I sampled every jetty from Sandy Hook to Long Branch, and then from Manasquan north to Bradley Beach (and most of the others in between). I’ll admit missing some runs of fish, mostly due to school, but I simply could not recall anything quite like the recurring daytime action that has graced the Jersey Coast again this year.

What makes this run of big fish really unique? Forget planning your trips around lunar phases, approaching cold fronts, big water and 2 AM tides. Forget everything you thought you needed to know about surfcasting. These fish are showing up under a flat ocean in the afternoon! Unless you don’t know where I am going with this, here is the bottom line. If there was ever a time to try your hand at a trophy bass on the fly rod from the surf, this late May and early June fishery in Jersey offers exceptional odds. It’s quite rare to have such a concentration of large fish, feeding under such flyrod- friendly conditions. So drop me a line if you’ve been giving it a shot with the fly rod. I am interested in how you made out. Don’t worry, I won’t blow your cover.

Confessions of a Two-Timer (Part 1) Anthony Weiner, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Elliot Spitzer and Bill Clinton notwithstanding, I too must come clean about my two-timing ways. I seldom venture out into the night with the sole intention of fishing only the fly rod. If I hit a lull with the fly rod, I generally will stray to a number of my old faithfuls: hellcats, redfins, Yozuri Mag Darters and bucktails, to name but a few. So, what have I learned as a two-timer? At the risk of making a really bold statement here, I can offer you the following: nine times out of ten, I’ve found that the flyrod will match or out-fish other artificials (excluding big water or deep water situations). Hence the beginning of a series to convey what I’ve found while fishing spinning and fly gear side by side. Exhibit A concerns a lighted ferry dock, around the Fourth of July. The dock in question should remain nameless, but it took place in a northeast resort town where I was vacationing with my wife and young kids. I found the local bass had a habit of cruising under the lighted dock in the shadow line, picking off small bait attracted to the lights. Few things in bass fishing are “automatic,” but at this location, and at this time of year, the fish were seldom a no-show. Getting them to take was a totally different story. The kids were put to bed hours ago, and my wife was sleeping to the background noise of some late-night black and white movie from the TV. I grabbed my fly gear, a small dive light and my flip flops. I quietly closed the door and tip toed out into the night. The air was thick with a fog that had set in after dusk, and a light mist was now swirling under the street lamps. The bars had recently closed, so the only sounds were those of kids in their early 20’s eating pizza at a late night pizza and sandwich joint. I smiled when I went past. I remembered all too well my single days, when it was my turn to crawl out of the pubs at closing time, in search of food.

When I got the ferry dock, the silence was broken by two guys in their mid-20’s who had already taken up under one of the most productive sections of the dock. They were casting shads. A quick glance into the shadow line confirmed the fish were here. Several bass in the eight to fifteen pound range were cruising lazily along. Then one darted out to grab what appeared to be a lone cinder worm. I quietly tied on a three inch thin-profile weighted deceiver, and stripped a little line. As I got ready to dunk the fly, I nearly jumped out of my skin when a voice erupted from right behind me. “Dude, don’t bother,” he began. “We’ve been here all night. These fish have lock jaw. They won’t touch anything.” “Yeah, but I’m already here,” I reasoned, “I can’t sleep, so I might as well try,” With that, I flicked the fly out into the light and pulled it along, almost even the shadow line. Fish never obey on cue, but this time one did. The fly was instantly followed by a fat bass in the low teens range, but before it got close enough another fish came up from out of nowhere. I hooked up instantly. I let the fish take the excess line before fighting it from the

reel. My new friend was dumbfounded, and he yelled to his companion as the water underneath us exploded. So much for trying to keep this a secret. I knew the drill and had done this style of “fly fishing” many times before, several times at this very dock. The same general conditions were most important: early July, a late night after the boat traffic had long subsided, calm water, a lighted bridge or dock. I learned to tie small patterns with extra flash and (most importantly) used an extra strong tarpon hook. Fishing from an elevated platform, I also learned to stick with straight 40-pound leader, so that I could fight the fish between pilings and pull the fish up by hand. I had a twelve pound bass flopping on the dock in less than two minutes from my arrival. “Damn,” was all my new friend could vocalize as he wandered back to his own set of lights. I hooked another fish before moving to the next set of lights, and I went on to repeat the trick about five more times before the fish population seemed to wise up to my game. This much I knew about lighted bridges and piers: Your fly had to be the same size as the general bait. The fly had to have just enough weight to get under the surface, but no heavier, so that it appeared life-like when pulled through the water. Heavier bucktails and plastics seldom worked. They were usually too large or too heavy. Your best shot at a fish would come on the first few casts. After that, the bass would follow, and might bump the fly, but seldom take. Better to move to a different light and target fish that had not seen yet my offering. And so I moved around that night until a faint glow appeared to the east. On the way out, I reached into my cargo shorts and pulled out a few weighted flies. I handed them to my new buddies who had stayed the night with me. They had not managed a single fish, but no doubt were tempted to keep fishing based on my success.

I was wide awake an hour ago, but now I suddenly feeling very tired. The sky would be bright within an hour and my kids would soon be jumping all over me, begging to get them to the beach. Sleep, whatever I could get, was suddenly very important. Only a nocturnal striper fisherman knows the true value of an extra fifteen minutes of sleep. Coming to the end of the dock, I walked past a flats boat used by a local guide. I smiled when I realized that they would likely be burn a lot of gas that day to match the action that I just had experienced within a few steps of my hotel room.

I have sometimes resorted to dangling flies into the shadow lines using heavy spinning gear, especially if this was the only way to muscle a fish out from tight structure around a bridge of pier. But I will concede that this stretches the definition of “fly fishing.�

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The Summer


Transitioning from May and June into July is like back in high school when you would wake up on the last day of summer vacation….”$#!+!” It’s over! It’s easy to fall into that hole as a surfman, especially when you rely mostly on artificials to do your bidding. One thing I have noticed and I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying this, but it seems that many of our brethren who only throw plugs are not as wily as those who throw bait and plugs. Maybe it’s just tough for a lot of us to make the adaptations that are necessary to keep fish on the hooks through the hot months. Let me tell you it’s more than possible. You just have focus upon a few different striper instincts to make the swap and avoid the slide.

I attribute this eeler/plugger discrepancy to a lack of success versus a willingness to settle for less. Eelers, especially guys who are really good at it, are some of the most consistent takers of big fish from May through November. You may be asking yourself if the next thing I’m going to tell you is that you can’t pick bluefish up by the bottom lip! The reason I made note of such an obvious fact is because it proves that there are fish, and big fish out there for the taking. Eel-slingers are notoriously patient because they have given themselves to their method and they are content to work all night for those one or two big bites. Many pluggers seem like they are in it for that ferocious bite and we grow impatient and cranky as a slow night wears on. This leaves us surfcasters at a summer crossroads of sorts… you can give up and wait for the fall run (pansy!), you can resign yourself to backwaters and inlet mouths where your catch will be composed of mostly small keeper bass and schoolies with a chance at a hawg here and there (this gets old fast) or you can take on the big fish mentality and ply the most promising summer spots in your area and try to strike summer gold (a noble quest). Oh, thanks, Dave. I can go out and ply the most promising summer spots in my area—it’s that easy huh? I know, I made that sound a little too simple—bear with me. There are a few things that I look for in a summer hotspot. First you have to realize that all of the big schools of bunker, herring, mackerel and squid that made May and June so magical are, for the most part, gone or out of reach—headed for deeper, cooler water. It’s been welldocumented that stripers have a comfort zone when it comes to temperature and it seems like it hovers between 55 and 70 degrees, with about 63 being magic. Summer waters often eclipse the northern range of this temperature spread which sends the bass looking for water that’s a bit more comfy.

There are a few ways to find this type of water, the first should be the most obvious and that’s to fish at night. The next is to fish areas that feature deep water or areas that are directly adjacent to it and the third is to fish moving water—inlets being an exception to this because they usually carry sun-warmed estuarine water which feels like it’s about 9 degrees below boiling compared to the already tepid ocean water. Find an area where a swift ocean current sweeps cool water up into the shallows and you may have a monster on your hands. This moving water brings higher oxygen levels with it and it’s constantly being replenished—a striped bass oasis—if you want to call it that. (I really don’t!) My priority is to cover water during the summer nights. And I lean toward plugs that mimic resident baits rather than trotting an Atom 40 out there—but there are those other nights. In my opinion the best summer nighttime plug is the needlefish and I like to have a plethora of needle options at my disposal. Sand eels, silver sides, eels and even squid could be mistaken for a needlefish and their slow and silent action in the water is what I believe makes them so deadly. Without the metered and unnatural actions of a swimmer, no rattles, no nothing—just wood, wire and hooks—it’s actually a very authentic sounding lure. Bass find the needle by feel, I believe it leaves a very natural signature in the water—on top of that they cast well and can be fished at varied depths. My absolute musthaves are Beachmaster Wadds, Flat-Glides, Hab’s 2-ounce, Afterhours’ mid-size and stubby size, and Super Strike—they don’t make a size I don’t use. I’m not a big color guy—I like to have black, white and parrot—I find that these colors cover all the bases.

In keeping with my vow to replicate resident baitfish, a few other lures that I always have are water-loaded Red Fins in blurple and bone. This bait is great to cover an area quickly and it mimics about ten billion types of baitfish including sand eels and silversides. But don’t get any misconceptions about what this plug is capable of, it’s not going to tick the bottom in 6 feet of water, in fact, they rarely dive deeper than 10 inches. If you’re hoping to get down a few feet, then you may want to move on to the beloved Atom Junior. We’ve already covered the art of tuning this fantastic fish finder, but on a slow retrieve through moderate surf or slow currents this plug’s deliberate and punchy action draws vicious strikes from summer bass hunting in the surf zone. A great dupe for a porgy out for a midnight swim or a baby tog looking for a late-night barnacle snack. I know we’re supposed to be plugaholics but I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on how important it is to penetrate the water column. While you can achieve this by sinking a needle or even bumping a Junior Conrad along the bottom—reel, bump, float, reel, bump, float. With porgies and small toggies being resident in almost all rocky summer spots, along with crabs, lobsters and cunners, the old lift-and-drop routine with a SlugGo, Hogy or Ron-Z on a light leadhead is something that should not be overlooked. In fact, it has saved me on nights when all my plugs were shunned, throw that wriggly worm out there and hop it along the bottom. It’s a great way to get sluggish fish to bite and the single hook makes landing the fish a virtual guarantee. If you can’t take the heat, as the line from the old Coolio rap goes, get yo’ ass out the kitchen—and go fishing. (I added that last part). If you let yourself get swept up in the summer slide—you’re missing a huge chunk of the season and you’ll regret that. You have no excuse not to be out there and despite what you might think—summer often holds the best prospects for sticking something huge—but you have to be out there to stick it! So stop reading and go!


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Jerry Ferrone :Legendary Lure Designer by Frank Pintauro Photography by Ed Poore

Jerry Ferrone at Long Beach, NY with a nice catch of stripers, c. 1937. A homemade, hand-carved plug is on the pole.

(Editor’s note: Jerry Ferrone spelled his name with a final “e,” but he marketed his lures and his business using the name “Ferron” without the final “e.” Hence you will see both spellings in this article.) If you’re a striper fisherman, chances are you’ve heard of the Red Top Tackle Shop in Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts, Murat’s Tackle Shop in Woonsocket, Rhode Island; Kronuck’s Tackle Shop in Montauk, New York; and Ferrone’s Tackle Shop in New York City. All were legendary striper haunts; and, in fact, Red Top and Kronuck’s are still in business today. Ferrone’s shop was a hub of activity for the early New York City striper crowd, and many members of the Gramercy Surf Anglers hung out there — including noted outdoor writer Vlad Evanoff, junior member Al Ferrone, and luremaker Charlie Russo. Jerry Ferrone (1899-1952) was a master craftsman and well connected with the surf crowd up and down the East Coast. He originally worked as a rigger in the shipyards of New Jersey, and before that he was a rigger and bridge painter for the city of New York. This was tough, hazardous work; so it was not surprising that by the early 1930s Ferrone began to think about earning a living in some other way. He began to dabble in making various fishing products.

Belly stamp on a Ferron Flaptail.

Ferron fishing Products location; tackle shop in front, workshop in rear. Al Ferrone behind the counter; famed outdoor writer Vlad Evanoff near the door. Shiny tin squids in the window and Ferrone plugs hanging behind Al.

At first he just made tin squids and custom rods out of his original shop which was at 260 First Avenue. Then he continued from his residence at 277 East 10th Street. But by the end of World War II, Ferrone moved his business to his workshop at 417 East 10th Street in order to keep up with the volume of work that was coming to him. Tin squids were being cast, assembled and shipped to dealers from New Jersey to Maine. Ferrone’s customers included Capitol Tackle, Orchard Street Louie, Herman’s, Abercrombie and Fitch, Bill Costello’s Tackle Shop on 3rd Avenue, J.T. O’Connell in Providence, Rhode Island, Red Top Tackle in Cape Cod, and Edgartown Tackle on Martha’s Vineyard. Dewey Sandsbury caught a 42-pound bass on the Ferron 40 Special 3-ounce Jig and won the Martha’s Vineyard Derby and the $500 first prize. In those days a 40-pound striped bass was something to brag about. To keep up with the increasing demand on his time, Ferrone took on fellow Gramercy Surf Angler Frank Romanek as his partner in the lure-making part of the business, along with his son Al, who tied all the feathers on the 7/0 hooks for his squids. Al also did all the silk wrapping on the rods. Al specialized in diamond, chevron, and checkerboard wrappings on South Bend split bamboo blanks — and later, on Conlon and Harnell glass rods. Even in the late 1940s the Ferrone shop’s work was so good that they were selling surf rods for $125. While Ferrone had primary responsibility for the design of the Flaptails, Poppers, SwingTails, and underwater Swimmers that he and Romanek produced, Romanek did all the painting of the plugs in a loft across the street from 417 East 10th Street. They shared responsibility for the assembly of lures which up to that point in time Ferrone had been making for his own use.

Jerry Ferrone Fishing Jones Reef at Montauk (Long Island), c. 1948

Surf Tackle Company Turntail; Jerry Ferrone design and Frank Romanek paint job.

Unmarked glass-eyed Flaptail attributed to Jerry Ferrone.

As I mentioned earlier, Romanek was a fellow Gramercy Surf Angler; he had been away in the Navy for four years during World War II and had been shelled quite a bit. He came home a nervous wreck. Ferrone felt the work would calm him down, and over time it did. Romanek’s painting was top notch and was rivaled only by fellow surf angler, Charlie Russo.

Forty-two pound bass weighted in at Clayt Hoyle’s tackle shop in Martha’s Vineyard. Hoyle was one of America’s pioneer surf fishermen and swore by Ferrone jigs with a white marabou dressing. This fish was caught on a Ferron eel skin jig #40 in June of 1948.

By 1947 Ferrone opened his retail Tackle Shop at 271 East 10th Street. In the rear of the store he maintained his workshops which were busier than ever producing the tin squids, custom surf rods, bait, outboard motor and reel repairs, etc. Taking advantage of being so close to the Fulton Fish Market, Ferrone also began specializing in selling eel skins to fisherman and tackle shop owners up and down the East Coast.

Shark attack! Ferrone loved to fish in Rhode Island, and this 1942 trip to Narragansett featured a surprise guest! Ferrone was friendly with RI surf crowd, and I am certain that Jerry Sylvester and he shared lure-making ideas.

Outstanding glass-eye Ferron Flaptail and box; a hard-to-find unit.

A sample of Ferron tins and ringed eel skin squids featuring the innovative escutcheon pin swing hook.

A box filled with Ferron eel jigs from Ferrone’s retail tackle shop at 271 E. 10th Street.

At this point, stretched to the limit and because of some minor disagreements, Ferrone and Romanek dissolved their partnership; and in 1948, the lure-making part of the business was left to Romanek. Ferrone had a large supply of his lures — some stamped on the bottom, some not — which he took with him and sold out of his store until he exhausted his supply. Meanwhile, Romanek went out and got himself a partner named Michael C. Krow and they established the Surf Tackle Company which stayed in business until February of 1950. They specialized in a mail order business and advertised heavily in early issues of The Salt Water Sportsman. Romanek designed and manufactured the short-lived freshwater lure called the “Blimpy,” a lure that I have never been able to find. Krow was an avid surf fisherman and spent much of his spare time fishing the Cape Cod Canal. He died in September of 1984 in a tragic boating accident. By 1950, with son Al off in the Army and himself in poor health, Ferrone shut down his business. He died two years later after five heart attacks. Yet now, more than 50 years later, his jigs with the patented improved escutcheon pin swing hook and his ringed eel skin squids are as popular as ever with striper experts up and down the coast. At least once a year I find a fishing article in a major sporting publication touting their fishcatching ability. The late Frank Woolner in a short story entitled “Encounter” in 1980 celebrated the craftsmanship and lost art of the Ferron block tin squid. Collectors around the New York-New Jersey area scour garage sales in the hope of finding them to use.

Ferrone advertised in the Feb 1947 issue of The Salt Water Sportsman right before the National Sportsman’s Show at the Grand Central Palace. In former years freshwater plugs were featured; but at the 1947 Show saltwater plugs dominated as dozens of different manufacturers put on displays, and sportswriters noticed. This was an historic, defining moment for the “striper crowd.”

Ferron Poppers came in glass and paintedeye models. Phil Cappel shows off his daughter and a load of stripers taken on a Ferron Flaptail off a Long Beach jetty in 1947.

Ferrone fished all the hallowed striper grounds on the East Coast and rubbed shoulders with striper legends like Bernie Calitri, Jerry Sylvester, and Joe Tatori of Rhode Island. These men also went on to produce some of New England’s finest surf plugs, but, in my estimation, it is Ferrone who is a true legend and one of the all-time greats. From lure designer to lure innovator, to expert fisherman, to tackle shop owner, to founding member of the short-lived but famed Gramercy Surf Anglers, Ferrone did it all and was the linchpin for what was an amazing lure revolution that happened right in the middle of New York City. (Readers wishing to contact the writer may do so by calling 516-741-7044 or emailing —

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Cutty Ron DiCostanzo

I promised myself this past winter, that I would rethink everything about my fishing after enduring the worst season of my life in 2010. I knew that if I wanted to continue to enjoy the sport, I would have to do some soul searching, and re-learn to enjoy the experience of spending a quiet night on the water, or passing some quality time fishing with good friends, regardless of whether or not I had any action, or caught any big fish. When I got a call from my friend Al, saying that someone had dropped out of an early season Cuttyhunk trip, I jumped at the opportunity because I’d never been there. I figured this would be a great time to test my “new attitude” even if we were going “too early” as some had said.

Seeing tons of baitfish and birds diving in New Bedford harbor really got my adrenaline flowing, along with the word that the canal was starting to get hot. “There’s got to be something out there to catch” I thought as we waited for the ferry to depart. When we got to Cutty, our gear was loaded on a pickup truck and taken to Pete’s Place, where we were staying for the weekend. Three things I noticed right away were, everyone was super friendly, the place was very clean and nice, and there seemed to be no locks on the door or anywhere else for that matter. We decided to head down to the beach in front of the cottage to shake the gear down and get the winter cobwebs out. One of the guys in our group got a 17 pound bass on his fifth cast in the mid-day sun. “Oh yeah, this is gonna be good.” As it turned out, that fish was the only thing anyone caught either at that mid-day session or during our second try at dusk. After wetsuiting the dusk trip, I returned to our place and took a nice hot shower before we ate a great meal around 9 pm. It was then, as I sat on the couch that I regretted telling the guys that I planned to fish all night! I had gotten up at 3:30 that morning to leave for the trip and I could feel myself fighting exhaustion. It would be so easy to make an excuse and just hit the sack. Maybe I’ll just fish the front beach near the cottage but bail out early to save face with the guys. Earlier in the week, I had gone over maps of Cuttyhunk with a friend who fishes there on a regular basis. I got some good input and planned to fish the area where he caught large fish last spring. If I was going to fish this particular spot, I was going to have to walk a long way, in corkers, on a dark, foggy night by myself, down trails I’d never been on before.

It was the thought of being back at home after the trip, regretting that I didn’t take full advantage of the only opportunity I had, that made me just suck it up and go. At 10:30 PM the rest of the guys were hitting the sack and I was out on the deck putting on my fog soaked waders, jacket, and corkers, getting ready to go. I felt good knowing that I was pulling out all the stops, taking maximum advantage of the golden opportunity I was given, regardless of the outcome. When I finally made it to the beach, I noticed that the water was pretty calm. Since I couldn’t see anything, I decided I would throw a surface swimming plug in case I was fishing in front of a boulder field of submerged rocks. I pulled out the eelskin Danny I’d been working on. It only took a couple of casts before I landed a nice, mid-teen size fish. A couple of casts later, I lost the plug to a fish that got into the rocks. With only one skin plug as a backup, I decided to try the other plugs in my bag. It wasn’t long after this that I hooked into a fish that started tearing line off my reel. I never before had a bass make a run like this and I could feel the tail occasionally sweep across the line. I knew right away that this was the biggest fish I ever had on. This was the fish I had waited for my whole life, and now I had to find a way to land it. Smaller fish had found submerged rocks and broken me off. What will this big one do? As the long, hard, first run subsided, I inched the fish slowly towards me, hoping and praying that it didn’t find the rocks with a second run. I wanted to land this fish so bad, I can’t describe it. I had never broken 30 lbs with a plug, and often joked with my buddies that I was going to break 40 before I broke 30.

As the fish came within a few yards, I flipped on my light and got my first look at it. My quest for a 30 lb fish would have to wait. This one was well over 40! (I didn’t know it at the time but my quest for 30 would end about an hour later!) I’d love to tell you how I expertly landed the fish being calm, cool, and collected, but that’s not the way it went down! If someone had a video camera on me, they could have won the grand prize on one of those America’s Funniest Home Video shows. My 30 pound Boga scale was useless on this fish and it wouldn’t even fit around it’s lip. I gently led the fish to the edge of the beach and she was finally mine! That’s when the fun began. I’ve always wondered if I’d be able to release a “once in a lifetime” fish without knowing what it weighed. This great fish just provided me with a memory of a lifetime and I wanted to release it, but I also wanted proof that I had actually caught it. Being by myself, I had a plan, but I had to work fast. I never removed the fish from the water as I set up my non-waterproof camera on top of a large rock that stood by the water’s edge. I set the camera for a 10 second delay, hoisted the fish, and tried to back myself, and the fish in front of the lens. Now walking forwards on the beach in broad daylight is not easy in Cuttyhunk due to the rocky shoreline. Walking backwards, at night, holding a large fish…… not such a good idea! The camera flashed off after the 10 second delay and I now have a nice photo of myself on my backside with a fish in my lap. (Yes, I cushioned the fish as we went down!) All this while I watched as waves hit the base of the rock and splashed up salt spray soaking the camera. I did get it right on the second try, and turned my attention to the fish.

I can’t describe the feeling I had as I watched that fish swim away after a short revival period. My mind was racing with excitement and I felt like a three year old on Christmas morning. I couldn’t even fish anymore, but I had too, I was at Cuttyhunk! I decided it would be best to take a half hour break to calm down and soak it all in. I wouldn’t be needing any Red Bull tonight! As I leaned against a large rock, I thanked God for my good fortune. I thanked him for my tired, sore elbow. I thanked him for all the little pieces that had to fall in place for me to even be here on this trip! I realized how close I came to wimping out and missing it all. I resumed my fishing and got a school size fish on the very next cast. A few fish later, I had another fish that ripped off a long run and as I fought that fish, I thought back to 2010. All those skunkings seemed far in the distant past now! A short time later, I had the second biggest fish of my life that bottomed out my 30 pound Boga. I repeated my self portrait attempt, this time without taking a fall. After releasing that fish, I decided to conserve some energy and save something for the next night.

As I packed up my gear, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the night I just had! So many thoughts were racing through my head. I can’t believe how blessed I am! I can’t believe I didn’t see another person anywhere! I can’t believe I caught those fish! I don’t remember much about the walk home that night, but it didn’t seem that long! My camera did eventually die sometime the next day but thankfully the images from that incredible night were stored safely on the undamaged memory card! It’s been over a week now since that incredible trip, and I’m still amazed about how great that night was. I’d love to say it was my plugs that made the difference but in truth, I could have caught fish on a baloney sandwich if it had some hooks in it. It was all about being in the right place at the right time. Cuttyhunk is in my blood now. It is the right place. It takes a spot right next to Block Island in my favorite places to be file. I plan to go again next year, with a new, waterproof camera!



Before there were Choopy Lures and all the fame and VIP treatment that came with it, there must have been Charlie Muller just walking the beaches of the Jersey Shore, way before Snooki and The Situation. Tell us about him. I started fishing freshwater in central New Jersey. The first fish I ever caught was a rainbow trout on the south branch of the Raritan River in Flemington, NJ. I am pretty sure my dad was frustrated that I wasn’t making the right cast so he made a cast for me, handed me the rod…..and a fish was on! In addition to the local rivers and streams, we had a tin boat and fumbled around Spruce Run Reservoir and the Delaware River. I spent most my time riding my bike to the local rivers catching the same 13” smallmouth bass day after day. I started my surf fishing pretty close to the land of Snooki, The Situation, loud bass beats and horrid cologne. The only redeeming quality to Seaside Heights back then was Maruca’s pizza, and it still holds true today. My first surf fishing adventures were with my dad in Island Beach State Park when I was 13 or 14. If the internet had been around back then, folks would have had a field day making fun of us. We mainly fished for bluefish and fluke. Really anything that was in front of us and dumb enough to bite. We got ourselves into a blitz of mainly bluefish in the pocket of the north jetty one 4th of July, and that’s when I saw my first striped bass. I grew up about 1 1/2 hours from IBSP, so our fishing down there was limited. Occasionally we would fish a few towns north in Lavallette or the Manasquan Inlet. We fished for a few years and then I went off to college and was pretty intense with my studies and didn’t fish much.

The last fall at college I took a week off from classes (I don’t recommend this to anyone) and went fishing. Went to my parents’ house, picked up my old rod, reel and leaky waders (I would soon find out about the leaks) and went fishing. I caught a couple bluefish and made the trip from Philadelphia to the beach when I could. Once I graduated from college I started to fish more. I caught more fish, so I fished more. It’s a nasty cycle. You are not kidding. Our wives don't even call it an obsession any more, now they call it a disease. We know New Jersey has been a very fertile ground for custom lure makers over the last decade. What made you start eating wood dust and inhaling paint fumes? When I first started making plugs, I was pretty clueless about the local plug builders. Living in Philadelphia and fishing at night cuts you off from being knowledgeable about the local fishermen, plugs, etc. I really knew nothing about Lefty, Hahn, McFadden or any of the other NJ builders I would later find out about them. Now it seems hard to believe that I could have been so oblivious. I have always had a DIY mindset. I always liked making my own furniture, or whatever else was on my mind. While I liked my job as an architect, it didn’t really satisfy the creativity in my head like school had. Architecture for me was all about construction, materials, connections and their respective relationships to people. All the parts of architecture on which I focused, were very similar to what attracted me to plug building. Once I had to think about how a swimmer worked, it all clicked for me. Fishing and making plugs replaced the void of creativity I had professionally. I didn’t own a lot of plugs. I mostly fished bombers, mambos, and some Makati swimmers I had left over from back in the day. I began to fish some Lex and Gibbs plugs

and became a bit more knowledgeable about how to fish wooden swimmers. I remember being on the Manasquan Inlet’s north jetty the first time I fished a small Gibb’s Danny. I was shocked a piece of wood could move like that. However, I was a poor college grad and had a pile of loans. Initially I started making plugs because Gibbs were 15 to 17 dollars and that was a ton of money when bluefish were around. That seems ridiculous now. The first plug I built was a popper I carved with a knife and painted with acrylics using a brush. It was an absolute disaster. I loved it! After I made that I resurrected my dad’s lathe in his basement. I started making swimmers and needlefish because they seemed like the easiest. I took apart a few plugs that I had bought and copied their construction, but it took a lot of trial and error to get the right action worked out. Do you remember the first batch of lures you ever sold? The first plugs I ever sold were the 1 1/2 oz needlefish. I had been making them for a bit and they caught a bunch of fish and I felt comfortable putting my name on them and accepting money for them. I think I did a run of 75 or so for Stripers-on-line. I might have been a bit of a loud mouth in the plug building forums, so I was a bit nervous about that run and people buying them. But they produced and people were happy with them, so it all worked out. Have your designs, hardware and finish changed since those days? Absolutely! The basic shape and design of the plugs has remained pretty much the same, but I have made changes to the methods and construction which have improved them. I started selling plugs in 2003, and so much has changed since then. Think about

it, I can get email on my phone now; I couldn’t do that then! The same applies to plug building supplies. For example, Krok swivels weren’t being produced then and I would be foolish not to use them now. They are great! Also I now seal my plugs with epoxy because I think it provides a more stable substrate. I have made even more changes to my methods of construction that help provide uniformity and consistency at a more efficient rate. I think, as a plug builder, you have to evolve. I didn’t know everything there was to making plugs when I started selling, and I don’t know everything now. I might know quite a bit, but my eyes are always open to new ideas and products. In 3 or 4 years, some new product will come out and it might be the best thing ever. After giving it a thorough test, you better believe I will use it. I want to provide the best product I reasonably can. Is there anyone who served as an inspiration/mentor either when you got started or through the years to the present? When I started building plugs it was me trying to figure things out on my own. I basically fished by myself, so I didn’t have a fishing crew to give me any input. I just dissected plugs and did my best. I made some miserable plugs but a lot of lessons were learned. There were a couple threads on message boards about plug making. A guy with the Internet name of “guzz” and I traded a lot of emails and plugs to tweak each other’s designs. I learned a lot from him. I know his name is folklore these days, but his impact on the plug building world should never be minimized. A simply great guy who shared whatever he knew with a humilty that few people possess.

Through the internet I was able to learn about builders like Mike Fixter, John Habs, Don Musso, Jack Frech, Stan Gibbs and others. One thing that really stood out to me about these builders was the simplicity and functionality of their plugs. Their plugs also seemed to have been created for their native waters. These days I thoroughly enjoy the work of Ryan Smith and the guys at Beachmaster. Ryan’s Danny and 1 oz peanut are favorites fish catchers of mine. Beachmaster plugs have a solid reputation and a list of catches that surpass almost everyone. I am also inspired by the record label, Dischord Records, whose approach to business has always been important to me. I often think of a quote from Dischord’s co-founder, Ian MacKaye, about how he thought of his record label. He said “My idea was: Enjoy baking, sell your bread, people like it, sell more. Keep the bakery going because you're making good food and people are happy.” That has been my goal for Choopy. That is very interesting because many people have said to us over the years that your lures are probably the most "under the radar" and underappreciated lures on the market. Yet everyone raves about their fish catching ability. Somehow we feel this is by design... It isn’t by design, more of my disinterest in becoming part of the game. I figured that if the plugs were worth it they would naturally gain a following, and hopefully things would compound over time. For the most part, that is what has happened and I am very appreciative and glad they catch fish for my customers.

You make needlefish, darter and metal lip style lures in different sizes, but we are curious. What is your favorite lure? Definitely the darter, I love fishing them. There is a certain “feel” to them and when I am in the groove, I feel like I can catch fish on every cast. They are great searching plugs for when you want to get an idea of where the fish are in a particular spot, or if you are just fishing a large area and trying to cover a lot of ground. They cast well, fish well in most conditions and have caught a lot of fish for me. It doesn’t take much more than that for me to always grab it from my bag first.

We are glad you said that because out of all the lures you make, your darter intrigues us the most. Tell us more about it, why did you design it in that size, shape, in wood, and with its casting properties? I am sure you guys on Long Island look at my darter and wonder why anyone would make it that size. I know it catches fish out there though. The shape and size were a direct rip off of the Gibbs 1 5/8 ounce darter. I was catching a lot of bass on it, but there were some things I wanted improved. So I used that plug as a starting point. I also think that a 5” to 6” plug is a great size, especially in NJ. It matches peanut bunker, mullet and all the other juvenile fish that hang around jetties. Plus SuperStrike makes a great darter if you need anything bigger. I could buy those bigger SS darters. I couldn’t buy a through wired darter in similar size to the Gibbs 1 5/8 ounce darter. The first few I made were duds. I made it a bit wider, changed a few dimensions and it became more stable. Since the wood isn’t weighted, it took a bit of trial to get the hook placement and the top cut right. I wanted it to run 18” to 24” deep for fishing around the jetties. It had to cast well because a lot of the jetties I fished were shallow on the tips, especially mid tide before you could crawl down to the bottom rocks. The fish would sit on the edges but you had to drift over the shallow rocks. I also started to fish Rhode Island and I am a huge believer in fishing fast in boulder fields and hopping point to point, taking 15 to 20 casts on each. My darter allowed me to reach the current and rips, as well as any fishy structure and do it quickly.

Aren't you paranoid that your darter might not perform as you intended? After all, there are no internal weights to keep it balanced. I was definitely paranoid at first, but then again,I am generally paranoid about selling any of my plugs. I don’t think people realize how many steps go into building a plug, and how many things can get screwed up along the way. There are a few things I realize when selling darters. First, wood varies from piece to piece. You can do your best to select the best pieces, but every piece still won’t be identical. Each darter might vary slightly simply because of the individual wood’s properties. Secondly, they are a fickle plug. Other than changing hooks, you can’t really tune them. Swimmers you can tune to do what you want, to a certain degree at least. That’s not in a darter’s vocabulary. Lastly, I am human. While I do the best I can, there are probably a few that don’t perfom as well as they should. I accept this and if one doesn’t work, I replace them. Simple as that. That’s just a part of selling wood darters. Otherwise, I have a lot of confidence that they work, and I would have been run out of the darter business if they didn’t have a reputation for working. Fisherman generally aren’t very forgiving when they feel they just bought a piece of crap. We are going to assume that like most plug builders, you fish a lot of your own creations. What we are curious to know whose plugs other than yours will we find in your surf bag? While I fish my own plugs, my number one priority is catching fish. My plugs don’t match every condition that mother nature throws at us. The past couple of years I have really tried to simplify the plugs I fish and I found myself just relying on the plugs that have caught for me in the past.

You will always find 6” bombers and 5” mambo minnows in my bag. They are “must have” plugs when in NJ and I would be lost without them. I also almost always have SuperStrike darters and at least one size of their needles. In addition to the SuperStrikes, the 7” Megabait and Hab’s needles get crammed into the bag when I am traveling to Rhode Island. Ryan Smith or Beachmaster Dannys fill the niche when I want a metal lip swimmer other than my own. I like Fish On! and One Star pencil poppers. There are always a few jigs and a few other plugs that get thrown in as well, but these plugs seem to be the ones I fish the most. Is there a lure you haven't made yet but you are thinking about or is there something new coming from you in the near future? I will have a 3” pike available this spring at a few of the fishing shows. It’s been a nice plug that has taught some large freshwater bass a lesson or two. If people are interested, I’ll consider making them available as a stock item. I also have a 4” Danny that’s being tested. Other than those I don’t have anything on the table for production in the near future. There are a few plugs I would love to make, but haven’t had the time. One is the 7” Megabait. I am a huge fan of this lure and would love to make a wood version since my stash is starting to dwindle. I haven’t gotten past making a few for initial testing yet. I hope to make progress on them this year.

I have been in a few swaps in the past couple years and they have been great because I only build plugs that I have never made before. Since most of my plug building is production work, these swaps help force me to think about different types of plugs and what makes them work. It’s a great change of pace and has taught me a lot. So far I have done a copy of a 5” Buz Fuz swimmer, a straight and jointed pike and in my next swap I am going to put my spin on a Beachmaster Cowboy. I am really looking forward to it. Where did the “Choopy” name come from? Inquiring minds want to know. The nickname Choopy was given to me by a couple of friends. I had taken a trip down to Indian River Inlet in Delaware to catch a tide. I left after work on a Thursday and got down there a bit before 10 PM and fished till 8 or so in the morning and drove 3 hours back home. When I got home, I was a bit tired to say the least and wrote up a quick report to a couple of friends before crashing for a few hours. I wrote how the conditions were tough because there was a building swell with a chop on top of it from the wind being against the tide. However, I did not write "choppy". I wrote "choopy".

Because they are such kind souls, they decided to spend the rest of the day sending me emails telling me what a dumbass I was for mis-spelling "choppy." They had even taken a picture of one of my plugs and made a logo of it with "Choopy Lures" on it. I wish I had saved that. So when I started to sell plugs, I really had no other choice but to call the company Choopy Lures which was ok, because I didn't have any other ideas of what to call it. So it is normal that people either don't know how to pronounce "choopy" or they pronounce it "choppy". It always makes me smile. In case anyone is wondering, the correct phonetics would be "choo-pee". I could care less how you pronounce it though. I am just happy you are talking about my lures and enjoy using them.




“I can fit an 11-foot surf rod inside the hull.” This might have been the statement that knocked me off the fence when I was considering buying my first kayak. It was part of an email exchange with Manny Moreno. Given that I’d known Manny as strictly a surfcaster, and among the best around, his comment regarding his 16-footer had me viewing a kayak as potentially another tool in a surfcaster’s arsenal. The conversation came at a time when some prime surfcasting real estate was frequently inaccessible by 4-wheel drive due to erosion, but could be reached with a short paddle in relative safety as long as you paid attention to the conditions. The kayak would also have value as a scuba diving tool. My son and I do a lot of lobster diving in the Sound. To do it right you need to use a GPS to mark unseen structure before the dive. We were using my 16-foot tin boat for this, but a properly equipped kayak would work for most of our spots, so now I had a second reason to get one. Fishing out of one wasn’t much of a consideration. I catch plenty of nice bass from the beach, and the boat made more sense for fluke fishing. At the time, Wading River Bait and Tackle was in business and they carried the Ocean Kayak brand. This is one of the two brands that Manny suggested considering if I was interested. Almost every time I was in the shop I would look at the yaks. “Try mine for the day if you want,” the owner, Matt Maccarro told me one morning. That sounded a lot more fun than continuing on my way to work, so I drove off with Matt’s yak on top of my jeep.

Having never sat in or paddled a kayak before, I figured I had better play it as safe as possible, so I headed for the freshwater end of the Peconic River. I brought along a rod with a Texas-rigged worm for largemouths. My first reaction was amazement at how far the little craft glided across the water when I stopped paddling. This was much different than a canoe. After about 15 minutes, I forgot about the mechanics of the kayak and began thinking more about fishing. As I worked a shallow shoreline, pan fish barely reacted to the kayak passing by. I noticed a log sticking out of the water, paddled up close, and dropped a cast right on top of it. I slid the plastic worm off and saw the line twitch as it sank. As with a hit on a live eel, I dropped my rod tip, watched the line tightened, and set the hook hard. The 3-pound largemouth launched into the air well above my head and landed with a splash that got me wet. I had just received my first little dose of what could pull a surfcaster off the beach and onto a piece of floating plastic. The kayak perspective is unique in that you’re sitting on the water, eye-level with leaping fish, and able to slip quietly through water inaccessible by other means. Within a couple weeks, I picked up my new 15-foot Ocean Kayak Prowler from Matt. I figured it was something that I probably wouldn’t use too many times in one season, but I could justify the purchase in the long run. It was just a diving tool for the first couple months, until a late summer day when schools of blues were tearing up the water a few hundred yards off the Sound beach at the end of my street.

Whether from boat or surf, I don’t have much use for 4-pound bluefish. I’m a big fan of large choppers, but under most circumstances, the ones that were pulling me around and nearly bouncing off the side of the kayak were in the nuisance category. So why was I paddling so hard to catch up with the next school? I dismissed the surprisingly fun experience to being a novelty, but it was fun. No mechanical considerations, no noise, fish so close at times that you could almost touch them. Nonetheless, that was it for kayak fishing for the rest of its first year, as there was no way I was going to allow the yak to cut in on my surf fishing efforts. In order for the kayak to be useful for finding dive structure, I had outfitted it with a fishfinder and added a mount for my handheld GPS. I know spots in the Sound that are out of casting range and hold quality bass, but I never bother with them with my boat because I just don’t find targeting stripers from a boat to be all that stimulating. One July night with a very bright full moon in my second season with the yak, I had settled for watching TV because I didn’t have any surf options that I wanted to pursue. I thought about how the dead still and bright night would be perfect for the kayak, and how there were probably a few nice bass on a 25-foot structure I knew about. I always have live eels in the garage, and it takes very little time to put the yak on top of the jeep, so off I went. In under an hour I was over the spot and saw the fishfinder lit up with fish. The water seemed a little deep for an unweighted eel, so I added a small rubber core sinker ahead of my leader. I cast into the barely moving current and left the bail of my Penn 5500 open to allow the eel to get to the bottom. I had taken just a few cranks when I felt the familiar

“bump bump” on the end of the line. I leaned back hard on the medium action 7-footer when the line tightened, and quickly found myself in tow. Only the drag interrupted the silence of the night as I watched the fish break the moonlit surface of the Sound. Hmmm, this was OK. Not so different than what draws me to surfcasting. As I reached my hand down to lip the low 20-pound class striper, I was shocked to see a larger bass following behind. I could never know for sure, but I think it was the same 30-pound class fish that I took on my next cast. I wouldn’t be caught watching TV under these conditions again. I rarely keep a bass, mostly because I’d rather eat fluke. I have superb access to the fluke grounds in the Sound with my boat, but I’m not brave enough to take it through the South Shore inlets to fish the ocean runs. When late August came and the fluke were stacked in 40 feet of water off Shinnecock, I couldn’t think of a reason why I shouldn’t just paddle out to them from the beach at Shinnecock East. I caught some snappers from the shore on the backside, was on the fish in less than a 15-minute paddle, and had my then 4-fish limit early on my second drift. Catching fluke without a motor while sitting on the ocean was sweet, and each hookup was more satisfying than if I had done it from a boat. When the fall came I finally used the kayak for surf fishing transportation. With all of my gear stowed safely inside the hull, and the extra security of wearing a wetsuit, the kayak delivered me to where my jeep couldn’t. It was extra trip overhead, but I owned the place once I got there. I made a few such trips, and ended the yak’s season with a blackfish trip to the end of the Shoreham pipeline during a late November lull in the surf fishing. Diving, accessing surf, eeling bass under the Full Moon, ocean fluke, and the blackfish finale – the yak was seeing more use than I suspected. False albacore found their way to my kayak the following season.

Fast-forward a couple years to 2010, and the pull of kayak fishing was becoming almost as strong as my drive to fish the surf. I think the worst of it may be the “Tube and Worm” trolling. First off, if you invite me to go striper fishing in a boat, I’ll probably think of excuses to get out of it. If you tell me we’ll be trolling, I’ll tell you flat out that I’m not interested. So why is paddling around with a worm-tipped surgical tube dragging behind the kayak so exciting? I can only guess that the quiet and simplistic approach combined with the ability to hunt quality bass in the daylight has something to do with it. The tube and worm is somewhat of a miraculous lure. The rig looks stupid in the water, but pulls bass out of their structure in the middle of a summer day in water temperatures better suited for bathing than striped bass fishing. I don’t even use real worms because the Gulp worms work great and they’re more convenient. One of my best spots was found because it’s so close to the shore that the structure was visible on Google Maps. It looked like it had potential, and the first time I hit it with the tube, it was hard to keep my line in the water. It’s only a matter of time before I uncover a few new surf spots by methodically trolling the shoreline. One of my most exciting moments in the yak came in late August when I pushed out approximately two miles off Shinnecock East beyond 70 feet of water. I was targeting big fluke with live bergals that I caught from the backside rocks before I launched. It was calm, and I knew the boats were hammering doormats at around 80 feet. I had the bergal stick in a rodholder while I bounced a bucktail. I had already caught a couple of keeper fluke and big seabass when I saw the bait rod bounce. I quickly cleared the bucktail rod and was anxious to find out what had grabbed the bergal this time because they attracted the better fish. I had trouble making contact with my rig, and realized the line was running behind me and under the kayak. I reeled quickly, and when I picked up

the slack, the rod was yanked under the boat to the sound of a screaming drag. “Big bluefish” I thought immediately, not considering the other possibilities lurking this far out. I pushed the rod toward the bow and spun the yak in the direction of the fish. As the fish cut across the bow rising toward the surface, I noticed the color was closer to a bass, but it was moving faster than I’d expect for a big striper. When the shark fin broke the surface I let out a hoot of excitement realizing that hooking up a shark in a kayak was a unique experience for most kayak anglers. I regret not getting a picture when I got the 4-foot brown alongside, but I had my hands full and was happy to reach and cut the hook’s leader without any mishaps. My next kayak trip was no less thrilling. I had done well Tube and Worm trolling this latemorning trip, but had cut off two nice fish in the rocks and lost my last tube. I switched to a bucktail on a 6-foot spinning rod with 15-pound braid, and hooked up with the biggest bluefish of my life. After a 15-minute battle and a few tarpon-like jumps, I managed to grab it by the tail and strap it down. The 40-incher broke the 20-pound mark. When I look at my fishing log, I still think I’m doing a good job of not allowing the yak to cut into my surf fishing. There’s an occasional exception. I fished the Smith’s Point area almost every day last November. A few mornings in a row saw the same pattern where the birds and fish would be within casting range at sunrise, but gradually slide offshore. Before I’d leave for work I’d glass the ocean in amazement at the body of fish that was out there. Finally there was a forecast of a windless day and a flat ocean. Not the best conditions for anything great to happen on the beach at that time, but a perfect opportunity for me to paddle out into the thick of the action. I started on the sand that morning and caught some fish before the sun broke the horizon and everything near the beach fizzled. Given the glassy flat ocean, I decided it was

kayak time. I drove to an area with no bars or surf anglers around, but a huge cloud of birds straight out. Pushing through the surf was easy, and somewhat educational. The water temperature along the shore was only 47 degrees, which was mighty cold for the third day of November. It gradually rose to 55 degrees “offshore”. It was a good demonstration of the late-season benefit of an onshore wind blowing in that warmer offshore water. With the kayak moving along at 4 MPH, it didn’t take long to get on the main body of fish in the 60- to 65-foot range. There were so many fish that the fishfinder was often lit up solid, and it was impossible to get a diamond jig or bucktail to the bottom. I hadn’t logged a bluefish from the beach in the previous ten days, and was surprised that the short paddle trip put me back into some choppers. The bass were

generally bigger than what I had been catching on the beach, and at one point I was able to paddle right into the middle of a school of teen fish without them seeming to notice that I was there. When I made the 1.7-mile trip back to shore, I found the beach as dead as could be. It was a good morning to trade the surf stick for the kayak. Ironically, I’ve never used the kayak for one of my original intentions – fishing wading areas in the South Shore bays that are otherwise inaccessible. Pull up Google Maps and you’ll see dozens if not hundreds of spots scattered across the bays. Many of these are within an easy paddle of kayak launching access. These are largely unfished places that you would always have to yourself. I see it as a truly unexplored frontier on an Island whose easily accessible surf spots are getting uncomfortably crowded. I was totally wrong when I bought my first kayak and thought it would see only limited use. They do have their place as a surfcasting tool, but I’ve found that fishing from them can be as esthetically pleasing and rewarding as surf fishing. Add to that the option of accessing species that are normally out of casting range, and the kayak becomes a boat that even a surfcaster can appreciate.



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By Charles A. Witek,III

Of all the issues that confront anglers on the striper coast, perhaps none has evoked the raw emotion that has characterized the debate over the salt water fishing license. Some see it as nothing more than one more tax imposed by a money-grubbing government; others believe that a license may be the last, best hope to reform an overburdened and too-often ineffective fisheries management system. Many thoughtful anglers stand somewhere in between, somewhat resentful of finding one more government agency reaching a hand into their wallets, while at the same time conceding that it’s not unreasonable to contribute to the management of the fish that they seek to catch.

Speaking broadly, there is nothing unusual about licensing sportsmen. Hunting and freshwater fishing licenses were adopted by many states in the late 1800s; the federal government began to levy fees on sportsmen in 1934, when waterfowl hunters were first required to purchase a Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp (better known as a “Duck Stamp”) before venturing out into the marsh. Although licenses met with some resistance at first, they eventually became accepted after anglers and hunters began to understand that license revenues would be used to improve and protect critical habitat, manage various species for continued abundance and enhance sportsmen’s access to natural resources through land acquisition, the construction of fishing piers and launching ramps, etc. Originally, salt water anglers were largely exempted from the general movement to license sportsmen. While the reasons for that may have differed a little from state to state, the most likely explanation is that, for many years, the ocean was viewed as a last, undiminished frontier, a place of such abundance that man, no matter how hard he tried, could ever deplete its bounty. For that reason, even commercial harvesters went largely unlicensed and unregulated. In New York, for instance, the state didn’t require a commercial food fish license until the mid-1980s, although towns licensed clammers and other shellfishermen much earlier. However, the notion of licensing salt water anglers eventually began to catch on, beginning on the Pacific and Gulf coasts and eventually moving onto south Atlantic shores. However, along most of the striper coast, the idea was strongly resisted. As late as 2005, only Maryland and Virginia had adopted any sort of licensing program; even there, there were many exceptions to the licensing laws (in Maryland, for example, a license was only required in Chesapeake Bay, and not on the Atlantic beaches). North of Maryland, the very concept of a salt water license was anathema to many anglers, among whom the license was somewhat less popular than dogfish, Jet Skis or piping plovers.

However, things began to change in late 2006, when the latest reauthorization of the MagnusonStevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act passed both houses of Congress. That law required that a comprehensive registration of salt water anglers be adopted by 2009 (later moved back to 2010 by the National Marine Fisheries Service), although it prohibited the federal government from charging for any such registration prior to 2011. Due to states’ rights considerations, only anglers who fished in federal waters, or for anadromous species (such as striped bass) needed to be registered with the federal government, and even they could avoid the licensing requirement if they held a state salt water license which met federal standards. Since the primary purpose of the federal registration requirement was data collection, the federal standards for state licenses were pretty straightforward. Such licenses must cover the great majority of anglers in the state (children under 16 and, at least in the beginning, adults older than 65 are two primary exceptions, as are anglers who fish exclusively from for-hire vessels, who are subject to a different federal data collection process), and they had to include adequate contact information, so that data collection agents for the Marine Recreational Information Program, the hopefully improved successor to the much-criticized and badly flawed Marine Recreational Fisheries Statistical Survey, could easily contact salt water anglers and calculate the best estimates possible of recreational harvest and fishing activity. There is no federal requirement that a state charge anything for its licensing program, an omission that opened the door to significant controversy a little later on. However, even the coverage requirement of the federal law was a cause for significant debate. Many states which had already adopted licenses also created broad exceptions to their licensing requirements. In Florida, for example, residents who fished solely from shore did not need to be licensed, while in Virginia, and a number of other states, the owner of a fishing boat could purchase a “boat license” which covered everyone fishing from that vessel, so that they didn’t need individual licenses. Not unexpectedly, anglers who had previously been exempt from their states’ licensing requirements were often very unhappy to learn that, in order to gain federal approval, their states

would have to either include previously exempted anglers in the state licensing program or develop some sort of alternate registration process. Often, such alternate registration took the form of requiring the previously unlicensed anglers to register, without charge, with the state, while the state continued to collect license fees from the majority of salt water anglers. In the northeast, where the concept of licensing salt water anglers had always been resisted, efforts to avoid licensing were rampant, with some bordering on the bizarre. Somewhat surprisingly, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, long a home of independent seafarers and with a strong recreational and commercial fishing heritage, adopted a license with relatively little controversy, as did Connecticut (although, in Connecticut, a revenue-hungry governor pushed the non-resident license fee from $15 to $60 early in 2010, an increase that has since been rescinded). New Hampshire followed, a little more reluctantly, as New Hampshire’s short coastline virtually assured that its residents would also be fishing in the waters of Maine and Massachusetts, and so the Granite State was reasonably concerned with reciprocity issues—and also concerned that vacationers might well either stop a little short, and stay in Massachusetts, or drive another dozen or so miles into Maine, if New Hampshire adopted a license sooner than either of its neighbors. However, those issues were apparently resolved to the legislators’ satisfaction, and New Hampshire’s anglers will be licensed in 2011. Those were the easy states. After that, things became a little more—interesting, as some representatives of the salt water angling community latched on to the fact that federal law did not require states to charge for a salt water license, and made “Free registration!” their rallying cry.

In Rhode Island, the state legislature overwhelmingly adopted a modestly-priced salt water license. However, the governor (who just happened to belong to a different political party than the majority of the legislators), took it upon himself to become a defender of the right of Rhode Island residents to fish for free, a right that, the governor maintained, could be found in the state’s constitution. Filled with righteous indignation over the legislature’s imposition of a charge to fish along Little Rhody’s coast, he quickly vetoed the license legislation. However, the Rhode Island legislature, not impressed with the governor’s arguments, overrode the veto almost as quickly, and Rhode Island’s salt water anglers must purchase a license if they want to fish that states waters during the upcoming season. Maine, legendary home of the “frugal” New Englander, was the next state to tackle the free registration process. After much bombast in the legislative halls, in the press and on the Internet, they took action that would make any cagy but realistic politician proud. They adopted a “free” registration—and then imposed a $1 ($2 if registering over the Internet or through a private license agent) “service fee” on each registrant. Striped bass anglers also must pay for a $5 endorsement ($15 for nonresidents). Thus, the state managed to craft an approach that made the “free registration” advocates happy, while avoiding the need to dip into scarce Department of Marine Resources funding—and maybe even modestly increasing that funding—along the way. In the other battleground states, things did not work out so amicably. In New York, then-Governor David Patterson included the license in his 2009 budget package. The only problem was that the budget bill clearly stated that revenues from salt water license sales would not be used to fund the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Marine Bureau. Anglers’ reaction to that was swift and predictable, and the provision was quickly amended so that all revenues would, in fact, be deposited in the Marine Resources Account. The argument then quickly shifted to how much a license would cost. Many in the recreational fishing industry, who had long opposed any sort of licensing, took the position that a license should be free or, if not free, as cheap as possible. The proposed $19 fee, they argued, was far too high. In an intensive lobbying

push that extended to the last possible moment, industry representatives managed to get the fee reduced to $10, and successfully argued for a license year that began on January 1 and ended on December 31, unlike every other fishing and hunting license in the state, which run from October 1 to September 30. The unique license year caused the DEC and its on-line license vendor to expend significant time and money to make the needed changes in time. However, the industry’s frenetic lobbying effort ended up hurting everyone in the end, for while the license year was changed, lobbyists’ and legislators’ oversights caused the date of implementation to remain October 1, 2009. As a result, New York anglers had to pay $10 just to fish during the last three months of that year. Early in 2010, a new budget threw gasoline on the fire by moving a number of salaried positions, which formerly had been paid out of the state’s general fund, onto the books of the Conservation Fund (which includes the Marine Resources Account). Thus, license opponents were able to claim, with some justification, that the license fees brought few new benefits to anglers, and were merely used to paying salaries that were once paid by the taxpayers of the state. The fact that such salary shifts also occurred outside of the Marine Bureau, affecting those who purchased hunting, trapping and fresh water fishing licenses, was never mentioned. Such bumbling understandably angered anglers. Those most responsible for the implementation date fiasco never publicly accepted responsibility, but instead did their best to channel angler anger over the flawed implementation process into a wave of hostility directed against the license and the DEC. Undoubtedly, such channeled discontent was part of the motivation for bills, first introduced early in the 2010 legislative session, to repeal the salt water license and replace it with a so-called “free” registration (which, unlike Maine’s would not have been supported by an administrative fee).

New York’s license was also threatened by a lawsuit brought by Southampton and six other Long Island towns. In it, the plaintiffs claim that royal land grants issued by King James II in the early 1600s, which gave the towns authority over fisheries within town borders, take away the DEC’s right to license fisheries within those towns. Surprisingly, the trial court judge, in a poorlyreasoned decision which missed or misinterpreted some of the most important cases relevant to the issue, found for the plaintiff towns, declaring that the state licensing requirement could not be enforced against their residents while fishing in town waters. The court decision focused on the data-gathering aspect of the license, and it is possible that the case might have been decided differently if the state had only been more forthright in admitting that obtaining funding for the Marine Bureau was one of the objectives of its licensing program. Nowhere in his decision did the judge examine the DEC’s clear and exclusive power to manage migratory fish within state waters, or consider whether the license was an appropriate adjunct to the DEC’s management authority. Hopefully, the state made such arguments at trial, and the lower court just failed to consider them, since the matter is being appealed and such arguments hold the state’s best chance to ultimately prevail. Of course, the big question now is whether an appeal is still relevant. As mentioned earlier, 2010 saw some legislative efforts to repeal the license. Those efforts failed, and it was generally believed that, with the defeat of the leading anti-license legislators in the last election, license repeal would not have a significant chance of being passed by the New York State Legislature in 2011. However, this spring repeal legislation was included in the Republican-dominated Senate’s proposed budget. To everyone’s surprise, that proposal was not effectively opposed by the Democrat-controlled Assembly or Governor’s office, which instead entered into a compromise that did not repeal the license, but instead suspended it for two years and temporarily replaced it with what the DEC is referring to as a “no-fee” registration. License opponents tend to use the term “free” registration, but such language is misleading. Although anglers no longer have to pay for the privilege of fishing in New York’s marine waters, vendor fees associated with the

registration cost the DEC $2.14 for every angler who registers. Assuming that three-quarters of the anglers required to register (about 340,000 persons) actually do so, the so-called “free” registration would cost the Marine Bureau about $750,000.00, an amount that would approach $950,000.00 as angler compliance with the registration requirement neared 100%. That is $750,000 to $950,000 that will no longer be available for popular programs that benefit anglers, such as the artificial reef program, additional or enhanced launch ramps and other docking facilities, etc. However, that only touches the surface of what the Marine Bureau, and by extension the anglers that they serve, have lost as a result of the license suspension. The DEC will now be denied a minimum of $3.4 million to $4.5 million in license revenues ($2.65 to $3.55 million, once vendor fees are deducted), as well as federal matching grants in the $1.7 million to $2.25 million range. (The salt water license would have brought New York an additional $6.65 for every “new” angler who purchased a salt water license. Since there would inevitably be some overlap between fresh water and salt water anglers, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the matching grant process, was prepared to deem 75% of all salt water license purchasers to be “new” licensees.) To offset the cost of the license suspension, the Governor and Legislature agreed to allocate about $1.9 million out of the state’s General Fund in both 2011 and 2012 (it should be noted, however, that the 2012 allocation is subject to the whims of the Legislature, and could disappear should other items be of higher priority next year. That $1.9 million, plus whatever matching funds are attributable to the 2009 license (which would have been received by now) and to licenses sold in 2010 (which will be provided to USF&W late this summer, and used to fund 2011-2012 Marine Bureau programs) are all that the Marine Bureau will receive to offset $5.1 million to $6.75 million in license fees and related revenues lost as a result of the “free” registration. Since the Marine Bureau will have far less revenue to work with, it will not be able to fund some existing programs, and will have to cancel planned initiatives, such as a state-run angler harvest survey, which could be used to challenge the controversial federal estimates of New York anglers’ landings which

have led to restrictive regulations on fluke, sea bass and other species. While, at least for the next couple of years, New York anglers will escape paying the $10 license fee, the price of doing so is likely to be a degraded angling experience and fisheries that the state cannot afford to properly manage. A similar situation exists in New Jersey. In no state have the anti-license fires flamed higher, or the anti-license lobbyists had more success. Despite a 7-2 vote from the state’s Marine Fisheries Council supporting a license, and pleas from its Department of Environmental Protection for more funding, late in 2010 the New Jersey legislature passed a “free” registration bill and passed it on to the governor, who signed a slightly modified version early this year. As in New York, the New Jersey Legislature has appropriated money from non-license sources to fund the state’s fisheries managers this year. However, the relatively small allocation has already led to consequences for the state’s anglers, including a likely closure of New Jersey’s shad fishery in 2012, due to New Jersey’s inability to meet the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s data collection requirements for that species. It is not impossible that such data collection failures will, in future years, affect other fisheries for other species. Gil Ewing, Chairman of New Jersey’s Marine Fisheries Council, recognized the threat, noting that, between budget cuts and the loss of potential license revenues, "You have already overrun the allocation for marine fisheries management for the whole year. If you have no money left, just what do you think will happen? We'll be out of compliance [with ASMFC data collection requirements], and that will lead to closures." That seems to be a very high price to pay for a “free” registration, but the most outspoken members of New Jersey’s angling community apparently believe that it is an acceptable price to pay for license-free angling. To counterbalance the registration’s cost, they offer a number of financing gimmicks, including a salt water fishing license plate and a “conservation lottery.” If New York’s experience with the license plate is any guide (how many New York readers even know that the state has one?), that concept is, at best, only good for a few thousand dollars each year, and any new lottery would probably cut into revenue streams from existing state games, making it a difficult sell to those

supporting the existing programs. Proponents of “free” registration have also taken the position that money from the program should come from the federal government. That may be a difficult sell to taxpayers everywhere, although stranger things have already fattened the federal pork barrel. It is curious that salt water licenses have faced such opposition. In many states where they have been implemented, fisheries management has improved, and the status of anglers, vis a vis the commercial fishing industry, has generally risen. In fact, there may be nothing that commercial fishermen fear as much as a salt water license, because the revenues it generates generally far outstrip anything generated by the commercial industry, and state regulators begin to view anglers as their primary clients. A few years ago, when North Carolina was considering a recreational salt water license, some of the staunchest opposition came from the commercial fishing industry. “Look at what has happened in the other states,” said Jerry Schill, then the Executive Director of the North Carolina Fisheries Association, a commercial fisheries trade group. “Look what the CCA has done with that license when it’s been put into place. In some states you’ve got fish that have been given ‘game fish’ status, taken off consumers’ plates. In other states, gillnet bans. And in Florida, they got the ultimate: a commercial net ban” From an angler’s point of view, it’s hard to conceive of a better endorsement for the licensing concept, yet some who ostensibly represent anglers’ interests still rail against it. So it seems that a license can give anglers political clout, and some sort of license or registration system can lead to better recreational data. But anglers should also consider what hunters, trappers and freshwater anglers learned a long time ago: The regular revenue stream generated by a license, which can only be used for angling and fisheries management purposes, can markedly enhance the fishing experience itself. Many northeastern anglers doubt that license revenues will ultimately be used for fisheries management purposes, and fear that they will be diverted into a state’s general fund. However, such concerns are, for practical purposes, groundless. The federal Wallop-Breaux matching fund

program, which distributes revenues generated by the excise tax on fishing tackle to the several states, is based on a formula that places significant emphasis on the number of licensed anglers in each state. But while states receive millions of dollars through the Wallop-Breaux program, federal funding is conditioned on all of a state’s sporting license revenues being used for their intended purpose. If they are diverted away from fishing, hunting and boating projects, the state’s right to receive Wallop-Breaux matching funds is suspended. In addition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers the matching funds program, would require the relevant state to return Wallop-Breaux money that it had previously received. Just ask Mitt Romney who, while Governor of Massachusetts, tried to raid that state’s sequestered license revenues. USF&W came down on him quickly and hard, and Massachusetts promptly restored the funds to the wildlife managers and sportsmen of the state, rather than face the consequences of misusing license revenues. It is virtually certain that the same thing would happen to any state that put its hand in the sporting license cookie jar. In the end, perhaps the best comment on the value of a salt water fishing license was made by Jim Gilmore, Chief of the New York DEC’s Bureau of Marine Resources. In an interview for Tide magazine, which took place last fall, Gilmore said New York’s saltwater fishing license…will provide much needed revenues for new and expanded recreational fishing programs, such as artificial reefs, angler education and surveys… The license will also provide resources to obtain better data for fisheries management including biological assessment data and angler effort and landings data…Obtaining our own data to monitor the accuracy of MRIP and truly quantify the number of recreational anglers in our state is critical to ensure equitable resources for New York and not a repeat of past mistakes. Additionally, we know very little about the populations of our local marine species. Very simply, our saltwater license will provide more opportunities, better quality angling experiences and improvements to supporting economies in New York’s coastal areas.

Loss of New York’s saltwater fishing license will have devastating effects on recreational fishing and the opportunities this provides for New Yorkers, particularly along the coastal areas. New York saltwater anglers would have to buy non-resident licenses in states that are now reciprocal in addition to paying a larger registration fee to the federal government. Instead of new and expanded programs and better outreach, we will continue to have program cutbacks, poor management and [be] subject to any restrictions levied upon us by federal or interstate bodies. Fishery closures or severely limited seasons will become a more frequently occurring reality. Local economies will suffer more. We would lose millions of dollars in federal Wallop-Breaux aid since we qualify for several federal dollars for every license we sell in New York. Sustainable fisheries and multi-species management will remain concepts instead of actual management products. Instead of being known as a great place to go fishing, New York will be second rate to our neighboring states. Thanks to the suspension of New York’s license, some of Gilmore’s more dire predictions, including program cutbacks and the loss of federal matching funds, are already coming true. Other adverse impacts will undoubtedly follow. Although, read narrowly, Gilmore’s comments were specific to New York, they are words that all serious salt water anglers would do well to take to heart.


A newsletter for the plug fisherman.

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.





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 t-shirts. Don't be surprised if the design on the shirt you or your kid is wearing was created by our design guru. You can send him an Email at

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 Andrew Chase is a renowned chef and a passionate surfcaster. He is equally comfortable around the stove as he is casting his lures for stripers. Along with his partner, he is a proprietor of Cafe Katja located at 79 Orchard Street in New York City. It's a great place to grab a beer and sample some authentic Austrian cuisine. No pretentiousness here or sky high prices, just an intimate neighborhood watering hole with exceptional food. Chef Andrew might be behind the bar or serving food on any given night but as soon as the lights go off you will find him on his favorite rocks casting into the darkness, looking to catch his own dinner. For more information about Cafe Katja please visit Russ "Big Rock" Paoline is a well respected New Jersey lure builder whose creations are some of the most sought after lures on the market today. He creates his lures in small batches, one at a time and the quality and attention to detail are evident on each lure he makes. Russ has been a fixture on New Jersey beaches for many years but don't be surprised if you run into him at Montauk, NY or even Cuttyhunk, MA. In fact, Cuttyhunk is where we met him for the first time. A mountain of a man in every sense of the word, Russ is imposing figure in the night surf but have no worries, he is one of the nicest person you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. Ron DiCostanzo is a Connecticut surfcaster and a lure builder. His creations, Lordship Lures are well respected and very popular among the striper clan in the northeast. Ron also conducts woodworking and lure making classes out of his shop in the winter. You can register on his website for a free monthly newsletter. You will also find videos, articles and information about his lures at

CONTRIBUTORS 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 the 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 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 Frank Pintauro is an avid vintage surf fishing lure collector and the author of many articles on classic lures and lure makers. Frank's work has been published in The Fisherman magazine and Fishing and Hunting Collectibles Magazine among others. He is considered the leading authority on the authenticity of vintage surf fishing lures and their origins. Readers who wish to contact Frank can do so via email at Charles A. Witek III of New York, is a well respected New York angler and Chairman of the Coastal Conservation Association Atlantic States Fisheries.

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


SURF CASTER’S j o u r n a l


surfcaster's journal issue 8  

Number eight and we are feeling great! The heat of summer brings you the next issue of SJ.