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SURFCASTER’S j o u r n a l


“THE INT RUINED F


TERNET FISHING”


Sometimes in life you have ideas which never progress past the stage of wishful thinking. We have discussed the possibility of publishing a magazine devoted to the surfcaster's life for years but never acted on the idea. No group of fisherman is more passionate about their sport, no group suffers from insomnia as much as we do, and no group spends more time discussing gear and tackle than surfcasters do. Why shouldn't the surfcasting community have a publication that will be devoted to them, instead of being an afterthought as they are in most print publications? The reason is that the ad money is in the boating market. Who wants to go and cater to a bunch of sleep deprived, don'tburn-my-spot, cranky surfcasters with empty wallets? We do. We are also sleepdeprived-secretive and broke, just like you. For us, this is a labor of love, an opportunity to give back to the sport that we dearly love. You might say: “Does the world really need another fishing magazine?” We would have to say no, but then again we don't consider ourselves a magazine. Journal would be more fitting. We plan to cover the lives of surfcasters, from their road trips to beach buggies, from old-timers writing about yesteryear to newcomers sharing their frustrations with their lack of success. But that's not all! Music, recipes, how-to’s, humor and anything that you do, even sleeping, is of interest to us.


The magazine that you’re about to browse through is the brainchild of yours truly and my partner, Tommy Corrigan. Although we have both brainstormed designing the layout of this magazine, the finished product is the result of Tommy's vision. He has laid out every single page in this publication. His enthusiasm for this project was unwavering, even on those days when the future did not look so bright. His was undeterred in his quest to create the most visually pleasing magazine the surfcasting community could call their own. For that I will be eternally grateful. Special thanks must go to our guest editors: Howard Marshal, Gene Bourque and Marc Achtziger who helped decipher some of our scribbling. Of course, the brunt of the abuse we heaped on our editor, Roger Martin, who had the especially thankless task of reading and editing my writing. Special mention must go to my dear friend Peter Graeber for his honest opinions and great advice. Of course our fishing partners Ray Crimmins, Robert Maina and Lenny Ferro deserve a special mention for pulling us away from our computers to go fishing. This helped us keep our sanity. I would also like to thank our blog and magazine advertisers and subscribers and all of those who helped us with kind and supportive words. Without them, this project would have been difficult to bring to fruition. But most of all we would like to thank those who walked the beaches before us, in whose shadows we walk every day. It is because of them that we have regulations in place to protect our game fish. It is one of our goals to educate new anglers on the importance of conservation and fighting for beach access. We certainly have big shoes to fill but we will do our best to fulfill our mission to bring you the best magazine you've ever read. Sincerely Zeno Hromin


Surfcaster's Journal is published quarterly by Surfcasting LLC. Publisher reserves the right to accept or reject any advertising submitted for publication. Surfcasting LLC and Surfcaster's Journal assume no responsibility for errors made except to republish in future issue any advertisement having an error. Use of this material without express written permission of Surfcasting LLC and Surfcaster's Journal is strictly prohibited.


Legendary waters require legendary lures.

The Parrot 2 3/8 Oz Zig Zag Darter


After a year’s absence, Tsunami brought back their 9-inch shads with a single hook. Talk about a company that listens to the feedback given by their customers! Single hook 9-inch shads are as close to being striper candy as you can get without using the real thing. Surfcasters in the Northeast always preferred a large single hook, instead of two smaller ones. Wicked inlet currents, exactly the places where these shads are most effective, tend to put extraordinary pressure on hooks. Because of this, a strong single hook was always high on the surfcaster’s wish list. The large barb that comes on these hooks ensures that once you hook the fish, the hook won’t pull out. Fighting a large striper in heavy current will often result in a large hole opening up where the hook has penetrated its jaw. If you give just a little slack, the hook will often come loose. Once you set the hook on these single hook 9 inch shads, you can stop worrying about the hook pulling out and concentrate on fighting the fish. In addition, the 7-inch shads feature new Mustad hooks. The old hooks were sharp but were prone to straightening out under pressure. We give these rubbers two thumbs up, way up!


Some books out there read like a VCR installation manual and leave us feeling bored and uninspired. Thankfully John Skinner’s book is not that kind. In fact, we could not think of another book that we read this past decade that inspired us more than A Season on the Edge. Skinner’s riveting narrative involves us in his trials and tribulations as he embarks on his season long quest for a trophy striper. Written in between the sentences are coded messages which when deciphered will allow you to find the exact coordinates of the rocks on which John catches his cow stripers. Ok, we are kidding but although this is a “story” book, it is written in such a way that it will help you become a better surfcaster. Reading between the lines will offer you a rare glimpse into the mind of one of the best sharpshooters of this generation. Catch a ride on the Skinner Express and you will share in his jubilation when he finally lands the fish of his dreams. Of course that smile will disappear quickly and be replaced by tears when you realize that while you are sitting at home reading this great book, John is probably kneeling on a beach unhooking another cow.


We dragged these boots over bubble weed covered outcrops at Cuttyhunk, Massachusetts and waded with them over slimy rocks in the pounding surf at Montauk Point, New York and we were impressed. We tested both Guide Boot and Cross Current Shoe versions and truthfully, we don’t know which one we liked better. Some of our readers will prefer the old fashion laces while those who are fascinated by innovative product might find Boa Lace Technology more to their liking. First time we replaced our Korkers rubber soles and pulled on the wading shoe it felt like we had shed twenty pounds. The long, knee busting walks over the slippery rocks became much more manageable. We were going to say enjoyable but who enjoys walking over bowling ball size rocks? Not us. These lightweight boots really come in handy when you lose your grip on terraferma and you have to swim. Now you can get to that massive boulder you’ve had your eye on for the last dozen years but never had the guts to swim to. We liked swimming in them so much that after a few trips we were so impressed we challenged Michael Phelps to a race for a bong. We haven’t heard back from him yet…


We have to admit that we have had more expensive glasses than these in the past. Almost all of them found the same fate. We would leave them on the top of the truck and drive away, never to see them again. This is not to say that we will not do the same with these polarized glasses from Wiley X but let us tell you, if we do, and another 4x4 runs over them, the lenses will probably still be in one piece! Go to their website and read the testimonials from our boys and girls in Iraq and you’ll be amazed how many soldiers have had their vision saved in combat by these lens. Although no publication can say that they hold our troops in higher regard than we do, we don’t like these shades only because of that. Not only are they are shatterproof, almost impossible to scratch and very stylish but they are fantastic in the surf. They reduce the sun’s glare to the point where for the first time you will be able to see that giant fish that is about to look at your lure and its rusty hooks and belly-up laughing. But hey, at least you’ll look good doing it.


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RO KE BIS VI H A N, W JR .

NEW ENGLAND Story and photos by Kevin Robishaw.Jr


My name is Kevin Robishaw Jr. I am 25 and I have been fishing for most of the last 20 years or at least as long as I can remember. I was born in Rhode Island but I lived in Connecticut in southern Middlesex county (Clinton) till I completed high school in 2002.While I lived in Clinton I was constantly fishing any dock, pier or inlet I could possibly get to I also enjoyed catching blue crabs. I never played any organized sports. I would much rather be on the water fishing. When I started fishing at the age of ten, I was simply trying for snapper blues down in the marinas in the area. I did that for as many years as I could easily catch them and it kept me occupied. I then started to catch hickory shad, which run in the rivers where I fished. They were bigger and fought better then the snappers. This is where I had my first encounter with a striped bass! I was tossing a shad dart and hooked into what felt like a good shad, as I reeled it in I had him on the top of the water and was reaching down to grab him when a lightning bolt came from under the very dock I was on and proceeded to take my shad! That was the day I knew I would be fishing till the day I died. The adrenaline of having been scared half to death by a fish I really knew nothing about was overpowering. As the years passed I gradually moved through school it seemed I didn’t fish as much as I used to. Chunking at the beach at nighttime seemed to be what I did most of the time catching everything from cruddy skates to blues, and even some decent stripers but nonetheless it was fishing and I was happy to just be there. A few times each year I would go out with my friend’s grandfather who owned a boat. We would go out to the race on Long Island Sound and catch some big blues, but it was different for me. I was used to being mobile. I was used to jumping a fence to get to a dock or trespassing to get through to an inlet or structure (I was young so I have amnesty now!) so I could cast a bucktail in the water.


When I moved back to Rhode Island when I w really didn’t know too many people. I spent a lot fresh water fishing. It was satisfying at the time missed the smell of the ocean and the excitement. found myself cruising the southern shore of RI, inlets and jetties. The first time I ever saw a “blitz” c shore was at fabled Point Judith, one of my favorite still today. I got my first job in Portsmouth, as a m made a good friend there who lived in Newport an was an avid fisherman also. I spent a lot of time w and he showed me a lot. We fished Ft.Adams in N where there I caught my first doormat fluke. My frien moved away to Ohio. I was sad that I wouldn’t get with him anymore but I still remember everything he me. I had my first son in 2005 and I seemed to drif from my stomping grounds in Newport and the ro Narraganset. I just seemed to get lost in the ev shuffle and bustle of life. I was very proud to have m and for once in my life I was content, but I always h urge, the calling to get some “get wet” time. Unfortu life for me only goes so good for so long it seems someone who learns the hard way every time! My and I separated and I was living on my own work time, I started to go down the wrong path with drugs


was 19 I of time e but I . I soon fishing close to e spots mason. I nd who with him Newport nd Josh t to fish e taught

ft away ocks in veryday my son had the unately, s. I am y fiancé king full and

booze. It wasn’t long before I was caught up. I had to make a decision and had to make it quick before I lost everything. Sobriety for me was the hardest thing I ever did, but I had a way out…. Fishing! I took up fishing like I never did before, I invested in St.Croix rods and bought Diawa reels (were better than the junk I was used to) and I was out, sometimes all night straight till I had to work! I was working for a local tree company in Coventry, Rhode Island. It made for long days in the summer at work but I was feeling good. I was taking care of business and the best of all I was sober! During this time I really started to pound the rocks a lot in Narragansett. There is something about that area I really enjoy. I discovered the art of Tautog fishing here on the rocks of Narragansett. Stripers have always been a bonus for me. I seem to catch them on a whim or by sheer luck, but Tautog are different. Where I fished in Narraganset is west of Bass Rock, a popular public fishing area, it was a hump to get to “my” rock but it was always worth it, and the bait is always plentiful and free! It is under every rock and in the tidal pools. A couple of muscles broken and thrown in ensure that you will keep the Tog around!

ROBISHAW


In the fall of 2007 I made a decision that would affect every aspect of my life from my little son to my loving family and especially my fishing. On September 11, 2007, I signed the papers to join the Army, exactly 6 years from the tragedy that shook our country’s foundation. I was in the US Army and shipped to Ft. Benning Georgia on Sept 27.After 10 weeks of basic combat training I went to Ft.Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas to begin my advanced individual training to become a combat medic. On May 9, 2008 I arrived at my first duty station in Grafenwoehr, Germany assigned to the 172 Infantry brigade, 3rd battalion, 66th armor regiment, Headquarters and Headquarters Company! I was instantly thrown into a tough training schedule because I had only 6 months before I would be shipped off to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Germany was an interesting experience, and I soon looked into any way I could go fishing there. I found out through local programs how I could get my fishing license in Germany. German laws are pretty weird and different and I actually had to take a class on local species and environmental awareness but it was a good class and I enjoyed it. On November 26 2008, I deployed to Iraq and I am currently stationed in Diyala Province .We have played a crucial role in supporting the local Iraqi Army in their ongoing fight against terrorists and the insurgency which continues to plague this country. At the time I am writing this I have been in country for 6 months and will be here for another 6 months. I am getting ready to go on R&R in the end of July; it will be 10 months since I have been home by the time I get there. Besides me I have a little brother also deployed here in Iraq. I am really starting to get excited about being home, to hold my son and see my family and of course, I will get to go fishing! I am planning on fishing everyday possible and although I will be home during the dog days of summer I will still be out there.


I am a member of the Rhode Island Salt Water Angler Association and I would like to just say that this organization does wonderful things for anglers not only in Rhode Island but all of New England and all over the east coast. Steve Medeiros, the president of the RISAA, has been very supportive of me and has become a friend online although I have never met him in person. There have also been a number of members who have sent me support packages and have been there to talk to which is great being here. I plan on attending and meeting members while I am home on leave and I plan on being an active participant in this fine organization.


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


Although some of us at Surfcaster’s Journal know our way around the kitchen, we wanted to present to you not only a great recipe but introduce you to a person whose life revolves around surfcasters and striped bass.

Story and photos by Zeno Hromin


Surfcasters are not known for spending their lives in the lap of luxury. How could they? They spend the nighttime hours in pursuit of stripers or anything else that will tug on their lines. By morning they are physically and mentally exhausted to the point where catching a few hours sleep in their trucks is actually appealing and not repulsive, as most “regular” folks would find. Hot showers are often a luxury and dry clothes that don’t smell of seaweed are high on a wish list. Although some survive for days on power bars and Red Bull, many surfcasters like to treat themselves to a fine meal derived from last night’s efforts. Even if you are not a surfcaster, how can you not drool at the thought of a just caught striped bass on your plate? When we met Bonnie Veder, we were immediately taken in by her charming persona and ever-present smile. Bonnie is a 6th generation descendant of the oldest family that settled on the island of Cuttyhunk. This little island, situated at the end of Elizabeth Island chain in Massachusetts, is a striped bass heaven. A lot of the island’s economy revolves around this delicious gamefish, so much so that they have a striped bass ornament atop their church!


Bonnie has been the caretaker of the historical Cuttyhunk Fishing Club for over 12 years. Located on cliffs overlooking the south side of the island, the club serves as a respite for sailors and visitors during the peak summer season. At other times it is transformed into a place where surfcasters share their stories, repair their gear and rest their tired bodies. This all happens each season under Bonnie's watchful eyes. She serves as cook, receptionist, cleaning lady and anything else that might need to be done at the Club. It wasn’t always like that. Born and raised on the island, Bonnie and her large family lived off the land and the sea. Eventually Bonnie moved to the mainland where for 15 years she worked as a government employee. But she could not help feeling that she belonged somewhere else. One day she called her mom and said, “I know there was something that was missing in my life, and it was home.” They say that the people of Cuttyhunk have salt in their veins. Well, Bonnie is no exception. She shared with us a recipe for her famous fish chowder, something that we are proud and happy to share with you. Although we at Surfcaster’s Journal enjoy an occasional meal of striped bass we’d also like to remind you to only take what you need and put the rest back with care. Our once fertile inshore waters are under tremendous pressure from both commercial and recreational anglers. Let us hope that through conservation and smart management of species we can insure that our kids will too enjoy Bonnie’s Famous Fish Chowder.

Bon Appetite!


Bonnie’s Fish Chowder 3 Strips bacon (cut into pieces) (browned) 2 tbs. Butter 1 small onion (diced) 1 small garlic clove (diced) 16 oz. Chicken stock 16 oz. Clam broth 1 stalk celery (diced) 1 large potato (cubed) 1 bay leaf 3 tbs. Wondra Flour Simmer 15 – 20 min then add 2 ½ lbs. Cod or Bass (cubed). SHUT OFF HEAT let sit 10 minutes while the fish cooks. Then add 1 cup heavy cream, and 1 cup half and half creamer. Heat the chowder but DO NOT BOIL. Optional: You can also add chopped Quahogs (aka clams!)


Photography By

Richard J. Siberry


Montauk Sunrise


I've been a surfcaster since I was a kid growing up on the east coast of Ireland. We lived by a wide-open sparsely inhabited stretch of coastline where beach access was never even a question; I got my first driving lessons on the beach. We had rocky headlands, estuaries and sand beaches where you could catch just about anything; bass, cod, pollack, mackerel, sea run brown trout and even a very occasional Atlantic salmon.

This shot was made from the eastern edge of the weed bowl on the north-side of Montauk Point. The sun was just coming up on a typical fall morning, silhouetting all the anglers lined up under the bluffs. I set my camera up on a tripod in the wash, just above the average wave height. I had to lift the whole assembly a few times to clear bigger waves which came rolling in. By positioning the sun inapproximately the center of the frame with a stopped down wide-angle lens, 12mm @ f/22,I created the starburst effect, no filters required. The resulting slow shutter speed gives the water a soft motion look. Thankfully the angler in the foreground stayed relatively still for the duration of the exposure.


Jason Pounded


When I immigrated to the US, in August 1993, my first glimpse of Long Island was from 30,000 feet, it looked deceptively uninhabited, all trees and beaches. When I got on the ground reality hit. It took me a long time to come to terms with the crowds and the restricted beach access. To me the concept of paying to go to the beach was as alien as not getting five weeks vacation at work (that's one I still haven't come to terms with!!).

This is Capt. Jason Dapra getting beaten up by some early morning Montauk fall surf. Jason was on a rock out in the middle of Scotts during a good heave but there were plenty of fish around so he didn't seem to mind getting wet. The tide was incoming but still fairly low, so I managed to photograph him with a 400mm lens on a tripod from the rocks, sometimes called the rats tail, just to the north of the light without getting the camera too wet.


Gilgo Sunrise


These days I send my checks to the state, the counties and the towns so that I can join the throngs of other surfcasters on the beaches looking for the bass, blues or whatever. All the competition for the "secret" spots brings a vibrant energy to surfcasting that I never experienced before I fished Long Island. Although it's not everyone's idea of a good time, I still get a huge rush from being on a Montauk beach during a fall blitz when the lead and the wood are flying. Lines get crossed, voices are raised and tackle gets sacrificed to the rocks, but most everyone still goes home smiling, having been a part of one of nature's most spectacular frenzies.

This shot was made during a product shoot for Aquaskinz on Gilgo Beach with Kadir, Crazy Alberto and Mike Laptew. It was a bitterly cold morning in January, about 10 degrees. Everyone else was keeping warm in the trucks but I couldn't bring my cameras from the cold into the warm for fear of condensation forming on lenses or film. I stayed outside and photographed these rods, which we had brought along as props. The birds in the background were picking at an area where there was some sand dredging going on, there were no blitzes that morning.


Copolla’s Winner


Montauk Rocks is a feature length documentary being produced by Oscail Fillms LLC and producer/director Richard Siberry. Montauk Rocks was shot in HD video during the 2007 and 2008 New York striped bass seasons with a projected release date of fall 2009.

www.montaukrocks.com www.RichardSiberry.com

Sometime around the witching hour, outside Paulie's Tackle in Montauk, during the 2007 Montauk Classic tournament, Mike Copolla has just weighed in what would become the winning fish at 38.6 pounds. This shot was a manual exposure taken on a Nikon D2Xs with a 10.5 mm fisheye lens and a bit of fill flash. Pictured from left to right are Danny Christman, Ray Sheri, Mike Copola, Greg Flannigan and unknown.


bigger is better


an interview with

gary soldati

of

big water lures


SJ Unlike many other lure builders you’ve chosen to concentrate on making pike style lures. You want to tell us why? GRS I like the shape of the Pike, it is the most fish-like as far as profile of all the wooden plugs made. I like the combination of side to side and roll in the action and last but not least you can make the plug “Big” and it will still swim. There is also a lot of versatility in the swim lip of a pike. SJ You seem to prefer making big lures. So big that many surfcasters shy away from them. We were glad when you started producing smaller ones, for no other reason than that they feature smaller hooks which are easier to remove from our buttocks. Why the obsession with big lures? GRS The smallest lure I make is the Junior Pike (6 ½ inches and 2 ½ oz.) and I have heard said that it is not that small. I still manage to get a 4/0 on the belly so no luck in removing smaller hooks. I come from the school of Big Bait, Big Fish. I have limited time to fish so quality means more to me than quantity and I feel that a larger plug will get me that. From personal experience, the size of the fish you catch on the Junior Pike vs. the size you catch on the Giant Pike (8 inches and 4oz.) is huge. You’re taking the schoolies out of the equation with a bigger plug. I do most of my fishing with the Giant and the Jointed Eel (11 ½ inches and 4 oz.) and under certain conditions the Troller (10 inches and 7 ½ oz.). Anything else looks really small to me now. What has surprised me is the number of


strikes I get has not changed that much using a bigger plug. The only time I have trouble is when there are just small fish around or when the fish are keyed in on smaller bait. My answer to that problem is the new Slim Pike I have just come out with. It is the same length as a Giant but the profile is slimmer than a Junior pike. I have done real well with it fishing around sand eels.


SJ There are a few other things that separate you from other lure builders. Your metal lips are stiff and not easily bent. Not that we are expert on stiffness‌. of the lips, we mean. Do you make your own lips and if so why? GRS Starting off, I knew I wanted to make a big plug, I liked the profile of a pike and I knew the type of swimming action I wanted for the plug. I found I could not get the desired swimming action from any lip that I could buy commercially. So that led to making my own. I wanted the lip to be made of heavy stainless steel to give some weight to the head of the plug and to hold up to the abuse of surf fishing in the rocks. The first 100 plugs I made I cut the lip out of stainless and bent them into shape by hand. Fred Ricci, a fisherman and machinist from RI, set me up so that I could make my own lips. I now have an 800-pound screw press sitting in my garage. I also needed a bigger lip (than I could buy) for my troller. I encourage people to tune my plugs by bending the lip, so I needed the lip to hold up to that.


SJ Another thing that is differentiates you from other lure makers is your finish. Any particular reason for using an epoxy based finish instead of spray on? It seems to us that it would be very time consuming. GRS The builders I learned from were custom builders and most used a two-part epoxy. I wanted to build a quality plug and epoxy is the best finish. It is very time consuming and very temperamental. The epoxy has to be brushed on and bubbles removed with a heat gun. Then they are put on a spinner for 6 to 12 hours depending on conditions. While they are spinning the plugs serve as great fly catchers, an added bonus! It is like putting 50 coats of varnish on a plug; it enhances and gives depth to the paint. Here’s an example of the toughness of the epoxy finish. One of my customers was showing his buddy some of my plugs just before they left to go fishing. He set my Jointed Eel on the tire of his jeep while they were looking at another plug, then they jumped in and drove off. Later they found the Jointed in the driveway where they had backed over it. He said the lip was bent, the VMC 5/0’s crushed, but the plug only had two little scratches on it. I offered to take it back, put a new lip on and rewire it. He said it didn’t need it. He bent the lip back with a pair of pliers, put on new hooks, and it was good as new!


SJ We were always big fans of your paint patterns, ever since we left one of your lures on a kitchen counter and the wife though we brought a blackfish home for dinner. You did end up costing us a seafood dinner that night. What is behind your incredibly realistic paint schemes? GRS When I started out I was focused on the size and action of the plug. I really did not think much about the painting of the plug. Most plugs I was familiar with were solid colors and maybe some had a white belly. It wasn’t until I got onto a fishing web site that I saw the artistic side of plug building. I am a painting contractor by trade so I know paint and colors and I think that has helped. It has also allowed me to use some unconventional techniques with my airbrush. I also like brown in my plugs. I feel it is a realistic color and not that widely used. I feel if you are going to fool a big fish on a piece of wood, it has to look as realistic as possible. Sometimes that realism is my interpretation of what I think the fish sees. For a fish to see it, the fisherman had to like that color enough to buy it and fish it!


SJ With this much attention to details, from lips to paint to epoxy, this must be a very time consuming project? Could you tell us how long it generally takes for you to make one lure, from ripping wood to attaching hooks? GRS It takes a little over an hour to make one plug, and sometimes it is a little more than a little. For most of my plugs, because they are bigger, I cannot use stock wood; everything had to be cut to size, width as well as length. I make my own lips, plus tie my own tails and make them extra long to give the plugs a nice flowing action. I also cut my VMC’s and put them on swivels because I don’t like split rings. I make my own through-wire with a loop because I want a heavier wire than I could buy. All this does not lead to a fast process. Because I don’t make a lot of plugs (600 to 800 a year) I can put a little more into them.


SJ Your lures have a very loyal following among surfcasters and oversized cow stripers. Besides the fact that you need a stout rod to handle these lures, is there a preference as where to use them? What types of water, or water conditions are best suitable for using your lures? GRS The swim lip of a pike originally made and patented by Creek Chub in 1920 was made to dig in and swim the plug. My Pikes like rough water, as do I. They hold really well in big waves. I am always looking for some white water to fish my pikes in. I also like a plug with a big profile in rough water, easier for the fish to locate. No matter what the water conditions, I like to fish the whole water column, and I can do that with the Divers I have made. The original pike will dive down to three feet depending on current and undertow. We know bigger fish tend to swim deep under the smaller ones and it is hard to make them come up for bait let alone for an artificial. I wanted a Pike that would get down to the fish. It took me awhile to get a Pike that would float at rest, get down quick and swim deep with some action. I have done this with my Deep and Medium diving Pike. I think they will be my biggest contribution to plug fishing. A good share of the bigger fish caught on my plugs have come from the divers.


SJ Have you ever considered expanding your lure reproduction to feature other style lures? GRS Early on I had gave a couple of plugs to a charter captain; it was a Giant and a Troller. He was impressed with the plugs, but he didn’t know pikes that well. He was making a video on plug fishing. He liked and fished Danny plugs and said if I made a Danny Plug for him he would feature it in his film. I declined and encouraged him to fish the Pikes (I call my plugs Pikes not pikies). He still fishes his Dannys but he is using the Pikes too. So the answer is “No” I will not be making any other styles. I have my hands full with the Pikes. SJ Thank you Gary, for sharing your thoughts with us.

Photos by Gary and Patricia Soldati, Matt Archibald and Mike Ludlow


big water lures.com


LI OUTDOORSMAN.COM

516.678.5554


GOOFING OFF AT WORK WAS NEVER SO MUCH FUN


n a m f r u S The

In the still of the night He ventured onto the sand Korkers laced to his feet Graphite Rod in his hand A large spool reel With line wound tight A rearranged Plug Bag Showed his offerings of the night A dark mist Surrounded the bar Clouds covered the moon The Sky void of a Star The current was fast Pushing water toward the rip The tide was running out Waves slapping at his hip The Late November Air Chilled his body to the bone A Northeast Wind in the face Would send a lesser man home


Alone, but with his thoughts As a finger held the line tight An unmistakable swishing sound Pushed a Darter into the cold night

Stumbling from the wash Disappointment in his eyes Neither Bass nor Bluefish Was he able to rise

The quick moving current Devoured the offering of wood It quivered and pushed seaward Just as fast as it could

What mythical force Does there exist Drawing one to these hardships And Makes him persist

He reeled very slowly But all efforts for naught After two long hours Not a bass could be bought The search for that elusive Master of the brine Appeared void this evening No halo to shine For several long hours Many cast were made Till the red glow in the east As darkness began to fade A cold wet frame Shoulders arching to the core A body shaking with dampness He would cast no more

Known only to others Addicted as he To the aroma and freshness When standing in the sea A few fishless hours Will not injure his pride For the quest will continue With tomorrows night’s tide

by: Vito Orlando Photos by Zeno Hromin


IT’S GOING TO BE A LONG WINTER. WHY NOT CURL UP WITH A GOOD BOOK...


OR TWO?

AVAILABLE AT YOUR LOCAL TACKLE SHOP OR AMAZON.COM


s ’ d Te p o h S e l Tack EWOOD RIDG

Roger Martin


In the 1950’s, there was a special place in Brooklyn that attracted surf fisherman from all over the New York metropolitan area. Located on Wyckoff Avenue in the Ridgewood section of Brooklyn, Ted’s Tackle Shop was unique. The proprietor, Ted Schmitt, was about 5 foot, 10 inches in height, weighed probably only about 130 pounds and had a gruff, growly voice. Ted was a good surf fisherman and he knew what the guys wanted. Although you could buy bottom rigs and other “boat” equipment, Ted catered to surf fishermen. At any given time, there could be 5 to 15 of the best surf fishermen in the city gathered in the shop. Behind the counter, in the back of the store, was a room that was usually filled with fishermen sitting around sharing ideas and fishing stories. Ted’s wife Edna made sure that the coffee pot was always on and that there was cake and donuts for the guys hanging out in the back. It was a small shop but it had every kind of tackle that you could want.


It was also informal. Frequently two guys would come in and if Ted was busy with other customers, one of the guys would go behind the counter and wait on his buddy. He would check prices verbally with Ted and then take his buddy’s money, make change and bag his purchases. Then they would switch places and the former customer would wait on the first guy. It worked out and Ted seemed to appreciate the help. I was 17 years old when I discovered the shop and had just gotten my learner’s permit so I could drive there. Although I hung out around the counter I was not invited into the back room until I was several years older. But I found that if you kept your mouth shut and your ears open you could learn a lot. In 1955, for my birthday, my parents gave me a custom made surf spinning rod. Ted built it on the blank that everyone used at the time, the Supercutta by Lamiglas. I believe that the blank number was 1165 or 1163. I could only afford a Mitchell 302 surf reel which turned out to be an expensive mistake. This reel came with a bail that had the habit of snapping back during the cast. When this happened, you would see your lure heading over the horizon in the direction of Spain. I lost a lot of lures that way. I don’t remember the brand of line I used but it was whatever monofilament that was popular at the time.


A few years later, I used the proceeds of my part-time job to purchase a conventional surf outfit. Ted made up a 10 foot Harnell 542 blank equipped with a Penn Squidder reel. At the time, many surf fishermen used a braided nylon line made by Ashaway in Rhode Island. I had used linen line but it had to be washed and dried after each trip to avoid it rotting away. The nylon line did not rot but it stretched like a rubber band. Dacron lines came onto the market but I did not care for them since they did not absorb water and cast “hot” on the thumb. Finally Cortland came out with Micron and this line was perfect. It did not stretch and it absorbed water so it cast “cool”. This outfit became my jetty rod and it was perfect for tossing rigged eels and large plugs from the rocks.


Ted carried all the best lures of the time. Brands like Atom, Google-Eyes, Creek Chub, Danny, Gibbs, Charley Graves and Hopkins among others. There was not the selection of lures which we have today. The heavy hitters that hung out in the shop used rigged eels. Most of these guys fished in Rockaway, Atlantic Beach or in Long Beach. Ted ran a fishing contest for a few years and he let me look through the slips that the guys filled out when they weighed in fish. There were name like Bentsen, Clapp, Lendino, Handlin, Liebowitz and others whose names escape me. They caught a lot of big fish. The slips told me where they fished although now I know that they did not always tell the truth about their spots.


Ted got old and finally passed away. The shop stayed open for a while after he died but families were moving to the suburbs and the guys did not want to make the trip into Brooklyn so they began to shop closer to home. On Long Island, Beckmann’s in Valley Stream and Wanser’s in Wantagh became a couple of the new favorites. But these new places were not “hang-outs”. You picked out what you wanted, paid for it and left. There was no Edna brewing coffee in the back and no BS sessions. Ted’s shop was a great place for a kid to learn about this sport and to be tutored by some of the best surf fishermen who ever lived. Ted created a unique shop and I am grateful that I was able to experience it.


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BRIDGING THE PAST Richard W. Troxler aka Rich Trox


It didn’t take much.

Just a passing glimpse of distant bridge lights through the falling snow. Homeward bound after a late night social engagement in Long Beach and with my wife fast asleep in the shotgun seat, there was little defense against the onslaught of thoughts and memories that assaulted my mind. As I drove, each rhythmic flash of a passing street lamp on the windshield triggered yet another memory, the sequence of which became a hypnotic replay of events gone by. It is always this way when I pass through this place, for here, much has been given and much has been lost.


Many outside the sport could never realize that there is a dark side to fishing. It is a place where narcissism and masochism meet, shake hands, and say, “Let’s play!” For some, it is a place only reachable by swimming to rocks hundreds of feet from shore, in the middle of night during a heavy November swell. For others, it is the wilder land of dragging eels through offshore rips supported by nothing more than a neoprene wetsuit, flippers, and a PFD, doing battle with moby stripers on their turf. For many others, it is the constant denial of sleep and the near psychosis that ensues from the endless nights in pursuit of the fish with stripes. For me, it is the possibility of looking down in the shadow line and seeing the striper of my dreams, and a split second later being wiped off the face of the planet by some drunk driver at 3:18 am on a cold Tuesday morn. The barker yells, “Ya pays your money and ya takes your chance, so spin the Wheel of Obsession”. I did, and it came up bridge fishing.


Another street lamp flashes across my windshield… I’m walking out onto “the bridge” for the first time on my own. After finally convincing one of the original bridge bandits to show me the ropes earlier in August, long before the action really starts, I’ve done my homework and I feel that I am ready. I remember his warning clearly: “If you bump into me out there, you don’t know me!” This is the way it is with them, and you have no idea how nerve wracking it is trying to break into a small, exclusive, tight knit group of fishermen. One that is actively hostile at your being there! So, I show up at the beginning of the out on a cold, late October night, armed with my new custom made "bridge stick", and my new Penn 140 Squidder (the reel of choice back in the day) loaded with 50 lb. Ande pink, sporting a white 3 oz Andrus bucktail with #70 white pork rind. I am loaded for bear and bear is what I intend to have! I walk out to the second “chute”, this being what I call the stretch of water between two pilings. I choose this particular chute because I have studied it well during the off-season, repeatedly bouncing 4 oz bank sinkers over it until I have a complete image of the bottom structure burned into my brain. I have even given it a name. I call it “sticky ridge” because of the high snaggy ridge that runs between the two pilings. It is classic bass structure and it doesn’t fail me this night. A quick glance reveals 3 regulars already there, fishing the various spans, with a nice upper 20’s bass lying at the feet of one of them. None of them bother to take notice of my arrival, so it is time for me to make my mark. I make my first cast several degrees to the left of my position, my intention being to work a small piece of the structure with each successive cast. After a well-practiced count of 6, I feel the bucktail hit bottom. I engage the reel, take in a fast 4 or 5 turns of the handle and quickly raise my rod tip, just ticking the top of the structure that the tide is racing my bucktail toward. Note to myself “gotta be faster than that, as the moon has this tide rippin”.


I make three more casts, working the structure left to right. On my fifth cast, just as my bucktail clears the ridge, that which I have anticipated for so long, finally happens. The rapid bap-bap of a bass smacking my bucktail jolts my body to attention. GAME ON! Here it is, my moment of glory, my initiation into a new world of fishing possibilities, and I can feel the rush of adrenalin coursing through my veins. Perhaps, a bit too much. I lean back to set the hook with all my might, but my left hand, cold and wet from removing slip gut on a few of my previous casts, betrays me. The rod pops out of my hand, bounces on the railing once, and disappears over the side and into the drink. I stand there in utter disbelief as my ears pick up the unmistakable sound of laughter coming from further down the bridge. I do the only thing that I can think of doing. I turn, walk to my car, and go home knowing that I will no doubt replay this particular horror show many times in my mind, and always in slow motion.


Another street light flashes… and they have ruined our fun by putting fences up on the east sides of the bridges. We countermand their move by fishing from platforms that are not unlike deer stands, hanging precariously over the top of the 8 ft fences. It’s a cold November night and the wind is hooting out of the west, which puts it at my back while perched atop my platform at the southeast side of the 2 Bridge. I’m in the midst of what I call a “piss-off” night, as the wind is holding up the outgoing tide and is bouncing me back and forth on the fence like a yo-yo. To make matters worse, the fish that had been here the previous nights had yet to materialize in the shadow line. The final nail in the coffin of this night’s outing is that I had earlier loaded my reel with green Ande, instead of my usual pink, and it was making it near impossible to track my line in the street lamp's light.


Too much negativity happening tonight, the result of which is causing me to be lulled into the kind of apathy that is usually reserved for lack of sleep and lack of fish. I no sooner register the thought of wrapping it up for the night when a good fish pops up in the shadow line to my left. And just like that, my universe is whole again! I take a quick visual check of the bucktail to make sure no weed is on it, gauge the angle and distance needed to be able to draw the buck 45 degrees across her nose, and let her fly. As my bucktail is sailing en route to it’s splash down point, I hear a very distinct "PLINK" sound, followed by the faint sound of something dropping into the water. With all the wind blowing and my level of concentration on this fish, I almost dismiss it. The next one gets my full attention, as I feel the vibration on my belly as I am leaning over the fence. In an instant, I realize that the bolts in the side of the bridge that are holding the nearest fence post in place are giving way. The wind is pushing so hard at my back that the bolts are snapping under the pressure. I don't bother waiting around to see if the third one will go and I’m off that platform and back on the sidewalk in a heartbeat, which is actually racing pretty good at this point. I quickly reel in my bucktail, fraying my line on the side of the bridge as I do so, but all in all counting myself very fortunate to have beaten the house one more time. In the future, most of us will ultimately give up platform fishing anyway, because as it turns out, you absolutely cannot land a good fish from this position.


Another street light flashes…it has been a tough fall this year, as an overzealous State Trooper has made it his life’s mission to rid “his” bridges of fishermen, and he is making our lives miserable. This guy is even cuffing people and confiscating rods! I’ve already been chased twice tonight and with all the fish around, I don’t feel like hanging out at the local Dunkin Donuts waiting for him to get off duty. Time for Plan B. A mile or so down the parkway I turn my truck around and head back to the bridge. I am looking to sneak back to a different parking spot, one that I had cut earlier in the year, and one that hopefully had not been discovered and sealed yet. Every year it's the same cat and mouse game. As I arrive, I am relieved to find my little secret still there and quickly pull in, branches squealing loudly against the sides of my truck. I kill the lights and ignition and take a second to savor this small victory. The space is so tight I can only open the door a slight bit, just enough to squeeze out, and as I work my way through the brush and undergrowth toward the back of my truck, I can’t help thinking about all the ticks I am probably picking up. No matter, they will have to wait for later because I AM IN! During my short trek to the bridge, I stick to the shadows hoping to avoid detection. Upon reaching my destination, I decide to fish the SE bank as a really productive ridge is within an easy cast from shore. I have with me my weapon of choice for bank fishing, an 8 ft pool cue, and Squidder loaded with 60 Ande. I have learned from past failures that gear this heavy is the only possible way to get a fish over 25 lbs in from this angle. When the fish hits, you set and lean as hard as you can, and I mean with everything you got, and hope she bolts out into the tide. If she does, it's sauce for the goose and the battle is on and if the pilings don't get you, the rock ledges at the end game probably will. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


For this type of fishing, frequent checks of the top 10 feet of your line are imperative, as nicks and frays are a common occurrence. Tonight, I am tempting fate. After many casts and several fish, I have not checked my line once. I send another cast out, dead-nuts perfect location, free spool for a count of 7, and lock up. Within a few seconds I feel the bump of familiar bottom, so I lift quickly and clear the top of the ridge. Bap-bap, and I am IN AGAIN! I do the big lean, grunting fashionably, smug in the knowledge that I am having a real good night despite getting chased twice by the bridge dick, when fate comes a-callin. CRACK, my line snaps, just lets go, with me leaning at a good 20 degrees back off vertical. As I pitch straight back, I barely have time to register what is happening before I crack my skull on a protruding rock 5 feet east of my perch rock. And then all goes black. I'm not sure how long I was out, but as I come to, fighting to get my eyes into focus, the first thing I can make out is a rat sniffing around my right hand. My brain wraps itself around this image with a start. I struggle to get up, and a blinding bolt of pain in my head almost causes me to lose consciousness again. The rat scrambles into the rocks. In a sparkly black and white world I am vaguely aware of crawling up the steep rock side of the bridge and making my way home. I will not be "right" for several weeks after, and will no doubt compound my stupidity by ignoring my wife's pleas to get checked out by a doctor. As Forrest Gump said, "stupid is as stupid does" and on this particular night I got lazy and almost paid the ultimate price for my stupidity.


Another street lamp flashes…disaster is just one misstep away. I am standing on the ledge outside the railing on a windy October night, well morning technically, staring down into a fruitless shadow line. I’m on a fool’s errand. It’s a bright full moon and it seems to have scattered the fish all over the bay. So I stand, staring aimlessly into black space, trying to decide what my next move should be. On instinct, I look to my right and make out the figure of someone working their way out onto the bridge, rod in hand. I am hoping that it is not who I think it is, and when he stops and climbs over the railing on the gate ledge, my suspicions are confirmed.


I’ve never really been comfortable freestanding on these little ledges. The thought of tripping, or losing my balance and falling into the water below has never sat well with me, and my homemade bridge tether provides an extra bit of security on those nights that I chose to fish from them. Some have no fear of them at all. I climb back over the railing, unhook my tether, and make my way down to say hello, and more importantly, size up how bad he is tonight. He is a good guy, with a really bad problem, and tonight his problem has got the best of him. He is snockered to the gills. Situations like this are akin to watching a train wreck in slow motion, and I get a knot in my stomach as we exchange greetings. My anxiety level increases as he asks me how the fishing is, speech slurred from too much alcohol. He is standing there, his feet a mere 8 inches from oblivion, weaving in the wind, his watery eyes barely able to focus, and my mind is grappling with a conundrum. I just want to leave, I don’t want to see this happen, but if I leave and he goes over, I’ll never forgive myself, but if he goes over somebody’s got to do something, but there is no way that I’m going over after him, or would I? What if…so I answer his question. “Fishing sucks, nothing but water, what do you say we go get a big plate of pancakes”


He stands there for a few seconds, starkly illuminated in the streetlight and looking for all the world like some bizarre philosopher contemplating Plato. “Yeah man, I’m starved�. A short time later I come to learn that his little girl had finally gotten through to him and he was now making meetings. It was also about that time that he stopped fishing the bridges altogether. They say God looks out for fools, drunks, and little children. He was two out of three, so he must have had an angel on each of his shoulders those nights.

Photos by Zeno Hromin


Another street lamp flashes…one of the regulars is already down unhooking a fish on the landing rock as I come bounding down the rocks like a Billy Goat. I’m tied hard to high 20, maybe low 30, and as he looks up…HONK, HONNNNNK! I am shaken out of my reverie by the sound of a car horn. I glance out my window to see a car weaving back and forth in the middle lane, apparently cutting off another motorist that is trying to pass him. I mumble something about some people, referencing various body parts and functions. My wife stirs, raises her head, and asks in a sleepy voice “What’s going on?” “Nothing babe, just some drunk driver”


S UoRFu CASTER’S j r n a

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I am Mr.Philip Edward, from Burkina Faso contacts from computerised datas after my Good and trust-worthy person to bestow t our survival into his or her hands.When i fervently over it and i commited it into t be the rightful person to help us out bef


o in west Africa. I got your e-mail y extensive search via the website for a this transaction which is the only hope of i got your address,I prayed and meditated the hands of Almighty that you should fore I made up my decision to contact you.


FIELD

FIRST AID

FOR YOUR SURF ROD LOU CARUSO


You have been waiting all week for this. One of your favorite fishing

spots has been producing and much to your amazement, word has not leaked out. Your buggy is packed and you are on your way with break neck speed. Your now in a rush because you got stuck in Friday traffic and the tide is almost over. You finally reach your destination, suit up, check all your gear and you are off. It’s a cloudy night and you can just barely make out the outlines of 2 casters on the rocks. As you make your way down the rocks you slip and down you go. You get up, regain your composure make sure you still have 10 fingers, although bloodied but your still in the game. You get yourself situated on a rock, clip on that custom darter that has produced for you in the past, and let it fly. That’s when you hear sickening “ping”. Off the darter goes launched into space.You mutter a few expletives for being such a putz, thinking you screwed up your cast. You re-rig, put on another custom darter and lay into your cast. That’s when it happens again, “PING”. WTF ? You climb back up the rocks and make your way back to the beach. You check your line, looks O K. You check your tip and guides. That’s when you find you have not only cracked the tip but you also cracked the first guide, when you fell. Dejected, you make your way back to your vehicle and take the long ride back home.To make matters worse, you take your broken rod to be repaired and the shop tells you it will take at least 3 weeks for them to get to it. Have you been here before?


For the cost of the two plugs you lost, you can make a field kit. LISTED BELOW ARE THE ITEM’ S THAT WILL COVER YOU IN THE EVENT OF AN EMERGENCY. 1 – TIP TOP 1 – SET OF GUIDES TO MATCH WHAT YOU HAVE ON YOUR ROD OR RODS. (THE EXACT BRAND IS NOT AS IMPORTANT AS THE SIZE OF THE GUIDES). 1 – NEW SINGLE EDGE RAZOR BLADE 1 - STICK OF FERRULE CEMENT. 1 – ROLL OF ELECTRICAL TAPE. 1 – LIGHTER OR ALCOHOL LAMP

A typical repair kit for a GSB1321M custom rod. Guides go from a 50 stripper down to a 16 guide


You can purchase these items at any tackle shop that carries rod-building supplies. Call around to locate a shop near you, or you can order from an on line supplier like Mud Hole. Below is a list of popular size TipTops and guides from Fuji with their item name. I have listed Fuji hardloy guides and tips as these are durable and not that expensive. Mud hole has a chart on line that you can use to match up the guides on your rod if your not sure of the size. You can also go to the Lamiglas web site, which has a chart listing the size tiptops used for particular rods and blanks. If you have a factory rod go to the conversion of rods to blanks chart first, to see what blank is used on the factory rod. Then go to the blank listings and you will find the TipTop sizing information there.

GUIDES:

TIP TOPS: RING-TUBE

BSVLG50

BPLT12-7

BSVLG40

BPLT12-8

BSVLG30

BPLT12-9

BSVLG25

BPLT16-10

BSVLG20

BPLT16-11

BSVLG16 BSVLG12


TIP TOP AND GUIDE REPAIR PICTORIAL

Heat Tip evenly until glue softens. If originally installed with 5-minute epoxy tip will take longer to remove. DO NOT OVERHEAT !!!!!!!


When glue gets warm enough, tip will slide off.

Heat ferrule cement and apply liberally to the blank.


While glue is still hot insert TipTop and align with the guides. That’s it you’re done !


TEMPORARY GUIDE REPLACEMENT

Take razor and carefully slice thread even with the guide foot on both guide feet. BE CAREFUL NOT TO SLICE DOWN TO FAR AND CUT INTO THE BLANK!!!!!!!!!!


Slice both guide feet

Bend the guide back to remove.


EPOXY BUILDUP

The guide has been removed from blank. Note the epoxy build up. Carefully slice off as much as possible with razor.


Epoxy and thread have been removed. The area is now ready for new guide. The new guide is placed in same position as old, aligned with the other guides and electrical tape is applied.


Here is the finished product. This fix will last one night, a weekend, or the rest of the season if needed.


ONE EXTRA PIECE OF ADVICE: Check all of the guides in the event of an accident. I recently received a call from a customer I had built a 10’ rod for. He was quite frustrated because he continued to lose plugs after he put nail polish on the cracked guide he found, at my request as a temporary fix. When he brought the rod to me, I inspected closely. It turns out all five guides had cracks in them !!!!! It was then that he told me that the rod had slid down the side of his truck. As near as I can figure, the rod pivoted off the collector guide and smacked the four remaining guides to the ground cracking all of them.


I hope this has been informative and actually proves helpful to some of you. If you are not comfortable with either of these processes leave the job to a rod builder or tackle shop that does repairs. If you feel confident by all means try it. This could prove to be “The Night” when you tell your friends: “YOU SHOULDA BEEN THERE”, and you were !!!!!!!!!!

Lou has been building rods for over 35 years check him out online at Lou’s Custom Rods.com


Criticism? We can handle it.

Info@surfcastersjournal.com


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a f o g n i k a m e th r e t s a c f r su by l o c n o jas


After having spent the past 4 years in Montreal with my mother after my parents split, I went to go live with my father at the age of 6. Born in Chicago, now my eyes were being opened to saltwater for the first time. My father lived in the canal section of Long Beach and after school I'd be out there, on the canal across the street every day, catching crabs, digging clams and fishing for small fish like eels, porgies, snapper and mackerel. I took to the water and it became part of me. Naturally I graduated to the quest for striped bass by the age of 8. I had never even seen one. My father worked "odd hours" and was a bit of a tom cat at night so I had a lot of "unsupervised time" on my hands and that got me into quite a bit of trouble. I got into fights, played hooky and got poor grades. At 9 years old I got picked up by the coast guard on a small construction raft drifting out of Jones Inlet on a dropping tide. I got stuck in the mud and I hitch-hiked all over Long Island. But mostly I fished. In the spring of 1966 I had "acquired" a surf rod and reel outfit and started to do some "serious surfcasting". I'd get up every morning at 5:30 am and hit the beach, barefoot and in shorts. I had purchased some Creek Chub popping plugs and a Hopkins from "Mr. Sports" where the owner was named Abe. After school, I would get back out on the beach and try again. At first I would stand on the Pacific Street jetty and stay there the whole time, then, as I got to see what the other casters were doing (The regulars were Pete, Anthony, Rodney, Steve and TJ) I started to move around either east or west to try to find some bait and feeding fish.


After having spent the whole summer and the first couple of weeks of school on this morning and evening ritual without a hit I was still not discouraged; after all, striped bass were a mythical fish and the quest to catch one deserved an extraordinary effort! Don't get me wrong, it's not like everything was completely baron all the time. Sometimes I would (imagine?) see something break or maybe see something chasing bait but the fact is that I was learning what to do and just as importantly, what not to do. I was hearing stories from the other guys of fish taken and fish lost. I always listened with rapt attention as though God were speaking to me. Then one Sunday morning it happened; I was two jetties east of Pacific Street when all hell broke loose! I had just stepped off the jetty to walk a little further east when the water in front of me erupted with boils and splashes from hundreds of bass chasing and eating thousands of helpless mullet. It was a blitz! I had just changed from the popper to the Hopkins a few minutes before so that is what I cast. To say I was nervous would be the understatement of the century as I was shaking like a leaf. A few turns into the retrieve and I felt a solid thump. I set the hook and my drag screamed; I turned the handle even as the fish was taking line. My drag was way too loose and I didn't have a clue as to how I should fight a fish. My heart was thumping and I remember that today (43 years later) as if it was yesterday.


Within 5 minutes I had a "crowd" of about a half dozen onlookers cheering me on, after all this was about 8 am on a beautiful mid September morning. After about a 10 minute fight (mostly because of the loose drag), I slid the 9 pounder onto the beach to the cheers of my new fan club. I felt great! The birds and breaking fish were gone and my whole body was shaking so I decided to head home. Perhaps I could impress my father with the fish. I carried the bass by the gill plate and was so proud when I saw the stares of the people I passed (it was at least a 2 mile walk home). I repeated that walk many times over the next few years. I increased my skill level almost as much as my aspiration to catch larger and larger fish to the point when I was actually starting to put some serious thought into the best ways to consistently catch true jumbo bass. All this time, Abe Wienburg from Mr. Sports (a great "old timer" in his own right, was opening up to me about what and who he knew. All winter I would listen to his stories about giant bass on giant plugs at night. Live eels and rigged eels. Rigged eels??? I was 10 years old when he told me of a man named Al Bentsen, a "real bass fisherman". Now I wanted to be "a real bass fisherman" so Abe really had my attention! He said that Al fished the jetties of Long Beach at night with eels he would rig himself in a unique way. While almost anyone who used a rigged eel would put a tin swimming head in the front of their eels, Al Bentsen would rig his with just two hooks and then impart all the swimming action on his own. I was hooked! Al photo courtesy of Striper Surf Club


In the years to follow I continued to get better and better; I was starting to get some fish over 30 pounds at night on big Atom swimmers but mostly when I'd hook a real giant it would crush or straighten the hooks on the plug. I went to live eels about the time I got my 1st 40 (coincidence?) and the same year I got my first 50 (1974). All this time I kept hearing stories of this "living legend" named Al Bentsen and in 1975 I actually got to meet him! Well actually it wasn't quite like that, I was fishing bunker chunks on the beach in Point Lookout and someone said that one of the guys down the beach a ways was Bentsen. My curiosity got the better of me so I spiked my rod and I went down the beach to see what a legend looked like. As I walked up to where he was, I saw him scaling his bunker before cutting it into chunks. I asked him why and I was told "I don't know". I thought that was a strange answer coming from someone who knows everything about bass. Here it is 34 years later and I still scale my bunker! I will get more into Al Bentsen and our fishing experiences together in my next writing.


Got some tall tales? We’d like to hear ‘em.

Info@surfcastersjournal.com


GOING

DEEP

FOR SURF STRIPERS STEVE MCKENNA

The surfcaster is faced with many different situations when searching for striped bass along the shoreline. He can encounter a wide

range of terrain, including rocks, reefs, sand bars, inlets, breachways and more. Then there are variables like water depth, current and tide, wind - or lack there of. He must be prepared for dead calm or big seas, the darkest of nights and sometimes bright moonlit evenings. Often there is weed. However, of all of the conditions encountered, I believe that the toughest for a surf man to adjust to is deep, fast moving water. You know, that deep breachway where the current zips out at about 3 or 4 knots at the height of the tide. Or that place where there is 30 feet of water right of the ledge rock you are standing on. Jetties too usually present very deep water less than a cast away. Or lastly, how about that deep sloping beach with a wicked current sweep? I feel that too many surf fishermen disdain this type of structure and walk away seeking better, user-friendlier grounds. Or when fishing them, don’t really know the most productive methods. Well, those folks are really missing out because these situations can offer some great fishing for stripers if approached in the correct manner.


This collection of deep running metal lip swimmers, leadheaded bucktail jigs with pork rind trailers and weighted Super Strike needlefish (weighted with steel shot) will take those bottom dwelling bass with consistency.


I will admit that deep-water structure and moving water is, at times, tough to fish. However, I feel that if you follow the advice and tips in this article, you will develop confidence in surfcasting such locations and put a few more fish on the beach this season. An old timer once told me that large part of successful striper fishing from the surf was predicated on finding and fishing deep water close to shore. He claimed that stripers feel more comfortable on their evening and pre-dawn forays along the shoreline if there is deep water close by. He was correct. Most of the great spots I have fished over the years do have deep water right in front or pretty close by. Think about it - I’ll bet your favorite bass hole has similar deep-water structure close by. Go Deep? Learning to fish these areas correctly is important. First of all, I’ll cover the appropriate mindset and technique one must have when approaching deep water and then I’ll discuss bait and artificials to use in such situations. Lastly, I’ll touch a little bit on proper tackle. I think the best way to approach deep-water spots is with the idea that you are going to have to fish the bottom third of the water column. This is imperative mainly because the biggest stripers will hang deep most of the time and the more current there is, the closer the fish will be to the bottom. In a deep-water inlet situation for example, you can bet the rent money that most of the stripers, and particular the larger ones, will be hugging the bottom and probably hiding behind a large boulder or in some indentation if the current is humping.


Therefore, you have to use something that will get down to that strike zone fast and stay there long enough for the bass to see it and whack it. Believe me, a striper will not leave the comfort of the bottom and travel 20 or 30 Deep fast moving water like this breachway in feet to attack even your most R.I. presents problems for many surfcasters productive surface swimmer. but with the right technique and artificials or That same bass won’t even bait, spots like this can be very, very productive go that distance to hit that for stripers. nice juicy eel reeled some lures that may be unfamiliar. The best way seductively on or near the I know to fish in a fast current situation is with the surface either. lead headed bucktail. The bucktail lure has been The challenge of getting stuff around a very long time and I’m sure all of you down near the bottom is what have seen them. Maybe you even bought some but were unimpressed with their action in calm I think turns many fishermen conditions. However, bucktails are very versatile off because it requires some modification of technique and artificials and work extremely well when fishing


Here is a little guy that hit a Beachmaster deep swimming metal lip in 12 feet of fast moving current. deep structure. When selecting bucktails, please keep it simple. For fishing deepwater places I would start with two white bucktails in each of the following sizes: 1, 1-½, 2, and 3 ounces. That will cover most situations. Occasionally, you will need a 4-ounce bucktail to tend bottom, usually around new or full moons, so you might want to get a couple in that size too. If you plan to fish an inlet or river (estuary mouth) where the current is moving you will need the heavier bucktails. In most cases the current in such surf spots moves along at a good clip for most of the tide. I use the 2- and 3-ounce bucktails most of the time when the current is at this stage. Then as the current subsides, I employ the 1- and 1½-ounce versions.


Working a Bucktail When fishing an inlet with heavy current, cast the bucktail up current and be sure to vary the distance you’re casting. This ensures you are covering a lot of water and a lot of bottom. Allow the bucktail to sink to the bottom before retrieving. As soon as you feel it hit the bottom, lift the rod tip slightly and start reeling. If you don’t, the lure can snag and you will usually lose the leahead. That’s why I advise you to purchase two of every weight. Unfortunately, fishing deep correctly with leadheads results in some lost gear. Therefore, I usually keep terminal tackle at a minimum and tie direct, no snaps. Now back to bucktailing the inlet. After completing the cast and the first “drop,” start retrieving slowly. Reel about seven turns and then open your bail (or put your reel in free spool if you’re using a conventional) and allow the bucktail to drop to the bottom again. As soon as it hits the bottom, engage the reel and begin cranking. Repeat this process as long as you can, usually until the bucktail is too far down current to tend bottom. Reel the bucktail back and repeat the process, covering as much of the inlet as possible. By fishing in this manner, the surf fisherman is thoroughly covering every nook and cranny on the bottom. Using this “drop back” method as it is called, places your bucktail strategically in front of the bottom hugging bass that have come into the rip to feed. Hits usually come as the bucktail hits the bottom or just after the reel is engaged and the lure swings in the current. The hits are usually bone jarring. One can fish this method until the current slows to nothing at the bottom of the tide. The surfcaster can fish an inlet on a dropping or flooding tide with this technique. Remember, the bass


face into the current letting the moving water bring morsels of food their way. Let them eat your bucktail instead of a baitfish, as it is swept by. The bucktail jig is also a very versatile tool when it comes to fishing deep water without a lot of current, say around a jetty or rocky coastline. In these cases, the 1- to 2-ounce jig shines. Sometimes even a ¾-ounce one is plenty. Just cast it out at different distances and let the jig sink, counting down the seconds it takes to hit the bottom. On the next cast, stop the lure a second or two before “bottom hitting time” and then fish the jig slowly back to you. Don’t be afraid to fish all depths using the countdown method, but I’ll bet most of your hits will come when this artificial is near the bottom. Finally, when using the lead headed bucktail jig, always use a trailer on the jig’s hook. I like Uncle Josh’s pork rind in red/white, #70-S or 240-S. Impale one strip, red side up on the hook. You might also want to try a soft plastic or twister tail. These will produce but not as well as the pork rind. There are many jigs out there to choose from, but I really prefer Andrus jigs and the ones made by Spro. No need to get fancy, all white is all you need. One other tip; if the bucktail hair gets stained, throw the jig away. It will not produce nearly as well as a jig with pure white hair.


Fishing deep fast moving current can give up some nice stripers provided the surfcaster uses the right artificials. Soft Plastic Shads The next artificial that a surfcaster should consider when working deep water is the soft plastic shad. I like to use the 6- and 9-inch version in deep-water inlets, particularly when the current starts to slow down. Shads made by Tsunami are dynamite in these situations. Just like with the bucktail, cast them up current and let them scrape the bottom then retrieve the shad back to you. Some mighty big bass have been taken on such lures in the recent past. The 9-inch model is almost standard issue if you fish the Cape Cod Canal. I prefer the bunker (menhaden) and the herring colors. Shads are quite adaptable and work well in almost any deep-water spot. I routinely use them around jetties and in some very deep areas along Rhode Island’s rocky shoreline.


Deep Running Swimmers Along with the shads and the bucktails, a surf fisherman can also employ swimming plugs effectively when looking for stripers in deep water haunts. Although most swimming plugs are designed for shallow and moderate depths, a few plug manufacturers make artificials that will reach the depths. If you can get your hands on them, the metal lip swimmers made by Beachmaster lures from New York are superb. They make several metal lip swimmers and a darter that will consistently take stripers hanging in deep water. Sorry to say though, Beachmaster plugs are only available on a limited basis. There is one store in Rhode Island - Saltwater Edge; one in Massachusetts – CMS; and one in Connecticut - Rivers End, that sell Beachmaster lures. Keep checking these shops’ web sites and you might be able to pick up a few. You will not be disappointed! The deeper running BM lures you should be looking for include the Atom Junior, the Cowboy, the Conrad, 3-ounce Darter and the Slope head. All of these plugs will run medium to very deep when tuned correctly.


If you can’t find any Beachmasters don’t despair. Tattoo Lures of Middletown, Rhode Island, which is run by Mike Dauphin, turns out some great deep divers. These plugs get down quick and have taken some monsters over the years. Another custom plug maker that produces deep running wooden swimmer is Gary Soldati of GRS Lures. Gary fashions a nice deep swimming pike that has a fantastic bass catching action and will get down to the deepest shoreline striper. Finally, Dave Anderson’s 7-inch Slope head deep swimmer sinks like a stone and will prospect bottom dwelling bass. Dave’s plug company is called Surf Asylum and is located in Westport, Massachusetts. All of the aforementioned wooden plugs will get the deep dredging job done. I would buy plugs in some brighter colors, say white, light blue, yellow, gold, pink and chartreuse as well as some in darker shades like all black, black and purple, black and gold and mackerel. If I had to buy just two or three they would be yellow, mackerel and black and purple or “burple” as its called. Swim these deep divers in all of the aforementioned types of locations; all of them are made to run medium to deep. Tune ‘em Up and Fish ‘em Right! Know that all wooden plugs with metal lips MUST be tuned, i.e., the line tie or eye of lure bent up or down. Generally, bending the eye up will make the plug swim deeper. Test all plugs in shallow, clear water first before using them in a fishing situation. Reel these specialized artificials SLOWLY as they are made to run deep and stable at slow speeds.


My favorite method for fishing these productive lures is to drift them out with the current in an inlet or breachway. Vary the distance drifted on each cast. This will help you cover every inch of productive area. Then reel painstakingly slow and wait for the hit. Live or Rigged, Eels Seal the Deal Another method of fishing deep-water spots is with a live eel. Live eels are my number one bait and way of putting bass on the beach. Fishing them in deep, fast moving water can be frustrating though. Bass will not come from the depths to hit one and therefore the eel must be offered to stripers on or near the bottom just like the plug and lead head. To do this simply purchase ž- and 1-ounce rubber core sinkers. Fasten either sinker directly in front of the eel hook. In most cases this added weight would get the eel down enough to be seen by the fish. In the inlet situation, provided the current isn’t running too hard, cast the eel up current, much like the bucktail jig, and allow it to sink and then start retrieving SLOWLY. I like to use this weighted eel rig in inlets when the water slows, toward the end of the tide. In other deep water areas without a hard running current, practice the count down method and you will out fish guys using eels that are not weighted.

Photos by Steve McKenna


Simply adding a 他 to 1 oz. split shot or rubber core sinker to the leader of a live eel rig can mean the difference between a skunking and a good night when surf fishing deep water locations. The final outstanding method for extricating stripers from deep-water locations is with a rigged eel. The rigged snake is probably the second best way I know to catch a striped bass, second only to a live one. Night in and night out the rigged eel will take bass in every surf situation including deep moving seas. The only addition to the rigged eel, like the live eel, is a little added weight. This can be done three ways. An egg sinker in 1- or 2-ounce size can be placed on the leader directly in front of the eel, or, when preparing the rigged eel, weight can be added to the head siwash hook by either lead strips, which can be purchased in fly tying or tackle shops, or by pouring lead around the shank of the head hook. I prefer the lead strips. Just incorporate this as one more step in the rigging process. Both ways work extremely well. The rigged eel is heavy enough and by adding a little weight, it will sink very fast and allow you to fish the bottom.


You can also employ a lead wobble plate or head. These can be bought in just about any coastal tackle shop and I like the ones manufactured by Point Jude lures out of Rhode Island. The 1½ounce size is my favorite. Put this on the head of the rigged eel instead of the traditional Siwash hook. Now you have a weighted rigged eel with extra action. What more can you ask for? I am very partial to wobblehead rigged eels. I once had an 800-pound night using these things at the deep-water inlet at Chatham, Massachusetts. Fish all three types of weighted riggies the same way as the other offerings in this article. You will definitely take some serious stripers.

Leave your light rod at home. You will need a strong rod to turn a striper in a ripping current.

Gearing Up Tackle required to fish all of these heavier bucktails, plugs and eels must be on the heavier side. I would strongly


recommend an 8- or 9-foot, medium-to-medium heavy surf stick. Short by some people’s guidelines, but remember that in most all of the aforementioned surf situations distance isn’t really necessary so shorter rods will do the trick and are easier to control than a long surf rod. Use a good reel and please, one with a good drag. Unfortunately, there are not many out there that can handle the rigors of surf fishing. If you can possible afford it, buy a Van Staal reel. This isn’t a commercial but the reels from Van Staal are superb for surfcasting and have no peers. Get one and you will see what I mean. Conventional tackle is my favorite when faced with inlet and deep moving water locations, particularly when fishing the bucktails. If you think you’d like to step up to fishing with conventional gear, get a 7000 or 6500 Ambassador reel or a 400B Calcutta from Shimano. Think good, strong line - at least 20-pound test mono or 50-pound braid. I like mono and go with 20 on the spinner and 25 on the revolving spool. I would stay away from braid though because of all the rocks you will encounter when fishing in these locales. Finally, use long shocker leaders of 50 or more pound-test. This will greatly assist you in fishing, fighting and landing big bass in unfriendly territory. There you have it. Guidelines for fishing those spots, which you shied away from in the past. Now you can put those places back into your surf spot repertoire and fish them with extreme confidence.


Story: T. Corrigan Photos: Zeno Hromin


‘Twas the night before Christmas and all down the beach. The stripers were busting, but just out of reach.


The wind was all wrong and the chances seemed shot. Santa still geared up and made his way through the lot.


Santa’s a Sharpie in his northern seas so he skipped down the jetty with the greatest of ease.


On his eleven foot rod he tightened his grip and fired a bucktail at the dwindling rip.


The jetty was a bust. Santa missed the tide. So he jumped in the sled and took off on a ride.


Heading to a spot he’d have all to himself. He walked alone without even an Elf.


Santa rounded the point and to his great surprise.


The spot was packed with dozens of guys.


Santa barged into the lineup mugging some guy.


Drew back his rod and let his lure fly.

Success at last! A bend in Ye ol’ rod.


Only to reel in another Yule log!


Happy Holiday’s


Steve McKenna is one of New England’s most respected anglers of the past few decades. His humble persona and lack of an oversized ego, which is often found among surfcasters of his caliber, make him one of the most liked surfcasters walking the beach today. Based in Rhode Island, Steve has found success not only at home but in most places he has visited: Cuttyhunk, Block Island or Cape Cod. Put the rod in the man's hand, stand back, watch and learn. Steve has written numerous articles over the years for many Northeast publications including a chapter in Zeno Hromin's book, “The Hunt for Big Stripers.” Jason Colby's exploits as a surfcaster on Long Island are not as well known as they should be. Considered one of the best surfcaster in the 70's and 80's, Jason moved to New England in the late 1980's. He has beached or boated 24 stripers over 50lb including his personal best, a 64.50 pound brute. These days Jason runs a charter boat, the Little Sister, out of Quincy, Massachusetts. He can be contacted through his website at www.littlesister1.com Kevin Robishaw Jr. is a Rhode Island based angler who currently is finishing up his last tour of duty in Iraq. He loves fishing from the giant boulders that dot our smallest state’s coastline and is a proud member of the United States Armed Forces. A man we should all tip our hat to for putting his life on the line and protecting our way of life. Richard Siberry is a professional photographer and videographer based on Long Island, New York. His angling photographs have graced the covers of many publications. His new project, “Montauk Rocks”, a documentary on surf fishing at Montauk Point, is one of the most anticipated DVD's ever dealing with surf fishing. You can get more information about Richard and his new project at: www.oscailfilms.com


Rich Troxler has roamed south shore bridges on Long Island under the cover of darkness longer than he is willing to admit. A very observant angler, he spends many nights following the migration of baitfish in the back bays in order to gain a better understanding of the striper’s feeding habits. Rich is well respected among his peers for his tenacity as well as for his skills. 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 is also an editor of the Surfcaster's Journal who labors over our sloppy writing, bad grammar and terrible pronunciation errors. For that alone he should be saluted. Vito Orlando might be one of the most popular anglers ever to walk the beach. His ever present smile is disarming while his wonderful sense of humor is infectious. Although he has fished beaches of Cape Cod and the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard, Vito is always drawn back to his beloved rocky shores of Montauk Point. One of the true Montauk regulars, Vito is known as a white water bucktailer extraordinaire. 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 and a surf guide who specializes in instructional guiding. 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 www.zenohromin.com Lou Caruso is a long time member of the Farragut Striper Club and one of the most well regarded custom rod builders on Long Island, NY. You can contact Lou via his website www.louscustomrods.com


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Surfcaster's Journal Issue #1  

Surfcasting's only internet based Magazine.

Surfcaster's Journal Issue #1  

Surfcasting's only internet based Magazine.

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