Capt. John's Fishing Tips....
1 - "Clamming" is a very successful way to catch Stripers. A bushel bag or two of "sea clams" is usually enough for our 4 man charters. Anchor up around wherever you "mark" fish and chum using cracked clams as bait. Put 4 - 5 clams in a bucket and break them up with a hard object (baseball bat) and then add some sea water to make a soupy mixture. Then disperse this mixture in the water around the boat....works great.
another clam for your hook making sure you impale the clam on the hook
securely through the belly first and then through the tongue of the
clam. We make it a habit of using 24" long 30-40# fluro leaders
with a fishfinder rig and cast the clam bait away from the stern of
the boat and fish our reels in "free spool" with the clicker
on until pickup. DON"T set the hook in the normal way with circle
hooks, just lock the reel. We use 6/0 - 9/0 circle hooks exclusively......more
hookups, and less wasted fish.
We like to hook the bait (head) through the gill plate so that the head lays facing an oncoming Striper. Remember, Stripers swallow the head first as they don't have teeth and can swallow the head for an easy pickup. We use a 24" long 30-40# flurocarbon leader tied to a 6/0 to 9/0 octopus hook on a fishfinder rig and cast the head away from the stern of the boat and fish our reels in "free spool" with the clicker on until pickup.
-Trolling Stretch's and MOJO's- Trolling Mann's Stretch deep
diving lure products or MOJO Rigs on braided line can be very successful
if you use some common sense and some very easy techniques.
The line counter reel allows us to rid ourselves of color coded braided lines that can be a real chore to if you are not constantly monitoring the colors that are spaced usually every 50'....a real pain at times. Line counters solve those problems for precise placement of Stretch lures, Bunker Spoons and Mojo rigs which are real fish catchers.
We load our reels with about 1/4 spool of dacron backing, then we fill the remainder of our reel with 40 lb braid line. Once again, the choice of braid is up to you, but I really like the Suffix or Power Pro products as they are a very supple. At the end of your braid, add a good high quality barrel swivel (I love the 80-100 lb. Tsunami Pro) and then attach about a 6-8 ft. shot of 40-50 lb. flurocarbon leader tied to another high quality snap swivel. Now attach your Stretch to your snap swivel and you're ready to go.
Trolling speeds are crucial to success as anyone who trolls will tell you. I've found that a good speed for my boat is around 3 kts. Stretch 25/30's troll at different speeds than MOJO rigs, so watch the action of the lure as you increase your speed. Bunker spoons also are greatly affected by speed, so watch the rod tips to insure that slow back and forth pulsating action.
Remember.....BIG Stripers feed almost exclusively within 5' of the bottom. (If you want proof of this, get you hands on the video "Stripers Gone Wild" and then you'll know why) If you decide that you want to troll Stretch's, Bunker Spoons or Mojo's in deep waters you can always add a drail sinker to the braid line just before the barrel swivel to get it down. A 4 or 6 oz. drail will work wonders getting that lure to the depth you want.
3 -Trolling Bunker Spoons -Very effective way to catch "ocean side" Stripers. Both Tony Maja and TGT bunker spoons work great with white being my go to favorite color, but you should also have on hand the yellow/white and/or the green/white models.
Trolling speeds for bunker spoons are such that, when done properly, the spoon will "sway" lazily back and forth in a rhymic pattern. This is key....the correct boat speed and dropback distance of your spoon will dictate this swaying motion. Watch for it as this is the only way you will correctly utilize the bunker spoon.
When trolling bunker spoons, we use our Tony Maja rods as these rods give the exact presentation of that spoon while using braid line and not wire line (my preference here) on the trolling reels. We also use the Toni Maja adjusting out-rodder setup....very convienient and easy to use.
4 -Trolling Direction-Depending on who you talk to, this topic is wide open. For me, my hands down most successful way to troll is "perpendicular" to the current. In Raritan Bay, on an out or incoming tide (regardless) in which the water is moving east/west or west/east, you will usually find me trolling north/south...perpendicular to the current movement. Why you ask? Because in either current direction, I am able to maintain the same speed regardless. Presentation of the lure at the same height and speed that gets most of my hits. Pinpoint accurracy!
Bucktailing - Spro type jigs has become our defacto standard aboard Reel Fun Sportfishing for years. Much more fun, more and usually bigger fish hit that lure with vengeance. We like to get everyone involved in the days fishing and not just standing there holding the rod and reel waiting for a strike. Once we teach you how to "Bucktail" you'll never go back to drifting bait again....and it's easy to learn.
Bucktailing with strip baits added are deadly...... rigged along with a Clouser or Deceiver teaser a foot above the bucktail on the same line. A "killer" bucktail is the Spro type in Chartreuse/White or all White fished with a strip bait of your choice (I especially like sea robin strips and fluke belly)......... outfishes all meats.
I like the sea robin strips because they are tough. Catching 3-4 fish on one strip bait is not unusual. I like and also use "Squid Tube" strips that are thick, and pure white. A big winner for us is also nice and oily mackerel strips, bunker strips and bluefish strips. My all time favorite for catching big fluke in August or September has got to be live peanut bunker or snapper bluefish.....a big time big fluke killer in the deep.
Spro bucktails.....(which we prefer) come in an assortment of weights and colors. Weights ranging from 1/4 oz on up to deep water bucktails in the 10 oz range with colors in white (my preference), chartreuse/white, pink/white and a hot color from the last 2 years....orange/white catching most of our fish. We always adorn our bucktails with fresh meat such as bluefish strips, squid strips, bunker strips, Gulp Alive products and my favorite...sea robin belly. Nothing like the smell of fresh strips attached to those bucktails to catch those flatties.
Tides - As you may have read from my previous info-mails, I'm a big proponent of utilizing "outgoing" water when fishing for Fluke. Outgoing water utilizes the warmer waters from streams and eddies pouring into the bays and rivers along with baitfish enticing Fluke to feed. My log over the past 14 years has shown a distinct advantage for catching Fluke on outgoing water. Do we catch fish on incoming....sure do, but not quite the numbers that outgoing produces.
Winds - also has a lot to do with success or failure on any Fluke trip and if you can get the wind to work in harmony with your tide, then all the better. Outgoing current along with winds out of a west quadrant is a good bet for nice drifting conditions. Although wind against tide can be a real problem at times, wind/against can be very helpful when the current is really moving during full or new moon tides. Bottom line....you have to cover ground and have a moving bucktail to catch Fluke. Be careful of our drift speed (.5 to 2 kts is great. Anything more than 2 kts and it's time to get out the drift sock) Dead calm winds and a slack tide means it's time to cast and retrieve that bucktail to get those fish. Bucktailing styles vary greatly, but I've now found that a fast jigging motion seems to be good for shallow waters (10-20 ft) and a slow uplift of the rod tip off the bottom is good for waters in the 40-80 ft depth. Seems like big Fluke, that inhabit deeper waters, like a slower moving target for a meal.
As they say in property ownership...location, location, location. That is very true when it comes to fishing for Fluke too. There's a lot of water out there and not knowing where the hell to fish can drive someone crazy. Well, quite frankly, that's what you pay me for. From opening day, I zero in on the shallow river and bay waters....waters that warm up quickly from the sun and hold a lot of baitfish. As the season progresses, and the waters warm, I start moving to deeper waters and heavier bucktails.
Structure....THE key word for Fluke fishing. Drifting around in wide open sandy ocean bottom is a monumental waste of time. I like fishing around structure (wrecks, channel edges, ledges, holes...well you get the picture) anything that might hold baitfish and provide cover for Fluke to wait in ambush. Be prepared to lose some of those expensive bucktails when fishing around wrecks and reefs if you're not paying attention to what you're doing. Once you find bottom with your bucktail, a few cranks of your reel should clear the lure off the snaggy stuff on the bottom and then begin your bucktailing motion.
The major reason why I'm a big proponent of bucktailing is you kill much less small fish than drifting bait along the bottom. Gut hooking small fish is a major waste of a good resource in my opinion and through my years of charter business, the number of gut hooked small fish while bucktailing is very, very small. Another advantage is every angler on my boat keeps active. Bucktailing is not hard, and once learned, few people ever go back to dragging baits. It's just a fun (Reel Fun) way of catching Fluke.
Equipment....I prefer a 6-7' med/hvy butt rod with a med/fast tip and a baitcasting reel. I really like the Shimano Tekota 500 or a Penn 965/975 loaded with half 20-30 lb mono backing and the other half with 20-40 lb braid line of your choice. The reason is you need some lifting power in deeper waters and it's a good "quick response" rod for setting that bucktail. Anything light and flimsy in the rod tip and you just can't set that hook fast enough for these fish. My son and mate Chris has cat-like reflexes and can out fish me when we are bucktailing for Fluke.
reserve your date call...
Capt. John at: 908- 421- 4761
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Charters Sandy Hook, NJ