Fishing Report 9.26.14 – The Perfect Time
Fishing Report 9.26.14
It is the perfect time for surfcasting under a new moon, enjoying the best albie bite in years or making the most of the weather window to battle bluewater species. The weather looks to be spectacular as well. Get out and fish!!
Striped Bass – The amount of peanut bunker has got some better stripers sporadically in the stones. No reports of mullet thus far; but they should be in the wash by now. The current tides, temps and bait supply seem ideal to kick off the migration and get the bass that are around thinking of bulking up.
False Albacore and Bonito – Bonito have uncharacteristically hung around despite the best albie season in years. Typically the bonito get here first, get shouldered aside by the albies and then if we are lucky a bigger 8 -10 lb version fills in for a short visit in October. As we have discussed before find the bait and structure and your likely to find the funny fish most days. We are getting positive reports the length of the Ocean State and from Block. If you find them “picky” try to mix up the pace and the color of your lure or fly. More thoughts on that here and the Top Five Lures For Albies here.
Bluefish – Big and angry what’s not to like! Not many reports from the Bay; but they are mixed in with the albies some days and otherwise wreaking havoc on their own out front. Great fly rod fish!
Scup, Black Sea Bass and Fluke- Fishing remains solid and should improve with cooler temps. Tidal Tails have been very effective on tautog.
Offshore – Recent weather has kept anglers in port and searching for the weather window. Sunday looks good.
Among the Saltwater Edge selection of wood lures is a builder from Cape Cod that we simply know as “Wally”. Following the successes our customers experienced with the darters that he masterfully crafts, we’ve continued to add from his diverse line up. We now feature three sizes of needle fish, pencil poppers, his very popular darters and a variety of metal lip swimmers.
Wally packs 50 years of experience into his wood turning and designs. He has tailored his plugs for specific areas throughout New England and it is fascinating to listen to him recount the where’s and why’s associated with the development of his lures from time spent fishing Charlestown and Watch Hill, the Cape Cod Beaches and up the coast to the New Hampshire shore.
Pictured above is a bass recently taken on one of Wally’s LONG 9 metal lip swimmers and below is Wally with a nice fish of his own. From an interview with him recently ” I put a lot of emphasis on making my plugs durable. I use all marine grade oil based enamels for color coats, a marine grade oil based primer, seal my plugs by soaking them in a linseed oil based sealer and top coat them with Industrial grade Urethane based top coat. I ad pearls and flake to attract ultra-violet light. I do not use epoxies that is why my finishes do not peel after they become chipped. I put great emphasis on durability, I do not consider my plugs to be works of art I do not strive for that. When I build a plug I build a well engineered fish catching machine period.” Wally
A carpenter by trade, his passion for plug building was the result of the inability to find the lures that met his particular needs. The lures that he builds are his own designs and are extensively tested with a focus on their action and cast ability. Other consideration in his designs, which place emphasis the habits of predatory game fish and their response to wounded bait fish are inspired by his daughter, who studied marine biology. This passion, experience and knowledge results in a selection of lures that Saltwater Edge customers can fish with confidence.
Please Take the Time to Write
Loud and Consistent Voice
The recreational voice has been loud and consistent at the public hearings for Draft Addendum IV to Amendment 6 over the last month or so. Recreational anglers support a an immediate 25% reduction with a one fish option with 32 inches preferred. The process concludes with written comments that are due by September 30th. Please consider writing a letter to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to reiterate and reinforce the consistent message they have heard thus far.
Every Letter Counts!
Comments should be sent to Mike Waine, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, 1050 N. Highland St, Suite A-N, Arlington, VA 22201; 703.842.0741 (FAX) or at email@example.com (Subject line: Draft Addendum IV.)
Ross Squires of “1@32″ created a simple format that you might find helpful by providing the recommended options that you should be including in your letters. These options represent that will most enhance the long-term quality of striped bass fishing, conserve the population, and is the most practical to implement. Just write a quick intro paragraph, paste the recommended options, and add your personal information.
Section 2.5.1: Stock Assessment Reference Point Option
Option B: Uses the preferred 2013 benchmark assessment.
Section 2.6: Timeline to Reach Harvest Reduction
Option A: Reduces mortality by 25% in one year.
Section 3.0: Management Scenarios: Coastal Recreational Fishery:
Option B3: one fish per person per day at 32 inches.
Section 3.1 Commercial Quota Transfers
Option A: Prohibit quota transfers from one region to another.
Section 3.2: Commercial Size Limits
Option A: Would require the same size limits for commercial harvesters should the recreational size limit be increased.
The Saltwater Edge is sponsoring a raffle to recognize those who took the time to write. If you copy firstname.lastname@example.org on your letter to ASMFC you will be entered in the “Took the Time to Write Raffle” and might win a prize package that any surfcaster would be happy to receive. Plugs, tins, bucktails, soft baits and teasers from the best brands in surfcasting. You will not be disappointed and it is our way of saying “Thanks for taking the time to write”
While the turnout at the Draft Addendum IV to Amendment 6 – Public Hearing was commensurate with the population in Rhody and the mix of recreational, for hire and commercial was typical of the other ASFMC Public Hearings the overall sentiment had more “two fish” advocates than I would have anticipated based on the other meetings held in other states.
For Hire Fleet – Some Surprises
The Rhode Island Charter Boat Association took a similar position to other Party Boat Associations and that is the three year phase in and Option B7 (one fish 28-34″ and one fish above 36″). It is easy to understand when you realize that many of their Captains (members) believe they are selling fish and not a fishing experience. Two fish is more fish than one fish. One of the Captains accurately pointed out (just as the Massachusetts Captains did at an earlier meeting) that as other species “are either all gone or over regulated they need to fish for striped bass”. I couldn’t help; but think he was making the point for the most conservative approach now so that striped bass don’t go the route of his previous targets and “are either all gone or over regulated”. It’s a free country.
Captain Charlie Donilon spoke for the more conservative “one year, one fish” recognizing that it was wise to “take your medicine now” and ere on the side of caution. Charlie also referenced the fact that all the options presented had only a 50% chance of meeting the minimum target. Said another way we are just as likely to be revisiting this topic in three years as not. After three years go by with the two fish bag limit we will be in a deeper hole and a moratorium is the only remaining option. Charlie does a lot of interesting charters in addition to sport fishing including lighthouse tours and shark cage diving. Sounds like a sustainable business model to me! Learn more at snappacharters.com
Five Charter Captains from Block Island wrote one letter advocating for immediate implementation, one fish at 32 inches. The most conservative option available and they fish the last best remaining striper water every day.
Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association – A Head Scratcher
The biggest disappointment of the night came from the Rhode Island Saltwater Anglers Association. A group that does at lot of good for recreational anglers in RI; but this time they seemed tone deaf. Their Legislative Committee vote to support one year implementation and then same slot as the Charter Boat Association. They argued the marginal difference between 28% reduction (Option B7) from 2013 harvest vs the 31% reduction (Option B3) was negligible, While on face that is true it ignores the fact that the likelihood of success in reaching the minimum threshold is only 50% to begin with makes every step away from a conservative approach that much more worrisome. RISAA claims 30 Affiliate Clubs and I haven’t heard a surfcaster yet that share’s their view. I wondered if the likes of Narragansett Surfcasters, Newport Saltwater Fishing Club and Rhody Fly Rodders and other shorebound clubs knew of this vote. RISAA has a strong presence and this time I think the shore fisherman got the short end of the stick. Very disappointing.
Recreational Anglers – One Year, One Fish @ 32 Preferred
The bulk of the recreational anglers who attended seemed to be surfcasters (rather than boat fisherman) and as such those most effected by the depleted striper stocks. Mike Laptew “The Diving Fisherman” confirmed the lack of bass in what used to be proven fishing grounds. No survey and extrapolation needed. Mike can see the decline. There is good discussion on striped-bass.com to hear a wider variety of perspectives on the meeting from the surfcasters point of view.
My sense is that while 1 year and 1 @ 32 is preferred it would be simpler to educate and enforce if the limit was cut in half from the current 2 @ 28 to 1 @ 28. The unfortunate choice of the RISAA Legislative Committee will complicate the effort to get a one year and one fish option. Those concerned with the health of the striped bass stock have more work to do. Three more years with a two fish harvest as RISAA advocates could well leave us in a more dire situation three years from now when this topic is revisited. We need to write letters to the ASFMC and be sure the voice of recreational anglers in Rhode Island is heard loud and clear.
Draft Addendum IV To Amendment 6
September 17, 2014 at 6 PM
University of Rhode Island, Corless Auditorium
South Ferry Road
Narragansett, Rhode Island
If striped bass are an important part of your life and you are concerned for the health of the stock please attend tomorrow night.
I went to the meeting a few weeks ago in Buzzards Bay to better understand the process and the hear the Commissions presentation. Since that time I have spoken with Steve Mederios President of the RI Saltwater Anglers Association (the largest fishing club in the state) and Bob Ballou the Assistant to the Director of RI DEM and our government rep on Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. As well as a slew of recreational anglers.
Two things to keep in mind.
1) The best science available leaves the Commission and the public with options that only have a 50% probability of reaching the intended mortality threshold. In speaking with RI Director Bob Ballou there is clear frustration among the fisheries managers about this reality. It amounts to a coin flip. Heads you win and tails you…
2) The changes that are adopted by the Commission will very likely be in place for 3 years. That is in part because the Commission has other species to manage and they work with those in three year cycles as well. Given that then a unmitigated disaster would be needed to “revisit” these new regulations within next three years.
At this point I hope I have your attention and you recognize this is a big deal. Potentially a bad coin flip locked in for three years. With this as background the most conservative approach is warranted to return the spawning stock biomass to the minimum threshold. Not abundance mind you; but the minimum threshold defined as the level that the spawning stock biomass attained after the moratorium of the necessitated by the last population crash.
The biomass is determined by use of the following Harvest Inputs:
1) Commercial Quota – Very precise
2) By Catch – Activity is monitored on commercial vessels and extrapolated
3) Recreational Catch – Utilizes angler surveys to determine effort and impact then extrapolated. Enforcement activities are a separate activity.
4) Released Fish Mortality – Scientific data tied to angler effort
5) EEZ – Very tough to gauge with survey results and extrapolation
It is from these inputs that the best efforts of the Commission yield options with a 50% chance of success. That is a tough and tenuous spot.
The biggest unknown is black market sales. This illegal activity creates both management and scientific uncertainty for the Commission as it results in an understated commercial harvest. These “lost fish” amount to a few stealing from many both recreational anglers and particularly law abiding commercial fisherman who have higher costs as a result of following the law. I am told enforcement has been increased in recent years and undercover operations are ongoing; but it saddens me to know that some outstanding fisherman and folks I consider friends would be so selfish. It sucks.
If you want to learn more in advance of the meeting about the process and how to make effective comments review this Primer the folks at One @ 32 Pledge created for the ASMFC meeting on Long Island This group advocates for Option B3.
Please come tomorrow night and let your voice be heard. We will be in the parking lot and encourage you to stop by ask questions and get a raffle ticket to win a pair of Van Staal pliers.
Be informed and be heard. We will hold the raffle after the meeting at a local watering hole.
One of the most talented and generous fisherman I know (Mike Everin otherwise know as “Iron Man”) told me this many years ago that “October is promised to no one” and we would all be wise to follow his advise. Inshore, offshore, kayak and surf it is prime time. Get on the water now.
The news begins and ends with albies and their spirited invasion of our shores. This is the best albie run in a recent memory. Loads of bait and favorable tides has made for memorable fishing. The peanut bunker and increasing presence of bay anchovies has made for a bit of a guessing game on what to throw; but the fish don’t lack for food and this make us hopeful of a longer visit. The feed seems to be best during moving water. Outflows and river mouths are delivering waves of food and when albies are present they tend to hang around. Mike Laptew had a great article in this weeks Fisherman Magazine sharing his underwater observations of albies on the hunt. He describes them as “squadrons” He observed a variety of different formations of the school dependent on how tight the bait was. It is a great read. We have the issue in the shop now and you can access the online version via subscription here. One of the most awesome sights in fishing is the rare sustained surface feed you see when gamefish push bait to the surface continuously and decimate their prey. Baitfish have no where to go, you can see/feel the pressure created from below and some times they stay up for a while. It is hard to imagine how many peanut bunker and albies it takes to create that level of commotion.
Surf Fishing Report
Waiting to hear of mullet in the the surf; but no reports as of yet. Albies from the stones has got shorebound anglers excited and most all the usual locations are are producing with jetties and breachways topping the list. Other locations where deep water is close to shore have been productive as well. Likely a residual benefit of the vast amount of bait that is around. For lures the Po Jee wins for distance and quality of hardware. For finky fish Albie Snax; but you will trade off casting distance. For the fly guy white Bunny Fly’s match the hatch. The new Loomis Short Stix arrived this week and they punch out a nice fast, long cast which is just the ticket with the fast movers. At 7.5 feet they are light and powerful. The 9/10 model is perfect for the stones and the 10/11 for weighted lines from a boat. Come by and demo this eye popping addition to our fly rod wall.
Inshore Fishing Report
While epic feeds have occurred on occasion; it is far more common to find fish popping here and there, smaller less intense feeds and fish caught blind casting. All these scenarios can be explained with smaller schools. Mike Laptew observed bluefish under the albies on some of his dives and on one memorable trip stripers below the blues!
For the boat angler the song remains the same. Fish active areas, try to identify a pattern (often structure related) fish ahead of or beside the school and keep you offering in the strike zone.
Kayak Fishing Report
September might be the best yak month of the year. Loads of bait, fish on the move, a variety of species and warm water temps. Surf launches at Third Beach or Point Judith should put you close to the funny fish. If you want to check out one of the Jackson Fishing Kayaks say the word. We have demo models of the Cuda 12 and Big Rig as well as the SUPerFISHal stand up paddle board. Give a call and we will get you on the water.
Offshore Fishing Report
The jig bite has improved as over the last few weeks. Ronz’s in green and pink are delivering on the overnight. If you want to learn more check out this primer on vertical jigging. The yellow fin bite in particular has been excellent in the canyons. Also word of 40-50 lb bluefin closer to home in the Mud Hole. Look for your weather window.
Remember October is promised to no one! Get on the water now.
Albie Fever has hit the region! There is no known cure other than putting your time in and being ready when you have a shot. False Albacore seem to have filled into all their typical haunts from ACK to MTK with the notable exception on South County to this point. Some days they chew through the tide and other days wind and boat traffic can cause them to scatter. If you find the bait don’t miss the chance to do some blind casting in the vicinity.
So Much Peanut Bunker So Little Time
Peanut Bunker less than two inches long seem to be the most common bait. Locally they are still present in the rivers of the upper bay with many schools the length of the bay both east and west. They seem to exit the rivers in waves around the moon tides. Their abundance is likely related to the restricted access to the upper bay for the “pogie boats” that had in years past done quite a job on the adults in the spring. There have been books written about this baitfish and one the titled “The Most Important Fish In The Sea” sums up their relative value perfectly. A high protein, filter feeder there isn’t a bay around that could do with more of that! That said they will grow over an inch a month and assures us we should have good concentrations of bait for the foreseeable future. And a great fly rod bait to boot!
Back to the albies
Look for a combination of moving water and structure. Albies feed in packs and work together to attack bait balls where they have an advantage. One forage method is to keep the school tight and force it to the surface to disperse it and then feed on individual pieces or use structure like a reef or breakwater for the same purpose. Always be on the lookout for a pattern in the location of the blitzing bait as this may well correlate with structure. It’s a good strategy to pick out one of these repeated blitz locations and blind cast while you wait. The busting fish you see are the tip of the iceberg and there are always fish feeding on individual pieces of bait. This method is inevitably more productive than giving chase to busting bait and birds.
Albies from Shore
For the shorebound angler a jetty, breakwater or breachway blitz is the holy grail. Those who catch from the stones have put their time in and are ready when the opportunity presents. There are a number of locations in the Ocean State to get a shot at a albie from shore. The West Wall in Point Judith, the breachways in South County (fish either side on the incoming and the down current side on the drop), the jetty at Little Compton and the Coast Guard Cut on Block. Here is a good overview from On The Water on How To Catch a Speedster From Shore.
What to throw?
Here’s the results of an unscientific survey of Saltwater Edge staff and guides to identify the Five Top Lures for False Albacore. Using a casting egg can help spin fisherman deliver soft plastics and flies if need be.
Saltwater Edge Fishing Report — August 21, 2014
We have reached the apex of our fishing season in terms of water temperatures and species. This is despite the fact recent air temps are more suggestive of mid September. Earlier this week of Ft Adams here in Newport Tom McCabe landed the likely state record cobia. Details on the catch at On The Water.
For over the past three weeks there have been good numbers of bonito in the fish traps here in Newport. We have heard barely a peep about local catches. There have been frigate mackerel around which are smaller versions of bonito. There certainly seems to be enough bait around to keep the bonito and albies around when they do arrive. A recent quote “for every blitz of birds on Ocean Drive 9 out of 10 are bluefish”
As a result of the “slow start” to the bonito season we will add albies to our Quantum Smoke Photo Contest and extend the date for submission to September 15. Bonito and albies are beautiful fish and make for great photo’s. Judges want to see a beautiful image that captures the colors and excitement of the annual visit from the inshore speedsters. Please send you images to email@example.com and please include “photo contest” in the subject line.
Striper fishing remains spotty with proven inshore spots having fish one day and not the next. Block Island has been the only consistent producer. There is loads of bait inshore; but not many stripers.
In other striper news: The Atlantic coastal states and jurisdictions have scheduled their hearings to gather public comment on Draft Addendum IV to Amendment 6 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. The dates and location for specific states are available here. If you are concerned for the state of the striped bass fishery please make plans to attend the meeting closest to you.
The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) is considering three options. The first is the most aggressive with a 25% reduction in the 2013 harvest to occur in 2015 to achieve the necessary reduction in one year. The other option have a smaller initial impacts over a longer periods. There are multiple constituents and ten states involved. The steady decline of striper population has left pockets of good fishing to those with a boat, a fish finder and live bait; while most other methods (artificials) and locations (surf and inshore) have been spotty at best all season. Most of the folks we talk to feel that the more aggressive action contained in Option 1 now is most appropriate to allow the stock of the striped bass we all love to begin it’s rebuilding process ASAP. It will be important that the “recreational voice” be consistent as the fishery doesn’t not need more ideas it needs more action.
Let’s remember the striped bass is the most available fishing option for all Rhode Islanders. It has a long season, can be caught from the surf, a kayak or a boat and can be caught by a variety of methods lures, bait or flies. There is no more important fish with a broader economic impact in our waters than striped bass. It should be managed for all to enjoy.
The deeper the better has been the word for fluke of late. Squid strips and Gulp have been working well on a variety of rigs. The new Gulp Rigs from Run Off Lures have been expanding their fan base north from their Jersey roots
Weather windows and temperature breaks have been relatively easy to come by; but consistent offshore action has yet to materialize in the waters east of Block Island. There had been a solid bite in the waters south of Martha’s Vineyard; but that is out of range for most Rhoddy Captains. Most trips produce a bluefin of yellow of legal size and some mahi; but bigger fish and multiple knockdowns was not been the story this year. Those willing to put away the spreader bars and vertical jig have been rewarded and sometimes handsomely. Here is a Tackle and Tactics post on Vertical Jigging for Bluefin. When offshore be mindful of sun exposure and think about the gear you wear.
Other Fishing Reports we like:
The Fisherman Magazine Video Report
How to Fish a Red Gill Teaser by Dennis Zambrotta
If you could purchase a lure that was almost guaranteed to catch a striped bass when sand eels are the prevalent baitfish – would you? There has been a lure around for some 40 years that fits this scenario – the Red Gill Teaser. Ask any dyed-in-the-wool surfcaster about Red Gill Teasers and they are sure to have a story to tell.
A Little Background and History
The Red Gill is a soft plastic lure that is a perfect imitation for a sand eel (sand launce) which are a prevalent baitfish in the waters of the Northeast. Red Gills made landfall in this country in 1975, having been imported to the Cape Cod surf from their original home in England where they were originally designed to be used as teasers when jigging for Cod and Pollock. Noted surfcasting author Frank Daignault was first to use them with great success on the Cape Cod’s back beach. Red Gills are long and slender and have a unique paddle shaped tail which is the key to creating an irresistible and life-like action of a sand eel. Red Gills are now available in three sizes, a 2 ¾ inch Flasher, the 4 ½ inch Rascal, and the 7 inch Raver. Red Gills can be fished either from shore or boat and are most often used as a teaser or dropper rigged forward of another lure. The most popular size Red Gill is the Rascal and most surf casters will use this size along with the Raver when surf fishing for striped bass. The traditional way to fish the Rascal is to rig it as a dropper/teaser about 2-3 feet in front of a plug such as a swimmer, darter, or needlefish.
The two most popular ways of rigging the Red Gill Rascal for striped bass:
- Run a 6-10 inch length of monofilament leader material through the nose of the Red Gill and out the vent. Tie it to any strong hook such as the Mustad Signature C68SNP Tarpon hook or the traditional Mustad 34007 O’Shaughnessy hook, size 3/0 to 7/0. Using leader pull hook into the hollow body of Red Gill. Then tie the dropper leader to the lower ring of the barrel swivel of your main leader.
- Take the hook and insert the point into the nose of the Red Gill and push it approximately ¾ inch into the hollow body. Push point out through the bottom of the Red Gill. A short shank hooks like the Sakuma 410 is better suited for this rigging style. A Red Gill rigged this way will have the eye of the hook exposed for easy tying onto the dropper leader. Tie dropper leader to lower ring of the barrel swivel of your main leader.
Tips and Techniques
Red Gills are extremely effective whenever sand eels or other small baitfish are present. During times like these striped bass may become very selective and ignore traditional plugs/lures, especially in clear, calm, or bright moon conditions. When using the Red Gill I always use a dropper leader slightly weaker than the main leader of my plug. For instance, if your main leader is 60 pound test, use a 50 pound test leader tied to your Red Gill. The reasoning for this is that double headers (two fish hooked up at the same time) are very common when using Red Gills. When you have a large bass hooked up to the plug and another to the Red Gill they will fight each other and something will often break or fail, in most cases you’ll want the dropper to break off preserving your more expensive plug.
Don’t let the small size of the Red Gill fool you, they will take very large bass. Some of my fellow surf hounds have taken bass into the 50 pound class on them. This is why it’s very important to rig them on a very strong hook. My personal preference as mentioned before is the Mustad Signature C68S Tarpon Hook. These hooks are stainless steel, 2X strong with a short shank making them perfect for Red Gill use. Any similar strong hook will also work. As always, all hooks should be sharpened!
Tony Chiarappo, a well respected angler and good friend of mine has used Red Gills since they first made their appearance on the Cape in the 1970s. Tony Chiarappo; “Before Red Gills I used feather droppers and Mann’s Jelly Worms as teasers. I was the third person on the Cape to get some Red Gill’s after Frank Daignault and Frank McHugh. Alex Ingram who owned the company at that time had his name on the box. I called him and talked to him directly and was quite surprised when he sent me over a hundred assorted Red Gills. The hooks that Red Gills were fitted with were inferior so we rigged them with 7/0 O’Shaughnessy hooks. One night my friend Mike Desimone and I were getting large striped bass, some over fifty pounds, by just casting single Red Gill droppers in front of them….it was wild, fly rod fishing with spinning rod! The Red Gill was a lure of many uses. Other ways we rigged them was to use two Red Gills tied as a double dropper rig which we could cast a mile with a heavy sinker….or using the 7 inch size as a single dropper with an egg sinker stuffed inside and dragged on the bottom. My friend Jimmy Kostas used Red Gills to take more large bass on the Cape than anyone; he just seemed to have the knack when using them. And of course Steve Campo and his crew used the Red Gill with great success; Steve literally had hundreds of them in his truck. I’d have to say the Red Gill was probably the most effective and prolific bass catcher on the Cape having had a major hand in the demise of the giant bass that invaded the shores of the outer beach in the middle to late 70s. Another very effective Red Gill product that I used with great success was called the “Pilchard”. You could probably say the Pilchard was the predecessor to what we call the rubber shads of today. In the end I regret not asking Mr. Ingram to be his state side representative because the Red Gills have always been a consistent bass catcher.”
Steve McKenna, another good friend of mine has this to say about Red Gills: Steve McKenna; “I was originally introduced to the Red Gill lure by Frank Daignault. I used them regularly years ago until the sand eels disappeared and then started using them again two seasons ago, when the sand eels made a comeback. All four sizes of the Red Gill work but my favorite is the 4.5 inch Rascal model. My most productive colors are all black, all white/pearl, orange/yellow and chartruse (lime green). I had a 28 pound fish on a black 4 incher this past fall and I think my largest striper on a Red Gill was taken on a 7 inch Raver model. That fish was 33 pounds. As you know, when the fish are on small bait there is no better way to fool them then fishing the Red Gill as a dropper up ahead of a swimming plug, darter, needlefish or even a rigged or a live eel. During the last two seasons the Red Gill has been my most productive lure particularly in the summer months. Where I fish in Narragansett, Rhode Island the sand eel population has exploded and the Red Gill lure has been outstanding. At times, if you are not fishing with one you are not catching! I fish them as a strict dropper. I tie them on a stiff piece of fluorocarbon leader material (50 or 60 lb. test) which is about 6 inches long. I tie that to the bottom loop of a quality black ball bearing swivel and then I tie another piece of the same leader material to the same loop of the swivel. I make the main leader approximately forty (40) inches long. To the tag end I tie a Breakaway or Tactical Angler clip. That’s it.”
I started using Red Gills in the early 1980s and quickly realized how effective they were. By then they had been written up in various magazine articles and word on the beach was to get some if you could find them. Until that time I had always used saddle hackle feathers as my dropper/teaser. The first night I tried the Red Gill Rascal the bass couldn’t leave it alone. For an hour straight I caught bass on almost every cast on a blue and white model. Then the bite died suddenly – I knew the bass were still in the wash as I could see them rolling on sand eels. I then realized the paddle tail on my Red Gill had broken off. I quickly tied on a new Red Gill and was back in action instantly. That was the night I learned the paddle tail was the key to the Red Gills effectiveness.
On another night my casting partner Zeke Silva took a 35 pound bass on a Red Gill after he back-lashed a cast. His plug and Red Gill were floating in open water as Zeke began to pick out his backlash. All of a sudden his line came tight. Not being able to take drag because of the backlash the bass and Zeke fought a tug of war. Everything held and Zeke landed the cow which inhaled the Red Gill as it bobbed almost motionless in the current.
The Red Gill Rascal has really shined for me on the shores of Block Island. In November of 1997 (which I fondly refer to as the “Year of the Red Gill”) a group of my friends had our greatest numbers of bass ever for our annual Block Island surf fishing trip. During a 10 day stretch I landed 224 striped bass and on one night in particular took 51 bass up to 35 pounds. Almost two thirds of those bass were taken on solid black Red Gills. During that same night my casting partner Al Rispoli was fortunate to land a double header of bass which totaled over 40 pounds! One bass struck Al’s Red Gill and the other hit his trailing needlefish plug, luckily for Al everything held together.
Since then Red Gills have continued to be a consistent producer for me when sand eels or smaller bait is present and during the past three seasons the Red Gill has started to see a resurgence of use by others as the sand eel population has increased in New England waters.
Red Gill Tactics
When rigged as a dropper/teaser you can fish the Red Gill in conjunction with a plug or other offering. Perhaps the deadliest combination is to use the Rascal Red Gill in front of a Cotton Cordell C10 series Red Fin minnow swimmer. This combination will allow for a very slow retrieve and the wiggle of the Red Fin will enhance the action of the Red Gill. On dark nights a black Red Fin/black Red Gill is hard to beat. On bright nights a bone or chicken scratch Red Fin used with a solid white or bright green Red Gill is a deadly combination. During daytime try casting a Chrome Red Fin and a natural pattern (Black/Silver, Blue/White, Green/White) Red Gill. Another technique is using the Red Gill to “incite” the bass to strike your plugs. On some occasions bass will strike your plugs while ignoring the Red Gill, but when you remove the Red Gill the bass ignore the plug.
One of the drawbacks to using Red Gills in conjunction with a swimmer is that casting distance is cut down due to wind resistance of the dropper. To offset the loss of casting distance you can also use Red Gills in conjunction with long casting needlefish plugs such as the Super Strike “N” Fish and Gibbs 1 ¾ oz Needlefish. During the daytime Red Gills can also be used with many of the popular metal lures such as Hopkins, Kastmaster, Point Jude Tins, and Andrus jigs. As you can see Red Gills can be very versatile and the rigging possibilities are as limitless as your imagination.
Red Gill with Needlefish Plug is a Deadly Combination when Sand Eels are Present
The old guard has always kept a few Red Gills tucked away in their “surf bag of tricks” and now a new crowd of surf casters are beginning to learn just how effective they can be. Are there Rascals in your surf bag? If not you might be missing out.
Gear You Wear: Sun Protection
What you choose to wear when you go fishing can add to your enjoyment and your safety. If you choose wear a blue hat with a red “B” you may well catch as many fish as the next guy on any given day; but on occasion you will miss out when the heat or a nasty sunburn distracts your focus from fishing.
The potential harm from long exposure to the sun is well documented. Sun screen is the first line of defense. You need to find a sunscreen that doesn’t leave a greasy residue, which could adversely affect your grip, possibly damage the tackle itself and does little to enhance the fish catching ability of your lure or fly. Look for a formula make up that is oil free, hypoallergenic, and waterproof. A good sunscreen should soak into your skin very quickly. Keep in mind sunscreen goes bad so check the date on the package.
One Captain joked ” I could buy a bunch of sun shirts with all the money I have spent on co pays” All joking aside with all the comfortable, practical options available why not take advantage and maximize your comfort, safety and likely your fishing time.
First fishing clothing must not limit your movement; your casting in particular. The are plenty of loose and stretchy fabrics to choose from. It is wise to select a fabric with a high UPF rating. While all fabrics disrupt UV radiation to some degree the clothing that does the best job carries an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) rating from 15 (good) to 50+ (excellent). Also look for fabrics that dry quickly as they will provide additional comfort.
Obviously fishing in the sun all day has inherent risk as a result of long exposure to the sun. Be mindful as well of the reflective sun coming off the water and the white boat deck. Choose a hat with a wide brim or flaps or plan to cover the tops of your ears with a UV Buff. Buff’s have become very popular because they offer effective protection. They are fabric tubes that you slip over your head and that can be worn in a variety of ways and are easy to stash in a boat bag. The Buff does a great job of protecting your head and neck. Highly recommended.
Long sleeve T-shirts are very popular with plenty of room to move and +50 UPF built in. We offer shirts from Old Harbor Outfitters , Loomis and Shimano. Unlike cotton these fabrics dry and wick moisture away from your body keeping you cool. A wise investment.
Anglers wear gloves for a couple of reasons. If you have stood on a boat deck waiting to cast at the end of the day your wrist may well be the most sunburned part of your body. Kayak anglers make regular use of gloves to avoid blisters as well as added sun protection. Buff Sport Series Water Gloves have been well received.
Long light SPF pants are available for the harshest conditions; but shorts and thoughtful application of sunscreen to the back of your knees and tops of your feet are usually sufficient.
A little forethought about the gear you wear will certainly add to your fishing enjoyment and pay long tern health dividends.
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