When the Blues Come the Fun Begins E-mail
Sunday, 25 April 2010 12:09

A big blue caught in Great KillsThere was an unusual bass bite in the NY Bight. Fish were staging at the shoals fattening up on sand eels before heading up the regions rivers to spawn. Usually it’s a bait game so I decided to give it a shot. I managed a couple bass on my way out to Roamer Shoals but the current was ripping and I was miles from my launch. So I headed back in. On the way I caught another bass and 3 bluefish. As I made my way back to the launch I ran into Pete heading out. He had to drop his son off at school and had just gotten on the water. I decided to do a bit of fishing with him. I took him to where I got the blues and he picked one up but that was it. So we worked our way down the bay. Everything was still and we didn’t see any signs of activity so we decided to head back to the launch. Pete was taking a direct path but I wanted to head towards an abrupt edge I could see on my GPS chart. The depth went from 25 to 9 feet quickly. As I worked my way towards the contour I started spooking fish. After a few boils I yelled to Pete it was worth investigating. Then I hooked one and lost it. Fish were thick under my kayak according to the fish finder so I grabbed a rod that had a jig on it. I hooked up and before I lost the fish I got a look at a nice blue. We worked the area without success and then it was as if someone flipped a switch. What was a struggle became easy. Blues were tailing everywhere and attacking whatever we threw at them. So I switched to topwaters and that’s when the fun meter maxed out. It was the type of action I describe as silly/stupid fishing; more on that later.

Each spring bluefish invade our inshore waters. Usually it’s the latter part of Pete with a nice blueApril but they don’t look at calendars.  They can show up from mid month on. Even though you can’t be certain exactly when they’ll show, when they do there’s about a month of superb angling. I find that I often leave them biting as I give up before they do! When they turn on like this they’re a blast. My favorite is when they’re hitting topwaters. When this occurs they can be so aggressive they remind me of piranhas.

I find they tend to run in schools in specific size ranges. For instance when I encounter them in Great Kills Harbor it’s rare to catch one under 10 pounds.  These are the jumbos or what are often referred to as gorillas, gators, etc. Whereas in other places like Jamaica or Raritan Bays they tend to be smaller, more often 5-10 pounds and I call them mediums. Both classes of fish will be around for about a month until the smaller 1-3 pound cocktails take over. The cocktails are still a lot of fun as long as you downsize your tackle for them but their bigger brethren are the ones I look forward to.

If you’re fishing live bait, especially adult bunker, they’ll make quick work of them. You’re going to need a snagging treble,whch is available at most bait and tackle shops. Some anglers just use a long wire leader and leave the bunker on the snagging outfit. You can do this but I prefer transferring it to a single barbless circle or J hook on wire as it will be easier to release them. It can also be a good opportunity to catch a big bass, weak or fluke. These other predators let the blues do the heavy lifting of corralling the bunker and serving them up. Bluefish take bites out of the bunker starting at the back first. They don’t seem to care for the heads which drift down to the bottom along with other chunks of fish. The other species just sit on the bottom waiting for the easy meal. That’s why bunker heads are Pete's blue such good big striper bait. Big bass are accustomed to seeing them. I find by adding a sinker on a 3-way rig I can get the head to the target zone on the bottom faster. The bigger blues tend to feed on bunker and often it takes the real thing to entice them. There are times when large plugs or spoons will work but I find they’re less likely to be on top. Snagging a live bunker is a sure fire way to get action but I did have a day a few years back in Great Kills where our group caught a few hundred fish on artificials. Luhr Jensen pet spoons were terrific and what I really like about them is they are a large single hook lure. What’s really nice is the 9/0 O’Shaughnessy hook is replaceable. So when it rusts out you can simply change it. CD Rapalas and other big deep divers worked too. I got a bunch on a bomber too. If you’re throwing lures they’ll try to take it away from a hooked fish as they swarm about it. The medium ones can easily get worked up to a frenzy and more often they’re the ones that get wild. Single hook floating lures are the best way to go. The reason is when they get this aggressive they’ll try to take the lure away from the hooked fish and end up biting your line. Wire helps a bit but often they bit way above the wire. I find a single barbless hook is the way to go (see the how to on the way I set up the lures). The blue will shake the lure free and it’ll float up to the surface. I had this happen four times the other day and on the fifth it didn’t come back. That’s when I called it a day, but the fish were still very willing.

Here's a few of my favorite lures when the big blues are on adult bunker.

Big bluefish lures The fish are around and while trolling about you’ll often catch blues, bass, weaks and fluke, however when the blues get thick they’re the most aggressive and will dominate the catch. Get out there and have some fun.

 

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