Trophy Striper on the Lighter Side


    The Thanksgiving Turkey is just a leftover by now. Most of yÕall have gotten all your leaves raked and the lucky ones have a deer or two in the freezer. This all means a couple of things, November is over and weÕre heading into December, and December in the bay means BIG rockfish.

   The cooler weather and abundance of bait in the bay is setting up what could be one of the best Decembers weÕve seen for a while. November was a great precursor to what we can expect this month. We caught striper jigging, live baiting and trolling when the weather cooperated and the fishing was crazy good!

   Most every day from above Smith Point Light House to below Buoy 62 large flocks of birds; mostly gulls and terns, filled the sky, and under these birds laid rockfish from 12- 32 inches.

   Yes, I said 12 inches. With the warm winter and spring of 2012 the rockfish spawn was very successful which makes for loads of juvenile fish and the future of rockfish is looking really good.

   In December you can expect the same bird activity except this time the birds will be gannets and under the gannets should be 30-40 inch plus rock. These fish can be caught when the birds are on them by jigging big Storm lures or three- to four-ounce jigs, but trolling is the most productive method.

    A lot of people have gotten a bad taste in their mouth from trolling because of the heavy rigs and weights traditionally used to catch these fish, but technology has really changed the game. Braided line has really changed the way we fish for the trophy striper. The small diameter of braid allows you to get a lot more line on smaller reels, making light tackle trolling a very effective method.

    Lightweight high-speed reels with tons of line capacity have also been a huge asset. Match the high-speed reel up with a light jigging rod and youÕve really got a fight on your hands.

   Single and tandem baits way back or run off the planer boards with no weight have replaced the use of a lot of lead and umbrella rigs of the past.

  Every angler is different, there are some that love to put up numbers, so the heavy rigs on meat sticks will do the trick. But for those of us that enjoy the fight and love the feel of a light rod and reel in our hands are really enjoying this new method of fishing.

   One reel for example is the new Release Reels SG. Not much bigger than a freshwater bass reel and weighing in at less than 12 ounces, boasting over 30 pounds of drag, and having the capacity to hold 400 plus yards of 50-pound braid the little SG is more than capable of landing any rockfish that swims in the bay or ocean.

   Penn has also stepped the game up in lighter high-speed large capacity reels with the Torque and Squall series. Daiwa and Shimano are not to be forgotten either with their small but mighty series. Whichever reel or combo you go with land one big fish and you will be hooked.

    I donÕt want to over consume readers with stories of rockfish, but our fall season has been so good itÕs hard not to talk about it. I promise as the weather cools down and will be thinking warm thoughts and writing about some of our hot summertime action as well.

   Until next time tight lines, lighten up on your tackle and see what IÕm talking about. Remember fishing is all about the pursuit and battle of the species, capturing and taking the fish home is just an added bonus!