When I take people out on my boat for stripers one of the most important things I try to teach them is how to fight the rockfish. What I mean is how to use the rod, reel and line in the proper way in order to get the fish to the boat and not lose it.
There is nothing more frustrating than finally getting a bite and having the fish escape before you even have a chance of seeing it. Or, even worse, watching a big fish get off right at the boat because you made some small mistake and let him get away.
The way I try to teach people about fighting fish is to imagine what is happening to the fish while it is on the end of the line.
Picture the head shake as it punches the rod tip. Imagine how the fish turns for the bottom and makes a run or even if it heads to structure and wraps around a log or piling.
These details will determine how you reel the line or raise the rod tip or make whatever adjustments that are needed in order to land the fish.
When dragging stretch type baits with treble hooks behind the boat, use a loose drag on your reel and let the fish play on the line a little.
The long baits can be used for leverage by the fish when it shakes its head and can pry itself loose during the fight. If the fish makes a run, let it run, all the while keeping your rod tip up in order to keep constant pressure on the fish.
Only reel when you know the fish will come to you. Reel until it makes a head shake or a run, then hold the tip up and let the rod fight the fish.
Once the fish has settled down, start your retrieve again.
If you are fishing a swim bait, set the hook in order to get the single hook down into the fish and drag that fish back to the boat. Believe it or not a bait with only one hook is less likely to come undone than that of a bait with multiple treble hooks, so set your drag tighter with a swim bait and muscle him to the boat.
Of course if you have a big striper on, say over 20 pounds, then he will probably muscle you before you get a chance to return the favor.
I like to fish lighter action rods on my stretch baits and heavier action rods on my swim baits. This allows me to match the type of rod to the type of lure and make it easier for the fisherman on my boat to work the fish.
I have had people lose four and five in a row and it gets in their head that they are not good at rockfishing when all they had to do is slow down and let the gear do all the work.
Remember to keep your cool and slow the fish down and you should have a successful day on the water.
What’s biting, where ...
The offshore scene is looking up with reports coming in that the bluefin tuna are here and they are ranging from 50 to 70 inches and up to 200 pounds. A fish that size will take a couple of hours to reel in and it’s probably the toughest fight on the water today.
Call Oregon Inlet or Teach’s Lair and set up your time to try your hand at one of these monsters and it will be a fishing trip of a lifetime.
The beaches are still a little slow with some drum being caught at the point in Hatteras, but that’s about it.
The sound is producing some decent striper still and if you can get out on a bridge then you should be able to catch one or two.
It is the usual baits with Rattle Traps, stretch baits and swim baits bringing most of the fish to the boat. If you are at a standstill and the fish are not hitting, try live baits like big shiners or spot and croaker. The bite is not as often but when you do get it they usually are decent size fish.
Locally the news is big crappie on live shiners and small swim baits and jigs. They are hitting in the main river in about 5 to 10 feet of water along steep drop offs and up in the creeks on brush piles and lay downs. Crappie like wood and brush, so bring lots of baits for backups because you will lose you tackle.
The largemouth bass are moving up and getting active especially on the warmer days. Fish the north side of the bank later in the day and use spinner baits and crank baits. In the morning the bite is a little slower so you have to slow down with jigs and soft plastics.
If you have a chance to get out then send me a report to firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on my face book account, Fishing with Mike and don’t forget to send pictures and details.
Mike Sweeney is a fisherman who lives in Elizabeth City