Catch date:7/27/2014 1:44:00 AM

Story date:3/31/2015 1:33:00 AM

Location:Long Island NY

Species:Bass, Striped

My 2014 Season recap...

I will not quantify my season because I am not the competitive type. However I want to share a few of my achievements, accomplishments, and express my view point on some of the events that took place in this season we just had. I also want to briefly compare last season (my first as an adult) to this one. Though this is only my second season I can honestly say this was the best one yet.

Last season was rough for me as I recall. I did OK on fluke, and porgy but I mostly caught “sea trash” no bass. It wasn’t until my Dad and I got on the Brooklyn VI in November of 2013 that I “landed” my first Striped Bass! The following weekend I hit the surf and caught my first “surf” bass! Catching those fish at the very end of my 2013 season was the fuel I needed to become a better Striped Bass, and Bluefish fishermen. I decided to read a few books so I picked up both of John Skinner books. I also wanted to get into some night fishing because I noticed most people that are catching big bass get it done at night. I knew nothing about night fishing so I picked up “Secrets of Surf Fishing at Night” by William A. Muller. I read those books twice, and researched how to use many of the lures mentioned in the books as I got ready for the 2014 season.

My second trip out for 2014 was nothing short of spectacular. It gave me a much needed boost, and a learning experience that shaped the season. I always had the first trip in the back of my mind with each trip of this season. The SP Minnow became my lure of choice as I began to learn its strengths, and weakness’s I recall being reluctant to upgrading them until I run into a problem yet my first trip using it convinced me to go ahead with the upgrade after dropping a few fish. After I completed the upgrades to MY ENTIRE SP line up. I became loyal, and defensive about its ability to catch fish. For the majority of this season the SP Minnow is what I used to catch bass with.

Things started to slow down for me while most were saying this season is off to a late start. I noticed almost no one was catching any bass and almost no surf reports were up…Then June came around. It was a day before the new moon when my Dad landed his first bluefish on a chunk. This was a huge surprise to us both because as I recall we never caught a bluefish in the surf for all of 2013. It seemed like the blues were hanging out in deeper waters. The next weekend I came back in the night with bunker and clams on a hi-low rig and caught my first bluefish on the bunker. Meny and a few of his club members were walking by as I hooked up. They watched me land it, we chatted about my Hi-Low experiment for a bit while Meny weighed the 8lbs bluefish with his boga for me .It felt good coming back to the same spot (I bookmarked where my Dad caught his fish. That’s something I got in the habit of doing from last season) to catch my first bluefish of the 2014 season! The blues are back so they kept us busy but with no bass being caught things just didn’t feel right.

This season I have gone on far more boat trips than ever before. But this season compared to last season played a role reversal as far as catching. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve paid money to get on a charter or party boat and went home with no keepers of the targeted fish…more than we did go home with meat without feet. I decided I would taste what I have called “sea trash” (sea robin, sand shark/dog fish) Nothing like coming home to the wife after she wasn’t too enthused about me going, and having “nothing” to show. The sea trash became insurance/my alibi (sad thought that I would need one and I’m just fishing)I would get so frustrated about not catching I would hit the surf as soon as the boat got back to the docks and do much better. (Bluefish saved the day…still no bass)That tells me I am becoming a much better surf fisherman than a boat angler…I usually don’t go on a boat trip without packing at least one of my surf outfits in the truck just in case I need to feed the surf rat with in.

July is here and I have a two weeks’ vacation…now I’m fishing like a retiree! My Dad, youngest brother and I got on another party boat a bit further east the day before my birthday. We were catching plenty shorts with the Skinner fluke rig. I was the first to catch on the boat and it felt good! I went home with no keepers but Dad caught the pool. When the boat docked we decided to…hit the surf! I’m so glad we did because I lost my first fish that felt like a good size fish. Based on the fight it felt like a striper…I stayed with it and landed a BASS! It felt too good to get the skunk off.

Two days later I got a call from my north shore buddy Andy. That was a night to remember for sure! I caught “My First Keeper Striped Bass” and my personal best bluefish in the same night. The bass fell to my SP Minnow aka bass assassin while the bluefish took the same/only chunk I always catch them on (second piece)The two trips that I will never forget are the first of the season and this one…forever etched in my memory. August through September I caught quite a few bass even a cocktail on a buck tail while the others feel to an unmodified SP. Catching bass on a buck tail felt really good because it’s a legendary lure to catch bass on, and now I have done the deed with one…I need to use them more in 2015. My favorite so far are the Andrus rip splitter because they have a lot of hair, hooks are strong, and most important to me they cast further than all the others I have in my surf bag though long distance is not always key.

The “Fall Run”…what’s that again? My Dad and I tried to get a good start by getting on another party boat. (At night this time with live eels) Again we came away with not even a short. But two people did manage to catch the only fish for the night. Those two fish changed me in a way that I never thought would happen. These bass were the biggest bass I have ever seen up-close. They were 25, 35 lbs. but I swore they weighed more. The girth was unreal! The look of envy on everyone’s face was somewhat comical. That’s when I started to lose the excitement about catching RATS! I now felt the desire to catch a trophy bass. This is around the time when I began to entertain the theory of Lou that the SP VS Darter=bigger fish. After doing some research on that theory he was correct. Bigger bait will attract a bigger fish. But more importantly in regards to those two lures. The SP is only a bit smaller than the Darter but what’s more important is that they have completely different “actions” I have come up with my own method for finding bigger bass…I find them with the SP, and raise the bigger ones with the Darter. Kenny's report proves that even those shorts only wanted the needle fish over the SP and the bottle I was throwing…consider the action of those three lures. My find them with the SP and raise the bigger ones with the darter came true with Kenny’s, and my report . Even though the only “keeper” of the night fell to Kenny’s bunker colored SP.

Black fishing was nothing short of utter frustration for me. Those toothy, slimy crab thieves sure know how to get fatter lol Black fish are so hard to hook, and addictive. I only managed to catch two shorts on one out of the two boats (Celtic Quest, and Ocean eagle) I went on. Even though I did horribly I will be fishing with them AGAIN! Once I get a better feel for it I will try it from shore…I just might be better at that as well lol. That’s a challenge I must concur. Meanwhile Kenny, Rockaway JB, and Dad did much better…happy for them!

I have made some connections that I will forever be grateful of. The Surf Rat's I actually got to fish with played a key role in this season for me in some way or another. John was the first to meet up with my Dad and I. John is a knowledgeable fisherman that has deep roots and connections with Montauks “legions” before they were who they are today. John showed me the correct way to use a pencil popper that felt more natural. To my north shore buddy Andy aka Bass Master. Thanks for giving my Dad and me the right of passage to your Honey hole, and showing me how it’s done on the north shore. Kenny Kenny Kenny…you’re a riot! Fish with this guy for two and a half minutes and you will know why I say that…even though to this day he still don’t know what I mean lol But nah your like a brother from another mother to me. We got it done this year, and let’s continue in 2015. RockawayJB is a serious fisherman, knowledgeable even though you might not think so lol. I respect you big. I must thank Jake the intern for being the only male in the office I could talk fishing with. Jake even went with me on the Brooklyn VI, and came with Dad and I on one of our surf trips…Jake is a natural. He saw the only action of that trip with bluefish killing our shads. . And lastly to my Dad aka Captain Dad. You’re my number one source for all things fishing and so much more. I know you will keep the info coming so let’s make 2015 a year to remember

To those of you that we have planned to fish together but it just never materialized. Surf Rat's like Chris, Richie, Joe, Tom, Lou and to Neil Stoff for helping me out with my 2015 season that hasn’t started yet, any others that I just can’t think of now we will hit the suds at some point or meet up at the shows during the off season…God willing…Happy Holidays Fishermen!

Shaka Antoine

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About Shaka Antoine
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