Catch date:3/24/2015 9:54:00 PM

Story date:4/7/2015 11:04:00 PM

Location:Brooklyn NY

Species:Bass, Striped

My Off Season Antic’s...

I enjoy my “off seasons” unlike most of the fishermen I know. Not being able to fish can have the equivalency of trying to stop smoking…coming off a high. It was hard for me to get use to not prepping my gear on Thursday night for the locations I would be fishing on Friday night into Saturday mornings. I would be thinking about my next trip on the way home Saturday to Thursday or sometimes planning two weeks ahead based upon my catch for that week. It can even become a challenge to focus at work if I am not careful. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to SNAP! Myself out if the plans I have in mind for fishing on Saturday. Can you imagine how it must feel to not hit the suds for four month?

I enjoy many activities during the off season. One of them involves reading fishing books. I’m far from a “book worm” however I find that a good fishing book will keep me learning, planning, educated, and keeps me searching for a new spot to fish at any given point when the season opens. During the 2013 going into my 2014 off season I red three books. I started with Fishing The Bucktail, A Season On The Edge by John Skinner, and ended with Secrets Of Surf Fishing At Night by William A Muller. Those books set the stage for 2014. This off season I started with Striper Pursuit: surf fishing beyond the basics by John Skinner, The Art of Surfcasting with Lures by Zeno Hromin, Night Tides: The Striper Fishing Legend of Billy the Greek, and I finished up with Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing: Where To Find Them, How To Catch Them by Eric Burnley. Reading those books taught me what and when to use witch lures based on the conditions, different techniques/tactics to catching trophy striped bass, and the fact that big bass behave entirely differently that smaller stripers, and last and not the least how to think like a trophy striped bass…I should have a much better season in 2015.

The next activity involved going to fishing flee market’s, shows and seminars where the legions of striped bass fishermen gave really informative talks. The first one up was the Amityville fishing flee market. I picked up a lot of nice lures for next to no money. I even got reunited with my Super Strike Needlefish!, Dad got himself a really nice Penn Rod, and John Skinner gave a talk that cleared up a theory about how to “swim” a bucktail properly not bouncing them along the bottom for bass…a conversation Dad and I were just having prior to the talk. It was really nice to be listening to my number two source for fishing info next to my number one (Dad) in the same room. Dad seemed to like Mr. Skinner’s simplistic approach to catching Striped bass as much as I do.

The next task involved purchasing the Gatway permit. I decided I wanted the 4X4 access this season because the mile plus hike to some of the spots I like to fish can be a bit much at times. There are days when Dad doesn’t want to walk that far so plans sometimes change. I already had many of the items on the list of requirements to purchase the 4X4 so it was a no brainer to me. I did a bit of research into “beach driving” and decided I was going to take my truck on the sand this season. Keeping things simple I’m planning to lift it (2 inch springs only) get a set of taller wider BFG tires, and black wheels to complete the look I’m going for.

The next show on the list was Surf Day 2015. Dad didn’t want to go to that show but Rockaway JB wanted to so we met up there. I also finally got the chance to meet Joe at Surf Day. Joe and I planned to fish together in the 2014 season but it never materialized. I even started talking with two surf fishermen that fish many of the areas that I like to fish…I started to feel like a connection was bulding, and wondered if I would run into them again on the beach. I didn’t feel like there was too many “good deals” at Surf Day but I did get to replace a few lures I lost, picked up lures I wanted to modify, and I was even lucky enough to get the LAST mettle lip Dmag swimmer. This show was full of Montauk’s legions and many other respectable fishermen giving seminars throughout the day. The three main talks I went to were John Skinner, Bill Wetzel, and Alberto Knie…After Surf Day I felt like I was ready for the next task of my off season.

It’s time to start modifying, upgrading, loading plugs, and performing maintenances on lures and the rest of my gear. With my previous experience as an automotive service technician/performance junky tuning lures is just a part of me that carried over into fishing. I started out with picking up a 10 cc syringe, an epoxy called Goop, a 1/16 drill bit, VMC 2/0, 3/0, 4/0, 5/0 treble hooks, and Gamakatsu 8/0 siwash hooks to complete what I had in mind.

This is the rundown of what I’ve done to what lures.
The talking popper, I used 6 cc of water, then I took the 2/0 hooks off and put 3/0 hooks on and took off the split ring that was on the eye. Skinner mentioned he removes those because it's a possibility they could fail. I did that (split ring on the eye only) on all my SP'S as well.

The 7 inch Redfin I loaded that with 10 cc of water. I only modified one but I changed all the 4/0 hooks that it came with for the VMC hooks. They are much more meaty hooks.
On the 5 inch Redfin I just took off the middle hook altogether, put 40Lbs Split rings and two 2/0 hooks.

For the super strike "bottle" aka little neck rattling swimmer I did something a bit extreme for when I fish for big stripers in big water. I put an 8/0 siwash in the rear, and a 5/0 on the belly.

The darter got a 4/0 hook on the belly, left the 3/0 hook on the rear, used the split ring from the talking popper eye added it to the eye of the darter to give it a bit more action.

My Gibbs pencil popper got a 130 lbs. split ring in the rear and a 40 Lbs. ring on the belly. I put the beefy 4/0 hooks all around. That should give it a bit more weight for better casting distance and feedback while popping.

The SP minnow I only made two small changes. All have the same 40Lbs rings with 2/0 hooks accept one I put 3/0 hooks, removed the split rings from all the eyes. And I left one SP unmodified.

The next show was the Salt Water Expo Somerset NJ. Dad really wanted to make this show. He has gone to this show before and was eager to spend some cash. Daniel my youngest brother came as well. None of my fishing buddy’s except Rockaway JB was willing to make the trek. I didn’t expect too many good “deals” at this show because of the sheer size of it. However I was looking to buy two main items (11’ Penn Battalion rod, and the new SSV Long cast) that I wanted a deal on. I was only able to pick up the rod of witch I got $20 off the price…I was too happy because nobody had it for that price.
Penn didn’t show up so I was not able to get the reel then. I did eventually get it from Capitol Fishing Tackle Company one of my favorite shops to walk into along with some slug go’s to make a few bucktail creations I want to use on the inlets/channels this season. Eric and his crew always take care of me there. To make things even better when I arrived to the floor it was HOT in there so I went back to the truck to remove some layers and who did I run into...Julius and Al the two guys from Surf Day. We exchanged numbers and planned to fish together during the season at some point. I also got the opportunity to meet a few party boat captains that I could potentially use for this year’s annual fishing trip for the F.E.M Men’s fellowship in my church. While walking past one table in particular Jimmy somehow got my attention and told me all about Stackfish…it sounded like an answered prayer. I signed up immediately!

Dad and I wanted to stop over at the Viking booth to see what they were offering because we knew we would be making the trip out to Montauk a few times this season. Somehow we got to talking about our last trip with them and Dad showed the Capt a picture of those 20” sea bass I caught and he remembered the photos…that felt good. Dad and I went on the hunt for some black fish and porgy hooks then we both were done with the show. Dad treated Daniel and I to dinner at a Mexican place close by that he sometimes went to (he use to work in the area) for lunch and that was it.

Now that the “off season” is happily drawing to a close I have time to do some “testing” of all the changes I’ve made. I have new gear and lures I’ve never used before so I am spending time practicing, working out any kinks that I don’t want to deal with when the season opens officially…when it dose open I’ll need to put all that I have learned to use an catch big fish! Catch’em up!

Shaka Antoine

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About Shaka Antoine
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