If you want to have
some fun in the brine, dont just bait it, plug it.
So, Shipmates, youre
wondering what Capt. Dave is rambling about this time arent
you? First, we need to agree on what is meant by plug it.
It basically comes
down to using a type of artificial lure to catch fish. There are
many shapes, sizes, materials and colors in the world of plugs.
Im going to tell you about some of them past and present.
The Creek Chub: It was back in 1953 that I first got acquainted
with the Creek Chub lure. We were trolling it at night out in
Sandy Hook Bay for big stripers.
The lure gave a nice
rhythmic vibration to the rod tip as it skimmed its way through
the water. Years later we found them to be effective trolling
at night along the CBBT on an outgoing tide. The rushing current
would sweep them between the pilings where the big stripers lay
ready to ambush any foundering bait fish.
The Scudder: Speaking about the CBBT, one of our greatest
fun things to do was casting the big Scudder lures to the rocks
on the tube end of the third island ocean side.
We would cast them
as close to the rocks as we could and then chug them back with
a jerk-rest retrieve. The chopper bluefish that were stationed
there would bash the Scudders with abandon. Sadly, they dont
make the Scudder anymore, but you can buy them on Ebay.
The Cisco Kid: During the 1970s and 1980s the
Chesapeake Bay was loaded with big bluefish during the summer.
We spent hours trolling for them with our Cisco Kids and other
Besides the Ciscos
we ran big Rebels, Rapalas and Bang O lures. It was great fun
hooking up blues to twelve pounds on those magnum plugs.
The Rat-L-Trap: To begin with these were lipless plugs having
deep bodies that somewhat resembled a spot. Later on they made
them with lips.
I had used the fresh
water version for largemouth bass, so when they came out with
a saltwater variety I put the to use on stripers. One time we
fished them under the Pamunkey River Bridge at West Point on an
outgoing tide and boated some nice school rockfish.
The Stretches: You could hardly write a story about fishing
for rockfish without mentioning the Stretch lures. They come in
a range of sizes defined by the depth they would run when trolling.
A Stretch 20 would
run 20 feet down, a Stretch 25, 25 feet and a Stretch 30, 30 feet
or more. You could cast the smaller Stretches to surface feeding
fish, but the bigger ones were for trolling.
The Tomic Lure: Years ago I used to go fishing in Lake Michigan
with a friend who took me out after Coho and King salmon. One
of the lures we used was a J Plug. I brought one home to try on
bluefish without much success.
Then about a half dozen
years ago I went out on a charter boat with some friends. On this
trip the mate put out some Tomic lures that killed the jumbo stripers.
The Tomic resembled the J Plug, but was more effective in the
saltwater. One advantage of the Tomic is that it did not wander
around behind the boat and tangle lines as much as the Stretches.
The Pencil Popper: I cannot tell you how many bluefish and
stripers I have caught with Pencil Popper lures. I used them for
years. One time we were fishing with Capt. Billy Pipkin on the
old Liquid Assets just north of Smith Point Light.
We came upon a school
of rockfish feeding on the surface, and I cast my Pencil Popper
into the fray as we slowly trolled along. I hooked up right away
and quickly had the fish to the boat as we continued trolling
along. Capt. Billy tried to lift the fish into the boat with the
4 pound test line I was using, but it snapped and the fish was
Minutes later Butch
Harlow had a hit on his trolling rig and hooked up. When they
boated the fish my Pencil Popper was still solidly hooked in its
jaws. Ill bet the chances of that ever happening are a gazillion
The Monster Shad: There are a number of deep bodied lipped
lures on the market. One is the Monster Shad. It could pass for
a spot as well as a shad. You can cast it or troll it.
It dives relatively
deep as it has a large lip on its front. There are others in this
same category, some with lips and some without. They tend to have
a rather short body compared to their girth and have a nice wobble
on the retrieve.
The Cordell Red Fin: This is available in a solid or jointed
body. I have several of them. One time I took one with a red head
and white body with me on a trip to Lake Nipissing, Canada. On
our second day there Butch Harlow and I were trolling the Red
Fin around an island out in the lake.
Suddenly, the rod bent
double and Butch grabbed it. We could tell he had on a big fish
by the way it pulled line out against the drag. After quite a
struggle Butch finally got the beast up to the boat. I was dumbfounded
to see such a huge Northern Pike. Our net was large, but hardly
big enough to land the pike.
I was able to capture
it by folding the fish double into the net. We didnt have
a scale to weigh it or a tape long enough to measure it, but Im
sure it had to be at least four feet long. We were thrilled when
it recovered enough to swim away.
You might be a well
prepared and experienced saltwater angler or a complete novice
in the brine. Either way there are some great fish out there just
waiting to be caught. Take it from me, you will have some good
fun if you go out where they are with one of these great lures
and PLUG IT.