Andy Whitcomb 7/31/2012 Much of the United States is dealing with a brutal heat wave; known here in Oklahoma as “summer.” Anglers, and fish, compensate for triple-digit daytime temperatures by utilizing the cooler windows of mornings and evenings. To find fish mid day, you may […]
Month: July 2012
Stephanie Vatalaro 7/30/2012 For the 48 percent of Americans that lie awake at night restless from the stress of their day, relief may be closer than they think. Recent studies have shown proof that simply being near water can naturally help lower anxiety. With only […]
Back in the mid 1990’s I made a video (remember those?) with my friend Jon Perette. The topic was catching blue sharks on a fly. For the better part of a month we made a number of long runs from the South Shore of Massachusetts to Stellwagon Bank to gather the footage. Fishing for blue sharks was a tremendous amount of fun, but as time went on I pursued other species of fish. My memories were recently awakened by my fishing fanatic and writer friend, Angelo Peluso. He’s been putting the hammer on blue sharks big time.
Angelo is based on Long Island, New York which, simply put, means that he’s surrounded by great fishing. In between early season striped bass, mid-season bluefish, and late season bonito and False albacore, Angelo heads offshore to tangle with some monsters. This year’s incredibly warm water temperatures has brought a number of pelagic species in earlier than ever, and he’s been offshore….waiting.
Fishing with heavy standup gear is customary for hard-fighting fish, but Angelo is using an 8 ½ foot 13-15 weight fly rod. After identifying an appropriate thermocline he’ll set a chum slick of ground fish soaked in menhaden oil. After the slick spreads out he’ll start looking for blue sharks coming up for a meal. Sometimes Angelo might wait for an hour while other times he doesn’t wait long at all.
The sharks he’s been catching have been anywhere from 75-150 pounds, which is not necessarily big for an offshore species but tremendous on a fly rod. Once hooked the blue sharks can strip off half a reel’s worth of line and backing and the fight is on! After a half hour fight the sharks are close to the boat, but it’s not over. They’ll make another long run and the fight heads to round two and sometimes to rounds three and four.
“Getting a good hook set is critical to landing these fish,” Peluso noted. “With their tough mouths and rough skin you’ll really have to drive the hook home with a combination of a series of strip strikes and tip strikes. We’re using heavy mono tippets to stay connected with the sharks. And after catching a few of them you won’t need to work out in the gym. We’ve been fishing with Captain Rick Gulia of Perfect Catch Fishing and all sharks are released. I encourage any inshore fly rodder to give shark fishing a try.”
Angelo is using a wide variety of fly patterns, some of which are attractors while others are imitators. “Once the sharks key in on the fly they don’t turn off. The scent coming from the chum lights them up. The offshore water is typically very clear, and I always try to set the hook in the corner of their mouth. The casting motion with a 14-weight isn’t as elegant as it is with a five weight, but the stout rods are necessary to land these incredibly strong sharks.”
For more information on fly patterns check out Angelo’s outstanding book, Saltwater Flies of the Northeast at http://www.angelopeluso.com/.
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When we’re teaching others to fish (especially kids), we spend plenty of time going over how to make the cast, how to pick a lure or bait, what to look for in terms of where to cast, and all that. But we often forget to “practice” what it feels like to fight a fish. When they actually have a fish on, their eyes usually get this glazed look of “now what?” desperation (along with the obvious positive excitement of having hooked a fish).
I like to take time before I tie any hooks or lures to the line to “play fish” and give them a little feeling of what successful fishing feels like. They keep the rod in their hands, and I grab the end of the line then go over some basics:
What does a take feel like? Well, it can feel any number of ways, but if you feel your line go taut like this (demonstrate) set the hook! How hard should I set the hook? I show them that too by having them lift the rod tip high, or jerk it to the side (depending on the type of fishing we’re doing).
Maintain the arc. The most important thing people of any age can learn about fighting fish is to maintain pressure. That’s a visual thing that’s easier seen than explained. Grab the line and bend it for them (like a fish), then explain that the rod should remain bent (in the shape of a rainbow). Any more than that, and the fish might break your line. Any less than that (when the rod has no bend) and the fish can spit your hook. Kids especially understand when you show them what the arc looks like and say, “make sure your rod looks like this when you have a fish on.” It’s simple.
From there, you can get into a little of steering fish during the fight. Fish goes left (you pull left) angler pulls right, and so on.
Granted, you don’t want to overcomplicate things. But by taking just a little time to simulate a fight, and going over the basics in a visual way can help build confidence and understanding out of the gate. And that can lead to a higher success ratio when it comes to hooking and landing fish, which is good for the newbie angler, as well as the fish themselves.