Are all waves created equal?

You know, there is a big difference between white water driven by wind, one driven by swells, one that shows itself every few minutes, to the one that shows itself every few seconds. There is white water that does not do a darn thing but aggravate me (like the chop we get on the west wind). There are winds that are good, the winds that are ok, the winds that are bad and some are plain nasty. What I am trying to say, not all white water is created equal. Sometimes when you are targeting fish in current, the white water can be annoyance. Other times it helps put the fish on the feed, even if you are fishing the current. I remember one particular hater walking around saying why am I advocating fishing white water when most of the winds in the fall are out of north which kill any white water we have?

Should you stay home when the wind is in your back a learn how to knit? Of course not. Neither should you always fish the white water when you can.

Example, hard NW and you are in Montauk…where are you going? Probably like 99% of others to Shagwong or North/False bar. Where did the other 1% went? To cast eels a country mile , and swim to the rocks they almost never can because the water is rough…Where? On the south side. And they catch a shit load of big fish. I was never a believer that white water is your high percentage shot for big fish anyway? Lots of fish? Sure. Big fish? For my money, give me glass flat conditions and an eel. And on a hard NW you are rarely fishing white water although you are fishing into wind. Because those winds generally do not build water up. It’s more of a chop. That is where diagonal winds came in. NW is one, that crates a sweep on the north shore of LI.

Like anything else, you have to know how to fish under any conditions. And as much as it is pains me to say, this only comes through the experienced. The white water, when conditions are primed and its driven by the wind can work in your favor just like that rip that forms on the last half of outgoing in your favorite spot. Except that rip is predictable based on tide, its back every night, sometimes faster, sometimes slower but “good” white water is depended on the winds.

I can go on and on about white water and current, and I promise you I will once I come up for air but right now I am running on fumes.

Here are few things that worked for me, take them for what they are, one man’s opinion

White water created by diagonal winds, for example on LI , se, sw, ne, nw are much better that pure winds like north or south . I won’t even get into west winds which I am not a fan of or east but east winds can create good white water although sweep can make it hard to present plug properly.

Never, ever cast your plug in front of a folding wave. If you got white water, most often you will have good wind velocity along with it. That means shorter casts. If your plug ,yes, even a bucktail, lands in front of a folding wave, by the time you get in touch with your lure it will be nowhere near where you cast it.

Except the fact that fish feed in the back of the wave. I have some videos clips that I can hopefully show you soon. Cast your lure to land on the back side or the top of cresting wave. If you are only targeting white water and bass are feeding in short burst only when there is white water, or you fishing big sets of water in very otherwise shallow area, you MUST work your plug to perfection. Meaning accurate placement of a lure behind the wave is critical. Especially in rocks. If you are doing this on sand, you have more latitude. In any event, pay attention on you cast

White water driven by wind= good

White water driven by swells (hurricane)= not so good

White water plug that works for me under any conditions, bucktail, bucktail, bucktail and a bucktail. Metal lip swimmers and poppers depending on makeup of waves. If you got a good “period”  between waves, then yes. If waves are stacked up on the reef and crash every  few seconds, then no, those plugs become hard to work to take advantage of conditions. Bottle plugs, particularly Super strike can be good as can needlefish.

On the end of the day, the only important thing is that you take advantage of conditions in front of you. Don’t argue with a fish that won’t eat your plugs, give them what they want. They might have small brains but under water, they are smarter than you and I…don’t argue with the this fish !

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7 comments on “Are all waves created equal?

  1. Tom P

    Great read as always Z! Funny I saw this when I got home as I was out this morning fishing white water from this swell we have in south jersey. Small Bottle plug did the trick. Managed 2 dinks but i was the only one catching….. I can’t always apply exactly what you say to my area either but, the theory in the tips you give are usually right on the money. IMO. This coming from someone fairly new to plugging the surf (second fall) with pretty decent success. In most part a result from absorbing tips from your books, the mag and the blog. Just wanted to thank you and the rest of your crew for sharing your knowledge!

  2. mark m

    Z, I really have to say that your comments always add thought to the strategies I try to apply when fishing.

    Simply, I want to say thanks for putting your thoughts on the table to be read, you got balls and it’s refreshing.

    There will always be 2nd opinions and they have there place, however your the guy writing frequently and pushing SJ to new levels. Congratulations, you deserve the positive energy!

  3. matt vigg

    I have to agree with Mark sharing your thoughts on this site it helps me grow as I am still learning about this sport we all love.It started with your books then a guide trip now your site.Thank’s again Z.

    PS.soon to be your new book as well.

  4. Adam

    8 weeks in the Mecca & yesterday had the smallest fish.
    I was hoping that whitewater would produce.
    It was my slowest day but it was great fights in that strom surge.


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