Tag Archives: st croix

Spaghetti chronicles part 2

The monofilament snapped right above the swivel and the big bluefish fell in between two rocks. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the swell building and I was aware that within seconds these rocks will be under water. I also knew that although the fish was jammed in tight, once the water floods the rocks it will lift the fish and it will be gone. Which was perfectly fine if my favorite bucktail was not attached to its mouth!

I drooped on my knees and lounged for the tail. At the same time the wave came over me, almost sweeping me in the drink. I managed to get my hand around the base of the tail and I just held on to the fish  with one hand while with the other hand held a death grip to a rock. My left flip flop came unattached and it was gone, never to be seen again There was really nothing to do but to wait till wave receded. I was already soaked from head to toe, almost shoeless and crouching in almost fetal position. Finally, the wave abated and I scurried back to the top of the rocks carrying what still was an very angry fish.

For some strange reason I felt victories. Yes, I lost flip flop to the seas but I managed to save my lucky bucktail. After unhooking the chopper and tossing it back into the water I tied on a fresh leader, clipped on a bucktail a made a cast. A smarter person would have quit while ahead but I didn’t…but I should have.

The whole point of me coming here was to test the reel but instead the monofilament, or my lack of familiarity with its properties  after fishing with braid for years, because the overwhelming factor. I was cursing out loud as I tried once, two then three time to set the hook while the rod and monofilament acted in unison to crate strech-o-rama. Unfortunately for me ,these blues were big and they weren’t going to left my incompetence prevent them from hooking themselves. I said unfortunately because next thing I know is I had a fish on and then all I had is slack. The bluefish  swallowed the whole bucktail and cut the line instantly. So much from going through all that torture to save a special bucktail…

Now I was pissed and often the upset mind does not make good decisions. After attaching a new leader I decided to cast a popper instead. Not often will you get a chance to cast a popper no more than 20 yards and have gigantic bluefish explode on them. With that in mind I clipped on a Guides Choice Popper and cast it ahead of the rip. Only working a popper with mono proved even more challenging then working a bucktail. The darn stretch in the line, coupled with cross wind made working the popper almost impossible! Try it as I may, I could not get a popper to “pop” properly. Not that the fish cared as it lunged at the lure as it was racing across the surface. Although the Guides Choice popper is not a small lure the big bluefish had no problem engulfing the hooks and half a lure. I instantly with my right hand tapped the place where my Boga Grip is hanging of my belt and cold sweat started to run down my spine when I realized I left my Boga in the truck.

Oh boy, is this going to be fun, trying to land a teen sized bluefish , on the rocks, in the swells, almost shoeless, without a Boga Grip and with two sets of trebles imbedded into its mouth. As I stood on the rock ,enveloped in the fog I pondered what my options are. Breaking off the plug on purpose is not an option. Maybe a single hook that would fall out of its mouth , but two sets of trebles and a lure? I looked at the swells and tired to time them to see how many seconds are in between sets and if they are coming in sequence. I needed any edge I can get under the circumstances.

Of course I said few prayers to good Lord, hoping he would make the fish come unbuttoned and save me from this ordeal. But I am sure he had more pressing matters to attend to

By now the moon tide was almost at peak and rock I just stood on few minutes ago lading the fish was underwater. I decided to just play the fish into the rocks and then lift it onto the rock I stood. The big bluefish was tired of fighting the swells and current and she came is surprisingly well behaved. Until I grabbed the line…

I use short leaders with short rods and I couldn’t reach far enough to reach the leader. So I did next best thing and grabbed the line. Bad idea! Two head shakes and the line popped like grandmothers dentures when she bites into an apple. There goes plug number two…

I’ll spare you the details and only tell you that I lost another two plugs before I went home. Yes, 12 pound mono on the rocks with one flip flop and swells is not something I’d recommend you try. But I was there and these fish were big. And hungry. Needless to say I came with right stuff the next evening on a same tide and got skunked. And the next night, and the next night. Consistency has not been my friend this spring that is for sure.

Anyway, back to my original point of writing this. Monofilament. Jesus, anyone still uses this for plugging? It’s like fishing with a linguini wrapped around your spool. I found it impossible to work the bucktail the way I wanted. Granted, this has a lot to do with habits and use of braid in the last decade. I know plenty fish were landed on mono for years before braid came on the scene. But if I had to go back to monofilament for lure fishing I could envision a lot of missed fish…a lot.

I made some changes in last few years. I gave up on super duper surf tops for a simple Grunden splash top. I am back to using a two piece rods instead of custom stick. I am back to taping my finger for the first time after using a glove for casting for years..but mono for plugging? I don’t think I can.

Now I have to admit that I prefer 40 pound mono for chunking, even if I toss bait infrequently. I never warmed up to increased sensitivity when using 12 ounces of lead and a half of bunker. I feel the mono and the fact it stretches actually helps me when allowing fish to swallow bait…because if I can feel the fish instantaneously with braid…it means it can feel me too….and I didn’t like it. Plus, the 40 pound braid is so thin the backlashes which happen to me more than any other person alive are a major pain in the ass. Some people say, use a 80 or 100 pound braid instead, you’ll like it. Not my thing but neither is mono for pluging

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Spaghetti chronicles

On a recent afternoon I decided to head down to a local inlet seawall to test a reel. I bought this  reel for my trip to Florida few weeks ago , mainly for my son to use. I wanted to test it myself, and possibly write a review in the future issue of the Surfcaster’s Journal Magazine. But I wasn’t willing to strip the 12 lb mono and fill it with braid. Not only because I was pressed for time but because I feel that my son can use some give of the mono.

My problem was, I forgot what that feels like…

Last time I used mono on the spinning rod was at least ten years ago, probably more. To be perfectly honest, I could not tell you what does it feel to fish with it.

But I was going to find out …

Murphy’s Law states that if something can go wrong it usually will. This day there was a good heave coming into the inlet and crashing into the rocks. It was also a day of the full moon and wind has been blowing out of easterly direction for days.

Let’s put this together, easterly wind, full moon = astronomical high tides and swells coming from the ocean and crashing along the seawall. Why did I decide to go in my flip-flops and shorts instead of waders? Because I am stupid….any of you tried to navigate rocks in the crashing surf? In flip flops? ..I didn’t thinks so

But I thought hey, I can always move back into the inlet where water is calmer. But before I do that I have to make one cast into my honey-hole. After all, I didn’t drive half an hour to water to not make a cast into my favorite little rip. Besides, it was the best place around and if there was going to be any fish, this was the place. How can you test the reel without catching fish anyway ?

I got onto the seawall and looked into the water. The swells were coming from the ocean and crashing along the inlet rocks. It wasn’t your standard calm conditions that you are used to finding in the inlets but it didn’t look THAT bad. So I crawled down on my ass, just in time to see a large swells heading in my direction. Oh shit, I said to myself as I reversed the course and tried to crawl back up the rocks…did I mention I was in flip flops? I did managed to get high enough were my shirt was dry but the wave got my shorts, and underpants…!#$%& great. Haven’t made a cast and I am already soaked. But I am here, I am already wet so might as well cast.

I attached the bucktail to the clip and made a  cast with my trusty the 7 foot St Croix Legend. Except the cast felt weird…it was like casting a lure attached to a string spaghetti ..wtf !!!

I closed the bail and started to work a bucktail with a short twitch of the wrist. What is going on here? The bucktail is not responding the way I am used to. I have to lift my rod almost  two feet to replicate the action I get with a braid and a short twitch. Has it been that long since I used the mono that I forgot completely? I guess I did.

After about third crank I got a hit but because my lift was so high up I got no leverage to set a hook! Not for the lack of trying as I tried to drive the hook into the mouth with my rod now extended over my head. Then bang,bang,bang…I missed all three hits. I reeled the bucktail in and checked my hook, sharp as a tack. I let the bucktail sail and this time I changed my rod angle, keeping it pointed at the water while twitching. I figured this would give me more room upwards to set the hook with a spongy mono.

 Success ! I hook into the what I can tell immediately is a large bluefish as it breaks the surface and tries to spit a hook. Only this bluefish is well in excess of ten or twelve pounds, I am standing on the top of a seawall, looking at the frothy water underneath me, while holding for dear life to my seven foot rod and 12 lb test monofilament. How am I going to land this fish if I can bring it close without getting cut off on the rocks below? Did I forget to mention that I am wearing flip-flops? …oh man, this is not going too well

While bluefish is peeling the drag heading away from rocks my pocket is buzzing. Now what? I remembered that I put the phone in the buzzing mode because I did not thought I could hear the ring over the crashing surf. Should I attempt the fish it out of my soaking pants and possibly drop it in the rocks, never to see it again? Sure ,why not ? It could be President Obama looking for an advice of how to deal with Mideast crisis. Or even worse, it could be Da Wife telling me that I forgot to turn the dryer on….again. As if it takes less effort to push the ON button then to call me?

I was relieved to see “Lenny” on the caller ID. Lenny Ferro or “Silver Fox” as we like to call him is my occasional fishing partner and a hell of a surfcaster. We fish the same areas so we often run into each other and fish together, but we never call each other to chat about God, politics or weather even though both of us are ardent conservatives. We only talk when we got something “fishy” to say. So you could say this was an call I just could not let go into the voicemail box.

I pressed “TALK” with one hand while holding onto St Croix with a very pissed off bluefish on the other end. Lenny informed me he was on the beach about five hundred yards to the west killing big bluefish on pencil poppers. Not one under ten pounds and some pushing over 15 pounds. I thanked him for the information and informed him of my predicament to which he replied “got to go, got another fish on”. You got to admire a man who makes a call while casting, working a pencil popper and hooking up without missing a beat!

Now it was time to concentrate on task at hand. The bluefish was getting tired but as we all know, never surrendering. I finally got it within ten feet of the rocks but I knew that if I brought it any closer that I am risking a change of monofilament touching a rock and snapping off. Losing a fish wasn’t really what bothered me but the thought of losing my favorite bucktail was freaking me out.

I timed the waved and leaned on the fish hard while at the same time jumping down the rocks to the water’s edge. If I could grab a 50 lb leader and lift the fish before the next set arrive I might be able to get out of this predicament without any further damage. I muscled the fish towards the rocks, putting a bend into my St Croix Legend that I did not though was possible. I was almost home free, the bluefish ,still trashing, was at the base of the rocks. Because I use a short leader however I had a hard time reaching it so I decided to pull on the monofilament and lift the fish onto the rock. Bad idea!

part two tomorrow

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