Saturday, January 19, 2013

Glossary of terms

So, I thought this might be useful for friends and family who really are clueless about the type of fishing that we do.  It's going to be an ongoing project which will continually be updated.  Any seasoned fishers reading this are welcome to make suggestions or corrections. We will link back to this page from our posts.   

lure - usually made of wood, metal, or plastic.  often but not always designed to look like live bait when  reeled.
bait - some form of sea creature attached to a hook.  (could include gulp products in this category, that's up for debate)
tube-n-worn (T&W) - a lure/ bait.  A surgical tube with metal through it, a hook on the end with a worm on the hook.
snappers - blue fish under 10" (?)
racers - skinny spring  bluefish 20" and up
gators - over 30" bluefish
cocktail - 10" to 20" bluefish
fluke - summer flounder
rockfish - striped bass
stripers - go figure
jighead - a hook with a weight attached where the line attaches to it.
Bucktail (BT) - a jighead with bucktail hairs (from the ass of a damn deer) attached to it.
jig-n-pig - a bucktail with a piece of pork rind (skin of a damn pig) on the hook.
dirty- often after a storm when the water clarity is low
clean - when the water clarity is high
out front - the surf, the beach
out back - the bay/ estuary (for old ladies)
bomber - a swimming plug (lure) perhaps the only lure necessasry
plug - a lure
teaser - a fly that is attached from a dropper loop in front of the main lure
conventional reel - a reel like a winch which cranks the line on directly.
spinning reel - a reel which changes the direction of the line as it winds it
braid - fishing line made from fibers, (string) lighter and stronger than monofiliament
mono - monofilament, a plastic based fishing line
fast snap - a paper clip type snap which is usually very strong that allows one to slip on and off different lures with ease.
metal - lures which are mostly metal, like hopkins, or kastmasters
kgb - the russian
trolling- using the boat to control the action of the lure
jigging - usually in a drift (moving slowly with the current) bounciing a lure just off of the bottom of the water.  Boring but effective.
popper - a lure which creates a splash and a blooping sound and shifts from left to right intended to look to a predator like an injured fish.  Probably the most exciting way to catch a fish.
swimmer - a lure which when reeled (or trolled) has a swimming action (left and right) of it's own.  the depth is usually determined by the lip.
ava - a skinny metal lure with a curly rubber tail
skunk - when nothing is caught
spooled - when a fish or boat or snag takes all of or most of your line off of your reel

Sunday, January 6, 2013

"Night Tides" Book Review: By Steve Evans

    Many people think that those who become legends do so by some perceived mythology of accidental talent, percipient genius, and specialized powers of magical and clairvoyant intuition. For most who espouse this viewpoint it probably has a certain comfortable neatness. But what if  the truth is that greatness is available to anyone, only the catch is: first you must set your sights on one specific and potentially unattainable goal, second you must pursue this goal doggedly and obsessively over thousands of hours and over years sacrificing any semblance of rest and comfort and normalcy and third you must conceal the fruits of your labor to protect the integrity of your work? There is no doubt that the subject of  Michael G. Cinquemani's portrait "Night Tides: the Striper Fishing Legend of Billy the Greek" exemplifies the latter view in his pursuit of the world's record striped bass or that in the game of catching the largest members of this species he has few peers.
      "We left the dock that morning with one hundred beautiful fresh bunker-- packed in saltwater ice in two 150 gallon igloos-- and a hundred gallons of gas.....We also had a few thermoses of coffee, a couple of heroes from my friends deli and a bag of Ring Dings." Billy "the Greek" Legakis is quoted at length in the book not short on subjects ranging from the excesses in fishing which lead to the great decline in the nineteen-eighties, to the habits of very large fish, to the best way to carry heavy fish off the beach. Neither is he reticent when it comes to talking cold numbers "....over eighteen hundred hours on or at the water each and every year." "....catching three, four, five thousand bass a season, sometimes more." Spelled out within his commentary are the core values which drive his approach to fishing and which are a boon to any fisherman willing to make some sacrifices. For the Greek it goes something like this: to catch the largest members of the species with consistency you must learn the fish and it's environment completely; study tides, moon phases, and weather and how they operate concurrently to determine where your quarry will be and the most productive method of taking them; know the bait as well as you know the targeted fish; and lastly do all of this concentrating on a small number of locations, a small enough number of spots so that you can know them cold and observe and document how they fish under a variety of circumstances.
      Doesn't sound too difficult does it? But knowing the fish and knowing the water are only half of Billy the Greek's  game. The rest is the hard part. There are no shortcuts! You gotta be there when the bite is on whatever time day or night whatever else is going on in the world and if the fish aren't there when and where you thought they would be then you've got to adjust your plan until you get it right however long it takes. Fisherman always talk about "putting in the time" and for the subject of the book that means 250 days a year some of which might be 24/7 stretches of hardcore fishing under all kinds of weather, pitted against cold and fatigue.
      The author of the book sets himself up craftily as a foil, a sort of fishing "everyman" against Billy the Greek's mad drive, determination and toughness. And the picture he paints from this standpoint is significant. Striped bass are nuanced in their habits, they are selective about baits, they prefer to feed at night and will often feed at short intervals in specific locations during a brief window of time and then move off. Also it would be fair to say that the book's protagonist drives the point home that these subtle behaviors increase with the size of the fish. In short: striped bass, especially big striped bass (and when Billy the Greek talks big fish he means 40lbs. and up) are not easy fish to catch in the first place and doing so with any consistency requires a time commitment and sacrifice which most people simply are not capable of.
      The book supplies ample evidence, including quite a few photos of some gargantuan fish, to contend that the reports of  casual fisherman and weekend warriors and the weigh-ins at local tackle shops are not true barometers for the state of striped bass. Furthermore these anglers focus on species which require the least amount of effort and are the easiest to catch and those fisherman who do catch stripers are for the most part not catching the larger and more elusive fish. Most importantly "Night Tides" makes it clear that guys like Billy the Greek are very quiet about what they are doing enjoying their triumphs in solitude and self satisfaction. "Do you know how many times I read that all the fish being caught are in the 'teens,' or 'low twenties' --and then go out and catch thirties and forties? Or that there are no big fish around any more-- none-- and I land a fifty before the ink is dry on the reports."
      The image painted of Billy "the Greek" Legakis in "Night Tides" is one of a fisherman with unwavering determination in pursuit of his goal: to catch the world's record striped bass, and his methods as presented by the book are tailored to this purpose. The narrative of the book punctuated by quotations from the Greek himself is fascinating, thrilling, and bewildering but also inspiring and informative. For the fisherman who is able to look at the big picture and read between the lines the book holds many jewels.
      The Greek represents a rare breed of fisherman and really a rare breed of person specific in his goals and inconceivably determined to meet them. So what I take from the book and what I think is most relevant in my choice to review it here on "fishing in the Dark" is this: define your goals and be specific. For some a keeper bass might be a goal, for others a personal best fish on a specific lure or on a fly rod or from the surf. Some are limited by the time they can spend on the water, some (though it pains me to say it) refuse to fish at night. So if you determine your goals based on your own limitations, if you are willing to be realistic about your goals and if you can push yourself a little further and tailor your methods to meet your objective and learn a little each time you fish and apply that knowledge over time then you are well on your way to meet those goals.