Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From The Wheelhouse
This past week fishing overall was good, when the weather cooperated. Blackfish catches continued to please fishermen with offshore 17 fathoms still going strong. Party boats out of Sheepshead Bay also had the first mackerel catches of the year.
Along the Rockaway beaches, stripers, mostly schoolies were still being caught by those hearty enough to stand on the beach. You have to agree it is so far a mild winter. Water temperatures in the bay are around 42 degrees and maybe two to five degrees higher offshore.
With a little bit of a lull on the fishing scene, I'll take some time and give some reviews, Intel, and opinions on ''matters of consequence'' relevant to fishing. ''MATTERS OF CONSEQUENCE'', being a line from the book The Little Prince, whose author Antoine de Saint Exhupery wrote while residing on the beach in Ashroeken, NY, some time back. It's a good read for both young and old alike. I recommend it.
We fishermen are always being involved with such lofty and cerebral conversations that are the very nature of our enthusiasm for the sport. I can discuss fish with kings, queens, and heads of state but prefer fish burnouts. MATTERS OF CONSEQUENCE:
Choosing the right rod for the type of fishing at hand can be a little perplexing to the novice, so taking the advice of the infamous ''L.B.", I will try to shed some light on this, "L.B.". You may ask what or who is an L.B., well that's another story for another day. L.B.'s legend and persona will be revealed as he frequents this column.
In lieu of the fact that most anglers are bottom fishing this time of year, I'll discuss some of the blackfish rods that we use aboard the Karen Ann. A good blackfish rod needs several characteristics. It needs to be capable of handling sinkers in the 4-12 ounce range, it needs to have the sensitivity to telegraph a hit, the backbone to not only set the hook in depths of 100 plus feet but lift the fish quickly off the bottom.
A rod is best described as an extension of the person using it. Therefore it's something you should be comfortable with, comfort being derived from your feel for the rod, you like it, it ''feels good''. Rods are very personable items, like any athletic equipment you wear say a baseball glove or a tennis racket; you need to be involved with its selection.
Blackfish sharpies (who should not be confused with Shar Pei, although spending a few winters on the deck of a boat may add some wrinkles) are a whole cult of anglers in and of themselves .They usually have custom built rods, sidewinder reels, they are an entire species of Angler fanaticus, I think it's a Darwin thing.
Let's discuss some popular blanks.
I have both custom and stock sticks on board. I select different rods depending on water depth and bottom structure. The first is a Shimano muskie series rod. I like this rod in shallow water; it has a sensitive tip and enough spine to do some damage when hook setting. For a reel or crank as I refer to them on this stick, I'll go with a small Newell 220, Penn, or something along those models.
Line is another personal matter. Some fishermen prefer mono in skinny water while some stay with the braids and synthetics. I go with the newer lines .I like the sensitivity and it just ''feels good'' to me. That set up also can move laterally, meaning it can be used for bassin and similar applications, something to be considered before buying.
Moving up a bit in rod length, price and strength is the Calstar #800L. I originally bought the rod off the rack, and have built some from the blank up. Either way they're a good stick. It comes as an 8' rod and that's a factor when transporting, or storing, however an eight-footer is nice on a head boat, it gives you that little edge, and any edge is a good thing. It's a good rod, I use it or should say used to use it, until Richie rod napped it. I see the rod perform every day and it's a hammer job. "Hammer Job''?
That's another piece of fish verbiage that's in vogue this season. Hip Hop and rap ain't got a thing on us fisherman; we've been talking our own language for some time now. On this rod a more robust reel is needed such as the Newell 322, Avet SX, and the Daiwa Saltiga 30. Some other rods that should be looked at are the Lamiglas Triflex series. They are composite rods which blend the characteristics of both fiberglass and graphite. This marriage gives a stiff yet forgiving rod. Seeker also has some rods that might appeal to you.
Hopefully I have given a good sample of rods for this particular fishery. Keep in mind there is no gospel in these choices. I learn something new every day and as you mature in your fishing experience so will you.
Till next time, "Tight Lines'.