Fishing Report: Summer blues
Bluefish: the New England piranha, yellow-eyed devil, gear-wrecking gator… and the most underrated angling experience ever.
The bluefish is a pelagic fish that is found everywhere in the world except the Northern Pacific. Here in New England, we see cyclic populations come through with year to year. Some anglers want them some don’t — it’s a love/hate relationship for the ages, really. When fishing slow, the bluefish bends the rod and keeps things interesting and praised. “At least there’s bluefish’ has been uttered by every single New England angler at some point. That same angler has also bellowed, “Those damn bluefish!” as many times, especially after perfectly casting a $25 custom needlefish past the second wave break to the spot a monster bass is waiting, only to feel the strike and have the line go limp from the precision strike of a bluefish snipping the line with their razor-sharp teeth.
We love to hate them, but love when we can catch them.
Pound for pound it’s hard to find a better fighting fish. Being prepared for the fight will save you time, energy, gear, and money. The bluefish is known for teeth. Razor sharp choppers that can destroy plugs and hooks and bite through leaders. So, when bluefish are around like they are now, change your leader material to a knot-able wire rated above 36 pounds. This multi-strand wire will assist in keeping your favorite lure from being snatched from you and will ultimately land you your fish. Remove all the treble hooks from you lure and replace the tail hook with a single inline hook. This has a couple benefits; first is safety — bluefish tend to freak out when they come aboard a boat or the beach and the fewer hooks flailing about the better for you — and the fish. Second is ease of release — a single inline hook on the tail makes releasing the fish much easier compared to a treble hook. Third — removing the belly hooks and using a single tail hook allows you lure to become an additional bite guard, distancing the teeth from your line, as well as a making it a handle to pull the fish on the boat or beach.
Lure choice isn’t hard — pretty much anything will work when they are around. Top water lures are by far the most fun to use since the angler gets to see the strike and watch bluefish maraud the lure at the surface. The fight of a bluefish is immediately recognizable. Spastic, darting, long hard runs, head shakes and the occasional jump out of the water are signature moves. It’s important tot have the reel drag set moderately high and to keep the rod tip up. When the fish nears the beach or boat be prepared for at least one more run. And when its time to land the fish, gloves are recommended as well as pliers or hook remover to remove the hook.
Several restaurants serve bluefish is some form. Smoked bluefish, bluefish paté, blackened and grilled… if it’s on the menu, it’s fresh and try it. You won’t be disappointed. We urge our clients to try it when they catch them. The bluefish around Block Island aren’t dining on bunker and other oily baitfish, therefore they don’t taste fishy. They eat squid, porgy, and seabass — and when caught and handled right, are delicious food. Blues must be bled out after being caught, done with a slice behind the gills, and kept cool. When filleted, remove the bloodline and you’re ready for the grill or oven.
Catch ’em up!