Thursday, December 30, 2010

Rigging for King Mackerels : Part One

If you ever spend much time on an Outer Banks fishing pier ,  you're likely to see a bunch of questionable looking guys standing at the very end of the pier. This group of misfits will be surrounded by extra large fishing poles , coolers , carts and buckets. They are likely to be drinking beer , talking loudly and getting sunburned. They almost look like they're just pretending to fish.

Then it happens. One of the big reels starts screaming as a large fish takes the bait and heads out to sea. The fishermen spring into action , pulling up rods and rigs. Somebody gets out a rope gaff. The lucky angler concentrates on reeling in his catch and is rewarded with a 40 pound class King Mackerel. It happens more often than you might think and I swear we're not riff-raff.

In the summer months it's possible to catch Kings and Cobia from the piers on the OBX . Most people think of kings as an inshore species , and indeed there are a lot more caught from boats than from the piers , but with the right gear it is possible to catch them from the end of a pier. All of the Outer Banks piers reserve the very end for just this purpose in the summer.

It takes a lot of gear to fish from a pier for kings. I mean a lot. For starters , you're going to need two rods for the king rig itself and a third to catch bait with. The two for the rig need to be big surf rods , capable of holding 300+ yards of line. You can just use a bass rod to catch bait. We'll get into specifics about bait buckets , carts and gaffs over the next few weeks. For today , let's focus on the basics of the two-rod rig.

At the heart of the " Pin Rig " for kings is the anchor rod. The anchor rod is just what it sounds like - it's a rod with an anchor on it. You use a nail or grapnel sinker tied to a shock leader and tie it on your farthest casting rod.

The purpose of this sinker is to hold your anchor line in place. Once it's holding well and as far away from the pier as you can get it , you attach a release to the anchor line that will hold the swivel at the top of your king rig.

The releases shown are made from spring wire. These are made by bending a piece of spring wire in half , putting a snap swivel in the bend and adding beads and weight. Once this is done you bend the wire at right angles to the sinker to make a release. There are several variations available that have lighter wire and heavier sinkers , and those are normally a personal preference.

The king rigs are actually pretty simple. They are basically a 2-4 ft. piece of bronzed wire leader with a combination of hooks on it. Some people like 2 single hooks , some like a single and a treble and some like a single , a treble and a treble " stinger ". This big mess of hooks is for hooking large baitfish , one hook behind the head and one in the tail. This is usually attached to a couple of feet of 80 lb. mono , and then to a swivel which attaches to the leader on your main line.

The swivel goes onto the release , a piece of bait is hooked up and the rig is sent to the top of the water. Different people like to fish at different depths , but 4-5 feet is a good depth to start at. Once a king has taken the bait , the rig pops off of the release and the fight is on!

I'll get into more specifics next time. Have a great weekend and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Blitzing Bluefish

It's cold and windy here today and I have a touch of cabin fever. I like to browse videos of warmer days and people fishing when it's too cold for me to get out on the water myself. Most of you have probably seen me mention Bluefish Blitzes here on the blog before because they are one of my favorite fish to catch. Hopefully the following videos will help you understand why.

From the Outer Banks during the 90's :

From the Cape Cod National Seashore ( :

That's the kind of fishing I dream about! A Got-cha lure thrown to those fish would only last a few seconds. Good times!

Have a great week!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas from Something's Fishy!

It has to be pretty d@mn cold for a river to freeze....

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and that the New Year will treat you well. I've been on the road , visiting family and friends , and I have a few pictures I'd like to share.

First up is a couple of shots of the Greenbrier River near Hinton , WV. I think it's too cold to fish!

The Greenbrier River - Iced in!

Almost frozen...

Notice the "Cut" for the trains.

A few from my Grandparent's farm. I love it up there.

From the house.
An old " Mowing Machine " , could be what was used when my Pa first started farming.

There is a small pond behind the fence that is full of small catfish , bass and bluegill.
The barn.

A small family of cats has recently taken up residence in the loft and are being fed.

The poor old cow is close to giving birth.

Chow time !

Merry Christmas from Something's Fishy!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Best of 2010 from Something's Fishy

Apparently , I've been accepted into the elite group of Outdoor Bloggers over at Outdoor Blogger Network! A big " Thank You!" goes out to the folks that maintain OBN and help the rest of us get noticed. What I want to do here today is recap what's happened on Something's Fishy this year so new readers will have a place to start. The holidays are fast approaching and I'll be busy with friends and family , so the blog will probably be slow until after the first of the year. Welcome to Something's Fishy OBN!

My main goal here at Something's Fishy will always be to help people get started fishing in the surf. It can be intimidating for beginners so I try to write simple and easy to follow how to guides that will help you catch fish during your next trip to the beach.

The Basics :

Choosing a Surf Rod a short guide to help you decide which rod will work best for the type of fishing you plan to do.

Braving the Elements you'll probably get rained on if you spend any amount of time surf fishing.

8 Things I Wouldn't Go Fishing Without a few things you'll need at the beach.

Making Your Own Rigs one of my most popular articles here on the blog , this is a must read for anyone wanting to surf fish.

5 Fishing Knots I Use Often saltwater anglers have to use a few different knots most freshwater fishermen aren't familiar with because of the heavier lines.

" Cut Bait " Explained the best bait to use in the surf.

Reading the Beach  how to find the fish.

Deciding When to Go Fishing best times to be at the beach.

Driving on The Beach a must read for anyone wanting to drive out onto the sand.

The Fish :

Bottom Fishing - The Usual Suspects some of the most common catches here on the East Coast.

The Bluefish one of my favorite fish to catch!

The Red Drum , Part One a hard fighting game fish.

The Red Drum , Part Two how to rig for Reds.

Honorable Mention : goes to my friend and fellow OBN blogger Owl Jones for the following two guest articles. I've heard he gets a lot of honorable mention awards?

Basic Fly Fishing , Part One for those of us who don't fly fish.

Basic Fly Fishing , Part Two reading a trout stream.

We're hoping to get some more great articles from Owl after the first of the year and hopefully we'll have some more over on his blog.

Thanks again to OBN for accepting us into the Outdoor Blog directory and thanks to all of my regular readers. Stay tuned for an article about live baiting for King Mackerel and Cobia from a pier that I'll (hopefully) get to after the holidays.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hatteras Fishing from 1947

I rarely ever post two blog articles on the same day , but this was just too cool. It's a fishing video from back in the day and it shows that not much has changed in the way anglers fish for Channel Bass.

I wish I had cool music like that playing in the background when I fish....

Mercury in Fish

First off , I am not an expert on mercury in fish and it's affects on the human body so don't take what follows as sound medical advice. It's my opinion and that's it.

Update: A Clinical Researcher has been snooping around the blog ;) Go HERE for his latest research , which is very well done. Thanks Albert!

I'm sure there are certain people who really need to avoid fish because of mercury ( pregnant women , young children and the elderly? ) , but for most of us I think eating fish is perfectly OK. There are some species that it is recommended to limit your intake of and I respect that. Look here for the FDA's recommendation for pregnant women and children and here for information about mercury levels in commercially available fish.

The purpose of this short blog post is not to dispute the dangers of consuming too much mercury , but rather to encourage you to eat some of what you catch. I know people who do not eat any of the fish they spend time and money trying to catch , but will eat fish from a restaurant. Truthfully , there is probably more mercury in some of the fish served in restaurants than there is in a few croakers or flounder. I think this mindset keeps a lot of people from fully enjoying the sport.

It's always a good feeling to eat something that you have caught yourself. I've always enjoyed the whole process , from catching fish to cleaning them and cooking them. You can find some of my recipes on the recipe page here on the blog and see some of the stuff you'll need to cook fish in my Amazon Store .

Unless you're fishing in a body of water that has specific " Do Not Eat " warnings for the fish that can be caught there , I highly recommend trying a few. Smaller fish will generally have less mercury than their larger cousins , so keep that in mind if you have concerns. Top tier predators like sharks and swordfish usually have more , so you may want to avoid them.

It all comes down to what you're comfortable with. I've always subscribed to the " Everything in Moderation " philosophy , so I do eat a lot of the fish I catch. I still haven't turned into a thermometer!

Do some reading if you still have doubts and make an informed decision. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how delicious fresh caught fish really is!

A good "eating size" Striped Bass

Have a great week!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Chew on This

Today I'd like to share a couple of fishing videos from Captain Ben Chancey from Chew on This fishing. You can see more by visiting and 

This is Goliath Grouper fishing at it's finest!


And to give you an idea of how powerful these fish are :

Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Favorite Saltwater Lure

I've used a bunch of different lures over the years for a ton of different species. Everything from tiny hair jigs for trout and crappie to gigantic swim baits and plugs for bass and stripers. I won't say I've tried them all , but I've certainly used more than most people. Bucktails , spinnerbaits , topwater plugs , spoons and just about anything else you can think of have all been on my line at some point. I'm not proud of it either , since a lot of lures seem to catch more fishermen than they do fish.

The idea behind lures is simple : use bits of hair ,  metal and plastic to make something that closely resembles things that fish normally eat in their natural environment. The lure is tied on , cast out and reeled in. The weight and shape of the lure , combined with a diving lip or concave shape , come together to give the lure " action " that attracts strikes from predatory fish. Some lures are simpler still , requiring the angler to twitch and shake the lure in order to fool the fish.

Some of the new lure designs are super realistic , looking like a real baitfish when they are in the water. Others look nothing like a baitfish at first glance , relying on the hands of a skilled angler to jerk and jiggle the lure to life. This last category of lure has always been my favorite. They normally provoke an instinctual strike from the fish. These lures are generally fished fairly fast so the fish don't have time to think about it. The combination of a fast moving lure and a fish who's primitive brain is telling it to " Eat Now " often leads to explosive fishing.

If I was limited to only using one lure and only having one color of that lure , I would have to choose the Red/White 1 ounce Got-cha lure from Sea Striker. Hands down , no complaints , that's the lure I would choose. Why? It's simple - they work and they work really well. I can't put a number on the amount of fish I've caught with this lure , but it would run well into the thousands. If there are a lot of bluefish around , it's nothing to catch 50 or even 100 fish in a single day with this lure. You can find out more about how to rig this lure by reading an article I wrote over at Flyfishing the Southern Blue Ridge . You can find my article here.

Of course no one is capable of convincing me to take just one lure when I go fishing , so don't worry about my Got-chas getting lonely. I have them in most sizes and a bunch of different colors. As I mentioned above the Red/White is my all time favorite , but there are other colors that work just as well. We all know fish can be finicky , so it pays to have a few options when it comes to color. Yellow/White , Light Blue/White , Red/Black , Red/Chartreusse , Red/Gold , Red/Silver and Pink/Pink are all good choices that have produced fish for me in the past. The newer designs with mylar inside of a clear body work well , as does the new " Electric Chicken " pattern Sea Striker put out last year.

Anyone want to clean out my tackle box?
Give them a try sometime , if you haven't already. Got-chas are great for blues and Spanish Mackerels and they also catch a lot of fish. I've seen just about everything caught on them , citation pompanos , doormat flounder and 40 pound stingrays in just a week this past summer.

Just remember to use a leader and fish them fast. I like to keep them shallow enough that I can see them and watch the fish come after them.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Basic Fly Fishing Series , Article Two : Reading a Trout Stream

Our friend Jeff " Owl " Jones is back with another great article intended to help you catch more fish on your local trout water! Be sure to check out his websites linked below for more great info and also the forums if you want to get in on the trout fishing action!

                                           They Call Me Fishlips

Alright, who took all the trout? 

Getting into anything new has challenges and fly fishing is no exception. Especially when you choose to get into fly fishing for trout in rivers. The water looks confusing and intimidating, and the trout? Well, who knows where they are? Almost every angler feels this way when they stalk clumsily up their first trout stream. It's easy to find yourself standing in a river, looking around you at all the water and wondering just what in the world you're doing out there; not a clue where to cast or where the fish might be. I'm going to try and help you out with that aspect of the sport because although it's been a long time now since my early days on the creeks stalking trout, the frustration and "head scratching" seems like it was just last week. You'll frequently find me lamenting my lack of "good luck" on my blog - so don't feel like you're the only frustrated angler out there chasing trout, whether you're really new or you've been at it for decades. Every dog has his day, ya know? And now,....

The first thing you need to know is that trout always "face upstream." The second thing you need to know is that trout don't always "face upstream." You can count on 99% of the trout you're fishing over facing upstream, but if you get a "curl" or "backwards eddy" or "swirl pool" on one side of the river or the other, there may be trout facing straight downstream...yet still with their trouty little noses into the current. But let me stick to the old adage first things first...

When you look at a trout stream, what do you see? Flowing water - some of it forming bumpy "runs." Some of it forming long, slick pools. And some of it dropping it's way from rock to rock forming "pocket water." There's other types of trout water( including those back eddies), but for now we'll stick to these three. 

Assuming the trout are facing upstream, where you look for them - and where you cast - will depend on a couple of other factors including if there are any bugs hatching or fish rising, and what type of trout inhabit the stream you're fishing. Brook trout like slow water, and you'll rarely find them in the faster "runs." Rainbows love the faster, bumpy "runs" and pocket water, too if it's got enough spunk. Rainbows steer clear of the slow water that brookies love. Brown trout share the same love of slow water that Brook trout do, but (at least in the Southeast) seem to hold closer to the "seam" where fast water and slow water meet. ( Usually in the area of a "run." )

If you want to, you can use the old saying " think like a fish" to determine where they might be with this knowledge. Let's assume there are all three species in your river or creek. You step up to the first pool and notice it's a slick, deep pool but it's upper end is a little bumpy and faster flowing. You can tell by the speed at which the water is leaving the shallow shelf and flowing down into the bumpy head of the run that it's moving fairly fast at that point and slowing as it spreads out into the wider pool. 

Where would the rainbows be? That's right, along the banks in the slower water. ( If that was your answer, you should avoid playing the lottery this week. ) Of course the rainbows will be in the faster water, even if it's only marginally faster than the water 1/2 way down the pool. They like it deep and fast, like a southern fried chicken meal. The browns and brook trout, if they're there - will be along the edges where the water is slower, but where they can still pick off aquatic insects tumbling down through the fast water. That is, unless it's late spring, summer or early fall when both browns and brookies may line up along the banks in wait for the buffet of beetles, ants and other bugs that fall into the water. They could even be near the back, almost at the "lip" of the pool as it flows over into the next be careful stalking the pool and run! Don't forget to try and get a cast or two into the back end of the area before casting further up into the pool. Casting over a trout with a fly line is a pretty good way to make them "nut up" and go streaking up the run...warning every  other trout in the pool that there's danger nearby! 

The other thing I want to touch on is something I mentioned earlier - "seams." A "seam" is where faster water from a run or short pocket beside a rock runs alongside slower water to form a sometimes nearly invisible edge. The trout like to hold near these seams, sometimes(to our eyes) right under them....they can spend less energy holding in a feeding area, but zip out to get anything passing by that looks like it might make a nice meal with little effort. The seams are where you'll find the fish that are looking up also as insects hatching and dying in the water will naturally be pushed toward the edge of this faster water where hungry trout are waiting just out of bounds to dart in for the kill. 

Below is a simple illustration of the different parts of a stream that I've been talking about and where you should expect trout to be. Hopefully, this will help you to identify the areas on the streams you fish that will hold the most trout. And if they aren't there, then you might want to just tie on a "searching fly" like a Stimulator and cast all over the place until you can put together a pattern - because they aren't always where they're supposed to be. But that's why they call it "goin' fishing" and not "goin' catching!"

By Jeff " Owl " Jones from They Call Me Fishlips

Monday, November 29, 2010

Reading the Beach

A big reason some surf anglers are so successful is that they are able to " Read " the beach to find fishy looking areas. The sheer size of the ocean is almost always intimidating to beginners when they are first learning to spot some of the features that make certain spots good for fishing. It takes a lot of practice and a trained eye to be able to find productive holes every time. There is also a whole lot of trial and error involved until you learn to read the beach well. It's also possible to find a good looking spot that just isn't holding any fish.

One good way to learn is by asking other anglers you see on the beach. I certainly don't recommend setting up and trying to fish a hole that someone else has found , but most fishermen will be happy to point out some of the features that made a particular spot look good to them. Some smaller "holes" can be ruined if too many people try to fish them , resulting in tangled lines and flaring tempers.

There are several things you can look for that will increase your chances of finding the fish. It's always a good idea to scout for holes during low tide , because the sand bars and outflows will be easier to see and you can get a better idea of where to place your bait when you're ready to fish.

To get started , you'll need to figure out where the sand bar is. The location of the bar plays a critical role in figuring out where the fish might be. If it's in close fish are likely to be behind it chasing bait fish into the shallow water on top of the bar , further out and fish could be holding between the bar and the beach. Waves are constantly rearranging things and holes can show up and then disappear over the course of a week , especially if a storm system comes through that really churns the surf up. Most of the time you can locate the bar by paying close attention to where the waves begin to break as they come in. As the waves cross over the bar , the shallower water causes them to cave in on themselves once the base of the wave can no longer support the top. Wikipedia has a fairly decent article about wave dynamics here , if you're interested in the science behind waves.

Once you have a general idea of where the bar is you can start looking for other features that might make the area more appealing to the fish. When the bar is farther out , it creates an area of deeper water between the bar and the beach that can often hold fish. Another important thing to look for are the outflows. Outflows are areas where a break in the bar allows water from the surf to go back out to sea. Also known as rip currents , these breaks are where fish will come in to feed in the surf. Fish will also lay to the right or left of an outflow feeding on smaller fish and crustaceans pulled out to sea by the current. It is often very productive to place your bait on either side of an outflow. A good indicator of a stretch of beach with a break in the bar is an area where the waves aren't breaking , but are breaking north and south. This usually indicates a break in the bar.

You can also look at the sand on the beach to get an idea of what's going on underwater. Areas with coarse , almost gravel like sand and lots of pieces of seashell washed up are often near deeper holes that may be holding fish. You can also look up and down the beach and find areas where the wind and waves have created points that stick out into the water a little bit further than the beach on either side of them. Sometimes the more subtle differences will have a big effect on the fishing.

Hopefully that will help you get started. I am by no means an expert on reading the beach , but that covers some of the basics. You can find a good article that covers some more of the features you need to look for here.

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving

I'd like to wish all my regular readers a Happy Thanksgiving from Something's Fishy. I hope your day is filled with good friends , good food and good times. For those of you traveling over this long holiday weekend , be safe!

I have a lot to be thankful for this year. First and foremost would be my amazing wife and my beautiful children and all the other members of my family. Second would be all of the great friends I've made over the years. Third belongs to something that's fairly recent in my life , I'm very thankful for all of the wonderful people who have taken time to read what I write here on the blog. I honestly don't think I would continue to post these articles and ramblings if no one read them. I sincerely hope everyone enjoys reading them as much as I enjoy writing them and tinkering with the blog. I'll get back to the meat and potatoes of my blog starting next week with more articles that (I hope) will help you catch more fish.

Until then , take time to enjoy this holiday with your family and friends and show your loved ones how much you appreciate them.

A Virginia Beach Sunrise
On Hatteras Island Fishing Pier in Rodanthe, NC 2010

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  ~Thornton Wilder

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Deciding When to Go Fishing

I've heard the question " When is the best time to go surf fishing? " many times. The simplest answer is : go when you can , but there are several factors you can use to determine when you might have a greater chance of success , just in case you have a tight schedule. Keep in mind that what follows is my opinion based on my experience and observations. Most anglers have their own theories on the best times to go and there are a wide range of opinions on this subject.

Perfect fishing conditions for me would be an overcast day with a slight chance of rain , winds out of the northeast at a steady 5 miles per hour and high tide occurring somewhere between nine and ten o'clock in the morning. I'd also like the moon to be somewhere between new and half , but I don't worry about the moon phase as much when I'm fishing in the ocean. On a day like this , I would arrive around seven o'clock , catch bait and have everything rigged and ready to go ASAP. I would definitely fish until noon and maybe later , depending on what the fish were doing.

Overcast days have always worked well for me. I think there are several reasons why , but I can't prove it. Your line is harder for fish to see when it is overcast and it minimizes shadows that can spook the fish. Most overcast days are also associated with a nearby low pressure weather system. I've heard theories about weather and fishing that go something like this : low barometric pressure makes fish feel less full so they are more likely to eat , high barometric pressure makes the fish feel full and less likely to eat. I'll let you make your own judgments about that , but I have seen first hand that fish will bite on rainy days and not at all on the following day after the storm has passed and high pressure has started to move in.

I've discussed the wind here on the blog before , but to sum it up northeast winds push warmer water and fish towards the shore. At speeds over 5-10 miles per hour it becomes increasingly difficult to cast and the surf will get noticeably rougher , making it harder to keep your bait in place.

Tides have a pretty significant influence on fishing conditions in my opinion. High and low tides are the result of the moon's gravitational pull on the water , so the position of the moon during its orbit around Earth dictates surf conditions. You can find out more here , but basically there will be more water in your fishing hole during high tide and less during low tide. Fish seem to come in during high tide. I don't know why exactly , but more water equals more fish. Regardless of the reasons behind why fish do what they do , I've always had good luck starting two hours before high tide and fishing until two hours after. There are some people that like to fish low tide the same way and I'm sure certain species of fish have a preference for feeding during low tide.

There is a great deal of information regarding fishing and the phases of the moon. The Old Farmer's Almanac and several other sources that offer calendars with " Best Fishing Days " use the lunar calendar to predict when the fish might be biting. I'm not much on fishing at night , but it can be really productive when the moon is full. This is the reason behind my statement above about preferring a new moon. Species of fish that are primarily sight feeders are less likely to be actively feeding at night under a new moon and more likely to be caught in the morning.

The bottom line is go fishing when you can. I wouldn't let the absence of any of the conditions discussed above stop me from going , but I would try to fit a trip into my schedule if the conditions were forecast to be just right.

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Antique Fishing Reels

Today I'd like to share one of my favorite websites with you ,

I have a fascination with antique reels and this site has some of the most amazing pictures of antique reels that I have ever seen.

I love to hear a good fishing story and some of the exploits of Ernest Hemingway and Zane Grey were truly legendary. features the type of equipment these guys used in what was probably the golden age of big game fishing. Seeing the reels and knowing that they were necessary to land the fish people caught back then makes it even more awe inspiring.

I'll let the web site speak for itself , as it is truly one of my favorites. I've spent a lot of time drooling over some of those beautiful , hand made reels. Be sure to check out the photo galleries!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Check Out Our New Pages!

I'm currently expanding the blog to include more content and make some of my more useful blog posts easier to find. I've made a few new pages that I think will improve the site and offer my readers more information.

If you're new to the blog or to saltwater fishing you should check out the page Getting Started. That's the quickest way I know of to get you started catching fish in the big drink and it will save you a lot of time because the really important articles for beginners are all in there.

If you want to see some of the other things I've written and posted on other websites , check out Something's Fishy on the Web. Not much there for now , but I'll be adding more soon.

Just in case you've already caught a bunch of fish and need ideas for what to do with them , you can find my recipe page here : Fish and Seafood Recipes. I love to cook and eat fish almost as much as I like to catch them , so there will be more recipes on there soon. I'm also accepting submissions at if anyone has any recipes they'd like to share.

I hope to have a more comprehensive list of links to sites I find useful and informative and also some that are just fun soon. The page is already up , but it will be empty for at least a few more days. You can find it here : Something's Fishy's Favorite Links.

Last , but not least , I have a new page where I'll keep my regular readers updated about changes and new features here on the blog. You can find it here : Changes to Something's Fishy

Thanks for being patient while I continue to add new things and improve the blog!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Basic Fly Fishing Series , Article One : Rod, Reel and Line

Today I'm featuring an article by trout fishing enthusiast Jeff " Owl " Jones. Owl specializes in fly fishing for trout in the southern reaches of the Blue Ridge Mountains. There is a great deal of good trout fishing information on his website and also on his blog. Jeff has been kind enough to do a series of articles for us here on Something's Fishy that cover some of the basic equipment and techniques you'll need to get started catching trout with a fly rod. Enjoy!

Basic Fly Fishing Series , Article One : Rod, Reel and Line

An old, fat goat trout bum once said (ahem) "Fly fishing isn't complicated. Figuring out fly fishing is what's complicated." And just why do people fly fish vs. spin fishing or even cane pole fishing? What's the reason? Why the funny vests and long, thin rods? Well, I don't have time to cover all of that for you here, but I can break down fly fishing into it's most basic parts which should give you an idea as to whether or not you want to pursue this thing further.  If this article sounds complicated and not worth the effort, you should probably take up gardening or golf instead of fly fishing. And now, we begin... 

Why do people "fly fish?" Well, in the most basic of terms you fly fish because the fish eat aquatic flies or as some in the sophisticated world of grown ups call them " Aquatic Insects" For our purposes here, we'll just call them flies. Trout eat flies. Bluegills and bass will eat a fly too. And while tarpon and bone fish don't eat aquatic insects, some ingenious person started tying "flies" that imitate baitfish and crabs and there ya go. Almost every conceivable type of fish can be caught on a "fly." Flies are what the fish eat, so flies are what fishermen try to feed them, with a sharp pointy thing attached. (Examples Here) To that end, it's not much different from baiting a treble hook with chicken liver and tossing it out for a catfish. Ah, but there is where fly fishing's complication first rears it's ugly head. You can't toss a "fly" to anything with conventional gear. Sure, you can use a "'casting bubble" to throw a fly to fish with a spinning rod and reel, but even then after the fly lands on the water you have no control of it - and trust me you do not want to leave the success or failure of your day's fishing to the river currents.  You want control. Thus, the " fly rod ". Usually a 7 foot to 12 foot rod built for casting a somewhat heavy(compared to mono) line and controlling that line once it's on the water. In fly fishing you're actually not casting the fly to the fish, no matter what I said earlier - you're casting the line. The fly just happens to follow along wherever the fly line leads it. Usually into some low hanging tree limbs or the back of your neck if it's windy.

The fat, thick, colored fly line can be wiggled and giggled in a number of ways in order to facilitate different casts, and once on the water can be thrown around (called "mending") to control the drift of the fly. Of course, you can't just tie a delicate inch long fly made of feathers and floss right to the end of a big, bulky, bright yellow line - so you need a leader and tippet. The leader tapers to a point and the "tippet" is a small diameter mono-filament that can be replaced as you change flies during the course of the day. This way, you're not eating into your leader, which costs about twice as much (or in some cases more) than your tippet material. You can even use mono-filament designed for ultra-light freshwater spinfishing in a pinch. 
There is a reel in fly fishing and you can buy extremely nice ones that have $200 bells and $300 whistles, but for the most part unless you're fishing saltwater or for really large bass, the reel does one thing. Quite simply, the reel holds the line until it's ready to be cast. It also doubles as a tool to play a big fish, as most reels today have quite effective drag systems. For small panfish and trout though, you can almost always play the fish with your hand holding the line, letting the rod do most of the work. 

There are other necessary and not-so-necessary tools and gadgets that the fly angler needs and although some are designed more to catch the fisherman than the fish the list of useful gadgets is about 1/4 mile long. Forceps, scissors, thermometers, zingers, nets, split-shot, indicators, get the idea. If you want to jump ahead of your fellow Something's Fishy reader you can check out the articles on gear and other things at the website. For now though, you've learned that a fly rod is long and thin because that's what's necessary to cast that heavy fly line and control it on the water - and that a reel is mostly just for holding the line until you need it. Next time, we'll get into where the trout might be in a river, how not to get around in a trout stream, and why in the world anyone would want to waste their time chasing 8 inch fish. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Choosing a Surf Rod

Anyone who has ever visited a Bass Pro Shops store or any other large retailer that sells fishing equipment is probably familiar with the dizzying assortment of rods for sale. There are tiny ultra-light rods for trout and panfish , giant surf rods that can be as much as fifteen feet long and everything in between. It can really be confusing for a beginner. Prices can vary from $15.00 to $20.00 for small generic rods all the way up to $1000.00 or more for handmade custom rods. It is possible to get nice rods that cast fairly well and hold up to the abuse most fishermen will put them through for a reasonable price.

When selecting a rod , the most important thing you can do is decide what type of fishing you plan to do with it. While it's possible to find rods that work well for several types of fishing , this is the exception rather than the rule. Most rods are designed for one particular style of fishing. Using equipment that is too small is a good way to destroy your gear and lose fish , and using rods that are too large can cause you to miss fish and take the fun out of fighting them.

I usually recommend that first time surf fishermen start out small by fishing with a bass rod from a pier. This allows you to get a taste of the way saltwater anglers catch fish without breaking the bank. With this setup it's possible to catch several different species on bait and also with lures.

Once you've decided that you just can't live without some dedicated saltwater gear , there are several factors that you'll need to consider. There are three general categories of surf/pier fishing. The first is just light duty bottom fishing for smaller species like the Spot , Northern Kingfish and a host of other species. Second would be the use of lures for Bluefish and fast swimmers like the Spanish Mackerel. Third and last would be the use of 10-12 foot rods to target large species such as Red Drums and sharks.

For light duty bottom fishing a good choice would be a seven to nine foot Medium or Medium Heavy action rod. I recommend going for a larger size rod simply because it is possible for larger fish to pick up your bait even if you aren't trying to catch them and the longer rod will be able to cast farther from the sand. You'll want a rod that is sensitive enough to pick up light bites from small fish like Spots , but with enough backbone to cast three ounces of weight.

Casting lures to Bluefish and Spanish Mackerels requires completely different gear. Because most lures for saltwater fish average 3/4 to 1 1/2 ounces , a lure rod doesn't need to be as heavy and bulky as a bait rod. I've had good experiences with $60.00 Shimano rods , but if it's in your budget there are a lot nicer rods out there. St. Croix offers several rod designs that would work quite well for throwing lures. These rods could also be used for light bottom fishing applications in a pinch , but personally I don't like to put my lure rods through the abuse caused by casting large sinkers. Whatever you decide to buy , make sure it is light enough and comfortable enough for you to be able to cast it for extended periods of time.

If you've decided to step up and try to catch something big , you'll need to invest in a " Heaver ". There are many different brands available and also a surprising number of shops that offer custom made surf rods. These rods are designed to cast up to eight ounces of weight and to handle fish that would ruin smaller rods. Even though the higher end custom rods can cost several hundred dollars , it's possible to get your foot in the door fairly cheap. A good choice for around $100.00 would be this Lamiglas Casting Rod . You can find them even cheaper , but I would be worried about their durability when casting heavy lead and fighting trophy sized fish.

It's best to shop for rods at an actual store instead of online unless you are buying a duplicate of a rod you already own. For me a big part of the decision is how the rod " feels ". There are several things that you just won't know about a fishing rod until you are able to get your hands on it.

Sensitivity is one thing that cannot be explained. If you can , tie a piece of fishing line to the rod tip and have a friend flick it. The most sensitive rods will transmit the vibrations from this to the palm of your hand. I really like sensitive graphite rods if I'm going to be fishing lures for fish , especially something like a bucktail or jig.

Another important thing to consider is the way the rod " Loads ". This is what happens when you begin your cast. As you start your cast , the tip of the rod loads from the weight of the lure or sinker. When you cast , the loaded tip of the rod whips forward adding distance to your cast. Lighter action rods are better if you plan to fish with small lures or light weights.

Just remember to choose your rods carefully. If you love to fish as much as I do , the purchase of good quality gear should be considered an investment.

The video below should give you an idea of how tough some of the more expensive heavers are and what they are capable of. It certainly explains why they can be so expensive.

The video is from the guys over at Hatteras Island Fishing Militia , you can find them here : There are several good videos there and also a wealth of information and reports about surf fishing. Be sure to check them out!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, November 8, 2010

I Love This Time of Year

Cell phone pictures are horrible.

Pictured above is a good friend of mine holding a nice Smith Mountain Lake Striped Bass. We got a chance to fish Saturday and even with brutal winds and heavy boat traffic we managed to catch the fish above. We also had several good runs , but lost the fish for whatever reason. The bait of choice was small Gizzard shad fished on down lines and free lines. Larger bait was holding deep and nearly impossible to catch , so I think the fishing would have been better with bait over six inches.

I have another trip planned for tomorrow and I'll try to get a report up Wednesday.

Now for some housekeeping. Many of you have probably noticed some changes to the layout and design here on the blog. I hope you've enjoyed the new pictures , I think the blog looks a lot better than it did without them.

Another thing you'll notice are orange links in the text of my posts. I'm going to start linking to products from and other sites that are relevant to whatever I'm discussing. I find that it is really helpful when trying to explain things to have an embedded link in the text to a picture of what I'm talking about.

I've also set up an Amazon " Store " that you can find here. It's certainly not going to rival Bass Pro Shops , but it is there as a resource for newcomers to saltwater fishing. Most of the products in there are things that I have used  , but there are a few that just caught my eye.

After I get this Striped Bass fever out of my system , I'll get back to writing about fishing. I have several articles planned that I think will be fun to do and helpful for beginners.

I'll be on the Gun Boat , if anyone needs me!

Have a great week!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fall Stripers

The fall Striper fishing here on Smith Mountain Lake has really been picking up over the past few weeks. The water is perfect right now at around 62 degrees and schools of bait and fish are everywhere. A good friend of mine just brought me a fish and a report.

This fish is just barely under the slot , but a good eating size. My friend reported that slot sized fish were busting on shad all around him for most of the morning's trip. Several schools of fish that went under his boat today were thick enough to " Black Out " his depth finder , a phenomenon that occurs when a school of fish is packed close enough together to make the depth finder read a false bottom. I expect these conditions to last well into December.

You can find out more about how we catch these fish here.

Have a great day!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Changes Here on the Blog

I'm shifting gears here on the blog for a while. I'll be working on the design and layout over the next few weeks. Now would be a great time for any of you who have experienced any difficulties with broken links or page loading problems to let me know here :

Another project I'm working on is hosting " Guest Posts " here on the blog. I've been working with trout fishing enthusiast Jeff " Owl " Jones and he has agreed to do a few articles about fly fishing basics. I'll also be doing a few about saltwater fishing over on his blog . In addition to his blog , Owl has a nice website with information about trout and fly fishing that also includes a good dose of humor. You can find it here : Blue Ridge Trout Bums. Keep an eye out for his first post here on Something's Fishy.

I'd like to thank everyone who has taken the time to check out my site and remind you that questions and comments are always welcome on any of the posts here.

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fishing Etiquette

There is a great deal of information about fishing etiquette on the internet and I certainly can't contribute much. Here you can find a pretty good list of things that a lot of anglers adhere to.

I've seen a lot of things over the years that could have been avoided. Arguments , threats and fights have all occurred over petty disputes. Things like this are ridiculous and usually end up ruining the day's fishing for everyone involved

Probably the most important thing to remember is that everyone who goes fishing does so for the same reason , to have fun. The best way to avoid arguments is by being respectful. Try to keep a reasonable distance between yourself and other anglers and avoid crossing lines.

Of course , anyone who has ever fished a busy pier or at Cape Point in North Carolina knows it's not always possible to avoid the crowd and the inevitable tangles that occur. It happens. Getting angry won't help. The best way to avoid getting tangled is to use the proper equipment. Heavier sinkers will hold your rigs in place when the water gets rough so they don't get tangled with other people's line. If another angler keeps crossing your line offer to help them out. You might make a friend.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Making Your Own Rigs

I've put off writing this article for quite a while because I'm a horrible photographer. I've decided to do it today because bottom fishing rigs are one of the most effective surf fishing rigs and every surf fisherman will use them at some point. Monofilament is hard to take pictures of so the rig shown here is tied with 60 lb. line. I normally use 30-40 lb. test for these rigs and have never had any problems.

To start you'll need a 5' piece of mono , a pyramid sinker and a swivel.

The main part of this rig is the Dropper Loop knot. I've never been satisfied with the way online sources show how to tie it , so I'll go through the way I tie it. Begin by making a loop and wrapping the line around itself.

Continue wrapping the left hand side around the loop for a total of 3-4 wraps , more for lighter lines. Pull the line up to make a smaller loop and then make 3-4 more wraps to the left of the smaller loop. It should look like this when you are finished :

Next pull the main loop up through the smaller loop like this :

I normally use my teeth to hold the loop while I pull the knot tight , but you can have someone help you or put the loop over something. You'll want to pull the loop out as far as you want it , before pulling it tight. I like mine to be around three inches. It should look like this when you're done :

You can tie two or even three of these on your rig. Personally I use three. When tying the second and third loops , you can adjust their position by pulling on the left hand side of the loop to move them closer to the first knot and then resizing your loop by pulling on the free end on the left side. Once you have your loops finished , you can tie a swivel to one end and a pyramid sinker to the other. Alternatively , you can put a snap swivel at the bottom so you can change the sinker if you need to.

Now you'll need to add hooks. I use 1/0 stainless O'shaugnessy hooks for most species. I also use fluorescent plastic beads. First pinch the Dropper Loop between your fingers and thread it through the bead and then the eye of the hook.

Now pull the hook back through the loop.

After you pull it tight you should have something that looks like this :

I like the fluorescent orange beads for a lot of species because they closely resemble the color of sand flea eggs. They seem to attract more strikes than other colors , but you can also experiment. Dark red would be good as would blue , purple and chartreuse. After you have hooks on all of your loops , you should have a bottom fishing rig that looks something like this :

This rig easily produces over half of the fish I catch. You can use the basic principles shown above to tie several other rigs  , like the Straw Rigs used for Spanish Mackerel and Sabiki Rigs used for catching bait. You can also use Surgeon's Loops to tie this rig , but the Dropper Loop makes a better rig in my opinion.

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Callinectes Sapidus or The Atlantic Blue Crab

One of my favorite types of seafood is the Blue Crab. They are common along the Eastern Coast of the United States and are considered a delicacy by many. Blue crabs are often sold at seafood markets by the bushel or by the dozen. In areas far from the coast , fresh blue crabs can fetch as much as fifteen dollars per dozen.

Blue crabs were over fished for a long time. It eventually became necessary for many states to implement harvest limits and regulations. In many areas it is illegal to harvest female crabs at certain times of the year. You should always check local laws before keeping any crabs and learn how to identify male and female crabs. Personally , I suggest just keeping the male crabs and leaving the females to reproduce.

Catching blue crabs is very simple. The simplest way is to tie a raw chicken neck or drumstick to a length of string and throw it out into the water. Use the string to slowly pull it back in. Crabs are greedy and usually any that find your bait will hold on to it long enough for you to get them out of the water. This can be a fun activity to do with kids , just watch out for those claws!

My favorite way to catch blue crabs is by using a two ring crab trap from a pier. Tie a chicken neck to the bottom and lower it into the water with light rope. When it reaches the bottom , this type of trap lays flat allowing crabs to find the bait. Once it has been in the water for ten to fifteen minutes , pull the rope up quickly. This lifts the outer ring of the trap and catches any crabs that were on the bait. After you pull it up you can sort out the keepers , check your bait and send it back down. If you are fishing and crabbing at the same time another good bait for crabs is fish. I like to use the head and body of fish that I have filleted for cut bait. Just make sure the pier you are on allows crabbing.

Whether you catch them yourself or buy them , blue crabs are delicious steamed. They are difficult to clean the first couple of times , but easy once you get the hang of it. Find out everything you ever wanted to know about blue crabs here.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

DIY Fishing

One of the great things about fishing is the fact that it offers so many opportunities for " Do It Yourself " projects. Anglers who are good with their hands and a bit creative are constantly making new and effective fishing gear. Some of the best kept secrets of many fishermen are hand made lures , flies and jigs.

Hand made lures will often produce better than commercially available lures because of small differences in the way they are made. There are kits available to make a wide variety of baits that can be customized to fit your needs. It's even possible to make your own custom soft plastics. With a fly tying kit , you can get started tying your own flies and jigs for a variety of fish. The possibilities are endless.

Of course , anglers aren't limited to just making lures. You can find everything you need to make your own rods online and even parts to customize your reels. It doesn't end there either. I've seen some pretty nice fishing carts and rod holders made out of PVC pipe.

I could spend days describing custom gear I've seen over the years and still not cover all of it. Many fishermen have a pioneering spirit and will make something they need if they can't find it for sale. Making your own gear can also save you a significant amount of money. 

It is an amazing feeling to catch fish using lures or equipment you've made yourself. I'll be doing a few posts over the next month covering a couple of easy DIY projects , for anyone who is interested.

Have a great week!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Driving on the Beach

Driving on the beach can be a great way to find new fishing grounds and enjoy quiet stretches of beach not frequented by others. There are several things you need to do before hitting the sand in pursuit of fish.

Unfortunately beach driving is a politically charged activity in many areas now. It's always a good idea to check local laws for restricted areas , speed limits and times of day when you are allowed to drive on the beach. In North Carolina one of the best resources for information about beach closures and regulations is

It is generally not recommended to drive on the beach with 2 wheel drive vehicles or all wheel drive vehicles with low ground clearance. Trucks and SUV's with 4 wheel drive and adequate ground clearance are more suitable for driving in the sand. Taking a vehicle out on the beach that isn't capable of handling the sand is a good way to rack up an expensive towing bill.

The most important thing to remember is to let some air out of your tires. Airing all four tires on your vehicle down to 18-20 psi helps maintain traction in the sand. I recommend keeping a high quality tire gauge in your vehicle when you are headed to the beach. Another handy item to have is a 12 volt air compressor. This will allow you to inflate your tires after you are done driving on the beach.

Once you've let some air out of your tires it's time to hit the sand. It's a good idea to put your vehicle in four wheel drive before you go out onto the sand. Most of the time there will be tracks from other vehicles that you can follow , but if there aren't any drive on the packed sand close to the water. Avoid getting your vehicle in the water because saltwater is very corrosive. When you've reached your destination park in the middle of the beach , leaving enough room for others to get around you.

It's worth mentioning that driving in sand can cause a vehicle's transmission to overheat. For this reason it's always a good idea to check your transmission fluid and coolant before you go. Many people who regularly drive on the beach prefer vehicles with a towing package from the factory or an aftermarket transmission cooler.

When you drive on the beach pay close attention to any signs marking restricted areas and follow the posted speed limits , but most of all have fun.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Effects of Wind on Fishing Conditions

Wind is one of several factors that can be good or bad for the fisherman. Too much wind can ruin the fishing because you won't be able to keep your bait where you want it. Strong winds will also churn up the surf making it harder for fish to find your bait. However , some fish do prefer a little bit rougher water. While I'm not an expert , I'll try to explain why you should take wind speed and direction into consideration when planning a fishing trip.

Wind is nearly constant in most coastal areas. It can be light and variable on some days or from the same direction with great force on others. Over thousands of years the wind and waves from powerful storms have sculpted our coastlines and continue to do so today. This is how new " holes " are made at the beach that attract both fish and anglers.

Of course , you probably won't be fishing during a powerful storm. There are other things that can directly be attributed to the wind. With a strong westerly wind , temperatures in the surf here on the East Coast will drop. Warmer water is pushed offshore and the species that prefer warm water go with it. Grass and other debris will be pushed out of inlets and bays into the surf. Fishing conditions suffer under a stiff westerly wind. Sea grass gets tangled in your lines and warm water species aren't present. It's still possible to catch fish , but not as many.

When the wind is blowing from the east , warm water is pushed onshore and this sometimes leads to excellent fishing. As long as the wind speed stays below 15 mph the surf will clear up and schools of fish will start to come in. Some of my best days of fishing were when the wind was coming out of the east. Easterly winds can work against you though. At wind speeds over 15 mph , the surf will get rough and it becomes increasingly more difficult to cast , especially with smaller artificial lures.

Perfect weather conditions for me would be an overcast day with steady winds out of the Northeast at 5-10 mph. If I waited for perfect conditions I wouldn't fish very often.

Have a great day!

Monday, October 11, 2010

5 Fishing Knots I Use Often

Years ago when I first started fishing I learned to tie the Improved Cinch Knot. For a long time this was the only knot I knew how to tie and I used it for everything. When I matured as a fisherman and started chasing after more and bigger fish it became necessary to learn some new knots.

Let me start by saying that the knot is the most critical connection between you and the fish. Poorly tied knots can make you lose fish and expensive lures. In most cases the line will break at or near the knot. The best way to prevent this is to tie your knot correctly and check it often for nicks and abrasions , retying as needed. It's a good idea to moisten the knot before you pull it tight to prevent damage to the line. I recommend practicing any new knots you learn before you're on the water.

The type of line you are using is also important when deciding which knots to use. Many knots will not hold when tied with heavy monofilament or any of the braided super lines. I recommend experimenting with different lines and knots until you find what works best for the way you fish.

The first knot I recommend is the Palomar Knot. This is the main knot I use for tying hooks and lures to the main line. I can't say enough about how great this knot is. It's easy to tie and very strong. The Palomar Knot is one of the few knots that works well with both mono and braided line. It's a knot I think every fisherman should know how to tie.

The second knot I recommend is the Albright Knot. This is a great knot for attaching shock leaders to the main line and for joining lines of different diameters. It works great for joining braid to heavy mono. There are several variations of this knot around including the Improved Albright and the Reverse Albright. I use this knot for shock leaders and for short leaders when using lures for Bluefish and Spanish Mackerel.

The third knot I recommend is the Dropper Loop. This knot is useful for making your own bottom fishing rigs. You can also use it to tie Sabiki type rigs for catching bait. While it may seem a little bit hard to tie when you first learn it , this knot is certainly worth the trouble. There is an easier way to tie it that I'll discuss here on the blog soon.

The fourth knot I recommend is the Surgeon's Loop. It can also be used to tie bottom fishing rigs. This knot is good for attaching leaders or hooks to the main line by using a Handshake Loop connection. I mainly use this knot for attaching swivels and sinkers to my bottom fishing rigs.

The last knot I recommend is the Uni Knot. This is a useful and easy to tie knot. There are many variations of this knot out there that allow you to use it for several different purposes. It can be used for attaching terminal tackle , lures and also for joining line to leaders. This is one of the easier knots to tie in my opinion.

No matter what knots you decide to use , it's always important to test the strength of the knot before you cast. A few good tugs on the line are usually enough to determine if the knot will hold. Some of the more complicated knots will slip if not tied correctly , so it's always better to check them than to risk losing a fish.

Have a great week!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Morone Saxatilis or The Striped Bass : Part 2

Here on Smith Mountain Lake we have a decent population of Striped Bass. While there are several popular ways to catch these fish , my favorite has always been the use of live bait. I use a casting net to catch 6-8 inch gizzard shad here at the lake. They can usually be found in shallow water at the back of small coves.

I use two simple rigs when live bait fishing for Stripers. The simplest one is what I call a " Free Line ". To tie this , attach a barrel swivel to a 3' length of 20 lb. fluorocarbon , then tie this to the main line. Tie a 3/0 hook to the leader and you're done. Hook a shad through the nose and fish this rig straight behind the boat , letting the shad swim freely. The other rig I use is called a " Down Rig " and it is tied the same as the free line  , with the addition of a 2 ounce egg sinker and a glass bead on the main line. This rig is fished off of the sides of the boat. I watch the depth finder and if I am seeing fish 20 feet deep , I'll put out two or three of these rigs 15-18 feet down.

I fish these rigs in the main channel of the lake. I try to find areas with points and steep drop offs and position my boat so that the wind and current will push me across the points.

Another popular method of catching Stripers here on the lake is trolling. You can troll with a variety of baits , one of the most popular being the Sassy Shad. These can be fished on large jigheads or umbrella rigs and can be very effective in the summer.

Also worth mentioning is the use of artificial bait. Bucktails are a great option. Fish them slowly so they are just off of the bottom. Other good choices are shallow running crankbaits and jerkbaits. One of my favorites is the Storm Thunderstick. I have had a great deal of success fishing this lure parallel to the bank at night.

In saltwater , anglers targeting Striped Bass use Fish Finder rigs and cut bait similar to what is used when Drum fishing. Live eels are also a popular choice. Stripers can often be found around pier and bridge pilings at night , especially in areas where bait fish are drawn to lights. These fish will also hang out under the cleaning tables at some of the piers , especially when a lot of fish are being cleaned.

No matter how you catch them , Striped Bass always put up a good fight. They are also excellent table fare when cleaned properly. To clean a Striper , scale and fillet one side , then place the fillet skin side down. Hold the fillet by the tail end and run the fillet knife between the skin and meat , removing the skin. Turn the fillet over and cut out all of the red meat along the center of the fillet. Now cut the fillet into chunks and cook it using your favorite recipe.

Have a great weekend!