Trolling is not my favorite way to
fish. Since the recovery of the rockfish
and the decline of the large bluefish
in the Bay, I don't do it as much
as I used to. Nowadays most of my
parties would rather chum for the
rocks and blues if they can. When
that isn't working we generally try
bottom fishing until late fall. Oh,
sometimes we will troll a bit for
Spanish mackerel and Taylor blues
in August and September, but that
is secondary to the chumming.
When trophy striper season comes in,
I believe it's worthwhile to "Pull
the Plug." Many years ago when
the Bay was full of big bluefish we
used to run the Cut Channel with Chesapeake
Bay three-way rigs. These were made
up with three-way swivels, big dipsey
sinkers on three foot drops and surgical
tubes on 25 foot leaders. We usually
ran two of them. We also ran a flat
line with a four- eight ounce inline
weight and a big spoon or "ragmop."
Our fourth rod would pull a big Cisco
Kid or magnum Rebel. If the "Cut"
didn't hold fish we would troll up
to "48" (now buoy 62). I
don't use the three-way rigs as much
anymore since the advent of the umbrella
rig for trophy striper fishing. While
the Cisco has given way to the Mann's
Stretch, I will still pull a plug
for these jumbo rocks.
Last year when we were fishing the
inshore ocean for jumbo rockfish in
January one of our four lures was
a Mann's Stretch 25 in the mullet
pattern. This plug has a greenish
back, white sides and a little orange
on the belly. We ran it way far out
using a 20 ft., 80 lb. test leader
and 80 lb. test spider wire braid
line. Trolling about two-three MPH
the stretch would wobble like anything
sending its message up the line to
the rod tip. It had great action and
was a killer on the big stripers.
Other good colors are the chrome/blue
and the chartreuse/blue. I like the
two hook series better than the ones
with three hooks. Our other plug was
a "Tomic" lure. This is
a newer lure, but very similar to
a version of the "J" plugs
we used in Lake Michigan for salmon.
It works very well in the salt water
for stripers and has great action.
A few years back during our fall/early
winter outings we used to troll a
couple of Cotton Cordell Red Fins.
They had three styles. The regular
Red Fin came in size seven and size
five for stripers. They also had a
jointed Red Fin in size five and a
deep diving Red Fin in size five.
I never got a deep diver that would
track well, so I quit trying them.
The regular and jointed ones work
fine. They caught fish, too.
I think one of the earliest plugs
I can remember using for stripers
was the Creek Chub Jointed Pike. These
were huge lures that would bend the
rod tip over and make it throb in
a rhythmic pattern. They were especially
effective trolled along and around
the pilings of the Chesapeake Bay
Bridge Tunnel at night. You don't
see them being used much anymore,
but I still have a few of them in
my box. Perhaps I'll try them again
When I first got Aces Up, my charter
boat, I made a test run over to Dymer
Creek in preparation for the CCA Tournament.
Besides Lynn Walton and Eddie Gay,
my tournament partners, we had Jim
Covington with us. Jim has a place
near Lynn's on the Creek, but didn't
striper fish much. We took him with
us out near buoy 59A and put out some
lines. One of them was a Stretch 25.
Another was a Hopkins 550 spoon. The
others were parachute rigs. We didn't
have much time to troll, but Jim got
the biggest striper of his life on
the Stretch. We got a few others,
too, but it was neat to get the biggest
one by pulling a plug. Don't ask how
we did in the Tournament-I'm embarrassed
to tell you. Let's just say we shot
our wad the day before.
I guess fishing is like anything else.
Things come and go. What's hot today
is cold tomorrow. But plugging for
stripers seems to be hanging on with
those devotees who still pull the
plug. There are new ones coming on
the market all the time. They seem
to get bigger, better and fancier
each year. Now there are mirror finishes
and holographic patterns. Pretty soon
they'll be making them with molded
in lights so they shine in the dark.
If they make it, I'll pull it.