Tuesday, June 7, 2016

When to put down the cannon and pick up the pea shooter ! - part #2

Now for the real problem. I'm talking some surprisingly tough fishing that can drive even the saltiest codger crazy. Glass minnows or other micro baits in epic schools that blacken the sea.
Everything and I do mean everything, will flock to the massive schools of glass minnows and juvenile pilchards that show up every summer. Both large and small predators will key in on these tiny baits and gorge themselves on the helpless morsels. The problem here is that ,just like with larger baits, the fish can become so fixated on their meal that they ignore everything you throw at them.
Perhaps the most frustrating bite to conquer, especially when it comes to beach fishing, is when tarpon are crashing through minnows. You would think these fish would be easy picking given their highly visible assault but you'd be wrong. Getting these fish to eat is a real challenge. 
In order to get these fish to eat, you'll have to stand out from the crowd yet again. Unfortunately, downsizing your lure or bait just won't work. This is because the tarpon are not singling out individual bait fish but rather inhaling huge gulps of them instead. So, it's time to capitalize on the fish's aggression rather than its hunger. This is what's known as getting a reaction strike. When your trying to match the hatch or create an otherwise natural looking presentation, your looking for what's known as a predation strike. 
Getting a reaction strike from tarpon means understanding that these fish feed most effectively from below. Their huge eyes are always looking upward a so are keenly observant of surface commotion. This can only mean one thing, TOPWATER! Yes, the most exciting form of fishing possible. There is nothing quite like watching a tarpon obliterate a surface lure. 
Triggering the fish's aggression means mimicking a smaller predator attacking the same bait school as the tarpon. A pencil popper or walk the dog type topwater with plenty of rattles up to two ounces is what I like. This means that you can keep the tackle relatively light, which translates into another form of finesse fishing. It's all relative. A finesse outfit for tarpon might be a 9 foot 20-30 lb spinning outfit and a reel loaded to the brim with 30 lb braid. This same outfit might qualify as a heavy outfit for other species. 
Effectively working a topwater for tarpon requires scaling back the strength of the leader from the typical 125 lb flouro to 60 lb. The thinner line will give the lure greater mobility and allow it to ride higher on the surface. This means that you can create more surface commotion with less effort and also up the odds of getting a strike. 
With the pencil popper, the aim is to keep the mouth above the water and the back end skittering on the surface. With the Walker, you need to work it back to you with rapid twitches, this walking the bait at a high rate of speed. With either lure, a brief pause occasionally will often times trigger a strike as you resume your retrieve.
From David Ronald Hartwell @ Big Dave's Slay City. Land based lessons. 

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