Had a great weekend with my son's Boy Scout troop on Sandy Hook this past weekend. We arrived Friday night in an absolute downpour, but within 20 minutes the rain slowed. By the time tents were set up, it stopped, and never returned. Mosquitos are bad since Irene, but that was a slight nuisance and no worse.
Saturday morning I drove out to Julians Bait and Tackle for a pint of killies. If they looked like blackberries, the mushrooms in the salad the night before must have been the wrong kind, but this was a completely ordinary excursion. However, I managed to get left behind the troop as they hiked off for North Beach as things got complicated for me preparing tackle. I hiked out from the campsites, but ended up on Gunnison's alone.
Having soon managed to lose a good sized fluke on my medium power, 5 1/2 foot St. Croix (same rod I use for smallmouth bass in the North Branch Raritan) with just a split shot, size six plain shank hook, six pound test, and eight pound flouro leader for good measure against teeth, I fished hard for a half an hour, then decided to reach for deeper water.
I call it the Hopkin's Hop. Instead of a two or three ounce bank sinker, I use a Hopkins with the treble removed--no hook. It's the weight that attracts fish when pulled off bottom and allowed to flutter-fall back. Attach a swivel to the rear split ring and tie an 18 inch flouro leader to it, and a simple size six plain shank or larger to the end of the leader. With my eight foot Tica I flung casts six times as far out as I could with the split shot.
It works of course--for bluefish too. They don't hit the Hopkins. They are attracted by it, but see the large killie "chasing" the Hopkins, and compete, always hitting on a fast snap. It doesn't matter that the Hopkins is bigger. I've caught a lot this way, both blues and fluke--two blues close to three pounds on Saturday, and three fluke, one of them a keeper, as well as losing four other fluke in the early afternoon, two more at sunset on North Beach, and losing another bluefish Sunday morning at North Beach. After this weekend I'm ready to pitch my idea for a magazine story some day so consider the Hopkin's Hop my invention! But go ahead and beat it to the press. If invention were this simple we'd all be millionaires.
Before I left North Beach yesterday morning I watched the rod of the guy next to me go into spasms, and saw a 29 inch striper come ashore on a circle hook that had been baited with clam. I hope this bodes well for the months ahead. My chances are always slim because for me it's like playing the lottery. Well, for anyone it's like playing the lottery, but those really in the know both have a lot of time to play--and know a lot of the winning numbers to choose.