Tackle Cove Blog by Captain Chris Dollar
Joys of Topwater Fishing: Breaking Fish
SEPT. 3, 2016
As we watch now the remnants of Hurricane Hermine push up the coast after hitting western Florida, it’s hard to predict what impact it might have on the fishing action in the upper Chesapeake, which, save a day here and there, has been outstanding.
Bluefish, Spanish mackerel, rockfish and even red drum have been schooling up to pummel bait. Water temps are pretty much ideal for the highly migratory Spanish—in the 80Fs, though the storm may change that—but blues and especially stripers prefer it cooler.
What are they eating? Anchovies, silversides and bunker (juvenile menhaden). Of the first two forage species there are perhaps billions of them, easily making them the most abundant finfish species in the Bay. Rockfish, blues and macks (if they stick around after the Big Blow) ravage them with abandon.
A closer look at an anchovy or silverside and you’ll see they’re about 3-5 inches. Metal jigs work well, that’s true, especially silver and gold colored ones. But for sheer excitement you cannot top tossing topwater. (See what I did there? Clever, huh?) You have lots of choices. I happen to be partial to the Super Spook Jr. (bone color) but equally like the Smack-it Jrs. with a fly trailer. And I’ve heard good things about the Halco Roosta Popper, an Australian lure. The white body with red head is reportedly a fish catcher. Don’t overlook the venerable Striper Swiper by Atom, and the Got-Cha plug. The Gotcha with the gold head-white body and gold hooks has always been dependable. Speaking of hooks, I either snip one tremble off, mash it inward, or if possible, replace with an appropriated sized open eye, siwash hook.
Vary your retrieves — make sure it’s erratic, like a panicked baitfish—and cast to the edge of a breaking school, not in it. Oh, and watch the gulls! Next time we’ll cover boat tactics when approaching breaking fish, and in an upcoming blog on shallow water tactics. Til then, Catch ’em up!
Capt. Chris Dollar
Outdoor Writers Assoc. of America