The influx of bunker locally has also made for a few good nights of chunking from shore. Not everyone is a fan of waiting for a fish to pick-up a cut piece of bait off bottom, but this isn't your father's way of chunking either. There is no spiking the rod, swilling beers or sitting down; the rod is always held in your hand and every little bump is felt, from spider crabs latching on your offering to a passing bunker brushing your line. When it comes to bait, it pays to be fresh. I'll be the first to admit that I'm a bait snob - if it's not same-day caught and stored on ice, I don't want it on the end of my line. You know when you have fresh bunker because it will retain its slime coat and have a distinct crunch when cut with a knife. The head with an inch or so of meat hanging of the back is the preferred piece; the rest is either used for chum or saved for reserves.
|Put a fresh bunker head on your hook and hold on.|
|Jason reaping the results.|
|Releasing to be caught another night.|
If' I'm not using bunker on hot summer nights then it's another form of bait, American eels. I own more artificial lures than I care to count, but it's a rare outing when I don't have an eel, live or dead, on my person. Simply put, our quarry have a hard time resisting them. It's pretty damn cool trapping eels in harbors and tidal creeks, but I also get my kicks off cherry-picking them from local bait shops. They are like slimy confidence in a black bucket. While it's been far from a banner season size-wise for our crew up to this point, most of the decent fish we have taken have come on eels.
This 28-pound bass sucked down an eel on the first cast of the night (Photo credit: Aaron Swanson)
Kurt with a beautiful 33-pounder (Photo credit: Derrick Kirkpatrick)
|A short swim enabled a shot at this late-night bass (Photo credit: Derrick Kirkpatrick).|
|Derrick releasing another nice eel-caught bass|
This 15-pound blue fought nearly as good as it tasted (Photo credit: Derrick Kirkpatrick)
|A nice first-light striper before heading to work.|
|A rare boat-caught bass from a local reef (Photo credit: Curt Johnson)|
As the saying goes, if fishing was just about catching fish, I would have stopped going a long time ago. It's not hard seeing the positive in a fishless outing when we put ourselves in such awesome situations. Whether fishing at daybreak, sundown or in the heart of darkness, there is always something that stops me in my tracks while retrieving a cast and reaffirms my love for this sport and the great outdoors.
|Mosey showing off her casting skills on a local sandbar.|
|A spectacular sunset over Milford harbor.|