Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Trials and Tribulations of Chunking

When the first adult menhaden invade my local waters around mid-May, it's hard for me to target striped bass with anything else. I love tossing flies and plugs in early spring and live eels when the dog days of summer kick in, but chunking bunker dominates my saltwater fishing for a good portion of May and June. While snagging this oily baitfish with a weighted treble hook, lopping off its head, and sending it to the bottom attached to a 10/0 octopus hook is far from glamorous fishing, it's a pretty damned effective method. For some reason, maybe the lack of big bluefish locally, the small pods of menhaden roaming out front haven't really concentrated yet, which means snagging, especially from shore, is no easy task. The other night, in fading daylight, a friend and I could barely make out the small circles of nervous water moving quickly from left to right about 50 yards out. A near perfect cast was needed, placed behind the school so not to spook them. We missed a few shots, but ended up with one lone bait between the two of us. A few beers and some whisky kept us busy as we hoped for more bunker to pass us by, but eventually it was time to soak what we had. After about 20 minutes, a healthy bass picked up the head piece and treated me to a great fight in shallow water. After a few photos, we sent the sea lice-laden fish back on her way. My only piece of bait was in the bass' belly and my partner's half soon fell off the hook during a retrieve after spider crabs had their way with it. We would have paid top dollar for a few more fresh bunker that night. Who knows how many stripers were prowling in front of us on that outgoing tide? Sometimes I take for granted large, concentrated schools of menhaden in close proximity to shore. It sure makes for easy snagging. This time I worked hard for one prized menhaden, and it payed off. 


  1. Gorgeous fish! Still yet to get my first big striper, hoping for one on a fly.

  2. In fishing you really need to work hard and focus on what you are doing. Thank you for sharing this blog with us and just keep fishing.

  3. Great fish buddy!! you must be enjoyed it.