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Chunking Bait for Stripers and Bluefish

 

bait chunking

 

Keep it as simple as possible!

Standing line - sinker slide with sinker - barrell swivel - leader - snelled hook
Many tackle shops sell the pre packaged bass hooks snelled to monofilament leaders. You can also purchase the hooks snelled to flourocarbon for a dollar or two more.

I will begin by describing an approach to the surf. I wont spend any time on choosing a spot to fish here, but the most important thing in catching a fish at all is to find productive water. A place where the predators are likely to ambush prey or show up at feeding times to forage and or hunt. This information can be found in another article titled reading the beach.


Once you have found your place to set up camp, your ready to steak up some pieces of bait and get a line in the water.

steaking bunker

All that is involved with chunking bait is steaking the bait into sections. Pogie (bunker, menhaden, mackeral, herring, shad, Spot, porgie, and snappers (small bluefish) can work equally well. You can also chunk eels. Chunking implies the animal is dead already. If still alive this tactic would be livelining.

Presenting the bait.

Most chunkers (bait fishermen) fish the surf, but there are many boat fishermen that will use cut bait as well. Most will also chum the water they're going to fish. (loading the water with small pieces of bait for scent)

The set up is a 6/0 (O for Ocean) or larger wide gap hook or wide gap circle hook attached to anywhere between 18 and 40 inch leaders. Many use a flourocarbon leader. (flourocarbon bends or refracts the light close to the index of water making it more difficult for the fish to see) Not always necessary but a good idea in clear water. For bluefish you have to use at least 50 pound mono leader or wire for these are toothy critters that will mangle your leaders and or lures. They will also bight right through a mono leader. Tackle shops sell blue fish rigs. Hooks attached to wire leaders with crimps.

A little on equipment

A good stout rod and decent sized reel are needed for this. You can be tossing upwards of 10 ounces with the lead and the bait. A good sturdy rod rated medium heavy to heavy should be chosen and be at least 8 feet long. 10 foot is comfortable for many surf chunkers. Others use 11 and 12 foot rods and others even bigger. The longer rods allow for more casting distance. Longer rods can be weildy for the newcomer to the surf however.
The reel should be large enough to hold at least 2 to 300 yards of 20 pound monofilament line. I personally like to use the spinning reels for this application. Others like to use conventional baitcaster type reels. Using the conventional (multiplier) type reels takes a higher casting skill level and is generally more difficult for the newcomer when it is windy. The line knots (birds nests) can ruin your outing.
Your reel will hold much more braided line due to the smaller diameter of the braids. Fill the spool with some monofilament as a backing then tie a good knot for the two different diameter lines.

granny knot

There are better knots but this one will do fine for a start. A good fisherman will know many knots. Knot instruction can be found in the forum or by searching the site map.

Again braid can present problems for newbies with wind knots. My favorites are the open faced reels like the Penn Z series and the the larger spinfishers, Old style Mitchell eggbeater types, Daiwa emblems and the shimano baitrunners.

Fresh Bait is always best.

I find that it best to steak it in 5 or 6 pieces and cut away the belly of the fish keeping the head and discarding the tail fin. Cut the piece directly in front of the tail fin into an inch or 2 inch chunk. This piece will stay on the line the longest. The other pieces i like to fillet in half. The presentation of the flash in moving water seems particularly enticing to the fish. The head is my favorite piece as stripers prefer taking the bait head on and a blue fish the opposite end. (>any end really) I like to toss the heads at the top of the tide, you need not get them out no more than 30 feet. Another way to fish the heads is to find a spot near deep water toss them as far as possible and reel them in slowly.

The two setups that I like to use are the fishfinder rig and the dropper loop or a 3 way swivel.

The fishfinder is a plastic sinkerslide that you clip or tie a sinker on.

This is on the standing end of the line before the barrel swivel and your tied on leader and hook. Choice of sinker is dependent on the current, tide and surf conditions. I usually bring 3 to 6 ounces where I like to fish around New York. I bring heavier lead when out in a rip (a change in the bottom surface that causes the water to upwell turbulently) or heavier seas.

The second setup is a bit different. I use this on the fast dropping tide and fast current. The 4 or 5 ounce sinker is attached to a the front end of the 3 way swivel tied to about 18 inches of line and the leader and hook with a filletted chunk tied to the middle of the 3 way with a longer leader 24 to 36 inches. The line from your reel known as the standing line is attached to the remaining part of the swivel. This presents the bait in such a way as to flutter in the turbulent water flow. It is extremely useful in one particular spot I like to frequent. Another way of doing this is to tie a 60 inch leader to a barrell swivel. Halfway down, form a dropper loop of about 20 inches. Attach to the dropper loop to a wide gap hook using a palomar knot. At the terminal end tie on your weight. This will act in the same manner as the three way.

Hi Low rigs

hi low rig

These are just what they sound like. One hook is placed about 18 inches above another one via a dropper loop. Now you have two offerings attached as your bait presentation.

Sinkers: Pyramid - Bank - Egg

Pyramid sinkers are shaped like a pyramid and are effective in sandy bottoms. Bank sinkers are aerodynamic and are better for rocky areas as they dont get hung up as much. Egg sinkers can be used to slide up and down the line. The advantage to the eggs and the fishfinders is that when the fish picks up the bait and swims off with it, she is less likely to feel the weight of the sinker as the line is running through it rather than lugging behind.

These techniques can be used from lake and river shorelines as well. Just get yourself a lawnchair and maybe a sandspike and a cold drink and get ready.

Also try fresh clams and seaworms especially in the early spring. Good luck and have fun.

clams

 

stripers bait

 

 

 

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