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Captain Pat

Popular Connecticut boat captain, outdoor writer and striper fishing enthusiast, Captain Pat is well known for his innovative light tackle trolling techniques. He is the creator and owner of T-Man Custom Tackle, LLC.

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June 05, 2014

2 Days in Niantic

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

Spent Tues/Wed morning around Niantic with EJ & Spanky. The bass were hard to find locally on the reefs but we managed a couple on the tubes in 25ft. The fluke bite was a bit better and although we never limited, we did get plenty for the table with a decent ratio of shorts and keepers. Pink bucktails did the most damage and we found them in 28-40ft.

Ran into Medski and his flounder catching mama (aka Tina) at the end of each morning and cruised the flats with them for a few mudsuckers.






August 16, 2013

Fun w/KIDS!!

by Captain Pat

Each summer I look forward to having some kids on board for a fishing trip. As far as I'm concerned there's nothing more satisfying than seeing youngsters get into the sport of fishing. So anytime I have a chance to encourage them by putting them on a good bite, I'm happy to do it. On Thursday the 15th my buddy Chuck brought along his nephew and niece for a day of bottom fishing and striper hunting. We started the day with squid strips on spinner rigs and in short order put a bunch of scup in the boat. We segregated the scup as we caught them tossing a few 11 inchers into the live well with the idea that we would feed them to some stripers. Once the kids had their fill of bottom fishing, we took off to a nearby ledge in 50 feet of water and three-wayed the scup while drifting. It didn't take long before the scup started dancing and the bass made a meal of them. It was great fun watching Papa and both kids work the rod and reel battling some 20 pound class stripers to the rail. What an excellent morning with smiles all around. Honestly, I can't wait till my grandkids are old enough to join me on the boat. It feels good to know that even at my age there is still plenty left to look forward to.






July 11, 2013

Daytime Stripers

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

Up until the recent 4th holiday our bass bite here on the eastern CT shoreline has been tough during daylight hours. All of the rain has stained the sound with runoff from our major rivers and actually held water temps back a bit. But that has all changed since Independence Day with a fresh concentration of medium size stripers invading our waters. Many of these fish are still sporting sea lice on their bellies!! We have scored some with diamond jigs and done even better with live scup. But, by far the best action has been with my T-Man Stripers Tubes and Keels while light tackle trolling in 20-30ft of water. Although I have been manufacturing theses lures for close to 10 years now, every once in a while the effectiveness of the tube & worm still amazes me. This week we had two days straight where every pass produced a keeper fish with many passes yielding doubles that set us all dancing around the deck. Most fish were 20 pound class with a few +40" 30 pounders mixed in. So if you're spending your time doing those long summer fluke drifts take a break around slack tide periods and try dragging some tubes over the local reefs. Bubblegum tubes on braided line have been absolutely deadly!!









June 17, 2013

Father's Day

by Captain Pat

I managed to get half of the Renna boys together for a Father's Day fishing trip this weekend. I had planned in advance to make this fishing day a foray for mixed species. Our quarry was summer flounder and striped bass. We started our fluke drifts around Black Point in Niantic, Connecticut. The tides were sort of slow so we needed to bump the boat in and out of gear to reach the drift speed that let us connect with a fluke. A high lo pink teaser rig baited with fluke belly strips did the trick for several throwbacks and a couple keepers around 18 inches. Soon after we a call from a buddy who was drifting further to the west, so we decided to go join him for some passes there. On our first side-by-side drift, we nailed a nice 25 inch fluke that when about 6 1/2 pounds. Of course, that fish was greeted with heckles from the other boat about poaching his fish on his spot…

Once we reached the slack tide and our drifts died, it was time to break out the tube and worm for some trolling. 15 inch bubblegum tubes were deadly, and we banged plenty of striped bass on every pass, including some excellent doubles. None the stripers were huge, with the majority being between 32 and 38 inches but really full of fight. It was tons of fun on light tackle and great entertainment on a beautiful morning. With water temperatures just reaching 60° for the first time in our area none of the local bass spots have really set up on the summer patterns yet. But hopefully the warm weather this week will settle the bait in and we will start to consistently see some bigger fish along the Eastern Connecticut shoreline.


February 28, 2013

Seminar Season 2013

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

Each year at this time I get my A/V skills tuned up in preparation for seminar season. Because I make tackle and fish for a living I have lots of opportunities to compile fishing related information, specifically information about "Light Tackle Trolling. I've been presenting instructional seminars in New England, New Jersey and New York for several years now and spend a goodly amount of time in the offseasons revamping my show. As of this day I have a few dates and venues locked down for 2013 with a couple additional seminar dates pending.

A short synopsis of the seminar is as follows:

"Light Tackle Trolling for Stripers"

A comprehensive instructional seminar with slides and video describing the benefits, methods, and practical applications of trolling with braided lines and light tackle gear. An excellent trolling alternative to using lead core or wire line.

Anyone interested in learning the basics of trolling tubes, spoons etc… on light tackle should try and catch one of these seminars. I promise you'll be pleased with what you learn.

Saturday March 2 – Bass Pro Shops – Foxborough, MA Time 12:30pm

Saturday March 16 – Connecticut Outfitters – Wethersfield, CT Time 9:00am

Saturday March 23 – Westport Outfitters – Westport, CT Time 11:00am

October 30, 2012

Your Gonna Love This!!!

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

Well the 2012 blackfish season is flying by and the impact of "Hurricane Sandy" on our area in Niantic Ct is yet to be determined. Between the adverse storm conditions and the calendar I can feel my salt water fishing opportunities quickly slipping away. I have to admit that I'm truly a "fair weather fisherman" and I have learned over the years that mid November is the latest I care to be on the ocean. The good news is I have had a great tog season so far and I have taken the time to put up a goodly about of blackfish fillets for the winter. So today I want to share with you one of the ways I prepare fresh frozen blackfish. Tog meat is extremely versatile and can be easily incorporated into casseroles, chowders and stews, all of which I like. But, my favorite hands down is the Blackfish Cake!
Someone once said that a picture is worth a thousand words. So it stands to reason that a video is worth many thousand words at least. Back a couple seasons ago I decided to put together my own personal food channel type video and even if the production quality isn't up to snuff… I promise that finish product is a good as any Iron Chef could produce. So, if you're interested take the time to watch this "T-Man" video production and reference it while making your own batch of cakes. By the way this same method works well with many types of white fish including cod, flounder/fluke, scup and striped bass.

Have at it!!

October 18, 2012

Togs-O-Plenty!

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

This is the time of year all of my friends come out of the woodwork looking for me to take them out for a blackfish trip. No problem!! I love to go Tog'in!!
For the last couple years I have been lightening up my blackfish rods/reels and have adopted the spinning gear as my primary weapon of choice. Instead of the usual stout boat rod and bottom rig I have switched over to fishing for tog with lightweight jigs and spinning outfits.
By parallel parking your boat near rocky outcroppings or break walls you can fan cast the area with a jig and half crab combo. Cast to the base of the structure and slowly hop and crawl the crab back toward your boat letting the crab soak on the bottom for a minute or two between hops. Watch your line closely and be sure to set the hook at the first sign of a bite, not matter how slight the hit may be.
The 2012 black fish season opened up last week on the 10th and I have been out 4 times since then managing limits on 3 of 4 trips with fish to 9 pounds. The bite has been good in relatively shallow depths of 20ft or less. Get out there soon as the decent weather will be fleeting and the winds will cut your opportunities to get on the salt in half.





October 02, 2012

Take Advantage of Porgy

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

I don't know about you but I love to eat fish. And it doesn't get any better than eating the freshest of fish you have caught yourself. Each new inshore salt water season I am full of culinary anticipation for each delicious species. Early winter flounder, the first striper, summer fluke, sea bass and snapper blues, and this time of year porgy and blackfish.
October fishing in Long Island Sound can be governed by some pretty sketchy weather. Many days the winds will make a mess out of our waters limiting our ability to venture to far from home. This is when I like to take advantage of the easily accessible porgy. So for the last few trips, instead of burning lots of fuel and pounding through the waves I have simply hit my local reefs and mussel beds for loads of big and feisty porgy.
Small squid strips delivered to the bottom is all you need to find instant action and if you downsize your tackle a bit you can have a blast bringing the 12-15" shiny discs to hand. I like to drift fish vs anchoring because I find I get bigger porgy by covering some ground. It seems if I stay in one spot I'll catch more fish but lots of them will be shorter scup and other small bottom dwellers. The large scup are very aggressive and will beat out the small guys to the bait as you drift along.
When it comes to eating these fish you'll be hard pressed to find any fillet more tasty and versatile for the table. From Scup sashimi to Porgy burgers they are absolutely delicious. Of course if you like fish in the form of boneless fillets working your knife through a pile of 40 scup can be a daunting task. However, it's worth the effort and if you practice one of the quicker methods such as halfing the fish and just taking the prime back slabs/tail nuggets it becomes a labor of love that only takes a couple of beers to complete.

Halfed Fish

Back Slab and Tail Nugget



Pile of Porgy Before and After

September 24, 2012

Still Finding the Bass

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

While many of my fishing buds are racking up the miles and blowing through the fuel chasing Fat Albert around LIS, I've been sticking to my striped bass fishing. Not that I don't enjoy fighting those little screamers I just can't get into searching for them like a quest for the Holy Grail. Sooner or later I'll find them close to home around the Niantic CT area and get my albie fix.
Trolling my T&W rigs for stripers has been the key to consistent catches over the last few weeks. It's been almost impossible to get live baits past the big bluefish so light tackle trolling really has been my only viable option for stripers. Scarlet & Bubblegum tubes dragged in 15-40ft of water has been the ticket. When trolling in the deeper end of that range we have been keying in on the large bait balls vs bottom structure to find keeper size stripers.
Many mornings we have made an early stop for scup boating loads of nice eaters up to 16" with a mix of smaller fish in the 12-14" range which we keep for bluefish bait. Feeding a large lively scup to big 12-15lb blues is a blast. Feeling the chase down and subsequent mauling is as much fun as the tug o war once hooked. Instead of complaining about these hard fighting fish I choose to "embrace the battle" with them this time of year and enjoy watching friends get dragged around the boat.
Summers gone, the winds each day are an issue and launching the boat in shorts and a tee shirt is no longer an early morning option. But I'm still optimistic because black fish season is around the corner promising some great fishing and eating before 2012 fades to memories.



August 10, 2012

Dog Days Bass & Togs

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

Got out a couple times this week to try and score some fresh fillets. Wednesday we spent the morning dunking 12" scup to the bottom on 3 way rigs for stripers and blues. The typical dog day patterns ruled the day for live bait fishing with the gator blues pounding the flashy scup on the way down and the stripers waiting below for the chewed baits to reach the bottom. We caught 4 good bass and 2 bluefish on 6 scup... not a bad way to start the day. Once we lost the tide we switched to the tubes and had a ball with 11 bass on 9 trolling passes in 25ft of water. All but one bass was keeper size with a couple weighing 30lbs on the boga. The T-Man 15" Bubbleum colored Striper Tube was red hot!!

Thursday I had a buddy that wanted nothing more than to get a few tog to eat. In fact, he promised the wife he'd get it done. So off we went into the fog and worked a few local rockpiles in 19-30ft for a limit of black fish with the biggest going about 6lbs. Half green crabs on jigheads did the trick for the tautog.







August 03, 2012

Trolling Saves The Day!

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

My trips in the Niantic Connecticut area this week on 7/31 & 8/1 were kinda tough. Getting to the striped bass was made very difficult by a combination of ripping full moon tides and the large volume of mean spirited bait shredding blue fish in our area. After spending considerable time finding scup in the 11-13" range to use for bait, the blue fish managed to tear them up in short order. No matter what depths we fished or how we weighted the baits, we just could not get underneath the toothy terrors to find some bass.
However, we did find a way to put some decent bass in the boat once the tides started to slacken. The good old Tube & Worm on light tackle did the trick. We worked the edges of some inshore reefs in depths from 20-35ft making sure our tubes were running just off the bottom skimming the tops of the boulders and ledges. Even though the window of slower tides was short both days we had 45min to an hour where we could hold a trolling line and keep our offerings at a constant depth.
Once we got on the fish the action was pretty fast with fish coming on every pass and even a couple of quality doubles. The big fish was a beautiful 33pounder with another 15 or so keepers in the 32-40" range falling to the Bubblegum colored and Scarlet colored tubes. In addition we hooked into a couple of thunkers that we just couldn't stop or turn which made for short battles that ended when the braid parted on the rocks below. I'm quite sure one of them would have been a 40pound class fish had we been fortunate enough to boat it.




July 30, 2012

Summer Patterns Persist

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

The dog days of summer are upon us and the striped bass along the eastern Connecticut shoreline are acting like they know it. The bass have become a bit more lethargic and much more prone to play clean-up beneath the schools of large bluefish than they are to take the lead role of chasing down baitfish. When these conditions set-up they tend to remain as a pattern until fall temps make a significant reduction in the water temps of Long Island Sound.
Personally I don't dread these days like some anglers do, I actually look forward to them. Why? Because it's the perfect time to do some light tackle trolling with the Tube & Worm and Spoon & Worm. Large stripers stick closer to their favorite structures during the day and slowly trolling a T&W by their nose is a great way to get them to come out and play.
Over the last couple of trips I have found the bass along reef edges in depths ranging from 15 to 40ft. My T-Man Bubblegum Tubes and Scarlet Snake tubes have been the hot trolling offerings with some decent fish coming on the Scarlet tail spoons also. I have had to work through some big blues while trolling but their size and aggressiveness have made those tussles well worth the aggravation. Besides when you're on the water under beautiful warm skies a bent rod of any kind is pure joy.
Remember to keep those tubes/spoons "low & slow" and make sure your hanging a real or Gulp sandworm on the hook for the stripers to sniff out. Put some time in with light tackle trolling and cover some water. You'll find that you get into some nice bass and may just discover a way to catch that will aid you for the balance of the 2012 season.

July 16, 2012

Find'em Catch'em

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

Had a few trips last week for stripers around the Niantic Connecticut area.

It's truly become a game of cat & mouse.
It's weird too because the last time we had as many menhaden around as we do this year we were joking with each other that it was almost harder to snag the bunker than it was to catch a bass with the live baits.

This year even with live bunker I have seen anglers strike out on some spots that are traditionally a sure thing for stripers. In fact I fished right next to someone who had live bunker and couldn't buy a hit from the bass we were both making under our boats.

Anyway I have been sticking to a little live scup drifting and a whole lot of tube trolling on my trips. The key for the trolling has been to cover a lot of water. I've been covering a greater range of depths this year and carrying my trolling passes into waters I have never fished before.

The good news is once I find the bass I've been able to catch them pretty well with the Bubblegum and Scarlet Snake tubes. Remember that you won't always mark a lot of fish while trolling but you can easily mark a lot of bait. Once you find the bait stick around and it will pay off.

Oh ya... on one of my trips we stumbled onto a large school of bunker in mid sound and had a blast snagging them and watching the gator blues rip them to shreds. Again I found it interesting that there were no bass around this huge shoal of adult menhaden.

Here's somme pics....




June 25, 2012

Consistently Inconsistent

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

Well the last couple of weeks have been relatively successful for scoring keeper striped bass. However, I have to admit on some days it's been a real challenge to score any decent size bass. Anyone who knows me or has been on board my boat for an instructional charter understands I love to employee light tackle trolling techniques with my T-Man Custom Tackle products. Consequently, mid-June is typically a guaranteed hot bite for trolling the tube and worm and spoon worm. But 2012 is proving to be a bit fickle so far with a fine bite one day landing fish to 35 pounds and a very spotty bite the next when I have to fish long and hard for 35 inch fish. One of my other go to techniques is to drift live scup for striped bass. Again some days lately have been hot while the following day has been more frustrating than anything else. Using 11 to 12" scup has a tendency to cull out smaller stripers simply by virtue of it having to small a mouth for the bait. However, I've had more than one day over the last couple weeks were smaller stripers have mouthed my baits all morning without a decent sized striper making a move. I'm not sure if I'm experiencing the effects of sporadic bait in our area or a true lack of overall striped bass populations. In any case, the bulk of the bait and larger fish do seem to be west of the Niantic Ct area at this time. But that can change any day and I'll be after them again this week with a vengeance. Hopefully I can establish a more dependable pattern for some bigger fish.

Here's some pics!!



May 29, 2012

Anderson's Monster Bass

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

There are some pretty cool moments experienced when you get to spend a lot of time on the water as I do. Last Wednesday morning was definitely special. A longtime friend and business associate Captain Blaine Anderson of Anderson Guide Services connected with the fish of a lifetime… I was fortunate to be on the water at the same time.

We spoke briefly the day before as Blaine needed to order some of my lures for the tackle shop he helps manage, Connecticut Outfitters in Hartford, CT. After we took care of business he told me of his plans to fish the salt for the 1st time in 2012 as he had been concentrating on the spring run of stripers on the Connecticut river so far this season.

I shared a bit of intell about where to find some early season scup baits and I told him that I would also be fishing in the Niantic area the next morning. We ended the conversation with an obligatory "see you on the water" knowing full well that doesn't often happen.

Wednesday morning I planned to catch a tide a little west of Niantic so I didn't rush to get out early. At around 8am I was rigging my boat in the parking lot when I noticed I had missed a call from Blaine. Once I was ready to launch I gave him a call back. When he answered I asked so did you find some? He answered "there's a few around" that's wise guy speak for wait till I tell you what I caught. I replied, "OK how big was it?"

What he told me next was stunning. He said he had it at a nearby tackle shop and it bottomed out their 65lb scale. Whoa… I gotta see this! I headed out to grab some bait size scup and told him to meet me there.

Once he pulled up next to me I got out the Nikon and video. However, when he lifted the stripers head where I could see it I didn't immediately start taking pictures. All I could do was gawk and laugh a bit, man what a fish. Easily the biggest non mounted bass I have ever seen in my life. Estimated at a bit over 74 pounds it was certainly the fish of a lifetime for Captain Blaine. Here's a couple pictures and if you want to read his description and see the video of him catching this beast go to fishingct.com It's worth a couple minutes of your time.



May 18, 2012

Keepers In The Sound

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

This week was another fight with mother nature to get some weather that would allow me to get out in Long Island Sound on my 21ft Seahunt Escape. Wednesday we had solid fog conditions that kept us very close to home while Thursday I awoke to winds blowing a steady 20mph. Although both days trips had to be a bit delayed we did manage to get out and find some nice keeper stripers. There has been a great bite in NY waters at the Race but I always prefer to find fish along the CT shoreline on the inshore humps and bumps. To be honest, I'd much rather nail fewer fish in uncrowded waters than pound them in the crowded mayhem conditions of more popular spots. Personal preference I guess… Wednesday we managed 4 keepers squidding 8oz diamond jigs in 60ft of water. These fish were fresh as can be and full of fight. Thursday I got to troll one of my favorite inshore reefs at slacktide. I wouldn't say the bite was red-hot, but the few fish we landed were quality bass between 32-36". The very first pass trolling one of my T-Man Bubblegum tubes produced a huge runoff and resulted in a busted leader. Damn I would have loved to see that fish!! However, it was an early season thrill which got my adrenaline rushing and I can't wait to get back after it next week. All of our trolled T&W fish came in 18-25ft of water and we had surface temps right around 54 degrees. We ended our midweek trip back at the house with a nice lunch of blackened striper… Man I love this time of year!!!

Here's a few pics including a shot of the Blackened Striper lunch feast!!







May 04, 2012

Waiting for the Warm-Up

by Captain Pat

I made a couple of trips in the last 7 days trying to find my 1st 2012 keeper stripers from Long Island Sound. We typically have to wait on some water temps around 54 degrees here in the Niantic Connecticut area before we see a push of keeper size migratory striped bass. Even with the early warmth and limited run-off this spring temps seem to be stuck around 50 degrees. So, as of this Wednesday I'm still searching for my 1st fresh striper dinner. We did find some schoolies on the Tube & Worm and marked a considerable amount of bait on a couple drifts but the bass just haven't materialized in any number for me yet. Just keeping it real here…

Anyway I have had some good news from other Captains who found some nice fish on inshore reefs further west of Niantic as well as the NY waters in and around the Race. Nothing huge yet, but some decent fish to 38" which were nice and fresh with sea lice.
Soooooo… it's gonna turn on very soon, you can bet on it!
To be honest, I'm not losing any sleep over the early striper bite here because we have been doing well on some delicious winter flounder. I've been having lots of fun finding different ways to prepare and devour these little beauties for the last few weeks. Lightly battered and deep fried has been incredibly good with the sautéed shallot, shrimp and flounder casserole a close second.
It's been a lot of fun to do some low pressure flounder drifting with friends this spring before the more serious and strenuous striper season begins in earnest. This week I got fooled pretty good after hooking what I thought would be a very big winter flounder but it turned out to be a big ugly sea robin… one of my buds was thrilled to keep it for fluke bait and planned on taking the strips to Rhode Island this week.
All we need is a little jump in the water temps, it's gonna bust wide open very very soon!

April 22, 2012

Flounder Plus!

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

In the past 10 days we've tried to fish for some flounder in the Niantic Connecticut area. And I'm pleased to say, that the results of been very good. Of course that's a relative statement, compared to the old days what we did for the last 10 would have been poor. However, it is very encouraging to know that on each trip we were able to catch our limit of flounder with some thick 14 to 16 inch fish in the mix. We found them by drifting the edges of the river channels and some muddy flats in the bays and coves. We did try some anchoring and chumming but did significantly better by simply drifting through these areas with 1 ounce weights and the good old single flounder hook and yellow corn bead rigs sweetened with a piece of fresh sand worm. On one of our trips, we scored a nice bonus blackfish well drifting for flounder. My buddy who got the blackfish was convinced it was a decent sized striper and we both laughed pretty hard to see that big tog come up off the mud flat.

This upcoming week should mark our first striped bass trips of 2012. If the weather cooperates, we should get out in the mouth of the Connecticut River and also stop to do some diamond jigging on some of our inshore reefs. We are a little ahead of schedule for migratory bass this year. Consequently, we should find a nice mix of holdover fish and fresh bass during our upcoming forays. So overall, our local fishing will definitely start to get very interesting. There is still another month+ left to catch some winter flounder and even though the spring blackfish season closes May 1st, Scup season opens on that same date!. So break out all those lures you been polishing and reels you've been lubing last winter and put them to good use!

April 06, 2012

Black & Blue

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

The best thing about that one week of summer we had in March, was being able to get to my boat nice and early for the annual scrub and double wax job. Because I got that chore and a few fix it's done so early, I was able to plan a very early fishing trip out on Long Island Sound. A couple buddies and I met up Wednesday morning 4/4 and we decided to try for some early April Tautog along some of our local break walls. We dug out the crab bucket from last fall, hit the local tackle shop for some greenies and headed off into some stiff northwest winds. After parallel parking along several different locations we only had a couple of tog to show for our efforts. Even though the action was very slow at best, it still marked the earliest day I have ever bagged a blackfish in the sound. But soon we determined the action was just too slow to keep us occupied which meant it was time to shift gears.

Plan B for us, was to go investigate the warm water outflow adjacent to Millstone point near Niantic Bay. As we approach the outflows, I watch the surface temps skyrocket from 46 to 71°. My hope was to have a shot at the season's first bluefish. After years of early-season fishing in this area it's been my experience that small migrating bluefish have an uncanny ability to find this warm water. In fact, I have caught them many times in early April. I've just never tried THIS early before. By the way, I am one of the few anglers that actually enjoy bluefish as table fare, especially the less than 5 pound variety. Anyway, I tied on one of my T-Man five inch swimmers in the lemon/pearl color and rifled a cast into the warm water. Three cranks and Bam! I'm on! Ha ha! Pretty neat stuff… We spent the next hour drifting the edges of the outflow with a steady pick of small bluefish and schoolie size stripers hitting tins, poppers and swimmers. So I can happily say my first salt trip for 2012 was a modest success and actually a very fun time shaking down the boat and gear. It also goes down as the earliest date I have ever gotten Black & blue.


March 16, 2012

Let'em Go!

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

First off let me say I love to eat striped bass. They are right at the top of my list of favorite table fare because of their flavor, versatility and availability. I'm also of the opinion that the smaller the striper the better the flavor. There are countless articles being written on a seasonal basis commenting on the status of striped bass populations along the eastern coastline. I don't wish to challenge or verify any of those findings; I simply want to state that from a striper enthusiast's point of view who fishes along the Connecticut shorelines, it might be a good idea to let some of the keeper size bass we catch go.
It was the early 2000's when I got the opportunity to try and make a living manufacturing custom tackle and doing some charter fishing. Both of these endeavors focused on the precious striped bass. Back in those early days we had a slot limit in Connecticut which allowed you to keep 1 fish of 26-30" and an additional fish over 40". That's when I first gained an appreciation for the difference between the taste of a 30" fish and a 30lb fish. If you asked me eight years ago I would have told you that the striper reclamation program was an obvious and overwhelming success. During those slot years we caught and released a huge amount of 32-40" fish which experts told us were the prime breeding stock and primarily responsible for sustaining future striper populations. A few years later many states changed the recreational limits to 2 fish per day @ 28" or above while the commercial industry in some states began selling striped bass again.
As I stated earlier, data and arguments on this topic coming from scientists, fisherman & politicians abound each season. Honestly I don't feel I'm qualified to challenge any of that information. However, I can make a statement about what I have experienced first hand over the last several seasons of charter and recreational fishing. "Striped bass populations within eastern Long Island Sound have steadily decreased each year." Even though some very big fish have come from my home waters including a new world record, I have certainly experienced a downward trend in the total number of fish of all sizes.
So taking this at face value only… I'm simple suggesting it makes sense to let some stripers go. This is something I do every year, especially those larger fish which I believe are of strong breeding status. I know that everyone has the right to keep a legal limit of fish in accordance with their state's regulations. In fact, I honor and respect that right. But, until we are sure populations are again going in the right direction, maybe having a more conservation minded approach would benefit us all.

March 05, 2012

New England Salt Water Fishing Show

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

This upcoming weekend 3/9, 3/10, 3/11 is the Rhode Island Saltwater Angler Association (RISAA) sponsored "New England Saltwater Fishing Show" in Providence, RI. I do a lot of off season fishing expos in New England and I can honestly say this show is my favorite. Why? Because it's ALL SALT WATER FISHING!!!

No other show features as many "on-site manufacturers" both large and small as the RISAA show does. You can have a one on one conversation with the actual inventors and innovators of many popular fishing tackle products. That alone is worth the price of admission. It's truly a striper lure junky's paradise.

In addition to all the manufacturers' booths, the seminar schedule is excellent and the seminar stage seating area is second to none. The crew at this show makes sure all of the presentations are well advertised throughout the convention center with timely announcements so you're sure to catch the seminar you want to see.

This show just "feels fishy" when your there. It has an atmosphere of camaraderie which you can pick up on from all of the great RISAA volunteers that make the show run so smoothly. If you make the trip be sure to stop by the RISAA sign-up booth and give some serious consideration to joining this great fishing organization.

My adivise is to take a minute to visit the website for this show and try your best to plan a trip. I you do, I gurantee you'll find the whole experience fun, informative and very family friendly. Woman and kids under 12 years of age get in free!! Plus they provide free activities and prizes for the kids once their inside. How can you bet that?
Hope to see you there!! - Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

February 23, 2012

Northeast Fishing & Hunting Expo

by Captain Pat "T-Man" Renna

The Northeast Fishing & Hunting Show is coming this weekend at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, CT. Fri 2/17-Sun2/19. The show season for those of us in the business is a hectic and demanding time of year. The best part for me is getting to meet and speak to so many enthusiastic anglers. For the attendees, most of these shows offer something special; the opportunity to attend a variety of professionally presented seminars.
While the tradition of walking the floor looking for bargains and checking out new products is the main draw. Those who check out the seminar schedules prior to attending can walk away with something far more useful than a new rod or reel… valuable fish catching information. Where else can you have the opportunity to sit back with notepad in hand and listen to tackle manufactures, outdoor writers and charter captains discuss methods, tackle and techniques?
I can tell you first hand that those of us who present these seminars work very hard to put together a program that will be informative and entertaining. Having attended many of these winter show seminars myself, I can honestly say that you will always grab some great tips and ideas no matter how experienced a fisherman you may be. In addition to the formal seminars, very often there is a chance to get in a little one on one Q&A with the presenter either before/after or at a show room floor booth.
For those of you specifically interested in catching striped bass I will be presenting instructional seminars titled "Light Tackle Trolling" on all three days of the show. This is a technique developed after years of fishing the waters of Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River. It's an opportunity to learn a method that is fairly easy to master and relatively inexpensive to get into.
Adding different techniques to your striper catching arsenal ultimately makes you a more successful angler. So, take the time to review the seminar schedules at the shows you're attending this year prior to deciding when to make the trip. Doing so just may provide you with the best value and the most important item you score at the show.

February 23, 2012

"Imagine"

by Captain Pat

No, I'm not going to go all John Lennon on you and ask you to consider the social and political ramifications of religion, war and love. But from a striper fisherman's perspective I guess I may be getting a little cosmic.
What I really want you to "Imagine" is what you can do differently in your 2012 pursuit of striped bass. Personally, I always want to get better at catching fish. Sometimes I just want to try and discover a new/different way to get the job done. What I'm suggesting is that if you want to catch more and even bigger striped bass this upcoming season, you might want to consider doing the same.
Let me try and convince you… Are you strictly a live bait fisherman? Do you only snap wire for linesiders? Are you exclusively a lure chucker refusing to even consider trolling for your dinner? Or how about this question, did you have days last season when you knew the fish were there but just couldn't entice them to eat? I already know a lot of you will answer yes to some of these questions. So then, you should be ready to admit that you need to strengthen your arsenal by adding or tweaking a technique or two for the upcoming season.
The options are virtually endless, but let me make a couple of suggestions:
Trolling: For those who have never tried it let me just say that there are lots of styles including my personal favorite light tackle trolling with braided lines. It's an easy technique to learn and relatively easy to get into. (Check my website @ tmancustomtackle.com) Remember, trolling keeps the bait in the water at a high percentage of time and allows you to cover a large amount of water.

Light Tackle Trolling Rig


Tweaking Live Bait Rigs: Whether you're fishing eels, menhaden, scup, etc… 3-waying or livelining variations to your rigs can be key. As an example, a couple winters ago I got the idea to put an eel on a very light 5ft 20lb fluorocarbon leader with a smallish circle hook and suspend it below a large Styrofoam bobber. I envisioned pitching this rig into shallow rocky shoreline areas letting the bobber keep the eel just off the bottom and out of the snags. This rig has worked beautifully for me on several occasions with the visual effect of the bobber being ripped underwater making for a dramatic strike. One day last season when I couldn't get the stripers to commit to my live scup offering, I got them to stop mouthing and spitting the bait by trimming the scups dorsal fin with scissors. A trick I had read about and discussed with my fishing partner the previous winter.
You get the picture now don't you? Take the time this winter to "Imagine" and plan for something new to do this upcoming season. Trust me, it's a fun, smart and very satisfying endeavour.

Bass Caught on Live Scup

February 02, 2012

Striper Tides - "Getting Ready"

by Captain Pat Renna

I absolutely LOVE to catch striped bass. In fact, I proudly admit I'm flat out addicted to it. My addiction drives me toward winter activities designed to improve my catch rates and help me make the most of each valuable hour I spend chasing the handsome striped bass. One such activity is the preparation of yearly tide charts.
Here's what I do. Accessing one of the many on-line sources for daily high/low tide predictions, I print out the entire years tide schedule with the corresponding moon phase information. In my case, I choose a specific Connecticut location within Long Island Sound which is relatively central to where I do the majority of my striper hunting like the tide predictions for "Old Saybrook Jetties". From this location I make a simple key which tells me the time difference between the Jetties and a few surrounding hot spots. Example: High tide at "The Gut" in NY is 45min earlier than at the Old Saybrook Jetties.



Let me give you a brief explanation of why I believe this tide information is so important. My experience has taught me that striped bass feeding activities, especially during the daylight hours are dramatically influenced by the relative speed and direction of tidal flows. I have had enormous success catching big striped bass when light tackle trolling by targeting reefs and rips during periods of slow moving tides. I have also compiled log notes over the years that tell me many of my spots are significantly more productive on an ebbing tide than a flooding tide and vise versa. In some locations I actually have it narrowed down to individual rock piles that will likely produce big fish during certain tide conditions.
I'm sure you can now understand how having this tide information at the ready during the season can help provide a valuable piece of the puzzle for a any days fishing trip. In fact, I personally believe this information is so crucial that I establish my "Prime" charter dates by considering this data. That's right, I'm convinced that when I pay attention to the tides I not only know which days I prefer to be on the water, but I also can give myself a little better chance to hook up with a really big fish.
So take my advice and try printing out the tide information in your area in 2012. It might help you decide which days you plan to go fishing and I'm positive it will help you establish some patterns for success anytime you get to be on the water.
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