John Skinner is the author of Fishing the Bucktail and A Season on the Edge. He’s the creator of the fishing log software FishersLog. He’s a consistent producer of trophy striped bass and holds the current New York State false albacore record.
While striped bass surf fishing has not been what most people have hoped for this fall, false albacore took up a little of the slack by showing in what I perceived as record numbers. This was especially true in Long Island Sound, where September and October had them all the way west to Sunken Meadow and beyond. These fish are a real favorite of mine, and easily distract me from pursuing stripers. The explosive surface hits followed by drag scorching runs make for a lot of excitement. The fishing is also brutal in some ways. A lot of the fish I catch from the shore of eastern Long Island Sound are caught blind-casting. There's no indication that the fish are there, and you just have to make cast after cast until the end of your line blows up with a fish. I took advantage of the excellent fishing to give a thorough test to Penn's new Clash spinning reel, and it came through with flying colors. The reel's drag is silky smooth, as is common with the modern Penn reels, and the drag is sealed top and bottom. A fair amount of the fishing I did was under choppy and wet conditions, and I never needed to open the reel or attend to the drag washers, which apparently stayed dry. Because the fishing involves skipping a tin across the water's surface at top speed, it's possible to get loops and windknots. Penn has modified this reel's oscillation to lay the line more evenly in order for it to be more braid-friendly. After many hours of fishing I had only one windknot. The Clash series is the lightest weight in the Penn lineup, which was very much appreciated with the non-stop rapid-fire casting. Best of all, the Clash has a fully machined gear train, which increases durability and smoothness. After fishing this reel very hard and beaching more than 200 albies on it over the course of a month of hard fishing, the reel finished up as smooth as when it came out of the box. Penn makes the Clash in 7 sizes, from ultra-light up to a large 8000 series. Here's a video review.