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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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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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