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Capt. Steve Byrne

Steve Byrne is a charter captain and fishing addict. He holds the current IGFA weakfish 30# line-class record, & guided his two sons to IGFA records of their own. "Catching stripers for 40 years, I love releasing big fish to catch them another day!"

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May 10, 2013

Rethinking Fishing

by Capt. Steve Byrne

In the hours immediately after Sandy passed, I drove in the darkness to the marina where my boat was docked. You've seen the pictures; boats upside down, underwater, docks sticking straight up into the air…that's what I saw when I turned into the lot. I was certain that my boat could not have survived the storm in the water, but there it was right where I left it.

Those minutes of uncertainty made me wonder: what if my boat was gone? With a mortgage, college tuition and high school tuition to pay, it's probably not realistic to think I'd be able to run out and buy another new boat. That left me thinking about the fishing I'd done - or not done - over the course of the past decade.

The charter business has been a great experience, and it allowed me to afford a brand new boat and keep it in the water. It's been fun, but there's a hidden cost. To be more exact, what you're really selling is not just your expertise; it's the opportunities to catch big fish. And those opportunities are limited.

It's time to get out and have some fun of my own.

Maybe when I retire from my "regular job" I will go back into the business full time, but for now I want to fish. Life is too short.

Speaking of fishing, I made my first post-Sandy trip today with a couple of friends and we had 4 bass from 15 to 17 pounds, plus a whole lot of bluefish on bunker chunks. We fished in 22 feet of water just outside the channel. The water temperature was a surprising 61 degrees, and as the tide dropped it went up to 64.

Bunker were not easy, but they were certainly get-able. I don't want to sound preachy, but when you see a boat closing in on some bunker splashes, please don't approach the same pod from the other side or try to cut off the boat. The inevitable result is that neither of you will get the bunker, so what's the point? Also, you need to trust your fishfinder.

While bunker splashes are great indicators of where to throw your net, they are just that - indicators. Go to the splashes, but when you get there - look at your screen! If the marks are not thick don't bother throwing the net.

Fishing in Raritan Bay is excellent right now. There are plenty of bass, bunker and bluefish around, so there's no reason to stay off the water. Bait guys are having success with clams and bunker while trollers are catching bass on plugs, with the bigger fish coming on spoons.

I am looking forward to spending a lot of time on the water over the next few weeks. I'll keep you posted.

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