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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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April 28, 2012

Lots of Action

by Capt. Steve Byrne

Okay, enough with the wind already. Vin and Mike called early in the week to try and get out for some bass, but it seemed like we faced crummy weather conditions all week long. When we spoke Wednesday I told Vin, "Rain and wind Thursday, or very windy Friday – your choice." After further deliberation we agreed to go Saturday morning.

Friday afternoon I picked up my youngest boy from the bus stop and headed to the marina for gas. I was excited to see a rare "OPEN" sign at the gas dock, but before I could get the boat there the "OPEN" sign was apparently back in storage. Oh well.

An advance supply of bunker would be welcome in the morning, so we went on a bunker hunt. My son spotted a few splashes and we were loaded up with one throw.

Vin and Mike met me at the boat at 4:30AM, and we were anchored up and chunking by 5:00AM. The bite started slowly, but after a half hour we started to get some play. Unfortunately, it was almost all bluefish. We had one bass in the boat, and by the end of the trip we easily had 50-plus choppers up to 9 pounds.

That reminds me – I have to take back my anti-circle-hook statement. We ran through about 25 hooks with the bluefish, and before we knew it circle hooks were the only option. Surprisingly, our hook-up ratio immediately improved dramatically. After today's results I am willing to go back and give the circle hook another opportunity. Every fish we got was hooked in the corner of the mouth; just the way they're supposed to be.

After speaking with several other groups who were on the water this morning, it appears that our results were typical. One bass and loads of bluefish was what I heard from five different guys. The only exception was a friend who had three bass and a load of bluefish.

Weather permitting, I will be out several times this week and will continue updating the blog.

The FCA Manhattan Cup is an awesome event that is about as "NYC Stripers" as you can get. And I don't just say that because I am the fisheries committee chair of the organization. The Manhattan Cup is recognized as one of the best fishing events around – certainly for striped bass.

In the days ahead I'll share some of the behind-the-scene stuff as we put the event together. It is an all-day catch and release fishing event and if you live or work in Manhattan it is probably worthwhile to stop by to see the weigh-in. Seeing a 40-plus-pounder come out of a striper tube to be weighed in a cradle and then released back into the Hudson is something you won't soon forget.

April 19, 2012

Warming Up

by Capt. Steve Byrne

Got out for a couple of hours after work today. The wind was fairly stiff and although it was with the tide it still whipped up a decent sea (for the Bay). I set up chunks on two rods, one in the holder and one in my hand. After twenty minutes I went to change the bait & put the rod I had been holding into a rod holder.

It immediately bent over...

Missed that one, but I did connect with this bass, which was released. Fresh chunks, moving tide & a little high spot = fish. I have my first charter of the year tomorrow afternoon. With a little luck, I'll have some better photos for my next post.

April 16, 2012

They are Here

by Capt. Steve Byrne

So, I finally went fishing on Sunday. The first trip of the year would have come sooner, but I closed on our new home March 29th. The contract listed the closing date as "on or about" March 2nd. What I learned, was that "on or about" actually means within 30 days of the date listed. In addition, the "possession agreement" gave the seller an additional 5 days after closing to actually turn over the property. And of course, the seller stayed those 5 extra days.

With all of those delays, I couldn't begin painting and moving everything until April 3rd. I am completely exhausted, but I painted the bedrooms, living and dining room and have just another twenty or so boxes to get out of storage. Then all we have to do is unpack everything and figure out where it all goes; but it's all good.

Back to the fishing: I left the dock at 11AM to search for bunker. There was plenty of them, but they weren't really net-able. The finder showed bunker, but they were not at all thick and throwing the net was really a waste of time. That said, I wasted an hour throwing the net. Partly because I like to throw the net, and partly because throwing the net is easier on the back than snagging bunker.

After killing an hour for just two bunker, I gave in and dug a bunker snag out of my bag. In five minutes I snagged another four bunker and headed out.

I anchored on a high spot – 11 feet of water, surrounded by 14 feet – and started chunking. After wasting over an hour for bunker, I only had two or three hours left to fish. I'd like to tell you that I caught a bunch of stripers, but I can't.

I tried using circle hooks, and I think I paid a price for it. One rod was set in "idiot mode." Baited and stuck in the holder with the reel in gear, it doubled over after waiting twenty minutes, but the fish wasn't stuck. After that failure, I set the baits out with the reels in free spool. I had three more solid takes, but the bunker chunks popped free of the fish's mouth every time.

They are definitely here.

Talking with several guys at the dock, it seems that results varied widely depending on whom you spoke with. Two boats came back without so much as a bite, while another friend had three bass from 25 to 27 pounds. All of these guys know what they're doing, so it's not a case of one person knowing something nobody else does.

There was a report of a 50-inch bass caught by a local kayaker. As for the weight, estimates ranged from 30 to 45 pounds, depending on who you asked. Apparently, it was a skinny fish.

My plans are to take a break from working on the house for now, and start concentrating on the bass. Several clients have been texting, emailing and calling me, and I look forward to getting them out on the water and reporting the results to you.

April 01, 2012

Not so Fast....

by Capt. Steve Byrne

It's funny how 40 degrees in December seems warm, but the same 40 degrees in April feels cold. I think it's because those 40-degree days in December are the last of the fishing season for most of us. Knowing you have a few days left to the fishing season makes the cold seem not as cold. We're willing to put up with more discomfort.

The beginning of the year, naturally, is the opposite. Sure, I can't wait to start fishing again, but when it's 38 degrees and I know there's a bunch of warm fishing days ahead….well, that 38 degrees feels a lot colder.

I waited until 9AM before going to the boat, so it was up around 45 degrees – definitely an improvement over 38. The short story is that I caught no fish.

Bunker were there, but they were scattered and in small pods. I spent the first half hour throwing soft plastic in some shallow water; no swings, hits or misses. Then I checked out the bunker situation. Like I said, the pods were small so I was only able to net a few. I chunked for an hour and a half and did not get a bump.

On the positive side the boat ran well, bunker and bass are here and the water temperature was 51.2 degrees. It's possible that the last two days of clouds, cooler temperatures and light rain have made the fish that are here, more lethargic than they were last week.

I hoped to follow the chunks picture with a nice shot of a striper....

It's just a matter of time.
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