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John Skinner

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.

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January 21, 2013

Super Strike Changes to VMC Hooks

by John Skinner

I couldn't find it on their website yet, but I just got confirmation from Steve Musso of Super Strike Lures that all Super Strike plugs produced from here on out will ship with VMC hooks. If you're a serious surfcaster who pays attention to detail, this is good news because you probably already replace the former stock hooks with VMCs, and now you won't have to go through the extra cost and effort to do that. If you're not already putting VMCs on your plugs, then your good news will come later when you start hooking and landing more fish on those Super Strikes that you buy in the future. The former stock hooks were not substandard by any means, but it's clear that the folks at Super Strike saw a way to improve their already excellent product and took that step.
VMCs are very sharp right out of the package, and they do an excellent job of staying sharp with little or no angler intervention. The barb is just about the right size – prominent enough to keep a hook from backing out of a hooked fish, but not so large that it's hard to set. The big gain in the case of the Super Strike move is the elimination of the open eye hooks. Although it was a relatively rare occurrence, these hook eyes would occasionally break with a fish on. Naturally these breaks usually occurred with a quality fish, when the hook was under above average stress. With time and repeated contact with pliers in the course of unhooking fish, the risk of hook failure increased.
Anyone who follows my writing knows I'm a Super Strike fan. These plastic plugs just plain work and they don't degrade over time as wood does. Over the years they've continuously upgraded their hardware, now using swivels that test out in the 330- to 370-pound range on most of their lures. If I'm throwing a bottle plug, darter, needle, or popper, chances are it's one of theirs. I wish they would start making pencil poppers too.
While on the subject of hooks, I'll restate here that I'm obsessively anal retentive about hook sets and hook sharpness, particularly where big fish are involved. I think most encounters with large stripers are very brief because the hooks simply don't penetrate. Paying attention to these details is a simple and inexpensive way for any angler to make a significant positive impact on his productivity. This was an excellent move on the part of Super Strike.

January 13, 2013

Record Warmth in 2012

by John Skinner

It's official – 2012 was the warmest year on record for Long Island. Newsday reported in early January that the major weather service installations at Central Park, Islip, and Brookhaven Lab all reported that 2012 was the warmest year since records have been kept, which in the case of Central Park goes all the way back to 1869. The Newsday article went on to quote Brian A. Colle, professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. "It's all thanks to an early-in-the-year jet stream pattern that allowed the area to dodge brutally cold air, setting the stage for above-normal temperatures the rest of the year." Islip measured only 9.2 inches of snow for the year.
At this stage of 2013, I can't help but think "Here we go again." It's been snow-less and unseasonably warm so far this winter, and the long-range forecast isn't showing much deviation from that. Of course it's much too early to start wondering what effect our recent warm weather might have on the 2013 fishing season. What's important is the weather in the time period close to when fishing usually commences. The unusually warm weather of March 2012 was likely responsible for putting the stripers on the South Fork ocean beaches in early April, weeks ahead of schedule. The average temperature at Islip last March was an amazing 55.7 degrees. It's interesting to note that while we experienced such warm weather, eastern and central Europe had a brutal winter, balancing things out on a global scale.
Some in the angling community like to make fishing predictions based on weather. One that I personally consider an Old Wives Tale is that a cold snowy winter often results in lots of sandeels the following season. I've never made that correlation, and I'd love to see some hard evidence to support it. One personal feeling that I have is that a cooler than normal spring is beneficial to Long Island's striper fishery. This is simply because the cool weather can delay the water temperatures hitting the mid-70 degree mark, when striper fishing typically goes significantly downhill in our waters. The other weather-related thought is that if this warm weather continues this winter, we better have our fishing gear ready to go by April. I typically start fishing East End bays for stripers in mid- to late-April, depending on the weather at the time. When those schoolies hit the South Fork ocean beaches early last April, I was packing my gear for Florida fishing. Bass were far off my radar. This year I'll be ready to go much earlier, especially if this warm weather continues.

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