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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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May 31, 2015

Incredible Underwater Fluke Video!

by John Skinner

This was a real eye opener. For me the most informative thing was watching how violently the fluke strike a bait strip and eat the whole thing in a flash. Their persistance was pretty amazing too. I had lots to say in the narration. Lots of nice fluke moving into Long Island Sound now. This video was shot Friday, May 29. Enjoy!

May 21, 2015

Surprises Above and Below

by John Skinner

One of the intriguing things about heading to the shore or out on (or under) the water is that you can never quite anticipate what you're going to see or experience. I think that's a big part of what draws us to fishing. This past Sunday, the NY fluke opener, I took my tin boat out on the Sound near Riverhead. Normally we would be thick into fluke by mid-May, but given the cold of the preceding months and the perceived delayed fish migration I wasn't expecting much, and I wasn't disappointed. I had enough fluke to keep it interesting, but nothing to get excited about. The real surprise came before my line ever hit the water.
I was sliding across the very smooth surface in about 50 feet of water when something to my left caught my eye. My brain momentarily registered "Oh cool, a whale", before I came to my senses and reminded myself where I was. Nevertheless, the big black back of the large creature that had caught my eye as it arched out of the water was now headed back down culminating in the largest boil I've ever seen on Long Island Sound. At less than 200 feet away, I pulled up on the tail end of the boil in a few seconds and killed the engine. The whale was heading west and I wanted to avoid getting in its path. I immediately dug out a video camera while keeping an eye open hoping to see it resurface. I waited with the camera running, but nothing. I stayed a couple of extra minutes, but the creature never resurfaced.
I spent the next few minutes trying to convince myself that I must have somehow been mistaken. With the exception of a Killer Whale grabbing bluefish off anglers' lines in the 1970's off Rocky Point, I had never heard of a whale in Long Island Sound. Still, there was no other explanation. It was black, much larger than a porpoise, and moved like a whale.
The next day I emailed someone at the DEC with a lot of experience on the Sound waters, and he said he saw whales in the same area in the 1990's. That just reinforced what I had already become sure of. I'd seen a whale. While fluke fishing I encountered squid several times, and I could only guess that this high quality food supply might had brought it into the area. It was an experience I'll never forget.
I put together another nice round of underwater video showing bluefish attacking a swimming plug. Have you ever been retrieving a lure and then suddenly felt a puff of slack? I got a nice shot of a bluefish making a big tail swipe at the plug, with the resulting turbulence no doubt able to be felt at the rod tip. It was also interesting to see how many pass on the lure. On the surface I'd feel one sharp hit, but maybe three or four fish followed or swam by the offering. There's plenty of fun action on the video.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend and I hope someone else spots that Long Island Sound whale.

May 12, 2015

Underwater Bluefish Behavior

by John Skinner



Bluefish are often thought of as not being very picky about what they'll try to eat. This fish has me scratching my head though. There's a shiny rebel plug swimming in a tantalizing fashion. Ahead of it is a 6-inch black cylindrical object without any action at all. Its job is to video the lure, but this fish somehow decided it looked like the better meal. It gave the plug a real close look afterwards before turning off. Maybe it was being a little more careful after a couple of bites of plastic.
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