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View From The Beach Renowned surf angler, Rich Troxler, shares his thoughts, tactics, tips and tricks for surf casting success!


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  #1  
Old 10-02-2011, 11:42 PM
richtrox richtrox is offline
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Default In Praise of Bluefish

by Rich Troxler

From Humble Beginnings-

As a kid growing up in Milford Connecticut, one of my very first fishing experiences in the briny was catching Snapper Blues from atop the outflow of what is now Silver Sands State Park. This was back around 1962, or there abouts. We would mostly catch them casting small Dardevle Spoons with the paint job scratched off, so they would be silver on both sides. Even back as a kid, there were modifications LOL.

We would also catch them with shiners (spearing) that we would seine net ourselves, but to be honest, catching bait was just the excuse we used to see what else we could catch in the net. The kid I fished with had a big seine net, maybe like 12-15 feet and a lot of interesting stuff came up in it, including a large fluke and a 4- foot Silver Eel.

I remember the Snapper Blues as being aggressive, fun to catch, and good to eat. Having lived through the Great Depression, my parents always encouraged me to bring home what I caught, so those same Snappers also provided me with the pride that comes from putting a meal on the table.

Less than a year later I would catch my first “bigger” Bluefish, a Tailor Blue was what one of the old timers at the Gulf Street Bridge called it, and that Fall, I caught my first “official” Bluefish. It was probably around 8 lbs or so, but man, what a fight. It had set a new high water mark for my young fishing career, and took a place in my nightly dreams for weeks to come.

Time Warp 48 years-

This spring, a large stretch of Long Island’s south shore was inundated for 4 straight days by hordes of big, ocean-going Bluefish. You know the ones, big shoulders, beautiful purple hue on their backs, gnarly attitude, and almost all teen sized fish. They had been around the offshore bunker schools, but then huge schools of squid tried to squeeze through along the shore, so Calamari went on the menu and drew them in.

Now, I haven’t “actively” fished for Bluefish for many years. I, like many, have become enamored of the fish with stripes, and spend the majority of my time, almost exclusively at night, pursuing them. But when the call came in to me that Blues were all over the beach, I figured I was due for a few early days out of work, and a little fun in the sun, and maybe a few for the smoker.

To be honest, I had completely forgotten how much fun catching big Bluefish could be. On the fifth day, I couldn’t even raise my morning cup of coffee to my mouth, my arms and shoulders hurt that bad LOL. They turned a perfectly good Gibbs bottle plug into a toothpick and gave me 4 straight days of aerobic exercise.

So Here’s The Thing –

Somewhere along the line, Bluefish have taken on a sort of a bad connotation amongst some of the surf fishing crowd. I frequently hear them spoken of in disparaging ways, and what’s worse, have seen them abused by those who catch them. Some of this behavior is downright sickening.

How quickly we allow ourselves to become jaded. “Familiarity breeds contempt” is an expression that comes to mind here. It is easy to forget how lucky we truly are, not only to have an abundance of Bluefish, but of MANY fish. And it just goes to show you how relative situations are to each other.

Back in 1965, Bluefish all but disappeared for a couple of years. Nobody knows exactly why, but they just did, and I mean they were scarcer than hen’s teeth. I remember the older guys lined up on the Charles Island sand bar waiting, hoping, through the whole tide, for the Bluefish to show. Striped Bass, geezz, it was easy, just throw a clam or worm off the Gulf Street Bridge, but nobody wanted them. They wanted the Bluefish.

Several years’ back, my company had a visitor from Japan, and as my position required me to “entertain” him, I asked him if he liked fishing. Oh man, his eyes lit up, so I told him I would take him fishing the next day. Now I wasn’t about to drag him around to the places I fish, so I grabbed some clam and squid and took him to a local rock pile for some “kiddie” fishing.

We started catching some Porgies, Sea bass, Bergals, etc, most under-sized, and he was absolutely amazed at the sheer number of fish we were catching. He actually had no point of reference for how good our fishing was. He told me that guys go out on boats, and that if you catch one fish, that it was a good day, and two fish, killer. He also told me that they fish for trout in artificial indoor ponds that are stocked with mostly yearling trout, but an occasional 2 lb’er, and catching one of those is like getting Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket.

So I ask you this. What’s not to love about the Bluefish? Have you ever met a more willing combatant? Are there any fish in our area with more attitude? I think not. I have hit my personal “refresh” button and have come full circle where my respect for the Bluefish is concerned. I consider their numbers as an embarrassment of riches, and if my suspicions on the health of the Striped Bass population prove correct, they may become our only option for a while.

So next time you catch a big ol’ ugly Bluefish, don’t try to kiss it, because it’ll bite your face off, but do thank it for giving you it’s best and release it healthy, back from whence it came.
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  #2  
Old 10-03-2011, 07:02 PM
acrylic acrylic is offline
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Default Re: In Praise of Bluefish

Thanks for posting this Rich. I haven't been fishing very long (2nd year surfcasting) so I don't have the history a lot of guys I see on the beach do. I love catching bluefish, and I love eating them too. I never understood all the hate. It sickens me whenever I see anyone mistreating any fish they catch whether it be a bluefish or a short fluke or a sea robin or a stargazer. I agree that we should all be thankful for what we have because tomorrow it might not be there.
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Old 10-03-2011, 08:49 PM
ChefBX ChefBX is offline
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Default Re: In Praise of Bluefish

Always an enjoyable read Rich. This has taken me back to my early teens when my father had a boat at the seaplane base in the bronx. I can remember the exhiliration of popping them out near execution rock and watching them absolutly annihilate our offerings. But it also takes me to my first real saltwater experience, at 14yrs old my family would vacation in wildwood,NJ I always went crabbing and snapper fishing on the bayside and one fateful night I asked if I could go on a partyboat. The Royalflush, I think it is still there, myself and another kid about my age were both dropped by our mothers and told to stay with each other.LOL A few giant blues later and watching someone catch an 8ft shark that was all I was ever going to need! Remember walking back to the hotels in the foggy night with a burlap sack of fish over my shoulder. I can still smell em! The bluefish do get a bad wrap and thats ok with me because I will always enjoy catching them, especially in the surf (I was in on the SS mayhem and they were GOOORRIILLASS!) It brings back alot of great memories and future ones waiting to be catalogued in my mind, How can we just dismiss an absolute predator with the heart of a lion and the will of a warrior!

Appreciate the read as Always

CHEFBX
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  #4  
Old 10-03-2011, 09:55 PM
richtrox richtrox is offline
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Default Re: In Praise of Bluefish

Great pic Chef, now that's what I'm talking about!!!

Zeno Hromin posted a video on his Surfcasters Journal blog this spring of a couple guys catching big blues. It looked like it was shot on Long Islands north shore (no waves and shallow water), but I don't know for sure where it was. What was amazing was that one of the guys looked like he was skipping a pencil popper (no hooks) over the top of the water at high speed and this one bluefish was absolutely ripping through the water trying to get at it. The whole retrieve was caught on video. Gotta love the spirit of Bluefish, they just don't take no for an answer LOL.

Hi acrylic, glad to see you over here. As far as eating bluefish, they are a lot better eating than people realize, particularly the smaller 2 lb'ers. The trick with them is to bring a cooler with a broken up block of ice. Put seawater in it, so you get this seawater slush. The temp will actually drop below freezing.

As soon as you catch the bluefish, bleed it and stuff it into the seawater slush. You really don't even have to bleed it this way, but it can't hurt. When you fillet it, the flesh will be firm, and after you fillet it, give it a quick wash in the ice brine. I cut out the dark nerve meat down the center skin side, steam in white wine, butter, and a healthy dose of Great South Bay Seasoning and serve it to people who swear they hate eating bluefish.

After listening to how much they love this "fish", it's always funny to watch the look on their faces when I tell them it's bluefish LOL.

Thanks guys, for your contributions. Nap time now, late tide tonight LOL.
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Old 10-04-2011, 06:02 PM
acrylic acrylic is offline
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Default Re: In Praise of Bluefish

Hey Rich keep up the great and informative posts. Unfortunately I missed out on the run of gorilla blues from earlier this year. I'm still very new to surfcasting and this was my first spring season. I was too busy concentrating on figuring out the bays(not even close on that) I just wasn't in the right place at the right time. Hopefully I'll be ready next year.

Since I don't have a beach buggy I walk wherever I fish. That rules out carrying coolers and ice etc. Whenever I catch a blue and I'm gonna keep fishing for a while, I just bury it in wet sand. I also always bleed any fish I catch. I've never had a problem with the meat going bad. Also I agree the dark meat must be removed. I had one recently that was probably around 2-3 lbs. Cooked with some grape tomatoes and capers on a bed of mashed potatoes. Fantastic.

And I hear you about striper numbers. I was a complete newbie last year and by this time I had already caught a keeper striper. I have yet to catch a keeper striper this year. Maybe I had beginners luck last year lol.
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Old 10-04-2011, 09:54 PM
73surffisher 73surffisher is offline
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Default Re: In Praise of Bluefish

hey all
i fish the sands a lot and cant always carry a cooler either, , i like the idea of burying the blue fish, , but what peaked my interest was when you indicated that you "bleed" the fish, , , , , , can you please explain how this is done , , the proper way to accomplish this task

thanks

Ray
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Old 10-05-2011, 01:42 PM
acrylic acrylic is offline
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Default Re: In Praise of Bluefish

Very simply you take a knife to the gills. You basically make a horizontal cut of the gills, cutting them in half. Do it for each side of course. This has always bled the fish out completely for me. Also it's nice when you get home and it's time to fillet and there is zero blood in the fish so less mess. Hope that helps.
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Old 10-05-2011, 04:07 PM
Murphyslaw Murphyslaw is offline
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Default Re: In Praise of Bluefish

Great Read!!! Brought back a rush of memories.

Back in the early 70's in my pre-teen years, me, my brothers and cousins would spend hours fishing for snappers in Shark River and back in the basin. Hella fight for their size, expecially what we called the "bronze-backs".

And I couldn't count the number of hours spent cleaning them for my Grandfather to salt down.

I'm now motivated to get my kids on some...
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Old 10-05-2011, 08:46 PM
73surffisher 73surffisher is offline
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Default Re: In Praise of Bluefish

Thank you Acrylic,
This is clear and I will put this into practice on my next outing , , ,


Best regards

Ray
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Old 10-06-2011, 02:50 PM
richtrox richtrox is offline
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Default Re: In Praise of Bluefish

Hi Murphyslaw & 73surffisher and welcome to 247.

The eating quality of any fish, but especially bluefish, has everything to do with what you do with with it after it's caught. Bleeding out is a must, and as acrylic pointed out, it's very easy to do. Burying in wet sand is an old trick that accomplishes 2 things. It keeps your fish fresh, and it keeps the space around from getting crowded, by those who want to muscle in on the fish LOL.

And yes, snappers are probably the best way to get kids interested in fishing. Always ready and willing.

Thanks for your posts guys.
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Old 10-07-2011, 11:32 AM
Murphyslaw Murphyslaw is offline
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Default Re: In Praise of Bluefish

Rich,

Thanks for the Welcome!

I learned the burying trick from my Grandfather long ago.

The Key is getting something good to bury...

Chris
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Old 10-08-2011, 10:19 AM
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brzman brzman is offline
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Default Re: In Praise of Bluefish

Rich great post,
I fish Gulf beach everyday, the pier, beach and rocks so it was a great read for me. Fishing this year there has been so-so, until this week that is, landed 2 - 34" about 8 lb. Blues, and now that they are out of season the Fluke are coming into legal size, oh well, I am looking for that legal size Striper to pass my way, that I am looking to cook up, Blues and anything else I get I simply catch and release, as do the guys I fish with but now that I learned the bleeding trick maybe I should cook one up, it is amazing how people do disrespect fish. If your ever back this way stop by and say hello.
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Old 10-08-2011, 11:07 PM
smk379 smk379 is offline
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Default Re: In Praise of Bluefish

Great read, I hope that post will open up a few peoples eyes to what great creatures bluefish acually are instead of viewing them as plug destroyers. Jeeez was that spring Gorilla Bonanza something huh?! I was lucky enough to stumble upon it on my own at one of the SS beaches. Brought my girlfriend the very next day and I think she had more fun than I did!
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Old 10-09-2011, 12:11 PM
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Frankiesurf Frankiesurf is offline
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Default Re: In Praise of Bluefish

One of my earliest fishing memories comes from the fight of a bluefish.

My father had gotten a boat when I was 4 or 5 years old. We used to head out into Moriches Bay each weekend for some fishing, swimming and picnics on the beach.

This was all before depth finders and GPS and whatever other electronics you boat guys use. My father had what he called "the hole" that he found just by fishing.My idea ( back then) was that we were dropping our bucktails and squid into what I envisioned as a well. Not what I now realize as a depression in the bay bottom. When things weren't working at the usual spots we would head to "the hole".

Back then, late '70's early '80's, it was all fluke, all the time. Well maybe some blackfishing, crabbing and sea bass as well. I don't remember seeing a blue unless it was a snapper before this.

Well we get to "the hole" and dropped down looking for fluke. We always had quite a few of them but when I got a hit like never before, it scared me half to death. Those of you that know me know that I am not the largest guy around, when I was a kid I was just a runt.

Well, this fish hit like a ton of bricks. It just about pulled me overboard a few times during the fight but my Dad had a hold of me just in case. He did not assist me in anyway and it took quite a while to pull this fish in. As it came up, I was amazed at the size and ferocity of it. When it hit the deck I was on the bow. After my father tamed it (blackjack) I checked it out. Yellow eyes and a maw full of razors. It was only eight pounds but that was huge in my eyes.

The other night I had a bunch of big blues and my arms are still aching. I will never forsake catching a bluefish, mostly due to my fathers teachings of respecting the sea.
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Old 10-10-2011, 04:45 PM
richtrox richtrox is offline
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Default Re: In Praise of Bluefish

Hi brzman - Ah a fellow Milfordite. I miss that place but still have family there. My sister still lives there and my nephews also. My former bro0in0law is Richie Smith, owner of the 7-seas, in Milford center. My nephew Brent pretty much runs the place now. Richie did a huge fireworks show down at the end of Millwood Drive (or is it street?) just up from the harbor jetty. I worte a story for Surfcasters Journal about my childhood there. Milford has always held a special place in my heart. Good luck the rest of the season and stay in touch.
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