Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Monday, November 28, 2011:
How about three Classic bass over 20 pounds today? I can ell you the fishing pressure is not high so that’s a nice showing from the surf. South end seems hotter but that can also be fishing pressure thing since that’s where the local angling gang has been hunkering down.
While bigger bass are still a-show, plugging has taken off for many casters. Needlefish are working (see below). The plugged fish are smaller than bait-eaters, though many are well into the keeper territory.
NEEDLEFISH BLOG: Plugging has exploded in the surf. And it’s not just small stripers but some to over 20 pounds.
I hate to admit it but needlefish artificials continued to rock the rockfish. What’s more, the brand name of the week seems to be the Super Strike Super “N” Needlefish.
I’m very familiar with these not-cheap hot-lookers. They’re a super sweet sight, especially when compared to the olden-look needlefish plugs (Gibb’s and such), which are little more than a pencil-y piece of colored wood, sometimes made a bit flashier with white bucktail ass ends.
Drawn out at both ends, Super Strike are pretty as a picture, graced by top-grade airbrushing, which adds sublte color blends, top to bottom, front to rear.
And possibly no other plug relies on color variations than needlefish. If you read the many accounts of incredible needlefishing sessions, it sure as hell seems that one certain color rules a given day -- more often than not changing the next day. Yes, that color thing is common with all plugs but it sure seems more pronounced when fishing needlefish designs. Of course, to carry a quiver of top-end needlefish plugs, you’re talking potentially hundreds of dollars.
The old standby Gibb’s models remain dedicated to the highly effective floating shape of the original needlefish, made popular in the mid-1970s – though created many decades earlier.
Key question: Are bass attacking needlefish thinking they’re, well, needlefish? Very unlikely. I kid you not. Needlefish, the living species, show and go as quickly as the mullet run, maybe quicker.
By the by, I have frequently tried to live-line needlefish – the real thing -- and not only have I never had a single taker but even bluefish seem disinterested in my wounded offering. I have to think the thick (and stinky) oils that come off of a needlefish aren’t overly appealing to gamefish. It’s one of the very few fish I’ve never eaten.
Needlefish plugs are likely drawing ravenous hits based on the way they simulate any number of famed baitfish. Per numerous pro opinions, this plug resembles sand eels. Buttressing that read is the way this has surely been the year of the sand eel (see below) and the plug shape is shining. The plug’s sand eel appeal makes total sense.
However, the immense assortment of colors applied to striper-slaying needlefish plugs seems to indicate the artificial can mimic various baitfish.
As for fishing needlefish, the traditional pencil-look plugs are pretty much a moving piece of plugging boredom. You cast it out, slowly reel it in a few feet, slow/stop, repeat. Jerking does very little to enhance the action.
Retrieving boredom notwithstanding, anyone who has ever taken a hit on a needlefish lure knows the insanely intense strikes it garners. Even larger model bass let fully loose on this artificial. The attacking gamefish is 100 percent committed to the kill.
I have a theory on that enhanced aggression from fish hitting a needlefish plug. While most plug shapes try to imitate a wounded or spastic baitfish – often confusing or even worrying a trailing predator -- the tedious straight-ahead progress of a needlefish plug seems to be a very recognizable look to a gamefish. They’re confident that they’ve covertly snuck up on a fully healthy baitfish, one that simply hasn’t yet seen them.
I should note that the above-hyped Super Strike offers a bit more play, i.e. action, than traditional needlefish artificials. Still, they’re slow movers when compared to the oft-erratic motion of a swimmer, diver or popper. That laidback look is apparently a good thing when ocean waters cool.