Bluefish are the ultimate predators. Most of us have witnessed the all-out blitzes of reckless feeding with fish boiling in a froth. These are frenzied fish that will destroy anything that moves. Under these blitz conditions it doesn’t matter what you throw, it will catch fish. Yes, bluefish are sometimes easy to catch, and it leads many fishermen to mistakenly believe that blues are always easy to catch when they are showing.
Yet, I’ve seen feeding blues that were difficult to lure to an artificial. Just like any other feeding fish, when blues are feeding on a certain bait, they may become selective. Last fall, while fishing off Weekapaug in my brother’s boat, blues were breaking all around us. It wasn’t an all-out blitz, but there were pods breaking here and there. It seemed like an easy situation. Just throw a popper out and let them fight over it.
We soon discovered the ole reliable popper didn’t work mainly because the fish were feeding on big schools of bay anchovies, small and thin baits that were schooling just below the surface. We needed small, slim-silhouetted offerings that dipped below the bait in order to get a strike. We tried small swimmers and metal with limited success. It was not until we went with bucktail jigs with plastic curly tails that we began to really catch fish on just about every toss. Yes, feeding blues can be picky.
GO WITH THE FLOW
The key to consistent nighttime action is to fish in a current where blues are naturally attracted to the bait-filled flows. Places like breachways, rivers, bottlenecks and rips are good places to look with the outgoing tides usually being the best. If you are fishing with artificials, go with big plugs such as large swimmers or needlefish and work them slowly. For those fishing bait, menhaden chunks are deadly in a current and are best fished on the bottom. Use a sinker that will move along the bottom slowly in a current. Where mild currents exist, move your bait every so often to cover a lot of territory.
That day, the blues were eating big bunker and boy were they fussy! They were looking for a big plug in a specific color: yellow. The traditionally white or white and blue poppers would nail a few, but yellow plugs far outshined any other. In the case of peanut bunker, you may need to sacrifice many Storm Shads, a perfect peanut bunker imitation, to get fussy blues to take. I hate using plastics for bluefish but sometimes it is the only thing that will work. It’s always a good idea to stock a variety of plugs that imitate a number of prevalent baitfish because at times you may need to match the hatch when chasing finicky blues.