Our tournament season is the home stretch, but it’s still anyone’s game with the blues.
Going into the fall, surf, kayak, and boat anglers have an excellent opportunity when searching for a gator blue to qualify for the Dream Boat Challenge or Coastal Kayak Clash. Anglers from New England down to Delaware and all in between will be prowling bays, oceans, flats, and inlets for the potential winning fish.
Keep in mind that this time of the year, bluefish will be gorging themselves on any bait they can find, so the possibility of finding a fish pushing 20 pounds significantly improves during this portion of The Fisherman’s tournament season.
Surfcast A Slob
Fall bluefish sets up a unique situation for those trying to win the Dream Boat challenge as a land-based angler. Giant gators can potentially be found throughout many different locations in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region. A good thought to always keep in mind though is bait when looking for the larger class specimens. In the fall, bunker, mullet, and sand eels will fuel wild bites where the fish will gorge themselves. A 10-pound fish in the spring can weigh over 15 in the fall.
Up in the New England region, a couple of locations to try are the mouth of the Connecticut River and Wasque Point on Martha’s Vineyard. Over on Long Island, try fishing the rocky points on the North Fork for a gator. Sometimes South Shore inlets like Shinnecock, Moriches, or Fire Island and Jones will hold beastly ones. Down in New Jersey, traverse the open beaches and jetties—especially as bait schools are making their move south. These fish will follow them and can move each day quickly. I always step up my plug size to target larger fish and carry bunker snags, circle hook, and bait knife with me. Snagging bunker and then casting fresh chunks on a circle hook is a sure way to entice an actual gator.
Boat Battle Blues
Ocean Jigging on sand eel pods has been a proven way to tangle with some monsters in the last few seasons. The enormous pods of bait are an endless buffet for the fish. They will eat until they can’t fit another sand eel in their stomach, and then they will attempt to eat a few more. Also, keep an eye out for bunker pods while fishing from the boat. Bunker will fill up the blues to their maximum potential size. Fresh chunks are always a favorite of mine. I find that sometimes using the whole bunker results in a lot of chopped in half baits.
Keep up on The Fisherman Magazine’s weekly reports and updates. The latest information can give you the edge you need to get ahead of the bite in some instances. These reports can even help state to state. For example, if you live in New Jersey, tune into the Long Island reports to see if the blues are at the neighboring state. While it isn’t always the case, it’s possible that if you read about blues on Long Island’s South Shore during the week, they can be on the Jersey Shore by the next. The same goes for Long Island folks reading about the reports from across the pond (Long Island Sound). I’ve seen many cases where fish were reported in Rhode Island and were in Montauk within a few days.
Clash With A Gator
Those entered into the Coastal Kayak Clash will find a similar opportunity with the blues. Using a kayak to find the gators in certain situations makes things much more practical. October is the perfect month to target this species and gives you a good shot at putting a good fish on the leaderboard for an overall win, largest of species, or winning the fish of the month prize.
Don’t think that you’re at a disadvantage just because you are “yakking” for big blues. You can tactically use your kayak to reach a point that the land-based angler won’t be able to. Pick the days you fish carefully though. Kayaks don’t have the range that a boat does.
Employ trolling lures when you can to cover significant ground. If you can find a school of bait with active feeders, start casting or jigging around it. When locating bunker, try to snag a few and chunk them with circle hooks if possible.
Keep an eye on the weather forecast as well. Don’t head out if the upcoming weather looks inclement. Also, remember that going into October, the water starts to cool down, so wearing a drysuit and a PFD are highly recommended.
Whether you participate in the Dream Boat or the Coastal Kayak Clash during October, know that you have potential opportunities that can place you at the top of the leaderboard in both these tournaments. It’s coming down to the wire, but it can still be anyone’s game with some epic fall catches of blues.