Prepare for the Unexpected

Being prepared can be applied to most things in life. But it can’t be more important than when you go fishing on a local ocean pier.

How many times have you arrived at your fishing spot and found out you forgot to bring something or maybe you brought the wrong rig or the wrong bait? Well it happens to everyone including some of the best anglers.

When fishing on the Outer Banks, you must prepare for just about anything.  In spring, you might find plenty of small species, or you might just happen to run into a big school of puppy drum or bluefish. In summer, your gear may be too large for our smallest species and in fall small rods and reels may hinder you landing the huge trophy. So it’s important to be ready for the unexpected.

During the early summer, I usually bring at least three rods. Two light-medium and one medium-heavy weight rods. I match my reels and line to the rods, usually use a 2500 or 3500 size reels. Now keep in mind, my goal is to catch the largest fish on the lightest tackle so I usually go lighter than most anglers.

The first light-medium rod will have either a double-hook bottom rig or a home-made bottom rig. The second light-medium rod will be rigged with a twenty-four inch fluorocarbon leader and either colored lead head, Got-Cha plug or possibly gold spoon lure. Finally, I rig the medium heavy with a snap swivel and a heavier bottom rig tipped with fresh cut bait.

When first arriving on the pier, I take time to watch other anglers to see what is being caught and their setups. 

The bite may be close in toward the surf, or mid-pier or even near the end. Select your spot based on where the other anglers are fishing but not on top of them. North or south side can make a difference, Watch the current and tides – so decide carefully.

I start with one of the light medium rods and a double hook bottom rig tipped with either Fish bites – “sand-flea” type or small piece of fresh shrimp. I usually start with number four circle hooks but always carry a package of “J” hooks. And I use just enough weight to hold the bottom but not interfere with feeling the bite.

I keep the jigging rod handy for those quick runs of bluefish or Spanish Mackerel that cruise past the piers. These fish arrive and pass by quickly so you must be ready at any time. Occasionally a cobia or large school of blues or even a large drum may pass by. This is where the medium heavy rod with a Carolina rig can be used.

Last week, I found myself on a pier catching sea mullet and several small spot  Suddenly, a large school of bluefish arrived at my spot. I quickly switched to the heavier gear with fresh mullet. Within minutes, I had caught over a dozen Taylor blues. And just as quick as they arrived, they were gone.

If I had not prepared a rod beforehand ready for the unexpected, I might have missed this action.

So my tip of the week is to bring extra rods and gear for just this situation. Rig them up before hand and be prepared.

You never know when the unexpected will happen.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

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