Old Man and the Sea

With out a doubt, my most favorite book.

From his own words!!

“He’s coming up,” he said. “Come on hand. Please come on.”

The line rose slowly and steadily and then the surface of the ocean bulged ahead of the boat and the fish came out. He came out unendingly and water poured from his sides. He was bright in the sun and his head and back were dark purple and in the sun the stripes on his sides showed wide and a light lavender.

“He is two feet longer than the skiff,” the old man said. The line was going out fast but steadily and the fish was not panicked. The old man was trying with both hands to keep the line just inside of breaking strength. He knew that if he could not slow the fish with a steady pressure the fish could take out all of the line and break it.

He is a great fish and I must convince him, he thought. I must never let him learn his strength nor what he could do if he made his run.

The old man had seen many great fish. He had seen many that weighed more than a thousand pounds and he had caught two of that size in his life, but never alone.

Now alone, and out of sight of land, he was fast to the biggest fish that he had ever seen and bigger than he had ever heard of, and his left hand was still as tight as the gripped claws of an eagle.

Ernest Hemingway – The Old Man and the Sea.


Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony


Don’t make it a Habit

“We first make our habits, and then our habits make us – John Dryden”.  This statement applies as much to fishing as well as it does in different segments of our lives.

Catching speckled sea trout with your favorite lure is a prime example.  My favorite lure was always the double bucktail. It gave me confidence during each outing. But after a year or so the lure just didn’t produce hits or catches like I wanted. Was it me or the lure or species?

As any confident then frustrated angler, I considered changing to a different bait or possibly a new technique.

My first change the following year was to the “flavor of the month”.  That time I tried MirrOlure’s – MR 17 “Electric Chicken”. Using the “Electric Chicken” hard bait helped me catch trout that year. But again and after time, it seems to fail to attract and hook fish.

And over the next several years, I changed to metal spoons, top water hard baits, jigheads with swim and finesse baits, popping corks and a variety of other new styles and types.

And as usual, they all did well for a while and then stopped or declined to a point that I needed to change.

My research showed that after a long period of time, many species begin to recognize some type of danger when seeing the same or similar style rigging on a regular basis. Fish are known to communicate and whether they warn each other of impending danger or not, they definitely change habits or preferences to various baits to survive and avoid being caught.

So what is the angler to do? Change, modify and specialize.

My change is using each of these rigs in specific situations. I always keep each of these rigs in my bag. Never discounting their past performance. Varying my retrieval rates and movements.

Modify my plastic rigging. Sometimes I cut a small slice from the tail to enhance vibration and movement. Other times, modify hook size on hard baits or shortening the length of fluorocarbon leader.

Specialize in specific conditions – dark colors for overcast or low light days. Light colors for bright days. Using specialize techniques also gives the angler an advantage.

To be a great angler, keep each of these lures in your tackle bag for maximum success.

Many fish species change habits to survive. And to be successful on a regular basis, anglers need to change too.


Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Don’t Pull It Away

Most anglers will look at these three reels and think why is the captain showing me these three in one picture? Although, they appear the same, there is one distinct difference that could affect their catch rate.

The difference is the retrieval rate. The top reel has a 40” ratio; the middle reel has a 36” ratio; and the bottom one has 28” ratio.

The difference between the top and bottom reel is significant especially if the targeted species only chases the bait a short distance.

We have talked many times about the various species on the Outer Banks waters. All fish species move for a purpose. They move to find comfort, food, spawn and escape a predator. They know how to preserve energy to remain alive.

When feeding they will typically only chase a bait fish so far depending on the amount of energy available. When that level of stamina is exhausted or they perceive the chase will not be productive, their effort will end.

Going back the reels, each reel in this picture has a different retrieval rate. The retrieval rate is the amount of line taken up on each turn of the handle.

Turn the handle or retrieve the line too fast the fish will run out of energy before it catches the bait, Retrieve too slow and your bait may spook them.

So it’s the retrieval rate that can help make that catch successful.

How do you know how fast your retrieval is? Well, measure it.

Layout a tape measure on the ground, extend the end of the line on one end of the tape and turn the handle one complete turn. Then measure the distance.

Once it is determined the rate of retrieval per handle revolution, the angler can adjust their action to avoid pulling it away.

This is especially helpful for novice anglers. Sometimes the excitement of the strike causes the line to be taken up too quickly.

As simple as this may seem, every technique available may help increase the opportunity to catch more fish.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Buy It Just Once

I once over heard a good friend in Florida giving advice to some novice anglers. It’s probably the best advice I could pass on to my fellow anglers here on the Outer Banks and elsewhere.

When it comes to fishing gear, “Buy it right the first time and you only buy it once”.

Great advice to follow.

Until Next time – Tightlines. Capt. Tony




Attention Outer Banks Anglers!!

The Outer Banks Anglers Club will be holding their next monthly meeting at 7:00 pm on October 30, 2017.

Guest Speaker is David Glenn, Science and Operations Officer, with NWS Newport/Morehead City. He will be discussing:

“How Does the Weather Affect Boating?”

The meeting will be held at the Kerns P. Pitts Center / Southern Shores Town Hall Complex located at 5375 N. Virginia Dare Trail, Southern Shores, N.C.

For more information see us on our website or facebook:



New Members Are Always Welcome

Until Next Time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

Explore These Now

The Outer Banks surf is teaming with red drum, bluefish and other fall species this time of year. It seems if you can find a slough, you find the fish. But the weather can be very finicky this time of year so there are other places to explore.

There are many hidden spots that anglers can fend off the weather, find fish and enjoy the serenity of the Outer Banks.

Here are three very popular fishing spots that fill that objective.

The Daniels Bridge (Little Bridge), Wildlife pier (Washington Baum Bridge) and the BeBop pier (Umstead Bridge).

The Daniels Bridge is just west of the Whalebone Junction on Rt. 64 West. There is plenty of parking with a bath house and fish cleaning station. Anglers can fish both the north and south sides of the bridge with convenient walkways that keep you away from traffic. Water flows from the Albemarle Sound into the Roanoke Sound. Fish gather here most of the year. A large concrete wall on the south side provides protection from the wind. This area is the favorite of most local anglers.

The Wildlife pier is another great place to fish. The pier runs parallel and just under the Washington Baum Bridge / Rt. 64 west. This is another area where water flows quickly. There is a huge slough at the entrance to the Pirate’s Cove harbor that hold plenty of big fish. Good casting techniques will help you reach these trophy fish. Restrooms are available. This is also a great place to crab or throw a cast net for bait. Benches and Baum bridge provides some shade to enhance anglers comfort.

The final spot is the BeBop Pier. This area is located on the western side of the Old Mann’s Harbor Bridge (Umstead Bridge Old Rt. 64). This pier reaches into Albemarle Sound just north of the Croatan Sound. It has benches and a covered porch to keep the sun at bay. This pier continues to hold fish most of the year. Puppy drum and stripers are a favorite of anglers who frequent this pier. Thousands of Purple Martins return here each year to roost under the bridge. So if fishing is slow, this is a bird-watchers paradise.

All three of these fishing spots hold fish. So if you looking for that new spot or just a place out of the ordinary, then you won’t have to look too far.

Until next time – Tightlines. Capt. Tony

Your Tackle Bag

Two of the most guarded secrets an angler keeps is their favorite fishing spot and the contents of their tackle bag. While secret fishing spots are frequently shared only to close friends, their tackle bags contents can be held stealth for years.

To guard that secret, most anglers will quickly retrieve gear from their bags away from spying eyes. It’s probably no secret to the contents of a typical tackle bag but serious anglers can be a little funny on their favorite and probably the most reliable lures and techniques.

The tackle bag, as a general rule, should only include items you will need on the current fishing trip. But lots of anglers, including this author, use the bag sometimes as a storage box for everything they possibly could ever use even if it doesn’t work on every trip. While a great place to store gear when not in use it’s especially not one to drag out on each trip.

Tackle bag contents will vary depending on the target species and fishing location.

Standard contents should at least include a collection of sinkers, hooks and terminal rigging gear.

Also several types of two hook bottom rigs, Carolina rig and several self-made or purchased bottom or pompano rigs are needed for those special occasions. Sabiki rigs are great for catching your own live bait.

Anglers should also carry a small bait knife, cutting board, finger nail clippers, and pliers, tape measure, and fish grippers. Several rags will help steady a fish to remove hooks – but remember, if holding a fish with a rag make sure it’s wet. Dry rags can wipe the protective slim off a wiggling fish quickly.

The bag should also include a variety jigging gear with a variety of lead heads, various soft swim baits, and several different got-cha plugs or top water hard baits. A bottle of attractant will help enhance the artificial to smell similar to real bait fish.

A tackle bag with not be complete without “fish-bites” or some type of artificial baits.

This list is definitely not complete and inclusive but it should give the new or occasional angler as least a start on filing that tackle bag with basic gear.

Of course, there is always time to load it so full of the angler’s special and most reliable gear, which like the author, can act more like a storage bin than a tackle bag.

One tip: Put extra gear that will not be used that day in a rubber-made crate in your vehicle. That way, the gear won’t load down you bag but if needed it’s just a quick walk back to your vehicle.

Until next time – Tightlines. Capt. Tony

Retrieval and Release

Sixth in a Series – The Retrieval and ReleaseYou are hooked up, now what. You should expect the fish to run and escape. Let them take the line. The fish will tire quickly if the drag is set right and you keep tension on the line. Remember, do not reel in line when they are running. This can cause the fish to break off.

The retrieval requires the angler to pump and reel to keep drawing the fish toward shore. If the fish is taking too much line, slightly adjust the drag to prevent it from being drawn off too fast. Do this tightening slowly. Smoothly raise the rod tip, then lower it while reeling. This is called pumping. You draw the fish nearer with each pump. Pump and reel until the fish tires.

Shortly, you should begin to feel the fish tiring out and the reeling will become easier.  Use the waves to help bring the fish to shore. Stop reeling when an outgoing wave is pulling the fish out. But reel more quickly when the wave is coming toward the shore. Keep the rod tip up and pressure on the fish.

Once on the shore, the fish will continue to fight. I use a wet rag to control the fish to make removing the hook easy. There is a slimy and slippery coating on all fish. They is their protectant against disease. Try to minimize wiping this slippery substance off.

Nylon nets can really damage this protectant. If you need a net, try to use a plastic or vinyl type. And keep them in the net only for little help control them. Remove them quickly to your hand or flat surface.

If you are harvesting this catch, promptly place in a cooler with ice.

If the fish is going to be released, make the fight short. The longer the fight the less likely the fish will survive after its release.

Also when releasing the fish, do so carefully. Hold the fish in your hand, not vertically but horizontally with your hand supporting it’s belly and then place it in the water, watching for its movement to swim. Keep your hands or rag wet to avoid wiping the protectant, slim or scales off the fish.

Remember to never just throw it back in. A stunned fish is less likely to survive and is easy prey for a passing bird.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony

The Hook Up

Fifth in a Series – The hook up when fishing from the surf can be tricky. There are several key steps that the new angler should keep in mind when fishing from the surf.

It’s all about your sense of touch. When fishing the surf, wave movement and debris can mimic a fish bite. Water movement can pull your bait along as can grass or other debris and sometimes this debris or current can simulate a bump or even a bite.

A bite is a distinct single or repeated “bump bump bump”. It could even be a slight pull and pause then pull again. The ability to distinguish between something floating by and a bump and bite can take time but it’s a lesson well learned.

If you can’t tell if it’s a bite or not, leave the line in the water for several minutes and then check your hook and bait.

Setting the hook is the next important part of the catch. And setting the hook improperly can mean the difference of catching or losing the fish. There are many different ways to set the hook. And regardless of your experience level, you need to learn which works for the fish you’re after.

There are two common types of hooks used for surf fishing: “J” hooks and “circle” hooks.

If you are using “J” hooks, you must give a firm pull on the line to pull the hook through the fish lip. Pull too soft, they may spit the hook after they strip the bait, pull too hard, you pull the hook and bait away before they can suck it in.

The best bet for new anglers is to use “circle hooks”. These hooks do all the work for you and the fish actually hooks themselves. (see picture – I am using a circle hook)

Remember, for some fish a heavy pull up on the rod sets the hook: for others, a hard pull yanks the bait from the fish’s mouth.

Next we will discuss the retrieval of a hooked up fish.

Until next time – Tightlines – Capt. Tony