The good news and the bad news

December 17, 2016

If you want tog or sea bass, the report is pretty good. If you want rockfish, not so much.

Some citation-sized tog were caught since last we spoke, with most of the action over ocean wrecks and reefs. Several varieties of crab have been used to tempt these fish including green, stone and white legger. The best fishing will be during times of medium to slow current when the tog seem to venture out from their hidey holes to feed.

Sea bass are found beyond the 20-Fathom Line over various wrecks and rough bottom. When the weather allows boats to sail that far, limit catches of fish to 3 or 4 pounds have been made. Squid and clams are the best baits, with some of the larger sea bass taken on jigs.

Then there are the rockfish, or lack thereof. To say trolling at the mouth of the bay is a slow pick would be a vast understatement. If 20 boats go out, perhaps one or two will catch a fish.  

The striped bass are still off New Jersey; however, they have left north Jersey and moved as far south as Atlantic City. We are expecting a very strong cold front to move in here at the end of this week, and perhaps that will cause the fish to move closer to Delaware.

New stuff

Last week I traveled to Atlantic City to attend a tackle show put on by Folsom Wholesalers. This is an annual event and keeps me in touch with what’s going on in the recreational fishing industry.

One of the new products at the show was the Forged lever drag reel from Tsunami. This reel is designed to handle braided line from 20- to 60-pound test and machined with tolerances that will not let the braid fall into the space between the spool and the frame. 

The drag is made from carbon fiber and will hold up without warping or grabbing. The lever drag adjustment allows the angler a wide range of settings from full to free spool. This system, when compared to the more common star drag, is easier to set and can be quickly adjusted during the fight.  

Perhaps you might want to loosen the drag when the fish has taken a lot of line then tighten it up a bit when the fish is coming to the boat. Once at the boat, the drag should be loosened again to prepare for a sudden run. All of these adjustments can be made quickly and accurately with a lever drag.

While the Forged lever drag reel is very strong, it is also very light. Making it from a process that forges the frame rather than machining it produces a solid base.

The internal works include a hardened stainless steel drive gear, an anodized aluminum spool that actually floats on two stainless steel ball bearings and an instant anti-reverse bearing with two backup dogs. The 5.2:1 ratio drive and pinion gears are tough and fast with an operation that is as smooth as velvet.

Lever drags are common on larger reels used by offshore anglers and are quite expensive. This reel will cost less than $200.

Another new reel from Tsunami is the Shield. This is a spinning reel with 10 to 13 internal seals to prevent water from reaching the gears. While the reel cannot claim to be waterproof, it can claim to be as water resistant as any reel on the market.

The Shield also has a carbon fiber drag system, a machined aluminum spool designed for braided line and an aluminum body. A five sealed stainless steel ball bearing system provides effortless operation.

The Shield comes in four sizes. The 3000 holds 220 yards of 10-pound braid while the largest model, the 6000, holds 450 yards of 30-pound. The cost will be around $100.

Tactical anglers

If you have done much reading about surf fishing, perhaps you have come across the name “Crazy” Alberto Knie. Alberto invented the Tactical Anglers Power Clip to make it easier to change lures when fishing at night. No more tying knots or trying to open a snap with cold, wet hands. Simply slide one lure off and slide on the next one.

Continuing with the idea of building a better mousetrap, Alberto saw a need for quality lures that would not only attract fish, but hold up under the worst conditions. The result was a line he calls Smart Lures.

The newest addition to the Smart Lure line is the Smart Lures CrossOver Stalker. This is the walk-the-dog style surface lure that first gained fame in the bass fishing world. It’s now produced for saltwater anglers, hence the CrossOver name. Like all Smart Lures it is through wired, casts like a bullet and will hold up against jetty rocks.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine.  Eric is the author of three books; Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits.  He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at