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New England Regional Fishing with Tim Coleman | Soundings Online Column

Show some love for the blues

Two jigs, one bluefish: The 'animated chopping machine' strikes again.I have hooked, fought, boated, beached, gaffed, unhooked, revived, released, bled, filleted, skinned, gutted, scaled, weighed, photographed, iced, toted, sorted, netted, stacked or otherwise handled a staggering number of bluefish. I’ve caught them one at a time and 100 at a time, from 4 inches to an honest 23 pounds, on most gear types — rod and reel, hand line, gillnet, otter trawl. Of all the species I’ve targeted, bluefish have passed through my hands most often.

If I retched at the sight of one now, few would blame me. It’s a strange thing: I still love the fish and respect their incredible power and adaptability. I’ve had my moments with them, to be sure. I’ve been bitten. I filleted 400 or 500 or so blues a night for years and have tried to pry bass out of rips absolutely polluted with yellow-eyes — 25 guys dragging 25 eels at a time.

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It’s the fish we lose, not the fish we catch

When a bent rod goes limp, a firestorm of second-guessing is unleashed.The fish is there — it’s there! — and you just know it’s a good one. Maybe the best you’ve ever seen. You’ve finally put the brakes on what your gut tells you must be its last-ditch run. You’ve got her head turned; you’re gaining line, cranking slowly, babying the fish toward the boat.

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A fly-weight rod and some heavyweight fish

The author has landed some impressive fish with his prized 7-foot St. Croix Ben Doerr Surf System rod.As I brace my knees against the transom and adjust the “drop” between my rod tip and the little whip eel, I scrutinize the plot of water where it appears that a body of substantial bass or gorilla-sized blues has been erupting in the dim 3 a.m. calm.

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Science vs. gut instinct: how we learn to fish

If there is one recipe that reliably yields top-flight fishermen — in terms of basic human traits, talents, root skills — I’m reasonably certain that a hard-wired scientific bent is the key ingredient.

Me? I’m a humanities guy. A creative type. A science guy might base his angling strategy on months and years of careful observation conducted with absolute objectivity and a highly systematic approach to technique.

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Are we headed for another bass crash?

Stripers such as this heavyweight caught (and released) at Cuttyhunk this spring may well be plentiful for years, thanks to the legacy of some mightly year-classes spawned during the height of the bass rebound.Five years ago, give or take, when the first rounds of known striper strongholds began to dry up in the Northeast — spots on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, the Elizabeths, Fishers Island, the Sluiceway in eastern Long Island Sound — most motivated stripermen knew the rumors about a diminished fishery but had seen no evidence thereof on “local” grounds they fished.

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Tim Coleman

Tim Coleman died May 3, in Weekapaug, R.I., doing what he loved to do best at that time of year: scouting the salt ponds and outer beaches for spring striped bass. He was an exceptional saltwater angler and a prolific writer. Thousands of readers lost an advocate and authentic storyteller for fishing in the Northeast, and anyone fortunate to have known Tim lost a good friend.


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