I learned an important lesson this past fall. The fact that I’ve learned this same lesson numerous times over the 20 or so years of my more focused fishing energies in no way diminished the jolt of the realization. My old friend and fellow deckhand Keith Reynolds used to punctuate his “fish school” sermons on the steam from Connecticut’s Thames River out to the grounds in the Race with this line: “If you want to catch a lot of fish, fish a lot.”
I used to troll the wine listings at highbrow dining establishments, searching for the grandiose and often hilarious adjectives that sniff-and-slosh enthusiasts use to describe barely detectable points of contrast among similar types or vintages of concentrated liquid hangover.
Dropping right out all the time, announces a familiar voice from above and behind me. The captain squints into the gathering breeze at a traffic jam of small scud clouds that have been piling up for several hours along the horizon to our southwest. Oh, yeah… droppin’ right out, he mutters again, the refrain thick with mirthless sarcasm. I look down, prepare to sling another scoop of butterfish chum off the starboard bow. I swing hard with the ladle, but the chunks don’t get far. When I look over my shoulder, the captain has disappeared.
Chumming is the practice of slinging some form of cut bait, ground bait or scented liquid into the drink to attract desired game fish. It is known to be so lethally and universally effective that it’s considered borderline unethical, relative to more “sporting” tactics. And as usual, that reputation has been advanced almost exclusively by folks who’ve never so much as attempted the method.
Editor’s note: Last month’s column focused on initial preparations for a canyon run. In this installment, we look at the best ways to gather current offshore intel and the gear you’ll need, and run through some of the finer points of high-summer trolling action.
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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.