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Leveling the Playing Field in the Surf
Part II
by Chris "Gil" Gillin

reetings faithful readers! Let me begin by saying that, to be a true "dyed in the wool" surf fisherman; one must prepare contingency plans for any number of "show stopping events." All too often, the best fishing for Drum and Stripers are in raw conditions and not for the timid soul. Let me relate a few ideas, which may hopefully save someone's day in what can be a hostile environment.

All of us who venture out on the beach miles from the nearest road should carry the minimum vehicle safety gear prescribed by the National Park Service. These items include but are not limited to: sturdy planks to use as a base for a jack, a shovel, tow strap, flashlights, and tire gauges. These are the minimum requirements. Let me submit some additional items for your consideration, such as: a cell phone with cigarette lighter adapter, extra tire valve caps, a valve tightening screwdriver, several cans of "fix-a-flat", spare serpentine belt, transmission fluid, antifreeze, water, a first aid kit, a hook removal kit, a rechargeable portable air compressor/12 DCV cigarette lighter power supply, a good tool set, and a marine weather radio.

It's safe to assume that you all could add to this shopping list. I encourage you to follow some of the beach buggy links of affiliate clubs such as the UMS, NJBBA and the LIBBA; learn from others who are willing to share knowledge...it's much less painful. This is just some of the gear I have accumulated through my own misfortunes or through those of others. My personal nemesis has been loosening tire valve stems. This can occur from sand or from repeated airing up and down. A valve stem wrench/screwdriver and a portable compressor can be a Godsend.

Some things in nature, such as lightning, really IS a "show stopping event", and shoud be treated with the proper respect and/or fear; if you hear the warning tone on the marine weather or see it coming...humbly pack your rods inside the truck (if possible) and seek shelter. No fish is worth your life! OK, enough of the safety briefing...let's talk fishing.

Previously we talked about some countermeasures we could take while surf fishing to negate some of the "hostility" of the surf. If you remember, we spoke of shock leaders and big sand spikes; this relates mostly to wind, waves, and weed (no...Seaweed!). Sputnik Sinker

Let's talk a little about current. As previously stated, prime time for a trophy Drum or Striper is usually spring and fall, which is also when the ocean is churning from hurricanes and noreasters. Many a surf fisherman, unable to "hold bottom" has left the beach in frustration. This too, can be a "show stopping event". There's no mystery to the fact that the sinker simply will not grab the ocean floor. To begin with, look at your rig, three way swivel rigs with floats are poor in strong cross currents. In this situation, you may want to consider the "less is more" approach, StriperSurf High Low Bait Rigs or Tournament Trophy Striped Bass Rigs with a Fishfinder slide are better choices. Also, I'd suggest trying some of the sinkers designed for this purpose. They are: Hatteras sinkers, hurricane sinkers, which are basically pyramids with exaggerated angles, frog's tongues which are used and available mainly on the Outer Banks NC, and sputnik or Breakaway sinkers which have rotating wires, which dig into the sand.

As a final tip, I have found that the "long tail" sputnik sinkers give better clearance with a fish finder rig, and do not foul with the main line as much. Pick up some of these sinkers, it will keep you fishing longer.

Hopefully, some of these tips will help you have a safer more productive trip. Remember...if you want to catch more fish...go fishing alot. And if you want to catch a trophy, you've got to be there when they're around, read the beach for structure, and keep your bait in the water...you'll run into each other! Good Luck to everyone during the fall run, I wish you all a big red or striper and ask you to remember (especially with big drum) that the unwritten "surf fishermen's code of ethics" is to release the old-timers to fight another day and spawn another generation. See ya on the beach!

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