Learn from the top wreck and bottom fisherman in the game! Full discussions on wreck fishing along with all things related to bottom fishing!!
I count myself extremely fortunate to know and call good friends the two finest rod and reel and I should add, small boat captain in this region, Donald and Red. They are known as the Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig of fishing in this area, who could find and catch fish like no other fishermen I have personally ever seen or heard about. This little story is about one of them, long removed from fishing on a boat, but again showing everyone else how to pull the biggest bottom fish on a offshore wreck trip we made the other day.
This adventure started Thursday night as I got the call from Captain Richie Kessinger that a window weather allowed him to quickly put together one of his famed offshore wreck trips. 'Bring Red' I was told at the end of the conversation, as this was going to be a special one especially for Red who has been on less then a handful of fishing trips on a boat over the last 20 plus years due to family and other business obligations during this time period.
A day later we made our way out to Long Island and hooked up with Captain Richie who assembled his usual all star cast of fishermen, put our gear on board then settled back into a comfy bunk for the long ride offshore while Red who has not been in the best of health over the last few years, was now sitting in the cabin with everyone else and eagerly awaiting the first drop we would fish.
A few hours later, the boat finally slowed down and a few passes were made around the wreck. Red quickly made his way out to the rail, and baited up his single hook rig. There was nothing of particular note when looking at a simple dropper loop, rigged over 4 feet off the bottom with what seemed to be an old bronzed colored 5/0 style Eagle Claw offset bend Beak hook. He then hung a medium sized skimmer clam off this hook with the belly of the clam trailing off its bend. As he told me, one of the biggest secrets in skimmer fishing is to make the clam look like it is just naturally floating away in the current...."that is what big cod love to see" he added in with a little smirk on his face.
It was only a few moments later as Red made his first cast and watched the line make it's way through the depths and finally settle on the bottom. He waited a few moments as we had to wake up the cod this morning as the sun was just now clearing horizon. Without any apparent hint or indication, he lowered his rod tip further towards the water and placing more slack in his line, the complete opposite of what most fishermen instinctively and normally do as they take in all the slack, creating even more tension on their line when they are getting a bite.
He was quiet as he whaled back and stuck what we all knew was a nice steaker cod putting a nice bend in his black Lamiglas MB 114 3F rod as it navigated his line into the wreck.........and it did. I was now watching out of the corner of my eye as I was pulling up another small keeper cod on a jig, that I was witnessing the grand master work his 40 lb test mono line in such a manner to where the cod was eventually free and clear of this one nasty snag.
After this fish came up, it then started a steady stream of market sized fish being gaffed every time after he dropped down to the bottom. You might think to yourself that maybe he would miss a bite here and there in between all these fish he had already put into the box. I have to say that he pulled off an unbroken string of at least 10 market cod in row, where every time he stuck a codfish, he then proceeded to get it into the boat. I should also add that most of these codfish had the hook lodged in a text book manner in the the hard hinge of the fishes mouth, akin to the way a circle hook sets, with the skimmer clam trailing off to the side. At one point, he used that same skimmer clam four times over and caught fish on it!
In between this incredible run of fish, he gave me a little talking to about how I was playing games using my nickel plated 10 oz hammered jig and tube teaser rig where I had my own little personal run of 8 straight cod, but the big difference being that out of those 8 fish, three of them I had to toss back as all the rest of my fish were legal sized 'schoolie' cod of a few pounds that you could now catch just a bare few miles off our shores during the early winter.
"C'mon Capt, rig up and get your hook 4 feet off the bottom with this size dropper loop, keep slack in your line so that your sinker doesn't bounce and watch the line jump.....here let me do it for you."
I have heard it many times before on how to properly rig up and fish for big cod, from a man who was acknowledged by such legendary Captains as Laddy Martin, Michael Scarpatti, Herman Huckemeyer, and Jay Porter as the finest rod and reel fishermen they have ever seen......an on this day as Captain Richie Kessinger said, "Red hasn't missed a beat from when he fished upon my old streamer over 25 years ago."
It truly was a amazing fishing feat to see, as Red quietly hung one fish, then the next....and if it wasn't for a major gaff malfunction, the only other pollock that was hooked that day would of been in the fish box instead of quickly beating its tail in the opposite direction and making its way back to some other deep water wreck in the area.
There is always a teachable moment on every fishing trip, and as vivid a description a fishing author can give in an informational based article on how to catch fish, I have to tell all of you reading this, that there are some things you cannot describe in words when it comes to catching fish in this manner since there are those fishermen like Red who are uniquely intuitive in getting bigger fish to bite their line even when they are fishing shoulder to shoulder with other excellent fishermen beside him.
As a number of old captains will tell you, codfish happen to be a relatively easy fish to catch, readily willing to please by taking either a jig, surgical tubes or bait. But the big difference though is in seeing one fishermen who sets himself apart from the rest by consistently catching the biggest fish as I did this day.
I do hope to again be witness to this in the future as there is only one fishermen that I know who can tell you when a fish is sniffing on his skimmer clam or green crab with a big belly in their line and then pretty accurately tell you how big it is when he his reeling it up. On this very day, this bottom fishing icons magic for a few short hours was again rekindled.
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great read STeve. I talked to Richie yesterday, he told me the same deal. Great to see someone come out of "fishing retirement" and do that like he never left. If I ever become 1/10th as good as that guy I'll be proud of myself.
we are the people our parents warned us about!!!
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Great stuff Steve- tell that old fart I said "hello" and that I'll "plant" him!!!!
Great to see him on a boat. Had to be a good time.
"I don't get it, this drop was pretty good 20 years ago!!"
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Great read and pictures Steve....Love seeing that rod in action. That was one of the finest blanks Lami ever produced
I was speaking to Red last week glad to see you got him out there.
Last edited by Rodwinder
on Mon Dec 20, 2010 3:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Custom Fishng Rods for all budgets
30 years rodbuilding 15 commercial pinhooking
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As usual great read steve great to see our good friend back at the rail. I think he truly enjoyed it enough to do it again. Its good for his health as well.
for the story
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Excellent read Steve, must have been great to see him fishing again, and picking up right where he left off.
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Excellent story...good to see some old timers pulling fish.
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Those few guys who really excel at catching fish, never lose the knack. He sounds like someone a lot of guys would not want to fish next to.
John F. Bogan Jr.
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This was the most enjoyable read I have had the opportunity to read on Fishing United. I am fortunate to say I fished with both Red and Donald as well as alot of the TRUE Legends EC has mentioned. I cannot help but point out the MOST impressive fish was that HUGE MUD MARLIN IN THE COOLER (LOL)
Thank you Steve for such a great article
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Im glad to see Red back out there where he belongs, say hello to him for me.
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