• Posted by Nick Honachefsky
  • On May 10, 2018
  • Comments
  •  3

The first wave of bluefish moved into Jersey’s bay systems and surf zone, and you’re hard pressed to find a more exciting way to score gators than with topwater poppers.

Blues have been of mixed size so far from choppers of 5 to 7 pounds to slammers upwards of 15 pounds, but both size classes are eager to strike at a flailing topwater commotion. The key is having a brawny set up to put the boots to larger gators when they reach the 15 to 20-pound mark. I generally set up with a 7 foot Penn Slammer rod rated for 30 to 50-pound matched with a real workhorse reel, a Penn 760 Slammer, spooled with 50-pound Spiderwire braid, then a 100-pound Spro Barrel Swivel, a 26-inch piece of 60-pound Triplefish leader and a 125-pound TA clip to interchange out poppers.

This week, the Tsunami Talkin’ Popper, Gibb’s bottle popper, Williamson Popper Pro and Stillwater Smack-It poppers all claimed bruiser blues. As water temps were cold, in the low 50’s, blues were hitting a bit sluggish, so a pop-pause-pop retrieve worked best to get them hooked. Outgoing tides down to the dead low were best times to get strikes as the water is warmest then. Soon as the waters steady out in the high 50s and low 60s, we should have an all out assault on bluefish as they will become more aggressive. That’s the time to really work a popper fast across the surface to get them in an aggro strike mode.

One important point to note is to definitely switch out any treble hooks on the poppers and replace them with large single Siwash hooks as thrashing hooked blues have been responsible for many a sunk treble hook into the flesh, and that’s not fun. Always have a pair of long needle nose pliers as well to reach into the maw of the blue to extract the hook. You want to keep your hands as far away as possible from the chomping jigsaws.

Gear Used


XD Talkin’ Popper Lures

Floating, top water, Tsunami XD Talkin’ Popper Lures deliver popping, skittering, splashing action to draw reactionary strikes from predators. Large weight transfer balls provide longer tumble-free casts and loud, fish attracting rattles.



Popper Pro Lures

The Williamson Popper Pro Lures have a versatile design that allows you to fish a wide variety of techniques such as pop on the top, slash and stall and classic walk the dog. These popper lures are precisely weighted for maximum casting distance.



Siwash Open Eye 9171PS

VMC Hooks 9171 Siwash Open Eye is a premium hook ideal for swapping out your lures with treble hooks or replacing j hooks on bunker spoons. Made of hi carbon steel and featuring a long cut point, the VMC 9171PS open eye Siwash hook is super strong and sharp.


Tactical Anglers

Power Clip

Tactical Anglers Power / Fast Clips are strong fishing clips that allow for fast and easy changing of lures. Made from a single thick stainless steel wire to provide maximum strength and durability, TA Power Clips have a slip-proof design.



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