SPRING’S WHOPPER WEAKFISH
SPRING’S WHOPPER WEAKFISH
- Posted by Nick Honachefsky
- On May 4, 2017
Want to get dialed in on the spring Weakfish run that takes place each May in New Jersey and New York? This week, Nick shares a few tips towards landing a true tiderunner.
Spiketooth, Papermouth, Yellowfin – there are many names for the bejeweled flanked Weakfish. Without a doubt, weakfish are not around in the numbers they have historically been in Jersey waters, in most cases its either feast or famine during the summers, where we could have a fantastic year of spike weakfish by the thousands, or absolutely none at all. Nobody really knows what each year will bring. What does seem to be pretty consistent however, is finding large tiderunner weakfish running through not only Jersey, but New York waters as well in May. Spring months offer up the best shot at landing a true tiderunner of 8 to 12 pounds.
Weakfish have notoriously thin mouths and are apt to shake their heads to dislodge hooks, or simply pull hooks through their paper-like mouths, thus you want to implement light tackle and very light drag settings. Lighter set ups include something like a 6-1/2 to 7-foot spinning rod with medium power and medium/fast action such as the Shimano Terramar TMS-F70M, matched with small spinning reels like a 2500 to 3000 Shimano Stradic. I like spooling up with monofilament 8-pound test, or 12-pound braided line, then uni knot to a section of 8 to 10-pound Seaguar Blue Label Fluorocarbon, loop knot to the lure tied directly. Do not use any terminal tackle whatsoever as weakfish have keen eyesight and spook at the drop of a dime. Soft rubber baits work wonders to trick weakies with proven offerings including Zoom Super Flukes, Fin-S Fish 4 to 5-3/4-inch size in color patterns of Watermelon, Rainbow Trout, Bubble Gum Ice and straight up Pink. Use these baits in the mildly deep ICW channels and on the backflats of the bays, covering the lower third of the water column. With the drag setting light, simply reel the bait slow and steady, not necessarily a twitch-jerk retrieve.
If fishing deeper waters, such as holes that carve off of points, inside inlets and along deep cuts of the sodbanks where the tide rips through, go with light 3/8 to ½-ounce bucktails. I prefer white, white/yellow and white and pink colorings on the bucktails, and will tip the hook with a 3-inch white Berkeley Gulp! Swimmin’ mullet, piece of shedder crab, or the real old school tactic – a long, purple jelly worm. Bounce the bucktails near the very bottom when drifting through the deep waters as big weakfish will hunker down, sucking baitfish and forage as it washes by with the tide.
Even though in New Jersey there is one fish limit at 13 inch minimum size instated on weakfish, my opinion is to release all weakfish, especially the big breeding tiderunners over 6 pounds and greater. Good luck, catching any weakfish over 5 pounds is truly quite the feat!
TMS-F70M Teramar Inshore Southeast Spinning Rod
Shimano Teramar Inshore rod series was created for anglers from two very different locations: the Southeast and the West Coast. Southeastern anglers will find perfect rods for plug casting for snook, spinning on the flats or tarpon fishing under passes.
STCI42500HGFB Stradic CI4 Plus Spinning Reel
The Shimano STCI42500HGFB Stradic CI4 Plus Spinning Reel is lightweight and provides an ultra smooth reeling experience. This spinning reel is designed to last. This reel features upgraded water resistance with core protect.
Tear Drop Bucktails
The MagicTail Bucktail Tear Drop Lures feature super strong black nickel Mustad hooks. They are small bucktail lures. Made for inshore and shallow water fishing. The shape of the head is perfect for snap jigging which is the deadliest type of jigging for bass and weakfish.
Saltwater Swimming Mullet
Berkley Gulp! Saltwater baits are made from natural ingredients that release 400 times more scent than plastic baits. Formulated especially for ocean gamefish, Berkley Gulp! Saltwater is so potent it can actually OUTFISH live bait. Plus it’s 100 percent biodegradable for a cleaner environment.