Taking your Bait for a Walk – By Ed Maley

Fishing the soft structure beaches of NJ, many times you may have to deal with strong side currents.  Without jetties to break the water movement sometimes you may need to be a bit more creative.  A technique that I have used for many years with success is walking your bait or in my case, a bucktail, down the beach with the current.  The first thing I want to mention is etiquette comes first!  This style of fishing should not be tried if you do not have sufficient room between you and the next fisherman.  In some cases you may need as much as 50 yards of beach to use this technique, so be cautious and courteous.

Water movement helps fisherman from the surf.  Fish such as Striped Bass and Fluke use the movement to feed.  These species generally will set up an ambush point in spots where bait will be pushed to them.  Our job is to replicate this natural occurrence.  Just as it is said to match the hatch, if you don’t put the bait in a high percentage zone does that matter?

With that said, a very strong current limits the time our bait is in the zone.  As we know, fisherman cast up current and use a sweep upon retrieve to have the offering come through the strike zone. Picture a rainbow where your cast hits the top and follows the arc back to the beach.  Pay close attention where in that arc you may have had a strike or even come tight and caught.

What I have done is backed off with the weight to a slightly lower ounce and cast.  Then let the bait sink and make its way through the arc.  At the point I feel the fish are feeding I now start walking as fast as the current with a very slow retrieve. With this the bait is moving along the beach and not arcing back.  This goes back to my point of why you need to have enough room to walk it down.  If I did get a strike I would then walk back to the starting point and do it again.  This method has done very well for me for fluke in strong currents from the beach when most feel they aren’t feeding or are not present. Most of the time they are and it is a matter of keeping your bait where they can hit it and create higher catch rates. Good luck and tight lines!

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