Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Wrestling weakfish from the surf

Many a savvy surf angler knows that in the late spring and early summer months in the Northeast, it’s a sure-fire bet they can hit the suds and tussle with tide-runner weakfish. The weakfish population has taken a dramatic turnaround in recent years and it’s more fun than ever to get in on the action.

Surf-caught weakfish provide the surf angler with a true challenge and, eventually, excellent table fare. But in order to see it through from A to Z, one must first catch them.

Weakfish are notoriously feisty fighters with paper-like mouths that will rip and tear during the course of a hard-fought battle from the suds (hence the name weak-fish.)

Horse them, lose them
The first rule when bringing weakies in from the surf is to play them out as gingerly as possible, with a loose drag and plenty of patience. You don’t want to horse them in or your hooks will rip out of their mouths in the churning surf. Believe me. I’ve seen many a spike-toothed monster come off in the wash when anglers were dragging them up the beach from the undertow. It just isn’t worth the misery to horse them in. Take your time, play them smart, and mind their mouths.

In the surf, weaks feed on all types of bait and it’s best to try and “match the hatch” when they’re cruising through the surf-line. Mainly in the summer and fall months, weaks will feed on a variety of baitfish, including peanut bunker, spearing, rainfish, mullet and baby bluefish. They also will hit a well-placed shedder crab, sand worm, or bloodworm from the suds.

If there are plenty of bait fish in the surf-line, you can use a bunch of different lures to gain the weakfish’s attention. For smaller fish such as spearing and rainfish, throw out an AVA A-17 jig or a ¼-ounce Hopkin’s spoon. If peanut bunker are around, throw out a lure with a fatter profile to it, like a Rat-L-Trap or Kastmaster spoon, where the thicker profile better mimics the baitfish. Time-tested lures also include any Bomber, Yo-Zuri, or Stillwater plugs in the 4-inch variety.

When tossing plugs or spoons, look for cuts and sloughs in the sand bars, and always try to hit the surf two hours before the high tide and the two hours after the high. This has always been a prime time for surf weakies. Don’t forget to fish at dusk and afterwards, into the night, because weakfish are nocturnal creatures that will strike even then. At night, try to throw darker-colored plugs, such as the black Mambo Minnow, which always seems to take its fair share of tide-runners.

Basic rig
Get yourself a piece of 36-inch monofilament; tie a barrel swivel on one end and a size 2/0 or 3/0 gold bait holder-type hook on the other end for a floating-type rig. Use a slide above the barrel swivel and affix a 2- to 3-ounce bank sinker to the clip, so what you essentially have is a floating fish finder rig. You can thread a sandworm or bloodworm to this rig for bait.

Surf fishing is one thing, but weakfishing from the surf is an art all its own. Keep your eyes open during bluefish and bass blitzes when birds are working the waters all around, there are bound to be some weakies mixed in with all the ruckus. Just be prepared and you’ll go home with some spike-toothed battlers for the frying pan. -- Story by Nick Magnum