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Fishing Definitions
Here are some fishing terms that you are likely to hear if you ever find yourself in our company in that ongoing and insatiable quest for striped bass. Many are strictly used in jest and I doubt you'll find many in a Webster's Dictionary! If you have any that you think should be added, shoot me an email - tims @ - and I'll work them in. This will be updated often as the words either come to mind or are used in this site....enjoy!

 WEB  knitting a sweater marine hackle topshot Fling Zone dillies
 blitz   blood sucking night demon handwarmer rip chunkin' dillies
birds denizens of the deep flood ebb air hanky mohawk
catching  boardwalk fishing hammerhead headache birds LARGE slob
rat plastic-doodle razor lips nuts turtle-head roller
salad 4 cornered grouper skunk sharpies snakes suds
mugged rat tailed flounder trigger unbuttoned unicorn sausages
sucker fish clam tossing tourist nest boomer pick rock snot

WEB (n): A bothersome, arrogant creature that hibernates from about mid-September to mid-June, emerging most often around holiday weekends. Similar to hammerheads and calm tossing tourists, WEB's are more likely to be jet-skiers, sun worshippers and jetty sightseers who believe it is their life's mission to muck up your fishing, the roads and make a general nuisance of themselves.  WEB is an acronym for Week End Bastage.  
Note:  This term does not apply to courteous fishermen who actually know what they are doing or are at least trying to figure it out.

Knitting a sweater (v): The act of tangling your line in a hopeless mess while fishing.   Usually associated with fly fishing, it is most commonly the Gordian Knot that shoots up out of the basket, snags on the stripping guide and ruins the beautiful 120' cast you where making to that 50 pounder.  Usually accompanied by uncouth language.

Marine Hackle. (n): A fly fishing term for bait, usually uncomplimentary in nature, generally referring to some type of living creature impaled on a curved and barbed piece of steel. Derived from the freshwater fly fishing term: Garden Hackle, i.e.: a night crawler.

unicorn-(n): An elusive creature that swims in all our salt and brackish waters. It has stripes, but no horn. This term is used mainly when said creatures are least abundant...almost makes you wonder if they really exist at all!

hammerhead-(n): An angler with little or no knowledge of the quarry he seeks or the water in which he is seeks them. It's a stage, many hammerheads will one day be freed of this title. Generally, hammerheads will carry with them a lantern, bucket, at least one Ugly Stick, and will often hold their spinning rods upside down. Give them room lest you put yourself in danger of becoming impaled or hopelessly tangled with them.

LARGE-(n): This term is relative to the areas in which it is used. In coining this term over 6 years ago, I was given the responsibility of defining it for the areas in which I fish. Locally, a LARGE is a striper over 25#. In some areas the minimum size for LARGE can vary much from this weight. Please consult your local sharpies.

sharpies-(n): I hate this term, it has become hopelessly overused. At one point, a sharpie was an angler who had mastered all things striper, now it is used to described anyone catching a couple bass when others are failing. Please help to elevate the sharpies back to the status they deserve and use this word only when someone is scoring double digits in tough times! :)

blood sucking night demon-(n): This term was coined some years ago by Jerry and myself while catching the now nearly extinct whiting that used to hit our beaches. It is in reference to the skates that would constantly be hammering any baits intended for said whiting. Also see rat-tailed flounder.

blitz-(n): A widely misused term. In it's proper context, blitz describes many anglers taking many fish on many different lures over a wide area. Sadly, it's now used to describe a couple guys witnessing a school of bait being pursued by a couple fish. In it's present context it is used to attract the unknowing to the beaches and sell lures and bait. It's not a blitz unless the fish are plentiful and easy, please use this term correctly so as not to add to it's misuse! :)

rat-tailed flounder-(n): A newer term used to described skates caught during the day light hours while throwing clams for striped bass. See also blood sucking night demon.

unbuttoned-(n): When a fish just mysteriously falls off the hook, even though the rod was bent and no slack given...a sad occurrence, but fairly common.

dillies-(n): See hammerheads.

plastic Doodle-(n): Any one of a number of species of plastic things that can be caught while surf fishing. Most are small and harmless plastic bag parts, but occasionally you can stick a real monster...I landed my first gallon milk jug last week, a real fighter was that doodle!

boardwalk Fishing-(v): This rude and lazy behavior can be seen up and down the Jersey coast, anywhere the surf is visible from the boardwalk. This is when a lazy person dons binoculars and just stands on the boardwalk, looking for bent rods. They are too lazy to actually walk down and fish for themselves, they'd rather wait until others do all the work and problem solving, then they will rudely come down to where they are catching fish and be sure to cast over their lines and cause trouble. This is the lowest point to which a fisherman can be reduced.

clam tossing tourist-(n): Yet another negative connotation for the clueless angler who chooses to throw bait. Said anglers will have no idea what they are doing, but will no doubt be doing it in such a fashion that they will preclude other anglers from fishing a productive stretch of beach. Also used as a term to describe would be "professional" anglers who really don't have any idea what they are doing when it comes to fishing artificials, they can only take bass with bait but pretend to know all things striper.

chunkin'-(v): Fishing with pieces of fish for bait. Originally used as a term to describe the chumming of pieces of fish, this term has now been accepted as just fishing with chunks of fish for bait. Also can be the result of sea sickness and too much lunch.

snakes-(n): American eels, used live or rigged for bait. Generally refers to big eels, but can be used to describe any type of eel.

nuts-(n): Immature or smallish bunker. Also known as peanuts.

razor Lips-(n): Nasty, oily, tooth ridden bullies of the sea....bluefish.

suds-(n): Any place where the ocean and the land meets. Usually a beach, but not necessarily.

rat-(n): An endearing term used to describe a very small striped bass. See also "Maryland Keeper."

skunk-(n): The skunk, what a sad thing to means that you got nothing, nada, no fish, zero, got the skunk!

salad-(n): Many types of vegetation and flotsam that can mess up your fishing. The green leafy stuff that most resembles actual lettuce is the least of your's the stringy, small pieces choking your fishing areas that will send you home pulling out your hair!

turtlehead-(n): This is a sad,biological event that inevitably happens when you are a substantial distance from the nearest restroom. At the end of a long jetty is the last place you want to be wrestling the turtle!

air hanky-(n): A method of removing mucus from your nose in the event that your long sleeves are no longer conducive to wiping your nose on them. It's not a pleasant thing to see, but sometimes it can buy you some time till you can get to a tissue!

nest-(n): This is an occurrence unique to my friend Charlie. You will see these nests on long stretches of beaches that we fish together. They happen when I think there are fish around yet haven't stuck one in a while..Charlie will lose interest, retreat some feet from the water, settle into the sand and kind of hollow out a that will support him so he can see if I am into fish or's almost like boardwalk fishing, he doesn't want to give up and go back to the truck, but he doesn't want to expend any more energy in the hunt. As I move down the beach, just before I get out of sight, he'll pick up his camp, follow a bit, build another nest, and wait. On a long night, there could be as many as four or five of these nests....feel free to use them if you come across them, he rarely uses the same one twice!

rip-(n): A rip is where shallow water, deeper water, and current all come together. It's a place of fast water, seams, and a bottom change..a great spot to hunt unicorns. Rips will move sometimes, as the depth of the water changes, they will sometime get stronger and sometimes die out. They all have their moments, some are best for only short periods of a tide, others are great regardless of tidal stage or direction.

handwarmer-(n): There are many names for this finest of God's creations, the female of our species! This term was coined on one of those cold striper hunts a few years ago, we looked longingly at a fine specimen, certain that she could drive the cold from our hands...thus, the name.

"the birds"-(n): This is a sad thing, when guys spend more time looking for "the birds" than they do fishing, what are these guys after, birds or fish? "The birds" is a term used to describe the seagulls and/or terns that will scream and dive into schools of baitfish that are pushed to shore or against the surface as the unicorns or razor lips tear into them. It's this time of year I wish seagulls were migratory, leaving for Florida in September...if it wasn't for the seagulls diving and screaming, about 3/4 of the guys out there would stay home, for they aren't interested in just fishing, they are looking only for "the birds"'s so sad, I like to fish!

slob-(n): A very big fish. Also, what you would think of a guy who fished 42 out of 48 hours one weekend while driving 85 miles each way to do so if you looked in his truck window. See also LARGE.

headache birds-(n): My own personal term to describe the Gannets that show up in October. These great birds are unique in that they will circle the schools of bait from heights of 100 feet, then lock up their wings and dive full speed into the water...ouch! The term "headache birds" was my obvious choice the first time I forgot they were called gannets!

mugged-(v): A phenomenon common at Montauk and other striper hot spots is which you are the only one on the beach/jetty/inlet/point who has hooked up or landed a fish and suddenly you find yourself surrounded by people. The most common method of mugging is the beach/jetty/inlet/point two-step, where you are approached two steps at a time until the actual mugging. The incidence of mugging is inversely proportional the amount of fish caught and density of hammerheads present. In general, the fewer fish caught in the presence of a greater number of hammerhead the more likely you are to be mugged and the more severe the mugging is likely to be! (Submitted by FredB)

denizen's of the deep-(n): Any and all of the vast numbers of spiked / long tailed / toothy / generally unpleasant creatures which would typically arrive in great waves at low slack water to devour or maim the hard-to-come-by live spot being fished at Cape Henlopen, DE for the wonderful, now, sadly MIA, weakfish. (Submitted by BillK)

ebb-(v): Refers to the outgoing tide, when the water is getting shallower. Not to be confused with the accepted Cape Cod terms of east and west when referring to tides. Also, what the bass are doing from our area as we speak!

flood-(v): Refers to the incoming tide, when the water is getting deeper. Also, not to be confused with Cape Cod tidal references of east and west. Hopefully, what some LARGE will be doing to our area in the next couple weeks!

pick -(v): A low, but steady catch rate while fishing, i.e. slow pick - 1 or 2 fish per hour, steady pick - 3 or 4 per hour. More than 3 or 4 fish per hour is referred to as "catching." See also catching.(submitted by Hugh, a.k.a "Plug")

rock Snot-(n): The super slippery coating present on continually wet rock jetties. Much beloved by true jetty fishers for it's ability to keep away undesirables, such as hammerheads, clam-tossing tourists et al. (submitted by Hugh, a.k.a "Plug")

boomer-(n): Large wave which crests and breaks against the side or front of a jetty with a loud crash and much soaking spray. Also much beloved by true jetty fishermen, (see rock snot).(submitted by Hugh, a.k.a "Plug")

roller-(n): Large dangerous wave which crests and breaks on top of a jetty. Not beloved by true jetty fishermen. Also known as "sweeper" for obvious reasons. (submitted by Hugh, a.k.a "Plug")

catching-(v): The actual hooking, landing, and releasing of striped bass. As the fishing picks up beyond the definition of "pick", you begin catching. The varying degrees of "catching" are catching a few- 4 or 5 fish per hour; catching a bunch- 6 to 10 fish per hour; catching the crap out of them- 11 to 16 fish per hour. Anything above 16 fish per hour is considered "killing them" or often referred to as "they are committing suicide!" NOTE: At 16 fish per hour, the entire act of casting, hooking, fighting, landing, unhooking, and releasing each fish can take at most 3 minutes and 45 seconds. This is quite a frantic pace...but it's been done more than a few times! About the maximum catch rate I would guess would be about 30 fish per hour, or 2 minutes between fish landed....and this is only possible when the fish are small and close...I've only reached this level a couple times in my's frantic, you will get sore bloody thumbs from handling 30 fish per hour!

sausages-(n): Used to describe toes that are so cold from wearing wet waders into the 30 degree air and standing on cold rocks. The toes feel as if they are swollen like sausages and then crammed into boots that are too small!

gator-(n): A bluefish over that 10-12 pound mark...a nasty food processor with fins...see also razor-lips.

mohawk-(v): Describes super striper fishing, where you are getting hits almost every cast for a good period of time. For example, "Last night we caught 50 fish, we mohawked them!"

trigger-(n): This describes one or more things that are found to be the feature/color/action that the stripers are keying in on a particular trip or under certain conditions. In the spring, a touch of orange on the chins of flies is a trigger when the fish are feeding on shrimp. Likewise, when sand eels are around, a long, thin silhouette is often a trigger.

sucker fish-(n): A fish, usually alone, that hits just as you are leaving or moving, suckering you into spending more time in the place you know you should be leaving. This usually occurs as soon as it's agreed that you are moving to a new spot after this cast...that's when the sucker fish always seem to pop up!

Fling Zone-(n): The area east of Ocean Avenue spanning from the north side of Manasquan Inlet to the south side of Shark River Inlet. This covers Manasquan, Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Belmar, the waters of Manasquan Inlet and the waters of Shark River Inlet.

Homer-(n): A fisherman/woman who won't even bother to leave their homes without verified and confirmed reports of at least 3 previous days of blitzing fish. They also need to know exactly where, exactly when, and exactly what to throw....if you could put their feet in your old boot prints, it would be appreciated. Needless to say, Homers don't fish much ;-)

4-Cornered Grouper-(n): Generally found in waters with a fair to heavy amount of drug smuggling...this delightfully flavored critter is best served amongst friends over a very open that is ;-) Caution: It is illegal to posses any portion of a 4 cornered grouper and the authorities should be notified immediately upon discovery....well, maybe clip a fin or something...then call the cops ;-)

topshot-(n): Addition of line to the top of a spool, usually just a very long leader, but sometimes as much as a 100 yds or more. Used generally as the fishing line and the line underneath the "topshot" is used as a backing of sorts. In the case of a short topshot, it's used as a very long leader. If the leader reaches the spool and has many turns on the spool, consider it a topshot. It it reaches the spool with a few turns on the spool, it's considered a "shock leader"...if it doesn't reach the spool, it's just a plain leader.

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