Crazy_Legs

Spook Fishing in NJ?

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Hi guys, 

I hope everyone is healthy and having as productive a season as they can under these surreal circumstances.  Are spook style plugs effective in NJ? adult bunker seems to be the prevailing bait in the spot I've been targeting and big plugs seem like they should be working, but I'm not having success.  Where and when do you fish the spook? Daytime/nighttime/tide/wind? I've been trying to improve my confidence in some different style plugs this season but my SP/Bombers have been getting the most attention as usual. Thanks!

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I have been fishing spook-style plugs in the back bay along sod banks for years.  The smaller ones of course.  They are very productive in the back.  If you are talking about the 9'' and up plugs for the surf, I have heard that they are productive, but have never given it a try for myself.  

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7 mins ago, The Salty Fisherman said:

 If you are talking about the 9'' and up plugs for the surf, I have heard that they are productive, but have never given it a try for myself.  

Yea those are the ones.  Someone gave me one of the big ones, and I keep it in my bag and throw it sometimes but without success.  I'll have to grab a smaller one and try it in the bay.  Thanks!

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The Spook is my go to top water on the flats in pristine / ideal conditions. Its not too different from the classic pencil popper but in my opinion it's easier to work more slowly and precisely. As the conditions deteriorate I use a bigger spook to displace more water. But like any thing else in fishing if I'm not confident in the presentation (with the spook this is only in the messiest of conditions) I will switch to a chug popper in a similar profile. Like all plugs matching the hatch when fish are picky is very important. I like white as a staple, and white yellow, or a bunker imitation in clear water. As always chartreuse in super bright conditions, or in murky water, I also like Pink. Bass during the spring get territorial and will eat or attack as if just to show dominance. This is where the spook shines in my opinion because it pisses bass off that might not want to eat. During these times I especially appreciate chartreuse and a rattle. I get my lures from Tak Watermen. They have an online store and are super responsive on IG. They have all my favorites the Rapala Skitter V, the Doc and the Mini Doc, and the Haddon Spook, The Haddon is well priced if you want to just get one or two to start they have all the color patterns you can think of and the Salt water size has good hooks and is good for all size bass. When Bass are feeding super aggressively on bunker I feel comfortable throwing classic wood (I enjoy supporting local business, especially craftsmen fishermen) but feel more confident in the plastic ones when using as a search bait. I took this approach with the spook with me to catch my first tarpon. Estimated near 100 pounds he ate a Rapala Skitter walk 13 in twenty feet. My Biggest Bass on a spook was in 2 feet of water and weighed 27 pounds. When wading many times I loop knot direct tie the spook and never change my lure. 

 

I don't know if this is proper practice for Stripers on Line but Here goes: I'm Billy George the 4th from Monmouth County New Jersey First time poster long time reader, life time fisherman, surfer, educator, aspiring: conservationist, self sufficient sustainability minded family man.  

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23 hours ago, Crazy_Legs said:

Hi guys, 

I hope everyone is healthy and having as productive a season as they can under these surreal circumstances.  Are spook style plugs effective in NJ? adult bunker seems to be the prevailing bait in the spot I've been targeting and big plugs seem like they should be working, but I'm not having success.  Where and when do you fish the spook? Daytime/nighttime/tide/wind? I've been trying to improve my confidence in some different style plugs this season but my SP/Bombers have been getting the most attention as usual. Thanks!


Spooks are productive anywhere there are predators that will take a bait on the surface.  Striped bass are no exception.  Match your size of spook to what kind of bait is in the area.  For the last couple years we’ve had adult bunker pretty much everywhere in good numbers year round, so I always have atleast one bigger spook with me.  If fish are really on a good feed spooks can work all day long, especially during the spring and fall migrations.  However I usually fish them effectively early morning and late afternoon, when the light is still low.  You’ll probably notice they usually turn off on top, poppers or spooks, once it really gets bright out, and need to switch to something subsurface.  The biggest exception there being if it’s overcast/snotty out, then they’ll often take them as if it’s first light.  I’ve caught fish on spooks in the dark, like 30-45 minutes before and after sunrise/sunset, but It’s not going to be my first, or 2nd-10th choice in the dead of night.

 

This time of year the water is still cold so they may not be willing to strike a top water like they would in the end of may or early fall.  If there are big bunker around and they won’t take a spook you give a big metal lip a shot.  Don’t give up, it’ll click eventually and you’ll start to put some patterns together.  

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3 hours ago, Billythekid174 said:

The Spook is my go to top water on the flats in pristine / ideal conditions. Its not too different from the classic pencil popper but in my opinion it's easier to work more slowly and precisely. As the conditions deteriorate I use a bigger spook to displace more water. But like any thing else in fishing if I'm not confident in the presentation (with the spook this is only in the messiest of conditions) I will switch to a chug popper in a similar profile. Like all plugs matching the hatch when fish are picky is very important. I like white as a staple, and white yellow, or a bunker imitation in clear water. As always chartreuse in super bright conditions, or in murky water, I also like Pink. Bass during the spring get territorial and will eat or attack as if just to show dominance. This is where the spook shines in my opinion because it pisses bass off that might not want to eat. During these times I especially appreciate chartreuse and a rattle. I get my lures from Tak Watermen. They have an online store and are super responsive on IG. They have all my favorites the Rapala Skitter V, the Doc and the Mini Doc, and the Haddon Spook, The Haddon is well priced if you want to just get one or two to start they have all the color patterns you can think of and the Salt water size has good hooks and is good for all size bass. When Bass are feeding super aggressively on bunker I feel comfortable throwing classic wood (I enjoy supporting local business, especially craftsmen fishermen) but feel more confident in the plastic ones when using as a search bait. I took this approach with the spook with me to catch my first tarpon. Estimated near 100 pounds he ate a Rapala Skitter walk 13 in twenty feet. My Biggest Bass on a spook was in 2 feet of water and weighed 27 pounds. When wading many times I loop knot direct tie the spook and never change my lure. 

 

I don't know if this is proper practice for Stripers on Line but Here goes: I'm Billy George the 4th from Monmouth County New Jersey First time poster long time reader, life time fisherman, surfer, educator, aspiring: conservationist, self sufficient sustainability minded family man.  

Welcome Billy, very informative post.

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7 hours ago, Billythekid174 said:

 

 

I don't know if this is proper practice for Stripers on Line but Here goes: I'm Billy George the 4th from Monmouth County New Jersey First time poster long time reader, life time fisherman, surfer, educator, aspiring: conservationist, self sufficient sustainability minded family man.  

Hey Billy George, thanks for such a detailed answer.  I've been throwing my white spook this spring and not having any success, your detailed post gave me so much info, I'm looking forward to putting it into practice.  Tomorrow, after I get some rest, I've fished the last 6 out of 7 nights and I'm beat.

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4 hours ago, bbfish said:

 Don’t give up, it’ll click eventually and you’ll start to put some patterns together.  

EXCELLENT ADVICE! Thanks man, my hope is to do just that.

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On ‎4‎/‎25‎/‎2020 at 4:43 PM, Crazy_Legs said:

Hi guys, 

I hope everyone is healthy and having as productive a season as they can under these surreal circumstances.  Are spook style plugs effective in NJ? adult bunker seems to be the prevailing bait in the spot I've been targeting and big plugs seem like they should be working, but I'm not having success.  Where and when do you fish the spook? Daytime/nighttime/tide/wind? I've been trying to improve my confidence in some different style plugs this season but my SP/Bombers have been getting the most attention as usual. Thanks!

When using a spook, I use a 9" most of the time.  I have several bass this spring on them, all at sunrise.  I find the plug gets more attention when the water temp gets into the mid to upper 50's.  I use it at night too but prefer the non rattle varieties when its dark.  When fishing the shallow back bay areas at night, I usually leave my car with a 9" spook, redfin, and one metal lip and one sinking super strike popper...all in a single 3" diameter tube attached to my belt.....and pliers.  

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@Crazy_Legs Ive been on a similar binge my finger has three pretty legit braid cuts, but my thumbs are not near as callused :banghd: The SP minnow and Smack it Jr lures have accounted for the majority of my fish this year, I agree with some of the other posters it may be a little too cold yet for the spook, we definitely could use some sunny days to heat up the flats, but the spook did provide me with my only two keeper sized fish. 

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+1 on the spook's effectiveness; I throw the 9" Daddy Mac lure and it's caught fish in NY/NJ/CT. I do prefer slightly warmer temps, and my logs show topwater bites in 53 degree water and above. That's not to say they wont bite in 48-50 degree water like we have now. 

 

Don't lose faith in them is what I would ultimately say. I think we all have a story about a lure we had not scored with and lost some confidence in, then one day, the skies opened and the lure worked well. If anything give the lure a break for a week and hopefully our water temps jump 5+ degrees in the next week! If not, give it a go next week during the full moon. Big lure = big fish!

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How do y'all work those kinda lures? I know spook-types from freshwater fishing and only feel comfortable doing downward taps like freshwater. I've had successes in saltwater doing it that way... "Walking the dog" with a spook is fun

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@Frugal Fisherman I walk the dog mostly and ill even refer to the spook as the "walk the dog" (hold the rod to the side and twitch the tip, I like some combo of twitch, twitch, twitch, pause.. twitch, twitch, pause.. make sure the lure gets good glide from side to side in less ideal temps fish seem to like it slower when they are feeding aggressively it doesn't really matter) but with the big 9 inch spooks in certain conditions (if its really messy and or the spook is super far from away) ill work it like a pencil popper some times just to get it started swimming. In my humble option there is nothing more exciting (and sometimes frustrating) then to have a big bas behind you when working the spook. When the fish are waking behind you it's hard not to change up your retrieve some say pretend like the fish isn't there, easier said then done. I sometimes try to slow it down or speed it up to entice them to bite especially if I'm getting to the end of the retrieve. Getting raises or a vicious tail slap from a big fish on flat I believe can be more fun then actually catching fish with different methods. If a bass makes an attempt at the lure but misses, don't jerk the bait just retrieve any slack and leave it right there after a second if nothing go back to a slow retrieve. This how I caught my tarpon. Bass sometimes tail slap the spook and double back. Like the SP minnow when the bite is really on they just want the profile if you put it in font of them they will eat it. With a crazy wind I've caught fish as soon as the lure hit the water and I reeled the slack out the bait just kinda glides across the water and WHAM. :hooked:

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17 hours ago, Frugal Fisherman said:

How do y'all work those kinda lures? I know spook-types from freshwater fishing and only feel comfortable doing downward taps like freshwater. I've had successes in saltwater doing it that way... "Walking the dog" with a spook is fun

there is an excellent John Skinner video on how to swim big spooks.   Just search for it, it's awesome.

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