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July is bluefish time, and here are some tips on catching some

OH YEAH, this is the month that we really look forward to for a couple of good fishing experiences.

First of all, this is the month that if you're going to be able to catch a bluefish or two, (which we really relish for both fun and food) you'd better give it a try.

For several years now, the blues haven't come anywhere around here in numbers like they used to but there's still a way to catch a few, if you have the time and patience. Our project begins with catching as many bait-sized pollock or mackerel as we can, and keeping a few of them alive in our live tank but with plenty that you can use to chum.

Since bluefish are not usually attracted to certain cover or structure, like stripers are, it's your job to draw them to you and that's why you need to have plenty of baitfish to chum with.

There's no science to picking a spot out in the ocean to fish for bluefish but a couple of places do stand out for at least having a chance at both bluefish and stripers: the ledges at the Isles of Shoals.

You don't need to anchor right on the ledges. In a couple of instances, this could be suicidal. No, you want to anchor somewhere near the sea surge that the ledges cause and to do that and stay anchored you'll need to let out about three times more anchor rode than your depthfinder shows under the boat. In doing this, you have to have a good handle on where to put the anchor out to stay out of danger as the extra anchor rode has to be taken into consideration. Do not take chances!

Another good place to try for these maniac bluefish feeders is around sunken structure (ledges) that may attract baitfish.

Set out some lines at different depths with chunks of baitfish. It's a wise choice to use quite heavy pound-test fluorocarbon leaders or light woven wire leaders as bluefish have very sharp teeth. Then the boredom probably will set in as you wait for the bluefish and or stripers to find you. Chumming with small cut pieces of your mackerel or pollock should eventually draw some predator fish to you and that's when the fun starts!

Also, if you have enough in your fishing crew, it's a good idea to continue to add baitfish to your initial catch to replace what you are using as you fish. With your chumming with fish chunks, you should also throw out some ground chum to attract the baitfish, which will also help you attract those blues and stripers to your larger chunk baits.

Dogfish attacks can kind of ruin your day. If they show up in your chum line, you have a couple of options. One is to pull up stakes and move. The other is to slow down the chumming and to fish your baits close enough to the surface so you can see what is eating your chum, and not put a hook bait down until stripers or bluefish appear. Having a good set of polarized sun glasses will make this job much easier!

You may come to the conclusion by questioning your sanity that all of this work to catch a fish is not worth it, but as my old mentor would tell me, it's better than hanging around an old smoky pool hall!

Some days we've flunked out with this procedure. Other days we did pick up some great fish with memorable occasions of really loading the boat. And one day in particular, we hooked up a giant bluefin tuna on a striper-sized rod and reel and fought it at high speed all the way from the Isles of Shoals to Boon Island Light, about seven or eight miles from where we hooked up!

We finally had to part company with the fish when we realized we just didn't have the equipment on board to finish the job. A harpoon set-up could have changed that but we were just as happy to let that fish go.

If you are fishing from a large enough boat to handle landing a tuna, it doesn't take much to finish equipping it for what may eventually happen but know you need to get a permit for tuna fishing before you can.

Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at


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