Sucking Up Speedsters

The summertime swing is in full effect, and with it, the battalion of summer speedsters including bonito, false albacore, Spanish mackerel, and skipjacks are ripping through the waters up and down the Eastern Seaboard. While trolling is a super effective way to catch the lightning quick dynamos, why not try a different approach and chum them up for some light tackle fun?

The first order of business is to scope out a nice ledge that has a pretty good drop on it and proceed to anchor on the upside of the tide. Start the slick by sending out handfuls of fresh spearing or chunks of pilchards or peanut bunker behind the boat.  As the chunk baits flitter down, the flash and scent will attract pelagics up the ridge and into to the area to feed. A light set up with a Shimano 4000 Stradic reel spooled with 12-pound monofilament line matched with a medium action 6-1/2 foot spinning rod will fit the bill. Fluorocarbon leader is a must with the line shy speed demons, and a free line rig consists of a 50-pound Spro Barrell swivel to prevent the bait from spinning, then 30-inch section of 20-pound fluorocarbon leader and a No. 1 Gamakatsu live-bait hook on a weightless flat line.

Hiding the hook is of paramount importance. With the point of the hook, a spearing or peanut bunker bait can be poked into the mouth, pushed out the gills and hooked back in right behind the gill plate or just underneath the backbone, almost like a butterfish is hooked when chunking for tuna.

Drop the bait in the water, open the bail and strip two pulls of line off the reel, allowing the bait to flow down the water column freely and without tension. Once a pickup occurs, flip the bail and engage the reel, lifting back on the rod gently as the torrid speed of the takeoff will usually set the hook. Live baits like peanut bunker and killies hooked through the mouths can be pitched back to the speed demons when they are in a frenzy.

Chumming up speedsters is most rewarding on light tackle, with wild visual strikes, sometime only yards from the stern of the boat. Once the chew gets going, drags will be screaming.

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