The Sweetness of Sugar Reef
By Captain Allen Fee
Posted Wednesday, June 14, 2006
For the past couple weeks it seems as though the striped bass have developed a bit of a sweet tooth for Sugar Reef. Who could blame them? If someone told me of a place that serves all you can eat calamari, I'd be there too. Recently, just about every morning and evening, on an incoming tide you'll find the birds working and the stripers breaking the surface, near the mast at Sugar Reef. Contrary to popular belief of it being a shipwreck, the mast is actually the remains of an iso-danger marker, similar to the day markers at Ellis and Ram Island Reef. The rip line at Sugar runs south from the mast for about 300 feet. The top of the reef has a an average depth of 14 feet and drops sharply below 50 feet, west of the rip line. The fish are usually found right at the rip itself.
If all goes well, the area can accommodate up to six or eight boats before things get a little too busy to hang around. There is sort of an unwritten rule respected by the regulars out there. The rip line is quite long, and the fish are well spread within it, leaving room for the boats to line up side by side, with their sterns to the rip. With the boat in forward gear, and the throttle speed set to hold your position in the tide. You can now drift out, or "flat line" your lures and flies back to the rip. This way, no one crosses your lines, and everyone has a chance to catch a fish. Nearby Watch Hill Reef, and Catumb rocks are also good places to try your luck.
The recent stretch of fog has made it from difficult to impossible for some to get out, depending on your navigational skills, and one's faith in modern electronics in the saltwater environment. Some of those foggy days produce the best fishing conditions. Not too much sun and typically no wind. Just remember, in the fog, your ears work better than your eyes when it comes to collision avoidance.
In addition to casting, many troll and even "chunk fish" the Sugar reef area. Some troll tube and worm rigs or buck tail jigs behind wire line.
Capt. Bruce Meyers of Secret Place Charters sailed from Shaffer's on Tuesday returning with six keeper stripers and an eight pound fluke that took a whole squid used to catch the bass.
Capt. Allen Fee of Sea Dog Charters fished Thursday and Tuesday. Allen's Thursday guest, Bill Lanaise casted at Sugar Reef, Watch Hill Reef, and Catumb Rock. "We landed countless shorts and three keeper bass. Bill decided to let the largest of the three go and grow old." Non-weighted Slug-Goes and Fin-S soft lures were the lure pick of the day. Allen also trolled up a 33 inch bass using a deep diving Rapala Swimmer. In the deeper water south of Watch Hill Reef, Allen landed some smaller bass on a two ounce diamond jig. "That day was so much fun. Everything we tried, worked. Once in a while it just works out that way." When the tide went slack, we tried some fluke fishing. Several shorts and one 19 incher from White Rock was the end result of a lousy drift. "If you're not drifting, don't even bother trying to catch fluke." Similar fluke trips over the weekend ended with the same results. Cheryl Fee of Shaffer's Bait and Tackle asked her bait customers, "How'd you do yesterday?" Most replied, "Lot of shorts." The good thing is that the number of fluke caught is good. The bigger ones are a bonus. I recommend using bigger baits such as whole squid and Peruvian spearing, which measure five to six inches in length.
Upon arriving at a fluke fishing location, and during the drift, use your GPS to determine drift speed and direction. If when you look, and the display reads, 0.0 kts, you should go find a better drift. Also just a reminder to check your flare dates. Outdated flares are most common failure during a spot inspection.
Catch em up!
Capt. Allen Fee
Shaffer's Bait and Tackle / Sea Dog Charters