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Atlantic Outfitters
405 Main Street, #2 (Next to Louies, a short walk from Town Dock)
Port Washington, NY 11050 - Telephone: (516)767-2215

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Tips and Techniques

Tips for Fishing and Boating.

If you have anything you would like to post, email it to me for review and I will put it on the page.


Snapper Fishing 101

This may seem like a silly one but I get lots of questions and observe people making lots of mistakes while snapper fishing.  Here is a list of what you need and what to do to have a great time snapper fishing with your kids.


  • Light weight spinning rod with 6 to 8 lb test line
  • or
  • Bamboo pole
To fish with bait:
  • Extra long shank snapper hooks (bridgeport hooks) in size 3 to 5.
  • Bobber (1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter)
  • Spearing (minnows)
  • Split shot (light fishing weights)
To fish with lures:
  • Small spoons 1/8 to 1/4 oz in weight.  Kastmasters, Pheobe, Deadly Dicks, and Sidewinders are some of the best.
  • Weighted casting float
  • Snapper Poppers
  • **Take a couple of lures.  If you only have one I guarantee you will lose it.
Other Stuff:
  • A bucket, a small net, bait knife, and long news pliers.
  • Bucket - holds your bait and if you want to keep a couple of fish to play with you can put a couple of snappers in it.
  • Net - helps landing fish and gives the kids something to play with.
  • Bait knife - to cut up minnows, fillet snappers, and cut line.
  • Long Nose Pliers - to cut line and remove hooks.

Fishing from a dock is usually the best place to fish for snappers.  You will get fewer snags on the bottom and minnows like to hang around pilings and docks to feed.  Snappers hang around docks to feed on the minnows.  Fishing from the beach works well but the fish tend to move with the tide, moving in close at high tide and then moving out as the tide goes out.  Be prepared to move with the tide when fishing from shore and try to pick a location that is very sandy or rocky.  Dark sandy bottoms tend to be very muddy which makes for difficult and messy fishing as the tide goes out.

If you are using a lure use a swivel.  If you don't have a swivel your line will get twisted and as you fish it will start twist and knotting on itself.  If it starts happening pull the twisted line off the reel and cut it off.  It is very hard to get the twist out of a line, you are better off cutting the problem section out and getting back to fishing.  When using lures you do not need weights (sinkers) unless the lure is too light for your rod to throw.  You will be able to tell if your lure it too light/ rod is too heavy by not being able to cast more than a few feet.  A properly weighted rod and lure will cast short and long distances easily.

Bait is more straight forward; tie on a hook, attached a bobber, and (if you are need to fish deeper) put on some split shot a few inches above your hook.  If you see snappers chasing bait around on the surface put your bobber close to the top of your leader.  If you aren't getting bites slide your bobber up your line away from your hook to fish your bait deeper.

When you catch a snapper try to release it quickly.  Fish are a natural resource and a living creature, please show them some respect.  Try not to drop them on the dock, hold them over the water or over a bucket of water.  The dry rough surface of a dock or the beach will harm them and remove their protective slime coating.  Do not drop fish on the ground and put your foot on a fish to hold them while you remove the hook.  You will kill the fish.  The best way to release a fish is to grab your line or the leader and slide your hand down as close as possible.  If you can grab the hook or lure by hand or with some pliers so you can remove the hook from the fishes mouth.  To remove the hook turn it upside down and give it a little shake.  The fish should drop off easily.  If the hook is deeper in the mouth it is best to use some pliers to grip the hook.  Carefully try and push it back into the fishes mouth and remove it.  If you rip the hook out odds are high you will harm the fish and it will die.

If you want your kids to have a little fun fill a bucket with clean salt water and put a couple of fish in.  Your kids will be fascinated.  As soon as they lose interest throw the fish back unless you want to take it home for dinner.  The fish will die quickly from the heat and lack of oxygen if you leave them in the bucket for too long.

If you need more help please call my shop or stop by.  I am always happy to help teach you the proper techniques or answer questions.  Any good tackle shop should have people there who are friendly and are willing to answer your questions if the can.  Good luck and have fun fishing!!


How to Find Fish Based on Tidal Flow

One common behavior among predatory fish is what they do when it comes to feeding.  All fish like an easy meal.  The less energy expended feeding is the more energy you have to escape or do other things.  Trout don't spend their time feeding by swimming all over the river.  They find pockets of water where there is less current in the river to hide out and wait for the water to bring the meal to them.  They hide behind rocks, in deep pockets, at the edge of a dropoff, or under structure waiting to grab a meal.  If it is a particularly rich feeding area they will set up in feeding lanes, with the fish lining up along the sides of the lane or channel waiting for their chance to feed.  They stay in these spots facing into the current (because they can't hold position facing down current and the food is coming at them with the current.  In salt water striped bass do the same thing.  They hide around rocks, facing into the current (tide) looking for an easy meal.  They hide in pockets behind sand bars and in channels between islands and rocks looking for an easy meal.  If they aren't in a school working on schools of bait (blitz conditions) they are hanging around structure looking for an easy meal.  They hide behind rocks, in and around docks, and in pockets and channels facing into the tide looking for an easy meal.  As the tide flows the fish also change position, moving in and out of the harbor as the tide flows.  If you return to the same spot often, pay attention to the depth of the water.  You will find that the fish will stay in position until (or not until) the water is a certain depth.  Then they move into deeper water or another location.  They key is finding where those spots are... that I can't help you with.  Plus it is the fun part about fishing, figuring out how it all works and finding your magic spots.


So if you are heading out and are unsure of where to fish, check the tide.  Find a navigational marker and look at what way the current is flowing.  Check a chart and find a rock, dock, dropoff, or sandbar and fish the down current side of the structure.  Odds are much higher you will find fish there.


Introducing Your Kids to Fishing

I have two young children.  I love the water, they love the water (I can't understand why) and I love spending time with my children.  The hard part is keeping kids interested and making sure they have fun.  Fishing can be great fun with your kids if you do it right but you have to keep a few things in mind.


First, going fishing with your kids until they are a certain age isn't about fishing.  It is about introducing them to the sport and making sure they have fun.  If they enjoy it they will want to go more.  They will start to learn about fishing but it will take time.


Second, if you take your children fishing you will not be fishing.  You will be untangling lines, unsnagging hooks, and playing games to keep their interest up.  This is for them so make sure you go out with that in mind.  Don't take your best gear and all your best lures and a ton of equipment.  You won't be using it and there is a good chance you may lose it.  Kids have a funny way of knocking things off a dock or dropping them in the water.  So don't bring all your gear with you.  This is for them and for fun,  not for you to go fishing.


With all that in mind lets talk about what I do to take my kids fishing.  First I will talk about age, second gear, third where to take them, fourth games, and fifth lessons to teach them.


Age.  I stared fishing with my kids when they were two/ two and a half.  I started by giving them kids rods and playing casting games  Occasionally I play fish with them, tugging on the end of their lines.  This way they get aquianted with the gear and it puts the idea in their heads about fishing.  Many cartoons and kids shows for young children (Seasame Street and Caillou on PBS come to mind) show kids fishing and having fun.  So it all reinforces their desire starting at a young age.  They are also physically co-ordinated enough to throw rocks and hold a fishing rod and reel it in.  Both are important skills for fishing with you child.


Gear.  For the Kids; live jackets, floating toy kids rods, rubber worms or Sluggos, and Storm Swimming shad for the kids.  Life jackets are important even if you kid can swim.  If they go in, which they will (my sister always did), you won't have to panic.  You can calmly get them out of the water so they don't freak out.  Floating kids rods are available from you local tackle shop, Wal Mart, or other large sports store.  They are simple, cheap, and colorful so the kids love them.  Most come with toy casting plugs so the kids can play with them in the house or outside.  My kids and their friend love to play fisherman or take turns trying to cast the rods.  Make sure you have one for everyone!  Rubber worms or Sluggos are just a toy for the kids.  They are squish and icky feeling and kids love them.  It also gets them use to wiggly jiggly things so they don't think everything about fishing is gross.  Just don't put hooks in them.  These are for them to paly with around the house.  Storm Swimming Shads are for "actual" fishing.  Buy a package of them and cut the hooks off unless you like going to the ER and having your wife yell at you.  The kids can cast them and swim them through the water.  If there are fish around they may get a couple of strikes or better.  My Son had his bit in half by a bluefish and loved it.  For Dad; pliers for crushing barbs and cutting hooks, a rod (not your best), and a couple of lures or baits that you know you can catch a couple of small fish with,  a bucket to carry things and put fish into, wipes, cookies (or another snack), drinks, and bug repellant or sunblock.


Where to go.  This is important.  If you go to the wrong place the kids won't have fun.  Don't pick a rocky shore.  Don't go to a Town Dock without a fishing float.  The kids are so removed from the water they don't get to have fun.  Try and get them close to the water so they can play.  Go to a floating dock or a beach.  This way they can see the bait in the water, throw rocks, and play other games.  Again, it is about them.  Beaches are great so you can explore and play games all while you are "fishing".


Games.  You have to play some sort of games to help make it fun.  Before you go fishing practice casting.  Put a hoola hoop on the ground and see who can cast into it from a couple of feet away.  Step that up to Daddy fish.  You sit in the circle and catch their practice lure and pull like a fish.  Kids go crazy on this one.  When you are fishing try a couple of my favorites.  Skipping rocks is great and everyone can play.  Even the youngest can plop a rock in the water.  Who can cast the farthest can be fun even if your kid can't really cast.  Have them let some line out and throw their hookless lure.  If they get boored while fishing try playing I Spy with my little eye (in a nutshell you take turns picking stuff and they try to find it).  If you can actually fish and can catch a snapper or other small fish (sunfish in freshwater) put it in a bucket.  Let your kids try and catch the fish so they can let it go.  Don't let it go on for too long though.  A dead fish can really be a buzz kill.  Give them a little time before you keep a fish with them.  It can be a lot for them to deal with, especially if they are tired and close to nap time.


Lessons.  Okay, this isn't what it seems.  There are a couple of things you can use this to teach your kids.  First is respect for the environment.  Make sure your kids pick up their trash.  Even take a minute to pick up garbage left by others.  If we want to keep access to prime fishing spots we need to keep them clean.  I find fishing trash all the time.  All you need is one environemental nut to get a bug in their ass and we lose access to yet another fishing area.  Second is respect for nature.  Practice catch and release, only keep what you eat, and let the big one go for the future.  You want your kids to have fun fishing also.  Teach them, show them, and preserve for their future.  Third, have fun!!!  That is what fishing is all about.  Fun in the outdoors.


If you do it right you lay the groundwork for years of fun with your kids.  Remeber, right now it is for them so they will enjoy fishing with you in the future.  If you really want to go fishing do it with your buddies until your kids are ready to join you.  Besides, my way you get great brownie points with the wife.


Leaders and Bluefish (update)

Okay, we did a side by side test on tippet/ leader material with the bluefish the other night.  I had 80 lb mono on my leader and a buddy had 30 lb Tyger wire.  We both hooked up at the same time.  He had a great fight, my fish broke off in in a minute.  He caught a couple more fish, I retied on the mono and within seconds was hooked up and bit off again.  Jump to the next day, me getting rid of the stupid mono and using wire.  I caught six blues ranging in size from 8 to 12 pounds and never lost a fly and only had to re-tie my fly once.  Verdict: mono bad, wire good.  Now this isn't the final word because there are a number of situations where mono will work fine or is better than wire.  Stripers are leader shy of wire (We tested that one out also) so use mono if you are fishing for stripers around blues.


Tidal Flow and Fly Fishing

Tide is a big part of fishing and few people understand it or have the equipment required for it.  First the basics about the tide.  Tidal flow is dictated by the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon, mostly the moon.  The tide changes by 50 and 1/2 minutes every day so if the tide was high today at 1 PM then then it would be high tomorrow at 1:50 PM and the next day at 2:41 PM.  To estimate it is one hour per day.  There are a number of websites that give tide information and most Town docks or tackle shops have tide charts available for their areas.  Tide vary from harbor to harbor.  For example tides in Port Jefferson (about 40 miles East) are 20 minutes earlier than the tides here in Port Washington.  In general for fly fisherman an outgoing tide is one of the best tides to fish.  Fish are waiting along weed lines, sand bars, and structure for bait to be brought to them by the tide.


If you are fishing an area where the tide really rips because of structure or bottom features that concentrate the water flow you should think about using a sinking line to get your fly down to the fish.  When the water is really moving intermediate lines are just that, they only sink a short distance below the surface.  The action of the water as it moves holds (suspend) your intermediate line "afloat".  Even sinking intermediates with sink rates of 1.5" per second will suspend in a swift current.  You need a quick sinking line with sink rates of 5 to 7 inches per second to get your line down to where the fish are.  So if you find what looks like a magic spot between a couple of big rocks, under a bridge, or in a channel and you don't seem to be catching any fish try a sinking line.


Fly Fishing and Bluefish

Bluefish on the fly rod are really a ton of fun.. when you are ready to catch them.  Here is a quick do and don't for fly fishing when bluesfish are around:

To catch Bluefish use bushy flies and surface imatations with a floating or intermediate line.  Precision of your imitation is not a key when fishing for blues (ie: your fly doesn't have to look exactly like a fish).  Color, location, and retrieve are more important.  Holy cow I could go on for days.  Pick bright patterns like chartreuse, yellow, and white.  Watch your retireve, blues will follow a fly right up to the boat.  Use a tie-able wire tippet, it last longer than haywire and is easier to attach a new fly to.  Mono (60 to 80 lb) tippets work well but you have to change it after every second fish.  Mono gets chewed-up and will break (usually) after two fish.  One piece of wire will last all day.  Try tying flies similar to a tarpon pattern using a long shank and a tie around the bend of the hook.  This way the hook shank rides (that is when you hook up) in the corner of the fishes mouth where the teeth are and away from your delicate tippet. It's no garuntee but combine rear tie, long shank hooks, with heavy mono or wire and you won't miss the fish.  To catch more Stripers use an intermediate (in shallow conditions) or sinking line.  A sinking line will help you get past the blues to where the stripers are hanging out.  In general the stripers are hanging below the blues waiting for an easy meal.  Stripers are more leader shy than blues but will still take a fly on wire.  I could go on and on.  If you want to talk/ debate, contact the shop via the "Contact Us Page".  Check back for more into, I will be adding more.


Transporting a Kayak

This sounds like a silly one but I get lots of questions about transporting kayaks.  Kayaks can be trasported on the roof of your car using a roof rack or strapped directly to the roof of your car.  If you will be trasporting your kayak often I highly recommend a roof rack to keep the roof of your car from getting damaged.  Standard factory installed luggage/ roof racks will work fine but many of them are not strong enough to really keep your kayak secure.  Make sure to check what load your factory roof/ luggage rack will handle.  It is usually marked on the rack.  Most kayaks weigh between 50 and 60 lbs, so make sure the weight of your boat will not overload your existing rack.  To safely transport a kayak on your car you need the following items:

  1. Padding for roof rack crossbars or for car roof.  Old towels make good padding.
  2. Tie down straps.
  3. Bow and stern tie downs.  Two lengths of rope about 10' long work fine.


Place padding on crossbars or on roof.  Put kayak on crossbars or on roof.  Look to make sure padding is under kayak.  The kayak should be raised above the roof or bar by the padding.  Strap the kayak to the roof  so that the padding is slightly compressed by the tension on the straps.  Attach bow and stern tie downs to handles or eyelets.  Then connect them to towing hooks or frame of your car.  Do not tie it to plastic parts of the grill or body unless you want them torn off your car.  Lightly tension the tie downs and tie them off securely.  Bow and stern tie downs are key to safely transporting a kayak.  If one of the tie down straps comes loose the bow and stern tie down will keep you kayak from flying off the roof of your car.  They are especially important if you will be driving on the highway with your kayak on the roof of your car. Good luck and happy kayaking!  Photos of the process to follow.

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