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With the warmer weather, bluefish have arrived and begun to hit along the Brunswick County shores. Blues are a feisty, aggressive species that will hit virtually any bait or lure, but true bluefish fanatics know what artificial plugs and spoons to go to when they want to feel the bite of a nice eating-size snapper or big chopper bluefish on the line.
The Gotcha plug is the No. 1 bluefish lure when fishing from piers and bridges. It also is a great trolling plug. You reel the Gotcha in with sharp jerks on the rod for deadly action with bluefish. The thrill of feeling your Gotcha plug stop dead followed by the thump of a bluefish running will get you addicted to these great lures. Color selection can vary from day to day but it is hard to beat the old red head, white body combo.
Although Gotcha is the brand name of the plug, there are now many companies making these pencil popper lures. All of them work when bluefish are around.
They also make a great lure for Spanish mackerel, a true warm-water fish, which should be showing up later in the season. Spanish prefer plugs with some shiny gold or silver on them.
Saltwater crankbaits are deadly on bluefish in almost any inshore situation. Their action resembles a wounded baitfish, and if you cast them anywhere near a school of blues, they will come running. Minnow-like lures that dive about 2-4 feet are good, as the blues will rise up to blast them. Quite a few companies, like Bomber, make plugs especially for saltwater today (meaning they are more durable and come with corrosion-resistant hooks), and you can find them at the local tackle shops.
Many anglers in boats troll for bluefish, and although you can use the Gotcha plugs for trolling, metal spoons are usually more effective. Today’s spoons have amazing action with a wobbly style and are made solid for the rugged fishing action that chopper bluefish bring.
Remember when trolling for bluefish to watch for the birds that will signal a school of feeding bluefish, and don’t run your boat over the school but instead work the edges. If you are casting for blues, vary your retrieve speed, as bluefish can be turned on by a sudden pause or a little extra speed.
Of course, plenty of blues are taken from the surf and pier on natural bait.
Bluefish roam the water column and often swim along the bottom looking for food. They will hit almost anything at times, but the absolute best bluefish bait is a fresh and bloody chunk of cut fish. You can use that pinfish you just caught or virtually any small fish as cut bait. Bluefish also hit shrimp, squid, bloodworms and at times will even smash bare gold hooks.
Fishing for bluefish will get better into May before it slows down a little during the summer and picks back up again in the fall. They are out there right now, so grab your favorite colored plug and go get them.