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Hitting The Bottle

The fall run is in high gear and hopefully it is one to remember when you reflect on your best seasons. However, before you raise that glass and say “Cheers” to ’23, you may want to “hit the bottle”- that is, use that bottle plug in your bag to get on some big fish. Using bottle plugs can really give you something to celebrate!

When I do seminars there are always misconceptions about bottle plugs. Many people think it’s best to use bottle plugs in adverse conditions when the wind is howling in your face at 25 MPH and you’re dealing with big water- especially in places like Montauk. Sure, it’s a great lure for those conditions as it helps you attain distance when casting and to stay in touch with the lure as it “digs in” to look authentic in the water. However, calm conditions with steadily moving water can also be a great time to utilize bottle plugs.

At the end of the day, the bottle plug swims just like most other swimming plugs such as SP minnows, mag darters etc. In addition to good action, in calm conditions the wider profile helps “match the hatch” when you have larger bait in the areas you are fishing. During the spring I fish a couple “urban areas” around New York that usually have flat calm and moving current with tidal flow. On many occasions I have been rewarded with consistent action using a bottle plug. I also take advantage of bottle plugs when fishing local back bays in the spring. Back bays provide a lot of fast moving current and in late spring when adult bunker start to show up it creates perfect conditions for a good night of “fishing the bottle”. I have found that hitting the back bays, inlets and ocean areas under these conditions also produces in the fall. Basically, whenever water is calm and current is moving, the bottle plug should be available in your bag.

As for color selection for bottle plugs, a lot of the same rules you use for other lures are going to apply. If I am fishing a dark night, especially around the new moon, I utilize darker colors. I use “blurple”, black or anything that has a combination of black and purple. When fishing a full moon night, I throw yellow, white, bone or any of those colors in combination. However, there are some exceptions to this rule. If I am fishing an urban area at night I stick to the lighter colors as if I was fishing a full moon. The ambient light in these areas is consistent and under these conditions fish tend to hit lighter colors. Another exception is when there is a slight stain to the water. In this case I use chartreuse to compensate for the murky water.

When it comes to color selection during the daytime, I utilize lighter colors and combinations such as yellow over white, bone, and blue over white- especially when mullet is the bait source present in the fall. The same holds true during the day when the water is stained. I use bottle plugs that are chartreuse as it has been one of my most productive colors when water clarity is not optimal.

The bottom line? Bottle plugs are very versatile, productive lures if you give them a chance. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed. Some of my biggest Stripers- day and night- have come fishing a bottle plug. Put a few in your bag and when conditions are right “hit the bottle” so you can raise your glass at the end of the year to toast a great season. Live the Passion! Tightlines! features a monthly surfcasting blog from Bernie Hoyt, a NYS Certified Fishing Guide with 40+ years of experience fishing the legendary waters of Long Island. He is well known for his informative seminars at saltwater shows in the Northeast, and now has a radio show- TightLines with Bernie Bass & The Captain- where listeners are treated to the latest gear reviews and techniques for the surf fishing, and other interesting developments in the saltwater in-shore and offshore fishing scene. Join Bernie on the radio Saturday morning and Sunday evening on Contact Bernie for more more details on Facebook through Bernie Bass Surfcasting Services.


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