We spent 15 minutes on the phone with Eric Harrison to discuss kayak fishing for monster striped bass in Boston Harbor with the Hogy Slappy Eel. Here's what we found out...
Location: Boston Harbor, MA
Tides: Incoming tide
Approach: Eric usually hits the harbor at night with the same plan; hitting a bunch of spots looking for some pods of bigger bass.
"I was fishing a shallow, rocky rip area and the fishing was on the slow side," Eric said. "I moved away from the rip and found some big schools of very small bait and started working them."
The bait was on the smaller side (4") but Eric stuck with the 13" Hogy Slappy Jiggin' Eel looking for bigger fish.
Why This Bait? Eric chose this bait because at the time, there were smaller fish in the harbor and the bigger bait gives the bigger fish a better target.
Colors: Since Eric is mostly fishing at night, he tends to use mostly darker colors, with his first choice being blamber.
"I like the natural shading and dark color so sometimes I will go with all black, too," Eric said.
His alternative is to use a brighter, contrasting color, like the white or pink, to stand out and reflect more of the available light. Hogy no longer sells pink, white or black colors in the Slappy Jiggin' Eel but they are available with the Hogy Original Series, which move and act almost the same. They are a recommended.
Retrieve: For this fish specifically, Eric was in deeper water than he normally fishes. Being in 25-feet of water, Eric was using a quick retrieve to keep his bait down about 7-feet so it was moving along the bottom of the bait ball. The pattern seemed to be working well as Eric picked up a couple of smaller fish using the same technique the night before.
"I went back to that pattern after landing the fish and picked up a 44-inch fish and a 41-inch fish in the next 30 minutes," Eric said.
In the kayak, Eric usually focuses on a rod tip up retrieve and uses the tip to swim the bait, pop the bait and make it change directions. Most of the hits happen during the change of direction or speed.
Rod: Eric was using a custom graphite USA rod that he had designed for big plastics. This rod is rated for 1 to 5oz lures and 20 to 40lb test line. It is extremely light and has the power to set the hook on big fish and keep them off the rocks.
Reel: Calcutta 400 BSV. It has a drag that can handle big fish and has a power handle that makes cranking big baits more comfortable. Not having a level wind on makes for a cleaner cast, too.
Line: 50lb PowerPro braid
Leader: 50lb Seaguar braid
*Note: Eric usually uses the 50/50 combo in shallow water. The big bass in the photo has rub marks on its cheeks from where it went to the bottom and tried to rub the lure off. In a kayak, it is really tough to break 50lb, but with the rocks around, Eric needs the heavy line for abrasion resistance.
Connection: double uni knot