Monday, April 29, 2013

MirrOlure 101: Understanding your MirrOlure.

Jack Daughtry
Not a Hobie team member

MirrOlure 101: Understanding your MirrOlure.
With the onset of Spring and the ever rising water temperatures Maryland and Virginia anglers will no doubt turn their attention to inshore fishing in the back bays, inlets and tributaries in and around the Chesapeake Bay.  One of my favorite lures is the MirrOlure. Here is a little history about MirrOlure before we begin. MirrOlure has been around since 1937. It is said that it was invented during the Great Depression when Harold LeMaster stumbled over the Idea for the MirrOlure. LeMaster tripped over a fallen Walnut tree on his way home and took a good section of the tree with him to whittle the first version of the MirrOlure. MirrOlure is now made by L & S Bait Company. MirrOlures are partially assembled in Costa Rica, Designed, Molded, Packaged and Tank Tested in the USA. 

                                                    Interstate Kayak Fishing Member Matt with a nice Maryland Speck

Understanding the mystery of the MirrOlure:
With only 1,109,700 colors, shapes, sizes and weights the MirrOlure can overwhelm even the seasoned inshore angler. It is almost like reading binary or speaking another language when figuring out if the S52MR808 would be more effective in a given situation than a S20MRCHBL. MirrOlures come in 3 main types, sinking, suspending and floating.

4M, 32M,51MR,52M,52MR,65M,77M,TT,TTR,S38MR,S51MR,S52MR,STTR
20MR, 22MR, S20MR, S22MR, 14MR, 17MR, 18MR,27MR,9MR, 19MR
5M, 7M, S7MR, S28MR, 10MR, 16MR, 26MR, S84MR, 74MR, 75MR, 83MR, 84MR, 94MR, 95MR

Now that you are trying to read a binary lets separate the 1’s from the 0’s. I’ll begin with one of my personal favorites the suspending catch 5 in Mardi Gras Color, or the S25MRMG. The “S” means that this MirrOlure is part of MirrOlure’s series III collection (broken glass flash foil). 25M is the model number. The “R” means that this MirrOlure rattles and finally the MG represents the color; in this case Mardi Gras.
MirrOlure now makes Classics, Series III, Lumo and Spotted twitchbait models.  Any MirrOlure that starts with a “S” is part of the Series III collection (My personal favorite). Any MirrOlure that has a “TT” is a spotted model or Tiny Trout. MirrOlure gets really tricky with their STTR version which since reading this you know is a Spotted Tiny Trout with Rattle! If your MirrOlure has no letters in front of the numbers than it is either a Lumo or a Classic MirrOlure.

Below is a selection of MirrOlure's Color selections with the corresponding color codes.

So what is the difference? If you have ever dabbled in the backwards world of hunting the Gator Speckled Trout you will already know the answer to this question. Trout are picky fish
and Gators are Big lazy picky eaters. On any given day you may have to try 4 to 5 different presentations and 20 different colors to find the one shade, shake and wiggle that will get the trout to bite. MirrOlure knows this and has provided ample choices in their line of twitchbaits.

Stay tuned for MirrOlure 202: 
Picking the right MirrOlure and How it works.

Tautog Fishing
By: Michael Bartgis (Redfish12)
Hobie Local Fishing Team – Backyard Boats, MD
Chesapeake Bay Kayak Anglers Co-Founder
Interstate Kayak Fishing Member

In my experience tautog are found in rocks, reefs, and manmade structures. Places like jetties, bridges, break-walls, etc are all good places to look for them. If there are other attractants like mussel beds, oyster bars, or other hard bottom and the structure is close to deeper water (20+ ft), it is probably a prime habitat for tautog. In other areas I have fished like Cape May, NJ the tautog seem to roam more and can be caught on hard bottom (even soft?) away from structure near sod banks, channels, jetties, etc. For whatever reason, the inshore tautog in VA and DE seem to be far more structure oriented.

Traditional- A stout rod (like a muskie rod) capable of setting the hook hard with 3-8oz is sufficient for inshore togging. Graphite or a graphite composite rod is preferred over a softer action rod. The rod should be able to handle 30-50lb braid and the reel should have a strong smooth drag (11lbs+). I find conventional rods are better suited for this task than spinning and if you can find a reel that you can engage free spool with one hand (and re-engage) then it is even better. I started out using a Shimano Cardiff 401a and a 7ft MH Bass Pro Graphite Series Muskie rod and I have moved up to a 6'3" Shimano Trevala S MH and a Diawa LEXA 300 HSPL reel. The trevala/lexa is light and super sensitive, but also strong enough to catch anything inshore and probably some things offshore!
Traditional rig- 3-4ft of 40-60lb fluorocarbon (or abrasion resistant mono) tied with a double surgeon's loop on top and a perfection loop large enough for looping sinkers onto at the bottom. About 4" up I tie a fairly large dropper loop that hangs either at or below my sinker. I use a 2/0-4/0 gamakatsu octopus hook which I slide on to the dropper loop.
Light Tackle- A light tackle jigging rod will work fine, something in M-MH with a fast action. I prefer spinning rods for this, but an LTJ casting rod will work too.. I used 20lb braid and a 3ft 40lb leader. I tie a loop knot on the jig so usually the leader breaks at the knot or at a scratch in the leader and I do not lose the whole thing. My rod of choice is a Shimano Teramar 6.5ft MH fast action spinning rod and a Quantum Cabo 30 with 20lb fireline.
Jig heads- I started out using the TidalTails tautog jig heads (  I have had plenty of success with other jig heads that are not as expertly painted. TidalTails (great guy by the way, give him a call and he’ll hook you up!) has heard some of the same feedback and they have begun to make more inexpensive options. I haven’t tried them yet, but they look like they will do the job. Recently, I have been using the 1/2oz shrimp heads from Bass Pro Shops. These have a small strong hook compared to the head weight and are fairly inexpensive. I would recommend carrying a variety of1/4-1oz jig heads with smaller hooks with you, any heavier and the tautog do not bite the same way in my experience. If you are using green crabs, cut them in half and leave the legs on, it looks just like a crab drifting through the rocks!
Bait: Blue crab (quartered), green crab (half or whole), shrimp, snail, mussels, fiddler crabs, mole crabs, etc. are all good baits to have. If I had to pick two, I would choose green crab and shrimp. If you are fishing in VA green crabs are illegal so blue crab would be the choice. I usually bring blue crab and shrimp because both are readily available at my international grocery store and they are fairly inexpensive. For starting out, blue crab and snails are the toughest bait and stay on the hook the longest. Fishing with green crabs or fiddlers is like fishing with a hardboiled egg and fishing with shrimp or mussels is like fishing with a cotton swap and come off the hook even easier!

In this case I'll use Cape Henlopen State Park's inner wall as the example but the information can be applied to most other environments. The inner wall is 1 mile long and the depths range from 3ft-35ft (where rocks are present) and there is a deep cut nearby. The wall can be difficult to fish due to current, wind, waves, etc. and anchors seem to be a bit dangerous due to potential snags. I paddle a Hobie Revolution 13 mirage drive kayak and I use the pedals to stay in position over the structure. When the current allows I lean against nearby rocks or structure and sometimes I will even slow drift. If you are fishing a traditional rig, it will be important for you to stay vertical on your rig, something easier said than done! Bring extra rigs and lead, you’ll need it. If you are fishing with jig heads it can be a little easier because you flip your jig and crab out in a likely crevice and sort of slack bounce it through the cracks. If you are drifting too fast, this can also be frustrating!
Start out by looking for areas with rocks at different depths. In some places there seem to be almost shelves in the structure that taper down to the bottom. Within the shelves you will find cracks and crevices that the tautog are more likely to be hiding in and for lack of a better term I choose to call these super drops. For example, I drop my rig down and hit hard rock about 7ft down (judged by the amount of line out on the reel). Next, I carefully lift my rod tip and poke around with my sinker until I find a hole 1 foot to the left that drops down another 4 feet. This is probably going to be a productive tautog hole and I will dedicate some time to see if there are fish here. If I do not get a bite after the first minute or two, I will poke around some more. If still I do not get a bite, I will try changing to a different type of bait before moving on. Cracks next to pilings or other structures are also great places to poke around in.
When the tautog bites your traditional rig, it will feel something like a bluegill pecking on a worm or if you are lucky, it will just feel like a thump. If you feel a thump, set the hook hard! If you feel the tap tap and you are using blue crab, snail, or something that holds up better, wait for the second set of tap taps and set the hook hard right after the first tap. If you’re using one of the more delicate baits, make sure you are ready to set the hook as soon as the bait hits the bottom. If you’re lucky, you will hook the tautog and now the fun part begins- getting the fish out of the rocks, fast! Reel hard and turn the fish from going back into its hole, or you’ll be saying some things your fishing buddies have probably never heard you say!

Here is where it gets weird. The jig bite is usually completely different! Every now and then you’ll feel one tapping on it, but more likely than not when that happens the fish is just sitting there munching on your crab. The rest of the time the bites feel more like the fish picked your jig up and started to swim back to its lair. You do not need to set the hook, instead just slowly lift up on the rod tip and if you feel weight, reel hard – you’ll know if you’re hooked up! Getting the fish from the rocks can be even more difficult with light tackle (I lost a big one on my last trip out there) but the increased challenge adds to the entertainment! I can fish the same areas I would traditionally fish with 3-4 oz with a half ouunc jighead. The tactic is to cast out up current of the structure and let the jig fall on a slack line down into the rocks. After it hits, slowly lift the rod tip and guide the jig over and down into more nooks and crannies where the tog are. Be ready when you lift the jig to reel down on the fish!  

Good luck with the tautog fishing! Be warned, it may inspire long road trips, strange grocery purchases, hours pre-tying rigs, expensive gear purchases, expensive gear failures, colorful language, expensive gear purchases, ADD, cut hands, leaky waders, and big grins.