A State-By-State Guide
To Fresh Fish For Snowbirds
Story And Photography By Lenny Rudow
ou migrate like the wildlife, so why not eat like it, too?
As you make your annual trek up the East Coast this spring, take the
opportunity to troll as you go, and you can enjoy fish dinners from Key
West to Washington, D.C. This is a six-state voyage, and if you make it
at 6 knots, you’ll be going the perfect speed to fill the fridge—“six by six”
will get you that fresh fish fix!
Before you begin your spring migration, a little equipping is in order.
The goal: to buy a single rod and reel that you can use effectively on
species from Key West to Washington. Since all the fishing you do will
be trolling as you cruise, making this choice is a lot easier than you’d
think. A standard-issue conventional rod and level-wind reel, rated for
30- to 50-lb. test, is perfect. Go to your local boating supply store or
tackle shop, and spend a few minutes handling gear like the Penn GT
Level Wind Combo, the Offshore Angler Captain’s Choice Combo, or
the Shakespeare Ugly Stik Bigwater Combo—all of which can be found
for $100 to $150. When you’ve decided which of these best fits your
grip, have the reel spooled up with 40-lb. test monofilament.
Naturally, you’ll also need a few lures, but we’ll talk about these as we
move up the coast and go after specific species. There’s some other
basic gear you’ll need to have, too: swivels for making the connection
between your lure and your fishing line; a spool of 60-lb. leader; a few
5- or 6-ounce inline sinkers; a package of foot-long, pre-tied wire
leaders; a landing net for bringing the fish on board; a pair of needle-nose pliers for getting hooks out of the fish’s toothy mouth; a cooler or
cooler bag (for stowing the catch), which you can sit on the swim
platform or hang from the transom; and a clamp-on rod holder that fits
your boat’s rails or pipework, if you don’t have any rod holders already
mounted in the gunwales. And make sure there’s a sharp fillet knife
aboard so you can prepare your catch for the galley.