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Montauk Fishing: Striped Bass Fishing With Capt. Savio Mizzi

Montauk Fishing: Striped Bass Fishing With Capt. Savio Mizzi

I have fished many times with Savio...he is simply the best.

This is just a piece of an article from this week The Fisherman Magazine, it explains Savio’s technique of catching quality fish around Montauk Point. If you are into light action buck tailing for striped bass, this is everything you need to know, the rest is up to you putting in the time to hone your skill. 



Written by by Mark Sedotti

Savio mainly uses medium-heavy baitcasting rods designed for freshwater bass, and matching reels with good drags. The reels are essentially a large capacity largemouth reel designed for heavy freshwater or light saltwater duty. He spools them with 15- or 20-pound braid. He’ll Double Uni Knot a 5-foot leader of 40- or 50-pound mono or fluro to the braid and tie his bucktail jig to the other end. “More action is key,” says Savio so choosing a soft material is ideal.

He prefers ball-headed jigs (bucktails) such as S&S Big Eye Bucktails or Premium Bucktails because they offer a fast sink rate. His favorite sizes are 1/2, 3/4, 1, 1-1/2, and 2 ounces. He mainly uses 1 and 1-1/2 ounces for most of his bass fishing which is usually in 30- to 70-feet of water with current speeds varying from very light to extremely fast. He’ll usually attach a 5- or 6-inch soft plastic curly tail to the lure, or when fishing in heavy current, a 5-inch strip of artificial “rind,” reasoning that the thin rind cuts through the current more effectively. Although he will sometimes use different colors or color combinations, he mainly stays with white for both bucktail and trailer.

His total outfit is light in weight, and it fishes and “feels” light in your hands when fishing, and you can fish it all day without tiring. And let me tell you, you can land big bass and bluefish with this set up all day long if you are lucky enough to run into that kind of fishing.

The braided line has very little resistance to the current and helps that light bucktail get down and stay near the bottom easily. A lighter jig has more action, appears livelier, therefore triggering more strikes. This makes the difference between getting strikes and not; especially where big bass are concerned.

Savio has proven how effective and practical this technique is by the number of large bass and blues he has caught year after year for the past 30 years doing it this way. I can attest to its incredible effectiveness after fishing like this for only one season.

Setting And Time

We fished the fabled Montauk rips, Pollock, Great Eastern, the Elbow, North Rips, Endeavor, Shagwong, and Outer Shagwong. We commonly fished the edges, the drops, and ledges, and fished directly over the rips at many points. No great secrets here. We caught fish sometimes when we saw them on the finder and sometimes when we didn’t. We’d get fish on both tides and at different tidal stages and current velocities. It depended on the day as to when the fish would hit. Savio did prefer to fish the periods when the tide slowed, saying it was easiest to fish the bucktail then, and that you could be sure it was near the bottom more consistently, and therefore be in the fish’s strike zone more frequently. Let me emphasize how being near the bottom is important. Savio says it helps to be near the bottom, but not necessarily on it. Fish will, of course, take a lure at nose level, but will rise up some for the lure as well. They won’t go too far though. Sometimes they’re suspended off the bottom, so close is always a good choice.

He also prefers low light periods. These include early morning, cloudy days, and sundown but it’s possible to catch fish at all hours of the day. His philosophy is, “You can’t catch fish if you aren’t fishing.” Savio has a reputation for putting in long days, but admits he’s shortened them some over the last couple of years. Besides Montauk, I also fished around Block Island with him.

Basic Technique

Savio’s fishing technique is pretty basic. He lets his boat drift freely with the current, drops his bucktail off the stern, or makes a short cast behind or somewhat to the side, then lets it sink to the bottom in free-spool, using an “educated” thumb. When you feel the lure hit bottom, or the line stops coming off the spool or rod tip, or the line goes suddenly slack (this may only happen for a split second while drifting in a strong tide before it continues moving), you’re on the bottom. Put the reel in gear. With slack out of your line and rod tip low to the water, he jerks the tip up sharply. He’ll then reel slack as he drops the rod tip, following the lure down on a tight line to where the tip is again low, and then he’ll repeat this sharp lift, reel, and drop. He’ll repeat this sequence a couple or a few more times until he decides the lure is too far off the bottom and then he’ll drop the bucktail completely back down to the bottom once again. He then repeats the same sequence all over again. When the line’s angle to the water gets too “flat” (the faster the tide the sooner this happens), he’ll reel in and start the process all over again. This is mostly how he fishes. Sometimes vary the cadence of retrieve, at times breaking it up, and will vary the speed as well. The changes can be subtle, and he says that experience will teach you.

The strike is usually just a tap, or the line suddenly stops on the drop where it shouldn’t, or sometimes you “lose touch” with the lure. It will almost always happen on the drop. At times the fish is just “on” when you go into the next lift. Even the largest stripers hit this subtle way at times. And don’t be fooled, you can catch some of the biggest stripers that swim with this method.

When you get a hit, set the hook hard and fast. Maybe strike more than once, then hang on. If the fish runs, let it run. That will help tire it out. Smaller fish you can just “pump in” with pressure. You’d be surprised at the amount of force on a fish with this light tackle. If you haven’t fished gear like this for big bass and bluefish it will surprise you at just how effective it is.

Learning Curve

After fishing with Savio, I saw how important thin braided line, light bucktails, trailers, type of leader, being near the bottom, and strike triggering action of the lure were with this fishing. It took some experience to gain confidence that my bucktail movement was good, that I was consistently near the bottom, which was often 45 to 65 feet down, and that I could catch fish well with this method. Let me again emphasize that through most of the retrieve you have to be near the bottom and you won’t feel it except on the first drop, or when you decide to drop the lure back down to the bottom again. This confidence is incredibly important. What helps you ultimately, of course, is when you start consistently hooking fish.

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Contact Capt.Savio Mizzi
Phone #: (631) 766-3478

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