Posts Tagged With: Lou Palma

the bait tail changed the way I thought about striped bass…

Al Reinfelder on the left with one of his many big bass taken on the bait tail, center is Al's book on the subject, now out of print, and far left is Al's partner in crime Lou Palma with a nice group of bass that fell for their bait tail jigs.

Al Reinfelder on the left with one of his many big bass taken on the bait tail, center is Al’s book on the subject, now out of print, and far right is Al’s partner in crime Lou Palma with a nice group of bass that also couldn’t resist their bait tail jigs.

This is kind of a blast from the past! When I was a kid growing up in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn I was obsessed with fishing artificial lures for stripers. I used to make my own top water plugs out of broom handles and paint them with spray paint.. For me getting a fish to eat something that wasn’t real and making it come alive was what it was all about. One of my heroes back in the day was a guy named Al Reinfelder. I used to subscribe to two magazines back in the day. The Long Island Fisherman which was a weekly black and white publication that had great local intel on the party boat scene and the local surf scene. The Saltwater Sportsman always had awesome articles on early saltwater fly fishing that allowed a poor Brooklyn kid to dream about exotic species in far away places. Al wrote articles for both of these pubs but I first I learned of Al Reinfelder while reading the Long Island Fisherman in the early seventies when I was a teenager. I used to save all the issues he wrote articles in, man, I wish I still had them. Al used to have the most amazing photos of big cow stripers; he just always looked good holding big fish, not a hair out of place. He passionately wrote about fishing off bridges at night and would masterfully swim his bait tails through the piling shadows hooking big fish religiously. He loved to fish the Crossbay Bridge in the Rockaways not far from my home waters in Breezy Point.  Al and his fishing buddy Lou Palma created the Alou Eel (Al from Reinfelder and Lou from Palma) which were artificial eels that had a lead head you could cast and swim like a real eel at night. They Started the Alou Fishing Company together. I still have an Alou eel somewhere in my fishing shed. They were deadly lures. From the leftover plastics tails of the Alou eels, the boys created the bait tails which were like bucktail jigs only with plastic tails that seamlessly came off the lead heads. Al and Lou are each holding one in the picture above. This was the beginning of saltwater plastics on the east coast that specifically targeted local stripers, blues and weakfish but soon became so popular almost every species of fish around the country were landed on them. You may ask why am I talking about bait tails when I spend most of my fishing with the fly? The reason I am bring this important jig back is because the principles are the same. You must impart action to allow your fly or jig or swim to imitate a wounded bait fish and entice the apex predators to eat. Although just stripping in the fly or reeling in the lure will sometimes get bit, it is the skill of the angler that will adapt the cadence of the action, fast, slow, stop, drop, change sizes and colors etc., to make your fly or jig, a lifeless piece of plastic or artificial materials come alive. What made Al Reinfelder such a great angler was his dedication to understanding how fish feed and how to present his artificial bait tails so they got eaten. It wasn’t a fluke why Al always caught big fish, he earned it, and was gracious enough to share it with those that cared to take notice… it was a sad day when I heard that Al Reinfelder had drown, his boat capsized on a river while fishing for shad, I think the LI Fisherman did a special issue on his life…he will always be remembered in my book and his approach to solving a problem by adapting his baits to fit a particular situation was a life lesson for me.

 

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