i do a lot of plugging and this year has definitely been slower for me. there could be hundreds of reasons why. i tend to think its baitfish cycle. this year it seems that spearing was the dominant baitfish in the western bays of the south shore. 2 years ago it was peanut bunker. a couple years before that it was sandeels. even if you identify the baitfish, its not always as easy as "match the hatch." sometimes there's so much baitfish that your imitation isn't going to work. i know some of the guys around here threw large plugs or poppers and that worked. the fish are there, its your/my job to figure what works. i didn't do such a good job this year.
I also plug all around the back bays of Jones Inlet, and this year has been very slow. A number of spots that have produced well in the past really sucked this year. I did do very well with bait (clams, ect..) this year, so the fish are still around. I guess that Zooted is probalby right.
Good Luck and Tight Lines
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