If there ever was an irreplaceable go-to weapon for Pellegrin in plying the vast Gulf waters off Terrebonne Parish, you’d probably never guess it in a hundred tries.
Forget Gulp sand eels and Snapper Slappers. Never mind the homemade bucktail jigs and plastic trailers in colors that would give a preteen girl pause.
The answer? A 4/0 or 5/0 Mustad 39942 Ultra Point circle hook takes top honors without a close second.
“That little hook will hold every one of the fish we catch out there,” said Pellegrin. “That same little hook can handle everything from a 5-pound mangrove to a 70-, 80-pound amberjack.
“I don’t have to cut off hooks; the small ones catch them just fine.”
Not having to change out hooks is important when a day offshore can include catches of many different fish.
“Let’s say we go mangrove fishing and we catch a bunch of them, but they quit biting,” Pellegrin said. “There’s a amberjack hole not too far away, so we figure we’ll ride over there and play with them for a while. And maybe you’re a little worried with the size of the fish there, so we change it out to a 6/0 hook. If we come across a grass patch and it’s full of dolphin, that 6/0 hook is going to be too big.”
“You don’t have to do (change the hook). Those little 4/0 hooks can handle the little live croakers we normally use for mangroves. We use them to get the dolphin started on the grass. Pretty soon we’ve got them going on the cut bait.
“Those hooks are the toughest little creatures around.”
And hook-ups are even easier to get when he matches those hooks with his favorite fluorocarbon leader material: Berkely Pro Spec in the coral mist color.
“That’s got a pink hue to it, and supposedly that’s the color fish can see the least,” Pellegrin said. “I don’t know about that, but I do know the mangroves can’t see it.
“That’s the reason I can get away with 60- or even 80-pound-test leader material. And that can make a huge difference in being able to put enough pressure on the fish to get them off of the rig legs when they won’t follow the chum out to open water.”