Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Monday April 21, 08 -- Plenty O Stripers, black drum

Monday, April 21, 2008: I’m getting word on just how decent the bass bite was over the weekend, mainly Saturday, South End. In a small zone (a couple jetty lengths) over 60 bass were taken on clams. As nearly as I can figure, only one keeper came out of the sudsy mix, though I also heard of a weakie or two. That push is nearly 10 days earlier than last year’s first serious surf action. Boy, I’m hoping this’ll usher in the monster bass.
Along those weigh-in lines, the 2008 Simply Bassin’ Spring Tournament registration forms will be in the shops this week. This has become a great grass-roots event, floated by the strong support of the participating shops. Make sure to sign up so due respect can be given to the largest bass you’ve ever caught. Hey, this could very well be the year of the super striper.
There is a buoy marker alert for the LEH Inlet area. When southbound in the bayside vicinity of the Osprey Nest, passing 112 you might notice a couple red buoys up ahead. They are breakaway buoys from the Tuckerton Channel. Both are in very shallow water -- and a sure grounding for any vessel powering toward them thinking they’re marking the main channel. Also, the lights are out on Buoy 110 and Buoy 115. The 115 is tilting over, almost in the water.
Email below: Maybe some of you weekday surfcasters can keep a helping eye out for this fellow’s choice plugging rod, lost in the Peahala Park suds.
Hey, we’ve all been there when it comes to unpleasantly parting with a prized possession during a fishing session. Weirdest lose I’ve heard of occurred years back when an angler – I’ll leave unnamed but will chuckle as he reads this – who took out his dentures, placed them on the back bumper of his buggy (don’t ask) and later drove off.
There’s this certain subtle beach cruising speed that must be assumed when searching for a full set of false teeth – incredibly costly teeth, mind you. The whole situation would have been a laugher if this fellow weren’t so upset over the prospect of catching unholy hell from his wife. He didn’t even crack a smile (or thereabouts) when I told him I’d help him look for them since I was really good at driving the beach “looking for choppers.”
And damn if I didn’t find them – with some help.
(Gospel truth) As I inched along in my truck, I saw this seagull up ahead acting oddly, which is saying a lot considering there is no normal when it comes to gull conduct. The bird was attracted to -- and quite obviously apprehensive of -- its newest find, a set of human teeth. It was nervously pacing back and forth a few feet away from the dentures, it’s head bobbing and weaving to either get a closer look at the unprecedented find or to be ready to bolt should they suddenly leap forth in a frenzied attack.
I guess it’s the less than normal parameters of my own behavior that had me slowing down a bit, reaching over for my always-nearby camera, just in case that once-in-a-lifetime shot came along when the gull picks up the teeth in its bill and begins nonchalantly walking around with this huge human-looking smile on its face -- walking over to its buddies, saying, “Hey, check me out, I’m a happy tourist.”
Anyway, here’s the email: … I lost my favorite plugging pole over the weekend, a sacrifice taken by the waves. Doubt it even turns up, but I felt I needed to send a few emails to some sites to see if anyone sees it turn up.
I was fishing the rock jetty on 105 Street in Peahala Park (I think that's
the correct town for that street). My daughter was practicing casting,
and I guess the sand spike wasn't firmly in the ground (my fault for not
checking). A short while later after she took a break, I noticed the
spike rolling in the shore break, with no pole...
It was an 8ft G Loomis with a Quantum Cabo 40. Nice rod, and again, my
favorite plugger... I am sure its gone in the depths, but I remember
seeing a few stories from last fall of people finding rods in the surf.
Thanks for your help. Jim C.
That major black drum – 77 pounds-2 ounces, 49-inch length and 35-inch girth -- was taken by Kimberly Mooney from Mystic Island. The fish was taken April 19 in east Little Egg Harbor off Beach Haven. The mega-drum was taken on clam.
While Mooney’s monster drum is a super hookup, it is 30 pounds off the state record, set last May 13, when Bill Kinzy of Southampton, Burlington County, caught a 107-pound drum fishing Delaware Bay aboard the charter Sandi Pearl.
Kinzy’s record-breaking drum also went for a chunk of surf clam, giving a pretty sharp insight into how to fish for these often-massive bottom feeders.
Black drum are the largest member of the famed drumfish family, including over 150 species. The name derives from the drumming sound these fish can produce by using muscle contractions against a large and complex swim bladder. The sound is often referred to as croaking. Well known local drum include weakfish, kingfish, croaker, red drum (redfish or channel bass) and spot.
A black drum of 70 pounds or larger is likely over 50 years.
In recent years, black drum have made a fairly significant comeback, having once been a major component of the local angling realm back in the distant days (1800s). While never up there with the famed red drum (channel bass), it is still a very respectable angling opponent, especially when fished with medium gear. While I’ve heard chatroom prattle of black drum being a “tasty” fish, it is not very edible when a fish is over 25 pounds. Yes, I have tried preparing larger drum -- and won’t go into the details except to say it has huge gastronomical detractions.
Smaller fish, especially those just passing the minimum size of 16 inches, are a whole other edibility story. They can be filleted (or eaten in the round) and delight the palette. If I had to pick a personal cut-off point for high edibility it would be in the 10-pound range – but, then, I’m hyper-picky when it comes to seafood supremeness.
But back to the fine side of the black drum – which is the fun side of battling them. There are folks who have totally tuned into the spring march-through of major black drum. Some top anglers last year took over 100 fish above 25 pounds – all taken in the short (90-day?) spawning stretch.
The best rig for drum is a simple striper-like bottom rig, though every thing should be up-sized for what is essentially our largest inshore gamefish. Note: Black drum are an ideal circle hook fish, due to both the shape of their mouths and the tendency for them to suck up a bait and slowly move off – that slow pressure bring the prime factor behind the effectiveness of circle hooks. While medium saltwater gear makes it drum fishing great fun, you don’t want to use a line-test that easily reaches break point -- if for no other reason than not wanting to leave a spawning fish with a sore mouth, a dangling lip hook and some trailing monofilament. That’s no way to attract a mate – unless body piecings are also becoming popular in the fish realm.
And how do you know if black drum are around. Listen up. “I think it’s interesting how you can hear a drum noise coming,” noted Margaret from Jingles Bait and Tackle who had boat fished the bay for drum.
That these fish would be drumming heartily makes sense. Research indicates that a prime function of the drum sound is for mating/spawning. Just such partying is why the drum are funneling here en mass. And it is a sort of funneling, as they concentrate while passing through Little Egg Inlet before spreading out to head toward favored backbay locales, many of which are up lagoon complexes like Beach Haven West.

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