Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Friday/Saturday, June 20/21, 2008: Waves: Small. Water clarity: Improving; good to very good. Water temps: Wide swings, especially near inlets; upper 50s to md-60s. Let’s turn to fluke first. I’ve go…

Friday/Saturday, June 20/21, 2008: Waves: Small. Water clarity: Improving; good to very good. Water temps: Wide swings, especially near inlets; upper 50s to md-60s. Let’s turn to fluke first. I’ve gotten more reports of good fluking despite a high throwback count. Consistent with the way it’s been all spring, the fishing pressure for flatties is itself flat. I had one fellow on the south end note that he was the only boat fluking in a usually popular (and often packed) zone. The reason for this low-level fluke fishing phenomena is likely multifold. We are just now into graduation week for schools so we haven’t seen the full influx of summer anglers just yet. Also, there is that ambiguous “gas price factor.” We have yet to see how that will pump-shock will play out on all fishing and boating fronts. Another reason folks are not fluking heavily is the huge attraction of major bass below bunker pods; a bass bite that will end with warmer water (as the big bass drift back south – not north). Finally, the assumption that the new larger minimum size will make it impossible to find take-home fluke has folks foregoing drift time. For surfcasters, there is a real decent surf-fluke bite but the take-home percentage there is rock bottom, pet the couple guys doing it. The largest flattie I know of was taken on the south end of BH. Not surprisingly, it went for a pink GULP! (Unknown shape) being jigged for bass and weakfish. And there have been some more nice weakfish taken on jigs, mainly near inlets. One of the best anglers I know – and a conservationist on par with myself – picked up a nice 8-poundish (hand-scale) weakie near The Dike and brought it home for BBQ’ing. “I was really upset when I opened it up to find it was so ripe with bright orange eggs. I was sure it was a spawned out fish that fattened up before going back out to sea,” he told me. Hey, the number of fish this guy lets go he shouldn’t give it a second thought. Speaking of that “out to sea” reference, larger weaks do exit the bay after spawn but are seldom if ever caught “out at sea.” I’m sure the commercial guys know the whereabouts of those large spawned out fish. I’d have to guess they ball up in deeper water off Delaware and Hudson (and Chesapeake?) bays, likely sharing space with large summer bass -- hanging there dining on the heavy forage associated with those bio-rich sites. Bassing is as good as the surface winds allow. Calmer conditions allow for easy bunker finds and bassing approaching epic. Winds inspire trolls, which are not hitting on the same number of cylinders as the snag-and-drop method. Still, H.M. nabbed his biggest bass ever (41-4) using on-the-move spoons. The shark talk has duskys in the mix, despite cold water. There is always confusion over ID’ing a dusky and a brown and a sandbar shark. Firstly, the brown shark and the sandbar shark are the same species, Carcharhinus plumbeus (formerly Carcharhinus milberti), just different colloquial names. Locally, “brown shark” is the more common usage. The dusky – sometimes improperly referenced as just another name for brown/sandbar shark -- it is a totally different species, Carcharhinus obscurus. There is no easy way to tell these two apart, i.e. in the water. The most notable differentiation – and the only way I can quickly ID one from the other -- is the huge dorsal fin on the brown/sandbar shark. It’s almost disproportionately large. I hesitate to even bring this up but the brown/sandbar shark has one of the largest dorsal fins in the shark realm, sometimes constituting as much a 18 percent of the fish’s entire weight! Hopefully it is not the type meat for shark fin soup or you can kiss the species goodbye. The dusky has a significantly smaller dorsal while the dorsal fin on the brown/sandbar is also significantly further forward than the dusky shark. Dusky sharks attain some serious length, up to 9-feet. Brown/sandbar sharks top out at 7 feet and are usually much smaller on average. Both these species don’t reach sexual maturity until nearly 20 years of age – and even then they reproduce very slowly. Extreme care should be taken when catching and releasing since rough handling often proves fatal – as it does with any sharks, which (despite their tough reputation) have very delicate internal organs. Sharks hauled over the edge of a transom often have internal organs burst by the animal’s own weight. Here’s a NMFS release, which I believe is referring to our brown/sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus.) “Our recent stock assessments show we need to take strong conservation measures to stop overfishing of sandbar and other sharks to allow these species to rebuild,' said Jim Balsiger, acting assistant administrator for NOAA's Fisheries Service. 'These sharks, like many sharks, mature late, grow slowly and produce few young, making them particularly vulnerable to fishing pressure.' ”The rule also requires all sharks to be offloaded at the dock with all fins naturally attached. That's designed to improve enforcement against shark finning, in which fishermen remove the highly valuable fins from sharks at sea and discard the carcasses overboard. ”The new rule, to be published in the Federal Register Tuesday, establishes a separate sandbar shark annual commercial quota of 87.9 metric tons. The previous sandbar quota was 1,017 metric tons. The new shark regulations become effective July 24.” J, I fished Thursday out front dogging the bunker schools up and down the island, and lost one nice bass at the boat. Friday there seemed to be less bunker visible, but there were still plenty and almost no fish on them, I managed two gator blues, one going 18 pounds. Nothing like two weeks ago, maybe that push of bass have moved North? Friday afternoon I took my kids crabbing, except we really never got going with the whole crabbing thing. After I had 5 crab lines set up with bunker I decided to add a 6th on the end of my bunker snagging rod putting a piece of bunker on the snagging hook which was still rigged from earlier in the day. No sooner had I dropped the hook and put the rod in the holder when it bent over double and screamed. My daughter picked up the rod and started to work a very decent fish. I saw a flash of purple and knew it was a tide runner. The fish put on a great show but was eventually bested by my daughter. Go figure, a 30” weakfish jumping all over a weighted treble hook dropped over the side with a piece of bunker on it. After that start of course we rigged a second rod and then proceeded to catch multiple smooth doggies which seemed to fight much harder than usual. We also caught a small bluefish and a large kingfish. It was fun non-stop action for about an hour. I wonder what would have happened with some grass shrimp chum? Paul

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