Friday, July 04, 2008: Waves: 2-2.5 foot south wind swell, short-period. Water clarity: Fair (at best). Water tmeps: Nasty mid-50s along the beach, a tad warmer out a ways. Bay: mid-70s.
Happy America Day. There is a double-load of anglers in-town. It’s 4:30 a.m. and already I see trailered boats moving about and some surfcasters walking beachward. The boat folks are likely in for a lot more action that most surfcasters. In fact, we’ll go to the active side of things first as bayside, inlet and nearshore fluking remains torrid. The numbers of hookups is damn near epic in some zones. “Fish after fish” has been the description for many fluke drifters. Then the misery, as I now have heard a couple tales of 30 to 1 ratios. I don’t know if I can take this to heart but a second-hand report of a boatload of flukers near Great Bay had 100 fluke and one single keeper. I’ll add to that those rarer reports of decent ratios, especially around Barnegat Inlet and during ideal drifts in Great Bay. The ocean fluking is picking up, as expected. GS S has flatties on the periphery.
By the by, there are tons of fluke in the surf, especially near jetties. However, the surf remains cold and relatively dirty.
Whether it’s just one of those things that everyone is now using it, But GULP! continues to be the trick is you want any chance of bettering your keeper ratio of fluke. I’m hearing different angles of using it. Some folks swear by using sheets and cutting to squid-like strips while other folks are going with any number of the huge assortment of shaped GULP!. I’m also hearing it’s important to trade it out as the juices drain from the pieces. Per usual, you don’t want to let that stuff dry on the hook unless you have pneumatic tolls to chisel it off the hook.
I had a second report of kingfish in the surf going almost exclusively for GULP! or related fake-o baits. I had one interesting report of a kingfish chocking itself on a larger bunker bait for bass, somehow getting a huge chunk and hook in its mouth.
Back to that cold water. It was one of the coldest watered Junes I can recall and July has been no bargain. It is, of course, this steady south wind. Even the breaks in the wind aren’t long enough to allow the warmer water (which is not that far out to sea) to drift in. However, even the warmer water is not that mild. I recall a number of Independence Day weekend where we had 70-degree water. One possible useful angle on the cooler seas is the fact we already have a Verde Island tropical storm, one of the earliest ever registered. Disconcertingly, two-thirds of all hurricanes originating in that near-Africa zone, come up the temperate Atlantic, i.e. our way. Sure, I enjoy the surf from such systems but the flood and wind dangers are all too real for a paltry building like my Ship Bottom house.
Bassing is just not so hot. I say that despite a few keeper reports from boat and beach. And the bunker showing remains massive. It just seems the big-bass biomass has broken up, some moving a bit north and the rest sinking back southward. However, this is not to say there won’t be a steady showing of stripers for the entire summer. The usual spots, especially near Barnegat Inlet and the BH Inlet shoals, will hold fish.
Here’s another less-than-stellar ridge report – with affine final attitude (despite the quietude of keepers): “Jay,
Got your report re: some possible bluefin run-offs at the Ridge and got
my crew together for a first run. Left the dock @ 3:30 AM and was
fishing the Ridge by 5:30 AM. Trolled without a hit or knockdown for 5
hours. Even set-up on the edge of the ridge for bluefish and chummed
and chunked bunker without a hit. Marked bait and big fish but no
takers. We were however treated to the greatest show on earth. For 4
hours we had very large Whales in excess of 40 feet breaching and
feeding on some form of bait. There were pods(that's right pods as in
plural) of adults and younger whales numbering anywhere from 4 to 8
whales per pod. They appeared to be migrating South. Could these be
Humpbacks? They appeared to have a huge hump by the dorsal but they
were every bit of 40 feet as my boat is 24 feet and they dwarfed it
coming sometimes as close as 200 yds from my boat. It was spectacular
and I captured it as best I could with Video as we were trolling and
trying to stay out of the way of these behemoths. Around 11:00 AM the
entire ridge as far as I could see was erupting with bait all over the
surface that appeared to look like rainfish but the dimpling was much
larger. We trolled all thru this without a touch as well. Could these
have been the squid you mentioned in your report. Couldn't get a visual
since as as soon as you got close to them the bait would sound.
On the way in about 7 miles from the beach were bunker pods the size of
football fields and a huge purse seiner was out there corralling these.
I guess this is legal outside the 3 mile limit.
Still a spectacular day on the water with plenty of life if no fish in
Is the commercial limit STILL 14"?
That seems obscene considering the recreational numbers.
I wouldn't count on any of those slightly undersize fish being left near the inlets once they find them.
According to an article in the Star Ledger, apparently New York is trying to get changes made to our regs to be more in line with theirs and to share more equally in the take. Bigger fish, lesser quantity.
Commercials on one side, NY on the other, and gas prices through the roof. Maybe its time to pack it in, sit on the beach and count windmills.
Note: Money for Simply Bassing is being collected from shop and should be divvied out to the shops soon. If you’re a winner, collect winning at the shop where you weighed in the fish.