Sunday, July 20, 2008: Waves: A mess; 3-foot groundswell out of the east (never-say-die Bertha), 3-foot south wind swell; 2-3 foot building southerly ground swell (TS Cristobal). Water temps: Rock bottom for summer; some 55-degree readings – and some areas of South Jersey Shore in the frickin’ low 50s.
The one natural element that can ruin a fishing day as fast as any other did a double-barrel number on us. Wind moved in midday yesterday and quickly went to ruinous levels, some southerly gusts reaching over 30 mph. Those winds were actually not forecast because it’s tough to compute what the conflict will be like as fiercely hot SW winds react with chilly SE ocean-based winds along the beach. Well, the conflict had flags snapping and dock lines straining by late-day.
The wind, as fully expected, did the dirty upwelling deed, not only pulling the plug on the short-lived 66-degree water of late last week, but mucked up the look and feel of the surfline. The beach areas that I saw today had coffee-and-cream colored water – signaling the arrival of ice coffee.
And don’t forget the beachside fog that moved in last night and hung thick for a good chunk of today, mid-Island.
As for fishing, that which could be tried within the junk conditions yielded fluke aplenty. Even fly-casters on the North End were nabbing small flatties. However, the weekend reports were marked by a load of pissing and moaning about, essentially, a lost weekend.
I saw the first LBI pelicans of the season. They usually show in May. Though these big birds were unheard of locally prior to about the mid-1980s, they had become common enough that their late arrival this year has been a bit of an avian mystery.
As wind-things went south, Reel Trouble zipped offshore. Here’s Capt. Bill’s report:
Hi Jay. (We) had 11 yellowfin tuna on Friday at the Tom's Canyon. The fish averaged 50 pounds with a few throw
backs in the mix. No billfish this trip. Despite a nice forecast, it was a little snotty but the fishing was worth it. Capt. Bill DuBois -- www.reeltrouble.com.
Here’s a report with an interesting insight into the very unlively eelgrass flats so-far this year: -
“I pulled my shrimp trawl this morning… I think the bay is in trouble. On five pulls I bet I accumulated less than pint of shrimp. Also, only two small fluke, 0 blackfish, 0 sticklebacks and a lot of dead grass.
I dropped a white gulp grub in the cut and managed a short fluke and a nice kingfish.
I headed out to the jetty and had one keeper blackfish. After the tide started running strong, I tried plastics on the inside of the rocks with no bass takers. I went in back to the creek to try my luck and the only bites were the flocks of green heads that covered my boat. Out of there in 5 minutes and called it a day. Walt P.”
Here’s another pro report: Hello All,
The summer weakfish run that we've enjoyed so much for the past few years should get started this week, and things are looking good for them to put in a good showing on time again this year. I heard of a couple of decent catches this past week, and it usually builds up over the last part of July into August. I'll be doing mixed weakfish/fluke trips in the bay this week and probably concentrating mostly on the weakies by the end of the month.
Fluking in the bay remains excellent, at times the best I've ever seen. To give an example of how good it has been, I had the boat out Wednesday morning intending only to straighten some lines and charge the batteries. But the weather was beautiful so I decided to spend a couple hours drifting the west side of the bay. Using only artificial Gulp! baits (since that's all I had with me) I landed somewhere between 35 and 40 fluke in a little over three hours. Only one 20" fish made it into the box, but most of the fish were decent sized and I'll take that kind of action any day I can get it.
Saturday I had George Selph and Bob Keller back aboard for an ocean fluke trip. After finding nothing other than some mysterious red algae coating our lines at the Tire Reef, we headed off to deeper water and found several fluke to 24" before the wind and building seas forced us back inside. The ocean water is finally warming up, so fluking should be pretty decent now for the rest of the summer.
Capt. Jack Shea; "Rambunctious" ; Barnegat Bay Fishing Charters; www.BarnegatBayFishing.com