Sunday, July 27, 2008: waves: Building 2-3 foot southerly short-period swell. Water clarity: Fair. Water temps: 60-ish; varying greatly as cold and warm water mix.
It’s never easy. Anglers enjoying the fairly favorable early-day conditions were rocked by a very slow-moving line of t-storms. It got dangerous just after noon. The crowds using ocean, bay and beaches all cleared out. Roads of LBI got mugged by short-fused leavers. As usual, Ship Bottom was the nasty zone as clueless motorists on the Boulevard tried to zip down back streets. Barnegat Avenue soon got impossible/impassible so trapped shortcutters tried to zip up side roads to get back to the Boulevard. Wasted time and fuel. The trick is to wait out the Boulevard traffic. Sure it backs up a bit but it’s far-and-away the fastest way to get onto the Causeway.
Fluke were the main target of boat anglers. Hooking is easy – and often. There was some radio chatter of “a few keepers” but there were many boats that had virtually nothing to show for multiple hookups.
Speaking of fluking, here’s a pro report: I made it out four times this past week and to put it mildly, fluke fishing in the bay remains on fire. It's mostly on sub-legal sized fish (I hate to call them "shorts" because they're really not), but there are some decent keepable fish mixed in and enough action to make anyone happy. We also had our first good showing of weakfish this week, hopefully a sign of things to come for the rest of the summer.
A cancellation on Monday allowed me a little time to get out by myself for a couple of hours, and produced 35 fluke from 14" to 20" in a little over two hours. Wednesday I had Trenton's Mark Catalina with his sons Anthony and Chris and granddad Richard aboard, and the team landed another 35-40 fluke with a couple of fat keepers for the table. On Friday I had Beach Haven Park's Rodger Bogardus bring his son Dave and family friend Michael Borkowski out for a mixed weakfish/fluke trip. While the weakies didn't cooperate, the fluke provided steady action until the breeze died out late morning and sent us back to chasing weakies. The catch was topped by Dave Bogardus' 27" fluke (picture attached) that so far is the largest on the boat this summer. We did mark a lot of weakfish on the sonar, but I guess they just weren't in the biting mood.
Yesterday I had George Selph and Bob Keller back aboard, fishing in the Lacey Elks Tournament. We spent most of the day hunting the elusive weakfish, and were finally rewarded late morning with the guys landing weakfish after weakfish on grass shrimp and small plastics. We left the fish biting to spend our final hour or so on fluke, but the final tally for the day was close to 50 weakies, 3 or 4 fluke (including a 20" flattie that took the tournament calcutta), several small bluefish and a couple of nice kingfish. A real mixed bag of tasty fish that shows off Barnegat Bay at its best.--
Capt. Jack Shea
Barnegat Bay Fishing Charters
MEGA BASS BACKLASH: As you likely know, a 76-pound striper was caught off Montauk, N.Y., before dawn, July 18. It was caught by Robert Rochetta, East Setauke. He was using live eel on 50-pound line.
It’s odd, but I get nervous as modern bass catches approach the Garden State’s 78-8, caught by now-New Englander Al McReynolds. Face it, Al’s fish is a pride point of bassing here in N.J.
I guess it’s time to face the reality that records are meant to be busted. And that cherished N.J. 78-8 could fall sooner than later, as 15 years of bass conservation shows in a big way.
The striper world record is also up against a mushrooming of boat fishing pressure on bass, like never seen before. It seems like ancient history, but for decades on end, striper fishing was the near-exclusive realm of surfcasters. No longer. It is highly likely that the breaking of the world record will be done in-boat.
I was asked recently how much a world record striped bass would be worth. That’s tough to say. I don’t think there is some huge amount in escrow, patiently waiting as a grand prize for anyone breaking the striped bass world record. I’m guessing the promotional and endorsement aftermath would surely approach six figures but it’ll actually be a load of work for the angler, as opposed to the big chunk of change McReynolds eventually got with his 78-8.
If anyone knows of companies ready to pay off when the striped bass record is broken, let me know.