Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

July 31, 08 -- Panfishing highly hot

I'M THINKING THIS IS NOT A PLACE TO HAVE AN EMERGENCY ... Thursday, July 31, 2008: Waves: 1-2 feet out of the south. Winds: Light land/sea breezes. Water temps: Mid-60s (real nice); variable from one beach area to another, but some of the warmest of the year. It ain’t half bad out there. The fog has flown the coop and some fair nearshore waters are allowing inlet passages with little or no adventure. The ocean fluking is fun and easy with 10 mph SW winds allowing for a just-right drift (plus a couple/few ounces). There is absolutely no need to look for flotillas. Just stop-and-drop wherever the spirit moves you -- and you’ll be soon hooking. If anything is coming clear about the current fluking, it’s the fact that no area – bay, inlet, ocean -- has consistent (or predictable) keeper fish. I have heard more and more folks alleging that bigger baits (even artificial stuff) are taking bigger fluke. I’ve had a couple emailers ask about the fluke season, one person saying that he heard it could be closed early. I heard absolutely nothing like that. The year ends (brutally for surfcasters) on Sept 7. Seabassing is good to very good nearshore wrecks and reefs but a severe smallness factor is entering the picture at many sites. Disturbingly, more and more bay pulls (seine nets) in the bay are showing a rock bottom young-of-year population of black seabass. By the by, juvenile black seabass are completely and totally unrecognizable when compared to the look adult seabass. I’ve ever gotten into arguments with marine biologists doing bayside fish counts as they were calling y-o-y black seabass gobies. The similarity to gobies is striking but the transformation as the seabass approaching a few inches long is mind-boggling, as I learned from years of raising indigenous saltwater fish in an aquarium. I even won a $100 bet with a scientist over the matter. Regardless of difficulty in recognition, there simply aren’t that many showing on eelgrass beds near The Dike – where they are often a prime component of the eelgrass I’ll-hide-here young-of-year culture. I had a kick-ass report from west Barnegat Bay where guys working the relatively quieter (boat-wise) water near Gulf Point (south of 40) are having a blast taking spikes on light gear (Ask Kingfisher). However, today those folks might go a bit heavier since yesterday guys were having loads of break offs, quite likely larger weaks. Note: Grass shrimping for weaks is turning on both south (north Middle Grounds) and north. Not far away, anglers have been banging kingfish, blowfish and a few croakers. Tell me that isn’t fun fishing. The kingfish are spawned out, as are (obviously) the blowfish. The trick is some chumming and the use of small pieces of sandworms or clams. Not surprisingly, the fluke are so plentiful they are actually interfering with guys fishing for weaks, kingfish, blowfish and croakers. I had two emails asking, “Where can I take my kids to fish?” That’s a tough call. I want to call on any of you readers to offer suggestions on places you can take the likes of 5-year-olds. I like the New South Jetty at Barnegat Inlet but that’s actually a tough go when you factor in currents, rocks and long walks. My only suggestion for safe kiddy fishing is the bulkhead at the end of Dock Road, next to the Morrison’s Marina (former site of Morrison’s Restaurant). Bluefishing is slow to comatose. Who’d have thunk it after the start of the season we had with blues of all sizes all over the place? Also, this strangely cold ocean water would seemingly be to the summer-long liking of blues. Striped bass are inching back onto the radar. I had a couple pluggers say they’re regularly scoring fish and even take-homes. There are also larger bass near inlets for liveliners. I’m starting my early a.m. quick-sessions just to see what might salute along the jetties near by Ship Bottom home. I have a few hand-crafted plugs sent my way to try out. Americans ate slightly less seafood last year Ð 16.3 pounds per person, down 1.2 % -- and their favorites remained largely the same. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ The Top Ten list, compiled each year by the National Fisheries Institute, shows that shrimp held on to the top spot. Market watchers say a drop in shrimp imports to the U.S. accounted for the overall dip in seafood consumption. Canned tuna was #2 -- salmon remained the third most popular, and saw the strongest gain of all seafoods in the top ten. Each American ate 2.2 pounds of salmon last year. Pollock ranked #4, showing a surge in popularity, with farmed tilapia staying at #5. Rounding out the top ten list were catfish, crab, cod, clams and flatfish, which includes halibut. Market analyst Ken Talley of Seafood Trend said last year saw the first inklings of lower spending for seafood, down 1.6%, with seafood at retail counters taking the biggest hit. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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