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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Thursday Aug. 21 2008: Blues back to their old ways

Thursday, August 21, 2008: Waves: Small. Winds: Light and variable. Water clarity: Very good; temps are low to mid-70s. We have a bit of a new theme out there: bluefish. The cocktail blues have kept on keeping on since their arrival late last week. They are making uishc a fuss that some serious birdplay was seen close-in at a number of Island beaches. There was some question as to what these cocktails were eating on, guesses being baby bunker. Very unlikely on that count; most bunkies still bay-bound. I’m pretty sure I know what the 1- to 3-pound blues are dining on and it’s why blues have such a bad name. There had been tons of tiny bluefish flush against the beach. While folks don’t do it much any more, it’s one of those years you can target tiny snappers with those good-old “snapper popper” rigs – bobbered contraptions that work super well by offering a surface splash to get the snappers there, then a small baited hook to suck them in. There is a chance the blues are also after the large schools of surfline-based spot but that’s far less likely considering the larger size of the spot. The cocktails have also rushed deep bay – not what weakfish and panfish seekers want to see over on the west side. There are also snapper and cocktail blues in some of the mainland lagoons. Stripers are also trickling back into play though at a non-attractive pace – hardly worth getting up at the crack of day to plug or jig, i.e. I’ve been sleeping in of late. I mentioned a huge American eel caught last week and had a couple ditto emails from folks who have also found major eel-age in traps and even on-line, as was the case with a fellow who enjoys crabbing by using a rod and reel, hooking on some smelly bait and flipping it off his dock for a slow bottom-based retrieve. Sounds kinda fun. He got an eel in the four-foot range. Released. The full moon has hurt the fluking on the oceanside but isn’t having nearly the impact east bay and inlets. Look for it to begin ripping again by this weekend. Times running out on the season but adhering strictly to the minimum size is highly suggested. The law folks know that there is often a push to freezer fluke meat prior to season’s close – and that 17.5 suddenly looks a tad larger to some folks. I wish I could offer Kingfishing advice to those who have emailed wanting specific beaches to fish. It just doesn’t work that way with these highly desirable (tasty) panfish. For some odd reason, they have minds of their own. As oft noted, when you find them the hooking can be constant. If they’re not on-scene, they can be a bitch to locate. One thing I will note – kingfish being one of the very few species I’m decent at catching – is nothing will up your catches (when finally on kingfish) better than using a slow retrieve method, as opposed to dead sticking. It’ll quadruple your hook-ups. Numerous shark and ray reports, mainly being caught on chunk baits. Telltale sight: Yesterday while crossing the Causeway Bridge, I saw a huge V formation of double-crested cormorant heading south at migration speed and altitude. I sure hope they don’t know something we don’t know about the upcoming weeks and months. Here’s the charter boat report out of BH: The captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association have been seeing a noticeable improvement in their catches over the past week. Captain George Finck of “Sparetime Charters” had the Jim Musser family just 3 miles offshore on a trolling trip. They boated 35 nice bluefish, keeping 27. On the next day he had Janet and Margie Mitchell and family on a trip to the Little Egg Reef. The group picked up 2 keeper fluke out of 8 total caught along with 6 keeper sea bass out of a total of 14. Matt Pribila and friends went out with Captain Finck to the Little Egg Reef another day where they managed one 20-inch keeper fluke out of numerous shorts along with 7 keeper sea bass up to 4-pounds. Dave Wittenborn on the “Compass Rose” says his fluke fishing remains hot. He took Joe McCall and family out who were cashing in Joe’s Father's Day gift certificate. They fished the Garden State South Reef and had a steady pick of fluke for the entire trip. They landed 35 fluke and put 9 keepers in the box. The largest was 22.5-inches with several more over 20-inches. They also landed a nice sized ling and a big blue humpback sea bass. Captain Frank Camarda on the head boat “Miss Beach Haven” said everything fell into place on Sunday with a “perfect drift.” Pool winner was Al Benedict from Philadelphia with a 5.5-pound fluke. Many anglers had 4 keepers each along with many shorts. On Sunday morning Captain Dave Kreines had the Marty Kounitz family on the “Sweet Baby” for a combination of fishing and nature-seeing on the bay. The ocean looked so calm that the group asked for a change of plan. They spent the balance of the trip on the glass smooth Atlantic catching and releasing a half dozen Fluke. Captain Lindsay Fuller on the “June Bug” fished the Kennedy family from California on Saturday Cpl. Steven McKenney, USMC aboard who just returned safe and sound from Iraq a month ago. It was interesting to find out what is really going on over there. Steve told us that the play that the U.S. media gives the relatively few insurgent attacks is overkill. Things are far more peaceful than portrayed. His job was to set up the computers and communications for all of the outlying bases, both for the U.S. forces and the Iraqi policy and military. Hoping for some Bonita on light tackle, they fished the Barnegat South Ridge. They found no Bonita but plenty of big slammin' Bluefish. Ryan Kennedy (9) caught the biggest fish of his life. There was lots of huffing and puffing to get those 12-15 pound monsters to the boat. Junior Mate Hep Hepburn ran the cockpit for the day. That was a first for him and he handled it well. On Sunday, the Kennedys fished on again with Captain Fuller for fluke in the bay but could find no keepers. ~ Jim Hutchinson Sr. **************** Hey, I'm back to treasure digging and have made some fascinating LBI-based finds, like this super-historic badge. For more info and previous blogs, go to http://digtreasure.ning.com

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