Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
RUNDOWN:The weakfishing in west Barnegat Bay is semi-sizzling. There is that know-how knack needed to pull sparklers out at a rapid-fire rate but the odds are in the favor of anyone dropping lots of chum over. And the chum-line doesn’t have to be only grasshrimp. Some crushed shedders mixed with clam or mussels can achieve a nice attraction level.
Here’s a pro report from Lighthouse Sportsfishing. “The weakfishing is very consistent with some trips being dominated by bigger fish than others. Just got back in from a trip in which we boated 27 keepers to 22” with most fish 16” or better. We also released about the same number of short weaks. Throw in over 30 snappers to small blues and we are talking about an 80 to 90 fish trip. Yesterday evening’s trip saw a dozen keepers and about 18 short weaks while Saturday’s trips boxed 16 and released 30 weaks. Capt. Alex F. Majewski”
I’m still having a fine time of it by tossing out small freshwater silver spinners (with white plastic tails) in the dark of night. I’ve hit a couple seldom-fished road ends in Surf City. The brighter the nearby lights, the better the weakfishing. I have to admit I’ve had next to no keepers but my light gear is getting a decent workout.
Bluefishing is just plain freaky. I’m serious. The cocktail blues, the size fish that usually zip by in the spring and head north for the summer, have not only stayed on but there have been full-blown boat-based blitzes near Barnegat Inlet, with diving birds and frenzied hooking to the tune of as many bluefish as the law allows.
Those 2-pounders are also banging the beaches from north to south, sometimes as many as you want even in the suds, mainly going for jigs and such (often forsaking bait offerings). Apropos email: “Jay, … I decided to go plugging in the South BH surf. I found the bluefish right away. The fish were around some scattered birdplay, but we did find a few blind casting. Caught and released about a dozen 1-2lb fish… The blues were spitting up tons of peanut bunker and tiny herring… I was throwing a 3" white twister Gulp on a red 3/8oz jighead with a teaser tied 16" above. The teaser consisted of a bait-keeper hook and the above mentioned Gulp twister. I caught at least 4 double-headers. Quite fun on 8lb-test spinning gear. Joe H.”
Gorilla blues are out at the Ridge in arm numbing numbers. Unfortunately, the solid showing of bonito that had also been out there has all but vanished.
Bassing is just plain bad. Good for you if you’ve had a decent stretch of stripers but I have a dozen-plus reports of damn-near skunkiness. Even the sharpies – working live-lined offerings – are having one of the worst stripering summers in many years. If there’s an up side, some folks diving in what little clean water we’ve had in the ocean of late, say a few bass are on this jetty and that. When they came out to fish for them they couldn’t draw a touch.
The re-rise of shrimping in the Carolinas has knocked the croakers, kingfish and even blowfish back to the Dark Ages of the 1970s and 1980s, when that industry’s bycatch was devastating, killing an average of one billion y-o-y croakers a year. I miss the kingfish so badly, I can taste it. Still, I think we’ll get a small push of them as they migrate south in the fall.
As noted above, the rays are back in cloud-forming numbers. This is an appeal to newbie surfcasters or folks not familiar with fighting these large amazingly powerful fish. If you don’t have the time, don’t cast the line. This crap of hooking up then cutting the line after boring of what can be an hour-long ordeal is bogus. Respect the fish – and other fishes that can get killed by the ghost line left after a cut-off.
Big sharks (toothed) will surely accompanying the arriving rays. As with fishing rays, always fight the fish to the end, then practice strict catch-and-release. Shark regs have gotten very strict and I guarantee you cannot identify the one you just caught -- if it’s not a dogfish. Release it as carefully as possible. Sharks cannot survive a tail grab and careless throw back. Their internal organs bust apart. Show respect – or that fish’s relatives will bite your pancreas out the next time your in the ocean.
Black seabass are showing nicely on some wrecks. Here’s a report: “Visited a wreck on Sunday afternoon and had a good pick of decent sized sea bass up to about 3 lbs with quite a few throwbacks. Most of the bigger fish were caught jigging Fin-s fish. I also tried Gulp, which worked equally as well. It seemed they went after either one. The sea bass seemed to be quite aggressive, as I could get a few of them to follow my jig all the way up to the surface…
Gray triggerfish along with filefish are hanging in close (near Barnegat Inlet, North Jetty) and out to the nearshore wrecks. They are often up in the water column but have such keen eyesight they can pick out action down below, as in bait dropped for bass. Both species are super eating.
Crabbing has dropped off in a big way (especially south end). Backyard traps are coming up lame and lacking. Fingers are being pointed at the commercial crabbers sneaking up from the Chesapeake, raking our bay bottom in the winter in an effort to distance themselves from the near-collapse of crabbing down south.