Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Nov. 7, 2007 -- Slow as she goes -- not even surf clams

Wednesday, November 07, 2007: Waves: 1-2 feet. Water clarity: Poor to fair; very stirred by hard south winds, west winds will need through tomorrow to clean things up.

I have as few reports, most slow to dismal.

One success was Stu D.’s 29-inch bass on the South End taken on a thawed mullet. Hmmm. There were also a few a.m. stripers on plugs, mid-Island and North End mainly.

I put in serious plugging and jigging time, including a desperate move to a rigged eel on a vintage tin squid, and had so much nothin’ that when I was using surface plugs I was encouraging the immature gulls to pick it yup just to have a feel on something on the line.

Oh, I can’t say that folks I talked to were getting totally skunked. The skate have moved in with vengeance, fairly normal with the arrival of much colder water. Dogs were also in the boredom mix.

And the ocean temps have plummeted. The cooler air plus the upwelling from south winds offered had my official thermometer showing 52 degrees, a 10 degree drop in just a few days – after it had barely dropped five degrees in 6 weeks before that.

A few lingering blues are passing by but I don’t think we’ve sent he last of them as there are still slammers to the north. Speaking of which, Island Beach and a bit northward is seeing some decent bassing.

I threw my net a couple times just to see what, bait-wise, might be lurking in the drab waters. I was not at all surprised when I nabbed a couple corncob mullet. It’s their time of year. I also had a small pompano (very common here, though usually during mullet-run times.) Most interesting was a couple sand eels that slithered through when I lifted the net onto the rocks. That tells me I probably had a lot more in the net when it first closed. I’m taking a “spearing” net with me tomorrow. It has ¼ inch mesh. I should note that I threw quite a few times (dead low tide) and those were scattered takes. There wasn’t much coming up in the net otherwise.

Numerous folks have asked (as I’ve also been asking) where the hell have all the surf clams gone? Let me tell you, it’s very weird. We’ve had storms that should have littered the beaches with highly usable surf clams. Zero. Not a one. I even went to a spot near Holgate where I’ve always found quite a few by wading out during low tide and there wasn’t a one. I know the first suspicion will be the commercial clammers, who just began working the nearshore ocean water along LBI. I can’t buy that connection. For one thing, those dredgers just don’t come in that close. There is always a population of sandbar clams, too close in for them to grab. Hopefully, it’s just one of those weird cyclical things. I’m among the many who really load up when clam wash-ups take place, fast-freezing large amounts.

Weekly column entries:

BEACH-LOOK SITE RETURNED: The Stevens Institute of Technology’s popular coastal kiosk, located on the dunes near the Long Beach Township town hall, is pretty much back up and running. It had been down for over a half year.

The website, cmn.dl.stevens-tech.edu/cgi-bin/cmn22.pl, is a big hit with surfcasters, beachgoers, waveriders and even absentee homeowners.

The site’s biggest attribute is the real-time view of the beach and ocean. The on-scene camera angle appears when the site first opens. It updates every 10 minutes.

Newly added is the interactive “Snapshot.” Clicking on that icon brings the beach look full-screen and allows zooming in and out by using the plus or minus keys on your keyboard. It offers a better look at the beach and water. For fishermen, knowing what awaits them before they head out fishing is hugely helpful.

Back to the sites opening page, below the beach view are wind, air temps, barometric pressure and waves size data, though the air temps and wave measurement data is apparently still on the blink.

The small unmanned facility that supplies the data was state-funded in 1998. It is technically “An ocean-observing network … to benchmark coastal changes through real-time delivery of coastal wave, tide, water temperature and meteorological data …” per Thomas Herrington, assistant director at the Institute’s Center for Marine Systems.

I hope to soon interview the folks who keep the site going.

RUN-DOWN: The wicked weather caused by a very glancing blow from a quick-cruising Hurricane Noel, put a decided damper on weekend angling. Even after the storm took is NE winds and exited, the trailing west winds and monster surf made fishing from boat or bank a tough go.

There were some points of interest out there, though, especially as the winds lay down (Monday) and very clean water rapidly replaced the churned up look following the blow.

First, I have to pointedly hint toward what is becoming a major boat bite inside the bay, particularly west Manahawkin Bay.

I fully realize that tucked away zone is seldom thought of as better bassing water but, believe me, if you’d see some of the stripers that fishing folks are getting both day and night you’d change your thinking, as I have. I obviously can’t offer super-specifics, but find some deep water in the ICW and get cranking – or eeling or spotting or even clamming. Largest fish so far this year is in the 40-pound range.

Moving onto beachfront banter, there was an expected silence of the slams over the weekend. Sure a few bass and blues were caught but, hell, we’re now hitting the fall fishing peak and the number of bass being caught is dismal.

I’ll again reference the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic: This year there have only been 50-some stripers caught, going into the 5th week of the six-week contest. At the same time last year there were about 200 bass taken. What’s more, the average size of the entered fish this year is now super small, after a surge of cow bass early on in the contest.

The slowness proven, I’ll offer the upside of things including a fairly fine showing of bass since the blow. Despite astoundingly light fishing pressure, some better bass numbers showed north to south, with a few bunker-based flare-ups of blues and bass on the North End. You had to be right there, right then, to cash in. At the same time, this glowing report (glowing because at least some fish were involved) came from Joe Handley. “Jay, Fished the BB surf early before work Monday morning. Caught 3 bass to 32" on clams. Released them all. No tourney fish but it was alot better then Sunday where I had a hard time losing a bait. A guy and gal fishing just north of me were bailing them. I would say they had 10 or so with a keeper or two. Don't know what I was doing wrong …”

It’s time to gear for the cool-down. This week will carry with it the coolest air of the season – with some signifa-winds to blow along with it. This sky move will surely ratchet down our ocean water temps, though slowly. The ocean’s a big place; it doesn’t rush to chillness. Still, the 50-degree-tops forecast highs by Friday won’t allow the ocean to hold onto its current 60-degree seas. So the bass will be rushing right in on the wings of the chill?
If only it was that easy. The main bass-mass is (obviously) elsewhere – possibly at a goodly distance away. What’s more, stripers aren’t big on thermometers. It takes their corpuscle-sized brains some serious sink-in time before they register it’s now time to drift toward those food-filled fall waters surrounding LBI. Upside is the fact the bay is holding serious bass numbers and the deeper EEZ water also harbor better bass. Those near-by bass could quickly make the move to the beachfront and the inlet-related shoals.

The “game warden” was driving the front beach last week, checking on who had what and what size. Most anglers have no problem with the law stopping by, though the enforcement folks often get an earful, often beginning with, “Hey, why don’t you guys go out and catch …” -- followed by whatever suspicions the anglers have, like the guy that was next to them the day before and walked off the beach with a seemingly undersized bass or, maybe, a forbidden fluke or … you know the spiel. \

Tog are heavily gathered on the beachfront jetties, as they ready to move offshore. You can only keep one tog daily until November 15, then up to 8 blackfish per day thereafter.

Herring fishing is a constant around inlets.

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