Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Fri, May 21 -- Big weekend arriving

Friday, May 21, 2010:

This will likely be the most crowded weekend of the year, based on traffic flow coming onto LBI, stored boats being un-shrinkwrapped, and folks who told me they’re itching to get out there and boogie. One of a few such emails: “Jay, Finally able to break away to get in some (boat) fishing. I hear about how bad the economy is but I’ve been up to me next in work (Philly). I’ll be heading up off island Beach. Hope I hit it on one of the ON days. Mike P.”

And there have been insane swings in the stripering action for boat anglers. I keep hearing where all the torrid bassing has moved way north. Then I had some filets dropped off by a boat that absolutely knocked the bass for a loop not far out of the inlet (I can’t say which inlet). I have to think the fish move in waves, especially those moving up from further south.

Here’s an email from the Berkeley Boys:

“As hard as it is to believe, the ASMFC has voted to allow a proposed increase for the commercial quota of striped bass to go to public hearings. It is appalling that they would do this at a time when the stocks are declining, many fish in the Chesapeake are diseased and there is still an executive order in effect from President Bush which prohibits the taking of bass in federal waters and encourages States to make them a no-sale or game fish. In part this is why it is important to join our Spring Tournament. All of the profit goes to our Fisheries Defense Fund where it is eventually donated to organizations like Stripers Forever and the Jersey Coast Anglers Association. These groups will be fighting hard against the proposed commercial increase. You may go to www.berkeleystriperclub.org for more info. on the tournament. Applications are there as well as a list of prizes that are valued at over $7000. We will have plenty of door prizes and refreshments at our awards ceremony so that alone is worth the $20. entrance fee. ~ Paul Haertel of the Berkley Striper Club.”

I am fully against a commercial increase. I think the truest way to maximize the value of the fishery – one of the mandates of the Magnuson Act – is to expand the recreational take, an action that can be easily monitored and allow for the employment of thousands of workers related to angling -- as opposed to a handful of commercialites who catch the added poundage in a matter of hours.

I still hold that the striped bass stocks can build no further under the dire environmental constraints of areas like the Chesapeake. The forage is not there, the schoolie fish population weakens and disease sets in. This is not just my premise but the findings of numerous university studies. It is a must that water quality be improved and the removal of forage, i.e. all marine life, be curtailed. Remember, it’s not just bass that come out of the Chesapeake spawn areas.

I am now also fretting the impacts of the Gulf oil spill and the related stoppage of shrimping. That will have boats swarming to the Carolinas and south, by-catching – by the billions – species from weakfish to croakers to kingfish to blowfish. Shrimping is the single most destructive form of fishing out there. Nine pounds of dead throwback are taken for a single pound of shrimp. It’s unconscionable.

I can assure that the modest increase in kingfish, croakers and blowfish we saw in the past decade – related to the collapse of the shrimping industry in the Southeast -- will end and those species will all but vanish. Forget weakfish making a comeback.

But all that’s ,mighty bleak for such a sunny stretch. Instead, I’ll alert that bluefish will float your boat again this weekend. They are ravenous as usual and shouldn’t be hard to find via boat traffic or birdplay. And remember to try getting bait or artificials through the choppers and down to the often gathered bass below. Jigging heavier, less-showy artificials is the trick there. Un-plastic-ed Spros work well.

The surf is a.m.-oriented. Here’s a webs report: Dave C. and Tony M. fished the Ship Bottom beach at sunrise this morning. Good bite for about an hour. 5 stripers with 2 keepers. 29" and 30". All on clam. Absolutely beautiful morning on the beach. Unfortunately had to go to work. Left them biting. ~ Tony M.

I threw for an hour or so this a.m. and had a one-hand striper. No, the bass didn’t have the hand. I could hold it on one hand. I then suffered equipment failure. I was trying out an old green Penn, circa 1950, that I got at a garage sale. I should have cleaned and re-lubed it first, which I do 99 percent of the time. The problem wasn’t major but un-fixable on the beach. I’m now a full-fledged fan of using old gear, especially old fiberglass rods. I’m not sure where folks got the impression that those old rigid sticks weren’t amazingly good for catching fish. They shine when working jigs.

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