Friday, July 10, 2009: waves: Sizeable north swell.
The ocean has reared up a bit. If you’re heading down to grab some Friday angling, be it boating on the ocean or surfcasting, you better plan for some roughness. A long-period swell, essentially a long-distance fetch created by a complex weather system well out at sea, has generated enough swell that you better take it into consideration if you’re a small craft messing around the shoals near either LBI inlet, especially the Holgate shoals. The churn will definitely spark the beachside striper bite, as resident fish respond to the morsels uncovered by the wave action. Obviously, clam bait will work well in a match-the-hatch way.
Staying on that resident bass theme, a summer surge will draw in fish that might not regularly be right on the beach. Remember, resident fish range out many miles. By the by, the divers who had been getting the triggerfish on the Old South Jetty were surprised to find absolutely no stripers in the main inlet (New South Jetty). That absence will likely change today, as bass often hang near inlet during rougher water.
Tog note: Both divers and inlet anglers have remarked on some of the monster tog now spawning near Barnegat Inlet. On July 16th the next phase of the tog season begins, ending at midnight Nov. 15. During that period it is back to the one-a-day bag limit. HOWEVER, I have seen full-blown spawning females into August so please release the obviously expectant gals. There will be plenty of big male blackfish for take-home.
As with the black seabass spawn, it’ll be interesting to see if the cleansing bay purge we got via late spring/early summer storms will improve the success rate of tog – a rate that had been hurt by high nitrogen levels in the bay over the past few years, as runoff from yard fertilizers and petroleum products spiked the nutrients in the bay leading to dangerous blooms of algae. In fact, this quick burst of east winds comes on some moon tides so it could also add some clean water to the backbay.
A reminder that the 40th White Marlin Invitational, Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club’s nationally acclaimed big game tourney, is closing in like a hungry marlin. There are already something like 3 dozen boats registered and things are lining up for this to be one of the largest ever. To follow the event as it builds, go to
http://www.bhmtc.com/WMIT . I’ll begin to place pre-event blogs on that website -- once I start to get input on what’s what on the tuna/marlin/mahi front.
Weather/wind note: As winds switch around to the east then south, look for them to really honk by tomorrow. Seems best to get fishing in real early in the day. Don’t be surprised to see steady south winds to over 25 mph as a fairly strong cold front approaches.
Fluking is actually going south. Folks who had decent hooking a couple weeks back are running into slow going at some of the spots that had been very hooky. More obvious is the undesirable rise in ratio numbers. A decent drift has a sole keeper per 15 fish. A fellow who fishes purely fluke in the summer says the bigger fish have moved out into deeper water with the warming of the bay. Fluke do not like warm water.
I did a couple minnow checks in the far backbay. The population seems to be fairly average, or down a bit. I check sites that are not worked by trappers so it’s a fairly good read on number sin unmolested locales. By the by, most minnow species tolerate high nitrogen level, though it could effect spawning success.
There are some small blues in the bay. They seems to be hanging more up in Barnegat Bay. Some are cruising under the Causeway bridges at night. I had a couple off the pylons, casting south.
Nomenclature clarification: There is this highly unadvisable effort by well-meaning folks to attach the name Barnegat Bay to the entire stretch of bay area from Toms River clear down to Great Bay. While that is an acceptable demarcation for ecological/environmental/conservation efforts, it can be downright dangerous for navigational purposes. If you suddenly need Coast Guard assistance while in, say, the Middle Grounds portion of Little Egg Harbor, you sure as hell don’t want to radio that you’re in “the south part of Barnegat Bay.” It is best to keep Barnegat Bay where it is, extending south from Toms River to the bayside area off Surf City and Ship Bottom, where Manahawkin Bay begins. Manahawkin Bay becomes Littler Egg Harbor off (roughly) Brant Beach, in the vicinity of Egg Island and Flat Island. Little Egg Harbor extends southward (and westward) to the Sheepsheads, which jut out to right off bayside Holgate. On the other side of the Sheepsheads is Great Bay.
If you do a lot of bayside boating, it is very important to learn the names of the sedge islands you’re commonly near. These become vital in a dire emergency when radioing (or even cell phoning) for help. DO NOT overly rely on GPS info. When all hell is breaking loose, just try to punch up info. I have a feeling it will always be best, in a crunch, to offer something along the lines of “I’m just south of Barrel Island,” if you want the greatest number of folks coming to your aid.