Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Below: I let the pros take the tougher shots of rarer birds. I simply have fun with the common ones, like this one that was within five feet of me, merrily dining, though at one point it did stop to give me a bit of an over-the beak stare.
Friday, October 02, 2020: Looks to be another headbanger of a weekend. Traffic arriving per usual Oct. weekend complimented by an inestimable load of folks who never departed the Island, post-season. On a typical anecdotal level, this past week or so, the Island seems to have reduced its people holding down to a more typical after-summer showing, at least a few days a week. That further supports the supposition that autumnal weekends will remain a draw like never before. I’ll still with my prediction that Thursday through Sunday will be magnet for COVID discombobulated sorts, particularly of a New York persuasion. Oh, I have absolutely nothing against Empire State souls, though you must admit that those bright orange NY license plates are mighty dang prevalent – and not just due to their brightness. Hey, any of you older Pennsylvanians recall when Pa. tags were almost that exact same look?
A quick traffic note that the speed limit signs on the Blvd. in Ship Bottom have finally been raised to a highly sensible 40 mph. Surf City is going with a winterized 35 mph on the Blvd., which isn’t all that bad since the parallel-running Central Avenue offers 40 mph; the borough obviously preferring passers-through to use Central. Barnegat Avenue in both towns is 25 mph for the entire length, stay slow or say hello to a citation.
Important: Coming onto the Island, you cannot turn right onto Barnegat Avenue (the first right) due to ongoing sewer trenching work being done. Here’s hoping any tailgaters notice your vehicle slowing and signaling to make that right turn back off enough to allow you to suddenly recalibrate – to go straight.
You might notice a LBT digital sign advising that “milling” will begin on the Boulevard this coming week – when traffic signals will go to the blink cycle. I’m trying to find out if that milling marks the beginning of the desperately needed repaving of the Blvd, from Brant Beach to Beach Haven. We won’t know how to drive if that many-mil stretch is suddenly smooth as a baby road’s behind.
A note to offseason ocean swimmers and shallow-water bathers, even though the surf size has dropped down to just a couple feet – and will likely stay small for the immediate future (sorry waveriders) – there are no lifeguards. Enough said, almost. Slowly dropping water temps means the deadly hypothermia factor is also wading around out there. We just had another very bad year for drownings, the most recent was a gal lost in Wildwood while swimming with friends, proving that even the always swim with a partner concept only floats for just so long.
HOLGATE HAPPENINGS: For those not on my Facebook page, below you’ll see what I put up regarding the marsh area on the north end of town. Groups like the Holgate taxpayers and Alliance for a Living ocean fought to preserve that land. Success. Although it’s just a small piece of bayfront acreage, it serves a vital role to show kids what the Island once looked like along most of the Holgate bayside. I recall those once-upon days very well.
As to the Forsythe Refuge, I was contacted by a couple regulars who saw some suspicious canine paw prints in the bayside sand neat the Clam Trail and also further north. It was thought they might be coywolf tracks. I did an extended look-see. There were canine tracks, but the great majority were compliments of domesticated dog being allowed to run in the closed off Refuge area. If there were any coyote tracks, I couldn’t pick them out amongst the pooch paws. Below: Coyote.
Yes, I know the dogs shouldn’t back there – or even on the beachfront, but Chris P. with Forsythe enforcement can be only so many places at one time.
As a Forsythe volunteer, I now-and-again alert dog walkers to the fact they’re breaking the law, especially if they’re allowing Fido to run in the posted off-limits wilderness areas, but it usually falls on deaf and/or defiant ears. Things potentially far testier around the south tip toward the back-cut where boat people gather by the legionful. I’ve learned not to say a doggone thing about anything they do, much less single out their pets. Hey, there was once really cool pig pets back there. Sorry, but they were fun. In that case I surely didn’t say a word since one never knows of they were also attack-trained pigs. If you think pigs don’t bite I’ll show you a scar I got when camping in a farm in Mexico. OK, so maybe I shouldn’t have tried to ride the huge thing.
Stupid: I eat so many gummy bears if I choke to death on one I hope the obituary will be kind enough to say the cause of death was “Bears.”
Anyway, I’m getting together a collection of Holgate wildlife paw print to put in here. This fall, somewhat oddly (or is it?), I haven’t seen the usual flurry of fox tracks. I know he refuge has been trying to eliminate them for the sake of nesting birds. What are back there in huge numbers, i.e. like never before, are river otter tracks, rush-hour like. Their small footprints are almost exclusively adjacent to the bay area, which makes sense considering their favorite habitat is thereabouts. By the by, our very robust river otter population is often centered in and around outflow pipes.
Among the other tracks is a seemingly lone racoon, small possums, mink and a slew of larger rodents. Again, there are dog tracks everywhere … a couple of which could cover coyote prints. I have no doubt coyote will discover Holgate and its slews of tasty large rodents, which can be found under virtually any larger piece of wood material washed ashore.
Speaking of the back-cut area of the south tip, we had our first ugly Baja-ing incident when a truck left behind loads of sand donuts, really tearing up the place. A few of us regulars are pretty sure we know what vehicle did the dirty deed and we’re keeping a lookout for any further visits by said numbnuts. The good thing is the suspected (male) driver only did his dirty work on the small beach next to the cut, impacting boat people to the max. For those of us driving there to fish or hunt bait, it’s still very jarring due to the ruts. We haven’t had a food overwash to flatten things there.
Dealerships seems to hype a truck's donut capacity ...
ANGLING ALERT: I was first told a surge of kingfish via this messenger from Joe. H: “Jay....little fishing report for ya. Holgate was loaded with nice kings before dark last night. Could of filled a bucket no problem. Stopped bayside around 10pm and caught everything under the sun. Weaks, stripers, blues, herring....plus a bunch of fluke! Can't believe they are still that far back in the bay. Caught 9-10. 4 would of been keepers, one being 24"...”
Then, yesterday, a Viet Nam vet I chatted with spoke of landing a Holgate kingfish pushing 19 inches! “I thought it was a croaker at first,” he said.
Below: World record candidate kingfish taken in NC ...
More eye opening, he also caught a spot as big as spot get. The state record is 13 ounces (2003, Robert Belsky, Jr., Little Sheepshead Creek). His Holgate beach spot easily surpassed that. Spot are super eating, though small to where they should be cooked whole to allow all the meat too be forked off the bones.
Below: This is what a larger spot looks like. I suspect we'll be seeing many f them caught once the LBI Surf Fishing Classic begins ...
Buggying the southend remains as sinky as it gets, though sticking in existing tracks and airing down to low 20s or upper teens allows for safe passage to the end. Far back cut is only accessible at low tide.
New Jersey State Record
Below are the current New Jersey record saltwater fish. In May, 2007, the program was revised to include Retired Categories of fish no longer included in the program, as well as Retired Historical Records. Currently there are 59 species of marine fish eligible for entry in the Record Fish Program.
In 2014 the program was again revised with the addition of the NJ Record Saltwater Fish - Spearfishing category. There are 17 species eligible for entry.
Anglers are reminded that the objective of the Record Fish Program is to increase the awareness of fishing opportunities for species that are regularly sought after and routinely found in or off the coast of New Jersey.
For more information and the application form see the Record Fish Program page.
|Amberjack, greater||85||0||1993||Edwin Metzner||Off Cape May|
|Bass, black sea||9||0||2015||Steve Singler||Atlantic Ocean|
|Bluefish||27||1||1997||Roger Kastorsky||Five Fathom Bank|
|Bonito, Atlantic||13||8||1945||Frank Lykes, Jr.||Off Sandy Hook|
|Cobia||90||6||2019||Len Andalis||McCries Shoal|
|Cod||81||0||1967||Joseph Chesla||Off Brielle|
|Crab, blue||8¾" pt. to pt.||2008||Raymond Ponik||Bayonne|
|Croaker, Atlantic||5||8||1981||Frederick Brown||Delaware Bay|
|Cunner||3||8.8||2019||John Zema||Atlantic Ocean|
|Dogfish, smooth||19||11.2||2013||Michael J. LaTorre, Jr.||Sculls Bay|
|Dogfish, spiny||15||12||1990||Jeff Pennick||Off Cape May|
|Dolphin||63||3||1974||Scott Smith, Jr.||Baltimore Canyon|
|Drum, black||109||0||2008||Nick Henry||Delaware Bay|
|Drum, red||55||0||1985||Daniel Yanino||Great Bay|
|Eel, American||9||13||1988||Warren Campbell||Atlantic City|
|Fluke||19||12||1953||Walter Lubin||Off Cape May|
|Flounder, winter||5||11||1993||Jimmy Swanson||Off Barnegat Light|
|Hake, red (Ling)||12||13||2010||Billy Watson||Off Manasqua|
|Hake, white||41||7||1989||Wayne Eble||Off Barnegat Light|
|Kingfish, Northern||2||8||2004||Chester Urbanski||Barnegat Bay|
|Mackerel, Atlantic||4||1||1983||Abe Elkin||Manasquan Ridge|
|Mackerel, king||54||0||1998||Fernando Alfaiate||Off Cape May|
|*Mackerel, Spanish||9||12||1990||Donald Kohler||Off Cape May|
|Marlin, blue||1,046||0||1986||Phil Infantolino||Hudson Canyon|
|Marlin, white||137||8||1980||Mike Marchell||Hudson Canyon|
|Perch, white||2||12||1998||Michael King||Little Beach Creek|
|*Pollock||46||7||1975||John Holton||Off Brielle|
|Porgy||5||14||1976||Victor Rone||Delaware Bay|
|Sailfish||43||4||2006||Dr. John Tallia||Linden Kohl Canyon|
|Seatrout, spotted||11||2||1974||Bert Harper||Holgate Surf|
|Shad, American||7||0||1967||Rodger West||Great Bay|
|Shad, hickory||2||13||2011||Robert Macejka||Mantoloking|
|Shark, blue||366||0||1996||William Young, Jr.||Mud Hole|
|Shark, bull||Vacant (Minimum Weight 150 Lbs.)|
|Shark, dusky||530||0||1987||Brian Dunlevy||Off Great Egg Inlet|
|Shark, hammerhead||365||0||1985||Walter Thackara||Mud Hole|
|Shark, porbeagle||Vacant (Minimum Weight 100 Lbs.)|
|Shark, s-fin mako||856||0||1994||Christopher Palmer||Wilmington Canyon|
|Shark, thresher||683||0||2009||Bennett Fogelberg||Fingers|
|Shark, tiger||880||0||1988||Billy DeJohn||Off Cape May|
|Spadefish||11||6||1998||Cliff Low||Delaware Bay|
|Poor Man’s Canyon
|Spot||0||13||2003||Robert Belsky, Jr.||Little Sheepshead Creek|
|*Striped bass||78||8||1982||Al McReynolds||Atlantic City|
|Swordfish||530||0||1964||Edmund Levitt||Wilmington Canyon|
|Tautog||25||5.92||2015||Frank LaMorte||Atlantic Ocean|
|Tilefish, golden||63||8||2009||Dennis Muhlenforth||Lindenkohl Canyon|
|Tilefish, gray||23||4||2015||Mark Milici||Lindenkohl Canyon|
|Triggerfish, gray||6||11||2016||James Massimino||Sea Girt Reef|
|Tuna, albacore||77||15||1984||Dr. S. Scannapiego||Spencer Canyon|
|Tuna, big-eye||364||14||1984||George Krenick||Hudson Canyon|
|Tuna, bluefin||1,030||6||1981||Royal Parsons||Off Pt. Pleasant|
|Tuna, skipjack||13||4||1999||Craig Eberbach||Wilmington Canyon|
|Tuna, yellowfin||290||0||1980||Wayne Brinkerhoff||Hudson Canyon|
|*Tunny, little||24||15||1977||Mark Niemczyk||Off Sea Bright|
|Wahoo||123||12||1992||Robert Carr||28-Mile Wreck|
|Weakfish||18||8||1986||Karl Jones||Delaware Bay|
|Whiting (silver hake)||Vacant (Minimum Weight 2.5 Lbs.)|
NOTE WELL: There was a shark bust in Holgate in this conservation officer report. I'm not sure of the officers were driving the beach or (more likely) pulled up in a soft hull vessel. I've seen a load of enforcement folks cruising the Little Egg Harbor vicinity.