June 29, 2009: waves: Small to flat. Winds: Hard offshore (westerlies). Water temps: Mild, 70-ish.
Fluke catching was hot today. I had reports of near nonstop hooking from many sectors. Expectedly, complaints centered on the famed ratio. It is high but still not nearly as untenable as last year. I even had a boat angler out of Barnegat who said he had his allowable bag limit at a three (throwback) to one (keeper) ratio. I marked the drift and worked it until we all maxed out,” he said. He is one of the folks who always talks about big baits for big fish, though he gave no clue as to what had his ratio so high today. There are keeper fluke in the surf, mainly near jetties. A couple of these flatties make a meal -- and that's about the extent of a session's take.
If your bassing the suds, think small -- both fish-wise and plug-wise. Small jigs and smaller diving plugs fished near jetties is attracting resident fish. See resident fish email below.
Smaller blues are zipping about per reports I read elsewhere. I’ve yet to talk directly to anyone finding them. I am hearing firsthand reports of those larger blues still marauding about. They’re down in size a tad, 4 to 6 pounds replacing the 10-pound-plus fish of a short while back. They’re mainly ocean fish taken on boats though a couple came into the surf, mid-Island.
BHCFA weekly report:
The boats of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association have been returning to dock with some big catches.
The “Hot Tuna” with Captain Bob Gerkens won the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club's Mako Shark tournament on Saturday with a brute weighing in at 186.5 pound. The crew for the trip consisted of the boat's regular off-shore mate of Rich Stracensky, its junior mate in training Ryan Kellogg, and Barry Thomas of Allentown, P. Capt. Gerkens was near the pole when the Mako hooked up on a whole mackerel and did its first of two spectacular back flip jumps. He had the duty of handling the rod to the end of the battle.
The fishing team did every thing correctly right up to the final gaffing. There were 3 other hookups for the day, one of which resulted in a release of what appeared to be a 75 to 100 pound juvenile thresher shark.
“The June Bug” with Captain Lindsay Fuller made it out to the Lindenkohl Canyon with Dante Soriente and friends. The action was fast and furious as they managed to boat some 25 yellowfin tuna. Most were small, but they did box 3 keepers along with several skippies.
The next day Captain Lindsay had the Catanese family from Hunterdon County out. Despite some rough seas they looked for bass in bunker pods, picked up a keeper fluke on the Garden State South Reef, trolled for bluefish at the Barnegat Ridge, and picked up several sea bass at the Garden State North Reef.
Captain Fran Verdi had a full week of anglers. One day he had Tom and Matt Pitzer for a day of sea bassing on the reef. The two brothers were all about catch and release with 46 fish released including 10 in the 14 to 17 inch range.
Another day Captain Fran shared the Huffnagle party, a large group from Pa., on the “Cousins” with Captain Adam Nowalsky on the Karen Ann II.” Capt. Adam fished the waters from 65 to 80 feet and Captain Fran took the waters from 50 to 65 feet.
Capt. Adam ended the day with 40 keeper sea bass, along with a thresher shark that was on the line for a couple of minutes. Captain Fran had 19 keeper sea bass, 4 bluefish, one ling and a keeper fluke. The “Cousins” won the prize for the largest fish, a 3.6 pound sea bass.
Captain Fran was back on the “Dropoff” with the Williams party for some sea bass. He marked plenty of fish but it was hard to get them to bite. He worked 6 areas and managed 10 keepers plus loads of shorts.
Captain Fran finished the week with Lori Dobson’s party and Dave from the “Fish Eye” group. Lori’s two young sons fished hard and managed 4 keeper sea bass. Dave’s group came up empty on stripers but managed to pick up quite a few sea bass including 8 keepers.
Capt. Adam Nowalsky from the “Karen Ann II” reports that fluke are being caught on the ocean in lesser numbers than in the back bays but the percentage of keepers is higher. He says he plans to make the switch from wreck fishing to fluke very shortly.
His recent wreck fishing trips include the Doriety charter which finished the day with a box of 86 fish, mostly sea bass to 3 pounds along with some line and a 12-pound bluefish.
The Sara Madonna Charter, a good group of EMT's fought the rough seas for nearly two dozen keepers for half a morning. The Beskin charter had similar results for half a morning’s fishing.
The Marhan Colangelo Charter from the Long Branch area filled the box with 56 fish, mostly sea bass to 3 pounds along with some nice ling to 2.5 pounds. The Fred Verdi Charter from Lawrenceville kept almost 60 fish, primarily sea bass along with some ling and a bluefish.
The Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association held its first Junior Mate’s Program last week with 8 eager future mates. It is not too late to sign up for this year with another meeting slated for Thursday, July 2 at the Beach Haven Maritime Museum at 7 pm. For information call Captain John Koegler at 609-290-3349.
Additional information on the association can be found at www.BHCFA.com
Email question (newbie-based):
“I hear the expression resident fish. Does that mean they live here year-round? Is it true that having only resident fish makes for very slow summer bassing? ”
Maybe yep, maybe nope.
Though not proven in a court of law, there is a standing conviction that striped bass, while migrating south to north, drop off stragglers along the way, kinda like breadcrumbs. It’s thought that Long Beach Island’s beachfront and inlets get a certain quota of summer bass from the migratory bus. Meet the resident bass.
These resident fish are sometimes depicted as fish that either just didn’t feel like migrating any further or have had it with the crowded conditions on that bus. By making something of an independent move, these stop-and-plop fish establish a bit of an alcove where, for them, it’s summertime and the eatin’ is easy.
From what I’ve seen, there’s a load more behind the fact we catch a few bass all summer, long after migratory front of fish has driven far to the north, i.e. the limited number of migratory drop-offs.
One qualm I have with this summery scenario is the way you can catch resident fish, invite them home for dinner and go back to the same spot and, in no time flat, other “resident bass” have replaced the former fish. That hints that the resident fish concept is a tad more than meets the fishing rod eye. If the strictest resident fish concept is stuck to, the removal of a limited residential population would leave spots bare for the remainder of summer. In reality, there really seems to be a huge recruitment potential.
The resident fish theory is better served by the concept of a summer biomass that hangs hereabouts all season. That biomass can be (and likely is) huge, as opposed to a hypothetical limited showing of a few “resident fish” per jetty from June to September.
The moving north of the spring run of stripers doesn’t mean, by any stretch, that we’re reduced to an angling pittance. It’s more likely that a massive number of fish have settled into a casual residency in Jersey’s nearshore waters. However, unlike during the frantic eating during migration, their summer feeding is done at a far more leisurely pace -- and with a greater familiarity with the surroundings. That familiarity factor looms large since it means these fish are a lot savvier of their territory -- more cautious of oddities, like your plug or bait.
I heard one striped bass scientist explain that resident fish are simply bass that end their migration here due to genetic signals, or triggers. They aren’t migratory dropouts.
By the by, I’m still convinced that the largest of bass have changed their migratory pattern over the past couple decades. I think the mega-bass of the Chesapeake zone come up to about our region (knowing of the bunker bonanza here) then actually drift back southward, into the Delaware Bay drop-off to over-summer. Not to worry, the number of fall fish heading back from up north is now through the ceiling. They might not be the biggest but some mega-cows are still in the mix, guaranteed.