Monday, May 18, 2009:
Simply Bassin’ 2009 update: A new website has been created for the Leaderboard. It is still being developed (and yes that’s a long shot as a striper image) but will allow an easy read on what’s up with this event as it heats up. Go to www.fishlbi.com.
It’s cold to the south and hot to the north, then cold further north. That translates into crappy bassing on the South End (after some blazing bass times) and a surge of better bass to the North End, including a highly healthy 36-9 by Simply Bassin’ contestant Robert Massa. See www.fishlbi.com. The “further north” part reflects a super drop in the action on the beaches of IBST, an area that had also been on bass fire for weeks. I’ll add a further south aspect here by noting Brigantine is having a banner bass year in the surf, though a bit quieter of late. They are now seeing cows.
Way late, the cocktails have arrived. Over here, waitress. Bluefish in the 1- 2-pound range are angling toward the South End (bayside) or LBI, though most prevalent over toward Little Beach and even over toward the shoals, outside LE Inlet. I can’t imagine these blues not coming on like gangbusters, rapidly passing into Little Egg, over to the Middle Grounds and bolting northward into Manahawkin Bay. I’ll drop some plastics off the bridges tonight to test the waters. As oft mentioned, these are the blues I keep for delightful dining. I jerky them if I get enough but have yet to find a way to effectively freeze them up, even using the hardwater method – layering them in a cut-open half gallon plastic container and pouring water to the top before freezing.
I looked at another picture of an amazing weakfish taken near the bridges. It was over 15 pounds. I didn’t like that it was kept but got over it instantly when I found out the angler has released over 25 breeder-sized weaks so far this spring. He’s getting this one mounted, seemingly a true mount and not just a replica mold. On a whole, weakfishing is down – though not totally out. Somewhat oddly, the bridge people have found the bassing far more eventful that sparkler-seeking.
Black drumfish are not putting out as well as in recent years but that might well be a combination of weather and weather. The weather is keeping the drum scattered and the weather is keeping the fishing pressure down so it’s heard to see what’s what out there.
There’s this standing non-issue that quietly won’t shake off the hook. A less-than-amiable angler took me to task for calling big black drum “inedible.” He specifically spoke of eating 70-pound drum down in Virginia -- after discretely removing the worm-age. I rebuked my language. I should have specified that I feel they are unappetizing and not inedible. Well, don’t I hear it from some anglers who hale for Virginia and they get on me for implying the folks in Virginia relish eating “big wormy black drum.” They weren’t mean about it but assured “We’ve caught black drum down here for years and only eat the smaller ones, like here in Jersey.” So, I don’t know whom to believe so I’ll simply believe both. Of taste there is no disputing.
Kingfish are showing in Brigantine. Blowfish are few and far between.
Big bunker are not yet organized in nearshore waters. There are more than a few (million) folk waiting for the bass bite related to balled up bunkies. The up side for surfcasters is the way bigger bass hawk the shallows when they can’t lazily feed on billions of baitfish.
There’s already some sky watching as we prepare for Saturday’s shotgun start to fluking. I have no doubt this will be the wildest and woolliest fluking season ever. I don’t base that on the fact the season has been sliced to the bone but also the sheer number of folks I see readying to swoop in on the flatties. I think the more relaxed nature of fluking is suited to anglers who have had a long winter and aren’t quite into the higher energy search for springtime bass and blues.
There are some early signs that our minnow population might be way off. As we’ve seen in recent years, the stock swings of this indispensable baitfish have been running boom and bust. Fortunately, there’s a fairly adequate supply even when stocks are drooping. However, the demand this year is going to be off the books. I can’t picture the supply keeping up with the weekend demands, even if the minnies begin showing. If you have a way to store minnies in a pen – and can keep the otters out – you might want to do so. If you trap them yourself, drop me a line on what you’re seeing within. I should note that GULP! are flying off the shelves. It’s used as both stand-alone bait stuff and to highlight minnies.
By the by, livelining works wonders on bigger fluke. I’m not talking using minnies but larger offerings. As things warm a bit, try to net/hook 15 small-end snapper bluefish – not really tiny, though. Keep them in the well (high aeration if you have control over such things) to liveline along the bottom. It’s best to run them solo, sans squid strips and such. If there are larger fluke around, you’ll soon be bagging them.
I know one top fluker who swears by squid strips and shedder crabs. That’s a bit odd but I can see where it would be both visual and oily. He avoids the high cost of shedders by employing my favorite shedder-finding method: night spotting low-tide shallows. The shedders are almost always flush against hard structure or deeply enmeshed within bottom weed mats. They’re can be easily identified by their lack of defensive posturing when you move a scoop net toward them. Non-shedders haul ass.
As for fishing with fluke to catch fluke, you are allowed to have fluke strips as bait. The strips must be from a legal-sized fish and the exact wrack must accompany the bait. In other words, you have to have the entire body from whence came the bait strips.