GREATLY APPRECIATED: It’s that annual humbling time when I seek donations to keep this site running through the coming year. I have no sponsors -- outside those who read and support the site. This is my only fund-drive. Any and all donations go toward the website. And financial support is needed.
222 18th Street
Ship Bottom, NJ
Saturday, November 15, 2008: Waves: rapidly building out of the south with nasty southerlies as a cold front approaches – the first seriously chilly cold front (actually a secondary cold front related to the first will usher in tamps way below freezing at night by midweek, however, another south-influx bubble of unseasonably warm air could form in the Midwest shortly after that.
Let’s stay weather for a minute. We’re taking yet another weekend beating – pity the poor charter folks. They’re still trying to get out there but they’re taking the brunt of what is becoming a noticeable unfishing-friendly fall. Some surfcasters are willing to go one-on-one with the elements but the bailout rate is high, as easily half of all wanna-go-fishermen aren’t geared to get rain- and wind-whacked. Sky stuff is particularly tough on elder anglers. This week, as noted above, will have a whole different feel as we feel the first pokes of fall night freezes. This impacts me since I go in after the cranberry harvests and collect the loads of missed berries that blow onto the banks of the bogs. They’re incredibly good – until a deep freeze bloats them when they thaw. By the by, you need permission to grab that excess. Most farms will say “Sure, grab all you want” when you ask.
The fish are still out there – and loving the boil of the beachfront waters. From clam-sucking stripers to always-snipping slammers, a stir means supper is being served. However, getting the gumption to go after them mixed with the way roiled fish tend to get spread thin – no blitzes during storm times -- we won’t see massive weigh-ins.
Here’s what Joe H. was doing:
After Tuesday's great day of surf action, Wednesday totally died off. We did have fish blow up in front of us at the end of the day in south BH, but poorly performed boat maneuvering by the boat guys behind the bar quickly broke up the breaking fish. Thursday started of with a bang in the BB surf with both bunker rods going down in the first 10 minutes. Landed a pair of 28" bluefish. Action died so I moved to BH. The weather was just starting to go south and the birds made up in the same area as Tuesday. It was raining hard and the wind was picking up and the dream scenario was unfolding in front of me. Birds everywhere and fish breaking under them. Did a mention there was not a sole in sight for miles?
I waded out on to a bar and cast...and cast...and cast. WTF??? Not a hit, nothing. The fish weren't as visible as the rain was picked up. I was like a mad man going through my plug bag. I threw metal, swimmers, shad bodies, poppers and bounced 3 oz bucktails on the bottom thinking bass were cruising below the bait. Zippo.
I ran back got the chunk rods with fresh bunker, tossed into the birds.....and zero. Frustrated, I ran back a bit north to Town and settled on a piece of bar that I've caught some fish on. Not long after I had the first bite. Landed a bluefish of 6lbs. Then right at dark the weather came on like a freight train. It has happened to me hundreds of time before. If you are set up and in the right spot right when the weather turns horrendous, the fish commit suicide. In the next hour, I caught a dozen bluefish. Strange thing was the fish were all in the 4-6lb range, quite small for this time of year. All were released.
Friday, I set up in BB early morning in good looking conditions. In four hours I got 1 bite right as I was leaving. I landed a 26" bass. That's about it. Friday afternoon I ran over to the Viking factory to pull our boat for the winter. As we were pulling out of the slip I see an adult bunker getting chased across the surface. I tear apart the boat for a spinning rod and a plug of some sort. All I come up with is a 5" fin-s. First cast into the basin and it gets blasted. The fish cuts me off on a piling. After a quick search I find a metal stingsilver that I use in Hatteras. I tied that on and cast away. As I retrieve I can feel the lure bounce off fish. I sweep the rod and bam! Needless to say I have plenty of fresh bunker for the weekend. Can't believe adult bunker are that far up the river. They are really close to fresh water. Going out tonight in the fog.
I’ll throw in this recent-past pro report to further show how hook-crazy it had gotten out there.
“11/11/08: 75 Blues 28 Stripers. Another amazing day of action! Out today with with a great bunch of guys from PA. We caught bass and blues until their arms were ready to fall off! Come and get them now while it is this good. There is so many fish out there right now. We caught most jigging, but we also caught them just as well or even better on Tony Majas Bunker Spoons.
“11/9/08: 150 Blues 31 Stripers and even One 4 1/2 LB. FLUKE!!!! We got them good today! I was out today with a charter from PA., Levi Bonnice and friends. We had non-stop jigging action all day long! The best part was no other boats were even in sight for most of the day. I was in 65' of water and 54 degree water. We caught all fish jigging with diamond jigs, Storm shads, and Tony Majas Bunker spoons, my new sponsor. We caught a total of about 150 bluefish ranging in size from 5 lbs to 14lbs. Most were over 10 lbs however. We also landed 31 bass, of which only 6 were keepers. The biggest bass was 35 lbs and also caught one at 30 lbs. All other keepers were about 28"-33" All released bass were just under by a hair at 27.999" PLUS we caught one 4.5 lb fluke on a diamond jig, which was of course also released. We had non stop action ALL DAY LONG! I only had about a half hour time that I switched over to wire line trolling, because of a slow down in action jigging at mid day. But that didnt last long at all. In fact we couldnt keep Tony's Bunker spoons in the water without big blues jumping on them! Thanks Tony!
Capt. John A. Cafiero
Incredible thanks to the fellow who sold me some superb vintage Red Fins. He only wanted a few bucks for them even after I told him they were worth more. He doesn’t fish. They had belonged to his uncle. Get this: He had about half a dozen left after “throwing hundreds out when he was cleaning the garage last year.”
Decoy note: In the past couple months I’ve seen some utterly astounding sidebar vintage carving by some of the areas most famed decoy carvers. For whatever reason, it was hugely popular way back in the day to carve spittin’ image of bay clams. If you’ve ever seen carved clams you know of what I speak. These amazing wooden works of folk art look so much like clams you absolutely couldn’t visually pick one out of a basket filled with the real things. I bid on one I thought I could grab for a few bucks but was left in the dust as money fiercely flowed -- far beyond my sub-humble capacity.