Sunday, September 06, 2009: Waves: rapidly building north wind swell. Clarity: Good but getting roiled royally.
What a difference a yesterday makes. Saturday was just about as nice as the nicety machine can produce. The bay was insane with boat traffic. The Manahawkin Bay party shoal, roughly off the end of 16th Street in Ship Bottom, was the most loaded I’ve ever seen it – using the word “loaded” to cover a few different meaning bases. There had to have been between 75 and 100 vessels snuggled up like tent caterpillars. Other areas of the bay were also abuzz with PWCs and every other sized craft known. It sure seems that many an angler knew the loss of fluking meant it was time to do some family outings.
Today is windblown and seemingly meant to give a perspective on how nice yesterday was.
This is not to imply there was any lack of fishermen out there. The public boat launches were packed. However, the radio chatter was very subdued. I took in some talk of small blues, occasional bass and (dare I say it?) lots of seabass.
I swear all this talk about overfishing of seabass has folks targeting them that have never gone seabass fishing before. They’re just trying to see what the sudden interest in the growingly popular meat fish is all about. And they are “meat fish” since they are surely not caught for sport.
I had two emails about folks keeping fluke in obvious violation of the regs. “We all watched them. They were keeping them until someone actually told them they couldn’t. They claimed to not realize and motored off. I saw them later at it again so I called the state hotline with the boat’s registration. …”
Fir the fiftieth time I want to totally discourage that confrontational approach. Yes, they were likely breaking the law but you just never know what you’re dealing with by confronting someone on the open water. I’ve seen way too many boaters who lose their frickin’ minds if anyone dares to say a thing toward them. Add beer balls to that mix and only bad comes of it.
One of the emails about (possibly) the same illegal flukers, asked a very good question, one that I haven’t a clue about. “Can we call local cops to bust people we know are breaking fishing laws?”
That’s a good one, eh? I will note that a few years back I saw local PD warn snorkelers in the surf who were keeping too-small tog. I won’t go into the details except to say all that was requested by the folks who called those police was to offer a warning. It so happened, one of the officers was an angler.
As to whether or not a police officer can issue a summons if finding someone breaking Fish and Wildlife laws, I have to think that, legally, they absolutely can. Even though fishing “law” is based on a system of rules and regulations, these are “executive law,” which means they are just as powerful as any Legislature-based laws.
By the same token, I have seen local and state police hold violators until Fish and Wildlife officers arrive. My guess that’s more of a jurisdictional thing – and the fact the Fish and Wildlife officers likely know the best way to go about properly summonsing violators.
But enough of all this negativity. The last big weekend of the summer is neigh over and eyes turn toward migrations: mullet first, spearing next, rainfish and peanut bunker thereafter. As for the gamefish, they’re the big variables. The last five years or so we’ve been taunted and toyed with by big stripers and slammer blues that take their good old time in getting here for the fall fun. I’ll repeat that all this current northeast wind has to speed things up quite a bit. Sure, the downwelling keeps warm water in close to the beach but the overall lack of serious solar heating helps the cool-down in the long run.
Here’s an odd and cool report:
“Just wanted to tell you we caught a female Mahi Mahi under my neighbors boat. We were working on his motor and saw it swim by. His daughter put on a piece of Gulp cast it out and caught it. It is now in a bait pail now and doing well! Just thought you might want to know. Joe T.”
Been reading your reports for over 15 years now. Feeling old? I just want to mention that I’ve never seen the fluke fishing pressure I saw this year in the bay and ocean. I will be among the many who scream if our fluke regulations get stricter but I won’t argue that we must have gone way over our catch limit. I say this just to offer another angle on fluking. There are more and more fishermen every year. Things will probably never go back to 16 inch fish at this rate.
(You’re preaching to the choir. An aging choir. You’re among many who say fluking pressure was off the charts this summer. I will offer this supplement to your fears. The soon-to-be saltwater license is meant to really home in on exact number of anglers and what they catch. Nothing good can come from the reality of the recreational fluking pressure.)
“Hope everyone enjoys their Labor Day weekend. I ended this year’s fluke season with a magic hour trip on Thursday. In stiff northeast wind we had a slow pick of short fluke with some cocktail blues mixed in. Saturday I had the Petti Family out including their three daughters: Marley; Corrine; and Miranda, ages 6-9 (see attached picture). We started off targeting weakfish but only managed a few blues. Switching over chumming clams on the hook we had constant action fishing Barnegat Bay’s west side haunts. The girls did a great job not only landing blowfish, several nice sized kingfish, sea bass, and blues but handling the fish once in the boat. The highlight of the trip is when we chummed in a school of two to four pound blues and had them swirling around the boat.
Crabbing remains excellent. After an overnight soak I pulled over 40 keepers from two “Maryland” style pots. The amount of peanut bunker in the bay right now is awesome setting the stage for a great fall run. I will continue to target weaks and all the other species in the bay right now until I switch over to stripers towards the end of the month. Capt. Alex F. Majewski, Lighthouse Sportfishing”