Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Sunday, July 11, 2010. Way nicer than yesterday’s aggravating drippiness. That had to be the least dedicated rainfall in years. For hours on end it just kinda hemmed a drip and hawed a light shower. You could easily fish through it but, a bit like Chinese water torture, it eventually got so aggravating that even sitting back home with the in-laws was preferable.
And talk about aggravating, the fluking has taken on ratios as bad as any we’ve suffered through in recent years. I had guesstimates of 40-to-one throwback-keeper ratios from west Barnegat Bay over to Barnegat Inlet and down to Little Egg. Out of the norm, it seemed better take-home numbers were being found inside Little Egg, though absolutely nothing approaching salute-worthy levels.
The surf still have loads of flatties, with a modest showing of keepers. However, the significant swell we’ve had over the past few days has made it much tougher to work the swash, where surfside fluke gather. Where jigging and even dead-stick baiting had been working, the best chance now is the side-arm cast and retrieve method, using spearing and squid on typical curved fluke hooks. Metal blades increase the visuality factor. Keep the leader a tad shorter to prevent “shallows.”
I recently got oddish reports of small bass seen lazily swimming in shallow water along the beach. That was during lake-like conditions, before the wave action picked up. Three different people (north end) noted the bass, numerous in some cases. The fish were literally in among bathers. “I’ve never seen that before,” said one angler, who was doing family beach duty, sans fishing gear. “The kids saw them first and would chase (the bass), which would just swim a short distance away and go back to feeding.”
While I’ve often written about how totally tame bass are when feeding near the jetties -- allowing snorkelers to get very close -- I can’t say I’ve ever seen them routinely nosing idly about in the bathing beach swash. I’m guessing, by the smaller size of the bass, that some sort of hatch was in play, maybe sandcrabs or the likes. I’ve caught bass so filled with sandcrabs their bellies were distended.
Despite those visual bass, nobody anywhere is banging bass. Though there had been some decent stripering near the North Jetty (Barnegat Inelt), I got this report today, confirming other bass and fluke findings:
“I pulled my trawl today and had a good showing of shrimp, crabs and baby fluke. I set up on the north jetty and there was some real big time current ripping in by 7 AM. Could not draw a touch from a bass. No one else was working the inside of the rocks. I guess I should have known. I then drifted the inlet on the south side and had about 20 short fluke and probably toyed with another 20 in a little over and hour. The last one I caught missed by an inch and took it right at the sandbar cutting over to the lighthouse from the channel. Walter P.”
Fluke fishing in the bay continues to be outstanding in terms of the number of fish being caught, although the 18" minimum size has meant we needed to pick through a good number of fish in order to have a few in the box by the end of the morning. With so many throwbacks, I decided to raise the fun level of catching these fish by switching over to extremely light fresh water gear that makes even a small fluke feel like a monster. Sure, we miss a few fish this way but there's something about hearing a screaming drag while fluke fishing that's downright intoxicating.
We had two trips cancel this past week due to the brutally hot weather, but still managed to get three trips in. On Monday, Louis Pochettino came out from Gulph Mills, PA with son Dave and grandson Alex and the guys hauled 45-50 fluke over the side topped by Lou's 22 incher. On Friday, Jim and Gene Karaman were out from Lansdale, PA with Jim's daughter Christine, and Team Karaman landed another 40+ fluke despite dealing with a wind against tide situation most of the morning. Then yesterday, George Selph and Bob Keller were back looking to try some ocean side fluke fishing, but when lack of any drift had nothing but skates coming over the side (except for a nice fat out-of-season 8.5# tog that fell for the captain's jig), we finished up the morning back in the inlet where the guys banged almost 40 fish in a little more than an hour. As hot as the weather was last week, bay fluking was even hotter! Hopefully we'll get a few more weeks of this in. It's way too much fun.
Capt. Jack Shea
Barnegat Bay Fishing Charters