Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Rare (for here) smooth puffer, photo via Lighthouse Sportfishing
Sunday, July 08, 2012: While the temp decrease today isn’t much to speak of, the change in overall conditions is huge. Light north winds, high cloud cover, increase in ocean temps (likely into the 70s by day’s end) and even a modest decline in the total number of folks on the Island, has me pulling out a few plugs for late-day plugging.
The boat chatter is down but the fluke hooking seems to be up.
For the umpteenth day in a row, the keeper count of fluke has been overshadowing the super-high throwback ratio. It’s becomes the Pavlovian concept of behaviorism. By simply sprinkling in some positive reinforcement (keeper fish), an angler will stay fishingly happy until the cows come home – due to that approaching thunderstorm.
The bluefishing has gone kinda crazy toward Barnegat Inlet. And, yes, when they’re in there that think they can even menace fluke baits. However, don’t go home without a few cocktails for the dinner plate. Blues at that size are always excellent eating.
STORM REVIEW: I fully realize there’s nothing new under the sun when it comes to weather. For those of us hooked on weather watching, it comes down to sublte variations that mark one sky event from another.
Last evening’s looker of a T-storm wasn’t overly wicked when compared to some of the thunderquake and lighting action we’ve had in recent weeks, however, it was still a signature storm by my observational rating system. Its distinctiveness was the fully eerie redness the storm seemed to carry along with it.
In Ship Bottom, the skies to the north and northwest looked as if the sun was in the midst of a blazing suns -- over New England and Canada. It was a truly freaky scarlet-orange color. And that wasn’t just my read. Folks on the block agreed they had never seen anything quite like that wall of color.
Then there was the lighting. Admittedly, I’d seen the likes on many occasions but, much like fireworks, it never gets tiring. What was a tad odd was how blazing white and clean the bolts were against that red backdrop. The minimal rainfall made for a crystal clear view of every bolt.
Now into the mystic: This entire weather year (winter, spring and now summer) remains somehow out-there – bordering on weirdly abnormal. No guessing why, short of that go-to global warming blanket term. I’ll venture to say we haven’t seen the end of the oddness.
DON’T SWEAT IT: I got an email with a question I’ve approached in the past: Can fish die when lighting hits the water?
If fish are going to get fried by lighting, so to speak, it’s going to happen in the bay, mainly the shallows.
The ocean is highly absorptive when it comes to taking on even large bolts -- though fish immediately sink to the bottom during lightning storms.
In the bay, larger fish head for channels and deeper holes when things begin to flash. That leaves the little marine creatures, including crustaceans, to sweat out the storm in a please-don’t-hit-here manner.
I have no doubt that large thunderstorms and their cloud-to-ground lighting (technically, cloud-to-water in our case) absolutely annihilates any living things at lightning’s point zero. However, the charge – fanning out 360 degrees -- dissipates very quickly. When you factor in the relative rarity – and low likelihood – of a bolt hitting the shallows, the overall devastation from T-storms is negligible, especially when compared to the inestimable damage done by pollution and such.
That said, humans dumb enough to ride out a wicked storm when in or atop the bay, are seemingly telling storm’s “Pick me! Pick me!” (You gotta watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQjgW8QlHPM)
Barnegat Bay’s light tackle opportunities abound right now with tons of small bluefish around the inlet, lots of fluke inside and more and more weakfish arriving every day. All of this week’s trips were family fishing adventures and there was no lack of catching. On one trip we also found some blues to five pounds which was nothing but a blast on light tackle. The catch of the week goes to the Nelson party who bagged a smooth puffer (picture attached). I will continue to concentrate of flat fish and for those interested I will chum for weakfish. This extremely effective method is unique to Barnegat Bay and is a must do for those that have never experienced this type of fishing. Remember I personalize trips, especially those with children, to ensure a positive experience on the water.
This week turned out to be mostly a bluefish week for us, as small blues ranging from three quarter pounds up to five pounds seem to be all over the place right now. The lack of larger versions of those yellow eyed demons leads me to believe the big ones are offshore doing their annual July spawning thing right now and we should be seeing them back inshore in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we've got the ultralights rigged up and ready to go every time these smaller funsters show their faces.
Monday's back bay fluke trip turned into a bluefish bonanza for Mike DiPasquale and sons Daniel (13) and Patrick (11). With the bay producing only a few short fluke early, a quick move to the inlet put the boys into non-stop bluefish action as Mike and I kept busy for the next few hours unhooking and releasing fish. At one point the boys counted fourteen straight casts that resulted in hookups, and landed well over 125-130 fish in a little over two hours.
Friday we made our first run of the season out to Barnegat Ridge looking for bonito with Lou & Mike Pochettino and Mike's 10 year old son Elliot. While the bonies proved to be elusive, small blues again smacked everything we threw at them and left Elliot with a smile and sore arms. Even high speed trolling couldn't get us past the blues, so the Ridge must be absolutely covered with them right now. Yesterday, trying to get away from that brutal heat inshore, regular George Selph and I made the run south to the Garden State North reefsite looking for fluke but the slow action there eventually had us heading back to the inlet to bend some rods on more bluefish. So I guess you could say I've had the blues all week, but that ain't so bad.
Until next week.
Capt. Jack Shea