Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Sunday, November 03, 2013: What a cool-down. Here’s video from yesterday when I was short-sleeving it in Holgate, air temps into the 70s. http://youtu.be/Ha6KPfX5hGQ
Many folks are no longer grumbling over the lack of fish – they’ve just given up the grumble. They’ve gone from denial to anger to bargaining to acceptance. Not that the acceptance isn’t spiced with some lingering grumbling but it’s now clear that even the grumbling isn’t doing squat.
Along with acceptance comes a far healthier waitingness. Many folks continue to anticipate the arrival of bass and blues, in a better-late-than-never train of thought.
The problem for a number of fine folks I know is their time here has run out -- fishlessly. They set aside the entire month of October to blast the bass and pound the blues. Part of that strategy had to do with the weather still being accommodating enough to allow their spouses to also have Islandish things to do. A swing and a miss, this year – back to the off-Island dugout.
Now it’s down to those of us who do that balancing act between work and patrolling the beach for fish. That is most often characterized by full-blown work vehicles --- with company names on the sides – holding rod racks, loaded and ready. Back when we actually had fish, it was common to see roofers and home builders drop their duties and bolt over to a nearby blitz – an LBI tradition.
Once again, I’ll go that out-on-a-limb route by portending that this coming week might be the start of surfside bassing. I’m going purely on the dropping air temps, diminishing day lengths, good looking water conditions and, most of all, the friggin’ law of averages. It’s gotta start any minute now, damnit all.
Interesting late-start sidebar: Note, when driving over to the mainland, that the foliage is just now beginning to reach full fall color. In those way-late hues, you might also see what’s ailing our angling. Autumnal things are far behind schedule. The other day in the woods I was swiping away mosquitoes. I even heard some spring peepers (frogs) that had totally lost their seasonal bearings.
A fair question was brought up the other day: Could this lousy run of bait (talkin’ mullet and baby bunkies) be effecting the bass arrival? While it seems logical, I don’t think so, at least in the case of bass. The fish simply aren’t on-scene to even realize the foraging is slim.
It’s also fair to ask where the big bass biomasses are at. We like to use the answer that “They’re up north.” Hey, they’re not knocking them dead up that way either. Are massive bass schools hunkering down in deeper EEZ waters? That could be one explanation but why are they out there instead of being where they should be, when they should be. Of course, if the bassing explodes in coming weeks we can quit wasting time wondering why. Works for me.
I’ve gotten slew of comments from folks saying they’re seeing bass swirling in the shorebreak but can’t get them to bite. I’m close to certain they’re seeing the fairy numerous ocean herring now arriving, chasing small spearing. Herring can make a very decent surface splash/stir – which looks even larger when seen by anglers Jonsing for any action at all.
As to those herring, I’ve never seen these super aggressive feeders in so close to the swash. They’re usually out further from the sand. It seems they’re not finding the forage they’re used to this time of year, despite what seems to be a fine showing of spearing. What might be missing are the slower, more balled up, bay anchovies, a.k.a. rainfish. I think herring have one helluva time singling out speedy spearing, whereas rainfish cluster in a can’t-miss bait cloud.
As for the no-show bluefish, there are so many long-term factors affecting the pulsating population of this species it’s neigh impossible to ferret out what might be called a single-season reason for their not showing. Not only can they come-and-go over a mere few-year stretch, but they can also go for huge time slots, even decades. In the case of bluefish, it would be too easy – and too inaccurate – to blame overfishing. There’s way more in play. In fact, I can make a strong case for ecological attrition due to the perpetuation of what I call highly-favored species, like fluke, bass and even weakfish. All those heavy-eaters feast on tiny snapper blues, not to mention the famed bluefish cannibalism factor. As ferocious and aggressive as bluefish seem, it’s not easy being one.
The Holgate Rip has returned to something close to normalcy -- after having been noncommittal on where it wanted to be for weeks on end. I plugged if for 25 casts with nothing indicating the fishing there is returning to normal.
Maybe I just never heard of this striper bait before ...
Hardhead minnows had a good summer if this migration is an indication: