Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Sunday, September 18, 2011: looks like the weather won over the weekend. There had been a bit of a tug-a-war between a couple systems, good and bad, and the nasty offshore stuff inched out the niceness. In its wake we have a week of utter iffyness in the sly world. The good side is we shouldn’t get blown out by winds, just a daily chance of boomers amid more moist air.
That said, there are some bass showing along the frontbeach. Poppers are the trick if you’re into plugging. A couple keepers have been taken mid-Island. However, it is still more the exception than the case – both the keeper size and even the enticing of a bass. I actually like to also try out a larger Bomber in black or “smokey.” Smokey Joes are the closets color match you’ll come to the hatch of both mullet and peanut bunker. A good alternative artificial are various Rat’L’Trap type deep diving plugs. These match the baby pompano we get this time of year, sometimes in huge numbers. Clousers flies in black/white or yellow/white should soon rules, per a buddy.
The long-retired “02” Red Fin toning was the most epic mullet color match of all time. I’m always in the market if you happen to have a few of these vintage beauts lying idly around. I don’t care if it’s smooth, rough (scaled) or a bit battered.
Speaking of “a bit battered,” I recently wrote about now-and-again using a vintage plug – obviously one you have quadruples of. I just want to note one of the most prevalent devaluing manages seen on vintage plugs is the famed half-moon gash/scratch above the middle treble and sometimes adjacent to the tail treble. That is essentially a laziness abrasion -- irreparable damage from wind action when you buggy or boat along with the rod in rack or holder and the plug is still tied on. At motoring along at 20 MPH, that treble hook can swing back and forth at hundreds of times a minute, hitting the plug’s surface in the process. The sharper the hook, the worse the scratching. Imagine the damage when driving your vehicle at 50 or 60 mph.
I often hear guys claim those symmetrical surface scratches on plugs are the tooth marks from a big blue. In some rare cases, it can be the result of a blues battle, mainly when you have a huge blue – or even a hyper bass -- on the tail treble and it head shakes to hell and back during landing. But it’s not the fish’s bite marks, it’s the gouges from the loose treble being swung all over the place.
Our fall mullet run skidded to a halt. One day of real decent netting was followed by three days of damn near nada. Another deadbeat mullet run? Say it so.
MULLET MADNESS: I want to put in my annual plug for mullet at bait. They rule in the fall. They can be fished whole on special mullet rigs or hung off one of dozens of different “bluefish rigs,” with or without floats. It sure seems blue like red floats the best.
Whole dead mullet can also be drug/swum along the bottom, where just about every gamefish we have will suck them up.
I have this thing about de-scaling a mullet to release the oils and to also offer more flash. You’ll easily see a scaled mullet has much more color patterning showing, even some light iridescence. However, that’s far from all a mullet can do. Lately, fluke anglers have had very good luck by filleting a mullet and using a single flap side to fish off a fluke rig. It’s working great. Mullet can even be chunked. My largest tourney blues fish, pushing 20 lbs, inhaled a big mullet chunk, beheaded and de-tailed. With the early run of mullet always running large, this chunking is very doable.
Smaller fresh mullet work wonders on late-day weakfish. Again, it seems to me that scratching off scales makes the bait looser, so to speak. It allows fanged sparklers to get a surer first bite, a capture bite. I’ve watched weakfish eat mullet and they capture with a grab (bite down), then they hold the prey, sometimes for a goodly amount of time. To down the prey, weakfish lurch a bit forward as they release their grasps, while simultaneously sucking down the meal. It’s kinda snake-like, enhanced by those fang-like front teeth. If you try to hook a weakie too soon -- and you get those famed fang marks left on the mullet – it shows the fish had grabbed on but hadn’t yet committed to the swallow.
IBSP warning: A fellow I know went up to Island Beach State Park and parked at the furthest down parking area. He went for a short stint on the beach and came back to a busted window in his car and a complete and total cleaning out of the vehicle. The rip-off was so absolute that it had to be pros.
Holgate is very buggyable from mid-dropping to mid-rising, though this wind today will make it tricker due to overwash possibilities. Fishing if slowish, with small blues toward the Rip, a few weaks at the back cut (on mullet) and fluke during tide changes. Clamming in the back is super tough due to poor access. Joe M. has started a driving trail through the phragmites but it's not well marked. The water hasn't been very low since the end opened.