Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Sunday, September 17, 2017: Well, the busy time of my year is over … now things get really busy ... Where have the mullet gone?

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Sunday, September 17, 2017: Well, the busy time of my year is over … now things get really busy.

From sunrise to sunset I’m on the mullet trail. To no avail, to date. More on their absence in my weekly column.

As to guessing why the mullet aren’t running -- or even idly strolling by, for that matter – I don’t want to jump the gun. It could just be this late warmth has them cozy … in-place, bayside. Here’s hoping that’s all it is.

Below: When all is right in the mullet migration.

Not that many years back, we had a fall mullet run that came and went in less than a week.

Here's five years ago when all was well in the mullet world: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=63vJz7nL7yQ&t=185s

And when things were insane on the mullet front: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnWvnPVBfmw

A failed mullet migration doesn’t mean a whole lot in the big fall-fishing scheme of things. However, it can hurt the in-shop frozen mullet stocks for the upcoming nine-week (count ‘em) Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic. What’s more, we should soon be into cocktail/tailor/eater blues, when mullet (frozen and fresh) is always one of the most effective baits.

Image result for mullet rig bluefishing

On the other side of the forage fish coin is a showing of bayside peanut bunker that folks highly knowledgeable in bayside maritime matters say they’ve never seen the likes of before. I’ve seen the water-riling showing of peanuts around bayside Harvey Cedars, where schools skimming the surface are all over the place.

I’ll go upbeat by noting I’ve seen more autumnal gamefish activity focused on baby bunker schools than I’ve ever seen on mullet – that is once the peanuts finally decide to move into the ocean or inlets, which can be well into fall. Of course, this year, we’ll be fishing the Classic into December … so let the peanuts leave late. We’ll be waiting beachside.

Image result for peanut bunker

Question to myself: Could an over-presence of bunker fry/young-of-year in the bay impinge on the mullet population? I fully realize that the Mid-Atlantic seaboard’s y-o-y mullet showing is predicated on mullet larvae being blown into the bay from the Middle Atlantic Bight. That takes place in the spring. However, that’s not to say certain harmful ecosystem interactions won't take place upon their arrival in the bay. Peanut bunker and mullet run in the same circles. Yes, I’m being paranoid. It’ll all go away once the mullet begin to flow freely.

As to fishing, no sooner do I get all hyped over some slammer blues in our local system than those choppers go missing, based on reports from those who had been catching them.

Image result for chopper bluefish

Micro-snappers (blues) are so thick I can nab a dozen of more in a single cast net (Holgate) … if I were so inclined, which I’m definitely not. Those little buggers can rip a net to shreds, especially when they resort to using their patented bulldog, clampdown bites on the mono – and need to have their jaws pried open to clear them from the net.

The blowfish bite near Barnegat Inlet remains hot. Dozens can be had in a single chum session. It’s not a popular fishery but sure can be fun – especially during afternoon BBQs.

The few kingfish being taken in a hurricane-riled ocean are oddly small. I say “oddly” because they had been running large to jumbo. Tradition has the small ones showing first, then the larger models.

Image result for small northern kingfish

I guess that leads to the 800-pound gorilla in the surfcasting room. As I wrote over a week ago, H. Jose has been in it for the long wave-generating haul. While the surf has yet to get huge – that could still happen this week – the waves are moving a lot of water. Yes, some waves move far more water than others. Ground swells, especially steady long-term groundswells, like we’re seeing, literally get the entire nearshore ocean moving … powerfully. That means rip current far beyond the handleability of the average bather.

The highly agitated ocean also means lead, i.e. you’ll need a load of it to hold bottom when surfcasting.

What’s more, the waves busting on the sandbars are impregnable to the average beach-based caster. I have seen some folks wading out to try to lay some bait past the breakers. Stay safe. The problem there is the lack of larger fish – large enough to offer an easily detected bite through all the wave action.

That sorta leave Holgate; make that a near fishless Holgate. I’ve plugged and then some. Nada. Not even a bycatch (and release) fluke. Not helping matter, the water temps coming out of the bay today was 73.4 degrees. The south end frontbeach isn’t much cooler. 

GO TO: http://www.lbift.com/tournament.php?id=1477


Lighthouse Sportfishing LBI Report 9/17

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Did a magic hour trip during the week. Started outside along the beach trolling for false albacore and the likes. Even when trolling @ 8-9 mph I could not keep snappers off the line. Moved out to deeper water and I still was covered up by snappers. Might be the most snappers I have seen in my life this year. Moving back inside found schoolie bass blowing up before sunset and into the dark. Saturday I had Doug Chittenden and friend out. After loading the livewell with live bait we headed out in the morning fog. On a side note if you or you Captain are not loading the livewell this time of year you are missing out. I have written before about Florida style fishing in making bait for a trip and there is no better time than now with peanuts, mullet, and snappers. The Debbie M is a born and raised custom Florida boat and I like to fish that style as much as possible. One of her custom features is a 50-gallon oval livewell (standard was 25 gallon) that keeps the water moving in a true circular fashion. This is important with live baits such as peanut bunker since they do best in a circulating livewell. The other feature is that when full with 50 gallons, the water does not slosh when the lid is down. This minimizes the baits from getting “beat up” when the boat is rocking & rolling. I can keep 500 + peanut bunker healthy with almost no dead loss. No back to my report……… We did not find the bass cooperating as much as my magic hour trip but we did score (picture attached). One issue I see with the local bass and weakfish population going all out right now is water temperature. The ocean is still in the low 70’s and the bay is back up to 76. The second part of the trip we were able to work the inlet even though the tide was ebbing and a swell from Jose was coming in. Most of the swell was getting picked off by the South Bar which helped. Did a number on the bluefish from husky 3-4 pounders to racers in the 7-9 pound class. I think the racers are fish that spent the summer in Barnegat Bay and are starting to come out. Prior to this, all the blues caught aboard the Debbie M all summer were feeding well on the abundance of bait around the inlet. The blues that stayed in the bay had to deal with water temperatures above their optimum and not as much forage causing them to lose weight. All in all, two great trips by just going fishing. Oh, and a lot of catching. Give me a call if you want to head out and go fishing.

Screaming drags, Capt. Alex 609-548-2511


Jean Deery Schaum
Terry getting it "done" today. Sheepshead and a blackfish. That sure will taste good this winter


Some delays on Route 9 near Beachview Ave. due to a boat rolling off a trailer. No injuries but lots of curious onlookers. Expect delays!


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