Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Happy Independence Day ... You don't hear it called it that much any more. Wonder why?
Thursday, July 04, 2019: That was one of the finest July 4ths on LBI in the entire history of New Jersey, going back to the last Ice Age if not earlier. And by the looks of the crowds on beach areas like Centre Street, Beach Haven, not a sole in the state missed it. Even the selectively populated beaches of Harvey Cedars – my volleyball grounds – had decent peopleage.
The ocean waters along the en-massed beaches played along nicely with the skies. It was pushing mid-70s thanks to ever so light east winds. Those onshore will continue to ramp up the water temps, possibly hitting 80 – though Holgaters recorded an 80 today. By tomorrow, the winds will slowly get more authoritative out of the SE as the day goes on, possibly honking one good by evening.
Saturday is looking a touch iffy wind- and sky-wise. It won’t be a loss by any stretch, just trickier for fishing and such, especially when thinking ocean fluking.
There should be some stellar sharking after dark tonight. The clear water and all the bathers stomping around on low ride sandbars seem to draw in the night browns and sand tigers.
Tomorrow early a.m. will be excellent for a masked swim parallel to the beach. When I used to take that swim almost daily, during clear or turbid conditions -- not only would I see plenty of bass, fluke, kingfish and sharks (I’m talking jetty/groin days) but I’d find ghostly looking bills – as in money – corpsed out on the bottom, escapees from mainly men bathers losing money from their swimming shorts. Hey, I’ve lost more than a few bills that way.
Fluking is, well, as fluking always is: Loads of shorts with some mighty fine keepers and even doormats mixed in. I’m told there is no rhyme or reason to where keepers are more prevalent. Sometimes it’s the captain’s insights that make the day.
Despite worthy harvesting efforts by our local commercial fishermen, the smooth dogfish presence has become insane. Whatever the secret is to their reproduction, species is in a whole other repopulating dimension than most slow-breeding sharks. As to what they eat, along with being eat-most-anything scavengers, they will gladly kill crabs, as I’ve seen them do.
Dogfish make decent eating but must be cleaned quickly – and they’re hard as hell to skin. Once properly cleaned, they must also be cooked up ASAP.
Yes, I know the commercial method whereby the skinned meat is fast frozen, for a week or more, then thawed for market or cooking. This supposedly tones down any ammonia presence, something common to dogfish – and most sharks – if not quickly cleaned. It has to do with easily broken bladders and accompanying urine dispersion. Yes, that’s yuck but worst things happen at sea(food).
Apparently deep-freezing works when you’re not ready to have “huss” for dinner that same night. “Huss” is the British term for dogfish, most commonly used in the expression “huss cakes,” fishcakes made from thawed dogfish meat.
I’m a bit surprised that the cownose stingray showing is all but absent. And we’d surely spot those massive schools in this clear water. For now, other types of sometimes huge stingrays are dominating the night bite and even grabbing daylight fluke baits. They can be fought on light gear and small hooks mainly because of their tough mouth skin, once a hook is within, there’s no simple removal even when landed. Many folks say ray meat is dining material. I’ve tried twice (cow-nosed) with as little success as I’ve had trying to make small false albies palatable. I’ve had much better luck with barn skate.
Cobia continue to offer a quite-nice touch of variety for Jersey Shore boat, beach and bay (?) anglers. Boats are finding these non-schooling fighters spread far and wide. They are loners so hooking one is usually a one-and-done event. I was told that yet another cobia was caught on the beach. I think it was taken on LBI but I only got a photo with little info. I’m still trying to figure out if a couple smaller cobia were caught inside Barnegat Bay, based on some enigmatic reports suggesting same. It seems unlikely but this year has already offered a load of odd-fish reports.
A quick science note, a cobia is its own genus. Ditto bluefish. Cobia make up the genus Rachycentron and the family Rachycentridae. To me, they really don’t look like many other species, though they’ve been called black kingfish, black salmon, ling, lemonfish, crabeater, prodigal son and black bonito (per Wiki). I’m guessing some of those are market names.
Jim Hutchinson Sr.
Summer has arrived in Beach Haven in force with typically high temperatures and a wide variety of fish for anglers fishing on the boats of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association.
Fluke are being caught in both the bay waters and in the ocean. Throwbacks still vastly outnumber keepers, but patience rewards those who work at it. The black sea bass season is back in, and although the daily limit is just two, at least we can keep some of legal size. Other fish making appearances in inshore waters include weakfish, bluefish, a few cobia, Spanish mackerel, and even some bonito. In addition, the tuna are lighting up the offshore waters.
The action has been improving for the head boat “Miss Beach Haven” captained by Frank Camarda. Keeper fluke are becoming common. A look at a recent day’s catch includes keepers to 4.2-pounds along with tons of dogfish, black sea bass, sea robins, and a few weakfish. The big excitement was a 20-pound class cownose ray. On one trip, a 5.25-pound fluke ruled the roost.
Captain John Lewis on the “Insatiable” reports the weather and the fishing have improved with a mix of fluke, sea bass and blowfish. The fish are moving around, and he works several spots to find locations with fish. His last half hour on a recent trip was non-stop action with seven fluke including two keepers. He is anxious to get in on some of the hot tuna fishing he has heard about.
Captain Carl Sheppard had the Horowitz family out recently on the “Star Fish” and the group caught over 30 fish. Included in the mix were many nice sized black sea bass.
Captain Alex Majewski of “Lighthouse Sportfishing” reports the fluking in the bay has been improving. However, the strong northwest wind means he must use power drifting for success. Captain Alex says he has been surprised by the presence of Atlantic thread herring. These bait fish are usually found much further south, He is still finding bluefish in the 5-6-pound range.
Captain Brett Taylor has been finding loads of action drifting for fluke in the Barnegat Inlet waters and channels leading to it. Despite winds that are often fighting the tides, he has been using his trolling motor with great success to find the fish. He is often fishing two parties a day with catches over 25 fluke common. Catches of 2-6 keepers a day seem to be the rule of thumb.
Captain Jimmy Zavacky had the “Reel Determined” 80 miles out looking for tuna recently. They found the fish to be plentiful and feisty. They ended the trolling trip with a bigeye tuna weighing 100-pounds and six nice yellowfin tuna ranging in weight from 30-60 pounds. He was fishing green squid spreaders, plugs, ballyhoo, a bomber and daisy chains.
Action from start to finish! Spanish Mackerel, stripers, blues and fluke all in just 3 hours!!