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Thursday, July 23, 2009: Waves: 4-5 feet medium period south swell.
ALERT: The waves and winds are going to be very tricky today as an ongoing groundswell builds and a nasty little storm zips up the coast. Look for winds to reach 20 mph from the east-northeast.
The bigger bugaboo is going to be the wave action. There is a powerful south groundswell already. This will get royally roiled from the hard NE winds hitting it head on. The winds are calm this a.m. so fishing is doable but getting through the inlets will be tricky to downright hairy on the south end near Beach Haven Inlet. Even tomorrow, when the winds got more offshore, the swells will be significant. Also, there could be occasional bolts of lighting at any time during the passage of this storm. In other words, it’s a spooky day for small craft to mess around and not the best day for anything offshore since that’s where the passing storm will be worst.
There is also a flood warning indicating large tidal water exchanges. We’re in a new moon phase already (high astronomical tides) and the recent groundswell has already stacked a lot of water in the bay. As noted in recent months, this packing of tides is a great thing for the bay as a moderate water exchange is taking place, cleaning out polluted waters that have plagued us the last couple summers.
Fluking remains predictably consistent – and is holding steady with a fair to poor keeper ratio. Checking with numerous sources, it is upbeat to note that now and again this boat or that steps in it and all but loads up on larger fluke. There is absolutely no doubt that larger fish school together, though a better word might be pools together since it could be as much prime forage areas being worked by the larger fish which drive out smaller ones. Unfortunately there is seemingly no way to target these pools of better fish, which also tend to move out of a given area quickly, as indicated by anglers being keeper-successful one day and keeperless at the same zone the following day.
For a few years running, GULP! is the prime bait chatter. And it’s not like the fake-o bait is achieving unanimous acclaim. I have a load of folks swearing by it while (some) others say it all but sucks when compared to the real thing. Favorable reports are the majority, though.
I’m wondering if there is a right and wrong technique to using it. I’m even wondering about the random storage methods used, with some folks caring for it (keeping it out of direct sunlight and from overheating) while others throw it just about anywhere until it’s time to use.
My favorite GULP! usage is still as an enhancement to a nice jig, like a Spro -- far and away my choice as the finest made jigs now out there -- though I sometimes tame what seems an over-stacking of bucktail on some Spros by thinning it out a bit via strategic scissor snips.
As with all great fishing products, I’m just waiting for a Spro money-savings move to lower quality on hooks, enamel or such. Example of quality decline: Having been a life-long fan of Hopkins spoons/jigs, I still recall the quantum quality drop when the company moved away from the top-grade stainless steel they had used for decades by resorting to a baser (steel) metal that actually corrodes. I noticed that quality decline while using a metal detector on the beach after storms. Dating clear back to the 60s, Hopkins lures would traditionally come out of the wet sand looking as shiny and pit-less as the day they were born, though the hooks would usually be rotted off. Then, sometime in the 80s, I began finding discolored and badly pitted – all but eaten out -- Hopkins, sometimes with hooks still attached, meaning they had not been buried that long. The new metal alloy was hideous when compared to what it had been. I would just chuck them. The thing was the price just kept rising even with the junkish FE factor.
I had a call from a fishery biologist who wholeheartedly agreed the black seabass pressure is off the charts. He said there will likely be potentially radical restrictions on the fishery very soon, though they should not be nearly as Draconian as tog regs. My main concern remains the “hatch” this summer inside the bay. I believe conditions in the bay (nitrogen levels down) are ideal for successful spawns. However, clearer water does create a vulnerability factor should a heavy showing of predatory weakfish move in, followed by massive numbers of fluke and eventually doubly massive numbers of striped bass as young-of-year migrate outwards.
Both gray triggerfish and porgies are making a very significant showing this summer. Porgies are frequently showing in the bellies of larger fluke. I had two folks send pictures of partially digested porgies that anglers couldn’t identify.
A huge showing of ocean herring is taking place near Barnegat Inlet. The herring are on some small baitfish, likely smalls spearing or rainfish, and have some anglers thinking there are bluefish blitzing as birds go crazy above the feeding frenzies. While I’d like to say we sure have no shortage of ocean herring that could imply that commercial fishing should begin on them. As you likely know, herring are fished industrially. Factory ships can annihilate stocks in nothing flat. I’m still not convinced that ocean herring are a major component of striper diet. Sure, bass will grab an injured one in a heartbeat but herring are among the fastest fishes in the sea. If you’ve ever watched them feeding on surface forage, it’s downright astounding how fast they flash in and out of view. By the time your eyes even register a herring flash, it’s back down to the bottom. Bass just ain’t that fast. Blues might give them a run for the money, though.
This coming week is the White Marlin Invitational. Better sign up now. It’s a big fish, big money event. The showing of the closer-in blue fin tuna means that smaller vessels are also in the near the boat that it looked like some insane neon sign. Folks will likely be heavily using Carolina trolling techniques this year, dropping back insane distances. I sure don’t know how you can get enough hooking power with a couple football fields worth of line out. Those big game guys amaze me.
Related email: (Good to hear from our buddy Potter R.)
Took a ride to the Chicken Canyon on Monday, 7/20 looking for Bluefin that we heard were there firsthand on Sunday. Had 2 knockdowns and landed a skippie. Lots of skippies breaking water, whales and porpoises but had no bluefin. On the way back in spotted some life and went back up on the troll. Hooked up and lost a schoolie bluefin at the back of the boat and went back up on the troll and landed a beautiful 47" bluefin with a 28" girth. Based on some charts on the internet we calculated the fish at between 60-70 lbs. Great day on the water. Potter R”