Tuesday, December 01, 2020: Quite a one-day blow, ushering in what could be many days of typical late-fallness – and a load of unseasonable striper fishing. There is a distant jet stream indicator that quite a chill might befall us by late next week, though night temps even then still won’t be shiveringly cold.
I take heat when I bring it up but there remains a possibility/likelihood there will be no full-blown winter into the end of December, short of those few brisk days/nights. Hey, many folks want a winter worthy of a fine hunker down – and an upflaming of the fireplace.
Along a hard-freeze line of thinking, it has long been thought that a good solid bay freeze-over cleans things up, ecologically. While I‘ve never seen science to firmly back that up, hundreds of years of baymen observations should account for something. Of course, we now have the issue of more coyotes crossing over a frozen solid bay. And they can surely make the cold-footed crossing in under an hour of darkness.
RUNDOWN: Striped bass are heavily present hereabouts, speaking of the high impact zone from roughly Seaside Park down to Brigantine. It has become one of the finest striper falls in many years.
Surfcasters are showing their stripes, aplenty, though it’s hard keeping count of exactly how many mongo linesiders have hit LBI beaches since the weighing in of larger so-called trophy fish must now be rapidly done on the beach, prior to hasty regulatory releases. The main source of catch-and-release info comes via photographs, which offer living proof of general size. I’m conservatively guessing half a dozen fish over 40 pounds have hit the beach.
For seafood folks, a goodly slew of keeper slot fish have moved in, even though this is often the time of year there is often nothing but schoolies, most less than 24 inches. As of the fist part of this week, a huge bass biomass is juts to the north. On the sly: Areas of Barnegat Bay are loaded with schoolies. Bob C. had over 50 in one long night session.
Boat bassing remains hot – and large. There’s no overlooking the widespread photo evidence of trophy fish galore. Boat-friendly wind conditions should prevail for as tint extending through the first week to 10 days of December. He advised that many headboats and smaller charters are staying on the fish until winter solidly steps in.
The scattering redfish, aka red drum, what we used to call channel bass, is adding not just fine variety to surfside fishing but also a wonderful hue. These tail-spot gamefish are coming out of the water in a sparkling hue, real lookers. They are going for chunk baits, mainly bunker chunks and clam gobs. It is neigh impossible to target them. While a schooling fish, the numbers now moving south from up north – and heading to the Carolinas – are not massive. This means it’s usually one and done after a hookup, tough one LBI surfcaster had two in fairly short order. Only one red drum between 18 and 27 inches can be kept daily. The flesh is dang decent, made so much better by blackening. The consummate recipe and technique can be found at louisianacookin.com/blackened-redfish. The meat of red drum does not freeze all that well, though quickly deep freezing large chunks is better than allowing it to waste away in the fridge, where three to four days is the top fresh storage limit.
On a sour note, piss-poor bluefishing has outdone itself this year. Where thousands upon thousands were taken as recently as ten years back, it wasn’t even worth taking a count this fall. Even though a meager few were caught by boat anglers, their disappearance has been all but finalized. When they might return is up to forces and factors so unknown that modern research can’t offer a clue in hell. There have been bluefish disappearances that have last 25 years or more. Other bluefish areas of the planet that had not been seeing a decline are now noticing a reduction in numbers. Again, it’s an AWOL mystery that has been going on for centuries on end.
South end snowy owl is showing up in the duneline of Holgate proper, i.e. the populated area. I wonder if that’s due to the bizarre and worrisome lack of shorebirds on the refuge. I have written that there is little if any birdplay where there is usually a ton of smaller fliers flitting around. Snowies thrive by dining on small birds during their winter stay here. I have opened many snowy boluses – regurgitated stomach content balls. Bird feathers in nearly every one.
It seems there’s only one snowy, based on reading the markings on the one I first photographed on the refuge, now being photographed in the dunes.
Speaking of the refuge, Forsythe authorities are getting miffed at the dog presence. Despite signage clearly stating no dogs, violators are running rampant, including those even allowing dogs to run the dunes.
Be advised that enforcement will be picking up.
HARDCORE LOCAL NOTES: Both the Ship Bottom Volunteer Fire Company and the Surf City Volunteer Fire Company are running concurrent Christmas tree sales – starting soon, though tree arrivals are running late for whatever reason.
There is a touch of tension – hopefully nothing serious – between the competing companies, Ship Bottom having led the way in Christmas trees sales. My thinking is there should be plenty of customers for both efforts, providing the Island is, in fact, more crowded this year due to COVID-related relocating of off-Island folks opting to LBI it.
Importantly, it would be in the spirit of an Island Christmas to buy trees from our firefighters, foregoing off-Island and department stores purchases. It’s another form of shopping locally, real locally. In fact, go wild shopping in an Islandesque manner. There are a slew of gifts that only LBI shops carry. Even if items aren’t exclusive to here, buying Island-style could greatly help businesses hurt to hell and back by the pandemic.
Our tackle shops are still going strong with the 2020 Classic, meaning they’re more than ready to accommodate gift buyers.
Where were you in May 1997 … generally speaking? It wasn’t ancient history you know. Harkening back to those not-overly-distant days, you might even recall having had enough spare income, say $1,000, to have invested in Amazon.com. It’s initial public offering (IPO) was $18 a pop.
It’s worth a grimace to compute that a measly $1,000 ventured at Amazon’s arrival in the market would now have you holding something like $1,250,000 in profit.
I bring this up after a fellow at church – a sad fellow at that – told of buying 1,000 shares in Amazon, quite early on. So, now he’s filthy rich beyond measure, right? Well, seems there was this dot.com bubble burst in 2000. He dumped his 1,000 shares like a microwaved potato, coming out just even.
“I kept telling myself not to sell, to wait it out,” he told me, almost as if needing to confess to someone, seeing it was church and all. Had he held firm, he’d now be a millionaire ten times over – as he drove off in a used Prius.
REPORT FROM HUTCH SR.:
After delays attributed to governmental paperwork and the Corona Virus outbreak, it appears the efforts of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association to enhance area artificial reefs are about to come to fruition.
Association president, Captain John Lewis, has announced the vessels slated to be deployed on the Little Egg Reef Site have been cleared and may be leaving Norfolk for Beach Haven as soon as December 1.
Lewis received an email from Pete Clark, New Jersey reef coordinator, informing him that four items are being towed from Norfolk to Beach Haven including a 200-foot barge, two tugs, and a push boat. The three smaller vessels will ride upon the barge during the tow.
According to Clark the vessels have been cleared by the Coast Guard in Norfolk, Virginia, and have been cleaned twice to prepare for sinking. A tug boat has been chartered beginning December 1.
This deployment is the result of a lengthy process of the BHCFA and the youngsters in its Junior Mates Program. The reefs were originally constructed decades ago a few miles off the coast as habitat for various species of fish and a place for anglers to fish. Marine life grows on the materials attracting a wide variety of fish looking for food and habitat.
Over time the materials placed on the reefs sink in the sand and do not provide the needed structure. As a result, new materials are needed to supplement those original materials. The artificial reefs closest to Long Beach Island have not been enhanced for quite some time.
Teenagers in the Junior Mates learned of the reef situation and questioned what they could do to improve the situation. This humble beginning sparked a grass roots campaign which snowballed into an intensive campaign by the BHCFA. These efforts attracted the attention of concerned individuals and groups on the local and even national levels.
The group’s original goal to raise $100,000 to begin reef replenishment has been reached thanks to the efforts of the mates, local community involvement, and matching funds from the Ann E. Clark Foundation and the Sport Fishing Fund.
Helping to make the efforts possible immediately was the generous donation of $50,000 from the sponsors of the Sea Shell Club’s Striped Bass Derby last fall in Beach Haven. In addition, other local businesses have donated money including funds raised from a cocktail party at a private residence.
Enhancement to the reefs was first expected last spring, but unexpected delays including the nationwide virus have slowed down the time frame. It now appears to finally be happening.
Lewis has special words of praise for the Junior Mates participation in the project. “Kids today take a beating for various reasons. Our kids have adopted a ’can-do’ approach and worked their tails off to implement their ideas and dreams.”
Detailed information on the Charter Association and its Junior Mates Program can be found at www.BHCFA.net.
Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can be found at www.bhcfa.net.
Approved in October 2019, the change to theAtlantic Striped Bass Interstate Fishery Management Plan(FMP) implemented coastwide harvest reductions put in place in 2020, while also requiring the mandatory use of circle hooks when fishing with bait to reduce release mortality in recreational striped bass fisheries. As per the FMP, states are required to implement circle hook requirements by January 1, 2021.
At the October 21 meeting, each state provided its implementation plan complete with any requested exemptions for review and approval. While the proposed regulatory language varied slightly from state to state, at its core the meaning and intent was consistent across all proposals. The only states that submitted exemption requests were Maine, Massachusetts and the Potomac River Fisheries Commission (though the Potomac River Fisheries Commission subsequently withdrew its exemption request and modified its proposal for year-round circle hook requirement).
Maine asked that rubber or latex tube rigs be exempt from the circle hook restriction as long as they conform with the following: the lure must consist of a minimum of 8 inches of latex rubber tubing with a single hook protruding from the end portion of the tubing where bait may be attached. Use of treble hooks is not allowed with these rigs.
Massachusetts sought a circle hook exemption for anglers fishing onboard for-hire vessels; furthermore, Massachusetts asked that the circle hook requirement for shore-bound and private shall not apply to any artificial lure designed to be trolled, cast and retrieved, or vertically jigged with natural bait attached.
Prior to withdrawing their exemption request, the Potomac River Fisheries Commission sought to have the circle requirement not be required prior to May 1 during catch and release season (barbless hooks required).
A motion was made by Tom Fote (NJ) and seconded by Dennis Abbot (NH) to approve the implementation plans but to prohibit any states from gear or user exemptions. A motion to substitute was then made by Megan Ware (ME) to approve the implementation plans and exemptions with the exception of the Massachusetts for-hire exemption; it was seconded by Justin Davis (CT). After lengthy discussion, the motion failed by a count of five in favor (RI, ME, MA, DE, NC), eight opposed (DC, PA, NJ, VA, NH, NY, MD, VA, NC PRFC), one null (CT), and two abstains (USFWS, NMFS).
The original motion was then called and it passed with a vote of 15 in favor (ME, NH, MA, RI, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, DC, PRFC, VA, NC, NMFS, USFWS) and one opposed (CT) thereby approving and requiring the use of circle hooks by all recreational anglers when targeting striped bass with any kind of live or dead natural bait effective January 1, 2021. No exemptions were made for gear type or user groups and therefore this regulation includes shore-bound, private boat and anglers onboard for-hire vessels.
With no gear type exemptions allowed, the new circle hook requirement in place for 2021 includes but is not limited to such angling techniques as a tube and worm; eelskin rig; rigged eel; the addition of pork rind, squid, etc. to a bucktail jig; and any and all other scenarios where a natural bait is added to an artificial lure when targeting striped bass.
The FMP defines a ‘circle hook’ as a non-offset hook where the point is pointed perpendicularly back towards the shank. The term ‘non-offset’ means the point and barb are in the same plane as the shank (e.g., when the hook is laying on a flat surface, the entire hook and barb also lay flat).
Ran into Dr. John (of Iroquois Ave.) and his Land Rover Defender ... and its topper.
Beyond a newspaper angle, I find this surprisingly humorous ... and highly nostalgic ...
"52 years ago (Nov. 29, 1965) the Berkshire Eagle printed a little article about two young men being fined 25 bucks for dumping trash. Little did we know at the time that the incident, which ran on page 25, would become the basis for Arlo Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant. Here's our original story from 1965." :
CPO Recruit Bickerton, CPO Garofalo and Lt. Mascio responded to the Millstone River in South Brunswick for a report of illegal clamming. After performing surveillance, the officers performed a field inspection and issued three individuals a total of nine summonses for illegal clamming in prohibited waters. Approximately 11,000 Asian Thumbnail clams weighing 110 pounds were confiscated. All the clamming equipment was also seized as evidence.
CPO Faith investigated information about possible illegal deer hunting in Egg Harbor Twp., Atlantic County. It was determined that the suspected illegal hunter did not have an archery license or even a hunter education certification for archery. Evidence was gathered from social media showing the individual actively hunting and posing with an antlered deer shot the day prior. Another photo was obtained of the suspect with a buck in velvet allegedly shot in 2019. CPO Faith and CPO Recruit Malinski along with Det. Vazquez went to the suspect’s residence to interview him. The suspect admitted to killing a buck several days before, but claimed he no longer had the antlers. He did show CPO Faith a set of velvet antlers in a shed, at which time an additional set of antlers was also observed. After noticing an upside-down storage tote and bucket in the yard at the edge of the woods, CPO Faith asked if the deer head was under the bucket. After a brief pause, the suspect confessed to having the deer head in question and turned the bucket over revealing an additional two heads. The suspect explained that the two smaller antlered heads belonged to a friend and claimed he doesn’t shoot small deer, but then refused to provide the name of the friend. In total four deer heads were seized and eleven summonses were issued for violations of hunting without a license, illegal possession of deer parts, failure to both properly tag and register deer and taking antlered deer prior to harvesting an antlerless deer in an earn a buck zone.
During an afternoon patrol on October 11th, CPO Raker began making observations of two individuals fishing for tautog in North Wildwood. After observing violations, CPO Raker staged at a location where an apprehension could be made. CPO Raker also located a vehicle belonging to one of the fishermen and a short investigation revealed the owner had multiple, substantial, prior violations involving tautog. As rain and darkness approached, CPO Raker observed the individuals running towards the vehicle with a heavy bucket attempting to make a quick exit. CPO Raker apprehended the individuals and found 46 undersized tautog and 3 undersized black sea bass in their possession. The daily possession limit was one per person. Due to the extensive history of violations, all gear was seized, and the individuals are facing in excess of $9000.00 in fines.
On Monday, October 12th, 2020, Captain Applegate and CPO Holmes were patrolling Pohatcong Township, Warren County, and observed a truck parked along a field edge in the rain. The CPOs could observe an individual in the passenger compartment of the vehicle and observed that the windows of the truck were partially down. As the CPOs approached the vehicle, the passenger window was lowered by the driver. CPO Holmes asked the driver of the vehicle what he was doing, and he said, "Watching the deer." When he was asked if there was a weapon in the vehicle, he initially said no, but after further questioning, the suspect informed the CPOs that there was a loaded uncased shotgun on the back seat of the vehicle, along with a crossbow. The hunter was issued summonses for hunting without a valid firearm license, hunting with the aid of a motor vehicle, possession of an uncased firearm in a motor vehicle, possession of a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle, using slugs without proper sights, and hunting deer during a closed season.