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Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Tuesday, October 06, 2020: Seasonable air temps with a couple touches of mild

When is the worst possible time to try to turn around with waves coming at you? Bow into all waves, cap! It increases your chances ... somewhat, though you're pretty much shit outta luck on all fronts by the looks of this photo.  

Then there's opting to ride a wave in, which I can only guess is the case below. Truth be told, this might be a masterful acceleration maneuver by the captain, to elevate the bow and possibly avoid a pitchpole capsize. Admittedly, he should have never gotten into this dire predicament to begin with.

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So, I figured I could save a buck buying a Chinese chopping board. Now it's a wall hanging. ...

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"Wait while we put you through to a secured line, sahib."  

Tuesday, October 06, 2020: Seasonable air temps with a couple touches of mild, that’s the dang decent 10-day forecast as we rig-up and ready ourselves for the heart of the all surf casting season, beginning … now.

This weekend’s kickoff of the 66the Annual LBI Surf Fishing Classic along with the tuning down of the traffic signals early next week should inspire even entry-level surfcasters to turn things up a notch. That notch turn should be perked a bit if you’re one of many Islandophiles who are staying here due to – maybe even thanks to – COVID.

Classic info: www.lbisfc.com/

Most beaches are now open to buggying, appropriate permits in tow. Just as nice, uncrowded beachlines beacon to walk-on anglers who have just as much chance to win big in the Classic as we of a mobile angling persuasion. 

NOT STRIPERS, EITHER: This is the time of year that generally nice boat folks at the back cut in Holgate helpfully call out to me and my net that there are mullet all over the place in the shallow water near their anchored boats. What they’re seeing are striped killifish, what we call hardhead minnows. These forage fish can grow to the size of finger mullet, easily taken with a 3/8 inch mesh cast net. But no thrower wants to net them due to a fully unsubstantiated belief that they’re not good bait.

Below: Male top; female below. 

Striped killifish | Fundulus majalis; Ocean City, MD. Female… | Flickr

While there’s no convincing most anglers of the bait worthiness of striped killifish, I have readily caught weakfish, fluke and bluefish on them; never a striper ... but only because bassing times are purely plugging times for me. To prove a point, I’m going to live-line larger hardheads when I know there are stripers around. These rugged killies are always easy to find/net since they stick around late into the fall.

As I oft point out, there’s a forensic way to prove hardheads are bait of the highest order. Simply note that no other forage fish hug the shoreline closer in than hardheads. No forage fish would risk being that close in unless they were highly sought after by predators lurking just a short way out.

Weirdness: I know a hardcore angler who swears by hardheads for fishing Pinelands pickerel. He transports (with aeration) the largest ones. While hitting the freshwater sends the killies into spasms, that’s just what pickerel love. I’m a huge fan of pickerel fishing, but always and only with spinners and plugs. Below: They're so common its easy not to notice their beauty. 

Below: LBI transients in Holgate... 

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Most of you have seen these images of a mega pompano caught by Joe Handley (Jr.) while using just-dug sandcrabs.

Here's what Joe told me: 

"Final measurements on the pompano was 17 3/4" with a 13 3/4" girth. Fish was 3.24lbs. It beat my NC personal best at 2lbs 15 oz. The rig was a Carolina rig. 1oz egg sinker above a bead and small swivel. 24" of 20lb mono to a long shank kingfish style hook. I was actually targeting kingfish. Ironically I didn't see a king despite running out of clams due to the abundance of huge blowfish and pesky snapper blues. The pompano took a freshly dug sand flea. I noticed around the full moon, i guess the crabs molt and get soft. That's when I do great on the pomps and kings in The Banks and here in NJ. The crabs must give off scent when they molt because the fish go bonkers over them.
Also, I use the carolina rig with fleas just so it washes around in the turbulence. Hold the rod because the strikes are usually savage. Fish almost tore the rod out of my hand! Pomps usually dont hit a stationary rig for me. Conditions yesterday were ironically perfect for them. Warm, clear water with a small onshore wind swell. Cant emphasize enough on clear water. Has to be clear or i don't even think about them."

During my once regular fall trips to OBX, I found almost all anglers would be working on besting red drum. Not me. I'd go with small-hook rigs and work the swash (20 foot casts) with worms or crabs. Weirdly, even some of the local angling gents were shocked at the huge number and variety of panfish I'd catch, often nonstop. I'll admit that I needed some help from resident marine biologists to ID a couple odder hookups. I recall one something-or-other fish had the experts stumped, forcing them to photograph it to get outside IDing help. I already forget the snail-mail ID letter I got. 

I openly and excitingly bring up swash fishing, wondering what intense kingfishing in the Classic might yield, possibly a slew of species we never see when using heavier bluefish and striper gear. Most swash fish won't grab fluke rig baits so you likely missed them when going for flatties. Need I note this year is ready to issue weirdness at every turn/cast.

As Joe astutely notes, it's best to have a load of bottom roll when going swashing. He likes egg sinkers -- huge in the south -- but I have a collection of bank-type sinkers that work quite well. The advantage to egg sinkers is you can buy them colored or spruce them up with nearby beads and such. Using bank-type sinkers, the attraction comes with the kingfish or pompano rigs themselves, i.e. bright floats and even some bucktail. 

Here are some egg sinker looks ... 

Here are bank sinkers galore: 


saltwater pompano fishing rig | Surf fishing rigs, Fishing rigs, Surf fishing

CRAZED HOLGATE CRUISER: One of the spookiest buggy stunts we’ve seen in many a moon took place Saturday at the Holgate tip's west peninsula, right before the drive to the back cut.

Below are the evidential tire marks of a Jeep Rubicon's idiotic decision -- or maybe it was the driver's dumbass decision -- to do a quick Baja jump over a vegetated dune on posted Refuge property. The obviously inexperienced driver came that close to doing a pitchpole -- a forward roll that would have landed the Jeep on its roof, likely sending the four passengers, including kids, to the hospital … or morgue. 

Video note: For those of you with a good eye for small details, I’m including my dashcam video, which just barely picked up the incident. As the vid begins, ignore the Wranglers in the foreground, instead home-in on the small black speck in the distance (the culprit Jeep). Watch very closely at the :20 mark as the tail end of Jeep goes upright, almost vertical … coming that close to a nosediving catastrophe. 

I came upon the Jeep right after the stunt and there was stunnedness within the vehicle, made worse by my suddenly pulling up in front of them, hosting a discernible glare even through my windshield.

I have a clear photo of the Rubicon’s NJ vanity tags, but have blurred it in the pic, pending my determining what I should do next, Refuge-wise. I truly think the likely permit-less Jeep driver got quite the life lesson. 

By the by, I have nothing against this Jeep driver, per se. Impetuous acts happen. All of us Holgate regulars have to monitor Holgate to keep in good stead with the Forsythe Refuge. While I'm a volunteer when it comes to eyeing the south end, I'm not authorized to confront anyone in a case like this. I just take down numbers, football-like.  

Here's that vid: (see :20) 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYAbboQuy2k

Below: Photos of tire evidence ... 

 

HOLGATE BANTER: The entire stretch of the Holgate natural area beachline is so tire tredded that you truly need to know what you're doing to reach to the Rip. Where you used to get by on maybe 22 psi, it's time to think upper teens when airing down. Even then, trying to drive east/west across the countless tracks is serious sinkage in the making. I have four dig-out assists under my belt over just the past two weeks, all were attempts to go east/west near the parking area.

To you Leftists out there ... 

Below: Here's a new one, as an over-sized tire Jeep nicely went to pull out a very weighty/costly deep-sunk truck ... and got stuck, with a taunt tow strap in-between, not allowing either vehicle to move backwards or forwards. The strap had to be cut. A bit of a whip back came with the cut strap. Fortunately, nobody was hit despite the large crowd involved in helping out.

The Jeep fairly easily got free once untethered but the truck owner had to settle in for the long wait for a tow truck-assisted pullout, likely a winch out first. I couldn't hang around, though I did offer some insider info on getting hold of better local tow companies. The truck owner was going through AAA which I've seen call in tows from as far away as AC.

As to the Jeep, I refuse to say "No good deed goes unpunished." The buggyist had a permit and was a good guy for trying to help. In fact, I pulled into pull-place next with my bigger truck, but the stuck truck was a dead weight. Wasn't going to risk my tranny.

 

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This piece of plastic litter tried to show its bright side ... right before it hit my trash bag.

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Jim Hutchinson Sr.

Fall is now in full swing in Beach Haven, New Jersey, and the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are rearing to go for some action-packed fall fishing. 

Thursday, October 8, marks the return of open fishing for black sea bass in the state with a daily limit of 10 fish per angler. Captain Gary Dugan of the “Irish Jig” reports he has been fishing inshore structure the past couple of weeks and has been catching quite a few big sea bass while seeking other species. He has been practicing “catch and release” on the fish, but he is looking forward to putting some nice fish in the box when the season opens. 

The tautog daily limit is only one fish until November 15, but these fish are currently plentiful, and very often that one keeper fish has been a beauty. 

As the water continues to cool, the area striped bass population has been increasing. There are numerous catches of “schoolie” sized bass in the bay waters with occasional keepers of fish 28-inches and larger to be found. 

Captain Brett Taylor of “Reel Reaction Charters” just had a busy weekend with a pair of productive trips. On Saturday he had Max Cavallaro and his 3 buddies on a 4-hour multi-species charter. After working to catch their limit of blackfish, they hit the snapper blues. They worked some feeding birds to box close to 20 along with a few released weakfish. On Sunday he had Robert Kuhn and family out. They hit the inlet area for a quick limit of tog and then played with bluefish to 15 inches for the rest of the trip. Captain Brett’s son Luke worked his first trip as a mate in training for his dad. 

There is still good offshore tuna fishing as evidenced by a trip for Captain Dave Wittenborn on the “Benita J.” Captain Dave took his son Luke out on a father and son express trip to the tuna grounds. The lines went in at 6:30AM and were pulled for the day at 9:30. Luke reeled in all three of the fish, and the pair headed in with a great catch of fish on an early day. 

Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can be found at www.bhcfa.net.

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