Perfect time for a fall headboat outing ...
Tuesday, September 21, 2021: Mullet are running, though not amazingly.
With fluking closed, anglers are targeting kingfish in the suds. Also, blowfishing is holding on remarkably well in sections of the bay, though that bite can move out on a dime.
Note to drivers: The Causeway work in Ship Bottom has gotten even bonkier. Go at work areas very slow … not only for safety reasons but because the boys in blue are getting miffed about detour drivers speeding down residential side streets and blowing through stop signs. Pullovers are now common, with violators often getting pulled over when bolting along the westbound Causeway -- thinking they’re out of harm’s way.
The roadwork will be going on for many weeks to come – before it gets even crazier, as Central and the Boulevard get readied to carry two-way traffic where there is single-direction traffic now. That switchover likely won’t be done this winter, though it is scheduled for some time in 2022.
I have to mention one of the nastier boating accidents our bay has seen, and we’ve seen some nasty ones.
An after dark head-home for six folks in a 30-foot pleasure vessel abruptly ended when it soundly struck a fixed aids to navigation lit beacon, Marker 92, off Haven Beach. All aboard were ejected into the 70-degree bay water. Despite suffering injuries, the victims hung onto the partially submerged craft, yelling for help. An emergency call reached 911 around midnight. It appears the steel beacon kept the crafty from sinking, preventing the victims from being forced to tred water for a protracted period. Skies were clear with a near-full moon. Bayside, winds were generally light.
Within two minutes of being alerted to the wreck, a US Coast Guard 29-foot “small response” vessel moored in Beach Haven was dispatched. Also alerted was the water rescue team from Beach Haven Volunteer Fire Company, which responded to the site with two PWCs.
Per authorities, the first responders were on scene within 20 minutes of the initial call-in, which came from a bayside resident who heard the crash and calls for help.
The Coast Guard craft rescued five victims while the BHFVC members on Waverunners saved the other.
On shore, awaiting first aid squads from Beach Haven, Surf City, Barnegat Light and Stafford offered initial treatment, before transporting the victims of the wreck, three of whom needed to be flown to trauma centers. The Ship Bottom and Surf City fire companies secured the landing zone for two medivac choppers. The other victims were transported to Southern Ocean Medical Center.
While the aftermath investigation and social media critiquing of the accident is in full swing, I’m not going there since I’m still in the profoundly concerned mode. I personally know some of hospitalized victims, three of whom remain in critical condition. By law, further information about the conditions of the victims can only be offered by family members.
Note: A group of State Police investigators from the Marine Bureau were closely investigating the vessel after it was pulled out near Morrison's Dock. The wreckage was then removed by the Bureau. Also, I do not believe it is appropriate to disclose the names of those I know were onboard. It's all about their recovery first and foremost.
Of note, this is the second serious boating accident involving a vessel hitting a fixed aids to navigation piling in Barnegat Bay. Last June, a Bennington pontoon boat piloted by Juan A. Fernandez II hit the rigid Intracoastal Waterway Marker No. 26 head on, near the Route 37 bridge, toward Seaside. Two passengers were ejected and swam back to the vessel. However, a passenger who was not thrown out of the vessel, Corey Molinari, 19, sustained critical injuries from striking objects inside the boat.
Instead of seeking assistance at the accident scene, Fernandez inexplicably piloted the damaged vessel back to the dock, where the victim’s father was the first to call 911. Molinari subsequently died of his injuries. Last month, the captain was charged with vehicular manslaughter, with reference made to his leaving the scene and not seeking medical help sooner.
Apparently, it’s time once again to bring up the possible/likely/mythical tsunami destined to do in the entire Eastern Seaboard, arriving as a wall of water beyond anything even Hollywood could fully conjure up.
Return with me to the Cumbre Vieja volcano, located in the Canary Islands, off Spain. It has what is essentially a wall of igneous material highly ready to make a monumental landslide into the sea, displacing enough ocean water to send us the aforementioned wall of water. The Cumbre Vieja “cliff” is so precariously hanging on that even more optimistic geologists wonder how it has yet to make its big final move.
Now to the nonsensical stuff, with an initial dash of quasi science, via something called the Ward and Day 2001 model. This model is what first fostered fears -- and maybe even some longings -- of unimaginably large tsunamis issuing forth across the Atlantic and smack-dab upon our nowhere-to-run heads. The entire tidal wave scare syndrome has been dubbed
"A science story that just won’t die: the Canary Island Megatsunami."
Ward and Day wrote that there is “geological evidence” suggesting the Cumbre Vieja Volcano may experience a “catastrophic failure of its west flank.” It would unloose as much as 500 cubic kilometers of rock into the sea. That comes out to miles worth of material.
“Using a geologically reasonable estimate of landslide motion, waves generated by the run-out of a coast of the Americas with 30 to 75 foot waves,” predicted the scientists, give or take some geo-gibberish.
Also jumping into theoretical waters, so to speak, are Løvholt, Pedersen and Gisler whose 2008 Model downsized the Ward, Day Model. Løvholt et al feel the collapse would only issue 20-foot waves, though “wave amplitude,” caused by bottom resistance, could ratchet up tsunamis to over 30 feet in height.
I’ve waited until you first got a feel for the Cumbre Vieja Hazard to bring up the current volcanic eruption of, yep, good old Cumbre Vieja volcano now taking place in the Canaries, as they’re colloquially called.
This eruption is the first in many moons … and there’s a whole lotta shaking going on. Per the Weather Channel “After days of increased seismic activity that resulted in more than 22,000 earthquakes, the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of La Palma erupted for the first time in half a century.”
Here’s where things get tricky – and real, by my thinking. If that hanging chad, I mean cliff, is on the brink of busting loose, now will be the time, as in today or so. Of historic import, the “cliff” was not as poised in place the last time Cumbre Vieja erupted.
Now to the crux of the matter, which could complicate whether or not we should put on our running shoes.
It is written: Humanity has never witnessed enormous collapses on La Palma and there is evidence that the western flank of La Palma is currently stable and a collapse in the near future unlikely.
“A worst-case scenario giant landslide like the one modelled by Ward and Day 2001 is a very low probability event, probably much less common than once per 100,000 years which is the probable occurrence rate of large landslides in the Canary Islands.”
Those words are backed by no fewer than two dozen highly academic studies suggesting little chance of tsunamis from a Cumbre Vieja wall collapse even reaching America at all.
Backing that thinking, America's National Tsunami Warning Center said, “There is NO tsunami danger for the U.S. East Coast at this time, following the eruption of Cumbre Vieja volcano, La Palma, Canary Islands.”
On my part, I have a funny feeling there are now fewer folks mocking my efforts to at least keep a tsunami siren system at the ready.
Just for chuckles, here's one of the highly imaginative images now circulating regarding Cumbre Vieja. How about those 300-footers in Africa. Those will get the Mauritanian geckos doggy paddling.
CLIMB ABOARD!: It’s high time to get out there and sign up for the 67th Annual LBI Fall Surf Fishing Tournament. The kickass “Classic” will begin October 9, sharp! It will again run for nine solid cash-packed weeks, right up until December 12, 2021. To steal a slogan: You got to play to win.
I’ll just take a minute to emphasize that the new striped bass slot regulation is a boon to Classic entrants of every ilk. You no longer need to be a striper sharpie or herring-swimming basser extraordinaire to reel in big winnings. Anyone besting a bass in the humble 28- to 37.99-inch range can be a grand prize winner, earning a cool gran. What’s more, everyday run-of-the-slot bass are instantly eligible for more prizes and cash than I can list here. The collection of winnings – along with the rules and what not -- is listed in the paperwork you get when signing up. You can also go to lbifc.com, click on “Fall Classic” up top, then scroll down to “Rules and Regulations.”
I won’t wax overly poetic on the fall Classic’s kingfish angle except to say small has never looked so good – or so valuable. A single pound-or-so kingfish can land a cash prize, including $25 (65 daily prizes), $50 (nine weekly prizes), $250 (three segment prizes) or $500 (grand prize). There are also some special prizes for entered kings.
I’ll taunt the fishing gods by suggesting we just might see Classic-worthy bluefish this year, meaning fish of the enterable minimum length of 28 inches. The best of the blues can land a $1,000 grand prize.
Last year was the first tourney when nary a single so-called slammer blue came to the event’s scales. This year might very well end the bluesless streak. I base that on boat fishermen recently hooking some larger “gators” not that far out. Of course, such hoping springs infernal for me since blues are a personal favorite.
Another fish which will wax Classic are stripers. Yep, the fish that started it all will shine. There will be enough eligible linesiders a-swim to keep entrants hopping. Get ready to pull up a beach chair … and sit on the floor/sand. Slot bass will be very obliging, as will some jumbos, begging for their picture to be taken before release.
Bassers, please keep in mind that a striper coming in at exactly 38 inches is technically too large to qualify for the Classic. It’s also too large to legally keep.
Per the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife’s 2021 Marine Digest, the true size of a bass is measured with the tail pursed/squeezed. This sizing issue has loomed large, especially for Fish and Wildlife enforcement. Micromanage your measurements.
HOW TO MEASURE FISH IN NEW JERSEY:
1. Lay fish flat on top of, or alongside a measuring rule, not measured over the body.
2. Fish are measured from the tip of the snout (mouth closed) to the longest part of the tail.
RUNDOWN: I’m going a bit astray this rundown by offering what has come into my cast-net. It hints at what is out there.
So, I’m idly staring into the inlet water at Holgate, cast net at the ready, awaiting any mullet movement, when I catch this off-color patch of water in my peripheral vision. Not wanting to lose focus – the peer point where you’ve homed in on a specific place in the water column – I ignored it. It wasn’t until the brownish patch entered my focal zone that I realized it was a super slew of small cow-nosed stingrays.
I’ll rehash that the stingray presence we’re seeing in recent years is new here, going back centuries. I have read news and historic accounts about fishing in NJ back to Native American times. I have seen no mention of a massive stingray ray presence. And they would have been talk about since there is much written about lookalike skates.
Making quite the net showing are tiny kingfish. This bodes well for the future presence of this favorite table fare species, now a prize worthy in the Classic. Back in the Fifties, my dad used to faithfully fish them, though they soon went missing, about the same time commercial shrimping in the West Atlantic became big business.
Also showing their spots are … spots. These smaller bay and shoreline panfish come and go based on, well, who knows. They just do. Spot are not heavily harvested, per se, though they also succumb to shrimp netters. While they are as good a striped bass bait as it gets, the current heavy presence of bluefish makes them dead ducks before bass sniff them out.
As to bluefish showing in the cast net, it’s almost like the good old bluefish days. They’re everywhere, from tiny to snapper-sized.
Filling out the cast net are small blowfish, also aplenty. What a returned fishery!
Her fishy fishy. Come to your new home.
Below: I had kiddingly mentioned nabbing bluefin tuna while fall surfcasting from the beach. Well, there's no kidding here ...
- Scram Albies! Bluefin Tuna Caught from Shore
Devon Metters could have weighed in one of the largest shore-caught false albacore of the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish derby’s second day Sunday.
He caught a 44-inch bluefin tuna with his bare hands instead.
“I caught a big albie in the morning, definitely weighable,” Mr. Metters recalled on Monday. “I wanted to weigh it in, and I thought, no, I’m going to wait.”
Hours later, Mr. Metters was standing on the shore of State Beach with no false albacore but a bloodied foot, a real bluefin tuna and a story for the ages — his place on the derby’s end-of-day leaderboard momentarily lost, his standing in Vineyard fishing legend permanently gained.
“It was probably one of the craziest things to happen, and probably ever will happen, to me,” Mr. Metters said. “Just mind-blowing.”
The 22-year-old Island-born fisherman was chasing the derby fish with his friends Thomas O’Shaughnessy and Curtis Farrell just east of the little bridge on Beach Road Sunday morning when they saw a fin circling close to shore, in shallow waters approximately two feet deep.
Mr. Metters, who works his day job on a Menemsha charter boat, and Mr. O’Shaughnessy, went up to the fin for further inspection.
“We thought it was a brown shark, which are pretty common around here,” Mr. Metters said. “When we went up to get a closer look, I’m like, holy . . . that’s a bluefin tuna.”
A species of tuna that can weigh up to 1,500 pounds, Atlantic bluefin are a deep sea fish almost exclusively targeted hundreds of miles off the coast. It’s exceedingly rare to see them in the Vineyard Sound. It’s even more uncommon to see them within two feet from shore. Mr. Metters knew he had the chance of a lifetime.
“To see them in water like that is unheard of,” Mr. Metters said. “My buddy said, you have to catch that with your hands.”
The tuna, which appeared distressed, circled around Mr. Metters a few times, giving him a fight the way only a 40-pound bluefin can. He thrashed in the water before gripping the tuna’s back tail and wrestling it to shore.
“It’s a powerful fish,” Mr. Metters said. “It was like grabbing on to a jackhammer.”
An experienced fisherman, Mr. Metters said that he only keeps his catch in rare circumstances, particularly if the fish is injured or unhealthy. With the bluefin struggling, Mr. Metters decided to bleed it immediately, and rushed over to Our Market to grab ice.
Although it is technically illegal to target Atlantic bluefin tuna from shore, according to fishing law, Mr. Metters said he contacted NOAA Fisheries after the catch and regulators said that because of the circumstances, he was all in the clear.
“They said said congratulations on the story, and maybe you did the right thing,” Mr. Metters said.
It was only by the time Mr. Metters got home, covered in what remained of the tuna, that he’d realized that he sliced his foot in the water.
“I was flying on adrenaline, and taking off my clothes and boot, I realized it was my own blood,” Mr. Metters said. “It was worth it for the story. Just another scar.”
Mr. Metters had a few theories about why the tuna had nestled itself so close to the coast. While the fish could have been sick, Mr. Metters thought it was more probable that it had been previously caught in a bluefin fishing tournament held off Nantucket last weekend, and released into the water with injuries.
After fileting the fish, Mr. Metters also said that he examined its body and stomach, not finding any signs of illness.
Earlier in the morning, Mr. Metters said he had been kicking himself about not weighing in the albie. In a sport known for its often fruitless cliches about patience and perseverance, he was thrilled to finally finish the day with a much bigger prize.
“If I weighed in the albie, I wouldn’t have caught the tuna,” Mr. Metters said. “I’ve been fishing my whole life, just trying to chase the dream of winning the derby. And I guess what I felt yesterday is maybe what it feels like to win the derby. I won my own derby.”
Below: I got thrown by the this popular pic cruising social media. I first heard it was taken recent in New York, possibly meaning chopper are returning. Doing due research, nobody will confirm when the shot was taken, making it sorta certain it's an older image. A fun look nonetheless.
24lb bluefish weighed in at Bernie's Tackle in ny