Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Sept. 27, 2020: Relaxing times standing about on the Holgate south tip. Bottlenose are always a rush to see.
Some of the largest flocks of pelicans ever seen in NJ have been soaring over LBI. This photo shows just a part of easily 100 passing pelicans.
Below: Out of hundreds of vessels out and about this day, this lucky family had the honor of being checked. No biggie. Everyone was waves and smiles after the USCG had its lookabout. By the way, the island home in the background is for sale. T'aint cheap.
What's your thoughts on outrunning this NJSP vessel?
Tuesday, September 29, 2020: Below is a load of readables, including insider tricks on casting net for mullet. By the by, I often place entire unpublished weekly column segments in here since I all too often overwrite for the space available in The SandPaper. Just as often, I’ll firs slip things in here to get any in-house reactions, prior to putting it out for larger perusals.
LBI LOOKABOUTS: Speed limits have increased, most noticeably heading up to 45 mph along much of the Blvd. in Long Beach Twp., also on other Island Blvd. regions. As lights are placed on the blink cycle – they don’t get “turned off,” as some people insist in saying -- keep in mind that Surf City and Ship Bottom Blvd. stretches are seemingly staying pat at a summerlike 30 mph. That demands a rapid slowdown entering those towns, going from 45 to 30. As many folks know all too well, speeding ticket fines and points are predicated on how far over the posted speed one is driving. Hitting a 30 mph zone at 50 and you might as well kiss a couple paychecks goodbye.
HOLGATE BUGGY NOTE: Even though the front beach adjacent to the Refuge is fairly wide, it has been so repeatedly driven over – since it was getting overwashed daily -- it looks like the aftermath of Rommel’s tank “March to the Sea,” using an obscure historic reference.
Monday, I pulled out a very appreciative fellow and family, seriously stuck maybe 100 yards in from the entrance. He and his Cherokee inexplicably tried to go east/west across the hopelessly torn up all-consuming soft sands. No go. Fortunately, he had all the right dig-out equipment onboard – along with his two kids and wife -- which always gets goodie points from me. When folks drive the beach in properly equipped fashion, I’m willing to strain my trannie with a tow strap pull. Thanks go out to the other two guys who stopped to contribute to the required dig-under of the chassis.
I know this sound sucky but bogged down vehicles sporting pitch black tinted windows get no help from me. I don’t know what lurks inside that I might be aiding and abetting. Actually, I hate not being able to make necessary eye contact with drivers behind tinted glass, we it road or beach.
SOUNDS STRANGE ... MEOW: I’m taking reports of a bobcat like feline on the north end with a huge grain of salt. While I can’t discount anything happening in 2020, it’s either a pet bobcat, which we saw in Manahawkin not that many years back, or even a domesticated Maine coon cat, one of the most popular breeds in the nation. I was once introduced to a Maine coon cat that kept wanting to sit on my lap. The thing was not only huge but weighed a ton. Weirdest of all, it was captivated by water, so much so it would swim with its owner in a small nearby lake. The only time I saw this aggressively friendly cat get testy was when it was forced out of the lake. Anyway, this model of Maine coon was downright bobcat-ish, though it had long almost canine-like legs.
RUNDOWN: There’s a goodly load of early fall angling of which to mention. While there isn’t a whole lot of hookups on the big-fish side of things, the arrival of cocktail blues could foreshadow bigger blues to come – spoken with optimism more than certaintism. For now, it’s fun settling in on blues of eater size, keeping in mind we can only keep three of any size. Don’t glare at me overt that bag limit, I was among the hemmers and hawers when the regs were being debated last spring.
Thinking in smaller bluefish terms, snappers are being their everywhere selves. The downside of that multifarious showing of pre-one-pound fish is how such a solid showing has not been translating into future big-ass blues. There’s some kind of mysterious disconnect since, in theory, we should be neck-deep in slammers, based on decades of fine snapper showings in late summer and early fall. Where lurketh a snapper blue blackhole?
The blowfish showing in Barnegat Bay has been a blast to those chumming up the puffers wtih clam bits. One famed LBI pianist took over 150 in short order, hooking them to beat the band. The upside to nabbing fall blowfish is they’re fully spawned out. Fall run blowfish also freeze perfectly.
Weakfish have been showing after dark, including some near-tiderunners (over, say, seven pounds). Live-lined mullet best the biggies. Weakies are fun fighters, especially on light gear. Only one fish, 13 inches or longer, can be kept.
Good luck finding mullet. This year’s migration is pitiful hereabouts.
Fluking is done, but they don’t know that. Big flatties have been unlawfully taking baits being fished for other species. If caught, scold them … then carefully release.
On the optimism front, the way warm ocean waters have been running this year, I’d expect some redfish, aka red drumfish, to show. I’ve long been egging on a return of this bullish species. There is really no reason the once heavily-present species has yet to make a big return. Conservation has been strict as all get-out. Red drum were our biggest and baddest gamefish for many decades, if not centuries. They were well documented by the Leni Lenape Indian tribes. I’ll bet the eelgrass barn red drum could be manually reintroduced here, after being raised up Pequest way.
Couldn't help but share this bayside (Beach Haven) casting practice. Nicely done, young lady. Now to get her in the Classic.
MULLETING 401: Mullet have many a survival trick of their own, not the least of which is amazing eyesight, able to spot shady looking things both in the water and also above and beyond the water, where folks like netters and a slew of feeding shorebirds await school being in sessions. Combine a slew of mullet with eagle eyesight and it gets challenging for net tossers.
Among the mullets’ evasive techniques is moving in tight schools, meant to make the combined look resemble dark and ominously large predators – not that this maneuver has ever once scared a gamefish. What a school cluster does perform is a de-individualizing, increasing the escape odds for each participating mullet, based on overall numbers. In a crunch, it’s always every schooling mullet for itself.
As netters, we have a few handy techniques for spotting mullet school on the move. The most obvious is being able to see schools in clear water, helped by sunglasses designed to knock down glare. Spying mullet is made easier by their tendency to hug the beach, instinctually knowing that death lurks only a couple feet further out from shore.
Back when the Island had jetties/groins, huge schools of migrating mullet could regularly be found balling up on the north sides of jetties, where they’d stop in their southward sojourn, somehow knowing that stripers awaited just around the end of the rocks. Balled up jetty mullet was like shooting ducks in a barrel for throwers. Having jetties sanded under by replenishment has all but ruined once-popular beachfront net throwing.
It’s when waters turn turbid that alternative netting strategies kick in. Here’s some insights on prime mullet-spotting techniques.
When mullet are running high in the water table, netters throw on so-called “nervous water.” Such surface disturbances, presenting as tiny ripples and even an occasional tail splash, are most often the result of mullet schools rising up due to something highly disturbing a bit deeper down. I’ve seen bottom-lurking fluke drive them straight to the surface. Nervous water is easiest to see when winds are calm. More experienced eyes can pick up the signs even on windy, choppy days. Nervous water is best thrown directly atop.
An additional form of surface disturbance by mullet on the move is a telltale “V” shape, marking the progress of a surface school. When throwing on “V”s, land a net well ahead of the front point.
Check out this nervous water V-shape combo ... (Still shot above from vid.)
During turbid water times, netters throw on spearing/silversides. Please don’t call them shiners.
Spearing outnumber all other bayside forage species, even bunker. Their everywhereness comes in handy for netters since they’re the most nervous forage fish out there. Hell, if a single spearing sneezes, a couple dozen of them jump out of the water. That tendency to go airborne at the slightest upset offers a hugely helpful tip-off that mullet might be passing below them.
Spearing jump from passing-below mullet schools because they’re just about the only creature fooled by the way mullet tightly school. In spearing eyes, the school is dark, shadowy, solidified, multi-eyed creature. The concept is call mimicry. It gets spearing leaping.
Better netters can read various spearing splashes. Some can (sometimes) differentiate between spearing splashing due to a mullet passage and splashes due to bluefish or herring attacks. Spearing jumping from predatory fish are often quick splashy outbursts, no progressive pattern moving down the line. On the other hand, a rolling series of leaping spearing might mean mullet moving below, though even the best of throwers are wrong more often than right when throwing on spearing. When throwing on spearing, there’s a need to lead the throw, a few feet ahead of the splashing.
Among the rarest of mullet locating techniques is throwing on terns, or other diving birds. Easily the trickiest of all mullet-tracking methods – used when all else fail – it comes down to driving slowly about in a buggy, sometimes using binoculars, to locate feeding terns, hovering then diving right next to the beach, i.e. were mullet run. When a tern or two splashes down – and keeping buggying safety in mind – it’s time to briskly drive to the impact zone. Wasting no time, run over and throw the biggest net in the buggy. It’s a blind throw of faith.
That brings up the shoulder-ruining method of blind casting. A blind throw is predicated on some cosmic sensation that the water, right there, feels right for throwing. More often, blind casts have no known rationale, short of wanting to see what the net drags in. Use the biggest net that can be comfortably and repeatedly thrown.
When blind casting, there’s often a tendency to go hog wild, throwing freely until enough rotator cuff damage is done for the day, thus the “ruinous” angle. As to success, blind throws have produced, occasionally. It then becomes very Pavlovian: You finally get a decent haul on one blind cast (out of ten) and the urge to throw ten more times rings in … to throw again and again.
As to how many mullet escape our talented netting practices, here’s a look at how many make it to Florida. Watch the video to be astounded. (Notice the two people amid this one mullet field.) Vid sent by Joe Handley.
Below: Defund inspection stations!
Something spooky about lancefish.
While on the mainland, dreams if bucket mouth bass run big in fall.
Smile for the gunnel cam ...