Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

 Early swallow return -- and a sure sign of Holgate days ... photo Ray Fisk. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012:

Boy is that a sweet looking ocean out there. Sure, there’s a decent groundswell starting to build but the winds are lights, the water is pristine (trying to bust the 80 mark) and it sure seems some of the beach masses have sulked off, due to the departure of most collegians and even a goodly number of early-start grammar schools in regions trying out new early-back/early-out scheduling. Also, some schools in snowier regions head back early in anticipation of snow days.


As of this week, the long-term forecast calls for above to much-above snowfall for NJ this winter, though I can absolutely assure you that is not factoring in maritime influences.


Not to rain on your snow-loving parade but this winter the NJ coastal regions are going to adroitly sidestep blizzards due to the overall increase in Atlantic Ocean water temps. If a storm system draws in onshore winds at all, snow goes to rain, in as far as the Ocean County/Burlington County line.  Our best chance at significant snows could come during storm systems with low wind, only moisture. Then the ambient air temps take over.


As for the fishing front, that remains hot to trot.


I’d like to take a spot of credit for being among the very first to report the shorefront loaded with fluke, clear back in early June. That said, I never suspected the beach would turn into a summer-long fluking-fest.


I’m hearing virtually all surfside flukers saying they’ve never seen surf fishing for flatties this amazing. I chuckle a bit at that since, truth be told, virtually nobody had even tried it in the past – short of Holgate anglers in the fall.


And hats off to the countless spot croakers a-swarm. I’d bet the farm they’re a huge reason the fluke are not only stacked in the swash but are also fat and sweet-tasting.


That flavor read comes from the angling sector, with many folks into cooking as much as me. Interestingly, seafood aficionados are suggesting you don’t want to cook these fresh fluke fillets as long as usual. They get a tad mushy. That’s the fat factor to be sure.

I continue to get scattered tales of stripers but going on water temps alone, I see no way bass hookups are anything more than either resident fish or small schools of bass moseying in from deeper, cooler waters to grab a bite.


I still firmly believe there is a massive biomass of stripers over-summering off the Delmarva. They load up (here) with bunker in springtime then slide into deeper water to wait out the warmth. This could easily be a change in habit brought on by an inability to find cooler waters by migrating northward. Again, it’s that oceanic warming thing. How else can you explain an instantaneous (literally overnight) showing of incredible numbers of cow stripers in Virginia and Carolina waters come winter; state records falling annually. Even our insurgency of huge bass in spring greatly exceeds the number of fish heading northward. They either slide into deeper water off NJ or join up with that epic biomass off the Delmarva. Likely a little of both.


One thing that doesn’t make huge sense is the skinniness of bluefish. I’ve caught dozens in recent weeks and they’ve got virtually no shoulders to them. Again, one has to wonder if the warm ocean water hikes their metabolism so high they burn fat like a generator. Weakfish, on the other hand – known to be highly tolerant of warm, low-oxygen waters – are looking mighty hefty. I caught one the other night that regurgitated small, roundish, dark-colored crabs with very hard shells.


Talk about sharks close up and personal. Check 0:26. 


Via Fishermen's HDQ: 

Yesterday I had world reknown angler and outdoor writer, Al Ristori along with our mutual friend Don Marantz onboard my boat for a day of fishing. We caught a boat limit of fluke to over 5 lbs. along with a few decent seabass. It was a great day on the water! — with Al Ristori.

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