Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Above: King pic via http://exit63.wordpress.com/
Wednesday, July 18, 2012: Boy, if this isn’t a dog day, nothing is. It’s hot and thick and hazy and tongue-out uncomfortable at midday. There is a hint of ocean breeze picking up.
Lots of fluke fishing being done this early a.m. Oddly, I never had very good luck fluking way early in the day but by the sound of radio chatter and a cellphone call I got from an angler a few miles out, it was a “fair” to “decent” hooking day, except for the lack of a decent drift.
While I prefer not to talk about my own angling – for some reason I’m damned if a keep/catch a fish and damned if I don’t – I have been jigging some nice fluke in the mid-Island suds lately but also nailed a take-home bass yesterday -- somewhat out of the blue. I was throwing a small see-through plastic “sand eel” (unflavored) on an unpainted half-ounce bullet jighead, when, in the very middle of the beach (meaning halfway between jetties), I was stunned to have a 30-inch bass inhale my fluke-intended jig. A real good fight – and a good watch for the late-day beach people. Yes, I kept it. And it went nicely with my one (and only) keeper fluke. Tried for an early-day repeat today but with absolutely no luck, short of my first stargazer of the year. I did notice some dark patches (baitfish of some sort) within netting distance of the beach but I’m not even sure where my nets are. I get new nets each fall and lose track of my throwaways.
By the by, the price of lead is such that I now cut all the leads weights (poids) off my nets – the ones that don’t have those stinkin’ ceramic weights.
With the sudden push for seabass – often by folks getting a tad bored with sorting through fluke all day – it sure helps to hit structures early, before the daily clean-off takes place.
And sites definitely get picked clean. In the case of seabass, I‘m not sure if fish get wise to hooks and back off or if, in fact, the day’s gathering of fish all get caught and very few are left.
How wrecks and reefs recharge, so to speak, remains a bit of a mystery. Obviously, it’s prime habitat thereabouts but how newcomers get wind that space is now suddenly available at prime feeding locations – which are usually overcrowded and aggressively exclusive – has been studied to no real end.
SCHOOLS OR MASSES?: While diving, I have seen seabass moving en masse near wrecks, jetties and reefs. Back in the 80s, I saw them feeding in nearly uncountable numbers.
Interestingly, these feeding units, a.k.a. biomasses, aren’t true schools, per se. They’re more like a feeding unit, clustered together.
At some point, a feeding biomass will break apart into individual schools, each heading off as a separate unit -- especially in fall, when migrating to overwintering grounds. True schools are far more determinable during migration and when overwintering.
Why should it even matter? Schools are the true refillers of exhausted structures.
When reefs have been fished clean (sometimes daily), it’s the arrival of new schools that allow for decent catching, sometimes by the following day. Conversely, and conservationally, finding a reef seemingly packed with what seems to be a massive school might be a slew of schools, meaning doom for some when fishing pressure is crazy.
All this comes down to my sense that the bag limit for the now seriously popular seabass is absurdly high – 25 fish, per person. I’m fully aware that hardly anybody – short of headboat patrons -- is taking that number – even if they can find enough -- and hats off to that voluntary conservation. But even if a few more borderline-sized fish are released, it sure helps the “school” cause.
I see where grass shrimp sales are perking up. Obviously this has to do with the still-arriving schools of weakfish. I’m guessing folks want to nostalgically fish for sparklers, since you really can’t take home more than a mere sample.
I want to put in my annual hype for chum fishing with grassies. Whadda way to learn the bay – inside out, as it were. The variety pack of species drawn to a shrimp chumline is a veritable what’s-what in Barnegat Bay. And the light-tackle action goes from now into October, peaking in September.
I’m really anxious to see if the bay is holding that huge showing of kingfish that swept along the beachfront a short while back. As for the spot deluge, those small croakers can play utter spoilers. They can down gallons of grassies and dominate hook action so severely you have to move off to seek a less spotty site. Still, the fin make that fun factor of chumming shrimp is an ultimate family fishing affair.
Here’s an email I got from Capt. Alex (No, I don’t get a kickback from any charters I hype): I will be running an open boat grass shrimp chumming weakfish trip Sunday morning 7/22 sailing from 7 to 12. Cost is $125 pp. and I will be taking out a maximum of 3. Send me a text or give me a call if interested. The bite is on so go fish!
Capt. Alex, LightHouseSportfishing.com, Barnegat, NJ 609-548-2511.
The following could impact angling with eels:
[Kyodo News] July 18, 2012 The U.S. government is considering restricting trade of American eel and other eel species by listing them as endangered under an international treaty, a move that could cause eel prices in Japan to rise.
At the request of conservation groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is assessing whether American eel and all other eels should be included in the Appendix II to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, according to the April 11 federal register.
International trade of the species listed in the category may be authorized by the granting of an export permit. Since the planned restriction includes other eels, Japanese eels may also be subject to restrictions.
The number of American eels has been feared to be declining since the 1970s.
The move comes at a time when exports of American eels to Japan are growing via eel farms in China and South Korea. According to sources close to Japan-U.S. relations, exports of American eel to Japan jumped after European eel was placed under the Appendix II protection in 2007.
The Fish and Wildlife Service, a unit of the U.S. Interior Department, plans to make a decision this fall whether to propose necessary amendments to the Washington Convention on endangered species when parties to the international pact convene next March.