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222 18th Street
Ship Bottom, NJ
Wednesday, November 12, 2008: Waves: Small.
I’m stuck in one of those overwork stints. Typically, all bluefish hell broke loose as I was forced to stay within walls -- or had to work the Pines as part of a project/job.
You’ve likely seen the weigh-in list for the date 11-11, LBI Surf Fishing Classic. Over 45 blues taken, many by folks who I enjoyed seeing get a weigh-in or two. Yes, the average slammer size remains down but the fun and fight factors are through the ceiling.
The thing many folks aren’t seeing – if just focusing on the Classic – is the totally astronomical take of huge blues by the boat anglers, from Barnegat Inlet to Little Egg. I have gotten upwards of a dozen captain’s reports of bluefish in numbers that surpass simple count-keepings.
While we have surely seen such surf casting bluefish takes – during many falls and tourneys past – we’re getting into rarified air when tabulating the entire biomass now in place – ranging from just past the sandbars out many miles.
The reasons for the blues cruise: The long-term conservation of blues? Absolutely.
The huge increase in bunker stocks? Absofrickinlutely.
The famed historic cycling of bluefish stocks? That just might be the biggest factor or all.
Bring them all together and some wild and wooly bluefishing can take place.
Also recognized: we’re getting very deep into fall, when blues are usually on their ways to those still-mysterious over-wintering destinations. Warmer water and all that bait might have them hangin’ past usual deadlines.
I’ve heard a few folks wondering out loud if the abundance of blues might be holding down the striper take. Well, it might seem there’s a relative dearth of bass when aligned with the bluefish in the Classic weigh-in list. However, the bassing ain’t half bad -- and there is likely a load of bass being missed because of the greater aggressiveness of feeding blues. Also, it’s not like the imbalance of bass and blues is hurting the overall fall fishing. Plus, many persistent anglers are catching bass when the blitzing stops or when finding ways to sneak baits or artificials past the blues.
Now from another writer’s perspective. Here’s Joe Handley’s report. Jay,
Hope you made it out to the beach today. A tremendous day for LBI surf casters. I got out late today at 10am, but it didn't matter. I pulled on the beach in BB and found some boats and birds just behind the low tide outer bar. I found a cut, tossed some bunker chunks, and it was game on. I caught about 10 to 29 1/2". The fish at this time was were not visible. There were schools of bunker and rainfish inside the bar seeking shelter. Every 30 minutes or so the birds would flare up as the fish drove the bait to the surface. I got a bunch on poppers and bucktails.
This went on till dark as I drove from BB to BH back and forth all day long catching fish. As it was getting later in the day, the bass began to show. I got 3 all on poppers. Kept one 32"er for the table. Released the other two. Lost a 25lb class striper when a very stressed treble hook straighted out due to the abuse of bluefish all day.
I caught at least 25 bluefish to 9lbs. I weighed only one Tourney bluefish due to a swallowed popper. Strangely, all the bluefish were 28-30" and carbon copies of one another. Fat and about 6-8lbs each. I heard there were a few monsters around but I failed to catch one. The bluefish and bass I cleaned had butterfish and baby bluefish in their bellies.
Sounds like a good day, right? Well it was, maybe a top ten in my books. But it was even better for three guys in a yellow center console out in front of me around 1pm. I was watching this boat troll back and forth for about an hour. He was picking up bluefish from areas away for the major bird plays. He happen to be right in front of me when his port rod gets hit----hard. I could hear the drag screaming from the beach. He was a long cast from the back of the outer sand bar. I watched for ten minutes or so and then I got busy with the fish in front of me. I caught and released a few and I got hungry. I sat in my beach chair and had lunch and here comes this center console again. The guy still fighting this fish from the bow. This was forty-five minutes from hook-up. The fish ran back out to sea and back to the bar. This happened three more times. Now we are going on an hour and a half. I saw some big splashes south of me so I went to cast to them. I was about a jetty length away when I heard all kinds of whoopin' and hollerin'. I turned to look back towards the center console and I see one of the guys hanging on to a gaff for dear life. Another guy runs to his aid and together they haul a bluefin tuna over the gunwale that I'll under estimate at 85-100lbs. For my money it was closer to 150lbs. They were right outside the breakers when they pulled the fish aboard. They hung around for about 1/2 hour and then ran north out of sight. We should be trolling 80 wides and ballyhoo out there instead of fooling around with these striper and bluefish. I would love to hear about that fish tale from those guys.
Back at it tomorrow,