Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

June 8, 2008: Sizzler -- but not the fishing

Sunday, June 08, 2008: Waves: 1-2.5-foot medium period groundswell. Water clarity: Fair, cleaning up along the beachfront; excellent from about 100 years out and eastward. Water temps: Still chilled but warming a bit, near 60.

Since the Weather Service has frequently dragged across the glowing coals in chatrooms – where recent storms and winds have caught many mariners unwarned – I have to give them credit for nailing this nasty heat wave. Last week, the first long-range forecasters saw the potential of all-time early-June highs temps.

It is an LBI-an maxim that we go directly from winter to full-blow summer. This year has exemplified that to the hot hilt. A couple eye blinks back, we had actually been bandying about cooler than usual spring air temps (and accompanying water temps) then this overnight inferno.

Today LBI was included in the thick 90s, making 94 when winds went SW (offshore) midday. It was stifling, even on the sand. I did see a number of surfcasters working toward the after 5 (p.m.), as miles worth of tourist traffic exited for that homeward bound parade.

There are bass out there but the consistency is nonexistent. There have been some fine rogue bass led by a couple 30-pounders going for fresh bunker (no Simply Bassin’ entries I know of so far). However, the slowness is so encumbering it was simply not worth sitting in ferocious heat. Plus, we have entered into an atrocious skate dimension. These un-functional cartilaginous flatfish are everywhere in the surf – and miles and miles out at sea. I hate going ecological during every population boom of any species, but I have to think the un-pressured skate population is exploding due to vacuums created by the weak stocks of other game species. Sure, dogfish are also allegedly over-populated but, in contrast to skate, dogfish are fairly heavily commercially fished – to the point strict regs are in-place to protect both smooth and spiny dogs. Skate have it all their way. They now own the bottom. I’m thinking that’s not great news for fluke anglers.

I was told a tale of a mid-Island 30-some-inch striper getting dissected by a shark as a surfcaster brought it in. Mark my word, the shark presence will be huge if all this bunker bait hang close-in. It’s a food chain as old as fishing itself: baitfish bring gamefish bring sharks and other predators. I know that a load of fishing folks chased in on incredible shark gamefishing a couple years back. There could be a repeat HOWEVER the regs regarding sharks may well be the strictest rules out there – even beyond tuna. You had better know your sharks and what do if you hook into one. I was told the fines for killing a protected shark will make that gas tank top-off seem minor.

The bluefish continue to pull more than their weight when it comes to saving boat fishing sessions. I don’t get a report that doesn’t – usually in passing – mention plenty of blues. The blues have once again gone small – and more edible. Still, tales of choppers able to take off a careless hand are associated with snag-and-drop action near the beach.

I had an email suggesting I was off the mark when I said that commercial bunker boats will surely be out there in due time. “I thought (bunker) factory ships were banned,” wrote A.M. of PA. I’m pretty sure bunker reduction fishing nets are still eliminated from New Jersey state waters, inside three miles. Reviewing legislative efforts by congressmen Saxton and Gilchrest -- to place a moratorium on bunkering in the EEZ (3 miles out to 300) -- it seems that, currently, bunker companies can freely work the EEZ.

Even the mass mentality of bunched up bunker have yet to rationalize that if they stop just short of 3 miles things will stay sweet, with the exemption of those stupid killer fish down below. Maybe a few more brain cells in the baitball will allow them to figure it all out. Anyway, if I’m incorrect on that EEZ read, someone please let me know.

A number of spearfishermen are anxiously awaiting the first clean water to work the big bass now out there. I know this subject pisses off a gaggle of guys who feel spearing is somehow a repulsive form of fishing. I read it on chatrooms and hear it hereabouts.
I say let ‘em have at it. It takes a load of assorted water skills – and physical conditioning that is way up there – to take stripers, mano a mano. I find it hard to believe that there are those folks somehow opposed to spear fishermen actually to the water and literally diving into the bass inner circle of ecology to shoot – on rare occasion – a take-home fish.

Flukemail: Hi Jay,
Snuk out into the bay in the fog Saturday morning for a couple hours. Looking for weakies in the Morrisons/Middle grounds area, got a nice surprise with a 4-5 lb fluke on a pink Spro bucktail with a pink Gulp minnow. Then the tide went slack and that was that. Hey, dinner is dinner - I'll take it!

Pro report: “The main story right now seems to be bluefish, with the larger variety hitting baits intended for stripers around the inlet and the smaller variety spread all over the west side of the bay. Enormous schools of bunker are stretched both north and south of the inlet for miles, almost too much bunker to locate the bass that are almost surely in the vicinity. I got out by myself last Tuesday, and nailed a nice 30 pound bass on a live bunker within the first half hour. But then it was nothing but bunker the rest of the morning until I stopped to play with some big blues in the inlet on the way home.

“Friday I had Viv and Dave Olsen from North Carolina aboard trolling up a load of tasty cocktail blues in the back bay. Saturday I had regulars George Selph and Bob Keller out targeting bass from the bunker schools in a dense fog but only ending up with a livewell full of bunker before heading back in the inlet. Then today the Pete Burns party managed a nice 31" bass on clam in the back before the slime grass made fishing the channels untenable, so we shifted our attention to blues and landed a dozen or so up to 8 pounds before heading in to escape the heat.

“The water is finally starting to warm up a bit, so hopefully this coming week will see the bass bite really turn on. probably be giving the bass and blues a couple more weeks before switching over to fluke and weakfish for the summer. Capt. Jack Shea, "Rambunctious"
Barnegat Bay Fishing Charters

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Comment by Tom Testa on June 9, 2008 at 9:29am

Are there any natural predators to control the skate population?


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