Wednesday, October 08, 2008: Waves: 2 feet out of the south. Water clarity: Way too clear; aquarium-like.
I was at it before light today – and should have stayed in bed. No fish. No bait. Not even a bluefish. No lack of trying. Plugs included swimmers, poppers, divers. I saw fish. Near Nebraska a huge splash not far from the jetty seemed to be the result of a large bass chasing a wounded bunker. The bunker may have been chased in from outside. No more than 100 yards off the jetty was a bunker patch – larger than just a baitball.
As the sun got higher, I stood at jetty ends and could easily see the smallest features on the bottom, even in water over 10 feet deep.
Despite my lousy fishing – nothing new – I got home to some emailed reports of bass here and there, almost exclusively in the dark just as sunset began shooting some light in the eastern sky. Bait surf fishermen are making contact with small bass and blues.
Then there are those who ran into just what I hit, per se this emailer:
“Went out this morning around 4:30. The tides have not been very favorable for early morning fishing these past few days. With family and work, early AM is really the only time I can get out on a regular basis.
Fished from 4:30 until 8. No surf, no water, no current.....no fish. It was like fishing in a 2' deep mill pond. Bombers, needle fish, bucktails....nothing. No signs of bait. Brian”
And there is no sign of bait. I checked no less than 25 jetties and found tiny pod of mullet on just one – and those mullet looked totally discombobulated to the point they were just doing large circles instead of actually migrating. I even checked the South Jetty area of Barnegat Light, where mullet had been seen (supposedly in large numbers). Not one mullet in sight. Baby bunker are thick as bricks in the bay. What a pull-out they’re going to make in the near future.
Fishing pressure is relatively light. I drove the entire beach from Holgate to Ship bottom and passed a scattering of casters but nothing like what’ll be out and angling with Saturday’s start of the LBI Surf Fishing Classic.
We’re going into an interesting run of weather. Hard south winds are arriving. Over maybe the past five years, the arrival of south winds (in fall) has turned on the fishing. That prediction is probably jut me looking for something upbeat in an otherwise pretty lousy fishing stretch. Still, by tomorrow the ocean will get riled and could mean some larger blues for the opening day of the 6-week tourney.
Those bunker ball near the beach could loom large – in not such a good way. As I drove the beachfront, I passed maybe half a dozen well-marked bait zones, most were about a football field distance off the beach. Many had some bunker going sky-high, meaning something was spooking them – into trying out flying. The last thing surfcasters need is large arriving bass staying outside to dine beyond casting distance. Of course, boat folks sure wont mind the bass favoring the bunker over the beach. In fact, boat anglers are already probing baitball using snag-and-drop techniques – with very inconsistent results.
RFA Fluke news:
SSFFF and RFA Outline Progress Made and the Work Still Ahead
In front of 70 concerned recreational anglers, party boat operators, tackle shop owners,
and members of the fishing media, Tony Bogan, founding member of the Save the
Summer Flounder Fishery Fund (SSFFF) and Jim Donofrio, RFA Executive Director,
outlined the progress that has been made with regard to improvements with the summer
flounder stock assessment since the groups engaged this problem last year. Specific to
the stock status determination that found summer flounder to not be overfished and that
overfishing was not occurring, SSFFF hired a renowned stock assessment scientist, Dr.
Mark Maunder, who determined that sex-specific natural mortality values produced more
reliable and accurate stock size estimates. Ultimately, his expertise and involvement with
the benchmark assessment resulted in a revision to the assumed summer flounder natural
mortality rate and the biomass rebuilding goal. Based on these revisions, the Mid-
Atlantic Council approved a 2009 summer flounder total allowable landings, which is
over 2.5 million pounds higher than in 2008.
SSFFF and the RFA were quick to mention that despite great progress, significant work
still needs to be done. "We took an important first step, which was one of many that need
to be taken so that we can all feel comfortable with the summer flounder stock
assessment," stated Tony Bogan. Dr. Maunder identified research priorities that when
completed, would vastly improve upon the progress already made to date. Unfortunately,
National Marine Fisheries Service is not required to address these research priorities and
the burden of paying for and coordinating this research falls on the fishing community.
SSFFF will continue its fundraising efforts to get this necessary science completed.
“Since the first dramatic cut in the summer flounder fishery was announced at the
monitoring committee meeting in 2006, RFA has been claiming the solution to this
problem, which is not unique to summer flounder, would require both legislative and
scientific approach,” stated Jim Donofrio. “SSFFF has done an outstanding job of
engaging the stock assessment process and producing tangible improvements for the
fishery. While there is still work to be done on the scientific front, specific amendments
to correct inherent flaws in Magnuson are needed.”
Jim Donofrio was quick to caution that despite the outstanding work of Dr. Maunder and
the higher summer flounder quota set for 2009, problems still lurk within our nation’s
primary fisheries law. Donofrio stressed the importance of anglers and marine businesses
continuing to support the passage of HR 5425. This is essential legislation that will
incorporate limited flexibility in rebuilding which was described as a serious deficiency
at a recent congressional hearing. It is unlikely that HR 5425, even with 19 cosponsors,
will pass before the close of the 110th Congress. However, Congressman Pallone, in a
statement read to those present to the meeting, committed to reintroducing similar
legislation in the 111th Congress.