Thursday, October 09, 2008: Waves: Choppy 1- to 2-foot south winds swell. Water clarity: Good to too-clear.
I’m so loaded down with drab reports (hey, they’re as important as the sizzlers) that I’ll quickly jump into some actual hooking.
CATCHINESS: Hey, wanna have some line-burning fun? Here’s one of the first hot reports I’ve had in many days:
Jay, here you go:
”Broke the inlet to working birds...over snapper blues! After two quick 10 inchers, I hauled right out to the North Barnegat Ridge in the calm seas. Set out two lines with Clark Spoons, and within 5 minutes I had a double on--quite the firedrill as I was a 'crew of one' today!! Wound up with six fat false albacore--to 12 pounds- after just over an hour of trolling. They were spitting up sandeels, which were readable on the sonar just off the bottom. Tiring of this game I ran inshore on the still pretty flat seas to the Tires for some bottom fishing. It was basically drop and reel fishing, and I got about 30 fish in short order, often two at a time. Mostly short seabass, some porgies (which were visible as clouds on the sonar over the bigger snags), and the requisite bergall and searobin. At this point the wind really picked up out of the south and I headed back to the barn at 130PM. Great day, and even better when it goes as you planned!
(False albies are bluefish power with tuna sped and attitude. I will once again buck the established etiquette by assuring these thought-inedible fish are very good fare, providing they’re thoroughly bled immediately after catching. In fact, an immediate filleting (quite bloody, admittedly) and skinning, followed by an immersing in icy saltwater brining offers a great grill entrée.
As for those sand eels, they might well be the talk of the baitfish realm. The resurgence of these highly nutritious (fish-wise) forage fish can only be an incredible thing for fish stocks in general.
What eats them?
Every frickin’ gamefish – and their brothers. In fact, I may pull out my special sand eel castnet and try to net some to the shops. When they are highly populated, pods come right along the beach. Needless to say, they are a bitch to handle and can’t be counted and bagged until fully dead – and even then rubberized gloves are needed.
Fresh sand eels will not only catch everything but also the largest of everything. Where a 50-pound bass would likely pass on, say, a sandworm or bloodworm, it will never ignore a sand eel of pretty much the same size as the worms. I fish two or three on a hook. They take moderate casting pressure but can’t be snap cast. A large sand eel hopped along the bottom on a jig (say, ¾ ounce) is a killer presentation. Note: As more and more folks do the snag-and-drop routine over bunker baitballs, it would be hugely interesting to drop a gob of sand eels down if bass seem to be there but disinterested in dropped bunker.
The porgy “shoals” are an amazing sight to see when diving. They can be cosmic to swim through – the fish seemingly only slightly alarmed by a diver passing through them..
The side of the coin most of us are seeing. Email:
“Jay, Went out this morning at 4:30. First time in quite a few days the water looked fishable. Decent clarity, nice chop, good current. Looked great. Too bad the fish didn't cooperate. Threw eels for four hours straight (that is the only bait I generally will use....my ace in the hole when I want fish). Not one single pick-up. Was surprised to see only one other guy fishing, and I was in sight of a VERY popular north end location. No sign of bait. It's gotta open up soon. Brian”
Again, thanks for the reports. The skunk reports are easily as important as those talking about frenzied fishing. Skunk tales
help folks realize they're not alone when out there catching squat -- myself among those squatting all over the place of late. J-mann)
Beach buggy update: Danger zone: Holgate proper. Be advised that the access road that goes on and off the Jap Hole section (it is about 50 yards north of the parking lot) is fully impassable going south. There is currently only some flimsy yellow tape marking this southbound beach entrance – and a 10-foot drop-off onto concrete that could prove fatal.
Holgate is very passable at low tide – and generally an hour and a half on either side of low. The no-go zone extends from just north to south of the Osprey Nest. Exposed shrubbery roots make passage impossible with higher water. Do not try to go above the exposed roots/trees without full command of the hazards. A couple vehicles have suffered bodily damage when accidentally getting jammed in among the roots and limbs when trying a passage from that angle. The bayside Mudflats are heavily grown over but present no real buggying hazard.
The front beaches are generally wide and passable for much of LBI – excepting the tight zones like Brant Beach and such. In fact, it’s quite drivable out there, beach-wise. The problem is all that sand has led to very soft conditions, especially north of Nebraska Avenue and near the south end of the Jap Hole stretch. Full air-downs are mandatory for all LBI beaches. Many access points are super soft with the recent lack of heavy rains so even easy driven beaches become testy as you head off.