Friday, October 10, 2008: waves: 2 feet out of the south. Water clarity: Fair to good; cleaning up after south winds mucked it up a bit yesterday. Water temps: Too warm – 65 to 68 (Yep, I took a 68-degree reading near Little Egg Inlet).
We’re into a stretch of pure Indian Summer. For the next 5 or 6 days we’ll be well into the 70s for daytime highs. The winds will generally be out of the north and west but will become land and sea breezes by as early as Sunday.
Needless to say, the surfcasting pressure will be heavy beginning with tomorrow’s start of the LBI Surf Fishing Classic. Hopefully, I’ll have reports from savvy sources I only hear from this time of year. It sure doesn’t seem like the bluefish or bass categories will get bull rushed, based on the continued slowness of serious catching. Small blues and small bass are fairly commonplace with a few just-keeper bass showing, mainly on boats. I should note that the junk-fish have really been a huge factor out there. Skate are the biggest bugaboo. Fluke are being by-caught all over the place.
Here are some emails after which I’m publishing a long retort by Tom Fote to an emailer bitching about the Gov’s Cup. Tom deserves to be heard , for sure.
Fished the Holgate surf today from 5pm till dark. Normally I would throw plugs and jigs, but I wanted to catch some dinner. I fished fresh bunker and clams. Had a ball. Caught slew of bluefish and jumbo croakers. Bluefish were to 5lbs. Kept enough for lunch and dinner on Friday. Also had a massive takedown on a bunker chunk right at dark. I thought I had a huge bass on the way it fought for the first 20 minutes. 45 minutes into the fight I was thinking this was something much bigger----and it was. I would get the fish right to the back of the first drop off and it would hunker down to the bottom, regain strength, and take off on long run. This happened at least 5 times. I finally got a look at a huge cow nosed ray. Thankfully the hook just dropped out and it got swept back in the undertow. What a fight.
Rare day off tomorrow, so I'm going fishing with the wife. Will get you a report.
Quick email about my after Phillies game fishing session. Hit the south end bay side around midnight. Found a half dozen fluke to 21", seabass, and a pair of weakfish. Weakfish seem to be vacating the bay in a hurry. My catches are down. Fluke fishing is still great.
Later on in the morning I hooked a much larger fish that straightened out a jig head. I went for a heavier plugging rod and in my travels to my truck I found some bunker. I threw a net on them and took a few to live line. Long story short, I caught my first three bass of the fall season. All keepers too. First one was about 21 lbs. The second was 14-15lbs. The third was a long release that looked to be close to the 20lb mark. I released them all. I'm tired as hell, but it was really good fishing. Till tomorrow.
Another morning of nothing. There was decent water when I got on the beach at 4:30, but the west wind had it dropping fast. Plugged until 7:30....needle fish, bomber, crystal minnow.....not a bump. No signs of bait.
Email question asking what I meant by a “full air down.”
A full air down mans to drop your tire pressure to maximum off-road level. On average that is between 15 psi up to 20 psi -- what might be called the "usual" level air is let out to achieve surest sand travel. A full air down is very often replaced by a partial air down, whereby we try to get by on a mere 20 psi -- to as high as 25 psi. This partial air down is used when the sand is very compact and forgiving – and one wants to have maximized road travel capacity. I often get by on 25 psi (partial air down) so I can drive the Boulevard just fine, i.e. without airing up. The problem with partial air downs arrives when things suddenly get soft –as it always seems to do regardless of how firm the sand looks from a distance. Experienced off-road drivers do best with partial air downs. Note: partial air downs are not only tougher on a buggy’s motor but surely uses up fuel at a far higher rate. Best bet: Air down right before going onto the beach then air up as soon as possible after departing the sands. I wish I was that patient. So does my truck.
I might have been the one other lone fisherman that Brian spoke of in today's comments. I started out south of him, and worked my way north. By the time I arrived where he'd been, he'd departed. Kind of wish the experience I had could have been shared with him, or anyother fisherman, but I was the only one on the beach until close to noon.
At about 9:00, I had gotten back south of where Brian had fished, and while looking at the water for signs, I spotted a flock of gulls over bait about 3/4's of a mile out. That flock stayed there, while a second flock appeared along the south side of the shoal. Not really thinking that I would have a chance, I still decided to change my lure to metal in order to give myself some extra distance.
After changing the lure, I turned around toward the water, and there, within casting range were half a dozen gulls and terns looking fishy. I cast toward them, and when the lure was about half way in, I got thumped.
I set the hook into a strong fish, and began fighting it. My one thought was to be able to at least see the fish should it come unbottoned. About 2 waves out, the fish jumped clear of the water-a really nice big Blue, its mouth wide, and the large head shaking. It jumped again before I was finally able to land it.
That fish was the start of a great 2-hour session with large 10 lb. Blues and one keeper Bass. There was little splashing or bait jumping, but I did see one bunker jump, and get pounced upon by a blue. So, I changed from metal to a Pencil Popper, and enjoyed one great topwater strike after another.
I kept looking for fisherman north or south of me, but I was alone.
After catching and releasing 7 or 8 big Blues and the Bass, I decided that it was time to leave those fish alone, and headed over to BLBT. Basil told me that he had heard the Blues drove bunker right onto the beach at Harvey Cedars.
That made sense. Earlier, I had wondered where all of those gulls were heading as they flew past me and south. Even though I looked downbeach to see if they were headed to a blitz, I never saw where they went, just that they were all headed somewhere with what seemed to be intention.
Just happened to be at the right place at the right time today.
Tom Fote’s reaction to email: I am writing this in response to an email a
received tonight about the Governor's Surf
Fishing Tournament. but I figured I pass this along to you also.
I was very disappointed with your comments in the
email you sent me tonight. When I read your email
and felt I needed to reply immediately. So please
excuse the mistakes since I starting writing this
at 1:00AM and it is now 3:00AM. I was at a JCAA
board meeting until 11PM tonight.
The Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament was
designed as a family tournament. This was the
17th year of the tournament. The tournament has
had as many as 1,400 participants. This year it
was over 900. The money raised goes for handicap
access and teaching kids and adults to surf fish.
The majority of the entrants are kids that do not
pay anything to fish. Registration Fees: Ages 18
& over - $10 for early entry if postmarked by
Sept. 14 ($15.00 fee on Tournament Day) $5.00
Ages 13-17 Children 12 & under are FREE! The
Tournament supplies rods and reels to people that
have never fished before in the surf and do not
have gear. It also runs clinics to teach adults
and kids how to fish the surf. Special
arrangements are made for handicapped anglers.
Balloon tire equipped beach wheelchairs are
available for anglers with disabilities. These
chairs were bought and are maintained with money
raised from the tournament and the chairs are
available year round for handicap anglers. The
handicap ramp at Island Beach State Park got it’s
started with money raise from the tournament.
The sponsors are the NJ DEP, NJ Division on
Parks, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, New
Jersey Beach Buggy Association, JCAA and New
Jersey State Federation of Sportsmen Clubs. Not
one of the sponsors gets any money from the tournament.
It was set up as so you can catch and release
fish. Judges volunteer there time and gas riding
up and down the beach measuring fish that are
caught. Summer flounder was allowed from first
year of the tournament. 17 year ago when the
tournament was started summer flounder was not a
problem but we still very concerned about striped
bass. That is why we set it up so you could catch
and release so if you did not want to kill a bass
you could release it. Then last year the summer
flounder season was closed and there was no fluke
allowed. The State with its three ASMFC
Commissioners at a summer flounder board meeting
asked that it be allowed to keep fluke for this
tournament for scientific study. The state
suspect few legal fluke would be landed and that
judges would record every fluke. The number was a
big 5 with over 900 participants. This is a state sponsor Tournament.
The tournament sponsors wants to give away rods
and reels to the kids and participants. We were
very disappointed that we could not give away
another 20 rods and reels this year since there
were no qualifying fish. There were no bass and
no big bluefish this year. I would never have
guessed that the longest fish would have been a fluke.
It takes about 50 volunteers to judge and do
other things during the tournament. None of them
are able to fish. Most of them are the same
people have been doing this for 17 years. They
enjoying sharing their sport with others
I helped start planning this tournament over 19
year ago to promote surf fishing, create a family
experience and show the importance of surf
fishing to the Governor and other state
personnel. Every elected governor had showed up
at the tournament at least once and some of them
every year they were in office. This year
Governor Corzine rode the beach and talked to
anglers at 6:30am. It was his third trip to the
tournament. He talked to three blind girls
fishing the tournament and also two people using
the big wheel chairs. It showcased our sport and
the sport I love in a very positive way.
Instead of complaining about a five fluke, why
don't you come and help us out next year. We are
always looking for volunteers to teach people our great sport.