GREATLY APPRECIATED: It’s that annual humbling time when I seek donations to keep this site running through the coming year. I have no sponsors -- outside those who read and support the site. This is my only fund-drive. Any and all donations go toward the website. And financial support is needed.
222 18th Street
Ship Bottom, NJ
Sunday, October 19, 2008; Waves: large. Water clarity: good. Winds: bad.
Well, that was no fun. Surfcasting efforts to fight the winds and waves left a lot to be desired – like warmth and dry clothes. As predicted, the weather was nothing to toy with by boat or beach. I did have reports of fish being pulled from the suds and surge. Bluefish and bass to tourney-size were coming to folks willing to jump out of their buggies when the rods moved a little crazier than the gyrations caused by the wind. Plaudits to bluefish, which can make a rod do acrobatics even within 35 mph winds.
It’s already time (Early Sunday) to look ahead to the coming week. Things will take a little time to settle down, smoothed by light to moderate offshore (west) winds by early week. The current stir may work to favor surf fishing since the bunker build-up – and it has the potential to be massive – will be disorganized, meaning big blues and bass will be moving all around, including right along the beachline. This is not to say boat anglers (especially near the inlets and off IBSP) won’t also have huge bassing potential, they simply won’t have an ideal situation for snag-and-drop bassing. Peanut bunker are still deep in the bay but simply can’t hang there much longer. Already some large pods have moved into the ocean but were immediately lost in the storminess. They weren’t hurt or anything, just gone from anglers’ sight. Since baby bunker tend to hang nearer the beach, that will most likely be where they’re first spotted -- by midweek. This could mean bluefish overriding the bass. The main peanut bunker migration scenario is still a couple week away, though.
Buggy banter: There are some serious cutaways from the storm and some damaged zones around jetty land ends. I have yet to get exact locales so I’ll work on that today and tomorrow. However, the post-storm warning of “Buggy Entrance” drop-offs is in effect. Before driving on anywhere, get out and take a visual read. IMPORTANT: Always tabulate how hard it might be to exit the access point you’re using to get on the beach. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten on (after a storm) to find I can’t proceed very far north or south and MUST use the access I just used only to find it’s a helluva site steeper than it looked when getting on – and there ‘s no getting to any other buggy-use street ends. Not that I’ll admit it to the world, but I’ve been forced to use non-designated street ends (sometimes having to remove a bench or two) when trapped by the above snared scenario.
Needless to say, Holgate is getting over washed. Forget buggying there anytime near high tides. Also, it is apparently against wilderness rules to cut any of the dead branches and whatnot that is exposed on the beach. I won’t get into that whole “who owns the beach” thing since the point is mute. Erosion will place the disputed land under ocean water in the near future. There are small bluefish on the west peninsula areas of Holgate.
Pro report: Hello All,
With the gale force winds we've had over the last couple of days, pretty much all we can do is sit at the dock thinking about what fishing should be like when it finally settles down. As I write this, it's blowing steady 30+ knots from the northeast with gusts into the low 40's... enough to rearrange the furniture and keep the boat straining against the docklines. But weather should be exactly what we need to ignite the fall striped bass bite which has been hit or miss over the past couple of weeks.
Early in the week we found immense schools of rainfish being absolutely ravaged by mixed schools of bass and bluefish along the beachfront. Diamond jigs would be hit almost as soon as you lifted them off the bottom, mostly by bluefish but every third or fourth fish would turn out to be a bass. The blues were all in the 8-14# range and the bass a nice mix of keepers and near keepers. Fall fishing at its finest! Late in the week that bite seemed to drop off a bit as schools of larger bunker made an appearance. We attempted to fish them on Friday, but these winds started to crank up and forced us back inside. Live spot are producing a few fish in the inlet areas, and this blow should get them started gobbling up our clams in back.
I've still got one open date in October (10/28) and a couple of weekdays in November available if anyone's interested in getting out this fall.
Capt. Jack Shea
Barnegat Bay Fishing Charters