Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Monday Aug. 27, 2007: Slow but trying to unslow

Monday, August 27, 2007: Waves: 2-4 foot swell, generally easterly but touch of north windswell. Water clarity: Good.

The fishing has been very much to the liking of the Slowskys, those tortoises that work for Comcast -- and like everything comatose or slower. Our angling slowness harkens back to the after-age of the long storm of last week. Things were sluggish in recovering due to large waves and fidgety winds. However, there are strong indicators things could really detonate on the bite fronts, especially weakfish and (I fear saying it) fluke.

Fluking pressure is going to be nearly incalculable with this holiday weekend being so close to the end of the summer flounder season. However, the drifts had been a bit poor recently so there are no guarantees that hooking will be hyper. Here’s a fluking email: Fished Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the ocean off Beach Haven. Keeper ratio is good but the numbers are not there. I've been using live mullet and live peanut bunkers so maybe the bigger baits is why the numbers are so low.”

I just want to doubly alert folks – as we see the end of fluking season on the not-distant horizon – that the bandied about 15-million pound 2008 quota is still very much in doubt. The final “advisory” will be made in December and there is easily a better than even chance that number will plummet, that comes from a source close to NMFS who emailed off the record to say the regulators are very much looking into any overages for this year. I don’t like the drift of this and any further reduction will sit poorly with anglers who have never seen so many fluke out there. Again, that’s the double-edged sword thing: All those fish illustrate that the stocks seem fine but it indicates huge over-takes of poundage. I personally have no doubt we are over by a mountain’s worth of flatties – and, like others, will say “If they weren’t there we wouldn’t have caught them!”

Weakfishing has actually revitalized fairly well, post-storm, but even that action takes some know-how to find the main bite, whereas everyone and anyone was picking them right before the blow.

We’ll surely soon be seeing a mustering of the sparklers since that shifty species is among the earliest departers at season’s end nears. Here’s an early indicator of that mustering: “The weakfish bite yesterday was the best so far this season. It was a 70 – 75 weakfish trip with most being keepers. The biggest fish where in the 18 – 19” range. Everyone on board could have easily kept their limits but released most of them. The bite on the incoming was a nice steady pick but turned hot on the ebb with numerous double headers. It often took no longer than seconds to get a strike after dropping your shrimp over. Capt. Alex Majewski, Lighthouse Sportfishing.”

That report also confirms some earlier indicators that the weakfishing biomass for 2007 is huge. I sure hope they move out a Slowsky pace, taking a load of stop-over time near the inlets – and Holgate.

The bluefishing took maybe the largest drop with the storm, going from gangbusters to occasional flurries. That, however, seems to also be changing with the better water we now have moving in out there. A few full-blown birdplay blitzes were found not far off the beaches on Monday.

The bait showing is impressive in some nearshore areas. Rainfish, spearing, small bunker and larger bunker are among the baitballs. The calmer ocean will allow those bunker to be easily seen, though there is currently nothing below them – short of big sharks. Still, just having all those dinner bells ringing out there will surely attract the good gamefish real soon. You have to remember, we are still technically in the Dog Days, with the better part of a summer month to go before the start of fall – which has not been starting on time for many years now.

Tuna fishing is very good, with some ultra-rare swordfish showing. Canyon bite has been active enough to get big gamefishermen doing turnarounds to get back out again.

Bassing remains bad by even summer standards. The very few fish taken are smallish. The best bet seems to be inside Barnegat Inlet, either side. In fact, folks walking the New south Jetty throwing plugs and teasers are having a lot of fun, mainly because they’re willing to have fun even if it means no walk-off meat.

Ocean herring are everywhere but to catch them you need teasers or (better yet) daisy chains of small white freshwater plastic grubtails. By the by, these are the type herring that are used for large-scale pickling purposes around the world, though our spring blueback herring are by-far the best tasting herring on the planet.

It is neigh impossible to eat herring by frying or baking. The bones, tiny and wicked, are everywhere – and it’s easy to consider tempting the choke monster since the cooked meat is delicious, very similar to Boston mackerel. As you know, pickling dissolves herring bones while baking actually hardens them.

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