Friday, September 14, 2007: waves: Choppy 2 foot south swell. Water clarity: Excellent.Water temps: Low 70s.
As expected, things have quieted along the beachfronts and near the inlets. It was “expected” only because it was pretty crazed out there, bluefish-wise. It would have been tough maintaining all that hubbub.
Things have settled into a steady bluefish bite along the beaches with significant down time between flurries. Action near the inlets remains a lot steadier with pretty much tail-to-tail blues if you toss out bait.
Kingfishing is good in Town (BH) and on some Brant Beach section but lacking on many other beaches along LBI. I know this since I had mentioned that not many folks were targeting kingfish and I had four quick emails from those who were actually heavily fishing for them but having little luck finding the tasty hookups. Hey, maybe the spearing are eating all the kingfish eggs. Uh-oh, what have I started?
Junkfish are rampant. The robins are showing in increasing numbers. The skate remain numerous. Sand dogs are everywhere. Always scary stargazers are in their usual here-and-there numbers.
The deluge of mullet fell off drastically late yesterday. The run didn’t stop by any stretch but that eye-boggling nonstop push from Wednesday has backed off to the more typical now-and-again pods with some significant wait time in-between.
The spearing river has thinned but is still a steady flow. There were also the first rainfish yesterday late.
ALIKE BUT DIFFERENT: It’s tough discerning rainfish (Anchoa hepsetus) and spearing (Menidia menidia) when the two species are swimming by. In the water, they are distinguishable only by the ever so slight color difference when the fish are schooled. Spearing schools are a darker, slightly brown, tint when balled up. Rainfish schools are a decidedly orange/red hue -- later in fall they get an even redder color when heavily schooling, even making the water look bloody when they are in the baitball mode.
It is very easy to tell rainfish from spearing once you’ve landed them. While both have an obvious silver stripe, the spearing is whiter overall and non-opaque, while rainfish are (in our area) orange-ish, highly iridescent and actually a bit see-through.
Most obvious is the mouth difference between the two. Spearing have very small mouths while rainfish have downright enormous mouths that, when pulled open, are equal to widest part of the fish’s body. Ironically, a face profile of a tiny rainfish has a shark-like shape when viewed from the side.
By the by, rainfish are also known as bay anchovies, while spearing are commonly known as (Atlantic) silversides; spearing is a localized name we use in the Mid-Atlantic states, though it is taking over as the more common name along the entire coast. As you can tell from their scientific names, they are not that closely related.
A little known angle about both these way-small fish is their aggressiveness. Although often mistaken as mere algae-eaters (like mullet), both rainfish and spearing are ravenous feeders. While they will down some vegetable (algal) matter, they also feed intensely on the eggs or larvae of crustaceans (blueclaw crabs), grasshrimp, squid, copepods and other eel grass bed regulars. They even gang up on the eggs of tog, kingfish, seabass, blowfish and weakfish.
Although it is unlikely they could have a huge impact on gamefish eggs or larvae, they are still players. The ultra-massive showing of spearing this year can either be seen as an indicator that the food sources this summer were way up there (tons of eggs and larvae -- a good thing for the future) or these tiny fish had their evil way with the vital young-of-year crop of many other species. For upbeat sake, let’s think in terms of all the bayside fisheries having a great year and spearing being an indicator that it was a feast-ful summer.
“Hey J, Fished the last Two days for weakfish again, had very good fishing, Peanut bunker is getting it done. I will say that the fish seem to be in a different pattern,not so much stacked in one particular zone, but stretched out more. Had to play a little cat and mouse to find them(longer drifts) Very good size fish to 24 in. A lot of pissed off radio chatter about fluke season from filet and release to government bashing. Hard not to agree when we caught six keepers and numerous throw back size fish way back in the bay. South end report.”
Took my first ride out on Holgate today. What a mid week paradise. Hard to believe that piece of incredible beach will be gone someday in the near future. I fished the backside for a while and had some small blues on plugs in the bait showers. As you surely saw today, bait was everywhere.
Got bored so I went out front to kingfish. Nodda. Went looking in Town---nodda.
On a hunch, I went looking around some bottom structure on the BH bayside surf. With the incoming tide and sunset aproaching conditions looked good. I took fish on my first 10 or so casts. First 5 or 6 fish were really nice weakfish 12 to 24". Then the blues mixed in. Bluefish were much bigger then the ones closer to the inlets. Had some to 4lbs. Caught way over a limit on both fish but I kept only 3 of each for dinner. Super fishing. 3/8 oz leadhead and a white 4" grub was best.
Interesting note. I fish an area that has some steel wreckage on the bottom in about 10 feet of water. All of the bigger weakfish were just uptide of that piece (about the size of a car) right on the bottom. A cast with a super slow retrieve, bumped on the bottom resulted in an instant strike. Move the jig fast, bluefish city. Moved away from the structure---no fish---at all.