Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Saturday Nov. 17 07: Late update Winds down a bit -- and stripers greet me for a change.

Saturday Late update: A beachfront bass burst took place midday onward, mainly South End but with showings in the surf for the entire 20 miles of LBI. A quick thanks to the many folks who contacted me about the upbeat bassing. They know I’ve been on a long-term striper skid – though my a.m. today luck got me off the snide. Unfortunately, I was elsewhere bound when word came in of bass on bunker. I didn’t get a clear read on whether there were bltizified conditions out there or just a steady bass bite. I say that because I know that a couple of the largest fish were taken on chunk baits. The biggest fish I have officially heard about were a couple cow in the mid 30-pound zone. I’ll pass on further info. So, does this mean a hot final day (tomorrow) of the Classic? Sure seems it.

Per usual, you had to be at the right place with a goodly amount of right time mixed in. Below is a slower report. The fish in question is a superb eating red hake (or silver hake or silver/red hake or, well, you get the ID drift). These cool-water fish (part of the big cod-like groundfish family) can come in by the loadful. While they seldom show heavily in the surfline, they are just past the sandbar, in water from, say, 10 to 25 feet deep. I have kayak fished as many as two dozen during a single one-hour session. As the email hints, they are notorious tappers, which make them far more of nuisance than a high-catchable for surfcasters, especially when the hake go after big chunks of bait, seldom getting near the large hooks being used for bigger bass and blues. These fish have also been known to hang around all winter, even during bitter cold. The fishing piers to our north often show them.

J, Came down Friday with my son and his friend, (both 11). I fished by myself while the boys slept Friday night for a couple of hours and caught this fish, (ling?, hake?) in the surf in town. I could feel them tapping on the clam and finally hooked one on a hook meant for bass. Saturday the boys and I fished a few places in town and then down through holgate, and my son caught one fish, a 25" bass flush to a jetty on clam. I missed a few of something. Then we fished again Saturday afternoon into darkness, nothing. Back at it in the morning, hoping the northeast winds do there thing.

Saturday, November 17, 2007: Waves: Small. Water Clarity: Fair. Winds: Dropped to 8 to 12 NW.

I fought the chill this early a.m. and finally felt some bassification of my plugs. Three fish including a keepable 28.5-incher brought back an instant recall of why plugging is so much fun. They blasted my black Bomber (retrieved at a slow surface waggle) and fought like they had been taking lessons from bluefish – that is until I got about an 8-pound-ish blue on right before I headed off the beach. The semi-slammer took my 12-pound line like it was nothin’. Oddly, the blue was long and fairly thin. It spat up a couple sand eels before I loosed it. That strong presence of sand eels remains very interesting.

There has been a lot of near-in birdplay, often just out of surfcasting range so the potential for some blitz-like bursts (at any time) hangs in there this entire weekend. Boat anglers will be able to take advantage of this wind reprieve to get out there and chase the birds in a top-water way.

This is the last weekend of the Classic. The event has been astounding bluefish heavy but has not suffered from the lack of bass. It stands at 346 to 100, blues to bass. It just came down to who could coax in the few stripers that made the board. There were many days that the second-place (and sometimes first-place) prizes weren’t collected. Hey, that’s the name of the game. Actually, I don’t know what the game is called but that’s the name of fishing, for sure.

Blackfish are on the frontbeach jetties but have gotten very scattered just in time for tog season. They go for sandcrabs pitched near the rocks, hung on a 1/0 black-colored hook, dangled from a dropped loop that sits about a foot off the bottom. Use a one-ounce bank or coin sinker. The better fish are near the deep ends of the jetty. Best targeted during low tides. The tog can also be fished from the beach by going maybe 20 yards off the jetty and casting toward the end. That angle helps pull a larger fish away from the rocks. Blackies are incredible whole-cooked and covered (or side dished) with a black bean sauce.

Still loads of skate and occasional dogs.

Night bridgers have an off-and-on go. Seems the first few drops indicate what way the session is going to go; fish are either in or out. Those troll-types are not afraid of cold weather, I noted as I saw them last night with wind-chills as low as they’ve gotten all season.

Emailer noted that backbay near their home is totally void of all baitfish. “The last few years I’ve still had peanut bunker this late. Not this year,” he wrote. At the same time, there is still some bunker bait in the lagoons up near Waretown.

Tom Fote was down in D.C. doing the fluke reg scramble. I’m interested to see what his latest read is. I’ll keep you posted.

Here’s a warm report to prep you traveling types for this winter’s excursions: Hi Jay, thought I'd give you a report on my Keys fishing, per our prior emails.

Well, I did fish enough to get my better half a little angry at times. And as we discussed, I did try a bunch of artificials -- with some success, but overall it was bait (shrimp and cut bait) that ruled, at least for the smaller stuff.

Lots of fun on bait from shore: lots of grunts, some spanish macs, some pompano, two decent mangrove snappers, and some very thin bright silver fish that looked like a fine china dish or an angelfish out of an aquarium, but bigger. Although I had a few hits on small jigs and twisters, drifting unweighted shrimp pieces ruled for these guys, with cut bait (grunt) as 2nd. Couldn't buy a hit on a live-lined grunt for some reason.

However, as I learned a little and stayed out later into the night, I would see some big swirls here and there - and began what would be a near-weeklong dual with a tarpon who prowled the neighbor's dock in the evenings. Night after night, I threw every bait at him -- live grunts, pilchers, cut bait, shrimp, even squid. Then jigs, bucktails, twisters, Gulp!, shads, even a small swimmer and a popper. Nothing. I even got some good looks at him as he taunted me, swimming under the lights.

Finally, I recalled that people catch these fish on flies (and since I was running out of things to try!), so I tied a small (#4 or #2) white marabou streamer fly onto my 10 lb light spinning outfit. I positioned myself to have the wind help me, and lofted a cast to land near his lair. Only twice though -- on the 2nd twitch of the 2nd cast he took it.

It was a good 15 minutes of give and take, with most of my efforts focused on keeping him out of the pilings and docks as he took line -- walking along shore away from one dock to move him over, then getting some line in and walking the other way to keep him away from the neighboring dock. Back and forth quite a few times in that 100' of open shore between the docks. Jumped him a few times too.

I did finally beach him, got a photo (with my foot for size) and, after walking in the water to revive him a bit, released him and he swam away. Broke the hook of the streamer though (my only marabou) removing it from his jaw. He was only about 15-20 lbs, but quite the fun battle on light spinning gear. My first tarpon.

Next night? No tarpon action on any other teasers (all I had were bucktails -- I think the marabou action made the difference), so I changed gears and put on a 1/8th oz flutter jighead with a bright 5" plastic pink shrimp tail and went into the deeper water off the mooring piles.

BIG hit gently jigging it, but unfortunately still using my light outfit. Stayed down, not like the tarpon. Couldn't control this fish, taking line and going where he wanted to. Hung on for about 2 mins till he wrapped me up on one of the pilings. Neighbor thought it could have been a big snook or a baracuda - but a cuda would've cut me off in no time I think. I prefer the visual of a big snook.

Going back for TGiving weekend. Got my flutter jigs and tails and hoping to find some white marabou jigs to bring along -- and some pre-emptive gift or flowers for the wife.

PS_ I hear I didn;t miss as much on the striper front as I thought I would. Just heating up...maybe?

-- Steve S.

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