Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
Friday, December 07, 2007: Waves: Small. Water clarity: Very good. Plugability: Fair.
As I drove the beach, coming across a scattered half dozen anglers, I had the strong sense that the fat stripering lady has sung, as much because of the weather as the lack of intensity on the part of casters to keep on stripering.
Last year at this time we were going full-bore. The bassing was super – and would stay that way deep into January. Unless we see nothing short of a miraculous burst of schoolie bass, this year we will have lost the bass by the start of December. I’m still holding on to the delusion that the bass are still on the way. I based that on the better boat bassing a while back. However, I was tuning into some boat chatter today and the one transmission that stuck in my mind was the guy who said he had one small bass yesterday and nothing today. “I’m going back to the dock. I’m actually gonna pull her out for the winter.” Maybe he’ll regret that.
Just to muster any sort of upbeatness, I’ll note that I had a good day out there. Out on the mudflats, that is. I went clamming in Holgate, expecting to labor like crazy for a mere few dozen – as has been the case in recent weeks. Instead, I just happened to pick a good area and ended up limiting out at 150. I could have even gotten more. It was still work, mind you. I’m a kneel-down raker, which is very high-energy output. However, after reaching a 100 some clams, I took to keyholing – looking for air holes and digging only there. Even though the clams were very deep, I grabbed another 50 in a flash. I have them purging in a large cooler with ocean water. This time of years the clams can stay alive in that frigid water for weeks and weeks, providing you leave them outdoors. At the same time, the clams totally off any grit and slime they’re holding within. The Holgate clams are incredible enough. When you let them hyper-purge, you have a final product that is a good as any shellfish on the planet.
Laugher: A guy I know was raging against sashimi (and sushi). “Crap, you won’t get me eating any of that stinkin’ raw fish. You gotta be nuts to do that.” And on and on. Then I told him to grab some clams if he wanted. He grabbed a bunch of smaller ones to – you guessed it – eat raw on the half-shell.
FROSTIE – THE HAKE I had a question about “frostfish.” That lead to my rethinking the type hake we get right near the beach. What are called red hake -- which I have long been told is the type we get right past the breakers -- are more likely silver hake, a.k.a, whiting, and a.k.a frostfish.
Red hake is a deeper water species. Still, I was told fairly recently, by an expert, that the hake I get from my kayak are the “red” variety.
Whichever, back in the day (as in 50 year back and counting even further back) the whiting were so abundant that they would get stranded on the beach in winter, freezing on the spot, thus the “frostfish” colloquialism. Some LBI accounts have residents picking them up by the hundreds.
Why did they beach themselves? You’d have to think that something very scary chased them ashore. Cod coming in after them? Bass coming from the deeper holes to eat them. Coldwater sharks?
Something like 40 years back, the whiting numbers feel off the maps, damn near destroyed. . Over-fishing being the likely culprit. The days of frostfish are gone, though recent years has seen that ultra-modest resurgence of the species, right near the beach.