Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
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Sunday, April 22, 2012:
It’s hard to say what the sparked the big turn-off of those big bass rolling on baitballs last week. Somewhat oddly, it seems the sand eel/bunker/herring-stalking stripers dispersed. That’s based on the way the last of the bass from that action were being taken haphazardly, all around – often on the troll s opposed to bait dropping.
I read one captain’s report that the fish “had eaten their fill.” Doesn’t happen. Bass are far more inclined to simply dine to contentment then hunker down, often near the food source.
Stripers metabolize food much slower than, say, bluefish. They can even slow their metabolism down in times of serious shortages. It’s not like they knowingly assume some yoga positions and employ controlled breathing exercises (yes, fish breath). It’s simply a genetic, i.e. natural response to hard times.
Again using bluefish for a comparison, they have a greatly limited ability to quiet their runaway-train metabolism. And it seemingly costs them dearly during tough winters. Short of die-offs, there is no way to explain massive bluefish biomasses going into winter and barebones stocks coming out afterwards.
But back to bass, it’ll be interesting to see if a more normal late-spring showing of bass and bunker takes place after that way-early episode.
While I’m always gung-ho for a great boat bass bite, I always look out for my surfcasting cohorts. This current breakup of the bass mass might bode well for stripering in the suds -- once this blow is past. That’ll lineup nicely with the start of Simply Bassin’ 2012.
As for this arriving gale and its accompanying rain, it’s like manna from above. The Pines have gone bone dry at the worst possible time, amphibian-wise. Many/most puddles loaded with tadpoles have given up the watery ghost, dooming the futures of hundreds of thousands of future frogs. Ironically, many groups are bemoaning the rain because of soaked out Earth Day events. The thing is nothing could be better for our drought-stricken area of earth more than this rain.
Even less obvious but far more ecologically ugly was the failure of vernal (spring) ponds to assume their annual places in low-lying terrain. Without those temporary ponds, all amphibians, not just puddle frogs (wood frogs), can kiss their spawns good-bye.
Bring on the flooding rain – and let’s hope it’s not too late.
I’ll be doing a herptile (reptiles and amphibians combined) count beginning next week so I’ll see first-hand if salvation came around early enough.
I do want to note we’ve had a real nice run of close-in tog, as the four-fish season comes to a close on Monday April 30. I actually don’t hype the fishery, even though it rates damn near the top of my fun-fishing list. It’s just not responding that well to conservation measures and I can all but guarantee that even tougher regs will come about in a year or two. Like fluke, it’s tog is most often a meat fishery, meaning anglers almost always keep any legal catch. There is also horrific poaching of the fishery in summer – when a single small live tog can be worth $10 a prepared ounce. One up side is the very good survival rate after release. They’re bulldogs that way.
I’m often asked, “How do you prepare tog to eat?”
I simply say, “Sorry, tog, but I’m going to be eating you.”
Just a brief update this week since there doesn't seem to be a lot going on at the moment. The epic bass bite we've been enjoying around these parts for the past few weeks seemed to slow down mid week, and had completely ground to a halt by Friday. Whether the fish were just taking a bit of a breather or whether they've moved out of the area remains to be seen. There's still a tremendous amount of bait along the beachfront and reports from up north are still pretty strong, so we'll just have to wait and see what things are like after this series of storms blows through over the next couple of days. I have to keep reminding myself that it's still only April, and that most other years we'd have a few weeks to go before things even get started.
Until next week.
Capt. Jack Shea
Barnegat Bay Fishing Charters