Wednesday, August 19, 2009: Waves: Small. Water clarity: Very good. Water temps: near 80.
That front blew threw like gangbusters last night but lasted only maybe 30 minutes. Some rain but not enough to cause runoff problems in the bay. Calm conditions this morning are going to hang most of the day. Could actually be too light to get decent drifts if ocean fluking. Wear sun block an inch thick.
We should begin watching Hurricane Bill with more than a passing interest. It’ll be so close by Sunday that there’s no way you want to mess around in the canyons. What’s more, by Friday night the first serious groundswells will be banging the beaches and (more importantly) the inlets. By Sunday – take cover.
ALERT!: Huge ground swells can impact the Barnegat Inlet in two killer ways. Most dangerous are the waves breaking on the shallows inside the inlet, northeast of the lighthouse -- roughly adjacent to the point where the concrete deck/walkway ends on the New South Jetty. There have been fatalities and near fatalities caused by the waves that break there during large east swells. In one instance, a very large recreational fishing vessel was pitch-pulled, killing a passenger. That gives an idea of the size of some waves that leak into the channel.
A far less known but fiercely scary and dangerous impact zone is NORTHEAST of the entrance into Barnegat Inlet. Yes, NORTHEAST, out about a football field length from the Monument. If heading out during huge swells, do the quick turn at the Monument or stay strictly within the channel and get way out before heading north. Do not go on an 11 o clock heading outside the inlet.
Obviously, the shoals just south of Barnegat Inlet take no prisoners. Fortunately, most everybody is wise to them.
Heading south to BH and LE inlets, things go total explosive with swells from this direction. That area picks up the first of the open sea swells heading for shore. The power as those waves let loose on the shoals means end times for any vessel that gets too close. Also, shallow spots in the ICW and inside LE Inlet will show, especially after such a long stretch with no waves to scour the area. Best bet is to stay tuned to other vessels with captains who know the area inside out.
Sadly, I have no doubt there will be some ugly boating and swimming incidents this weekend as this Cat. 4 storm comes within a tit hair of the coast.
As for surfcasting this weekend, just keep a close eye on the waves. It’s gonna be hairy with some beach overwash likely. Lifeguards will likely be keeping bathers on a very short leash.
I’ve been on the phone with the Weather Service, as warnings are being finalized about the coming together of powerful groundswells, 80-degree water and huge crowds enjoying one of the last big weekends before folks start heading home to get school-ready. I haven’t seen such a collision course between nature and humans in quite a few years.
As for fishing, I’m getting some reports of weakfish to our north, upped Barnegat bay and up in the Raritan area. That’s odd considering we usually have way more sparkler action than they do. Also, up north they fish them on the jig, rarely shrimping for them. That means there could be a load more than they’re catching on artificials. I should mention that some night kayak anglers who almost always score weakies bayside BH, have gotten squat. Very odd.
By the by, you might want to think about shrimp, clam or mussel chumming for panfish, like blowfish, kingfish, croakers, small triggers, snappers and surprise fish. It’s about the time I used to find nonstop small-hook action around Myers Hole and elsewhere. Bobbers make it really fun.