Monday, August 24, 2009: Waves: Dropping swells. Water temps: Low 70s.
Had a couple fluke reports of very good keeper ratios inside LE Inlet during all the wave action outside. Total numbers of hookups were down, though. The flatties aren’t going anywhere fast, guaranteed – even though the season is running out a breakneck speed.
Bluefishing near Barnegat Light is spot-free. If you want smoker fillets, now is the time to grab them.
It sure seems the weakies have gone AWOL for this summer. There is a fair influx of them up toward the Raritan but our local stocks, genetically inclined to return to this area, have gone missing. I’m the one constantly warning against panicking over a single-season disappearance of a species so I’ll only lightly fret over the no-show of sparklers -- and ignore the heavy commercial netting to our south, where lousy shrimping has caused netters to work overtime. I even avoid telling myself that just because the shrimping sucks that doesn’t mean the brutal bycatch isn’t taking place. I will proffer apologies to the hilt if next year we see a decent return of weakfish, kingfish, croakers, blowfish and other fish that fall to shrimp netters down south.
Speaking of blowfish, that is one of the few young-of-year species showing up bayside.
I have reports from Little Egg and Barnegat Bay that not only aren’t the grass shrimp around but the myriad of late-summer y-o-y species are missing. There could be a ton of reasons for this absence of eelgrass bed denizens, including the aftereffects of storms that stirred the entire bay in spring and early summer. Also, reports of clouds of peanut bunker in the far backbay could be a sign that this very hot August is holding the all types of small fry in their deep-summer hang-in-the-shallows mode. I dread even mentioning mullet because I am not liking what I’m seeing in muster areas. I have this abiding fear that the massive influx of bunker babies might somehow foul up the mullet hatch. Still, 90 percent of our mullet come from north of here, where bunker are not nearly as protected as in the NJ water. I’ll know a lot more by this time next month.
Report: “Tried pulling my shrimp trawl this morning. Four pulls with these results. Maybe 2 dozen shrimp, two crabs, one sea horse, a couple of pipe fish and not one juvenile fluke, blackfish, seabass or tropical to be seen. I think the bay is in BIG trouble
Luckily Basil at BL B&T had some extra shrimp. Set up … at 8:00 for the tide in start but it was delayed almost 45 minutes with the big bay holding off the incoming. 15 minutes into the set the bass came. I had a fish on 9 consecutive drop backs and ended up with 15 bass. One keeper, two almost, and the rest from 20" to 24". It was a lot of fun. The water was super clean. Did not see a single ray or bunker pod this week. WP.”
The captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are reporting the best summer flounder action of the summer. With the season coming to a close on September 4, they plan to fish every chance they can.
Captain Adam Nowalsky of the “Karen Ann II” reports the best week of fluke fishing on the ocean mainly between Atlantic City and Long Beach Island until the effects of Hurricane Bill began to be felt. He had a group out from the Hamilton Post Office that caught nearly 100 fluke with 20 keepers to 27-inches. Another day he had the Bill Bruner party from Shamong out for a limit catch of fluke with multiple fish between 23-25 inches.
Captain Lindsay Fuller on the “June Bug” had a great family fishing day with Joe and his two boys along with his Uncle Sal and his niece. They began with as many Taylor bluefish as they wanted just north of the inlet on Bud’s Birds and small Clark Spoons. They then tried to find some croakers but had no luck. They went to the Atomic Lump for fast action on small fluke, but only one keeper. All of the Fluke were caught on Wide Gap hooks, mostly 2/0. These hooks are similar to circle hooks and usually hook Fluke behind the bone in the top of their jaws. We only had a single Fluke all day that was bleeding at all.
Once they decided to head in, the calm seas of the early morning had turned to noticeable swells from the onset of Hurricane Bill.
Captain John Koegler reports he had two good ocean sea bass trips on the “Pop’s Pride.” He says he is catching more keeper sea bass and fluke than at any time this summer. The sea bass have finished their annual spawning period and bigger fish are now biting. He also had a bay trip with a ratio of one keeper for every three caught which is a definite improvement. He is also finding quite a few small blues around 1-2 pounds.
Additional information on the association can be found at www.BHCFA.com