Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Monday, May 09, 2011: Well, we can launch into rave reviews by going to the heated bass battles taking place off Seaside Heights. Firstly, the bunker pods up there are like nothing anyone modern has ever seen. An old-timer I know recently marked his 65th fishing anniversary and he swears up and down that he’s never seen bunker schools like those currently off Ocean and Monmouth counties. I bring up the bait before the bass because nowadays the bunker pods and the showing of big bass are intricately interrelated. The more bunker, the better the bassing.


As if a semi-yawner, folks banging the bass via trolling spoons or snag-and-drop are talking about arm-tiring striper catching sessions – and the season is just getting underway. “It’s just like we’ve been seeing the past few years,” was one casual read on the super stripering.


Appropriately, there is a lot of catch, photo and release going on.


Sidebar: Cell phone photos are getting so advanced I can often use them on this site. A buddy shoots with a Samsung phone hosting a 10-megapixel digital camera capacity. Hell, that’s vivid enough for a full-sized newspaper cover shot. Whatever level your phone, it’s the quickest and easiest way to record a fish without taking its life. A photo last forever.


The bayside of LBI is still holding bass. They have thinned out a bit but there is no problem finding them at prime locations. In fact, virtually any bayside locale with deeper water can offer stripers, most often after dark. Coolest report was a builder who caught a keeper bass during a lunch break taken on a dock toward the South End. It went for a Yo-zuri.


As for the surf, it’s anything but bassiferous. There have been a few fish taken but I also got a goodly number of skunk reports.


Among the non-skunks were the first two fish to reach the 2011 Simply Bassin’ leaderboard. Currently in the number one slot is Andrew Schultz, who bested an 18-4 bass in Holgate, using bunker, weighed in at Jingles. That was on May 7. The same day, Steve Warren took a 15-12 striper in Peahala Park, also using bunker and weighed in at Oceanside Bait and Tackle. He’s in second place. 

The 8-week Simply Bassin’ event is just getting started so make sure to sign up.


The black drum hunters have had it hot and cold. The hot was a couple fish pushing 50 pounds, one kept the other released. At the same time, we’re now running on prime drumfish migrations time but no corresponding super showing of fish at places like Little Egg Inlet westward. A drumfish aficionado offered that most apropos of advice, one that fits into many fisheries: go with huge baits. I’m forbidden from telling his secret bait but he uses major chunks of it. I can tell you this, it stinks – and is made to do so with some aging.


Fluking is far from futile but it sure isn’t sizzling. Three different vessels I know had mighty scant takes of take-home flatties. The largest one came when they switched from fluking to some bayside trolling. I suggested that method after getting word from Paul P. that he had mugged them in west Double Creek by slow trolling. Paul had loads of blues and some better bass pulling along diving plugs.


DREDGERS DUG: Digging for treasure on the mainland last week – using the term “treasure’ very leniently --  I came across eight heavily-rusted (but still sturdy) bay dredges, used to nab crabs, shellfish and more back in the day. Such dredges are pretty much outlawed today.

The hand-forged homemade steel devices, for towing behind or alongside a garvey, had an quite-cool 6-inch brass ID tag, indicating they were legally licensed and surely heavily used by a now-deceased Tuckertonian.

It’s always a jolt of nostalgia when uncovering maritime antiques. These items, especially, offered flashbacks into the labors of life in times past -- before the human masses muscled onboard and overcrowded our hereabouts. Overcrowding has left very little for baymen to harvest, still there are a few still around. 

A couple of these just-dug dredges are now up for adoption. Any museums needing authentic Barnegat Bay items should contact me. Most of them only need some steel wool “de-rusting.”

The one dredge I’m keeping for myself is an ultra-rare, four-bladed (nastily pronged) eel dredge, meant to cut through the mud and impale bottom-hugging eels. Ferocious – and likely illegal even back in the day. Hey, you hadda do what you hadda do to get by back then. Eels would beg to differ. I would allow it to be displayed.

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