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222 18th Street
Ship Bottom, NJ
Thursday, November 06, 2008: Waves: Nasty big. Water clarity: Holding at good despite blow. Winds: Gale, though calming is on the horizon.
Since it’s a tad ugly out there (though guys are catching on the south end), I want to do a quick blog on fall-till-now.
The bass fishing has, admittedly, been astoundingly spurty (see apropos email below). I’ve already waxed poetic on the rogue bass syndrome playing out. But it’s time to give bassing in general a passing grade -- after a couple very skinny striper autumns in recent years. For the entire tourney last year we had 110 bass, at the halfway point this year we were up to a 130-some. What’s more, many folks are not entering smaller stripers due to the greater number of bass on the board.
I see the potential for a connection between what might be called a normal croaker fall and the damn-fair stripering. Sure, we had a load of croakers for a while there but if you think back we were so inundated with croakers for a couple falls that I (along with many others) was attributing the fiercely slow bassing to a croaker over-showing. This year the croaks were controllable and the bassing is nicely spread across the board, north to south, boat to beach – and the season is still peaking.
At the same time there is surely no denying the wickedness of the winds. My sympathies to the many charters repeatedly hurt by the blows. It has to be hair-pulling time when you know the bass and blues are out there, thick and hungry, and you can’t pull out of port. What’s more, the slow and dismal erosional death of Holgate takes some luster out of drives to the south end.
The 2008 fall bluefish showing has been stellar. The overall size is a bit down but the ferocity of their fight is planted at that legendary level.
Interestingly, folks offering me bluefish reports often ask me not to publish their comments about how insanely strong bigger blues are. I kind you not. They must think it’s uncool to admit the damn bluefish are almost able to drag you into the ocean – and, face it, make stripers feel a little/lot wimpy.
And if you think about it, here’s a 15-pound fish that if you didn’t have a drag on the reel would in fact be able to pull your 200-pound frame into the water if you didn’t let go of the rod or be saved by snapping line.
One of my favorite bluefish stories was the 12-year-old kid in Surf City who jumped into an insane blitz a few years back, immediately hooked up on his dad’s rod and was promptly pulled headfirst into fairly significant shore break. A bunch of you guys were there for that. About four of us (all hooked up ourselves) ran in and grabbed the headstrong youngster – who knew not to lose dad’s rod (or the fish?) at any cost. That was the same blitz where another youngster threw out a plug and teaser set-up into a forth of blues running to near 20 pounds. He doubly hooked up and had the rod and reel launch out of his hands, totally airborne. I was right there, too. The poor kid looked over to me in abject horror. In fact, I was the one that gingerly placated an at-first furious dad, who wound up laughing off the rod and reel loss – based on the kid’s pure chip-off-the-old-block adrenaline when he saw the beachfront blitz taking place (as dad was out bagel-ing). The dad also admitted he had battened down the drag to hang up the equipment – a hugely common cause of first-fish-of-the-day loses.
As for that dead-set drag thing, it’s looming large this fall. How so? With spinning reel set-ups, you need to batten down the drag to get a maximal cast when using heavy sinkers, lest a loose drag allows slippage (and distance loss) when chucking heavily. And lotsa lead has been a necessity most of the fall. When working two (or more) rods, it’s easy to place a just-cast full-drag rod in a spike to rush over to handle the other set-up. How often do I get the comment “I always loosen my drag” after a story where a costly rod and reel go swimming? It only takes that one forgotten loosening.
woke up this morning to rain and wind and hit the south end at 8:30 am. not a tap on bunker chunks until 11:30 and then all hell broke loose. i started off with a 33inch 14lb. bass and then the big blue bruisers moved in with a vengeance. we landed at least 20 bluefish with none under 10lbs. i pre-tied 8 rigs with 50 lb. flurocarbon leader yesterday and by the time it became un-fishable (around 5 pm) i had gone through all of them. an awesome day of gnarly fall surfcasting, i would estimate the wind to be 30-35 knots, by the end of the day i was doubling up 8 oz. hatteras sinkers with 5 oz. pyramid sinkers just to hold bottom and still getting major knockdowns from the blue dogs. god i love fall surfcasting!”
Been fishing all over the surf the last three days as I'm here working on the island. I have been catching a few fish here and there. I weighed and released an 11lb + bluefish yesterday from the BH surf. I also had a pair of short bass. Today I caught a pair of keeper stripers from the BH surf. The taped at 30 and 33". I released them both figuring the fish gods would reward me later with a monster. Well it came a little later in the form of a monster bluefish. Unfortunately it bit through my 50lb leader in the wash. It wasn't a $1,000 fish, but it was pushing 15lbs. I was going to weigh and release anyway. Fishing was quite brisk. I had 4 or so bites, but a guy to the south of me by about 100 yards was bailing fish. He caught a 34" bass and a bunch of bluefish. Don't know what he was doing different then us.
The weather came on around 4pm, so I went to work. Here for two weeks or so. Should get tons of fishing----I mean work done.