Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report
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Sunday, May 01, 2016: What a bonus yesterday was. I didn’t see that beauty coming, except for those slightly-down winds.
Now we’re sorta paying with heavier rains than expected. Oh, well, at least it’s one of those soaking rains that frogs live for.
We have a rain-ish weather-week arriving. However, the entire time period should have very fishable winds. When was the last week when no SCAs were in sight?
With all the rain, vernal ponds in the outback are filling to mating perfection.
Also, garden-wise, these are seedling rains. This spring, I went with planting seeds (not store-bought transplants) for my herb garden. They just recently began busting out and will now grow in direct proportion to the amount of watering they get.
It began raining last night and those little spouts have literally doubled in size as of midday today – and continue to move up in the world.
I went the seed route because I wanted to try some odder varieties of annuals, mainly basils. Seed starts are always best for establishing perennials, like oregano, mint, lemon balm, chamomile, chives, yarrow, fennel, thyme and (first time try for me) St. John’s wort.
As to the frogs, it’s getting close to my annual frog-count. While the wood frogs and spring peepers have come and gone, some rarer and odder species are about to enter the census picture, led by the Pine Barrens treefrog and, a favorite for me, the goofyish eastern spadefoot toad -- with its odd look and truly outlandish call, sounding like a constipated duck. Listen to it: http://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/ensp/audio/spadefoot_toad.wav. Odds are you won’t be hearing one of these secretive toads. I will since many years back I came across what I believe to be the largest spawning population of spadefoot toads in the entire state.
Back to fishing, there are lightly scattered striped bass on-scene. They are still be taken secondarily to bluefishing. That’s important since there could be more bass than we think but folks aren’t fully fishing for them in the suds.
I’m guessing there could be a really strong showing of schoolies starting any day now, mainly based in the surfline.
– and likely going for subtler offerings, like worms and clams. This is also the ideal time to begin jigging in the suds, with flavored plastics a tad better than plain. Also, think white all around – jighead, bucktail and plastics. For variety, jig or tin-squid some fake-o eels, like Berkley Gulp! Alive! 8" Eel.
BLUEFISH FEAST: I got word that the number of folks cashing in on South Jetty bluefish bite was semi-insane. While not quite shoulder-to-shoulder, it was quite the chore keeping a hooked and enraged chopper from intermingling with other lines.The hooking was, as a few folks told me, a nice steady "fun" pace.
Seeing that many folks outside enjoying fresh-air fun rocks for me. I also left it for them.
Yes, a lot of fish were kept but I’ve also seen some pics of savory meals being made with the bluefish.
From a dining angle, bluefish are best served with the dark-meat lateral line removed prior to cooking, not afterwards – though it’s easier to take it out post-cooking. The problem is some of that dark meat’s somewhat fishier taste melds into nearby lighter meat.
That said, the notion that bluefish is a “fishy-tasting” fish is unfounded. When I trick folks into tasting bluefish, which they have pre-dubbed with one of those “I just don’t like it” ratings, it’s always an eye-opener for them when they realize “It not half bad,” meaning it is quite nicely flavored. I have no doubt that bluefish’s “fishy” rating comes from fall blues engorging bunker.
With blues flowing freely, it’s a fine time to try bluefish salad, vis-à-vis tuna salad. Here is one that really kicks it, from http://www.athoughtforfood.net.
Grilled Bluefish Salad
Servings Grilled Bluefish (alone): Serves 4 for dinner Grilled Bluefish Salad: Approximately 8-10 people for lunch
For the grilled bluefish 2 - 1 lb bluefish fillets, bones removed 4 tablespoons olive oil Coarse ground black pepper 2 garlic cloves, sliced 1 tablespoon minced ginger Curry powder 1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds, seeds removed Soy sauce
For the salad 1 tablespoon mayonnaise 1/4 cup chopped cucumber 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped 1/2 shallot, minced 1 teaspoon minced flat-leaf parsley 2 grilled lemon slices, minced
Pita bread, for serving
1. Prepare the bluefish for the grill. Place the fish fillets in a large glass baking dish. Rub each fillet of fish with 1 tablespoon olive oil, curry powder, and black pepper. Spread and gently smoosh (yes, smoosh) garlic slices and ginger into the flesh of the fillet. Top with lemon slices. Pour 3 tablespoons of soy sauce over the fillets. Let sit for 30 minutes.
2. While the fish is marinating, prepare the grill. Pour some canola oil on a paper towel and rub this over the grates of the grill. Preheat the grill to medium heat. Once it has preheated, place each fillet, skin side down, on the grill. Close the cover of the grill and cook for approximately 10-12 minutes until the fish is firm and starts to flake as you lift it. If necessary, cook for an additional 3 minutes and check again.
3. Transfer the fish to a large platter. At this point, you can eat some of the fish as a meal and just use leftovers for bluefish salad, or you can make one large batch of bluefish salad.
4. Before you make the bluefish salad, make sure the fillets have cooled. Once they have cooled, remove the skin from the fish. Don't worry if a little remains. Transfer to a mixing bowl and flake the fish with a fork. Add the cucumber, carrot, shallot and minced grilled lemon slices. Add the mayonnaise and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and, if necessary, add salt and black pepper.
The BIG blues are still around which is great news. These yellow-eyed demons are cruising the west side of the bay but sometimes it takes time to find them. When you do hold on! In addition, a nice body of bass of decent sized bass (10-20lbs) has moved into the bay. I was out this morning for a short solo trip looking to catch some fresh fish for diner. I succeeded and boated a 28” bass then went for a fresh clam. It is game on, so if you want to play give me a call to get in on the action.
On the nature side of things: I saw something today that I have not seen in over 30 years on the bay, a wild oyster. It was growing in a derelict eel pot that was pulled from the bay. Oysters are an important natural resource in Barnegat Bay with historic significance. During pre-colonial times they were harvested for food. Sometime after that baymen started selling them and the industry grew until the early 1900’s. The fishery then collapsed in the 50s for reasons such as overharvesting, changes in the bay flow when Point Pleasant Canal was built. Now companies such as 40 North Oyster Farms (1 of only 2) are actually farming oysters in the bay and trying to bring back what was once a great natural resource from Barnegat Bay. Forty North farms them and sells them directly to local restaurants so you can now get true Barnegat Bay Oysters. If we were to get more oyster farms in the bay I am sure that when the farm raised oysters reproduce we will see the benefits of wild oysters coming back to Barnegat Bay. Attached is a picture of the lone oyster.
Barnegat Bay, NJ