Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Thur. May 27 -- Cool down and fluking about to begin

Thursday, May 27, 2010:

What a difference a day makes – again. As if the hot and cold fishing wasn’t schizophrenic enough, the sky has taken to the same behavior. For the second time in under a week, we’ve gone from sultry and saucy to chilly and spitty. It doesn’t take long for things to cool drastically when winds switch from south to northeast. This time it was a backdoor cold front, which isn’t as bad as an exploding low just to our south – and the increasing wind and weathery wickedness we’ve known all too well since last fall.

Despite the junky skies today, it still looks to be a decent angling weekend. I know bass are still out there -- but nothing alert-worthy. I also know there are fluke within and just inside the inlets. I haven't heard much about ocean fluking (?).

Beginning Tuesday, both surfcasters and nearshore boat anglers were a tad startled to run into a serious-ass south ground swell, with long-period waves running 6 to almost 8 feet. That was complements of a fairly intense storm in the ocean to our south. The swell was also riding the back of an approaching full moon. Hereabouts, we get our biggest swells a few days before a full moon – not during, as some waveriding folks allege.

Late Tuesday, I called in to report the rising swells to the Weather Service, where I’ll begin my wave and rip current reports, beginning this weekend and continuing all summer – meaning I have to be up at daybreak every single a.m. Ouch. Still, I really think those rip current alerts might assist bathers in making smart decision, as in staying out of grinding shorebreak and such.

E-report and commentary:

Hey Jay,
Been fishing the Mid Island surf the past few days. It has been hit or miss for me. I caught a 38" 20/1 bass on Saturday night. We also had a short tagged bass that we released. Despite good NE conditions Sunday and Monday, I fished a total of 12 hours and didn't get a hit. I left beaten and scratching my head. I did see a bunch of quality fish caught though.
While having lunch in a favorite local establishment on Sunday, I was reading an article in the Sandpaper about guided bird watching tours on Holgate starting this weekend. Is that true? If it is, that is OUTRAGEOUS to me. Isn't the Wildlife refuge closed to ORV and pedestrian traffic to protect the nesting shorebirds? With the presence of people out there won't the plovers evacuate their nests? The Audubon Society and the Defenders of Wildlife sure think so. That is the evidence that is closing most of the beaches on Hatteras Island. Why do birdwatchers get to enjoy the last frontier on LBI, when regular pedestrians and fisherman are shut out? To me, educated fisherman who are along the water line would cause the least disturbances. I can see a guided tour being right up against what's left of the dunes, creating unnatural disturbances.
What happens if a bunch of fisherman show up with our plugging rods and a pair of binoculars around our neck? Will we be allowed to walk out and enjoy Holgate with the "birders"? I may just show up with a few friends with the plug bag and a rod. What do you think?
Joe H

(Joe, I’m looking into the same issue. I’m now wondering if the tour might be adjacent to the refuge – that pathway that travel west into the dunes and down to the bay. If not – take cover. J-mann)


World-class fish in Jersey:::

May 26, 2010

The NJ DEP Division of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed that Billy Watson from Lansdale, Pennsylvania has officially become a member of an elite fishing club by catching a new state and IGFA world record Red Hake, Urophycis chuss. The 12 pound 13 ounce fish, also known as a Ling, was caught on February 20, 2010 approximately 20 miles ESE of Manasquan NJ. The fish measured 33 inches in length and had a girth of 19 inches. It surpassed the previous state record of 11 pounds, 1 ounce set in 2002 by Natalie Jones for a fish caught off Brielle.

Billy was bottom fishing at the Mud Hole on the Jamaica II with Captain Steve Spinelli at the helm when he hooked the big fish. He was using a St Croix medium heavy rod and a Diawa Saltese 20H reel loaded with 50 pound Power Pro line and a Gulp 2” Glo Shrimp for bait.

Red hake are rarely known to attain weights exceeding 6 or 7 pounds, so this particular fish can truly be considered a monster hake. White hake on the other hand are very similar looking and known to attain weights of as much as 40 pounds. Since the two species are so similar and the weight of the fish Watson caught was more in the white hake range, marine fisheries biologists diligently examined the fish to confirm its identification and its world record status.

Division of Fish and Wildlife marine fisheries biologists first examined the fish and counted scale rows and the gill rakers on the upper portion of the first gill arch, which are both reported to be valid diagnostic characters. The initial examination showed the fish to be a red hake. The identification was then confirmed by ichthyologists at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia who x-rayed the specimen to determine the number of abdominal vertebrae, another diagnostic character. This too identified the fish as a red hake and it has been added to the Academy's extensive fish collection.

The red hake can be found from the Gulf of St. Lawrence to North Carolina, and is most abundant from the western Gulf of Maine through Southern New England waters. They are a member of the cod family and as such possess a distinctive barbel on their chin. Red hake vary in color depending upon their environment, but tend to be a mottled red/brown to olive/brown on their upper sides with large irregular pale light brown patches becoming a dirty white to bright white underneath.

Red hake prefer soft sand or muddy bottom, and feed primarily on crustaceans and rock crabs, as well as fish such as haddock, silver hake, sea robins, mackerel and small red hake. Primary predators of red hake include spiny dogfish, cod, goosefish, and silver hake.

With identification of the fish confirmed, Billy can now enjoy his new world record holder status and rest assured that his catch will definitely be a hard one to beat!


HOLGATE SNAPSHOTS SOUGHT: I’m looking for old Holgate photographs that might help to show the extent of the current erosional episode. I know it’s tough to get images of that overall look of sand loss but I also want to pre-foster support for efforts to rescue the area when it gets dissected form the rest of LBI. J-pegs (computer pics) are fine – preferred. I don’t want to handle delicate family heirlooms. I have this tendency to leave things in the pouring rain.

As high-flying proof of the formidable forces eating away at the south end, I already have access to satellite shots that draw an ugly line in the sand. Overlaying old and new sky shots proves the current beachline is smack in the middle of where the Holgate Wilderness Area was 20-so years back.

To say only half of Holgate has eroded is too inexact – and actually understating the issue. Admittedly, the south end has accrued sand near the inlet and along some bayside areas. However, the 2 miles of beachfront, the place the public plays, when allowed thereupon, has lost fully 80 percent of its landmass – and vegetation. As oft mentioned in here, the future break point (near the old Osprey nest) has no upland vegetation left, only a meager sand dune oceanside and meadow grasses related to the shore of the bay.

Amazingly, some folks say things look just fine down there. They are, of course, standing at the parking area merely peering over at the Wilderness Area. If they were fully familiar with the area, they’d be alarmed to realize they now looking pretty much west to see Holgate. A mere 20 years back, they would have been looking southeast.

I realize it will take a wicked washover – and the dissecting of Holgate – for emergency action to take place down there. I doubt very much that either the state of New Jersey or the federal government will allow such a large portion – two miles -- of Long Beach Island to simply wander off on its own. Technically, there might even be some sort of funding loss associated with Long Beach Township suddenly being a smaller municipality.

By the by, the state has not waned (under Gov. Christie) from its effort to hype the Jersey Shore and its various attractions. Might it be the fact it’s the number one employer in the state? Allowing one of the final undeveloped beach areas to be inaccessible to hikers, anglers and birdwatchers would also go against the state constitution, since the people of the state own that beachline, below mean high tide.

That said, I’m not only looking for pics indicating the loss of land in Holgate but also way-old photos showing fun times long gone. I’m storing them for evidence for the case for saving Holgate comes to court.

I have to get on the pic stick myself. Somewhere, I have photos of when we kids would climb aboard Spraguey’s old truck for a ride to the end. What a trip. I fell off once and he didn’t even notice. I also recall Spraguey kept wanting to teach me how to carve decoys. Being a hip young surfer type, I though that stuff was too damned old-fashioned. Boy, am I kicking myself now.

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