Daily Fishing and Outdoor Report

Tuesday, August 31, 2021: As we await another tropical drenching, this one possibly touting some decent windage ...

Below: Eileen always draws quite the crowd when out walking her pet...

I'm far more invasive than you'll ever be newbie ...

Below: This shark-bitten shark photo has gone viral. Sharks have no scruples about engorging fellow sharks. In fact, as a shark the last thing you ever want to do is act a little unusual when amongst your peers.  

ok closely 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021: As we await another tropical drenching, this one possibly touting some decent windage, I’m nonetheless doing final stretching exercises before embarking on my serious fishing time of year, which carries on through December.  

I’m serious about that stretching, both long term and just prior to casting away, with both rod and net.

The last few years I’ve begun developing shoulder woes the further I cast into fall. I have no such woes any other time of the year so its surely strain-induced and not preexisting rotator cuff problem.  I’m bringing this up since countless other casters apparently run into overuse pains during prime casting times. Boaters have it a lot easier, shoulder-wise.  

I’ve read up on shoulder troubles, coming across some very fundamental stretching exercises that can keep rotator cuffs happily rotating. By the by, the term rotator cuff is a bit misleading since it is a grouping of four muscles that work in unison to support and stabilize the shoulder. As any sports fan know, a bona fide injury to the cuff can be a season-ender, thus the need to sure-up the cuff muscles before catastrophic rips and tears occur. Bring on those stretches, many of which are highly low impact, i.e. easy to do, once mastered.

If there is one stretching/strengthening action above all the rest, it comes through Chinese medicine, which offers a stand-in-place 360-degree arm circling movement -- one arm at a time (at first). Start out very gingerly. Here’s a short but excellent leaner video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2hYZHzYH9g. Watch it carefully and closely note the arm supination and proper head-turn method.

One of the better websites for slightly more advanced shoulder stretches is https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324435#rotator-cuff-exerc....

Stretching might be needed if you prescribe to my false albie targeting method down below.

WHO’S STAYING?: I’m thinking a big chunk of the Island population will clear out after Labor Day, far more dramatically than last year. But then comes the big return, as things back home, including kids schooling, are figured out and the work-from-home schedule gets solidified. In the end, we’ll still have a larger winter residency than pre-COVID years but more in the come-and-go vein. That come-and-go thing also heavily applies to professional folks without kids who are devising a new highbred work protocol.

Even with a lighter Island in play, the need to keep an eagle-plus eye open for meandering pedestrians and, more so, oft maniacal bicyclists is greater than ever, as they feel post season allows for even less thoughtful road behavior.

I'll be getting the latest on the reopening of Holgate, though that crappy weather will negate any celebratory clamming or bloodworm digging for me. 

CLASSIC ALERT: It’s not too early to begin hyping the 67th Annual LBI Surf Fishing Classic. This year it will run – long and hard – from Oct. 9 to Dec. 12. It is once again oozing great gifts and plenty of prize money. Sign up at participating shops will begin soon.  

With kingfish again in the prize mix, not only will there be a slew of weigh-ins but folks fishing lighter gear will surely have a ton of fun with other small-hook species – even if they aren’t prize eligible. I'll be writing a load more on the event in coming weeks. 

2021 67th Annual Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic

The 67th Annual Fall Surf Fishing Tournament is 9 weeks of fall fishing on Long Beach Island. 2020 was a great year with great fishing. The addition of kingfish as a new species was a crowd favorite. It spiced things up and added a new twist to the tournament. Due to the new striped bass fishing regulations lots of quality “overs” were caught and released. We are looking forward to Fall 2021!

This page will be updated as things are finalized and the tournament nears.

Dates: October 9 - December 12, 2021

$30 - General Registration
$15 - Youth Registration (17 & Under)


You ... you ... stinkin' honeysuckles you. 

KILL THEM PLANTS OR GET OUTTA TOWN: My patch of non-garden greenery has sprung to life this rain-soaked summer. I must now contend with the notion that certain ne’er-do-well plants are becoming outlaws on LBI, literally plants non grata, to the point of illegality should they grow unruly on one’s property. I sense I might be among those “one’s.”

Without making an over-fuss, there might be a decent case made that banning certain forms of vegetation from one's land tramples on  civil liberties, yard sector. Are such bans enough to go riotous over? Uh, no … unless yard eyeballing by authorities becomes so thorough it constitutes unconstitutional interloping, marked by said interlopers mulling over every inch of a resident’s property for any violations, be they vegetative or otherwise, all in the name of invasive plant species. Who’s invasive now?  

Here and now, I will thoroughly assure I’m not even vaguely making a pre-case for protection of those pondering privately growing the world’s most famous weed. Let’s keep pot well out of the picture, except to say such growths are an egregious violation, even with legalized pot consumption now in play. Might towns use weed ordinances to cover the smell of its sniffing out pot plants? They would never be that devious. Well, never might be a little presumptuous. 

I herein speak only of the likes of nonindigenous plants listed in Island towns, most recently Beach Haven’s ordinance banning the introduction of – you can’t make this stuff up: Canadian thistle (Cirsium arvense), Eurasian watermilfoil (Lonicera japonica), garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata), Japanese knotweed (Polygonum caspidatum), Japanese stiltgrass (Microstegium vimineum), mile-a-minute (Polygonum perfoliatum), purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia), water chestnut (Trapa natans) and Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergii).
It also includes all native and non-native bamboo, including plant species commonly known as “running” (monopodial) or “clumping” (sympodial). “This definition shall include but is not limited to the following plant genera: (1) Arundinaria,  Bambusa, Chimonobambusa, Dendrocalamus, Fargesia, Phyllosta, Pleioblastus, Pseudosasa, Sasa, Sasaella and Semiarundinaria.”

Warning: If this is your Japanese black pine, the placing of it outside for some Beach Haven sun is against the statutes of man and not a few of the laws of the Almighty. 

I haven’t seen the exact language of that ordinance, so I don’t know if there is any sort of grandfathering of already rooted plants non grata. Or, will they be sniffing them out from scratch? 

Back in Ship Bottom, such bans could collide with my forementioned quasi garden, now taking a walk on the wild side. At first glance, my feral greenery seems random, meaning it grows wherever the hell it feels the urge. Despite its feralness, the great majority of my plants are fully functioning herbs, meaning I harvest the heck out them.

Keep in mind that herbs often wear two hats, one as a weed and the other as naturopathic medicine, many such herbs being biblical and used as curatives for thousands of years. Such is the case with the prime occupants of my patch, namely, three different mints, all of which make mighty fine tea, including brews for an assortment of ailments. Admittedly, they know no bounds and are on the brink of muscling out other less dominant growths. I might have to step in with sickle in hand come early winter.

Below: Mint with a tiny friend -- though it's likely as invasive fly ... 

A bit more herbally obscure are my many yarrow plants (Achillea millefolium), far and away nature’s best coagulant. Scrunched up a bit, it can be placed directly on a bleeding wound to stem the blood flow. It was always within the satchels of Roman soldiers, where it was dubbed herba militaris. Don’t mess with my yarrow or there’ll be big legal trouble abrewin’ – since yarrow also makes an amazing energizing drink.

My yarrow: 

Also, don't even breathe on my pokeweed (below), beloved by a slew of birds. In fall, I use its ink berries for natural pigment. They're indigenous, thus my fearlessness in showing them in these troubled backyard times, though this pic is months old -- lest they be used against me in court. 

Take my basil ... please. Stuff won't grow worth a dang anyway. 

It’s when we get to my fence line -- and a litany of vine-type plants inexorably anchored thereupon and within -- that questions arise over whether or not, say, honeysuckle, has been around long enough to be a socially acceptable invader.

There’s also the currently beautifully blooming hedge bindweed, kissin’ cousin to the more acceptable morning glory. Oh, hell's bells, maybe I should kill 'em all one good, stay in good vegetation stead with the town. "Gather around flowerlings, daddy has some tasty Roundup Kool-Aid."  

A curious mind might wonder how all these forsaken plants get the ax while one of the state’s most invasive shrubberies, the rhododendron, is being shown love to the point that many towns plant them as showy shrubberies. Check out this warning from gov’t officials: “Caution: Rhododendron ponticum is an invasive plant. It produces abundant seed and also suckers, forming dense thickets. ... Rhododendron control is a key element in nature conservation in many areas.”

Below: As invasive as the day is long ...

Here's how some woodsy places handle "rhoddies": 

OK, I won’t belabor this any longer since, hell, anyone who has read to this point has likely been thoroughly convinced that a fully graveled-over property is the only sensible way to go.

Below: I say goodbye to Mr. Bigleaf ... Lousy invader.


RUNDOWN: Resident striped bass have kept both surf and boat fishing interesting. Per summer usual, a couple slightly larger linesiders are in the boat mix.

Fluking has once again flared up, frighteningly so. Some multi-soul boat trips have banged the stuffing out of them – before rushing the fillets home for a whole other type stuffing.

I am getting some agreement that maybe too many flatties are being taken. One upside is how recent bouts of unfriendly weather have held the bounty down at least a jot or two. Here’s hoping I’m way off on my worrying that 2022 regs might be punishing.

Bluefishing remains wonderfully brisk, via mainly smaller “eater” sizes. Oddly, very few year-class snapper blues, the former stuff of kid fishing throughout summers past. It could be bayside folks aren’t doing it as much. I catch heat for suggesting tiny blues should be caught and released. It helps instill kids with a feel for conservation tactics.  

Saw some pics of an amazing display of spinner sharks going airborne just off the beach in Holgate. It became a shark frenzy feed, with bunker being served to what might have been as many as 50 high-impact spinners. They go spinningly airborne to splash down on stunned forage fish below. The spinning is thought to heighten the jump of the medium-sized sharks. Below:   Paul Haertel

Left at 0230 this morning and headed to the canyon. No tuna and too much current to try for tilefish. However it was quite a day with the mahi as we caught a couple smaller ones along with big ones that weighed 16.15, 17.05, 19.4 and 31.9 lbs on light tackle. The big one is my new boat record and personal best for Chuck Brooks. With Chuck's son Charlie and Douglas Itjen

False albacore are very much in the mix, mainly boat but within surfcasting reach.

Returning to a dining theme, I have yet to eat a false albacore, though I thought I had once tasted one. Say what?! I was given a cleaned chunk of alleged false albie, albie being the common shorted form of the name, which works better than falsie. In retrospect, that piece was far too tasty, especially when up against an almost universal, even worldwide, opinion that the meat borders on inedible.

If I happen to take a false albie any time soon – my high intensity surf plugging season beginning this week – I’ll do a tiny deep-fry try, along with a more promising smoking effort, going the famed cover-the-flavor with mesquite route.

By the by, there is a surfcasting technique to target false albies. It involves distance casting heavy-ass metals, thrown with a medium- or even heavy-class surf rod and reel. Though a tad hard on the arms, compared to plugging gear, the distance and gear meatiness is what matters in the end. Once metals have been launched, it comes down to reeling the lure in like it has seen a ghost.  

The cool thing about any high-speed metal retrieve is how well it also works on Spanish mackerel and, of course, bluefish. What’s more, it keeps the lure away from any bothersome striped bass.

Just for a rush, I’ll mention that there is a way out-there chance of a speeding metal lure attracting a close-in bluefin tuna. Not that you’d be able to turn a larger bluefin before getting “spooled” by an enraged tuna run. Yes, enraged. Predators that host a ton of alpha attitude are far angrier than they are frightened when hooked.

Side story (a rerun in here): I was once on a jetty end, throwing a cast net for mullet, my eyes on high alert for even the slightest fish movements. In a flash-by instant, I was thrown into stunnedess. What had to have been a six- to eight-foot tuna passed the end of the rocks, north to south, speed unfathomable. I only had an afterimage to ponder, though the shape surely screamed tuna. Then, before the first sighting fully sunk in, two more tuna of equal size bulleted past. They were the fastest moving fish I had ever seen. Where they were bound or why they were flush to the beach is anyone’s guess, though they sorta seemed to be on the run, i.e., spooked.   




Jim Hutchinson Sr. 

The summer tourist season is winding down in the Beach Haven, New Jersey area, but the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are currently finding some of the best summer fishing action of the summer. 

Captain Gary Dugan of the “Irish Jig” reported that he was fortunate to have anglers this past week who fished hard. Despite the heat and constant action of smaller fish, his anglers all made sure to catch fluke to take home for dinner. With the fish beginning to cluster over structure in the ocean, Captain Gary expects September to be a hot month for fluke fishing. 

Captain Brett Taylor of Reel Reaction Sportfishing reports that despite the heat, he has been running two parties a day most of the time. He is still catching fish in in the bay waters. His charters are averaging between 30 to 60 fish with keepers ranging from 1 to 5 per trip. He had a bunch of new anglers to fishing this past week and enjoyed watching the youngsters catch fish. His ocean fluke trips have been excellent with fish to 6 pounds and 7 to 10 keepers per trip. He reports stopping on some choice snags for quick limits of black sea bass. 

In other news, BHCFA president Captain John Lewis of the “Insatiable” announced that a shipment of reef balls has arrived in New Jersey to be used for replenishment on the Little Egg Reef. A New Jersey state boat will be dropping the balls in September. Additional information on the reef replenishment efforts as well as the boats of the Association can be found at www.BHCFA.org


On Sunday August 29th the Marine Mammal Stranding Center responded to a report of a large deceased whale in the surf in Barnegat Light. Our Stranding Technician arrive on scene at 6:00am, and identified the whale as a 54’ male Fin whale. Upon examination, the decomposing whale had a significant injury consistent with a ship strike, as well as several large shark bites. This is not the same whale that stranded in Delaware last Friday. Fin whales are an Endangered species, and are the second largest species of whale, with only the Blue whale being larger. The Marine Mammal Stranding Center has responded to 33 Fin whales over the past 43 years.
The whale is scheduled to be buried on the beach today by the Barnegat Light Public Works department. We are reminding the public to please respect the safety perimeters put in place around the whale by the Barnegat Light Police department, and do not attempt to touch the carcass.

“Dialed in”. That is a term us fisherman use when we are out most days and know what fish to target and what tide to fish for them.  Having been on Barnegat Bay and Inlet for over 40 years now, and in my 18th year as a professional saltwater guide, man am I getting old, LOL, I’m dialed in to the seasons, tides, how water temperature effects the seasonal bite and the daily bite from being on the water more days than not. On the fishing scene, Blowfishing will not disappoint. If you want to take some home for diner you have to weed through lots of small ones, but worth the effort. Bay fluke are starting to fatten up getting ready for their fall migration offshore to spawn. The channels in the inlet and the back during the end of incoming and the beginning of outgoing have been best. Don’t even think about fishing Gulp in the bay right now. The blowfish and other small fish will chew away at your bank account right now. Live bait is the way to go, if you know what, I’m saying. In the ocean it’s another story. Gulp is fine at the reefs and snags, but still you can’t beat live peanut bunker. Around the inlet, Spanish Mackerel and False Albacore are there for the taking. Nothing fights better than a Fat Albert, hey , hey, hey. The issues here is the floating eelgrass is sure to camouflage your high speed trolled lures at times. At da Ridge the False Albacore are HUGE and in good numbers. Also king mackerel are there for the taking if you troll Clark spoons behind drails or use high speed trolling plugs. I have a bunch of dates open this week and there are many species on the menu item to target right now, your choice.  I even love to mix things up on trips and target a multiple species.  Give me a call and I’ll hook you up!


On the nature side of things: One of my favorite quotes came out of the mouth of Einstein who said “if you look deeply into nature, you will understanding everything”. No words are truer than when you look at laughing gulls right now or listen to crickets.  The Laughing gulls are losing their breeding plumage black heads now which is a sign that September is upon us. And when you start hearing field crickets, it is a sure sign that the mullet are staging in the back waters and will be pushing out of the inlets any day now.  Game on!


Screaming drags,

Capt Alex


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