Strike while the iron is hot, so they say. Having just guided my wife and a friend to second and first place in a recent women’s fluke tournament, respectively, I tossed my hat into the JCAA fluke tournament this past Saturday. After making bait in the early sunrise hour we headed for the lighthouse are to fish the end of the tide. We got into a nice bite of keeper fluke but the bigger ones kept getting off. It really hurts when you lose a true doormat and there is well over $1,000 on the line, literally if you know what I’m talking about. After that, we took a break a regrouped for the afternoon cooler water incoming. With the bay holding in the low 80’s outgoing tide is not the best time to fish right now. But if that is only when you can fish, you fish. With some fresh live bait in the live well round, two started slow. But around 4 PM I felt the telltale sign of a nice fluke pouncing the live bait in about 20 feet of water. The hook set was typical of a flukezilla, you feel like you are stuck at first but once you free the fluke from being suctioned to the bottom you get some head shake then line peeled off your spool. The fish weighed 6.8 lbs and took second place in the JCAA Fluke Tournament for the Barnegat Bay port (pic attached). We also took first in one of the Calcutta Once again live bait does it job. Those that know me or have fished with me know I am a live bait specialist. The way I look at it, artificials are called artificials for a reason they are trying to mimic the real thing. And when the real things are available why fish artificial? That’s the way I fish, plain and simple.
Monday I did two trips. The first trip with the Fields started around the inlet. Conditions were good but the bite was slow landing a couple 2-4 pound blues. After that we went sharking which was unexpectedly slow. We landed one small brown that came up our slick and took a pitched bait and got bit off. Cool stuff. Quite a few schools of bunker around the tires and a few miles in from of the inlet which was nice to see as they have been absent most of the summer after being sucked up by the bunker boats that came up from the south. I hate those boats and it kills me that there is no peer-reviewed research supporting the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids. So we are totally messing up the food chain to make something that probably does not work but puts money in the pockets of a select few. My mind is blown on that one! Ok, off my soapbox. Monday afternoon trip was with father and son, Joe and Joseph Astraukas. We started off fluking and the bite was hot. As what has happened in prior years the bottom around the inlet is paved with fluke. Mostly shorts, but I already let you know how to catch keepers so I ’m not going there now. Joseph, 6, in attached picture catch at least a dozen shorts in about 2 hours of fishing. After fluking we hit the inlet to catch the cooler incoming water. There, Joe the father, managed a schoolie bass and some blues on BKDs giving him a Barnegat Bay Slam. I think I have had the most slams this summer thanks the healthy population of schoolie bass.
On the nature side of things: moo over Rover and let the cow-nose rays take over. The abundance of cow-nose rays over the last few years brings up a lot of questions like: why are they here; why are there so many, etc. to answer why they are here it is due to climate change and the average ocean temperature getting warmer. As the waters warm out front, look for new species to arrive taking Mother Nature’s cue that you can now survive in waters north of your historical range. I looked up cow-nose ray in Fishes of the Chesapeake Bay which was first published in 1928. This book is kind of like the Bible to Middle Atlantic States ichthyologists (people that study fish). I purchased my copy when I was in high school. Guess I was a nerd or something hehehe What the book has to say about cow-nosed rays is “This ray was not seen during the present investigations, and although previously recorded from the Chesapeake Bay it is evidently rare. So there you have it, we now have cow-nosed rays because the water is warmer.
Have some spots available if you wanna catch a Barneatg Bay Slam or just target a species give me a call. Also offering 2 hr kayak eco-tours on Thursdays around Bonnet Island