Tuesday, January 27, 2015
The worst of the storm missed us by less then 100 miles. Buoy reports are showing 25 foot seas on Jefferies Ledge, the fishing grounds off New Hampshire. The communities along Cape Cod Bay are being pounded like we were during hurricane Sandy. I feel for the folks up there, but back home, the media continues to entertain us. Yesterday, they called for the end of the world, the worst storm in history and three feet of snow. Today they are asking public officials if they over reacted. You can't make this up. I think closing the major roads was a good idea. If you remember the day after Christmas storm in 2010, people got stuck on major highways and abandoned their vehicles and it hampered the clean up and kept the road closed for days. Well we just have to be grateful it was not as bad as the people in New England and Long Island are dealing with. I heard the yuppies in Hoboken were disappointed and were trying to return the eggs, milk and bread to the A&P for a refund.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Friday was the last nice day in the forecast for a while. Capt. Steve was chartered for the day, so we took a ride to the trout streams. The temperatures barely rose above freezing in the country, and there was even some snow on the ground from the previous evening. The trail leading into the area I wanted to fish was covered in ice and snow, but I found plenty of clear areas upstream and was the only angler out there. I landed a brown trout on my second cast, but only had one other bite the rest of the morning. The water was very cold and clear, with ice along the shoreline. Plenty of wildlife to enjoy too. We had an immature Bald Eagle fly right over us, chased by three crows. Plenty of hawks, and winter song birds ( Bluebirds, Nuthatches, Juncos...) and we even walked up on some deer in a field of Christmas trees. A nice day for late January, but today I spent the morning with the snow thrower, clearing away the snow, rain, snain, and snit. Bye the way, Capt. Steve did catch a few nice blackfish, so if the weather improves, we may try again.
Wednesday, January 21, 2015
We headed out with Capt. Steve to fish the wrecks and rocks on a beautiful mid-winter day. Other then a little swell in the morning, the ocean was calm, with light winds and moderate temperatures. The bite was sporadic, as the fish would come in little spurts, and then stop biting. We picked at the blackfish, grabbed a handful of ling and only a few cod. One interesting observation was the ocean pout. What we call "conger eels", the pout are protected in Federal waters and you can not keep them, but you can catch more of them then the more desired target species. It makes you wonder about fisheries management. The best part of the day was the wild life show. A seal came around to check us out, a pod of Atlantic dolphins played around and at times were only thirty feet from the boat, and two fin back whales frolicked less then a half mile off the bow for about half an hour. Thanks to Capt. Steve for a nice day and the crew hopes he still may try one more time before the water gets too cold and the bite shuts down for good.
Friday, January 16, 2015
A little window of moderate wind and temperatures allowed us to get out fishing yesterday. Onboard the Skylarker were an all- star cast of captains and mates looking to shake off the cabin fever. The day started off cold with snow flurries and a lumpy ocean. The fishing was typical for January, with some spots completely barren, others over run with dogfish, and a few holding some life. As the day wore on the seas moderated and the bite improved. We picked at some blackfish and small cod and finished the day with enough for a few dinners. J.R. landed a 12lb. blackfish, and Randy had an 11lb. in his limit plus catch. Mark had the hot hand on the cod landing some keepers and shorts. The ice in Atlantic Highlands harbor is gone, so Capt. George will resume sailing this week, and Capt. Steve may want to try again now that I helped him get dialed in on the fish and he is done chasing rainbows.
Saturday, January 3, 2015
A potential world record blackfish was landed in Maryland yesterday. The fish weighed 28.8lbs. and was 35 inches long. Just recently the NY state record was broken after being set only a year before with both of those fish well over 20lbs. Last week a few fish between 15 and 18lbs. were landed on the Jersey Shore. I have heard stories about huge blackfish thirty and forty years ago, that could not be moved off the bottom, but why are these monsters being caught today? Before the live fish market began over twenty five years ago, blackfish were only sought after for a limited time in the fall of the year, after fluke fishing and before the whiting and cod started biting. Some old time Long Island captains told me they were treated like trash fish while cod fishing and tossed overboard. (I also heard this about ling while whiting fishing but I never saw one go back, and that's another story.) Blackfish became more popular due to the lack of other fish to catch, were targeted more, and just like all other fish, once they became commercially valuable, the stocks decreased. There were even draggers tearing up the traditional fishing grounds, trying to net blackfish. All this lead to size and bag limits as well as seasonal regulations to protect the remaining fish. Back in the glory days of the fishery, you just tossed back smaller fish and 3 to 6lbers were average, and most days it was common to see pool winners of 7 to 11lbs on a daily basis. I could remember personally landing a fish over ten pounds on a weekly basis between mid November to mid December. Today party boats are returning to the dock with a catch for the entire boat that one good angler would have for himself back in the day! Advances in technology have lead to better fishing tackle suited to landing these beasts and navigational electronics have helped to to find better fishing grounds and that is part of the story. The building of artificial reefs is also important in helping the population and should continue. All that being said I feel the reason these huge fish are appearing is because they have a chance to get to a baited hook. Smaller fish are more aggressive and would jump on the baits and you could sit on one drop all day, bailing fish. Bigger, older fish, the spawners, were always harder to catch and could not be easily fooled, leading to many different tricks good blackfish anglers invented to catch them. We all heard stories of monster tog from scuba divers but why couldn't we catch them? In the past you could not keep a baited hook on the bottom very long before you had a bite. Now I feel these big fish that would be cautious have a chance to come out of a wreck or rockpile and find a bait on the bottom that wasn't immediately set on by smaller fish. Congratulations to the anglers landing these beasts as it takes a great amount of skill to get the bites and win the battle. Just my thoughts, and something for you to read on a cold winter day.
Thursday, January 1, 2015
I wanted to get a trip together for this weekend but the forecast is calling for wind and rain. As long as the weather doesn't get too bad in the coming weeks, we still have a chance at getting out with Capt. Steve. There are no ling around yet, blackfishing is very slow and a few little cod are starting to turn up. The best you can do is hope to catch enough for dinner and spend a day on the ocean with your friends. Happy New Year to all.