Bad conditions wreaking havoc at the shore
During every season there is at least one week that tests the ingenuity of fishing columnists to come up with something about which to write. This past week and a half has been one of those periods. It has been a steady stream of rain, wind, fog and rough water. If I had to guess I would say that maybe a few die-hard surf and jetty anglers have ventured out during this time but that would be all. Even that is not a good idea because some monstrous waves can come out of nowhere and wash right over you.
So, telling you what happened before all of this hit the area is meaningless. Certainly, there was good action on kingfish, bluefish, triggerfish, sheepshead and even blowfish up around Long Beach Island. Will all of this activity remain once conditions improve? All we can do is wait.
Blowfish bring back loads of memories for me. For those of you who were around back in the late 60s and early 70s you probably will recall that these interesting little fish were everywhere in the back waters. There were so many of them that it was almost impossible to catch another species, such as flounder, or even a blue claw crab. They literally would hit your bait on its way to the bottom.
A good friend of mine had a boat at the Beach Haven Yacht Club at the time and each weekend we would go out, not with rods and reels, but with crab traps. Two or three minutes on the bottom and the traps would be jammed with blowfish. Once we had enough to feed a ton of people it was back to the dock for the cleaning procedure. If you never have done it, cleaning a blowfish is not an easy project. But, that small tasty morsel you recovered made it worth the effort. After they were cleaned it was fish fry time for everyone at the dock.
But, sometimes too much of a good thing is not good and it didn’t take too long before you simply got tired of blowfish. Then, one year they were gone...just that fast. And, they never have returned in anything approaching the numbers of four decades ago.
The other day I was going through an old family scrapbook and came across a tear sheet for a Salt Spray column dated October 20, 1985.I don’t know why I saved the column because it contains nothing really exciting. But, I would like to share a few items you might find interesting.
The lead concerned the Absecon Island Surf Fishing Derby and its long-time director, the late Ed Conesky. Anglers were doing their best on the north end of Brigantine with the southern tip of Longport coming in as the second best choice. Big stripers were the usual target on the contestants but some of the other fish caught in the surf will raise eyebrows today. One was a 16-pound, 2-ounce weakfish. Another was a 16-pound blue. When is the last time you saw a 16-pound weakie around here?
One more item of note, it was right around that time that New Jersey imposed a 12-inch minimum size on summer flounder. Ah, the good old days!