Bad con­di­tions wreak­ing havoc at the shore

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Jim Loe For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

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!

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