Hurricanes’ impact still being felt along the shore
Mea culpa! I was supposed to make note of a memorable day in New Jersey’s salt water fishing annals in last week’s column but somehow it slipped my mind.
I was wanting to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the 78.8-pound striped bass caught on an Atlantic City jetty during a northeast storm by then local resident Albert McReynolds. That huge fish was recognized by the International Game Fish Association as a new all-tackle world record. McReynolds held that record until just a few years ago when a New England angler topped it.
There are a few fish that garner headlines when a new all-tackle record is established and certainly the striped bass is one of them. Back in 1998 Anthony Monica of Hammonton, NJ broke the all-tackle record for tautog. It was an impressive fish, but outside of the fishing columns it did not receive the accolades of McReynolds’ striper.
But, while McReynolds basked in the limelight, it was not perfect. A number of jealous anglers put out rumors that the fish had been caught by a trawler and sold to McReynolds. Salt Water Sportsman Magazine some time ago ran a two issue report on the events of that stormy night 35 years ago and all that happened.
Today, Albert McReynolds resides in the Naples, FL area where his home took quite a beating in the recent hurricane. And, while he still fishes, his health has not been the greatest in recent years.
I wasn’t there when the record fish was caught but I am firmly convinced that it was a legitimate fish.
Well, here along the shore we now are in our third week of “Victory at Sea” ocean conditions caused by the train of hurricanes that thankfully missed us but still made a mess of the water.
Speaking with Capt. Norm Hafsrud of the Ocean City charter boat ‘The Viking’, he expressed his dismay at the month of September saying he has been chartering here since 1976 and it has been the worst September he ever experienced. During the entire month he was able to take out passengers just two days and neither of those trips was in the ocean.
Just eyeballing the chocolate milky back bay waters you can still see huge schools of baitfish ranging from spot to herring and tiny bluefish. With all that around it is reasonable to assume the predators who enjoy such meals also are around. Some, mostly undersized, striped bass have been caught by anglers venturing out in the dark. Tautog are more than abundant but regulations limit you to just one fish until November.
A few of the big party boats have run offshore on selected days with limited passengers aboard but even they are sticking to the close-in reefs and snags. These boats are reporting the now off limits summer flounder and black seabass being caught but maybe the majority of the fish coming home are triggerfish.
Stay out of the surf if you are fishing the beaches. The rip currents have been exceptionally strong and there is a chance you can make a misstep and find yourself being pulled out.
A warning to surf anglers in the Rehoboth area. Nobody is wearing waders with the water temperature in the mid-to-upper 70s but a number of the anglers are reporting developing a severe rash a day or so after their trip. The most affected area seems to be around the Delaware Bay side of the Cape Henlopen State Park.
If you do insist on surfcasting you should expect to load-up on small bluefish. My understanding is they are boiling the water and in conditions like that it is all but impossible not to catch them. Probably even a bare hook would work.
Other good areas recently include the Henlopen Canal and the bay west of the Point. Indian River Inlet also is giving up a few fish, mainly the blues.
Before they head south, this is the time to get your cast net and stock up on finger mullet. They are piled up around the Point and Inner Wall.