Hur­ri­canes’ im­pact still be­ing felt along the shore

The Community Connection - - SPORTS - By Jim Loe For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

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 par­ty­boats 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.

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