Operators finally with something to cheer about
After a long dry spell — beginning with the closing of the summer flounder season in New Jersey on Sept. 5 — bait and tackle shops and charter and partyboat operators finally had something to cheer about beginning with this past weekend.
That good news came in the form of the reopening of the black seabass season, which had closed at the end of August.
Anglers knew there were plenty of the popular fish about because they were catching them continuously since the season shut down. Of course, all of those fish had to be released.
So the word was around and anglers were lined up before the shops opened their doors, and for two hours before the headboats were scheduled to sail. If anyone was disappointed with the results I don’t know who it could have been because the majority of those targeting the fish came home limited out.
Adding to the enjoyment was some absolutely spectacular weather ... much more like mid- August than late October.
But there was more than just black seabass out there.
A number of people reported catching a variety of other species, including numerous triggerfish, bluefish and porgies. There also were quite a few big summer flounder hooked and that was a disappointment when they had to be released.
A couple of the partyboat skippers told me their pool was won by a triggerfish, since they tend to be much larger that most seabass.
All of that great action came to an abrupt halt Tuesday, when a weather front moved through the area and made the ocean a washing machine. However, by Wednesday things were calming down, and the anglers were ready to go again.
I know several anglers who fish for nothing but seabass. In fact, once the season closed, they did not fish again until this past weekend.
These people all have their freezers well stocked with the fish, and they all brag about the numerous recipes they have for enjoying them throughout the winter.
As the water temperature continues to fall, the striped bass action continues to increase. It still is nowhere close to being hotand- heavy, but the numbers are getting better and so is the size. being taken in the Roosevelt Inlet, and black drum now are turning up on some of the Delaware Bay wrecks. This has not been an especially good season for black drum, so it is nice to see that the action is picking up. None are the giants, but they seem to be averaging about 20- pounds.
Seabass seem to be everywhere; and from what I have heard from those targeting them, the bait you use is not that important. They are hitting hungrily on everything from squid to sand fleas.
Indian River Inlet has been the home to some nice mid- sized blues averaging about 10- pounds.
Because of their carnivorous nature, bluefish tend to school with others blues of the same size. Smaller ones know if they try to mix in with their big brethren, they will get eaten. In Rehoboth Bay, I am getting reports of nice sized sheepshead.
One surfcaster fishing Cape Henlopen Point last week got quite a thrill when he hooked into a five foot thresher shark. I’ll bet that fight attracted a crowd of onlookers.
In the ocean, the DelJer Reef and Sites 10 and 11 have been loaded with seabass, as well as numerous summer flounder up to about six pounds.
And to end this week’s report, I am pleased to say the crabbing remains super hot. Check your favorite bait shop for hints on where to drop your crab lines and traps.