Man­ual La­bor: A week to for­get at the shore

The Kutztown Area Patriot - - SPORTS - By Jim Loe For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Over the 40 plus years I have been writ­ing Salt Spray there al­ways is at least one week when con­di­tions con­spire to make it truly dif­fi­cult to find any­thing good to say about the fish­ing at the shore.

This is one of those weeks.

If you were down here over La­bor Day, you know this was not the most pleas­ant place to spend the hol­i­day. In fact, La­bor Day it­self looked like most of the vis­i­tors had de­parted the scene by Sun­day.

Then the wind started to howl, and it be­gan to rain. Get the pic­ture?

The re­sult was an ocean that was fit only for fish, not boats, and back bays where the wa­ter was choco­late brown.

This past Tues­day also marked the end of New Jer­sey’s ab­bre­vi­ated sum­mer floun­der sea­son ... al­though our friends in Delaware can visit Jer­sey wa­ters, catch all the flat­ties they are legally per­mit­ted and take them home to the First State.

Our friend, Capt. Norm Haf­s­rud, got in one last floun­der trip. He stayed in the bay be­cause it was im­pos­si­ble to fish the ocean. With him was Pat Mo­ran of King of Prus­sia and his daugh­ter Liz. They took home a cou­ple of re­ally nice-sized fish for din­ner.

Since Capt. Norm, a re­tired Boyertown High School teacher and coach, is about as good a floun­der finder as any­one I know, I asked him about the sea­son just past.

He said this year had more of the fish in the back bays than he can ever re­call. The fish­ing in the in­side was far bet­ter than out in the ocean, and why make the trip if you can find them a mile or so from your dock.

He at­trib­uted the lengthy back wa­ter stay to the fact that those wa­ters were loaded with bait all sum­mer. Even floun­der are smart enough to fig­ure out if the din­ner ta­ble is right in front of you, why bother swim­ming out into the ocean?

New Jer­sey gets lumped in with New York when it comes to floun­der reg­u­la­tions. But New Jer­sey ac­tu­ally is two states: One north of Long Beach Is­land, and one south of LBI.

The fish to the north tend to be much larger than those in the south, so the large min­i­mum size def­i­nitely hurts the south­ern an­glers. Then there is the Delaware Bay sit­u­a­tion, where the place where you dock your boat al­lows you to catch fish when Jer­sey’s sea­son shuts down.

A good so­lu­tion would be for the reg­u­la­tors to split New Jer­sey in half and pair the south­ern half of the state with Delaware, which al­lows you to catch floun­der all year-round — al­though once it gets cold, they head out to the con­ti­nen­tal shelf for the win­ter.

I fear there will be some ti­tanic bat­tles this win­ter and spring be­tween New Jer­sey in­ter­ests and the reg­u­la­tors, who are not happy the state dis­obeyed their dra­co­nian pro­pos­als for this year.

For good news, there is the crab­bing.

This year must be one of the best sea­sons in decades. Since there is no closed sea­son on blue claws, you can catch them un­til their time comes to bur­row into the mud for the win­ter.

Bait shops would be happy to tell you about good spots in their neigh­bor­hood, but even if you just drive around on some of the more re­mote roads around the bays, rivers and creeks you will see ar­eas that prac­ti­cally say “Catch Crabs Here!”.

Per­son­ally, I al­ways have been a bunker bait fan. I know many use chicken necks, but the bunker al­ways pro­duce for me.

Put some slashes in their body be­fore you drop them into the wa­ter. That will speed up the crabs lo­cat­ing them.

Crabs must be 4.5-inches point to pint, and you can keep a bushel day. And never place those you catch in a bucket of wa­ter. They will drown.

The trusty bushel bas­ket is per­fect, but a bucket will do in a pinch. Cover them with a wet rag or sea­weed to keep them damp and lively.

ACROSS THE BAY

Fish­ing in Delaware seems to have weath­ered the weather bet­ter than Jer­sey.

There is noth­ing to re­port from off­shore be­cause it has been too rough, but the Cape Hen­lopen State Park Pier has been pro­duc­ing a great mixed bag. You can ex­pect to find floun­der, perch, spot, croak­ers and blue­fish on the pier. Delaware has a 10 fish per per­son per day blue­fish bag limit but there is no size limit.

In the surf there has been good king­fish ac­tiv­ity, along with some small blues. Buoys B and A and the Old Grounds have been good to ex­cel­lent on the floun­der.

Like Jer­sey, the crab­bing is out­stand­ing. One area that has picked up would be the up­per reaches of the In­dian River Bay.

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