Hur­ri­canes’ im­pact still be­ing felt along the shore

The Southern Berks News - - SPORTS - By Tom Ta­tum For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia By Jim Loe For Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

For the poet T.S. Eliot, April may be the cru­elest month, but for out­doorsy types like us, Oc­to­ber is, far and away, the best of the best. For folks who want to hunt, fish, hike, camp, bike, en­joy the fall fo­liage, ex­plore our great out-of-doors and cozy up with Mother Na­ture, Oc­to­ber of­fers per­fect,

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 crispy cool weather. That brisk cold snap that blew through our neck of Penn’s Woods late last week ar­rived right on cue.

I ush­ered in the month by ped­dling, pad­dling, and pac­ing in the Mar­shal­ton Triathlon which I’ve done on the first Sun­day of the month (with a few ex­cep­tions) ever since the triathlon’s in­cep­tion. My part­ner this year was broth­erin-law 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 Daryl Rob­bins, an avid biker and nine years my ju­nior. We were among the 1,600 folks who par­tic­i­pated in this pop­u­lar fundrais­ing chal­lenge that day. De­spite some se­ri­ous nav­i­ga­tion prob­lems on the ca­noe leg of the event, we both man­aged to fin­ish in the top ten of our re­spec­tive age groups and en­joyed a per­fect day in the Ch­ester County out-of-doors. Bik- 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. ing, pad­dling, and hik­ing are all great out­doors pur­suits, but there’s plenty more to do on our Oc­to­ber bill of fare.

Archery deer hunt­ing. With the sum­mer’s heat and hu­mid­ity fad­ing in their rearview mir­ror, bowhunters should find con­di­tions more to their lik­ing, and as the white­tail rut picks up steam later this month, lovesick bucks and does will be on the move and more likely to mosey by any at­ten­tive archer’s tree stand.

Muz­zleloader hunt­ing. Bowhunters will get some com­pany in the deer woods when the state’s muz­zleloader sea­son for antler­less deer only kicks in from Oct. 14 through 21, and the antler­less deer only Spe­cial Firearms sea­son for Ju­nior and Se­nior li­cense hold­ers, Men­tored Youth, ac­tive duty mil­i­tary and cer­tain dis­abled per­sons runs from Oct. 19 through 21. Statewide, our archery deer sea­son runs through Nov. 11. Here in Wildlife Man­age­ment Units 5C and 5D, it goes through Nov. 25.

Small game hunt­ing. Oc­to­ber also fea­tures a broad range of hunt­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for small game with Ju­nior hunts for squir­rel and rab­bit hav­ing opened this past Satur­day, Sept. 30, and run­ning through Oct. 14. For pheas­ant, the ju­nior hunt runs from Oct. 7 through Oct. 14 with the reg­u­lar sea­son on ring­necks set for Oct. 21. Don’t for­get that a pheas­ant per­mit is now re­quired for all adult and se­nior pheas­ant hunters. Penn­syl­va­nia’s reg­u­lar sea­sons on rab­bit, squir­rel, bob­white quail and ruffed grouse all open on Oct. 14. Hunt­ing for rac­coons and foxes be­gins on Oct. 21 and the trap­ping sea­son for rac­coons, foxes, coyotes, opos­sums, striped skunks, and weasels starts on Oct.22.

Duck and dove hunt­ing. And as if Penn­syl­va­nia hunters didn’t al­ready have enough to do in Oc­to­ber, our early duck sea­son here in the South Zone is set run from Oct. 14 through 21. Although the early sea­son on Canada geese here in the At­lantic Pop­u­la­tion Zone closed back on Sept. 25, it will re­open on Nov. 15. The first stage of our three tier sea­son on mourn­ing doves ends this week on Oct. 7 but stage two be­gins on Oct. 14 run­ning through Nov. 25 with shoot­ing per­mit­ted all day long, not just start­ing at noon as in the first stage.

Turkey hunt­ing. Oc­to­ber also her­alds the fall turkey sea­sons with open­ing day be­ing Oct. 28 in most WMUs. Ex­cep­tions to this are WMU 5B which opens Oct. 31 and closes Nov. 2, WMU 5A which runs Nov. 2-4, and WMUs 5C and 5D here in the south­east where there is no fall turkey sea­son.

Fresh wa­ter fish­ing. Fresh wa­ter fish­ing is also in the Oc­to­ber air. In Ch­ester County the Penn­syl­va­nia Fish and Boat Com­mis­sion (PF&BC) is slated to stock the De­layed Har­vest, Ar­ti­fi­cial Lures only stretch East Branch of the Brandy­wine Creek this week on Wed­nes­day, Oct. 4. The PF&BC will also be busy in Berks County this month with trout stock­ings sched­uled for Scott’s Run Lake on Oct. 16 and Tulpe­hocken Creek on Oct. 17. In Mont­gomery County, Pen­ny­pack Creek is set to get a fresh batch of PF&BC rain­bow trout on Oct. 10.

The PF&BC now re­ports that on the Schuylkill River in the Black Rock area small­mouth bass and large­mouth bass fish­ing near the Cromby Power Plant out­flow has been good this sea­son. Crankbaits and live bait are still the best pro­duc­ers. Cat­fish­ing the past month has also been good with an­glers tak­ing large flat­heads on bluegills and night crawlers. Chan­nel cat­fish have been caught us­ing the stan­dard fare of chicken liver. When fish­ing at the Black Rock Dam stay clear of the fish lad­der area. Vi­o­la­tors caught within 100’ of the fish lad­der will be cited. Re­spect the river and wear a PFD while on­board a boat. An­glers are also re­port­ing catch­ing Small­mouth Bass in the Schuylkill River in the Birdsboro area on tubes and plas­tics.

Wildlife view­ing. And if you’re look­ing for some unique wildlife view­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, Oc­to­ber is also the month for you. I’d highly rec­om­mend a visit to Hawk Moun­tain Sanc­tu­ary in Kempton, Pa., to watch spec­tac­u­lar mi­gra­tions of so many species of rap­tors. An in­fi­nite va­ri­ety of hawks, ospreys, vul­tures, and ea­gles will be sail­ing over­head for your view­ing plea­sure. For more info on Hawk Moun­tain events and lec­tures, go to their web­site at http://www.hawk­moun­tain.org/.

A lit­tle farther away (but def­i­nitely worth the trip) is the Elk Coun­try Vis­i­tor Cen­ter in Benezette, Pa. This time of year the bulls should still be bugling and chas­ing cows across the coun­try­side. It’s al­ways fun to chal­lenge th­ese hypedup bulls by call­ing them in with your own med­ley of elk calls. For more info check out their web­site at https://elk­coun­tryvis­i­tor­center.com/ or give them a call at 814-787-5167.

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