Even the great 2011 Chesapeake year class failed to produce the volume of small bass expected, and the lack of stripers to the east was reflected in the poor boat fishing we experienced in the fall -- while the surf fishing at that time would be better described as terrible. The bay fishing was so good last summer that on July 16, Chuck Many of Annandale released 48 bass from his Ty Man out of Highlands while hosting Nellie Greer of Bethlehem, Pa., Matt Calabria from Hazlet and me.
The following release from the DEP provides good news for Island Beach State Park anglers without beach buggies -- and for the handicapped Fisherman's Walkway, a popular and functional surf fishing access point at Island Beach State Park that was completely destroyed by Superstorm Sandy, has been fully restored and is now reopened, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced today. Since Superstorm Sandy hit in October, 2012, Island Beach State Park has seen the repair or restoration of the boardwalks and the lifeguard station at Ocean Bathing Area 1, the gatehouse and maintenance buildings within the park.
John Taylor, fishing with his son Buck and grandson Ben, lead the way with a 16 species day,including a 6 pound permit, a few weeks ago. Depending on the water temperature,the deeper channel edges will produce good catches of sheepshead and mutton snapper, as well as grouper, pompano, Spanish, jacks and ladyfish.
The blizzard is really just getting started as I write this blog, but I'm already wondering what's going to happen to the millions of dollars worth of sand that was dumped on N. J. beaches last year and ,in many cases, covered productive fishing areas. I probably can't blame that for the historically bad surf fishing last fall, but it certainly didn't help.
My nephews, Bob Correll of Bay Head and Todd Correll of Fort Lauderdale, just finished up two Florida sailfish tournaments. Then they returned to Fort Lauderdale for a yacht club interclub contest that Todd had won last year while his son Connor took the junior angler award.
It actually felt pretty nice along the Shore by the middle of Saturday afternoon, and the snow melted away quickly, but small craft warnings are up for Sunday -- and then it really gets bad late that night -- with gale warnings up for Monday's northeast winds. Friends of Hi-Mar Striper Club pro Bob Kamienski can pay their respects from 2-5 p. m. Sunday in John F. Pfleger Funeral Home, 115 Tindall Rd., Middletown.
A few small red drum have been caught by striper anglers in the Shore surf since then, but last year I didn't get a single such report of a puppy drum from north of Cape May -- and I've never heard of even one of those average 25-pounders here. Party boats from N. Y. were catching vast numbers of sea bass off the Shore before the turn of the previous century, and it was around the time of the Yukon Gold Rush when pioneering N. J. skipper Henry Beebe tried a drift in deeper waters than he normally fished off the northern Shore and found incredible sea bass fishing on rough bottom that resulted in the area being dubbed the Klondike.
Why were they allowed to do that when NJ was not New Jersey was forced into a region with Connecticut and New York. Another reason NJ was forced into regionalization was due to a disparity in the regulations in the Raritan Bay area where the commission deemed it was unfair for NJ anglers to have a 2 lower size limit than anglers from NY who were fishing in essentially the same waters.