The weather could not have been any better. The water was flat calm and no wind at all - thanks Mr Weatherman for screwing up yet another forecast. I left at 6 am and I was around Sandy Hook and heading south to Monmouth Beach by 7ish. My fears of rough water and sea sickness and wind were all put to rest. The ocean was like a calm lake with no rolling waves whatsoever. I had to take a few photos as I was going out because the sun rising over the ocean was really cool.
So it was just me and I was hoping to catch 3 big stripers to bring home with me. I had no bait - just jigs - so I was really on a hunting mission, looking for bird activity along the horizon. I didn't see any activity until I reached the area just off shore from Monmouth Beach. I don't know why this particular area has so much life all the time but it seems like boats, birds, bait and bass are all drawn to this spot. I started chasing down birds that I saw diving into the water and I was also looking closely at my fishfinder for signs of underwater activity.
The patches of fish and birds were very sporadic early on. And the fish that were there, were not biting the jigs I was throwing. I kept switching lures and trying new tactics. I had one on and then lost it. The second bite I had, I snapped my line at the reel (tackle/operator malfunction). A few times I was right in the middle of a school of feeding bass and I could not get them to bite. I could see all the bait in the water and these huge bass coming right up and swirling all around me. The water was calm and crystal clear so it was easy to see deep down. I can't tell you how many times I threw a lure right into the middle of a bunch of feeding fish without a bite. Very frustrating! There was just so much bait and food in the water that the fish were not interested in what I was tossing to them.
Look how calm the ocean is!
I switched my jig again to a smaller plastic storm shad (figuring this would more closely match the size of the baitfish) and that seemed to do the trick. I caught 2 small ones right away. Then for a long while the fish disappeared and I was back on a hunting mission. I traveled a LONG distance for my boat - all the way down to Manesquan and back. I could only do this because the water was so calm - it made it easy to navigate.
I started heading back north figuring I would just continue to look for birds and signs of life and I would also start moving closer to home rather than further away. My gas supply was starting to worry me too. Running out of gas in the ocean is not an option for me to even toy with. Well, on my way back I saw this big flock of birds just sitting in the water. I rode over to check it out and they all scattered but what was just beneath them was a MASSIVE school of baitfish (rainfish). The birds knew it was just a matter of time before the predator fish would start to chase the bait to the surface. So I parked my boat in the middle of the school, shut off my engine and waited. It didn't take long as the first signs of big fish life started showing on my fishfinder. I tossed out my jig and hooked up immediately - and these fish were bigger than what I had been catching. All of a sudden there was an eruption at the surface - all around me. I wish that I had time to grab my camera to take a video because it was a spectacular site to see. But I was very busy making sure that I got my limit of fish before the whole thing was over. You never know how long something like that will last so you have to take every opportunity to catch the fish while they are there.
One after the other I was pulling in big stripers. They weren't huge, but all keeper size (over 28 inches). I had 3 rods with me so I would cast one out, hook up, and then put the hooked up rod in a rod holder and grab another rod to cast out. At one point, all by myself, I had 3 fish on at the same time. Luckily they didn't cross paths and tangle all the lines. What I like about this tactic is that I would keep these hooked up fish close to the boat and as a result it attracts the other fish to the general area. It was a way to keep the school around me for as long as possible. I wound up catching about 6 before the action died down. I was allowed to keep 3 because I have a bonus tag that I purchased online for $2. Well worth it.
Because of the gas situation and having my limit of fish, I decided to head home. It was only about 10:30. I didn't see any more life as I was driving back in so I just put the throttle down and zoomed home. Unfortunately, when I got back to the Shrewsbury River I got pulled over by the State Police! I was speeding. Go figure. Another boat was right next to me doing the same thing but he was just a little behind me so I got pulled over and he didn't. The cop gave me a warning and checked all of my credentials. It was mostly just a hassle but luckily he didn't give me a fine or a ticket. I took his picture.
My boat ran very well again - without a problem. I tested out my new livewell design and that seemed to work well too. I kept my fish alive right up until I pulled into my driveway and then put them on ice. I am going to have a little striped bass sashimi tomorrow for lunch I think. I will have a lot of fillet work to do but it's supposed to be like 85 degrees and sunny so it should be a great day outside.
After I got home I had a handful of rice and beans (that's all I had to eat all day to that point by the way) and I got the smoker grill ready for the bluefish strips that were drying in the refrigerator. That took about 3 hours and came out really good. Again, I couldn't stop myself from eating it all up and now I don't have any for today. I cooked homemade pizzas for Debbie and the kids (they came out fantastic) using this dough I bought from a NY style pizzaria. There was so much leftover and I really wanted a slice or five!
I am really starting to get a craving for meat like a burger or a goose or maybe a little bunny rabbit. I got the idea into Ty's head and he's all for trying to trap a goose or a rabbit. I didn't go down that road last year at all but I have to be honest, I'm really thinking about it this time. I'll have to check out the 'legalities' of catching a wild goose or yard bunny before I start to make traps. But that's what surviving is all about. I have plenty of fish for a while and I am going to preserve it well in vacuum freezer bags so that it lasts a long time. But there's only so much fish I can take. I need variety to please my taste buds. We'll see.
Maybe I can take a poll from any readers out there. . . if you're reading this, leave a comment about how you feel about me trying to get a goose or a rabbit to eat. Thanks.
"Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome."
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