Chuck Many, of Ty Man from Highlands went all the way to Hilton Head Island in South Carolina recently in order to catch and release trophy red drum. Yet, a hundred years ago he could have done he same thing much closer to home as the channel bass capitol of the world was the central New Jersey coast.
This was prime time for catching huge red drum (then known as channel bass) in the Barnegat area and at other inlets in the area. The drum were all large, and the first couple of world records were N.J. fish. Climate change seems to have changed all that, since big reds are only available now from Virginia south — which is contrary to the theory.
According to Climate Change theory, we’ve been in a very long term warming phase. NOAA Fisheries has advised anglers in the north to learn how to catch red drum that should be pushing into warmer northern waters. The only problem is that NOAA forgot to tell the fish about that.
A couple of years ago I caught puppy drum two days in a row in Point Pleasant Canal, and there were few other small ones reported. However, there have been no northern N.J. reports since then. There’s been no lack of anglers fishing the surf where trophy channel bass were so abundant as to be a nuisance to those seeking kingfish and weakfish with tackle too light to hold bull reds. Along with the cold water seals that have become common in southerly waters in recent years, they remain a challenge to Climate Change theory that I’ve never heard a scientist explain.
The N.J. sea bass season reopens tomorrow. Through the rest of the month the size limit of 12 1/2 inches holds with the bag up to 10.
Some party boats have scheduled special limited trips with extended hours, but there’s a possible problem with weather. After blowing hard from the south today, there’s a big shift to northeast at 15-20 knots with gusts to 25 tomorrow. It gets worse the next day with gusts to 30 and a chance of rain. The big party boats may fish through that, but be sure to check with them before heading down.
Protected waters fishing remains possible through a week of northeast winds. Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina that some anglers have tried to beat the season by fishing from the docks there for winter flounder. The waters are still too warm, but they have caught a few kingfish and blowfish on worms and clams.
The surf was rough in this morning’s southwest wind, but I was able to fish at Manasquan. The only hit came from a 17-inch bluefish that engulfed a Chug Bug. That’s when I found that I’d forgotten to take my pliers. Fortunately, Linda, a regular there and a blog follower, was fishing nearby and offered her pliers for what turned out to be an operation on that greedy chopper.
Vinny D’Anton hasn’t been doing much in Shark River, but got into a pick of small blues on his Chug Bug.