Marine mammals apparently haven’t been watching any Al Gore Climate Change movies. As previously noted in this blog, there have been lots of harbor seals which are northern residents enjoying winter vacations in Shrewsbury River and Sandy Hook for many years — and some hang around as waters warm in the spring. Tom Manalo posted a photo on Facebook of 91 fat seals piled up at Sandy Hook a couple of days ago. They are “cute”, but there’s no hope of a winter flounder recovery in the river with those eating machines in residence. Anglers are limited to two flounder at a 12-inch minimum, and have a hard time doing that while seals have no limits. School stripers are also no match for speedy seals.
When I moved to N.J. the sighting of a seal was front page news. Now they are taken for granted even though climate change theory dictates that they should be moving even further north from their northern homes. Whales that were also a rarity have also become so common in NY/NJ Bight that they can often be observed from shore in the summer, and the big red drum that were the major inshore game along the central N.J. coast a century ago have remained far to the south even after NOAA Fisheries warned Jersey anglers that they should learn how to fish for the impending return of those warm water fish.
The Golden Eagle made their first trip of the season in beautiful warm conditions, but only picked at ling and cod while being inundated by spiny dogfish. They called off the Sunday trip and will try again on Friday. Bait was spotted close to shore, and they’ll switch to stripers as soon as they turn on.
Capt. Joe Massa tried trolling the back of Raritan Bay on Thursday with stretch plugs from his My Three Sons out of Morgan Marina, but took another striper skunking despite seeing loads of bunkers. He noted that another boater at the marina gave the back of the bay a good try chunking bunker today without getting a hit. Yet, I still expect larger stripers to turn on in the bay any day now.
The Sunday forecast isn’t good with small craft warnings up and rain on the way. Winds will be south at 20-25 knots with gusts to 30 in the morning along with 4-7-foot seas. There may also be fog, and a thunderstorm is possible.
Nick Honchefsky has his video The Pursuit of Striped Bass running Sunday at 4:30 a.m. and p.m. on the Sportsman Channel. It’s a surf show with rock star Deen Ween.