Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From The Wheel House
The waters south of 17 fathoms, and down some toward Long Branch, the Farms and areas laterally still continue to produce mixed catches of Blackfish and Cod. As of this writing it appears that the cod catches were up in comparison to previous weeks.
That's great. Maybe all the years of regulations and restrictions are finally paying some dividends. Locally codfish were in a bit of a slump during the 90's, but now they're being caught frequently enough that you can even target them on a trip. Traditionally the 20 mile wrecks were a predictable area to begin your hunt, but cod are coming up inshore on the open bottom, and on the blackfish drops. Codfish came up pretty close to shore; the Rockaway reef produced some fish as did Buoy 4 the bottom located just south east of Debs Inlet.
And I'll bet that the Cholera Banks as well has some fish. Fresh skimmers, herring and tinker mackerel would be my baits of choice, with a chum pot filled with clam bellies as an appetizer. Cod respond well to chum, and if you're using fresh skimmers, it wouldn't hurt to crack a few clams and send them down too. It seems the best success comes to those looking for them on good pieces of bottom. Drifting to see if there is life and then continuing on the drift or anchoring and setting up.
If the fishery continues to build, I don't see why we couldn't jig them as they do out east and up north. Many of the fish are spitting up baby whiting, makes sense with herring being sparse.
Anyway you look at it, this brings some much needed excitement and diversity to the local bottom fishing. Herring too, seemed to make their presence known after this past moon (meaning full moon). Anglers on the piers east and west had some good moments filling their five gallon buckets.
Well a few more days and we will be into February. Geez the time goes fast. Before you know it, reports of stripers being landed in Raritan, Little Neck and the back of Jamaica Bay will be surfacing. With these milder winters our seasons seem to stretch out. I can remember the creeks being iced up once New Years came. Only a few would dare running offshore in January and February but now-a-days it's business as usual. In the early 80's the Pilot, a perennial Blackfish boat, skippered by the late Tom Marconi, myself ,and a few others, were the only boats on 17; now it's a veritable parking lot.
Shifting gears for a moment, or more accurately shifting Lat/Lon, I spoke with my friend Tony aka'' The Hawk '' down in Florida this week. The Hawk fishes every day or just about, while he's down there doing the snow bird thing. Fishing has been good. They had a mixed bag of bottom fish, the past week on my friend Joes' boat but the highlight of the week was the excellent Kingfishing. Kingfish tipping the scales into the upper 40 lb. range were caught with consistency, 48 lbs was the biggest. Live Spanish Mackerel were the best baits, drifting and power drifting was the technique used.
They fished out of Light House Point, toward Boca in about 60' of water. These Geritol totallers, a group of seasoned veteran fishermen who primarily fish up here during the Spring, Summer and Fall, retreat from winter and head south after the holidays. Well it seems like that fishery too has been improving over the last few winters. That and the night swordfishing has really been a bonus. I just might shoot down there and pay those boys a visit.
Speaking of shooting, my buddy Billy played hooky last week and did a little shooting himself. Squeezing in one more day of duck hunting before the season closes. The day was a cold one and the ducks were flying. He said it was a good day and he, his Lab Mickey, and friends had a good time. I figured as much as I heard the gunshots while walking Bo in Bay Park.
Well with any luck the weather will hold up, and this winter season will be a seamless slide into the next.
You gotta love it. Tight lines till next week.........