Bogey

Is Plugging in the surf a dying pastime in the NE

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In the mid to  late 1940s when I was beginning surf fishing with a Calcutta cane pole a few taped guides and hose clamps for a reel seat. I forget the reel but it was probably an Ocean City, and things were great, all you needed was a few block tin squids and bass and weakfish were plentiful.

After I married I had access to a boat and we fished the Great South Bay & Fire Island Inlet for the inshore species and off-shore for the pelagics, Then a cottage in Montauk  and back to the surf. Now I surf fish in LIS, Narragansett & Point Judith.

Things were good for a while, then the crash, rebound and here we are. Everybody I talk to agrees that the last ten years have been a steady decline of fish off the beach, is it the end, the beginning of the end or the end of the beginning? (Sorry Winston)

 

 

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Unlike you I wasn't fishing in the '40's; however, I still see quite a few surfcasters. It may be somewhat tougher to catch quality fish from the surf, but some  areas have been productive lately, while others seem to produce schoolies with only an occasional "keeper" in the mix. I'm convinced regulating the catch is an important part of restoring the striper population. Naturally, there are certain staging areas accessed by boat that produce big fish year after year.

Hopefully, it isn't the end (I've too much investedin gear). If the number of surfcasters is down during the summer, perhaps a good fall run will get guys back on the beach.

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The decline in surf casters I think is because of beach replenishment and access problems. Covering the jetties & beaches with tons of sand left no structure or creatures to attract & hold game fish. 

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They're working on beach replenishment now in Atlantic County Brigantine, finished AC, moving to Margate soon, Ocean City, etc.

So how does the replenishment activity impact fishing off the beach. It would make for a flatter bottom, fewer holes, drop offs, structure but I would guess those reform over time.

Does it kill the fishing entirely immediately after the replenishment activity stops?

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I would say it is not at all declining given the number of people I see at so many spots. Take a look at youtube and you can see plenty of guys who fish and post weekly. Access isn't the same perhaps, but there are plenty of spots to fish and with technology for mapping and contours, it can be much more productive to find spots.

I think there might be a decline in some older guys who say fishing is not the same but then haven't fished in years...

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surf casting is not dead, but locales where you CAN surfcast are dwindling due to "private access" rules and lack of public access and parking.

Many areas are posted as "no trespassing" zones, so unless one is willing to sneak across someone's property in the dead of night, one cannot effectively fish those areas.

Add to that the list of communities that charge for public parking and close the lots after the day's tally and you have plenty of vacant lots that are gated and locked.

 

So the surf caster crowd isn't dwindling through lack of interest, but rather lack of access. Basically, they (town, city and state) don't really care about the surf angler unless they are taking our money for one of their "wet dream" projects.

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Also - remember that size matters!  I have plenty of pictures from the 50's and early 60's of my dad holding a stringer full of stripers between his outstretched arms.  So, obviously they weren't very big. What we call micro-stripers now we're fair game for dinner 50+ years ago.  Tender!

 I imagine that in the 40's no-one used the term "shorts" when referring to striped bass.  Yeah!  We caught 'em like there was no tomorrow!

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there doesn't appear to be a shortage offshore, but spots that I've fished for years in RI & LIS that used to produce limits of quality fish are now producing an occasional  micro striper and quality searobins

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2005 was the last decent year I had fishing mid Long Island Sound. My last year of fishing there was June 2012 (moved to TN.) Yeah, for me it definitely got harder to catch consistently of the beach.

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Combination of things - here in SW CT:

  • Lack of access has been an issue for a few years -- nothing new
  • Lack of fish is one HUGE reason there are less pluggers/ fly guys hitting the surf/ beaches/ inlets. Who is going to get up at midnight or 3/4 AM to fish when you don;t think there's any fish?  You dot it a few times & then you stay in bed.
  • We have noticed a huge decrease in sandeels since Sandy - at least inshore. No bait no fish as they say.
  • This spring our small group mostly had trout sized stripers.  Should have used my 5wt.
  • Corresponding large decrease in the number of surf fishermen in our area.

Is it a cycle?  - who knows. Maybe the fish left CT to avoid paying Malloy's loony taxes. 

Florida is looking better & better.

 

 

 

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It's not only the surf. Ever since Sandy blew through the NE, fishing hasn't been the same. Fluke fishing has become a real challenge.

Spots that used to produce are bone dry now.

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We can thank the ACOE for the current state of surf fishing in NJ. Not only did they cover or remove most of the hard structure but smothered any prey that could not quickly swim away. Walk the beach and try to find crab sheds or clam washes. There are no more mussel beds,etc. Without structure or a food source, there is no reason for fish to be in the surf, all that is left are seasonal bait fish migrations and sand bugs.

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