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New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010
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Northeast surf fishermen traditionally regard Autumnal Equinox as the beginning of the "fall run" when striped bass and other game fish go on a feeding spree along beaches. In particular, along the Jersey shore there is a predictable mullet run in Sept that can produce great surf fly fishing for bass and blues in very shallow water. These southbound migrating mullet are typically about 6" long and swim just under the surface.
With high hopes I hit Island Beach State Park, my favorite surf fishing destination in the Garden State. While not what I'd hoped for, at least there was some action on the fly rod. Water temps were in the upper 60s and slightly stained. Reports before the Igor swells were great with albies running the beaches and big blues mixed in. As is usually my luck - I shoulda been there last week. I saw no stripers or albies in 2 days of hard fishing.
Snapper blues (small fish under about 20") were however very numerous. Summer flounder ("fluke") were also numerous. Wed was too windy for FFing and I spent a lot of time untangling after wind ripped my running line out of my stripping basket. 25 knots from the south made for miserable FFing for a right handed guy. I shoulda spin fished. Thur morning I was up before dawn with the spin rod. Surf looked great (see pics) and bait was around but I caught only a herring on a teaser fly.
After breakfast at Betty & Nick's, it was back to fly fishing and off for the long hike down to the jetty making sure to bring more water than yesterday. The wind had shifted to a mild breeze from the northeast. Perfect. Sand eels were very thick in bowls and troughs in the beach structure visible at low tide. Terns and gulls were diving on 'em but game fish weren't visible. I did manage some small blues on a Clouser. Fluke were mixed in too and also liked the fly. Some guys fishing bait got some big ones but none I managed were much over about 16 inches. I got the same results off the jetty - steady pick of small blues and flatties. Many, when landed, spit up sand eels.
Mullet were visible from my perch up on the rocks but fewer than I would have hoped for with big moon tides and calming seas. Perhaps this might explain the lack of bigger game fish. Anyway, beautiful weather but no fish worth crowing about. Considering my luck fishing this year, at least I beat the skunk.

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jpg  Sand Eels.jpg (259.85 KB)
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Posted on: 2010/9/24 7:33


Re: New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010

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Nice report. I hope to get down there in the next few weeks.

How long does it take you to walk down to the jetty from the last parking lot? Do you just work the water all the way down? That is a good walk. Probably about 1 1/2 miles on sand!

Rob

Posted on: 2010/9/24 8:24


Re: New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010
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Rob,
You're right, the walk down to the "north jetty" is over a mile. It's easier at low tide when you can walk on wetter, harder sand. Lacking a 4WD I hike the beach and usually really enjoy it.
On Wed however, it was tough. I shoulda wet waded like everyone else - instead wore the waders on a hot day and was soaked with sweat. I didn't bring enough water and finished the day thoroughly smoked. If I just walk it straight thru I can get down to the jetty in about 20-25 minutes but I walk fast. Usually I'll stop and fish a few spots and chat with the fishermen who line the beach.

Posted on: 2010/9/24 17:26


Re: New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010

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Looked like a good time Dave I wish I could of went

Posted on: 2010/9/24 18:10
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Re: New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010

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I have 30+ years flyfishing PA waters for trout, bass, etc., but none chucking streamers in the surf. Will an 8 weight suffice and does anyone have any suggestions as to where, when, and what flies? I've been wanting to try this for a long time and any info as to how to get started would be greatly appreciated.

Posted on: 2010/9/24 20:13


Re: New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010
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Mason,
By all means try surf fishing, esp if you live close to the beach. I'm often surprised by FFers in eastern PA who won't hesitate to drive 8 hours to fish steelhead but never bother to fish the salt although it's much closer. You should, however, be aware that inshore saltwater fishing - esp from shore or wading - is very hit or miss. You have to time it right. Prime season would be early May- mid June and mid Sept to mid Dec. An 8WT would be ideal for back bays and maybe out in the surf under calm conditions during summer. For the fall run, a 9WT would be better and I use a 10WT for surf and jetty. Personally, I'd even prefer an 11WT to a 9WT but, like trout fishing, rod weight depends a lot on personal preferance. Surf fishing conditions, esp during prime time in mid to late fall, is rough gnarly fishing with heavy wind, crashing waves, big fish that are much stronger than similar sized freshwater fish, and powerful waves and current. I wouldn't recommend an 8WT in those conditions but it would be fine for many other salt water applications. Flies would be similar to what you'd use for freshwater bass fishing but in generally larger sizes and on salt hooks. I love tying salt water patterns although it's a much less sophisticated game than trout flies. You can make salt tying as comlex as you'd like but run-of-the-mill flies for this game can be very simple streamers. I use Clouser Minnows for a lot of my surf fishing.

Posted on: 2010/9/24 21:05


Re: New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010

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I'm envious Dave...miss that surf fishin' from when I lived in Boston.
Love the pic of the sand eel! Perfect example and perfect tie!
Wife used to cook up an occasional blue...baked with bacon! MMMM.

Posted on: 2010/9/24 21:48


Re: New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010

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This post reminded me of fishing the delaware bay for blues with my father many moons ago. The fishing in the Bay was amazing back then.

Good post!

Posted on: 2010/9/25 1:18
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Re: New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010

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Ya I,m enviouse of you for getting to do what I always wanted to do. I was going to make a trip this year but just never worked out.
Hopefully ,God willing, I can make it next May. Thanks for posting,John

Posted on: 2010/9/26 12:41


Re: New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010

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if you are fishing the jetty from the post to the tip, try a spread fly on a sinking line and get down below the smaller blues. Alot of times the bigger stripers will pick off the bait or pieces under the blues. November is BIG sand eel time some reaching 7" they migrate down from new england. I make leadcore shooting heads to get down fast on the pocket side.

A 9wt. is the norm, though I prefer the 10 - 12 wts. myself. I do carry my 8wt. T-3 for calm back bay fishing, but on the beach its the 9 -12 wt for sure.

Posted on: 2010/9/27 10:37
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Re: New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010

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Fishidiot,

Thanks for the tips!...I hope to give it try this fall and will give you a full report.

Posted on: 2010/9/27 19:20


Re: New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010
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Quote:

Mason5419 wrote:
Fishidiot,

Thanks for the tips!...I hope to give it try this fall and will give you a full report.


You're welcome Mason. Good luck this fall. The next two months are prime time.

Also, good advice from Sandfly a couple posts up. While I'd recommend an intermediate line for the beginning salt FFer, like Sandy, I prefer a very heavy lead core shooting head for jetty work. One safety note: if you're fishing the salt for the first time don't even think about walking out on wet jetty rocks without cleats. Just don't do it.

Posted on: 2010/9/27 21:22


Re: New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010

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Nice report Dave, I really wish that I could have made that trip...To bad, I've been fighting a sinus infection and that has had me out of commission for a few days now. I like the saltwater fish pics!!!

Posted on: 2010/9/28 14:40


Re: New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010

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I hate to be a downer. I live about 1 1/2 hours from Betty and Nicks. I'll be heading down yet again. Problem with the surf is this. When I fish the Monocacy, Mud Run, the WB, I may not catch fish but they are within casting distance. When you drive down to the surf many times there ARE NO FISH THERE. Think about it. People who post good numbers in the surf live on the beach in AWDs. You can show up in the lehigh Valley from July 15 to Sept 15 with some tricos and catch fish. I can show up Sunday with a Deadly Dick for the spinning rod and some Clousers for the 10Wt and get skunked again. Maybe I get to watch them blitzing just beyond the breakers. Believe me most of the time your not missing much.

Posted on: 2010/9/28 19:38


Re: New Jersey Surf (Island Beach State Park), Ocean Co, NJ, 9/22-23/2010

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Quote:

JohnPowers wrote:
I hate to be a downer. I live about 1 1/2 hours from Betty and Nicks. I'll be heading down yet again. Problem with the surf is this. When I fish the Monocacy, Mud Run, the WB, I may not catch fish but they are within casting distance. When you drive down to the surf many times there ARE NO FISH THERE. Think about it. People who post good numbers in the surf live on the beach in AWDs. You can show up in the lehigh Valley from July 15 to Sept 15 with some tricos and catch fish. I can show up Sunday with a Deadly Dick for the spinning rod and some Clousers for the 10Wt and get skunked again. Maybe I get to watch them blitzing just beyond the breakers. Believe me most of the time your not missing much.


I hit IBSP today for 4 hours of a SE 20 mph wind with some rain mixed in and still caught fish on my 9 wt . You have to find the productive water .

This was my biggest of the day

Resized Image

Posted on: 2010/9/28 21:47
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