Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pre Hurricane Irene – Everyone out of the Pool 8/25/2011

I had been keeping a close eye on the weather reports all week. As the week progressed the cone of uncertainty about if/where Hurricane Irene might hit began to circle in on Cape May. I had planned to go down and pull the boat out on Friday, until I got a call from Capt. Randy on Thursday afternoon. He had just heard that there would be a mandatory evacuation of Cape May starting on Friday morning. He had heard if you weren’t in Cape May by 8:00 AM on Friday you weren’t getting in. Luckily I had pulled my boat trailer out from behind the shed, and had it hooked up ready to go.

I left for Cape May with the trailer in tow around 4:30PM on Thurday. Capt Randy and Jim headed down a little after that with his trailer. We had called Capt Dave and he was on his way down too. As I approached the Garden State Parkway (GSP) there was some long lines at the gas stations. I decided to stop at the gas station at the rest stop on the GSP. They had one lane of the pumps opened to Southbound traffic. There were only about 5 or 6 cars ahead of me in line. The rest of the pumps were all being used by the Northbound traffic. The Northbound side had really long lines because people began to evacuate the barrier islands. The guy on the other side of the pumps was headed north, I asked him how long he had waited in the line for fuel. He told me he had waited over an hour. He mentioned he just came from the Bree Zee Lee marina, where he had waited for over 3 hours in the line for the boat ramp. That was discouraging to hear since that’s where I was headed.

As I approached the Bree Zee Lee marina at about 7:30 PM on Thursday evening, I could see the line of trucks with boat trailers lined up out on to Ocean Drive. I decided to pull in and park at the marina, instead of getting in line right away. It was raining too, I forget to mention that earlier. I went down to my slip and pulled the Bimini top off, and stowed it in the cabin. I also lowered the antennas and had the boat ready to be loaded on the trailer. Meanwhile Capt Dave had arrived and got in the line for the boat ramp. After a few calls back and forth we decided to head to the camp ground. Capt. Dave really prepared his camper. We made an effort with some of the others to prepare them. We all decided to go back and get in line for the boat ramp line. When we got on the line, which was still backed out on to Ocean Drive it was about 12:20AM. Low tide was at midnight, and it was close to the new Moon, so it was really low. I heard guys where having problems getting there boats out. About every 10-15 minutes the line would move up a little.

We had our boats ready to go, and we were able to help each other out. Jim manned our vehicles as we ran to our boats, and was a big help. As we would approach the boat ramp with the boats, Jim would have the trailer already down the ramp. I was able to just run my boat up on the trailer. We had all three of our boats on the trailers and off the ramp within ten minutes. If everyone was that fast the line would have moved a lot faster, we were fortunate to be able to help each other out.
Capt Randy and I left our boats on the trailers in the boat yard at the marina. I’ve been second guessing that decision. I’m concerned about the storm surge. If the surge comes at high tide on Sunday, it might float the boats in the yard. High tide is at about 7:50 AM on Sunday morning. The eye of the hurricane should hit sometime on Sunday morning. Capt Dave took his boat all the way home.

We went back to the Camp Ground after pulling the boats and finished closing them up. We decided that we should just head out after that in order to beat the anticipated traffic. We headed out for a bleary eyed drive back home at about 4:30 AM on Friday. All we can do now is sit and wait and hope for the best.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cape May Fishing Report August 20th 2011- Flounder Tournament

On Saturday the Bree Zee Lee had the annual Summer Flounder tournament. I took Friday afternoon off and met Capt. Randy over at the marina at about 3:00 PM on Friday. There was a lot of lightning around, but the storm was not on top of us yet. I turned on the XM weather on my chart plotter, and there was a big thunderstorm in the Delaware Bay.

I called Ross his boat is two slips up from me. His boat is being re-powered right now, so I asked him if he’d like to fish in the tournament. The answer was a quick yes. So I entered “Offshore Bites” in the tournament and Capt Randy entered “Just One More”. Since there was no Captains meeting for the tournament we headed over to the Harbor View for our own Captains Meeting.

I left the slip at about 5:30 AM on Saturday with Ross. We headed to Reef Site 11. The weather was perfect and the seas were flat. It’s about a 16 mile run to Reef Site 11; we had our lines in the water by 6:30. Capt Randy had Dave M. and his brother Jim on board. They left the slip sometime after 6:00 AM and headed to the Old Grounds.

Ross had the first fish on at Reef Site 11 within minutes of our arrival, that one was a short. There were a few boats drifting over the same structure as we were. We ended up with three keepers, which were all caught by Ross. I would say we had a total of about 30 shorts. The early morning bite was great but it died down later in the day.

We packed it in at about 2:15PM since we had to be back for the weigh in by 4:00. We were doing almost 25 knots on the way back in, we had a good tail wind. We pulled into the marina and waited to get in at the fuel dock. There were 34 boats in the tournament, so the fuel dock was pretty busy at about 3:15. Our fish weren’t that big but at least we had something to weigh in. The combined weight for our 2 biggest fish was just over 5 pounds. We filled the boat with fuel and headed back to the slip.

Capt Randy was cleaning one of their fish. They also had 3 fish. The one he was cleaning was pretty big, over 5 pounds – a doormat. He told me the other ones were pretty big too. I thought he was yanking my chain until he showed them to me. Here’s a picture of Randy and two of the fish.
The guys from the marina cooked up some burgers and dogs, and a lot of us ate up at the picnic tables. The same tables that Bree Zee the dog often sleeps on. The tournament was for the combined weight of your 2 heaviest fish. The winning weight was over 12 pounds. Capt Randy and the crew of the “Just One More” had a combined weight of 10.07 lbs; they were close to being in the money but didn’t place. The Calcutta was for the single heaviest fish, and was won by “Reel Joy”; they also came in first place in the tournament. I think they were one of the boats fishing in the same spot I was, so obviously I need some flounder schooling.

All in all it was a great day. The weather was perfect, the fishing was pretty good. There were a lot of big fish caught in the tournament. Here’s a photo of the results from the tournament. It might be a little hard to read the results.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Cape May Fishing Report August 12 and 13th, 2011

I took Friday off from work. I left the house at about 3:30 AM on Friday morning. I was at the marina by 6:00 and left the slip by 7:00 AM. I set a course for Reef Site 11 which is about a 16 mile run South of Cape May. The weather was perfect. I wanted to head towards the 19 Fathom lump, and do some trolling but couldn’t get a crew together. I did take my trolling rods along with me.

I had my lines in the water at Reef Site 11 by 8:00. As I mentioned the weather was perfect so it made for a quick ride out there. When I started the water temperature was 76 by the afternoon it was up to 80. The water was very clean. I took a picture of every flounder I caught. I caught 8 flounder, none of which were keepers, 2 of them were pretty close, over 17 and 3/4 inches. I also caught a bunch of sea bass but threw them back. While I was drifting I saw some Mahi Mahi jumping by the lobster pots. I flounder fished until about 2:00, then I moved away from the fleet so I could set out my trolling gear. I only put three lines out, and then I trolled around the various pots at Reef Site 11. I trolled around for about an hour but didn’t have any luck. I headed back to the slip empty handed. That trip burned about 28 gallons of fuel.

On Saturday, Capt Dave and Chuck headed to the Old Grounds. They were out of the slip by 6:30 AM. I was waiting to see what everyone else was doing; I finally left my slip at 9:00 and headed to the Cape May reef. Capt Randy and Jim headed for McCrea’s Shoal. I caught 14 flounder at the Cape May reef but they were all shorts. I also caught a few sea bass, and a couple of skates and sea robins. I saw a big turtle on the surface out there; I think it was a leather back turtle. I stopped fishing at about 2:00. When I headed back to the marina Capt Randy and Jim were cleaning “Just One More”. They told me they got one at McCrea’s. Capt Dave and Chuck didn’t get back to the slip until about 4:30. They managed to get 2 keepers at the Old Grounds and they also fished at Reef Site 11.

Saturday evening we all went to CJ’s for dinner. After CJ’s we headed back to the Harbor View to see Northbound Train. That’s the good band I mentioned a few weeks ago. It had rained a little earlier in the evening so the band had to set up in the corner under the roof. We managed to snag a table with a pretty good view. We stayed until the band finished their last set.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Cape May Fishing Report July 30th, 2011 Special Shark Week Edition

My buddy Bill flew down again. I picked him up at the Cape May airport and headed back to the Bree Zee Lee marina. We met my dock neighbor Ross at the dock and headed out of the slip at a little after 8:00 AM. It was just about high tide and it was very high tide because of the new moon. I headed back out to the Cape May reef, since I had caught two keepers there last week I was optimistic about our chances.

It was pretty slow at first. We caught a couple of shorts. Then I moved over to the spot where I had caught the 21 incher last week. There was another boat right on my numbers, so I pulled up pretty close to the other boat. We drifted for a few minutes then Bill hooked into a big one, he thought he was snagged at first but Ross told Bill you have a big fish on the line. Bill continued to real in. I could see from the rod action that he got a good head shake out of the fish. Bill was struggling to gain any line, and had to use short pumps to gain line. I grabbed the net and anxiously waited on the swim platform. As we started to see the color of the fish it looked like a giant flounder, but as it got closer we could see it wasn’t. We were all stumped, was it a Bull Nose Ray? Was it a big Skate? As we got it to the surface Bill yelled over to the other boat to see if they could identify it. I could tell it was a shark but had never seen a shark like this before. We kept the shark on the surface for a while, and I took some pictures so we could identify it. It had a lot of teeth so I wasn’t going to bring on board. Ross grabbed the leader and I cut the line down by the hook. The shark swam off. After that I grabbed the fish species book I have on board and looked it up. It was an Angel Shark. It was about 4 feet long, and the biggest fish Bill ever caught.

After that bit of excitement we reset the drift a few more times, but had no action. We decided to move towards the southern end of the reef. The boredom really picked up at the southern end. I think Ross caught a short at the southern end. We saw our other dock neighbor Al at the southern end, he didn’t even catch a thing out there. Here's a picture of Al out on the water.

We pulled back into the marina at little after 2:00. The tide was extremely low but we got in with out getting stuck in the channel. We did turn up some mud though.

Later that evening I went to the Harbor View, they had a really good band playing named Northbound Train. They will be playing there again on Aug 13th.

On a completely different note Alan Jackson just shot a new music video at the Square Grouper tiki bar, which I frequent quite often when I'm down in Jupiter FL. Here’s a link to the video. Long Way To Go Video.