Today the ocean was as calm as I’ve ever seen it – windless and slick with an eerie winter silence so quiet you could hear a pin drop. The water was so clear and blue, imy propwash looked like ice.
Today, Captain Scott Crocker and myself decided to head out in search of some warmer water for some big ol’ seabass and other assorted bottomfish. The east side has been boasting warm waters, so we headed that way, crossing over the shoals among clouds of gulls and crashing gannets. Stripers? We weren’t that lucky – in fact, it was what appeared to be schools of dogfish (yes, school of dogfish!) eating menhaden killed by the gannets and dolphins. With dozens of dead pogies floating on the surface, we scooped up a dozen or so for fresh bait and headed east. The water warmed up quickly, and pretty soon we were in water between 57 and 62 degrees.
There were good amounts of albacore working and gulping microbaits on the surface – one cast and I was hooked up. With an albacore in the box for a yummy dinner we decided to concentrated on the bottomfish.
Usually, this time of year, the big problem is getting through the countless dogsharks – today we did not catch a single dog. The problem? All the billions of BIG BLUEFISH that destroyed our baits as soon as the hit the water. At times we would mark schools that went from 10 feet down to 100 feet – and they were all 2-5lbs. Within minutes we had our limit and about all we could stand of the big choppers – all those bad boys are bein’ brined up for the smoker (smoked bluefish is probably my all time favorite). The bluefish persisted all the through the day- whereever we went, giant clouds of blues. There were so many in the water they were attacking our lead sinkers on the way down actually biting chunks out of the lead!
Well, saying that they were the only fish we could is a bit of a stretch – what we would do is find a good patch of promising live bottom without bluefish marks and drop our baits – almost instantly we would be hooked up with giant seabass (many 1-2pounders and several 3-4lbs) but the very act of bringing up the fish would attract the bluefish and we’d be off to find another patch of bluefishless bottom. But we persisted and eventually caught close to our limit of big seabass – we threw back many of the smaller fish, keeping only the big guys for dinner.
For those people who want to get out and do some bottom fishing, as the weather isn’t that cooperative this time of year y’all must be ready lest minute so I’ve been keeping a list for folks who are interested and call when conditions are favorable.