Today I took a different turn when I left my house on a scouting mission. Rather then go left and up into the Raritan Bay, I took a right and headed down to Spring Lake. I finished up at the Wreck Pond Outfall at the border of Spring Lake and Sea Girt. When I was in high school my father lived up the street in Spring Lake Heights. I remember people were always fishing or kayaking in the pond. But today I was on another early season scouting mission. I can say this, things change along the coast. With the storms and the tides and additions and subtractions of groins and sand during beach replenishment projects, what you remember being under the surface last fall, just might not be there this spring. And that is even more true if you are looking at new water or haven't been at an old haunt for some time.
So I visited the Wreck Pond Outfall which is easy to find just look on the southern Spring Lake beach and for the tall red post at the end with the antennae and solar panel on top. The bottom picture is the inlet on the Wreck Pond side just over the dune. The importance of Wreck Pond is that alewife herring use the tidal pond for spring spawning. In years past herring runs were legendary. Anglers would net the herring and liveline them for big stripers that waited outside the outfall pipe. There have been a myriad of problems with Wreck Pond over the years. First, silt has dramatically shallowed out the pond, and high fecal counts have occurred following a heavy rain or storm. In fact while I was there today someone was testing the ocean water on either side of the pipe since we got drenched with nearly two inches of rain last night. The high fecal counts have consistently happened and the beaches are closed during the summer months during the busy season. If there is more than 1/4 of rain the closest beaches are closed until water testing can be done. After a few years of studies earlier in the decade work began and in 2006 the DEP completed the outfall extension and dredging project.
As the air and water temps start to heat up migratory baitfish will start to move into the tidal waters to spawn. This location along with Deal Lake are great locations along the shore to catch stripers as they lie in wait for the herring to move out to sea.