Sunday, February 10, 2013

02.10.13 Beautiful morning on the beach....water's looking fishy

     On any morning in the summer along the Jersey Shore you will find bunches of people out at dawn taking in the sights awaiting a beautiful sunrise. I drove down to the beach on this cold post snow February morning to find no one had ventured out just yet. With high tide (new moon) at at just before 7, and sunrise at the same time, it was nice time to see how the water looked post Nemo. As I drove down past the snow covered trees and plowed out driveways I figured I would find off color water and crashing waves with big swells. Surprisingly I didn't find any of that. The water was clean, relatively flat, and very fishy looking. I wanted to know what the water temps were, but with thermometer in hand I was ready, but with Crocs on my feet I wasn't.

      When I got back to the office I pulled up the RU COOL website and took a look at the sea surface temps in the NY Bight. It is a great resource that I first learned about in Rich Murphy's book, Fly Fishing for Striped Bass. I really enjoyed reading this book, and refer back to it often. At this years Fly Fishing Show I had a chance to stand and talk with Rich over a beer, but honestly, my inebriation, his low voice, and out-of-this-atmosphere thinking on striped bass had my heading spinning. I had asked him his opinion on our two year run on winter striped bass fishing and his take on where these striped bass were from. He said the most accurate way to know was to count the striped bass' ear stones....."Bartender I'll take another!" Then we got into mitochondrial DNA....."Bartender, I'll take a double!"

     But back to RU COOL. It is part of Rutgers University and one of the many things they do is compile real time data from satellites, underwater gliders and radar to track things like sea surface temperatures. For me, getting an overall idea of what temps are up and down the Jersey Shore can help in planning my fishing trips day to day, and even every 15 minutes! You can see it for yourself HERE.
   As we continue to have striped bass winter over you can look at the above RU COOL report from this morning and imagine where the striped bass just might be. If you look closely you can see that shore temps might be around 40 degrees, but in certain locations off the beaches it goes up to 45 degrees. Are the bass moving out to warmer water temps and then coming in to eat? Is that why when you make your jump from beach to beach or jetty to jetty you find no fish and then a bunch? We all like to see the birds in the air and give chase, how about the birds swimming in the water? From last year we all saw and learned about how important crabs were in a stripers diet, and that has continued into this year. So, is it fair to say the bass are hovering in water warmers just offshore and then coming in in schools to find and eat crabs?

As with you, I love this stuff, and love trying to figure it all out. And just when you think you "got it", it all changes or something totally blows up your theory.

If I didn't go down to the beach this morning I probably wouldn't have thought about all of this. I think the fish will be coming in to eat over the next few days.