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Capt. Steve Byrne

Steve Byrne is a charter captain and fishing addict. He holds the current IGFA weakfish 30# line-class record, & guided his two sons to IGFA records of their own. "Catching stripers for 40 years, I love releasing big fish to catch them another day!"

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October 15, 2012

Bass, Blackfish & Beach Clean Ups

by Capt. Steve Byrne

You gotta love October. It's thirty degrees one day, seventy the next day, and windy every day. The fall fishing season gets my blood pumping, but I always seem to forget about those pesky winds. It seems as if there is a perpetual small craft advisory on NOAA; and on the days an advisory wasn't issued, there probably should have been. But it's okay, I have been able to squeak in a few trips to the surf and a few ‘tog trips in sheltered waters.

Two weeks ago stripers on structure from the beach seemed like a good bet. As always, the only thing you can count on in fishing is that nothing stays the same. My jetty probing results have yielded just a handful of small bass, as they become more focused on the schools of peanut bunker in the bay. I witnessed several minor Raritan Bay bass blitzes this week. They were short-lived and nothing to get too worked up about, but they were certainly encouraging to see.

Blackfish season got off to a flying start for me on opening day, but I only managed one "real" trip since. That produced decent action for me, and my son, with six keepers up to 6/7 pounds out of 21 blackfish. The majority of the fish took green crabs, as opposed to opening day when all they wanted was asian crabs.

One thing that has kept me occupied is catching asian crabs. On a few of the days that I didn't fish because of the wind, I opted to devote the time to flipping stones for crabs. It's been productive, and I have a solid gallon of the little guys. While I'm on the topic, I'd like to point out that if you feed your crabs and check on them every few days, they will stay alive indefinitely. The old 5-gallon bucket with a bunch of half-inch holes is a cost-effective solution to keeping them happy and healthy. The key is to feed them, don't let the bucket sit in the mud, and clean out the carcasses so the crabs aren't overwhelmed with slime.

I will probably start bringing a couple of light tackle rods with me when I go blackfishing, in case I happen across any schools of feeding bass. A few guys are asking me to take them bassing, so I might try clamming one afternoon this week. Of course, the fishable days this week are limited to Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (maybe).

Saturday morning I met up with a bunch of guys from the Natural Resources Protective Association, and the Fishermen's Conservation Association, for a beach clean up. We spent a couple of hours picking up trash on the beach, talking fish, and having coffee and donuts. These are two great conservation-minded groups that you may want to check out if you want to protect recreational fishing for future generations. Both groups have a lot going on, and you can find out more about them by clicking on the links at the start of this paragraph.

I have the boat fueled, loaded up with crabs & ready to go. Looking forward to Wednesday, and the days after that. It looks like things are setting up nicely for a strong fall run. I hope to see you out there!

October 01, 2012

Frustrations of Fall

by Capt. Steve Byrne

I love fishing the spring run, but nothing beats the fall. Of course, fall also drives me crazy, as it did this afternoon when I was supposed to do an albie charter. The wind was a steady 20 from the west - at least it felt that way - and the bay was looking a lot like that Congo Rapids ride at Great Adventure. And that was wind and tide together. I had no interest in seeing what it was going to look like when the tide turned into the wind.

Another fall, another canceled trip. It's a familiar pattern. That's why I try to keep everything ready to roll: if there is an unexpected opportunity to get out and fish, I will be ready.

The albies have been plentiful this fall, and they will probably hit the road soon. With some luck, we will get another shot at them before they depart. On the other end of the angling spectrum is the 2012 New York blackfish season, which opens this Friday. There may be a scenario where we are catching albies and ‘tog on opening day. I can't wait.

Since today's trip was blown out, I decided not to let the time go to waste and instead went crab picking. There were plenty of Asian crabs under the rocks, along with a few greenies. I flipped quite a few boulders and couldn't believe all of the life I found. Besides the crabs, there were eels, sculpins, one stargazer, bloodworms and tapeworms. I could have stocked a small bait shop with all the stuff I found in the hour at the beach.

There are stripers around locally, and they are hanging tight to structure. If you know of a rocky jetty that you have access to, check it out at high tide. Small bucktails and soft plastic jigs should produce bass for you. There were several private and party boats clamming at Romer Shoal on Saturday but I didn't see any reports, so I can only guess that it was slow.

We will probably see bass fishing limited to the small fish around local structure for another week or two. I plan to play with the albies and blackfish until the bass return in larger numbers. If I hear anything to the contrary, I'll let you know.
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