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Doug M 02-10-2005 08:30 PM

This seal thing really intrigues me.I have fished the cape for about 23 years and noticed the seal populations booming.I love to fish from south beach and walk for miles south on monomoy.I had some of my best days with seals following me up and down the beach.They were like dogs looking for a snack as I would release a bass.It was dicey getting in a small bass.But if the bass was over 15lbs they did not go in for the kill.I am not sure if the problem is that they compete for forage or actually prey on the Bass???Al/Frank...what were the seal populations like 30-40 years ago???What were the herring populations like back then also??
On another note .I drive by the water every single day of the year around the Jones beach area on long island.This year we had a fantastic herring run and banged many good bass on them through December.The large groups of seals that I have been watching the last 4 years are nowhere to be seen.Only the occasional
small group.Maybe more herring up north this year also and they decided not to go this far south.

Doug M

ALB31 02-10-2005 09:48 PM

sjchangs2000..You moved to Long Beach is a good choice for a surf fisherman. I live east so I fish just a little further east. The water by the jetties is not as deep as it once was. But you can still catch big bass. My friend nailed four 25 pounders there one evening at low tide last June. He was standing by a jetty not on it. The jetties have always been tough to climb. I beleive you can do just as well casting from the beach. You will have too scout it out, check all of them at low tide for water depth. The best part about Long Beach is nobody fishes there after dark.

All the jetties that are flat and easy to climb are from Troy west. There must be 40 in total on Long Beach island. There is also good access just east of you at nassau beach and point lookout. A lot of bait and plug fishing goes on there all season long. These are county parks and the people there will give you information on access and parking,there may be a small parking seasonal charge for nassau beach after dark. I know there's none for point lookout. One last thing the weed from Jones inlet moves from east too west,if you have any you can move west too get away from it.

West end tackle in Long would be a place to start for information.

sjchangs2000 02-10-2005 10:21 PM


Thanks for the great information... now I really can't wait until Spring. Four 25 pounders in one night!? My wife won't being seeing much of me this June. Thanks again for the info.

ALB31 02-10-2005 10:54 PM

Doug Maclean, Good hearing from you...About the seals there were very few on the Cape 30 to 40 years ago during the bass season. In fact there was a 5 dollar bounty on them. You just had to shoot them and turn in their nose. They were also hunted on the ice flows in Canada... Now they are protected. Im sending you the minutes from a meeting in Canada held by the commercial fisherman about the lost of herring and what its done to the cod and tuna fishery industry.

Your question on herring fishing years ago. You could catch them from any dock or bridge all winter long. The runs now are less then 5% of what it was then. About the seals my son-in-law is a marine cop and he see,s the seals all winter long behind Jones Beach.They are back this winter too.

The seals have been taking hooked fish of all sizes on the cape this past summer. My friend was fishing on a sand bar,and had one with a head the size of a garbage can take a big fish he was landing..

biggstriper 02-11-2005 09:31 AM

I have nothing against seals unless they're around when I'm trying to catch BASS. I see them sometimes when I fish up at the Cape Cod Canal. Just little ones tho' although I think they still scare all the BASS away.

Eben 02-11-2005 10:44 AM

Seals- just use bigger hooks... the fight will be like trying to land a giant Tuna from shore

billeh! 02-11-2005 01:29 PM

LOL Live lining stripers for seals! That's funny, I don't care who you are.

fishinglsister 02-11-2005 07:59 PM

Al Bentsen hits the nail on the head! We humans are screwing with the natural order of things by taking the staple foodsource (herring) away from the seals. There is nothing "right" about seals eating bass and I'm sure it's not their first choice. The herring are greatly deminished so the seals went to the Cape to eat bass (or starve) and the giant tuna went to Canada for the summer for mackerel.
There are some ideas that are just plain WRONG and pair trawling for herring is one of them! It's too damn efficient and our so-called "fisheries management people" don't like to admit to making a mistake until a species is on the brink of extinction.
Herring is an important forage species that almost everything eats. Why should a couple of companies benefit to the detriment of millions of fish, animals and people who deserve the resourse every bit as much? It will be a "mute issue" soon anyway as when the herring collapse, the "industry" will find another species to plunder and our "slow to see the pattern" fisheries managers will let them do it all over again!

Frank Daignault 02-12-2005 08:57 AM

For clarity, the discussion here is about sea herring, not the "herring" which many of us see in spring that are really alewives. When the European herring fleet came to Rhode Island, with permission, they had a factory ship in the West Passage.

fishinglsister 02-13-2005 03:32 PM

I just spoke with Al Bentsen on the phone and he can't remember the fish I spoke of so I'll tell it: We were with Vinny Gugleonie (writer of the column called "Strictly Casting" from the late 60's and early 70's), summer of 1977 at a spot called "The Mudbar" in the back (bay side)of Jones Beach.
We (Bentsen, his late son Allen and I) had been getting some very large fish into the high 40's just about every night and Al invited Vinny for the night. I had never met Vinny (even though he was a "Legend" to me) so I left Al and Vinny on the west side of the bar and I took the east.
Nobody had a hit for the first two hours and the tide had turned to flood and we would have to leave soon (or be trapped). I saw/heard some commotion to my left and thought Al or Vinny had one on but something didn't sound right.
I went to investigate and found Al in the drink up to the tops of his waders with Vinny hanging over his shoulder. What happened is Al hooked a big fish that took off accross the channel like a rocket ship, practically emptying the squidder. Towards the end of that run, Al's drag started to stick and while hastily trying to loosen his drag, he somehow got his thumb stuck in between the star and the handle.
If having gained nothing on the fish and having his drag sieze wasn't enough, the fish decided to take off some more. To take pressure off the fish, Al started advancing into the water while Vinny was desperately trying to disengage Al's thumb from the reel.
In the end, Al couldn't go any further so he stopped, expecting the fish to break him off. Instead, the fish snapped the head hook in half and completely ripped the tail hook from the eel.
Al says he can't remember all this as it's still in his "short term memory" (less than thirty years ago)! I only hope that when I get to be his age that I'm as active and fit as he is. He looks stronger now than he did 30 years ago when I first met him! JC

PS-Hello John P! (thats my spot!)

ALB31 02-14-2005 09:06 PM

I rermember that fish now.. When I took the squidder apart the fiber washer under the main gear had come apart and locked the drag. The last time that happened was in the early 1960,s on the cape at highland light.

The ocean was quite, light waves,and a light wind. I was fishing with Mel again. I walked down the beach about a quarter of a mile while Mel fished by the truck at the foot of highland light. There was a hole east of us that I wanted to fish on the flooding tide. After the first cast with the rigged eel, I hit a big fish about fifty feet from the beach, he tried to run, but the drag locked up and the line inside of the eel broke. He was gone.The truck was too far to run to, so I put on another rigged eel. I made a cast with the jammed reel. Shortly I hit another bass, he tried to drag me into the ocean. Too absorb the initial surge of his run I slowly let him pull me in. Putting as much pressure as I dare on him, I stopped walking before I had too swim and once he realized he couldn't go to sea he opened up the ocean .He jumped and thrashed around for a long time, until he couldn't lift his body out of the water any more. What a fight,he was mine.. A nice 45 pounder.

John_P 02-14-2005 09:22 PM

Jason writes..

...had been getting some very large fish into the high 40's just about every night

I can assure you, over the last ten years of keeping the whole place honest, losing a lot of sleep and probably fishing more than I should for a guy with a city job and a family, it aint putting out those types of fish. It it was, I'd be divorced and unemployed.

fishinglsister 02-15-2005 11:36 AM

John P, In another section on this site, Frank Daignault lists 16 reasons why people catch big fish. He missed one that immediatly comes to mind:"They are there". I used to catch at least one "50" per year from 1975 through 1988 (I missed 1986-spent the year in Florida)from the "Jones Beach to Atlantic Beach Area". I also got a bunch of 50's in Montauk(up to 1985), commercial fishing with Artie Johnson/live eels. During those years, the bays were full of large bunker (menhaden, mossbunker, pogies, etc.) and the big stuff was there to eat.
Last year, there was a good number of 50's taken in Montauk (I know of some boats that had 5 or 6). However, the old resident stock of bunker that lived in the back bays of Long Beach and Jones Beach were wiped out by purse sieners from the Stella Maris Fishing Station (I believe Sheepshead Bay) in 1989-91, that were operating out of Sonny's in Seaford. The bunker were turned into lobster bait.
Much like the seals moving to the Cape because the pair trawlers are decimating the herring, causing the seals to feed where they find an alternate foodsource; the big bass no longer look at your area as "easy pickings".
In order to consistantly catch 50's, you must first be into lots of 30's and 40's.This "class" of fish often feed in a specific area until "something changes". That something could be weather, bait, temperature, season or getting cleaned out/picked over too hard.
I suspect that until you see a large, stable population of big resident bunker return to your area, risking divorce and/or unemployment is (possibly)not worth it. When the big fish return though.........JC
PS-Havn't had a "50" since 1991

ragman 02-15-2005 11:52 AM

Really great stories!
But,if I can drag Frank back in,whats the difference between a sweetwater herring,and a sea herring?

RWNYC65 02-15-2005 12:45 PM

Jason of course is right on the money! Yes, there are & have been 50's & 40's aplenty for boat guys in the last 10 years or so... it just isn't so for the surf guys, obviously! Only one documented 50 from the Montauk surf last year-- but dozens from boats between Montauk Point, Block & the Race last year alone, conservatively! Obviously, it's all about bait: what IS available, where, in what concentrations! You bet your bottom $ that the Bass greatly prefer (& benefit from!) high- protein snacks such as bunker/ pogies, herring (any!), squid & sand eels... BUT: in their abscence, Bass are forced to scrounge the bottom for whatever else they can find. Unfortunately for the hard- core surf- caster, in the last 10 years or so, this "bottom" has been deeper, & away from the shoreline (with the usual few exceptions). Yes, the ultra- Pros such as Iron Mike can still beat the odds is seems-- but almost no- one else is catching mid- 30 to mid- 40 lbers. with any consistency from the surf, thus no 50 lbers. either (esp. not on artificials-- with the lack of big bait, & competition from other cows on the hunt!)

Leads me to a quick story of a big fish lost of my own... illustrating the "they're not there" problem! In my 7+ years of discovering the Outer Cape, & mastering it & doing tremendously well... & having dozens of 35+ Bass nights, all "keepers" (though I SHOULD point out-- failed to before-- that I am STRICTLY a catch- & - release guy! Almost never do I keep/ kill a Striper of any size!)... fact is: 250+ were over 20 lbs... maybe 50+ were over 25 lbs... maybe I had 10 Bass between 30- 35 lbs... Then, only one bigger: my best there at 41 lbs. That was the #'s & size distribution during those years at the Cape for me (1995- '02), and I only lost ONE definitely bigger fish!!

Early Oct., '98 ... one of the Hollows/ Wellfleet... Dawn is breaking, and I just ran out of my 2 dozen eels after my 40th or so bass of the night/ 6 hour session, up to a high of 32 lbs. (all released!). As first light is cooking, and I'm not sitting & resting looking at the water, before getting ready to tackle the steep climb back up the dunes... I notice the calm surface all around me "raining" w/ bait. Now, suddenly, there are swirls everywhere, as far as the eye can see (no exaggeration!)... and I can tell the bait is sand eels. I'm frantically cutting off my eel rig, & tying on a plug leader to my same eel rod reel-- when now I notice the swirls have become tremendous splashes! (this was pre- seals, remember!). I reject my first inclination-- to go for a medium S.S. needle-- & instead grab the large Jointed Gibbs Danny/ Eel plug from my bag (that Al discussed earlier, too!). Take time to adjust the drag... check my knots-- being careful, & looking only for a big fish, as usual! Though now as it's light, I'd settle for another 32! Anyway, first cast... the BIGGEST Striper tail I have ever seen to this day (in person!), came clear of the water a yard behind my wiggling plug... then, an AMAZING, violent strike (of the type Frank used to describe for Canal fish attacking Whiting/ imitation Whiting!) erupts on the plug-- equipped with a front 4x 4/) Treble, & rear single ONLY, as are most of my plugs)-- and, somehow never felt iron! Never hooked that fish-- but got a good enough look at him, to know he was 55+ ! (Much bigger than my boat- best 49 lber!).

In 7 years of hard surf- fishing for cows since: two more encounters with 50's lost!... but none landed, & "only" one other 40 for me! Jason: I only dream about fishing JB & AB back in the days when Bunker (& cows!) roamed freely! I keep the faith, that those days may some day return: but logically, I don't see bait supplies going up any time soon! (What a tragedy, that Bunker & Herring are depleted, FOR cat food & lobster bait & soap & other replacable crap!!)

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