Playin’ the Summertime Blues
We sometimes refer to them as day savers.
Or fish dip makers.
“Them” is bluefish, and playin’ the summertime blues is a lot of fishing fun and, with a bit of culinary dexterity, some good eats after a day on the bay or out front.
And, the truth be told when the fluke or weakfish or stripers have been uncooperative or do not fit the myriad size requirements, and all of a sudden there is bird play and eruptions on the surface as a pod of marauding blues rips into a school of baitfish, well, who hasn’t made a run to the perimeter of the mayhem and made a cast or two into the carnage?
It’s the drug of the tug, and the hard-fighting bluefish certainly calms the Jones.
Bluefish arrived along various parts of the Jersey shore beginning in mid-April, and there was a decent run of fish in the 2-12 pound class in the bays and inlets, with some good shots also being made in the suds into June.
Currently, the majority of the blues encountered will be in the 1-3 pound class. These are, depending which part of the shoreline you fish, referred to as “tailor” or “cocktail” blues. The “choppers”, “slammers”, “gators” and “gorillas”, i.e. blues in the 10-20 pound range, won’t be back until the autumn temperatures chill the waters and push them south from their more northerly Long Island and New England summertime haunts.
Soon to appear bayside in catchable sizes, as in 7-10 inches, are the young of the year “snapper” blues. These are a ball on ultra-light tackle using small metals or spearing on a Lenny’s Lance It rig under a bobber. Right now, they are 4-5 inches, but put on length quickly as they pillage and plunder spearing, glass shiners, bay anchovies, and any other small fish that roam the bays and tidal creeks and rivers.
Combine enough (the daily limit for blues of any size is a measly three; it’s five if fishing on a charter or party boat) and they are a tasty treat on the grill. We do the aluminum foil tent and bathe the baby blues in butter, lemon, and garlic, but a non-stick frying pan works as well.
Snappers also make a great bait for crabs and, if you’re able to keep them alive, will prove devastating jumbo fluke fodder.
Summertime blues. Rod bending fun to play.