Story by Tom Pagliaroli

…when it comes to getting back on track while fishing!

Like clockwork, the bottlenose dolphins have returned to their southern Jersey shore haunts, moving along the beaches, through the inlets into the bays, and then back out again…all the while wreaking havoc on the angling scene.

“Well, forget the weakfish around for here a while. We’re going to have to go somewhere else,” said Capt. Al Crudele III of Bayhound Charters (609-602-2662) as the hot catch-and-release weakfish action went suddenly cold.

No, make that “frigid”.

As the skipper explained, the appearance of a pair, then a pod, of bottlenose dolphins, taking advantage of the robust school of 12 to 15-inch weakfish and proceeding to enter the fray and gorge like yours truly at the “All You Can Eat” buffet at the Jolly Tamale, would make the weakies vamoose like finned rockets.

To add insult to injury, one of the posse came close by, showing itself twice with a wide mouth “Up yours!” expression.

While the fishing stopped, it was certainly a cool thing to witness the breaching, slashing and rolling of the mammal-on-weakfish pandemonium, the corollary being that when dolphins show in close proximity to the boat while rods are bent, the bite will stop as the prey seeks sanctuary.

As tempting as it is to follow the ‘phins as they move, leave them be. It’s illegal to harass critters like dolphins, seals and whales (although who would even entertain the idea of annoying the latter) and the fine is steep. They have as much right to the larder was we do, as frustrating as that can be when you’re on the water the one day of the week you have to go fishing, but that’s Nature’s Deal.

Blueclaw Bust Out: The shed is over and the blueclaw crabs are on a feeding binge. These crustaceans pack the meat quickly, and as bay and creek waters continue to warm, expect outstanding crabbing opportunities, be it from boat, dock, pier of muddy creek bank. Drop line or trap, bunker remains the best bait. Those utilizing a commercial type “crab hotel” must first procure the $2 license available online at www.njfishandwildlife.com or at a license-issuing agent such as your town hall, or a big box store like Dick’s.

More from The Hawk: