Story by Tom P

For a fee of course, but the weekend-long hands-and-tummies-on course will pay back tenfold on the investment investigating the incredible edible bounties afforded by Barnegat Bay and its sedge islands, an eye-opening appreciation for the fragile ecosystems and an understanding of the urgent need for stewardship of this gem of a natural resource.

Welcome to the Bay to Bowl git down!

Supervised by bureau marine biologist Karen Byrne and staffed with experts in their respective fields, the three day/two night event runs Friday, August 11 through Sunday, August 13. Space is limited and is by reservation-only, hence the two-week heads up here.

Headquartered at the refurbished Sedge House, a former duck hunting lodge for the rich ‘n famous (and infamous, according to some anecdotal accounts) on the bay behind Island Beach State Park, the itinerary includes fishing, digging clams, netting crabs, identifying and gathering edible plants like the acquired-taste pickle weed, sea lettuce and sea rocket, shucking oysters and clams, and cooking and preparing the bounty.

The $325 cost is all-inclusive, and reservations must be made by July 24. Visit and click on the “Bay to Bowl” link under ‘What’s New” on the left side of the page for an application. Make checks payable to “Conserve Wildlife Foundation” and mail to: Bay to Bowl, attn. Karen Byrne, POB 418, Port Republic, NJ 08241.

To be sure, this event will shed a bright light on “islands” that one passes in power and sailboats, PWCs, ‘yaks and paddle boards. Indeed, a salt marsh feast awaits!

Trigger Happy…now that the scrumptious gray triggerfish have invaded the inlet jetties, bridge abutments and pilings, not to mention any and all patches of in-close bottom structure.

The hard-fighting trigger is readily available and will hang around through September. This slab-sided eating machine is the ideal light tackle quarry for novice and veteran alike. It will put its parrot dentition to just about any offering including fresh and/or salted clam, green crab, squid, cooked shrimp, sand fleas (mole crabs) and the Fishbites Clam, Shrimp or Squid chunks. What’s more, it puts a good bend in the rod and can reach weights to 4-plus pounds (the current state record is a whopping 6 lbs. 11 oz. and was caught last year). They are aggressive feeders and double-headers on rigs armed with two hooks is not uncommon. If making your own rigs, forget light wire hooks, as the chomp of a trigger can cut these in half. Trust me on this one. Also, be careful handling a trigger, as it will try to put the bite on you. Trust me on this one as well.

The best part of pulling triggers, at least from this corner, is in the eating. It’s mollusk and crustacean-laden diet makes for a very sweet tasting fillet. After feasting on a fried trigger sandwich or sautéed fillets w/sliced olives, onion, arugula and garlic served over a bed of angel hair, you will give your fluke to the cat! Again, trust in Tom P.

The scale free skin is as tough as a catcher’s mitt and filleting can be a challenge. The easiest way is to slip a thin blade fillet knife into the anal vent and slice up and around. If filleting in the normal manner, have a sharpener handy because you’ll need to touch up the steel after the second fish.

Photo by Tom P
Photo by Tom P

Buzz This! Ah yes, the summer is time for…greenheads and pine (strawberry) flies that can make for a miserable day on the bay, beach or tidal rivers and creeks. The relentless winged antagonists deliver a painful bite and can attack in such numbers that a transfusion may be necessary. No doubt many an outing has been cut short by the swarms.

There is real relief in the form of Buzz Away Extreme, an all-natural (read: no DEET) repellant that will keep said flesh-piercers at bay and is also effective on mosquitos, ticks, and chiggers. I picked up a bottle while at Sea Gear Outfitters in Cape May after an early morning foray for weakfish that turned into a rod dropping, arm waving bite-fest when the wind changed. After being informed that it will keep greenies off the epidermis for up to three hours, the chip was read and the sweet-smelling elixir was applied via pump spray.

I was skeptical for the simple reason I’m from the Sixties. I believe in chemicals, Hell, I’d drink DDT if it kept the bloodsuckers off. Over two hours later, not a greenhead was able to drill. A few did alight but bugged out after a second or two. No kidding.

Manufactured by Quantum Health, the product is available in pump spray bottles and towelette forms. Visit and hit the store finder link.

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