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NorEastSaltwater14SurfsideByJohnSkinnerIthinkthe2012fallrunwillgodownasSandysFallformanysurfcasters.Withminimalexceponsthe2012surfshingseasonendedformostsurfcastersonOctober29short-circuingtheseasonatapointwhereitshouldhavebeenheadingintoanexcingme.IshedithardasthestormapproachedbutSandywassomassivethatthebeachesbecameinaccessiblemorethanadaybeforethestormactuallymadelandfallthusliminganykindofaweather-inducedfeedingfrenzythataccompaniesmanystorms.EvenbeforeSandythingswerentexactlyhotandheavy.AsIwroteonmynoreast.comblogafewweeksagoIsawveryfewblueshlastyearlandingonly16inallof2012.Onlytwoofthosewerefromshoretherestfrommykayak.ItsworthnongthatItargetblueshonlywhentheyrebigandonthebeachesbutthatmeansIalmostnevertargetthembecausewiththeexceponofOctober2010Idontrecallseeingbigblueshonthebeachinthelastveormoreyears.EventhoughIdontshforthemImshingtheoceanbaysandLongIslandSoundatleast120mesayearandIdoentertheby-catchbluesintomyshinglogsoware.WhenIpushedthePlotAllFishbuonagainstthe2012seasonthatswhenIrealizedmyblueshcatchwassolow.ThenIhadtolookfurthertorealizethatallbuttwoofthoseblueswerecaughtinMay.Runningthequeriesagainst2011and2010showed53and115blueshrespecvely.Evenifyouareinterestedonlyinstripersyoushouldsllbeconcernedaboutblueshbecausetheydoasuperbjobofpushingbaitwithinthereachofsurfcasters.Theyalsoprovidethecompeonthatissomemesnecessarytogetthestripersotheirfatbelliestodosomeaggressivefeeding.SoareblueshinsteepdeclineNotaccordingtothestockassessments.Immorewillingthanmosttodismissbadseasonsaslocalizedtemporaryanomalies.ButoverandoveragainImhavingthesameconversaonswithverywellrespectedanglers.WhenIcommentedtooneofthemthispastfallthattheinletshavemoreguysandlessbasshestoppedmermlyandsaidNoTherearemoreguysbutALOTfewerbass.Hecouldhaveaddedthatthosesharesmalleronaverageandhavebeencorrectonthattoo.HiscommentthathewasthinkingofsellingoplugswhiletheyresllworthsomethingmayhavebeenajokebutImnotsosure.IwasinmybasementlookingforlurestotaketotheFloridaKeysinmid-DecemberandIcameacrossabout30brandnewassortedbolesdartersneedlesandpopperssllintheiroriginalpackaging.Theyreunlikelytogetwetanymesoonsincetheoneshangingfromtheceilinghaveseensolileaconthepastcoupleofyears.NowImnotsayingtherearenoopportuniesforgoodshing.Imnotevengoingtocomplainaboutmystripercatchesthepastfewseasonsbecausetheyrefairlyrespectableandtheresnoquesonthat2012wasshort-circuitedbySandy.Butmycatchesarealmostenrelyonmethodicallyworkedstructureatnightoneelsandbucktails.WhatImissaretherunsofshallalongtheLongIslandSoundandoceanbeaches.IfrequentlylookattheSoundothetopofthebluinWadingRiverandcansayhonestlythatIdonotrecallseeingasingleschooloffeedingshanymethispastyear.JusttenyearsagoshusedtogrinddownthosebeacheseveryfallanditwasnotuncommontolookatthewaterinMayorJuneandhavetorunhometograbarod.Ifyouwenttothosebeachesinthespringaerdarkyoucouldndtheshwithyourears.IsllhitthebeachesaerdarkbecauseitsconvenientanditsbeenalongmesinceIveheardapop.Manytripsarejustdownrightsterile.SomethingIfoundverydepressingin2012wastheLongIslandSoundukerunintheareathatIshbetweenShorehamandMatuck.ItstartedojustnewithquicklimitsofqualityshbutIwasalarmedfromthebeginningthattheboatwascominghomecleaninsteadofbeingcakedwithsandeelsasisusuallythecase.BythesecondweekofJunethekeepersweregonedespitethelegallimitbeingdroppedto19.5inches.InnineukingtripswithmyboatIsawagrandtotalof4sandeels.Whatscaresmeisthatthesethings