Fishing through the flatness

Mark Hill

The swell may be flat, but the tarpon are biting.

October is a tenacious month, where the summer and winter battle it out, causing deep low-pressure systems to become entrenched in the atmosphere -- powerful swells with still warm water. It's known for those sultry south swells and rabid nor'easters. Yet, since the first few days of October, almost the entire Atlantic Seaboard has been flat -- like slit-your-wrists flat.

Pretty much everyone's gone fishing.

What gives? Ever since the first week of October, our expected Surfline forecast of "Fair to Good," has been replaced by "Miserable to Abysmal."

"Everybody's going a little stir crazy," says Outer Banks pro Noah Snyder, "October is kind of that month that every surfer waits for. We depend on it to produce those solid south-southeast swells and good sized surf. It just isn't happening. Every few days the wind goes north and we think something will build, but it just quits."

Mickey McCarthy

Ryan Rhodes well prepared in Avalon, N.C., for as long as that ocean stays flat

Outer Banks surfers are waiting patiently for a swell worthy of the WRV Battle of the Banks contest when they take on the Virginia Beach crew. Here in New Jersey, the window for the Garden State Grudge Match has been open since October 1st, with a few near-calls, but no contest.


"Mediterannean-style" striped bass for dinner at the Townsend household.

Snyder reports that most of his friends have taken to chasing trout instead of surfing. In New Jersey, all eyes are on striped bass. Long Beach Island's Randy Townsend has traded his 3/2 for his hip waders and his 5'10 Aftermath for a 6'6 St. Croix rod.

"Unfortunately, the surf hasn't cooperated. I've been fishing all hours of the night and day. I'm out until five or six in the morning, come home, nap, and then I'm out there again in the bay channels or plugging on the oceanfront. I've caught about 50 bass in the past few weeks," reports Townsend, "My fiancé even got her first bass -- a 43 inch, 28-pounder."

Past Grudge Match champs, Sam Hammer and Mike Gleason are known fish killers as well.

Florida has had pretty dismal surf as well. But the water has been thick with baitfish and many of the boys have taken to angling this season, some pulling 75 to 150-pound black tip shark out of the surf (maybe it's better that it's flat.) Sunshine State lensman Mark Hill says it's also been a good month for jack crevelle, snook and tarpon.

There was one swell to speak of, but it only blessed about 5 percent of the coast and that was for one day. A fast moving low pulled off New England too far north to deliver to most of the Right Side last Friday. It kicked up one massive day for Maine -- a day photog Nick LaVecchia called, "the best surf in some time." But it was soon gone. The surfers there are back to fishing as well. Liquid Dreams Surf Shop owner, Mark Anastas has been all excited about chasing giant bluefin tuna offshore and the last few stripers inshore.

Nick LaVecchia

The one that got away ... in Maine.

Virginia Beach's Raven Lundy is buying a ticket to El Salvador, a move he would never usually consider in October. We're basically just stuck in an offshore wind flow pattern. Hurricane season ended rather abruptly. Without any pressure gradient in the neighborhood, there's nothing to kick up the party. Better hope they keep biting.

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