Archives for March 2013


The Fishing Line: Let’sTalk Fish
By Carolyn Miller

Bucktail Willie shows off a 37-inch bass.

If you are a New Jersey fisher or even remotely interested in saltwater fishing in this state, there are plenty of topics to keep your interest.

Tag and release fishing continues to be in the news as the American Littoral Society prepares to tally 2009 statistics.
When local fisherman, Bill (bucktail willie) Shillingford, saw a magazine article on the American Littoral Society and its fish tagging program, he decided to get involved. His first tagging was in 1989 with 35 fish tagged and every year after that he increased that number, primarily on summer flounder and striped bass and a few weakfish.

Willie spent childhood summers in Whale Beach and caught his first striped bass as a 10-year-old behind Corson’s Inlet. Even after the storm of ’62 destroyed his house and a 1975 transfer sent him to Indiana, Willie continued to return and fish in the Strathmere area.

When Willie retired in 2001 and returned to Cape May County, he got serious about tagging fish. He also got involved with the ongoing fight over regulations and was appointed a NJ rep on the Summer Flounder advisory committee for ASMFC in 2006.
Willie liked the efforts of ALS in saving the wetlands.

“The wetlands behind the barrier islands are the nursery for all the fish we catch year in and year out. I decided that given most of my fishing was catch and release (anyway), I was going to get more involved in tagging for science.
“I past 17350 tagged fish this fall and now currently have 1161 returns or 6.6 percent which is higher than average. Ninety-seven percent of my tagged fish come out of Cape May County waters with three percent coming from SW Florida waters and I have expanded my tagging to include any fish regulated by ASMFC.’

All the tagging data gets submitted by ALS to the Woods Hole Scientific labs in Woods Hole, Mass., once per year in April. This information is then used to support fishery management.

Willie’s statistics yield some great stories. Fluke #699, tagged July 27, 2006 at the ICW, Ocean City measured 13-inches. Two years later, June 6, 2008, the fish was re-caught in Stone Harbor and measured 18-inches.

Another flounder, #748, 15-inches, was tagged May 6, 2004 in the Corson’s Inlet area and was caught in Brigantine on July 30, 2008 measuring 22-inches. That fish had been out four years.

A striped bass tagged in Corson’s Inlet in June, 2006, measured 18-inches. It was recovered in Kennebec, Maine in August, 2008 where it measured 23-inches.

There is no doubt that catching, tagging, and releasing fish is a valuable adventure. The fish’s recapture provides invaluable information unavailable by any other means. Visit the American Littoral Society’s Web site at for more information.


Telephone (609) 390-0021
PATRICK F. MARTIN* Fax (609) 390-8447

*ALSO MEMBER Pennsylvania BAR
March 19, 2013

Governor Christopher J. Christie
State of New Jersey
PO Box 001
Trenton NJ 08625-0001

RE: Drag Island Access

Dear Governor Christie:

As I previously advised by email to your office last week, I am one of the founding members and of counsel to the Drag Island Access Preservation Association, which was formed to protect continued foot access to Drag Island for fishermen, nature lovers, birders and other folks. Access to this island, which has existed since 1928, is scheduled for elimination when the Beesley’s Point bridge is scheduled for demolition. The Turnpike Authority has absolutely no provision for continued foot access to the island in the plans to build the new southbound GSP bridge from Atlantic to Cape May County. The DEP rules specifically provide that when the Garden State Parkway has a plan of this magnitude, access is required to be maintained. The Turnpike’s answer to access is no access.

Our group has met with Senator Van Drew and has received much media coverage, including Channel 40 news and several newspaper articles. We have contacted the DEP and voiced our concerns. All contact to the Turnpike Authority has fallen on deaf ears or we have been told that “no one is allowed near ‘our’ bridge.” Governor, in case you need a better idea where Drag Island is located, this was the area that received much criticism over the wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars to install a barbed wire fence to allegedly protect against terrorism, when the reality was this was nothing more that political favoritism by the Turnpike Authority. The Turnpike Authority’s present position is contrary to the rules of the DEP that require access to be maintained pursuant to NJAC 7:7E-8.11(o)(1) and (2) and under the public trust doctrine. The Turnpike Authority has abused the Drag Island area enough already.

I am enclosing a joint press release between the Drag Island Access Preservation Association and the Recreational Fishing Alliance authorized for release on March 14, 2013. I am also enclosing the most current results of an online petition supporting foot access to this area. I believe this provides the necessary support for our group to show that we are legitimately concerned with our efforts to maintain access to Drag Island. We are focused and committed to our cause.

Governor, if you review other bridge projects that were slated for improvement or removal, you will clearly see that creating or maintaining access has always been a part of these projects. For example, when a bridge is removed, the old bridge is made into a fishing pier. Take a quick look at the Route 52 Causeway project from Somers Point into Ocean City. The amount of fishing access and foot access to the marsh is just really incredible and new piers were specifically built for this purpose. In the case of the Beesley’s Point Bridge, not one aspect of the bridge is scheduled to be maintained or converted into access or a fishing pier. Indeed, all the Turnpike Authority was concerned about with the bridge demolition was getting wetlands mitigation credit. What about mitigation for access? Why is this area being ignored? There is nothing in this project that preserves foot access to Drag Island, or provides for the conversion of part of the bridge into a fishing pier. Cost is not a valid argument. Look at Route 52 fishing access, or the Longport-Ocean City Bridge fishing pier. These are just two local examples of bridge replacement where cost was not an issue. What is the issue is the public’s continued right to access these areas for the benefit of present and future generations to enjoy.

Our Association is imploring your office to investigate why there is no mitigation for foot access as part of this project. The DEP appears receptive to our cause, but this is the Turnpike Authority’s project, yet the Turnpike Authority simply ignores the issue. We also question how the DEP issued permits without provisions for access when the regulations clearly require public access to be maintained. When the Authority tells you it is providing “access” by building a “bumpout” to allow fishing Drag Channel from the new parkway bridge, keep in mind this is not foot access to Drag Island. If anything, it creates exposure to noise, pollution, exhaust fumes and raises safety concerns to require citizens to access a fishing spot by walking up the parkway. The Authority is gambling that no one will do it. They may have sold the DEP on the idea of “access” but to those of us familiar with the area, this is just yet another attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the citizens. We need to maintaining and creating access, not eliminating it. Access is closing each day and this is an opportunity to create a fantastic area for all to enjoy what it has to offer.

In closing, the Drag Island Access Preservation Association seeks to convert the flat bridge from Somers Point to Drag Island as a means of preserving foot access to the island. We are simply looking to have foot access over the flat bridge; no vehicular traffic is being requested. We also seek consideration to some form of converting the Southbound part of the Beesley’s Point “toll” bridge into a pier for fishing and crabbing or just for folks to enjoy the walk out onto the water. In the age where the rights of citizens are trampled upon by the price of progress, the State should seek to treat the Drag Island area with the same consideration as the Route 52 Causeway bridge project or the Longport-Ocean City bridge project. There is simply nothing that can legitimately justify the complete elimination of foot access when it has existed since 1928.

On behalf of our Association, I would like to extend our thanks for your assistance and
intervention in resolving this important issue in favor of access. I am sure you will be hearing from many citizens voicing the same concerns. Thank you again for protecting the rights of the citizens of New Jersey to enjoy all the natural resources the state has to offer.

Very truly yours,

Patrick F. Martin

Cc: Drag Island Access Preservation Association (via email)
Recreational Fishing Alliance (via email)
NJDEP-Attn: Commissioner (via email
Lt. Governor Kimberly Guadagno (via reg. mail)


The small group that started the Drag Island Access Preservation Assc has gathered significant support with well over 300 signatures and the full support of the RFA who put out a news blast on our efforts
The committee met with Sen Van Drew last night on a conference call and he has agreed to set up a meeting with us and the Dept of Transportation Commissioner . If we can convince the commissioner than I think we will see positive things happen.This is a major break through and we thank Sen Van Drew for his support as well as the RFA who without their support we would have never got this far
Stay tunned this will get interesting

Weather won’t give us a break

Middle of March and no sign of Spring,Where is Al Gore when you need him. First 2 weeks of March have been wet ,cold and windy and next 6 days look to be cold and windy.All of which delays the start of 2013 fishing season for Bucktail willie.. you have to wonder if Ground Hog survived after seeing his shadow


Boat went into Hospital this week for her annual check up and bottom painting. Now I need weather to cooperate so bottom can get painted and hold.
I suspect there are some wintered over bass roaming the shallows and summer flounder should begin showing up following the Full Moon .
I did see my first osprey this week but it didn’t hang around but they will be here over next 2 weeks
My plan depending on weather is to be in First week of April. Once boat gets out I will need to put a couple of coats of wax and re-stall he electronics
Come on SPRING


Rallies Support For Land-Based Angler Access At Beesley’s Point

March 14, 2013 – The Drag Island Access Preservation Association (DIAPA) has recently been founded by several interested New Jersey residents and anglers, including longtime Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) member Bill Shillingford of Cape May County. In a recent release by Shillingford and fellow DIAPA members George Bucci, Nick Verducci, and Pat Martin, DIAPA is described as a group formed and determined to fight for continued foot access to Drag Island, a historic surfcasting location at the base of the Garden State Parkway and Beesley’s Point bridges in Somers Point.
The State of New Jersey is building a new southbound Parkway bridge and plans to demolish the Beesley’s Point Bridge in its entirety, leaving no access to Drag Island for fishermen, crabbers, folks who like to jog or walk, and nature lovers. Access has been in existence to Drag Island for 85 years since the Beesley’s Point Bridge first opened in 1928, but plans for the new project would forbid foot access. DIAPA volunteers say that once the Beesley’s Point Bridge is demolished, all angler access to Drag Island will be forever taken away, thus violating the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) rules regarding public access.

DIAPA seeks to maintain foot access by keeping open the flat bridge that services Drag Island from Somers Point. Based on NJDEP rules and the Public Trust Doctrine, DIAPA believes that the State has the legal responsibility to maintain access to Drag Island; and by keeping this part of the bridge opened, the Parkway project would be unaffected. DIAPA is also pushing for creation of a fishing pier out of the old Beesley’s Point Bridge, specifically the portion of the bridge facing South from Drag Island.

“RFA and RFA-NJ have been committed to protecting access for saltwater anglers, and this Drag Island issue is one we’re concerned about,” said RFA-NJ member Greg O’Connell. “From a foot traffic standpoint, the first bridge from Somers Point to Drag Island could easily be converted to an angler access mechanism to Drag Island, and that’s what we’re hoping to get the state to recognize.”

O’Connell said that RFA and RFA-NJ have been in frequent meetings with NJDEP officials over the past few years regarding angler access in the state. “We’ve always been told that there would be no loss of current access points, and we believe that should include small, discreet, historic access points like Drag Island,” O’Connell said.

If you are interested in helping save access, DIAPA has started an online petition You can also join the New Jersey discussion and debate at DIAPA founders have met with politicians concerning this subject which has also received media attention by Channel 40 news and local newspapers. However, more support is necessary to make an impact. If access to this area is taken away, the public will suffer yet another example of progress taking priority over the rights of citizens.

Make your voice heard and contact the DEP, the Turnpike Authority and your local politicians and ask that access be provided to Drag Island like it has been for the past 85 years. For more information, contact DIAPA at

2013 fishing season starting

Wintered over Striped Bass are biting in the rivers and a few in surf,
If weather provides some help ,boat will go to shop this week for bottom painting and tune up.than once home several coats of wax and electronics re-installed with a targeted launch of first week in April
Of course ALL depends on the weather especially given the high tides seen on each storm. I wasn’t home for the storm last week but clearly there was again a helleva lot of water as there is salt hay and sand on all roads close to water.
At the moment I don’t like the weather patterns and the Damn ground hog must be real upset
Summer flounder season will open officially on May 18th with 17 1/2 size limit