Shep on Fishing: Irene solves mystery -- what do fishermen do when there's no fishing?

Published online: Aug 31, 2011 News Mike Shepherd - www.pressofatlanticcity.com

Three of the area's back-bay pontoon partyboats were one behind the other and about a half-hour apart on Great Egg Harbor River on Monday as they headed back from Thompson's Boat Yard up near Mays Landing, where they had pulled their boats out of harm's way in advance of Hurricane Irene.

John Heron on The Keeper was first of the fleet in line and was just pulling up to Blue Water Marina on Amherst Avenue in Margate, while Brook Koeneke on the Duke of Fluke was just about to pass by the B.L. England power plant in the Beesleys Point section of Upper Township on the way to his berth at Higbee Avenue in Somers Point when they were contacted by a curious columnist.

Mike Tabasso on High Roller was trailing and had the farthest to go to get to the dock at Gardner's Basin in Atlantic City.

All three expected to resume their regular schedule of back-bay fishing mainly for flounder today. They sail twice daily at 8 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Heron and Koeneke pretty much summed it up for all three when they said in nearly identical words: "If people show, I go."

Koeneke said the hurricane seemed to be no worse than a typical northeaster blow in January.

"I'm not complaining!"

Koeneke and wife Candy evacuated to York, Pa. He said he got yelled at when he got home in North Wildwood because he left a bathroom window open after he took a shower before leaving. But he said the house survived just fine.

Koeneke said the stay at Holiday Inn was a good occasion for him and his wife to enjoy a rare summer visit with daughter Kristi Ruggeri, her husband, Rob, and the Koeneke's granchildren Zachery and Nicholas, who live up there.

They took with them their three-month-old golden retriever, Belle, who quickly became a favorite.

Koeneke said they once lived in that area for 15 years, and he caught up with a couple of his old buddies at a favorite pub. He said he bumped into people from Del Haven, Cape May, North Cape May and Atlantic City who also had retreated from Irene to that Holiday Inn.

Heron expected fishing to be good when the water cleaned up. It usually takes a couple of tides, he said, and they already had one by Monday morning.

He was sitting there later at the dock watching small bluefish chasing silversides, so the storm did not affect them.

"It's a wow,"he said.

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