It was only a week ago that Hurricane Sandy bashed through New Jersey and parts of New York, Connecticut and a few other states, bringing devastation on a scale new to the Northeast. Now a Nor'easter is bearing down on the same states with frigid temperatures and snow, while some people and businesses are still trying to deal with basic needs like shelter, food and the all-important electrical power.
The coastal saltwater fisheries that are normally in full-swing right now – for striped bass and blackfish – are, amazingly enough, done. Finished. Coastal tackle stores are almost completely decimated, as are the marinas, boat ramps, boats and beaches they depend on.
"It's devastated here," said Pete Crosta, owner of Atlantic Highlands Bait and Tackle in Atlantic Highlands, N.J. He's one of the literal few shops open for business and with a working phone line, and typically is busy dawn to dusk this time of year. But now, he said, "There's nothing I can say. We're done 'til June, we're out of business."
Inland, however, it's not as bad. "Once you get off the coast, freshwater fishing is pretty much unaffected other than power and access issues," said Jim Sciacia, spokesman for the New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife. "But a lot of power has been restored, and inland access probably is not a problem."
Finding the time and enough rationed gas to get out on the water is another story, however. Take Tom Presnell, marketing director for the New York B.A.S.S. Federation Nation. His club canceled a post-Sandy tournament on Connecticut's Candlewood Lake because of gas concerns.
"We decided to cancel because basically we didn't think it would be good to get in line [with boats] at the gas pumps – we were worried about our personal safety," he said. He was referring to the fact that long lines for gas and gas stations running out of gas while people are in line have brought out the worst in some people.
New York's Mohawk River, for example, was dropped three to five feet below navigation levels. "They closed the locks indefinitely, and also lowered the water level to where it was actually dangerous to run anything but small outboards," Presnell said. "Basically you have a lot of canceled tournaments up in the New York area."