On the Wednesday before Hurricane Sandy swept across the East Coast, Rob Tudor, 28, left his house at dawn for an early morning of fishing.
"It was cold, and when I finally got out of the inlet, a fog rolled in that made it so I could not even see the inlet I had just left - 500 yards away," the Brigantine resident said. "(I went) back to the dock and wished I stayed in bed," he said.
One of the most disastrous storms to ever reach the beach communities of South Jersey hit just a few days later, coinciding with the ideal season for striper fishing.
But for the man who likes to be out on the water two or three times per month, his hobby will never die.
Tudor grew up in Shamong, Burlington County, just 45 miles northwest of his new beach address on the north end of the island. He has called Brigantine home for almost a year. He was introduced to the sport he loves at a young age.
"I really like to catch whatever will bend the rod, but striper fishing is usually especially fun," Tudor said. "I grew up fishing on and off, mostly in lakes around home. I spent every summer on the coast of Maine during the last week of July and first week of August."
Tudor, who works as a golf professional at Galloway National Golf Club, now fishes off his 21-foot closed console boat named "Just For The Halibut," which he shares with his father, Bob, and brother, Sean, who lives in Medford.
Tudor said that he evacuated the island Sunday morning, but not without his boat.
"I never once thought to leave the boat in the water," he said of "Just For The Halibut," which had been docked at the Brigantine Bay Club. The boat is sitting unscathed at his parent's house in Shamong, he said.
"There are more important things than fishing, especially in a time like this, post-Hurricane Sandy," Tudor said from Galloway. At this point, he still was not allowed back into Brigantine.
Tudor knows only that his home is still standing because of aerial helicopter footage that aired on a Philadelphia newscast. Before he left, Tudor also set up a USTREAM account, which allows for live web cam footage, he said. Before his power went out, he was able to capture and record three hours of the rough conditions of the bay that he frequents.
"If it were possible, I would probably try to get out next week, but I really haven't seen anything like that storm before," he said. "It may be awhile before debris is clear from the water. The word is that bass fishing should still be good, as soon as the water temperatures return to normal. But if the bait is gone - sand eels mostly - there is a chance Sandy ruins fall bass fishing."
David Showell, of the Absecon Bay Sportsman Center, already lost a tankful of bait due to the storm but is hopeful to return to the waters.
We were just at the very beginning (of the season)," Showell said. "Last Friday, I had the best I had all year." Showell was fishing the back bays of Absecon and Atlantic City. He had plans to take charter boats out all weekend, he said.
"The worst thing is going to be people's boats either are destroyed or their docks are destroyed," he said. "A lot of their spirits are broken. It's going to take a lot of the fun out of fishing for a lot of people."
But for these fishermen, they are dying to get out to catch what Tudor calls a sustainable and delicious fish.
"I am going to go out tomorrow and see what things look like," Showell said. "I expect to catch fish tomorrow."
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