There's a mystery involving a popular bait fish at the Jersey Shore, and some think Hurricane Sandy is behind their disappearance.
"It's really tough this season.," said Steve Wolfschmidt of Fisherman's Headquarters in Ship Bottom, where the inventory of minnows is beyond scarce. It's even worse at Jingles Bait and Tackle in Beach Haven, where employees say they have none. They say the minnows, an extremely popular bait for fluke and flounder fishing, are missing from the back bay areas where they're normally caught.
"I've had the best minnowers around this area and we're all coming up short," said Wolfschmidt.
"The people who catch the minnows tell us they've never seen anything like this before," said Margaret O'Brien of Jingles Bait and Tackle.
At Ray Scott's Dock in Margate, they usually get three gallons of minnows in each delivery. Lately, though, they've been lucky to get half–a–gallon, forcing many anglers to use squid or artificial bait instead, disappointing many.
"They come in the store and we just don't have any minnows to sell them and they go next door and it's the same thing," says Axar Patel, of Ray Scott's.
"I think something with Sandy had to do something to our bay. Because, you know, before that we had them" says O'Brien.
Some who fish these waters strongly believe changes in the landscape caused by the Superstorm are behind the minnows' disappearance.
"We've have considerable shifts in the sand and tiny eco–systems that were just totally killed," says Wolfschmidt.
The state Department of Environmental Protection says this is nothing more than anecdotal, is certainly nothing that can be tied to Sandy, and that apparent minnow shortages seem to come up every year when the fishing season picks up. But the people who catch and sell them, insist to us, that this year is different.