Sportfshing groups hail House passage of Modern Fish Act

Major Step Toward Becoming Law

The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed H.R. 200, a bipartisan bill that includes the Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017 (Modern Fish Act). This historic vote marks the first time the priorities of the recreational fishing sector are included in the reauthorization of our nation’s primary marine fisheries law, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Recreational fishing organizations, led by the American Sportfishing Association, unified to pass this legislation which incorporates the recommendations of the Morris-Deal Commission — allowing alternative management tools for recreational fishing which is enjoyed by 11 million saltwater anglers who have a $163 billion economic impact and support 440,000 jobs.

Unfortunately, some so-called environmental groups fought against the interests of the recreational fishing public. Though H.R. 200 passed by a vote of 222 to193, the bipartisan bill was opposed by Democrats 178 to 9.

The Natural Resources Defense Fund (NRDF) portrayed the bill as opposing protections for fish stock rebuilding  while displaying an almost child-like view of the accuracy of marine science. As the organizer and director of the Emergency Committee to Save America;s Marine Resources in the fight for the 200-mile fisheries limit, and a member of the first Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, I can testify as to the accuracy of the science we operate under.  The NRDF appears to be completely unaware that the two largest volume fisheries in the NY-NJ Bight have almost completely disappeared under that science — the annual migration of Atlantic mackerel and the Mud Hole whiting (silver hake) fishery — both of which came back after the devastations of the foreign fleets but are now only a memory.

That science has also come up with such estimates as New Jersey’s  shore fishermen catching 168,000 more tautog than the entire party/charter fleet along the whole east coast caught in March/April, 2010 — when any fisherman or marine biologist can tell you there are few, if any, blackfish in shallow waters during very low water temperatures.  Yet, crazy numbers like that are used to set regulations. More recently, there was a similar big number for N.J. shore fishermen on sea bass. We do catch lots of very small young-of-the year sea bass from late summer to fall, but I’ve never heard of a legal sea bass caught from shore in New Jersey. If any reader knows where that can be done, I’d appreciate knowing about it.

The New Jersey House delegation was split in it’s support of recreational fishing, with long-time sportfishing supporter Rep. Frank Pallone being the only state Democrat in support as Gottheimer, Norcross, Pascrall,, Sires, Payne and Watson-Coleman all voted against the interests of their sportfishing constituents. Republicans LoBiondo, McArthur, Smith, and Frelinghuysen voted in favor — but Leonard Lance was one of just 15 House Republicans to vote no,

The next step is to get Senate approval before an almost sure presidential signature.

The Raritan Bay Anglers 28th annual Charity Fluke Tournament starts off a busy fluke contest weekend, but the captains meeting for that Saturday contest is this evening at 7 in the Moose Lodge, 989 Convery Blvd., Perth Amboy. There will be $11,220 in prize money (based on 200 boats). Call 732 489-6360 for information.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc reported better fluking today for anglers on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands as they also enjoyed a picture perfect day.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported catching lots of chub mackerel and sea bass during Wednesday’s trip — but also their first dolphin of the season and a blacktip shark.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported good surf fluking, and noted that all you need is Gulp. Every fluke weighed there so far has been on Gulp. Betty & Nick’s reports outstanding crabbing in the bay, where snappers are building up for perfect big fluke bait.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall was surprised to find a rough surf at Belmar this morning despite the lack of wind, but he still managed one small striper on a Chug Bug. Three more were added in Shark River on small Storm Searchbait and Zoom jigs, but when some small bait showed up on the surface later in the morning the only thing that worked on the small bass was a 7-inch Sluggo. that was much larger than the bait fish.

Gluggo

Matraxia boats first doormat

Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst is an enthusiastic fluke fisherman who charters the best skippers in the northern N.J. area to pursue that species, but he hadn’t been fortunate enough to catch a doormat even though he did hook a 9 1/2-pounder last year.  Though casual anglers often refer to any large fluke as a “doormat”,  serious flukers know that the only fluke entitled to that designation has to make double digits in order to join that exclusive “club” — just as striper anglers often spend a lifetime trying to catch a 50-pounder to join the exclusive top rung of the sport in the “’50-pound club”.

Tank's doormat

Ironically, Tank broke through during a poor year for doormats. I haven’t had a single doormat report from the Raritan Bay party boat fleet as yet, and only one from a Shore party boat — on the Capt. Cal from Belmar last week. As of the July 12 edition of The Fisherman magazine , their coastal (N.C. to Maine) Dream Boat contest for subscribers only had six doormats entered up to a 12.63-pounder from Long Island. Tank’s fluke probably would have fit into fourth place at this time

Matraxia was fishing today with Capt. Chad Hacker on Tagged Fish from Highlands and not doing very well as they started off Coney Island before moving back to rough bottom near Sandy Hook.  Tank had been bucktailing, but switched to a bottom rig with Gulp and a fish strip when he literally dropped it into the mouth of a fluke that weighed just short of 12 pounds on the BogaGrip. He was going to get an official weight at  Julian’s Tackle in Atlantic Highlands, but the mate filleted the doormat on the way in.

Tank's doormat

Tank’s so proud of that fluke that the blog printed the photo twice!

Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands said it was not only a beautiful day on the water, but fluke fishing was better with action all day. The pool fluke went 5 3/4 pounds, and Santee also put his fares into some sea bass.

The Jamaica from Brielle reported very good Tuesday variety fishing for chub mackerel and sea bass. Vladimir Savon of  Fair Lawn won the pool with a 4-pound sea bass Some bluefish have been reported offshore, and will hopefully move inshore soon.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar also had very good action Tuesday with sea bass and mackerel plus some fluke and ling as well as “tommycod” which I expect were actually spotted hake as tomcod are virtually unknown in offshore waters.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall fished the surf to the north with his Chug Bug to catch four school stripers. I found very little water in the Manasquan surf, but hooked a bass that hit a Chug Bug in the wash — but got off.

I was a week early on the White Marlin Invitational

I should have double-checked the dates on the White Marlin Invitational. Boaters have plenty of time to sign up, as the final registration is actually next Tuesday, July 24, at the Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club — with fishing from that Wednesday through Saturday.

White Marlin Invitational opens during bigeye blitz

Boaters registering this evening for the Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club’s 49th annual White Marlin Invitational will be anxious to start fishing Wednesday in what Adam La Rosa of the Canyon Runner fleet in Point Pleasant calls possibly the best bigeye tuna bite ever.

Bigeyes have been hard to come by during offshore tournaments in recent years, and just one can wipe all the yellowfins off the board in an instant — and possibly win the big money if no white marlin large enough to weigh is brought in. Yet, La Rosa says bigeye caches have ranged up to an incredible 12 by Capt. Mark De Cabia.

Capt. Deane Lambros came in from an overnighter with “only” two bigeyes on the Canyon Runner in the course of catching over 50 yellowfins during an overnighter — which would ordinarily be considered a fine bigeye catch. bigeye being leadered

La Rosa has a last minute opening for a Friday overnighter that can be filled for the entire boat or on an open boat basis of $899 per person “all-in”.  Call him at 732 272-4445.

The Beach Haven registration is from 6 to 8 p.m. today in the clubhouse at Beach Haven. Fishing days run from Wednesday through Saturday — with the awards ceremony+ at 9 p.m. that night.

Chairman Dave Ridley expects there will be over 50 boats competing in the contest which also permits weigh-ins at Hoffman’s Marina in Brielle as well as at the headquarters. For information visit wmit@bhmtc.com or call Ridley at 908 963-5824.

There was a lack of reports today. Joe Melillo . at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant said the best bet has been crabbing which has been good everywhere — but especially at the Mantoloking Bridge. He weighed an impressive 6.5-pound fluke this week that was caught from a kayak at the south end of the canal by Doug Withstandley of Point Pleasant.

The Queen Mary from that town got into a showing of small blues during their Monday afternoon trip to go along with chub mackerel, sea bass and ling. They are sailing in the morning, but are chartered on Thursday and Saturday  mornings

Close finish in SHBA Fluke Tournament

Bob Cameron of North Haledon took over the lead in the Sandy Hook Bay Fluke Tournament on Saturday with a 26-inch, 7.2-pounder, but that contest is a two-day affair — and Larry Natelli of Fords took the $3,000 first place on Sunday with a 26 1/2-inch 7.4-pound fluke. Cameron finished second for $1,000 plus $200 for the first day leader.

Jeffrey Guiliano of Salisbury Mills, N.Y. picked up $600 for third with his 26-inch. 7-pounder — while a similar fluke was fourth for $350 by Bob Moskal of Highlands. Robert Socia of Hazlet was fifth for $250 with a 25-inch 6.8-pounder. Mike Menzel of South Amboy won $125 for his sixth place 26-inch, 6.6-pound fluke. Seventh and $125 went to Emilio Ameno of Matawan for a 26 1/2-inch, 6.4-pounder  — and Joseph Ciervo from Eatontown finished the scoring with $75 for a  25 1/2-inch, 6.2-pound fluke. Debbie Gencarelli won the ladies rod and reel prize donated by Atlantic Bait & Tackle with a 23-inch, 4.4-pound fluke.  Capt. Brian Dunn noted that over 80 fluke were weighed in over the weekend at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina.

The N.J. Outdoor Alliance asks anglers to call the office of Gov. Murphy at 609 292-6000 to request he sign  bill numbers S2793/A4255 which would increase much-needed funding for marine fisheries. That increase was worked out last year between Gov. Christie and the legislature but not included in the new governor’s budget.

Veteran surfcaster Joe Milko got the surprise of his fishing career this morning when a very small striper he was reeling in was engulfed by a shark. Joe only saw the dark shape, and couldn’t identify it. Chances are good that it was a brown or sand tiger as Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park has reported that both species have been providing action there for those who specialize in fishing for sharks at night. Lots of cownose rays have also been reported there, while the best surf bet in the day has been fluking.

A boat shark fisherman also had a surprise, but not from a shark. Rob De Pietri was sharking at Shark River Reef when a N.Y. Police boat boarded his Sharky’s Machine with the explanation that they are deputized by NOAA Fisheries to enforce highly migratory species regulations everywhere. What they were doing so far from N.Y. wasn’t explained. They took a photo of the boat’s permit, and noted that not having it aboard would involve a $500 fine.  Sharking was no good, but the chum slick was full of chub mackerel.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc reported a lot more action today on his Sea Hunter, even if it was mostly from shorts. Capt. Ron Santee said the morning flood tide was poor on his Fishermen, but he found some sea bass later that included Mike Nolan’s 4 1/2-pounder.  However, the change of tide late in the trip produced a good fluke bite that enabled Santee to bail out in “overtime”. The Fishermen is chartered on Wednesday.

Vinny D’Anton took is grandsons, Brandon and Lucas Longo of Manasquan, to their local beach this morning after he caught a school striper earlier on a Chug Bug. They tried fishing with sand fleas and came up only with a skate. Just before leaving, Vinny told Lucas to make a few casts with the Chug Bug — and he hooked a 27-inch striper that fought him for eight minutes.

Costa Rica dorado & wahoo

Capt. Pete Wagner of Hyper Striper at Highlands put his daughter Nicole and niece Amanda into wahoo and small dolphin last week off Los Suenos, Costa Rica.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mixed bag of weather and fishing

Sunday was an odd day, both in terms of weather and fishing. As noted last night, there was a forecast of showers and thunderstorms for the morning, but while I was fishing from shore in Shark River there wasn’t a sign of rain — and no wind. Therefore, I was surprised this evening to see that some boaters ran into lots of rain and rough conditions.

Miss Belmar Princess was involved in that bad weather which didn’t prevent their anglers from catching lots of sea bass to pick out keepers for the present two-sea bass limit. The Golden Eagle from Belmar had a boat limit of sea bass along with some ling and fluke plus a couple of mackerel.  There’s also an occasional small bluefish on a jig. The Big Mohawk from that port had good fluke fishing, with many limits as everyone was using jigs.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands reports weekend fluke fishing was no ball of fire, with Saturday being the better of the two days.

My shore fishing started slowly when the river was quiet, but improved as the incoming tide got stronger even though there was boat traffic to contend with. I ended up with seven striper releases up to a 22-incher.

Adam La Rosa of Canyon Runner in Point Pleasant noted that not only have his boats been enjoying a great early canyon season, but so has former Canyon Runner Capt. Mark De Cabia’s who had a bigeye tuna blast recently on his own boat.

Mark DeCabia's bigeyes

White Marlin Invitational coming up

The 49th annual Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational is coming up from July 24 to 26.

With Little Egg Inlet now back to a navigable inlet, there should be a lot more boats sailing out of Beach Haven, but the Manasquan River weigh-in alternative at Hoffman’s Marina will also be available. To sign up and get details visit http://www.TheWMIT.com.

While many other areas across the country have been complaining about extreme weather, we’ve had an exceptionally pleasant summer so far. That may be modified Sunday morning by some showers and possible thunder storms, but there appears to be a lot more good weather after that.

Today’s weather was almost too nice for the Big Mohawk from Belmar. They complained about a lack of drift, but still managed a decent catch up to a 7-pound fluke. They’ll be sailing at 6 a.m. through Monday.

Surprisingly, there were no fluke reports from Raritan Bay by 6 p.m. The Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands did report a good fluke catch on Friday. There were  a couple of limits — including the one below by Iris Rivera of Saddle Brook.

 

Iris Rivera

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had another good day with sea bass as two-fish limits were no problem along with some fluke, ling and mackerel. They gave the latter a good try, but they were fussy and only a few were caught. The Jamaica from Brielle had lots of variety action on Friday that included sea bass, plenty of mackerel, and some fluke and blues. They sail daily at 6:30 a.m.

Capt. Vinny Vetere continues to limit out with large stripers on his  Katfish from Great Kills even when he has to work through dogfish and skates to get them.

Shark River school stripers weren’t quite as active this morning, but I picked four on a small paddletail jig that included a 25-incher which was the largest I’ve released there so far. Tommy Cox was casting a popper in another part of the river when a school of 4-pound blues came by to provide surface action along with a striper among then. Vinny D’Anton got into small bass with the Storm Searchbait and released six.

Jim Louro of Spring Lake took Matt, a friend from Long Island to his local beach for sand flea fishing. After Jim caught a schoolie on a shad lure, Matt made his first striper trip a success by catching a 26 1/2-incher on the crabs — but kept fishing and ended up with a 29-inch keeper. Vinny and I also gave it a short try as he missed one hit and I landed a 21-inch bass.

Sandy Hook Bay Anglers kick off N.J. fluke tournament season

The two-day Sandy Hook Bay Anglers 37th annual Fluke Tornament begins a series of N.J. fluke contests this weekend after today’s 7 p.m. captains meeting  at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina.  The entry fee is $100 per boat. For details visit http://www.sandyhookbayanglers.com.

Coming up next weekend are the Grandpa Savino Tournament out of Great Kills with the opportunity to win $25,000 for a 13-pound fluke (call Walter Fisher at 917 375-7607); the 28th annual Raritan Bay Anglers Club Charity Fluke Tournament (call 732 489-6360); and the Point Pleasant Elks Fluke Tournament with both powerboat and kayak divisions ((call732 899-7638).

Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina provided the first party boat  doormat fluke report I’ve had this season. Vinny Aufiero of Midland Park boated a 10 1/8-pounder on the Capt. Cal. Benny Green had a limit up to 5 3/4 pounds on the Cat Cal.  The rental skiffs are coming in with fluke up to 6 pounds, and small snappers are now in Shark River.

Also at Belmar, the Big Mohawk had several fluke limits plus sea bass, and will be sailing tomorrow at 6 a.m. The Ocean Explorer reported fine fluke and sea bass action on a gorgeous day, including a bew seasonal pool leader of 8 8 7/8 pounds. There were also several 5-6-pound fluke.

At Atlantic Highlands, the Sea Hunter reported fluke fishing  was slower today, especially after the current got too strong late in the morning. Anglers should bring tackle capable of handling at least 8-ounce sinkers.

Capt. Stan Zagleski reported a fine 7 1/8-pound fluke boated Thursday on Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands by Tom Guarlello of Hazlet.

Despite the continuing big swell from the offshore hurricane, there were some small stripers caught in the surf. Vinny D’Anton of Wall took his grandsons, Brandon and Lucas Longo to the Spring Lake surf for a shot at fishing with sand fleas — and Lucas did land a small bass while a couple of other hits were missed.

I cast a small jig in Shark River to release five stripers up to 20 inches, but did nothing in the surf.

I

Fluking a little better

Though there were no hot reports, fluke fishing seemed to be a bit better on another beautiful day — and despite the big ocean swell.

At Atlantic Highlands, the Sea Hunter reported improved fluking with one limit taken and others with two. The Fishermen had decent fishing until the current got too strong. Kurt Wieditz boated a 6.11-pound fluke to run away with the pool. but there was also a 4 1/2-pounder and a couple in the 3 pound class. Capt. Ron Santee said grandpa John Sabonis brought his 15-year-old granddaughter Slyler Mosselle who caught three fluke on her first fluke trip. Some sea bass were also caught. The Fishermen is chartered from Friday through Sunday.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer had good action with fluke and sea bass. There were three or four fluke in the 4-pound class. The Golden Eagle had no problem filling two-fish limits of sea bass along with some ling and keeper fluke.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant caught sea bass plus some porgies and triggerfish on Wednesday — and fought a sand tiger shark.

Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst was invited to join a NMFS crew seeking live sea bass for studies aboard Tagged Fish from Highlands on Tuesday and Thursday. They fished in 40 feet the first day to ensure the sea bass would survive, but only ended up with small fish — though Marty Gras of Lyndhurst fought a sand tiger to the boat.  The Thursday trip to 70 feet produced bigger sea bass, including a 19-incher by Tank.

Shark River produced a pick of school stripers from 15 to 21 inches this morning as I cast a light paddletail jig to release seven plus a 20-inch bluefish that was my first there in almost a month. Vinny D’Anton had some short hits on his Chug Bug, and caught a small bass on a Zoom jig.  We then went to the surf to fight a much larger sea than yesterday’s — resulting from the far offshore hurricane. It didn’t look good for fishing, but I was shocked by a 21-inch striper that blasted my Chug Bug in the wash. That was it for us as sea weed was also a problem.

I was later surprised to hear from Allen Riley of South Plainfield, who took his wife, son Kevin of Raleigh, N.C. and two granddaughters to Sandy Hook and said it was calm there.  They managed to catch some short fluke on Gulp.

Reader John Westerdale saw lots of cownose rays in the Monmouth County surf this week, but they ignored bunker heads and lures. He’s been picking at 15-to-20-inch stripers on swim shads in Point Pleasant Canal — even during mid-day.  He fished last month on Cape Cod with Capt.  Ray Ransom on Bass River Charters at Dennis to catch lots of 15-pound stripers at Monomoy and jumbo sea bass off Chatham.

 

Capt. Pete Wagner of Hyper Striper at Highlands will be back to fluking this weekend after brief trip to Los Suenos in Costa Rica with his daughter Nicole and niece Amanda.  They fished aboard a friend’s L&H boat to get into lots of small dorado (dolphin), two small wahoo, a bigeye trevally, a cubera snapper on live bait — and Nicole’s first sailfish.

Wagner cuberaT

That cubera snapper is he same species as the one I’m pictured with at the head of this blog — which was released from Pesca Panama in March but weighed over 73 pounds by formula.

Nicole's first sail

Nicole’s first sailfish before release

Canon Runner calls early canyon bite the best ever

Adam La Rosa of the Canyon Runner fleet at Point Pleasant has been calling this year’s early season canyon fishing the best they’ve ever had. That view was reinforced over the weekend as they hosted a total of 12 military and veterans for the fishing trips of their lives. All caught all the yellowfins they could handle during the July 3-4 and 4-5 overnighters. One of those catches is illustrated below:

Miltary on CR with yellowfins

The Canyon Runner may have a spot open on Saturday’s open trip. The cost is $899, but that includes food, drinks and tips. Call Adam at 732 272-4445.

Capt. Vinnie Vetere had friends aboard his Katfish from Great Kills on Monday when big stripers turned on to his Ho-Jo lures for just 15 minutes of trolling — but that was enough to produce one of the biggest bass of the year for the skipper — a 57.3-pounder. They added others of 29. 34 and 46 pounds.

Fluke fishing was slow today in Raritan Bay. Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter was once again surprised by the relatively few anglers at Atlantic Highlands this morning. Fishing was just a pick during the beautiful day. Capt. Ron Santee reported a very fast drift that made fishing difficult, though some fares managed two keepers. The Fishermen is chartered from Friday through Sunday.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar found no blues today, and ended up with two-fish sea bass limits plus a pick of ling and several keeper fluke among shorts. They did find a few blues Tuesday, and heard of a bluefish concentration 50 to 100 miles southeast that they’re hoping will eventually move a lot closer.

Shark River was unusually cold this morning, but I still managed six stripers from 18 to 20 inches on a small paddletail jig. Vinny D’Anton released four bass up to a 21-incher. A short attempt with sand fleas in the surf didn’t even result in a bite. The big swell from the offshore.  hurricane  seemed to turn off the surf fluke as I only caught three windowpanes while briefly casting a Storm Searchbait.

Tommy Cox used his fly rod in the Spring Lake surf to hook 15-inch stripers early, but switched to a Chug Bug to land a 23-incher further north.

Oliver Anderez (9) of Miami throws a great castnet for bait, and he used one of the pinfish he caught at Sanibel Island on the west coast of Florida to hook a trophy snook which he released.  Other readers are encouraged to send info about their catches and photos if they care to. E-mail to cristori@aol.com.

Oliver castnetting

 

Oliver with snook.jpg