Stupid fishing Between the Channels continues

When striped bass started returning to Raritan Bay after a long absence, there were some mornings when Tony Arcabascio (Tony Maja) scored consistently by chunking on the many small pieces of structure that he had discovered over years fishing out of Great Kills, but as the bass built up there were days when casual boaters could drop their anchor almost anywhere and chunk a load of stripers. That’s what he called “The stupid fishing” — and Dave Lilly says that’s the best description of what’s been going on Between the Channels. Even with no dirds working or fish swirling, the fishfinder shows a massive quantity of stripers covering the bottom. Anyone who can drop a jig to bottom and reel up should hook up constantly. All that has been happening despite the unprecedented volume of boats drifting the area this late in the year.

Lilly said the largest bass they caught today was weighed at 15 pounds, but most are of legal sizes rather than the small bass often encountered in great numbers toward the end of the run. The water temperature actually came back up to 50 degrees today, and as long as the cand eels remain there’s no telling how long that area may produce.

One problem ahead is that tomorrow is the last great weather day for awhile. The forecast is for southwest at 5-10 knots, but it will be a lot different by Monday.

At Atlantic Highlands,Capt. Rob Semkewyc said it was all catch and release fishing by 9:30 on his Sea Hunter. The pool bass was just under 38 inches. Rob requests that his fares be aboard so he can leave in he morning by 7. The Monday trip is cancelled.

Capt. Ron Santee Jr. said the morning action was steady, but it turned yo a pick on his Fishermen in the afternoon even though the bass were still marking. He’s also cancelling the Monday trip.

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle reported a good day of striper jigging with lots of slots and keepers up to 37 inches plus bluefish to 18 pounds. Miss Belmar Princess reported solid striper action with many limits and some jumbo blues.

Vinny D’Anton heard of a good surf bite at IBSP. but put in his morning effort at Belmar to catch three schoolies on a Tsunami Sand Eel. After the modest bite died out, he stayed awhile and got into big hickory shad that were inhaling the sand eel imitation.

Great striper fishing for boaters in perfect weather

As redicted in yesterday’s blog, Black Friday turned out to be a Bonanza for boaters. Indeed, it seemed impossible for boaters to get shut out wherever they went.The Golden Eagle from Belmar left early and sent possibly the quickest report ever — that they were limited on stripers by 9 a.m. on two drifts! They’ll be leaving at 6:30 again in the morning to get on the bass before the crowd.

Rich Carrione didn’t take a chance on the sometimes fussy ocean stripers and ran all the way from Manasquan to Between the Channels with Bustin’Chop and had constant action on diamond jigs from 7:30 to 9:30 before the fish shut down. They caught 15 bass up to 36 inches plus six blues up to 12 pounds as the many boats around them were doing the same.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc summed it up as perfect weather and perfect fishing. When you don’t hear party boat skippers complain about being crowded by private boats on a holiday you can imagine how good the fishing was. There were lots of slots plus a few bigger bass up to a 38-inch pool linesider.

Capt. Ron Santee Jr. reported from slots up to a 34-incher on his Fishermen as two anglers in the bow combined for over 80 bass. Big blues were mixed in and came up stuffed with sand eels.

Allen Riley and John Mazzeo figured they’d have ideal surfcasting conditions this morning at Sandy Hook– which they did. There was a high tide at dawn and a calm sea — but no bait or birds. Riley managed one hickory shad on a Deadly Dick, but there was no sign of stripers among the many anglers at that popular area,

There was a better report from Betty & Nick’s Tackle in Seaside Park as a 20 1/4-pound striper was weighed after hitting bunker at Island Beach State Park.

The great weather continues Saturday with northwest winds at 10-15 knots plus gusts to 20,

Black Friday looks great for fishing

There were no boat reports after the weather forecasts led to cancellations of shortened Thanksgiving trips. However, the forecast for Black Friday is west at a mere 5-10 knots with seas down to two to four feet. On Wednesday there was great striper fishing between the channels and also in the ocean — so it’s likely there will be a repeat under fine conditions. As noted in yesterday’s blog, Black Friday is probably the busiest party boat day of the year. Add in the pandemic restrictions on capacity, and it’s a sure thing boats will sail early in order to get in on the best bite. Make reservations, and get to the boat long before sailing time!

The Jamaica from Brielle will be sailing early at 6 a.m.

John Bushell Jr. weighed a 19 1/4-pound striper at Betty & Nick’s in Seaside Park for Matthew Ferrera — his biggest. One regular caught 14 stripers from 1 to 4 a.m. yesterday on swimmers. All were in the 20-22-inch class. Bushell noted that some red drum have also been reported from the still relatively mild surf.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Check on Thanksgiving trips before coming down

Many party boats have scheduled early Thanksgiving striper trips, but be sure to check with skippers before coming down as some are canceling due to the weather.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had decent striper fishing today, with plenty of slots and some keepers plus big blues — but they have canceled the Thanksgiving sailing. Black Friday looks good, but anglers should arrive very early as that has become probably the most packed weekday of the year. Especially with pandemic restrictions, it’s likely that boats will leave long before schedule.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands had the best day-long striper bite of the season today as the hot bite kept getting better. Unfortunately, the Thanksgiving trip has been called off.

Vinny D’Anton heard there was a striper blitz at Island Beach State Park this morning, but decided to avoid the mob and did well enough at Belmar. The Tsunami Sand Eel produced six stripers by blind casting before he tried a Florida favorite and got a 26-incher on a MirrOlure Mirradyne plug.

The Jamaica from Brielle may have two spots open on the Nov. 27 offshore wreck trip that sails at 10 p.m. Friday. Call for reservations at 732 528-5014.

The Hi Flier from Barnegat is sailing open by reservation from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. from tomorrow through Monday. Stripers are the target unless it’s possible to get out to 50-150-pound tuna jumping 5 -10 miles offshore. Call 732 330-5674.

Small craft warnings are up through through Friday afternoon. The morning forecast is for south winds at 10-15 knots with gusts to 25 plus rain.


Sea Hunter — Best striper drift of year

As good as the northern NJ striper jigging has been. Capt. Rob Semkewyc didn’t expect anything better this morning. Yet, his first drift with the Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands turned out to be his best of the striper season. The boat was limited with bonus bass quickly, and 16 of 28 inches or more were added as everyone went home with two keepers. A Thanksgiving trip is set for 6:30 to noon.

Capt. Ron Santee Jr. had similar jigging on his Fishermen from that port as catches ran up to 47 bass plus some blues. A 12-pound bass took the pool. The Fishermen won’t be sailing on Thanksgiving.

Once again the ocean striper fishing was tough despite lots of fish on the surface. The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported just a few bass and blues that would hit, and will be trying a different area tomorrow.

Also at Belmar, the Ocean Explorer had a fine day of blackfishing on flat seas as some fares limited quickly on 3-6-pounders. Both jigs and rigs worked.

Paul Haertel had to call off the JCAA blackfish contest as not enough boats entered, but he was out today limiting on his boat at the Axel Carlsen Reef and other spots.

Mike Monte started in the Belmar surf, but ended up getting into some stripers later at Sea Girt. Those were better schoolies of 24 to 27 inches which wanted Zoom Split-tails on a 1/4-ounce jig rather than sand eel lures.

Allen Riley took advantage of the northwest wind to fish Monmouth Beach, but found no bait or birds and nothing being caught when he arrived during mid-morning on a blow-out tide from too much wind.

South winds at 10-15 knots plus gusts to 25 with 3-5-foot seas are forecast for Wednesday. Rain may arrive after midnight.

Perfect surfcasting weather coming up

While a gale warning is bad news for boaters, when it’s from the northwest that’s fine for Jersey Shore surfcasters except during low tides when it might blow all the water off the beach. Since it’s also possible to fish in partially protected areas, some boats may also get back into action tomorrow. Be sure to check with skippers before coming down.

Northwest winds are gusting up to 35 knots this evening, but are forecast to drop to 15-20 with gusts to 25 by morning — and to diminish by afternoon to 10-15 knots.

There were no boat reports today, but the Ocean Explorer from Belmar had an unusual blackfish report from Sunday when the tog bite actually improved as it got rougher by late morning. Some limits were taken.

Boaters paid the price to catch stripers today

The east wind came up quickly today, and Capt. Rob Semkewyc said he buried the bow of his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands for the first time — and then that happened twice more! Fortunately, stripers bit even under those conditions and everyone went home with a striper dinner even though he docked at 11:45 and handed out discount coupons to customers so they can come back on a better day to enjoy the fishing — which won’t be tomorrow.

Capt. Ron Santee Jr. of the Fishermen at that port said the bite started slowly, but when it got really nasty the bass settled on the bottom and hit steadily in the “snot”. Catches ranged up to 28, and everyone caught them. It was a big change from Friday’s best striper trip of the year in calm waters and yesterday’s fine action in parking lot conditions between the channels. The Fishermen won’t sail until Tuesday.

Not surprisingly, it wasn’t nice on the ocean. The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported having to make a very long trip in rough waters to get to where some stripers and blues would bite.

Betty & Nick’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported good catches of stripers on lures yesterday. and also a bite on clams. Hickory shad are abundant.

The Jamaica from Brielle will be sailing to the far offshore wrecks for jumbo sea bass at 11 p.m. Tuesday. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations. Joe Welsh from Lake Hopatcong won Saturday’s pool with a 9-pound cod along with his sea bass limit. Marc Shorts of Roselle had a 7-pound pollock.

After east gusts to 25 knots this afternoon, small craft warnings are up through Monday night — but the morning forecast is for a calming west at15-20 before NW gusts to 30 knots in the afternoon. Morning showers are possible.

Stripers for all between the channels

Though the ocean stripers were fussy for some, it appears that everyone fishing between the channels or anywhere near there caught all the school stripers they could handle.

Dave Lilly said his crew had non-stop action casting Tony Maja Mo-Jos, but everyone within sight was doing the same thing with a variety of lures. The action continued even after he drifted off into 72 feet. There weren’t any big bass, but lots of keepers up to about 34 inches. Bluefish were being caught on umbrella rigs, but didn’t bother the casting lures. Lilly took a look over at the Tin Can Grounds to get away from the crowd, but was surprised to find no fish over there.

Capt. Stan Zagleski was delighted with the fishing he found with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands despite all the boat traffic. A new 11-year-old customer, Stan Tactakoeski of Fair Lawn, showed his elders how to do it by catching 16 stripers.

It was a different story in the ocean. At Belmar, the Golden Eagle reported incredible bird action and fish on top, but boat traffic was outrageous and only a few bass and blues were boated. Miss Belmar Princess had a similar report.

Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina said surfcasting for bass has been boom or bust. Mike Monte caught a couple of school bass on a Tsunami Sand Eel and missed others early at Belmar despite low water conditions.

Sunday’s forecast is for east winds at 15-20 knots..

Mixed results on stripers in SW wind

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported that the weatherman was right about today being sunny and warm — but the southwest wind blew a lot harder than expected. Once again, there were fish on top, though the catching was something else. However, blues to 15 pounds were more cooperative as everything was on jigs. That boat sails at 6:30 Saturday and Sunday.

Miss Belmar Princess went south looking for a better bite, but encountered fussy stripers there also. They did get a few slots and a couple of bigger bass up to 36 inches.

The Atlantic Highlands boats did better on bass yesterday than those from the Shore. The Fishermen had a slow start before getting steady action with slots and up to 34 inches. Plain jigs worked best, but a couple were caught on shads. The Sea Hunter reported boating 18 bonus bass yesterday plus a bigger one while releasing many shorts and adding bluefish. Capt. Rob Semkewyc was out again today with a small group of anglers who quickly limited with slots. There were a couple of shots at 28-38-inch bass — and a 44-incher was released. Today there were only a couple of blues.

Vinny D’Anton reported that the southwest wind was a killer for surfcasting as is often the case. He went to Ocean County and saw bait, but nothing was being caught. The switch to northwest tomorrow could make a big difference,

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar had somewhat better blackfishing on Thursday as the high hook bagged four and hooked a dozen shorts. The key to success was using a light jig on spinning tackle as they’re fishing in only 30-50 feet.

The Jamaica from Brielle is sailing almost every night at 11 p.m. for jumbo sea bass and porgies on far offshore wrecks, Call 732 528-5014 for reservations. The pool winners on a recent trip were Juan Sasion of Linden with a 6-pound sea bass and David Livingston from Clayton, Delaware with a 5-pounder.

The Hi Flier from Barnegat is sailing open for stripers the next two days, with a limit of four at $225. Call 732 330-5674 for reservations on the 6-2 trips.

Small craft warnings are up this afternoon for southwest gusts to 30 knots , but Saturday looks great with northwest at 5-10. Sunday forecasts as east at 15 with gusts to 20 knots.

Shore surfcasting breaks open

Surfcasting along the N.J. Shore finally broke open yesterday though I didn’t get the reports before publishing my blog. Jerry Lasko said he got into a mini-blitz on an Ocean County beach yesterday morning as stripers were working on bunkers larger than peanuts and smaller than adults. He caught bass on poppers up to a 34-incher, but many other lures also worked — including a Tsunami Sand Eel. Mike Monte reported walking into an 11 a.m. blitz of schoolies at Brick Beach. Nick Honachefsky went back to the beach in the evening to release 33 from 24-29 inches on a black Bomber — and was into them again this morning. Vinny D’Anton went south to catch schoolies on metal.

Surfcasters actually seemed to find more receptive stripers today than ocean boaters. At Belmar, the Golden Eagle reported a smaller catch of stripers than yesterday plus some big blues though there were lots of fish on the surface. They will sail early tomorrow at 6. Miss Belmar Princess had a similar report of stripers reluctant to hit, though some keepers over 28 inches were boated.

Small craft warnings are up for southwest gusts to 30 knots this evening, but they drop to 15-20 by morning and diminish in the afternoon.