Ocean striper bite continues

The Golden Eagle report didn’t come in before I posted my blog last night. That Belmar party boat had a great day with the big bass, claiming that there were a few 50-pounders included. Today’s catch wasn’t in that class, but they were able to pick away on bass to 48 inches during long drifts. See photo below,

The Big Mohawk from Belmar reported a good catch on their striper trip today, with a pool bass of about 40 pounds. However, they’ll be sailing in the morning for sea bass before running for stripers in Friday.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands sailed Sunday with only a small group, but managed to get into bass of 40.2, 39, 37 and 25 pounds plus another keeper that wasn’t weighed. They’ll start sailing daily for stripers tomorrow.

The forecast for Wednesday is excellent, with west winds of 5-10 knots before increasing a bit to 10-15 in the afternoon.

The west wind cleared the surf, but it was still somewhat rough from the swell — though fishable. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a touch at Manasquan, nor did Vinny D’Anton further north.




Threshers hitting bunker spoons

It used to be a rare event for thresher sharks to hit bunker spoons, but that has become almost common lately.

Capt. Chris De Stefano was the latest “victim” while trolling with the crew on Frank Criscola’s Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club on Sunday. They went right to Deb’s Inlet which didn’t produce the big stripers they were seeking before Chris was tied up with a jumping thresher that was extra tough on the non-stretching wire. His arms gave out eventually and Frank took over as the harpoon was being rigged for a shark that was over 300 pounds. After all that, the bunker spoon finally pulled out of the thresher.

The striper problem was solved after thay got back off Monmouth Beach, though mo-jos did most of the damage. They  also got into a shot of action with live bunkers being attacked by stripers. About 15 bass were taken during the trip, with most released.

Point Pleasant Canal was slow this morning. I only saw two small bass brought in, and never had a hit until my ZMAN  7-inch DieZel MinnowZ was blasted. That fish started taking drag, but was off in seconds.

Vinny D’Anton and Tommy Cox worked the rough Belmar surf, but didn’t get a hit. Yet another angler casting a yellow Bomber caught his first striper — which was just short of the 28-inch minimum.

Mark Roy got into lots of bird action over school stripers yesterday evening within Raritan Bay on his Release Me from Raritan Marina. Pencil poppers produced lots of surface action,

The Big Mohawk from Belmar  will be sailing on a limited striper trip at 6:30 a.m.

A small craft advisory is up through tomorrow afternoon for the long-awaited west winds that should calm and clear the surf. West winds at 15-20 knots with gusts to 30 are predicted.

Chuck Many sent over this note from Chesapeake ay charter skipper Capt. Capt. Clinton Lessard of Sho Nuf Sportfishing about changes in regulations there. It’s a good thing there will be more releases in that area, which is a best bet for a 50, because the stripers are loaded with roe.

“Despite all the bad news about our ROCKFISH season and us only allowed to keep 1 fish per person up to 36” we will still be trying our best to catch them for you. We will continue our efforts to bring you home with meat and provide you a comfortable trip with plenty of memories. We are available for charters and tournaments when the fish start to show up in our area. We will be hard at it finding new ways to catch the smaller fish we’re not used to. Give us a call. 757-710-0098. Remember we can still catch you that monster rockfish we just have to release it. ”


Are too many striper releases a problem?

Surprisingly. a  point of contention at last week’s ASMFC Striped Bass Advisory Panel meeting in Baltimore was that recreational fishermen are releasing too many stripers.

You’d think that commercial fishermen would be happy to see more stripers in the waters of states which allow commercial stripers fishing as some would wind up in their nets. However, the ASMFC counts recreational releases as having a 9 percent mortality. With 90 percent of angling caught stripers being released, that 9 percent comes to such a large mortality that it puts the total mortality over the target at which an 18 percent reduction is required.  That’s why the commercial advisors insisted on Option 3 which would place almost all the reduction burden on angling rather than Option 2 in which both sides share the reduction evenly.

The 9 percent figure is based on studies done in controlled conditions which have little to do with the reality of normal habitat conditions. There’s also a world of difference in the care with which a Chuck Many, Joe Massa or Vinny D’Anton releases possibly stressed bass as opposed to others  simply tossing them back in warm waters. The 9 percent mortality is little more than a hopefully good guess. Yet, even if that figure is realistic, the other side of the coin is that 91 percent of releases survive. Is there any angler who feels it’s not worth releasing a striper that has a 91percent chance of surviving? That’s certainly a lot better than the chances of shorts ripped out of a gill net.

The northeast wind wasn’t as bad as predicted this morning, but Vinny D’Anton said the surf at Belmar was still rough from the offshore disturbance. Yet, it was fishable as he tried everything without getting a hit.

After getting shut out Sunday morning in the Manasquan surf under perfect conditions, I switched to Point Pleasant Canal this morning. Hits were few and far between, but there was a pick of school stripers for those willing to blind cast into seemingly  dead waters with a very weak ebb current . I felt fortunate to release three  bass up to a 26-incher on a Z Man 7-inch pearl paddletail. Joe Melillo of nearby Castaways Tackle also caught three bass.

Fluke pro Dave Lilly of Hazlet is equally proficient at trolling stripers as he proved Saturday morning aboard Mike Saverese’s Cabo 40, Sonny Boy. They were fishing the Hi-Mar Fall 40-hour Striped Bass Tournament and trolled big bass steadily for 4 1/2 hours off Deb’s Inlet in 70 feet. To get the hits it was necessary to stream 400 feet between wire and backing, so each bass became a back-breaker to fight. The only lure that worked was the heavy chartreuse Tony Maja bunker spoon. The white spoon wasn’t hit, and mo-jos never got hit despite the amount of weight added or the colors used. Lilly said the bite ended as the tide slowed at noon, and didn’t resume after the turn. There were thresher sharks surfacing in the area. A 37-pounder topped their 20 bass, but a 4-footer that had to be at least in the forties was lost at boatside. That bass would have been what they needed to win the two-bass total contest, and everyone was too sore from pulling bass to do it again Sunday.

Sonny Boy bass

Tuesday’s forecast looks better at 10 knots east with a chance of light rain in the afternoon, The big change starts Wednesday with west winds at 15 knots and gusts to 25 which should settle the surf.




Northeast winds coming

Small craft warnings are up for northeast winds at 15-20 knots with gusts to 30 on Monday. They may diminish during the afternoon. The Big Mohawk from Belmar reported an improvement in bottom fishing for sea bass, porgies and winter flounder. They will sail for that sport in the morning, and have scheduled a striper trip for Wednesday. The Golden Eagle from Belmar got into stripers and sea bass today. They claimed a striper of about 50 pounds was boated. There were also tuna around the boat, with one hooked but lost.   Rich Carione fished  Saturday with his Bustin’ Chop out of Manasquan Inlet and jigged school stripers at Breezy Point before trolling at Romer Shoal and Ambrose Channel for a bass in the 40-pound class. A 26-pounder was added while jigging. Everyone yesterday reported huge bunker schools in both the bay and ocean. Several thresher sharks were hooked by bunker spoon trollers.                                          Sorry for the jumbled text, but my computer is screwed up.

Golden Eagle back on stripers — but smaller

They aren’t the jumbo stripers that arrived before the gale, but anglers aboard the Golden Eagle from Belmar were happy with the school stripers they caught today. That boat made a long run to get into them, but reported a 1 1/2-hour drift that produced singles and multiples of keepers and shorts.

The Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands had a mixture of bottom fish, but was hampered by about 200 spiny dogfish carrying live pups. Capt. Ron Santee is switching to stripers on Wednesday.

At Brielle, the Paramount is making a Saturday night bluefish trip at 7:30. The Jamaica has added a limited bonito, little tunny and bluefin trip at 6 a.m. Monday. Call 732 528-5104.


Yellowfins finally bite at night in canyons

Right through last weekend’s canyon trip, the Big Jamaica from Brielle had marked some tuna on canyon overnighters, but they wouldn’t bite. That changed on the Tuesday to Wednesday trip as there was a pick on both bait and jigs in the dark and at sunrise.  There were limits of dolphin on both trips plus shots at swordfish.  A 300-pounder was boated after an hour-long battle on the last trip, while a 100-pound sword was added. The weekend trip produced a sword over 500 pounds by Chris Cholula of Freehold. There’s room on the Tuesday canyon trip –as well as on tomorrow’s limited trip for bonito, little tunny and inshore tuna. Call 732 528-5014.


Jamaica swordfish


Party boats were frustrated today by big stripers feeding on the surface that wouldn’t take anything offered. The Big Mohawk from Belmar will switch back to sea bass fishing the next two days.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar couldn’t fool the big bass, but did come up with some bonito and little tunny.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands switched to stripers on Columbus Day, and lost one during that trip. They’re chartered tomorrow, but will sail for stripers again on Sunday.The forecast is for diminishing winds and seas before a return to northeast winds by Sunday night.

I fished my local beach this morning and found enough water to work a Tsunami Eel that soon produced an 18 1/4-inch fluke and a smaller one before I moved and hooked into stripers of 19 1/2 and 24 1/2 inches. There were no signs of fish, and that action didn’t las long.

Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant, says there are a lot of stripers in the canal that are hitting at all times of day. I took him up on that and cast a Z Man 7-inch paddletail under a bright sun in the afternoon to catch seven bass up to 23 1/2 inches. I never saw such action under the afternoon sun in the canal, and it died out as the sun was getting lower.

I’ll hold out providing more info about the ASMFC Striped Bass Advisory Panel meeting until over the weekend.

No decision at ASMFC Striped Bass Panel Meeting

I’m sorry about not being able to do a blog last night, but as noted in the last blog  I was attending the ASMFC Striped Bass Advisory Panel meeting in Baltimore and my return flight was delayed for  hours and didn’t leave for Newark until 11:30. Needless to say, I wasn’t in shape to write at 2:30 a.m., and was sure that there wouldn’t be a need for fishing info with gale warnings up.

There were no decisions made as commercial fishermen insisted on Option 3 which takes almost all of the reduction required from the recreational side which supported the equal division of the burden provided in Option 2. Ex-State Senator Lou Bassano and I stood with the unanimous choice of Option 2 by sportfishermen, and both positions will be presented to the ASMFC Striped Bass Board at the upcoming meeting in New Hampshire which will set the 2020 regs.  I’ll have more about the panel’s discussion tomorrow.

Boats that got out early enough Wednesday to beat the rising wind were able to find the jumbo stripers for trolling or jigging. The Golden Eagle from Belmar also reported a good bluefishing trip the night before when choppers up to 15 pounds hit after dark. They do that again on Saturday night at 7:30 .

Capt. Chris De Stefano was aboard Frank Criscola’s Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club on Tuesday when they ran to Deb’s Inlet to troll big stripers on bunker spoons.  They finished up off Monmouth Beach to limit out and release more bass to total over a dozen that were mostly in the thirties, but included two of 41 and 46 pounds. Some of their bass off Monmouth were jigged as all five anglers hooked up at once.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside reported their first weigh-in of the fall when Tony Ciasca beached a 47-inch, 26.75-pound striper that beat a small blue to a mere strip of mullet Wednesday.

Vinny D’Anton and Tommy Cox gave the Monmouth County surf a mid-morning shot and found it fishable in the rough surf  with a hard northwest wind behind them, but did nothing in the discolored waters. Hopefully it will clear up by tomorrow,though the wind has blown most of the water offshore and it will be very shallow at low tides.

Those winds will diminish tomorrow, but will remain gusty until the afternoon — after which the weekend looks good,



Big stripers invade N.J.

Many anglers seeking sea bass and bluefish were surprised to find themselves wrestling with jumbo stripers off the northern N.J. Shore today.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar got into bonito and chub mackerel in the morning, but crushed big bass in the afternoon. About 15 lines were snapped and rods shattered as all the bass were “huge” — 25 pounds and way up.

Tank Matraxia sailed in Tagged Fish from Highlands. He caught a bass in the 30’s  as the boat limit was taken — leaving no room for the biggest of all which was hooked by the mate while they were sea bass fishing nearby. That provided the opportunity for Tank to put an ALS tag in a 54-incher that weighed 52 pounds on the boat’s Boga Grip before being released. Tank also noted that some very small weakfish were caught while bottom fishing.

The Big Mohawk from Belmar also got into the bass , and will run a special open trip for them tomorrow at 5:30 a.m.

Though small craft warnings go up in the morning, the winds start at only 10-15 knots southeast before increasing to 15-20 in the afternoon as a gale warning will be posted for Thursday.

Some stripers are now showing in the surf, though they are quite a bit smaller. Vinny D’Anton started at Manasquan this morning without success, but kept moving north  and ended up releasing six bass from 23 inches up to a 27-incher on the Tsunami Eel. Linda had used that lure to catch a bass at Manasquan yesterday, but didn’t score this morning.

It was a different story at Lavallette, where John Mazzeo had caught bass up to a 28-incher yesterday. This morning all he saw were beach buggies and fishermen — but never got a hit.

Jerry Lasko got word of bait schools moving down the northern Ocean County beaches — but with no fish on them.

Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant said he lost a good-sized blue while casting metal in the canal yesterday. He noted that the canal is loaded with blowfish, and blackfishing is good.

Nick Honachefsky provided additional info about the weekend Beach Brawl. as follows:

“The striper category was won by Bob Misak, It was a random draw out of the 21 bass photos. Chris Bodner had high hook with 5 bass, and he also split the mystery fish pool with Liam Rea who released a strange spotted hake overnight. Most of the bass were reportedly caught at IBSP, though a few were in Lavallette and Mantoloking on a variety of cut mullet, metal jigs, and rubber baits. A 50/50 was held for a cash donation to St. Gregory’s Pantry to help the homeless and hungry. The after party at Playa Bowls and Crab’s Claw was legendary. We look forward to putting on the 2nd annual next year!”

Tomorrow’s blog may be late as I’ll be in Baltimore for the ASMFC Striped Bass Advisory Panel meeting to discuss next year’s regulations.

Tog won top prizes in Beach Brawl

Blackfish were the big winners in the first Barrier Island Beach Brawl surf fishing contest held over the weekend. Nick Honachefsky’s release follows:

“The 1st Annual Barrier Island Beach Brawl brought fun, fishing and camaraderie to all anglers. Having to battle remnants of the Nor’Easter,  185 anglers managed to release 21 striped bass while tallying up three blackfish that took all the top prizes. First place went to Jesse Avagnado with a 2.68 pound blackfish. Second was earned by Dom Mancuso and his 2.44 pound blackfish, just eeking out Elihu Torres who won third place with a 2.42 pound tog. Unbelievably, no bluefish were checked in during the tournament. Tournament Director Nick Honachefsky expresses many thanks to all sponsors and anglers participating in the tournament and looks forward to the 2nd annual next year! ”

The northeast storm may have finally started moving some migratory stripers to the west. Capt. Chris De Stefano had word of big bass being trolled off Fire Island, and will be out there tomorrow morning on Frank Criscola’s Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club to check it out.

Jerry Lasko fished the northern Ocean County surf this morning to catch four school stripers on Kettle Creek paddletails  — and a couple of them were carrying sea lice. That sign of migratory bass wasn’t the only noteworthy event as Maren Toleno couldn’t hook up after many trips of almost invariably outfishing Jerry.

Allen Riley fished Sandy Hook under good conditions  this morning and found no fish, no birds and no bait. However, he did get a report from his usual partner, John Mazzeo, who is staying at Lavallette and did nothing over the weekend, but caught bass of 24 and 28 inches today on a Crippled Herring while losing a couple of others in the rough wash.

I fished the Manasquan surf and didn’t raise a thing to my popper, but talked to an angler who had caught a bass on metal.

Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina that school stripers are hitting in the surf primarily at dawn and dusk. Blackfishing was hot in the inlet yesterday. Sea bass fishing is recovering from the swell, and the Ocean Explorer had sea bass up to 5 1/4 pounds on Sunday.

The Ocean Explorer notes that the sea bass are feeding on sand eels — and the best bet is jigging with a sand eel teaser rigged above the jig.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar got into a pick of blues. sea bass and porgies early today before heading offshore for bigger bass and porgies. They finished up inshore and were surprised to see “monster” tuna splashing around the boat. They weren’t successful at trying to catch them , but added chub mackerel.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported a good mix of bonito, little tunny and small blues plus a few sea bass and porgies,

At Atlantic Highlands, the Fishermen had a good mixed bag Sunday with blackfish up to a 6-pounder plus porgies, sea bass and blowfish.

The Sea Hunter started striped bass fishing today, with the emphasis on eeling which requires tackle that can handle sinkers up to 12 ounces.

Joe Blaze joined a friend to run north from Manasquan Inlet. They came across schools of adult bunkers with nothing under them. Trolling small lures for little tunny didn’t produce, but they marked fish on bottom at Sandy Hook Reef and jigged some 9-10-inch weakfish,

The forecast is for north winds at 5-10 knots with gusts to 20 in the morning before going west in the afternoon,

Below is a photo of Joe Massa with the 20-inch tog that topped our Sunday catch on his My Three Sons out of Morgan Marina — as described in yesterday’s blog. 


Massa 20-inch tog.jpg

Columbus Day looking good

After last week’s northeaster, we deserve a nice day — and the Columbus Day holiday should be just that in the morning.

The forecast is for north winds at 5-10 knots before a switch to southwest gusts to 20 in the afternoon.

That won’t do General category giant tuna fishermen any good as NOAA Fisheries has closed that season as of 11:30 tonight. That category will reopen on Dec. 1 with a one giant bluefin limit.

Sea bass fishing wasn’t great after a week of big swells, but the Big Mohawk from Belmar reported some limits today. Some porgies were also caught. They will sail a limited trip at 6 a.m, but have a few spots for those without reservations if they show up by 5 a.m.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported blues didn’t bite well today, but that fishing should improve as the swell continues to drop. Some blues and porgies were jigged, and an 11-pound blue took the pool.

I’ll have results of the Barrier Island Beach Brawl in tomorrow’ blog.

I joined Capt. Joe Massa today on his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina. Joe got all the bunkers we needed with one castnet throw, but we didn’t see anything going on in N.Y. Harbor, and didn’t read any stripers. As a result, Joe ran south to Shrewsbury for blackfish. His first shallow water spot didn’t produce a bite, and I was afraid the swell had turned them off. Yet, a short move to a 26-foot drop resulted in a steady bite. We ended up catching about 50 tog. Most were 13-14 inches, but about a third were 15 inches or better up to a 20-incher for Joe. The present limit is just one a man, but prospects for the fall season are looking good.

We were using one-handed spinning rod which provided great sport as they hit green crabs on light jigs. The only variety was a 4-inch sea bass that I hooked on the crab-baited jig. Anyone can hook a fish with a big mouth, but it takes skill to hook one with a small mouth!