Tough surfcasting month in N.J.

Even as big stripers are providing trollers with plenty of release action, Shore surfcasters have been having a hard time finding any life during what used to be a good month for that sport.

John Mazzeo, of South Plainfield summed it up yesterday by describing his trip to Sandy Hook as “Different day, different time. different tide — same result.” At least he did see a bass caught by another angler though it was barely larger than the plug it hit. That angler described the mini-bass as the highlight of his fall surfcasting. Frank Huza of Aberdeen made the long trek to the point of Sandy Hook yesterday only to find even that prime spot to be barren. Those who had fished in the dark had the same report.

The big southeast swell has made surfcasting more difficult to the south, especially during early morning low tides. I found the expected rough surf this morning at Sea Girt. where the loose sand was being sucked out from under my boots. That’s a dangerous situation which requires backing up steadily to get out of the resulting holes so as not to be vulnerable to the force of the backwash. Getting knocked down in the wash is perilous when you’re alone on the beach as getting back up in waders is a problem while the waves just keep coming.

October used to be a good month from the beach as big blues would respond to poppers even when they weren’t showing. Unfortunately, the only big blues these day seem to be well offshore, and I haven’t even seen any small choppers in the Monmouth County surf. A few stripers have been reported by night anglers in Ocean County, but there hasn’t been any sign of the migrating schoolies from the east so far. Warm waters and a lack of bait probably have something to do with that – and many regulars blame beach replenishment.

The Jamaica from Brielle has room on its 10 p.m. Sunday tuna trip, as well as upcoming 31-hour tuna expeditions. Recent trips have provided limits of bluefins plus rellowfins up to 90 pounds. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant has set up striper trips with a fare of $100 and a 15-man limit on Nov. 2,3, and 5 — plus a Nov. 4 $90 bottom fishing sailing. Call 732 370-8019 for reservations.

At Belmar, Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman’s Den that jumbo bass were attacking bunkers off Deal this afternoon. He notes that most are over legal size and urges anglers to handle them gently for release.

Miss Belmar Princess is switching to those big stripers at 7:30 a.m. The Golden Eagle saw bluefish today, but only picked at 4-12-pounders. They also caught some sea bass and fluke.

Jim Hutchinson Sr. reports for the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association as follows:

Right now, the fishing scene in southern Ocean County is caught between summer and fall fisheries. No matter how hard the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association wish for the start of the striped bass migration from the north, the warm water temperatures are delaying their arrival.

Surface water temperatures remain in the low 60’s, a bit too warm for the stripers’ liking. There continues to be an excellent bite on bottom fish around inshore structure, however, to fill the fish boxes.

Captain Carl Sheppard of the “Star Fish” has had several groups out fishing recently taking advantage of the hot bottom fishing. One group with Captain Carl and mate Max Goldman fished several wrecks boating over 75 fish including black sea bass, bluefish, triggers, sea robins, and blowfish. Another trip with a family resulted in over 40 fish caught including sea bass up to 15-inches. A final day with two trips resulted in much the same type of action along with a feisty black-tip shark. The afternoon group had some 80 fish keeping 14 sea bass to 16-inches.

Captain Gary Dugan had two anglers out on the “Irish Jig”, and they experienced drop and reel fishing inshore reefs. They ended the day with a fish box packed with black sea bass, triggerfish, tautog, and some porgies. Captain Gary reports he is keeping a sharp eye out for the arrival of stripers from the north.

Captain Brett Taylor of Reel Reaction Sportfishing had a busy weekend with the Hank Wright group on a striped bass charter. Strong winds made a trip to the ocean a poor choice, so they landed a limit of tautog around the jetty rocks of Barnegat Inlet. They switched to stripers and landed 6, keeping two with bonus tags. Paul Kaufmann and Steve Sharf fished Sunday with their sons on a bottom fish charter. They worked hard and managed to box a limit of sea bass, 4 triggerfish, and one porgy. They ended the day boxing a quick limit of tautog.

Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can be found at

Capt. Rob Semkewyc reports his Thursday trip with Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands eels in the Hudson River wasn’t great, but not too bad either as noted with some of the stripers caught:

Big stripers explode in NY/NJ Bight

They took a long time for them to arrive from the east, but big stripers finally flooded into local waters Wednesday as Capt. Vinny Vetere reported releasing 15 bass between 40 and 50 pounds from his Katfish out of Great Kills. Vetere called it the best day in his 50 years of striper fishing!

He was trolling his TGBT bunker spoons, and Robert O’Hara said they came in by 10:30 a.m. Katfish was still open for the weekend when this was received. Call 917 693-8908.

Chuck Many put Alex Katyan and Mike Michael into bass up to 47 pounds on Tyman from Highlands that morning despite the fog. Many also knew that big bass were caught off Long Branch and Asbury Park on Tuesday.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had a good Wednesday tuna trip with limits of the smaller bluefins and 12 yellowfins up to a couple of 90-100 pounds. They picked at 4-10-pound blues today along with some sea bass and porgies.

Though the wind forecast is only east at 5-10 knots tomorrow, there are small craft warnings for large swells from the southeast.

Joe Julian was a Shore legend

If a book is ever written about the early days of fishing along the northern N.J.Shore, Joe Julian will surely be among the leading characters, The owner of Julian’s Tackle in Atlantic Highlands passed away last week at 94.

Untold numbers of anglers have stopped at Julian’s Tackle for decades on their way to fishing the Shore, and Joe was almost always there to set them up with the bait and tackle they needed. Joe, who also had a big ice business across the road, popularized his Montauk bunker spoons which feature a single large Siwash hook that was a big improvement over the huge built-in hook on standard bunker spoons which required the addition of a large treble hook to be effective– but damaged a lot of stripers and blues that were to be released.

Joe had many other interests as well as fishing. In his earlier days, he flew a single engine airplane, and competed in Jersey Skiff speed races which he often won. He was the first to build one of those skiffs in fiberglass. and his My Way was a familiar sight across highway. In his later years, Joe became an accomplished artist, and I treasure sketches he gave me of the Twin Lights and the Highlands Bridge.

Publicizing Shore fishing was a priority for Joe, and he was a big help when I was running the Metro Fishing Classic and the Harbor Festival Fishing Rodeo.

Julian lost his wife Margaret last year, but leaves two daughters plus his son Joe who’s running the business.

Miss Belmar Princess had a breakthrough with big blues today. Bait was best, with up to five on at a time, but jigs also worked on the 6-12-pounders as many fares limited. Some also had sea bass limits.

More big stripers seem to be moving into range of N,J, striper trollers. Chuck Many put Dave Glassberg into a 48-pounder yesterday morning on Tyman from Highlands — and also a thresher shark.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant only found a “handful” of bass on Tuesday’s first Striper Marathon, but they were ;large.

The Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands reports bottom fishing has remained slow. Anglers who for blackfish today caught their one keeper, but only a couple of porgies were boated along with as many keeper sea bass from among many tiny ones. Capt. Ron Santee Jr. is anxious to start striper fishing, but hasn’t seen schoolies from the east as yet.

Small craft warnings are up from tomorrow through Friday afternoon for increasing seas. The morning forecast is only for west winds at 5 knots before shifting to south in the afternoon. Fog is possible.

Yellowfins still in Triple Wrecks area

Capt. Lou Grazioso has been keeping track of the remarkable yellowfin tuna run in the Triple Wrecks area, and reports that they are still there feasting on large sand eels. Bluefins have also moved into that location.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had an :OK” trip there this week, catching some tuna and losing others. Some blues and little tunny were also caught. They had a pick of big blues and sea bass on both bait and jigs today, but will be fishing for tuna tomorrow.

Miss Belmar Princess reported a pick of 8-12-pound blues mostly on bait today.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc really didn’t have enough fares to sail his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands today, but he went anyway because the weather was so nice. All but one of the eight anglers caught their one striper limit.

Betty & Nick’s in Seaside Park had good news on the surf front as bass up to 35 inches were reported from the pocket area at the park.

Wednesday’s forecast is for south winds at 5-10 knots before increasing to 10-15 in the afternoon with gusts to 20 knots.

Bigeye trolling hot in canyons

The Canyon Runner from Pt. Pleasant has been sold out for canyon fishing for some time, but they had a cancelation for a Thursday overnighter that they’d like to fill in with a good forecast ahead while canyon fishing is hot. They’re been getting a bigeye every trip along with both yellowfins and bluefins chunking — and a shot at swordfish during the night. Call 732 272-4445.

Email or Call 732-272-4445
Deane’s been catching a big-eye every trip for the past few weeks and the day time chunking for yellowfin and now bluefins is still on fire. Multiple big-eyes caught by Canyon Runner Members their last few trips as well.


Capt. Rob Semkewyc reports striper fishing on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands turned around overnight as half of his 18 fares boated a bass today. He’ll be following up in the morning.

Chuck Many posted on Facebook the following about his latest trip with Tyman from Highlands. “Decided to go Monster hunting with Mike Michael Greene & Bob Nikki Bowden. Put out the eels and bam!!!! Awesome early morning and then a pick!! Ended with 11 Bass, 3 over 40 to 45 pounds!! All Released of course.”

Blog reader Dan fished in calm conditions Sunday morning and reported lots of adult bunker both in Raritan Bay and out front, but no takers on a live bait or swim shad before the wind came up at 11.

Miss Belmar Princess reported decent readings of blues which rarely hit. Some anglers managed one or two mostly 8-12-pound blues. They also jigged some keeper sea bass.

Tuesday’s forecast is for south winds at a mere 5-10 knots.

Stripers turn on and off for Sea Hunter

Capt. Rob Semkewyc barely had enough fares to sail for stripers on cold Saturday, but everyone was happy as stripers provided a boat limit on Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands while others were released. That should have set up a great Sunday in good conditions, but it turned out to be a “You should have been here yesterday” trip as the bass just didn’t bite.

Capt. Rob said October stripers are unpredictable from day to day, and he will be shaping up in the morning even though he only has a few reservations so far — and would appreciate calls in advance. The forecast is very good, with only 5 to 10 knot southeast winds.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar has will probably be running their last tuna trip with the Tuesday 11 p.m. offshore sailing. Call for reservations.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant will run an open bottom fishing trip on Thursday at 6:30 a. m. The fare is $90 on the limited trip. Call 732 370-8019 for reservations.

Blues wouldn’t hit

The report from Miss Belmar Princess didn’t mince words — it was terrible. Only a few were caught where they had been cooperating

Though Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park saw their first fall surf striper on Wednesday, a 29-incher that hit mullet, surfcasting has generally been dismal as we are still awaiting arrival of stripers from the east. The migratory run has been delayed by very warm waters and probably a lack of bait in the N.J. surf.

Chuck Many has neen catching some large stripers from his Tyman out of Highlands which he’s identified as migrating fish due to the sea lice on them and their purple sheen.

The Queen Mary from Pt., Pleasant reporting seeing the first signs of migrating bass Friday afternoon and this morning. They run their first Striper Marathon on Tuesday, and have also set a tuna trip for 1 a.m. Oct. 21.

Capt. Dave De Gennaro is still catching blowfish in the bay and 4-6-pound blues casting in the inlet when he can’t get offshore with his Hi Flier from Barnegat. He’s open Sunday and Monday for offshore fishing if possible. Call 732 330-5674.

The Sunday marine forecast is for southeast winds at 5 to 10 knots.

IGFA 2020 World Record Game Fishes available

The 2020 edition of the International Game Fish Association’s World Record Game Fishes contains every record updated through 2019 in both all-tackle and various line tests plus the many clubs now available to honor grand slams of a variety of species.

There were 448 records approved last year from 39 countries. Saltwatrer records dominated with 259, and 45 % of all records were released alive. A few more will be open this year because bonefish will have separate records for the Atlantic and the Pacific — just as with sailfish and blue marlin. All the rules and regulations pertaining to setting records are included, along with articles including one by Nick Honachefsky about catching monster fish from the surf. The book comes with IGFA membership along with many other incentives. Call 954 927-2628 for info.

Chuck Many reports the main body of striped bass “is still to our East, so Had to work super hard for every bite today!! Wind wouldn’t let up in the morning, but Ian Gardner& Nellie Nawd Ical Greer just stuck with it and it paid off. Only 5 fish, but size made it worth it with 3 over 30 pounds (31, 37, & 42). All released to fight another day!!+

Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina that a shop regular chummed from a private boat in Shark River to get into winter flounder, keeping his two up to 2 1/2 pounds that hit sandworms. Bob also noted that some blackfish are being caught from the Shark River jetty.

I tried the Manasquan surf this morning well before the rain started. There was a pounding surf, but it was fishable — though fishless.

Small craft warnings are up from 8 p.m. through Saturday afternoon as north winds gust up to 25 knots tonight. Tomorrow looks good for surfcasting with northwest winds at 15-20 knots plus gusts to 25 before diminishing to 10-15 in the afternoon. Sunday looks best for boating with southeast winds of just 5-10 knots,


Chesapeake Bay striper index down

Chesapeake Bay Young-of-Year Survey Results Released

October 13, 2020

Striped Bass Among Species Below Average, Others FlourishPhoto of juvenile striped bass in a survey net

Maryland DNR scientists examine juvenile striped bass for the annual index, before carefully releasing them back to the water.

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources announced results of the most recent juvenile striped bass survey, which tracks the reproductive success of the state fish in Chesapeake Bay. The 2020 young-of-year striped bass index is 2.5, below the long-term average of 11.5.

Although the size of the striped bass population has decreased recently, the number of mature fish is not believed to be a limiting factor in reproduction. Striped bass are known for highly variable annual reproduction that is often influenced by environmental factors. Other species with spawning strategies similar to striped bass such as white perch, yellow perch, and river herring also experienced lower reproductive success. 

“We have implemented sound conservation measures to enhance the striped bass population in recent years and will continue to monitor and protect this important and iconic resource,” said Bill Anderson, Department of Natural Resources assistant secretary for Aquatic Resources.

The mild winter appears to have favored species that spawn in the fall off the coast, such as Atlantic croaker and spot. The survey documented a resurgence in abundance of these sought-after species. Spot abundance was the highest since 2010 and Atlantic croaker abundance was the highest since 1998.

Chart of Maryland young of year survey historic data

The Department of Natural Resources has monitored the annual reproductive success of striped bass in Maryland’s portion of Chesapeake Bay since 1954. During the survey, biologists collected more than 36,000 fish of 59 different species, including 327 young-of-year striped bass.  

Twenty-two survey sites are located in four major spawning areas: the Choptank, Nanticoke, and Potomac rivers and the Upper Chesapeake Bay. Biologists visit each site three times per summer, collecting fish with two sweeps of a 100-foot beach seine net. The index represents the average number of recently hatched striped bass, commonly called rockfish, captured in each sample.

The Virginia Institute of Marine Science conducts a similar survey in the southern portion of Chesapeake Bay

Though the above press release paints a poor picture of migratory striped bass prospects for the future, it must be understood that annual results often vary wildly — and only results over a period of time are meaningful except for the rare super year which can fuel the coastal fishery for decades. It should also be noted that our Hudson River stock has been in good shape and carries the NY/NJ Bight fishery.

Miss Belmar Princess had the striper catch of the day, but it hit while they were bluefishing to the east where they were jigging fussy blues. The 46-incher was probably in federal waters and too big to keep in any case. They had to work hard for every blue ranging from 3 to 12 pounds.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had a good early shot at mostly gaffer blues, and another around noon. They also jigged some bonito, sea bass and even blackfish.

The Queen Mary from Pont Pleasant had poor bluefishing Wednesday but many sea bass limits. They won’t sail tomorrow.

The Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands is canceling for Friday. It was nasty today, and the bottom is still disturbed from the storm with few fish being caught.

Though small craft warnings are up this evening for south gusts to 30 knots, the marine forecast for Friday is northwest at 10-15 knots with showers.

Striped Bass Among Species Below Average, Others FlourishPhoto of juvenile striped bass in a survey net

Maryland DNR scientists examine juvenile striped bass for the annual index, before carefully releasing them back to the water.

Chart of Maryland young of year survey historic data