A major topic at today’s NJ DEP Outdoor Writers Meeting was concern about continuing the hard-won funding for marine fisheries which Gov. Christie added to his last budget and which was supported by legislative leaders. Gov. Murphy didn’t include that funding in his budget, and hiring has been frozen until funds are assured. Though there have been ever greater demands placed on the DEP with the expansion of fishery management plans, the staff has been contracting for many years due to retirements.
Tom Fote of the JCAA has been meeting with legislators to try resolving this situation, but it may require pressure from the public on Gov. Murphy to get the funding restored. I’ll have more about this plus other information from the state meeting in the next few days.
Today’s weather wasn’t the best, and fishing started slowly for Chuck Many’s crew on Ty Man in Raritan Bay. David Glassberg of Little Silver only needed two throws of the cast net to load up with bunkers. There were enough marks in the bay, but we couldn’t give away a live bunker — even though trollers were stopping regularly as that seemed to be the best bet with the scattered marks.
Many doesn’t enjoy trolling, so he anchored to chunk. Bob Bowden, Dave and I had a flurry of action as four bass from about 29 to 32 inches were released, but the tide was dying out and the bites did the same. Chuck dropped me off to drive to the state meeting in Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, but that was just the start of the day for him. He checked out the Hudson River and found no marks up there before returning to the back of the bay where the bass turned on to bunker chunks in the afternoon. By late afternoon, the release score was up to 21 bass with a 22-pounder topping the catch.
At Belmar, the Big Mohawk had decent bottom life and reported some blackfish limits though it wasn’t a good bite. The weather is looking a lot better after tomorrow’s NW blow, and the weekend should be fishable — with Sunday through Tuesday looking exceptional.
Bob Matthews has been very disappointed in the winter flounder bite from the Belmar Marina docks, but notes that some blackfish are being caught in the inlet. Capt. Chris De Stefano of Wall stopped by this week and saw a few flounder caught, including one with a bitten-off tail — plus a 17-inch fluke.
Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park had reports of some short stripers on bait in the Island Beach State Park surf.