Spring bluefishing has gotten off to a slow start, but there was a hopeful sign this afternoon when Jim Gates of Bay Head got into them in his local surf. Gates had been on the beach early in the morning and caught a short striper. However, the blues turned on when Gates returned as the tide started ebbing. He was unhooking his 14th chopper when I arrived and cast a dark cloud over the surf. I did hook up on my second cast with a large pencil popper, but that fish came off right away — and there was nothing else caught.
The fish I saw was a medium, but Gates said he had also released a 12-pounder. The surf was getting rough, and the rain steady when I left. It wasn’t much, but at least we now know that it’s worthwhile to cast for blues in the ocean. They showed just a day later than two years ago when there was a blitz of jumbos at Point Pleasant the day after Mother’s Day. I had been on the beach before sun-up when a couple of big whales were cruising along only a couple of hundred feet off the shore. The dreary day kept most anglers home, and no party boat reports were posted.
Capt. Stan Zagleski said yesterday’s sea bass opening on his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands started slowly as the first spot he tied was dead. After that he got into a mix of short and keeper sea bass plus two cod and out-of-season blackfish. Zagleski had been diving last week and found the bottom temperature was just 44 degrees in depths of 80 feet.
At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle weighed a 38-inch 18.8-pound striper that “Russ” caught on his last piece of bunker in the surf. Betty & Nick’s reported a 28 1/4-pound striper taken on bunker in Island Beach State Park, where the Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament will be contested on Sunday.
The 29-pound striper below was weighed last week at The Tackle Box in Hazlet after Jim Schaublin of Stockholm landed it at Sandy Hook while fishing with clams.