There was some very good news for recreational fishermen from NOAA Fisheries this week as the final rule to implement Special Management Zone status for artificial reefs in federal waters off New Jersey was approved. That rule, long ago requested by the N.J. D.E.P. and approved by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, restricts allowable gear for fishing on those reefs to handlines, rod and reel, and spears. Commercial fishermen must remove their pots by Aug. 8. That gear conflict was a problem for anglers attempting to drift the reefs which were created for recreational fishing, paid for primarily by the public, and maintained in large part by funds coming from the excise tax on fishing tackle,
This was a huge victory for Capt. Pete Grimbilis and reef creator Bill Figley who formed Reef Rescue well over a decade ago to save the reefs for their original purpose. The inshore reefs have received some protection through a compromise plan, but the new rule will protect such popular reefs as Sea Girt and Shark River plus most of those off South Jersey. I’ll have more about this in future blogs.
Today’s northeast wind put a big crimp in fishing, and resulted in some party boat trips being cancelled. The Golden Eagle from Belmar sailed into a very nasty sea and didn’t even look for bluefish,. Instead they found plenty of bottom action with sea bass, ling and fluke. Two sea bass per person can be kept during the summer by-catch season.
The Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands had a slow start until the tide changed, but then had a decent pick of up to two keeper fluke and many shorts. The pool winner of 5 9/16 pounds was boated at the end of the day. Capt. Ron Santee said a big swell from the northeast wind slowed the bite in the channels.
The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant cancelled due to the conditions, and they are chartered tomorrow.
The northeast wind was dropping off during the afternoon, and is only supposed to be 5 knots on Sunday. Indeed, there isn’t any wind over 10 knots in the forecast right through Thursday.
Vinny D’Anton got into a blind blitz of small stripers in Shark River this morning. They weren’t showing, and wouldn’t look at a popper, but the 18-to-20-inchers hit a variety of plastic jigs. Frank Manzi and I also got into the action. Usually those small bass are only picked at in the river, but they may be enjoying the complete lack of bluefish there this summer. I haven’t caught or heard of a blue in Shark River since June 13.