The usual surge of late summer visitors from the south hasn’t really started yet despite very warm waters,
There haven’t been any red drum reports so far, after some indications last year that those semi-tropical fish might be moving north with climate change as NMFS has been predicting. I caught a puppy drum two days in a row from Point Peasant Canal last August, and wrote an article about several northern N.J. red drum catches which has been published in the August New Jersey-Delaware Bay edition of The Fisherman magazine.
Those who followed my columns and blogs in the Star-Ledger are aware of the fact red drum were not only present in N.J. waters a century ago — but were the primary inshore game fish of the central Jersey coast.
They were called channel bass in in those days. and almost all of them were over 20 pounds rather than the few small red drum we see today. The first two world records for the species came from the central Shore as anglers all over the country flocked to Barnegat Inlet to seek 40-pounders in late summer and early fall.
The minimum size for red drum in N.J. is only 18 inches, but there’s also a maximum set by the ASMFC at 27 inches. Thus, the 55-pounder caught in Great Bay in 1985 by Dan Yaniro (now owner of Captains Quarters Bait & Tackle on Long Beach Island) will stand until regulations may be changed in the future.
The first southern visitors I heard about were caught several weeks ago. Raritan Bay pro Matt Calabria caught a small cobia there while fluking — just as I had done many years ago while weakfishing in the bay with Lou Grazioso. Then Maren Toleno caught a houndfish on a popper in Barnegat Bay, behind Island Beach State Park. Capt. Al Crudele of Bayhound from Sea Isle City had a report on Facebook of several cobia in his area this week,
Southern species such as gray triggerfish and cownose rays have become regular summer visitors to northern shores, but sheepshead remain common only up to the south jetty of Barnegat Inlet — and unheard of in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.
Paul Haertel of the JCAA sends the following reminder:
JCAA Fluke Tournament 8/4 – Win 50 K – Last Call
The JCAA fluke tournament is this Saturday. You may register online until 11:59 PM on 8/3. You may also call the office and register on the phone during the day today or Friday. The recent marine forecast has improved as has the fluke fishing during the last week or so. This is our biggest fund raiser so we really need your support so that we can continue to work on behalf of our recreational fishermen.
Visit http://www.jcaa.org to register.
At Belmar, the Big Mohawk took a rare day off, but the Ocean Explorer reports the weatherman was wrong as the ocean was calm and they picked away at fluke. The Golden Eagle continues to enjoy good action with sea bass along with some ling and fluke.
The Jamaica from Brielle had plenty of chub mackerel on its Tuesday and Wednesday trips along with some small blues plus sea bass and ling. John Sanecki (10) won a pool with a 4-pound sea bass.
The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands reports it was mostly short fluke today, but more keepers were taken than yesterday.
Joe Melillo reports from Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant that blackfish became legal again on Aug. 1, even though it’s only one at a 15-inch minimum. Green crabs are in stock, and one of the regulars had a 4-pound tautog to open the season in Point Pleasant Canal.
Shark River shore fishing was very slow the last two days. I managed only two small stripers on jigs Tuesday evening (down from four the previous evening) and just one this morning when Vinny D’Anton hooked a 23-inch striper on a 7 1/2-inch Sluggo. Tommy Cox quickly plugged four blues on a white popper Tuesday afternoon, but never had another hit.