The present abundance of rainfish has attracted great numbers of small blues to the Jersey Shore, along with some bonito, little tunny, chub mackerel and even Spanish mackerel. The latter is a semi-tropical species which is only spotted here during some late summers. and normally is hard to get a shot at as they only arc out of the water and disappear. Though Spanish mackerel are commonly caught from the surf on both sides of Florida, they’re a relative rarity here. Like bonito, they usually respond best to small, very fast moving lures such as small metals and bucktails.
The Spanish mackerel we see here are normally small. Yet I can testify to the fact that they grow larger. When I was a Navy officer stationed at the Naval Base in Trinidad, West Indies in 1961 I used to troll many of them in the Caribbean from a 20-foot pirogue carved from a single tree and powered by an old West Bend 12 hp outboard. Most were just a couple of pounds, and I’d never caught one over 5 pounds until Oct. 18 that year when I was shocked to boat an 11-pounder on a small white feather. The IGFA didn’t keep world records for Spanish mackerel until many decades later and the present world record isn’t much larger — at 13 pounds from Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina. Thus, I suspect my personal best will continue to stand. Nick Honachefsky took this shot of his surf-caught Spanish mackerel this week.
Bonito are also unusually abundant close to shore, though mostly quite small. Nick Honachefsky, of the Saltwater Underground daily video, got into a big blast of them during an afternoon trip outside Manasquan Inlet this week with Jerry Malanga and Alex Kondas as over 30 were caught among all the bluefish.
They also fished killies at pots further offshore to catch some chicken dolphin. The cold front predicted for this weekend could be a problem for our semi-tropical fishing.
Joe Melillo of Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant ran his small boat out the inlet yesterday evening and said there were so many birds working over feeding blues that he could only cast side arm to keep the line low and avoid tangling birds on every cast.
At Atlantic Highlands, there was a big improvement in fluke fishing as drifting conditions were good all day. Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter said the bottom of Ambrose Channel seemed to be paved with fluke even though most are shorts. A couple of fares caught over 30, but there was a 4.5-pound pool winner. Semkewyc said a basic rig was best with just a Gulp and spearing worked off bottom.
Capt. Ron Santee had a charter with McCarter & English on his Fishermen as everyone went home with dinner. Pink Slime Gulp with a fresh peanut bunker worked well.
The Angler had a new leader in both the Big and monthly pools Wednesday when Lance Reis of Morristown boated an 8 3/8-pound fluke — but Jim Custer boated an identical fluke the next day to share the lead.
Tank Matraxia joined friends from Lyndhurst on a charter aboard the Bingo today, The boat was anchored off Sea Bright for porgies, but very few were caught along with some sea bass. Tank caught a good-sized grey triggerfish. A few anglers cast bucktails off the stern and boated a few legal fluke while Tank put 4 ALS tags in the shorts.
The Golden Eagle from Belmar had another great start with hot jigging for 1-to-3-pound blues, plus some bonito and chub mackerel mixed in, before that died late in the morning — and then went off to add some fluke and sea bass.
My second cast into Shark River this morning produced a 20-inch striper on a Kettle Creek paddletail, but the next hit resulted in a missing tail. I switched to a bluefish-proof Z Man Swimmereez to end up with three stripers plus two blues in the 3-pound class. Frank Manzi caught a 22-inch bass on a popper. Vinny D’Anton worked the beach and released five bass in the 18-inch class that hit his Chug Bug.