The first weakfish of the year was boated Sunday, but it was a most unusual catch that may not be repeated — from a far offshore wreck.
A last minute call from fluke pro Dave Lilly provided news of other firsts. A couple of guys he knows have been making short trips in Raritan Bay to the sailboat anchorage. While chumming with clams for flounder today they spotted small pods of bunker and ended up catching a 21-inch striper on a flounder rig baited with clam. Furthermore, they had also caught a 19-inch striper last week — though still no flounder.
Lilly additionally had talked to Phil Sciortino at The Tackle Box in Hazlet who reported having seen adult bunkers in the surf.
The Big Jamaica from Brielle got in their Sunday trip, and did well, as usual, with jumbo porgies plus a few ling, white hake, cod and pollock — but also a weakfish. A few years ago there were several weaks taken from those deep water wrecks during late fall, and I was aboard one day when a few were caught while sea bass fishing. However, this is the first time I’ve heard of a weakfish way offshore in March. Large spawning weaks may arrive in bays and rivers during April — though they rarely bite that early. Phil La Grossa caught one last year (probably in Barnegat Bay) on May 1, and that 10.13-pounder stood up all year to win the coastwise 2018 Fisherman Dream Boat Challenge in that category by a wide margin. Ed Teise entered a 7.57-pound N.J. weak on May 24, and the next two weaks entered were only 6.05-pounders caught on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1. Indeed, the weakfish situation is so bad that it took until Oct. 6 before all 10 places at a minimum of just 5 pounds could be filled by Fisherman subscribers fishing from N.C. to Maine.
The Jamaica’s pool winner was Andre Whitney from Washington, D.C. with a 21-pound cod, while second went to Big Lou from Philadelphia with a 9.8-pound cod. That trip will be repeated Saturday and Sunday at 1 a.m. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.
There was finally some info about winter flounder being caught from shore. Fisherman’s Den in Belmar reported a very few being picked from the docks there. One boater who chummed caught two, That shop has bloodworms and sandworms in stock,
Joe Melillo will be reopening Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant on Saturday, and is ordering sandworms. He noted that the Spring Lake Live Liners have room for a few new members. Some of the finest surfcasters in the state belong to that club, and any dedicated striper angler joining would be sure to improve his success rate by learning from those pros. Those interested can fill out applications at Sunday’s Asbury Park show.
Small craft warnings went up this afternoon for gusty west winds to 25 knots, It will be northwest at 20-25 knots tomorrow with freezing spray. That drops to NW 10-15 with gusts to 25 on Thursday — -but Friday and Saturday look good.
The Philadelphia Boat Show will run in Expo at the Oaks from March 8-10,