Capt. Tommy Joseph, one of the Shore’s finest bottom fishing skippers, appears to have beaten lung cancer, but the operation took too much out of him and he’s decided to end his chartering career. That’s hardly surprising at 85 in any case, but in Tommy’s case he has been such a dynamo that it seemed he’d never take a break. The lung cancer was a surprise to a non-smoker, but it was small and his prognosis is good.
I first met Tommy many years ago on a trip aboard the Skipper from Belmar when Capt. Dom Vitolo told me to fish next to that customer as he was the best blackfisherman aboard. Tommy certainly was, and he outfished everyone for years before starting to run small boat charters. He soon developed a loyal trade on whichever boat he was running, starting with the Rightaway, and his regular customers included ex-heavyweight champ Larry Holmes.
I got tired just watching Tommy operate as he arrived early to cut bait and rig rods while working at high speed all day taking fish off hooks and clearing tangles before returning to fillet big catches — all without a mate. Tommy set a standard for expertise and service that will be hard to match.
There were no reports from today’s miserable weather, but Capt. Jim Freda of Shore Catch Charters at Manasquan stopped by my garage sale and showed me video of the great striper action Saturday in Raritan Bay on shads and mo-jos. It’s an expensive 70-mile trip to Raritan Bay, but worth it as his charters catch plenty of big bass. Hopefully we’ll see the migratory bass from the south heading along the beaches very shortly.
Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar reports the Asbury Park Fishing Club won the weekend Spring Lake Live Liners Tournament paced by Chris Buchta with a 21 5/16-pound striper. Bass are biting in the river and bays — and bluefish are building up in Shark River.
Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports big blues were caught on poppers and bunker chunks at local docks Saturday.
The Jamaica from Brielle will be sailing for stripers and blues on Monday at 7:30.
There’s a small craft advisory up through Monday afternoon. Northeast winds of 15-20 knots with gusts to 25 are forecast early, but they go east and drop off in the afternoon.