With all the offshore reports coming in, it’s hard to believe that it’s still May. Bluefin tuna of all sizes have been well within range of seaworthy center consoles along the Shore, and the early canyon bite has been hot as the Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant has tallied four giants, 40 smaller bluefins and 19 mako sharks so far.
Giants have also been caught closer than the canyons in shallower waters where anglers have a better chance of beating them on the lighter tackle normally used for medium bluefins. Chris De Gennaro of Wall weighed the first on his Yellowfin from Manasquan on Saturday at 392 pounds after a 2.5-hour battle.
That fishing has probably distracted attention from early season sharking, but South Jersey Marina in Cape May weighed two makos the weekend before last. An 88-inch female weighed 230 pounds, and an 83-inch male was surprisingly heavier at 248 pounds. The South Jersey Shark Tournament is coming up there June 5-8.
Vinny D’Anton of Wall opened up sand flea fishing for surf stripers last year on May 30. He made his debut for this season this morning after returning from Florida as we fished the local surf together. Tommy Cox was down early to try to duplicate yesterday morning’s catch of a legal striper on a popper, but nothing was raised this morning. It didn’t look good for the sand flea fishing either, despite perfect conditions with white water on the bars. However, we stuck it out and had a few light hits before I broke the ice with three small bass from 18 to 21 inches before beating the rain off the beach. Now that we know there’s hope, there will be more effort put into waiting out the bigger bass.
Joe Melillo reported from Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant that with little boat traffic there was a good pick of small bass and medium blues in the canal on plugs.
Bob Matthews , at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina, says fluke are being caught though keepers are at a premium. Sea bass and ling are keeping party and charter boats in consistent action. Some boaters get into big stripers in the ocean. John Reilly of Hooked Café in Belmar trolled three from 36 to 38 pounds yesterday off Monmouth Beach. Small stripers are in the surf.
Nick Honachefsky says his friend Don Mancuso made a most unusual catch yesterday when a houndfish ate a bunker chunk fished off Normandy Beach. I’ve never heard of one of those tropical visitors being up here so early.
At Seaside Park, John Bushell Jr. was greeted by an angler as he opened Betty & Nick’s with news that big blues had been hitting in the surf all night on mullet and cut bunker.
This afternoon’s storm should just be a memory by morning as the forecast for tomorrow is north winds at only 5-10 knots before switching to southeast in the afternoon.