All the results are in from last Friday’s Manhattan Cup out of Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City. Quite in contrast to some of the earlier Manhattan Cups I’ve fished, the weather was good except for some light fog in the afternoon.
This is an all-release contest with all stripers and bluefish caught being measured and released. Winners are determined by using the standard formula of length to fork of tail, times girth squared, divided by 800. In addition to IGFA rules, anglers aren’t allowed to troll lures, and circle hooks are required for use with bait. Participants in the event that raises funds for injured combat vets and gives them an opportunity to enjoy a day of fishing, all have a fine breakfast at Liberty Landing Restaurant before a parade of boats out of the harbor at mid-morning. That eliminates the often prime dawn fishing period, but boat captains have already castnetted their supply of live bunkers — and some large stripers are usually caught even with the sun overhead.
That was the case very quickly for Capt. Brian Rice as he put half-brothers Clark Harris and The Fisherman managing editor Jim Hutchinson into a double hook-up of big bass on live bunkers down the beach. Both fish were measured and tagged quickly on Jersey Devil, but Clark’s 48-incher was the winner for largest bass by a celebrity angler at 43.47 pounds by formula. Harris is a former Rutgers tight end star who is now the long snapper for the Cincinati Bengals and the Guinness Book of World Records longest long snap record holder.
The closest competition for those bass was a 19.29-pounder caught by Bob Boyce on Dave Glassberg’s Critter Catcher. That boat, with Chuck Many aboard, tagged six bass from 31 1/2 to 37 inches to win the Striped Bass Mount.
The largest bluefish on an artificial was a huge 20.95-pounder caught by Jay Sozkesen while fishing on Adrian Muller’s Bass Appeal. If that blue had been landed and weighed on an official scale at one of the Fisherman Dream Boat Fishing Challenge weigh-in stations it would have taken over first place in the bluefish category which is currently held by Walter Fisher of the Staten Island Tuna Club at 18.10 pounds.
Efrain Diaz of Manhattan suffered back wounds in Iraq, but carries a photo on his cell phone of a pleasant moment from that conflict when he caught a large carp out of Saddam Hussein’s private pond. Now he can also show off one of a 34-inch striper released in Raritan Bay that won him the trophy for largest striper by a vet. He was supposed to fish aboard one of the charter boats volunteered for that purpose, but that boat broke down on the way up. However, Joe Massa had room on his private boat entry, My Three Sons out of Morgan Marina. We had picky fishing in the back of Raritan Bay, but Diaz hooked the only bass. I took the measurements before releasing the 13.77-pound striper, It was a very special win as it was the first trophy memorializing Chris Raguso — a true American hero who rescued many others as a New York Fire Department Lt.; a volunteer fireman in Commack, L.I. ; and an Air National Guard pilot before dying at just 39 in a helicopter crash in Iraq. The photo shows Diaz (holding crystal trophy) with Joe Massa (left), Chris’s father John (Boating/Electronics editor of The Fisherman) and ex-NJ Assemblyman Guy Talerico who won a bluefish award with the only one caught on My Three Sons.
I couldn’t catch a striper or blue in the contest, but was delighted with the Lifetime Achievement Award presented to me by Manhattan Cup director Gary Caputi and founder Capt. Frank Crescitelli. I told the crowd that I probably was being rewarded for leaving so few sore lips among the area’s released fish, but was greatly honored to receive that reward which had never been presented before. It’s been my good fortune to have followed my dreams as a kid of fishing over much of the world, catching most of the major saltwater game fish, and making a living by writing about my sport.
Today was a boating blowout, but it’s looking better for the weekend. Small craft warnings are up through Friday afternoon for seas, but the west wind forecasted for tomorrow mourning is just 10-15 knots with gusts to 25. Saturday’s southwest 10-15 knot winds will increase to 15-20 with gusts to 25 in the afternoon. That should leave us with 15-knot southwest winds and 4-to-6-foot seas on Sunday — along with a chance of showers.
Jerry Lasko said the surf was very fishable this morning, and he almost had his rod torn out of his hands with a strike on his first cast at Sea Girt with a sand flea. Anticipation was high after that, but he and Maren Toleno didn’t get another hit.
Shark fishermen should remember about the Thursday evening captains meetings being held for the Mako Mania and Mako Fever tournaments as noted in yesterday’s blog.
Fluke anglers still have time to join Saturday’s JCAA Fluke Tournament. Visit http://www.jcaa.org.
There was some good surf news before the storm. At Seaside Park, Betty & Nick’s Tackle weighed a 24 3/4-pound striper caught in the surf on bunker by Tom Brenner.
Grumpy’s Tackle weighed a 26.5-pound black drum caught in the IBSP surf on clam by Alberto — who also lost either a very large shark or ray he fought for two hours.
A regular at the shop sent a shot of a 48-inch striper released in the surf.