It’s probably never happened before, but a tackle shop owner was invited to speak at the White House last month. Bruce Hrobak, who used to own Jersey Coast Bait & Tackle (now Gabrial Tackle) in Brick, N.J. , now has the Billy Bones tackle shops in Port St. Lucie and Stuart Florida. He came up to speak at President Trump’s news conference about his environmental positions. Hrobak thanked the President for expediting funds to work on the Lake Okeechobee Dam after the blue-green algae bloom problem last year contaminated St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon to such an extent that sportfishing-oriented firms were practically put out of business. Hrobak noted that the ecosystem is starting to come back, but much remains to be done.
He was accompanied by his son Tanner (21) who has survived several brain cancer operations, and helps manage the shops. I’ve fished with Tanner, and can testify to the fact that he’s a skilled and enthusiastic angler. Below are Bruce & Tanner with the First Lady.
Bluefish are finally putting in an appearance both inshore and in the ocean. Party boats have been jigging limits of them regularly in the 1-2-pound class, along with some bonito, chub mackerel and Spanish mackerel. Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant was surprised by large blues yesterday morning while casting metal in Manasquan Inlet.
Shark River has had some mostly 3-pound blues hitting poppers this week, but I also caught a couple of 6-pounders yesterday morning and one around 8 pounds this morning. Even though the sun was high, those occasional blues kept me casting — and I got a big blast I figured was a jumbo chopper as it ran off and fought deep before coming up and showing its tail. To my great surprise, it was a 30 1/2-inch husky striper that provided a “shot in the sun” on a Storm Rattlin’ Bug popper before being released. That was my largest from Shark River which produces schoolies up to 26 inches at times, but hardly anything larger.
As noted in last night’s late blog, the first day of the MidAtlantic out of Cape May plus Ocean City, Md. produced lots of fish for the 138 boats which used the first of their three fishing days, but none that look like sure winners of the millions at stake Sea Mistress is all alone in the big money white marlin division with a 67-pounder as several others which qualified to be weighed by length failed to weigh the minimum of 65 pounds. At the White Marlin Open from Ocean City a couple of weeks ago, it took a 79.5-pounder to walk away with over $1.4 million, so chances are that the 67-pounder won’t hold up.
As noted in the late blog, there was a 364-pound blue marlin weighed by The Chaser, but that was short of the 400-pound minimum. MJ’S later brought in another big blue only to fall short at 367 pounds. The White Marlin Open has a better system which requires a 114-inch minimum length to make the blue official regardless of weight. It’s much easier to determine length at boatside than to guess the weight of such large fish. As it is, blues that don’t make 400 pounds don’t even count in the points categories for trophies.
Lots of dolphin and wahoo were brought in as there is no minimum weight for them. Reel Estate leads in dolphin at 33 pounds, followed by Big Deal and Canyon Lady at 27 pounds. At the White Marlin Open it took a 41-pound dolphin to win. There were an unusual number of relatively small wahoo trolled. Special Situation leads at just 29 pounds. It took a 91-pounder to win at the White Marlin Open.
There were no hundred-pounders taken in the tuna division, but Dem Boys was close at 96 pounds. At the White Marlin Open, Frank Criscola’s Crisdel boated a 201-pound bigeye the first day and cruised to victory. Blue Runner got off to a good start with tuna of 79, 68 and 68 pounds for second, fifth and sixth. Viking 72 had an appropriate 72-pound tuna.
I’ll have another late blog after the scales close at 9 p.m.
In local news, the Golden Eagle from Belmar had their 16-hour tuna trip today, and read lots of bluefins that wouldn’t hit. They had one on for a short time, but lost it. There were lots of bonito that provided a good catch. Monday’s bluefishing was slow, perhaps because there were 300 blacktip sharks feeding on bait fish. Six of them were hooked, and one was released.