If you want to boat a Trophy giant tuna in the Angling category, you’d better get right out there now as the northern Trophy allowance will be closed at 11:30 p.m. — and through Dec. 31. That classification for permitted boats allows for the one giant that can’t be sold and is often quickly filled. Thus, the surprising run of inshore giants in NY/NJ Bight will now be catch and release. However, the new bluefin rules allow private boaters one large medium from 47 inches up to below the giant minimum of 73 inches — and two of that size for charter boats.
Of more interest to most anglers in N.J., the fluke season opens tomorrow with lots of that species having already been released in the coastal rivers. The regulations are the same as last year — with three at an 18-inch minimum being the bag limit.
Ocean waters are still cold(the Weather Service listed 47 degrees at Point Pleasant), but it should be much warmer in the rivers and bays — especially on outgoing tides.
No Shore party boat has indicated to me that they’ll be fluking right away, as sea bass are a much better target at present. The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported “crushing” sea bass today, with many scoring limits (10) of 12 1/2-inch minimum bass along with ling. The Golden Eagle from Belmar will be sailing for sea bass at 7 a.m. — and also on their first magic hours trip at 4:30 p.m., which will be repeated Sunday afternoon.
The Raritan Bay fluke fleet will be out in force tomorrow. As with the ocean boats, reservations are required for boats that will fill up quickly due to limited capacities and social distancing. Masks will be required, and possibly also gloves. Don’t expect any special fares under these conditions. Check for new sailing times.
Drifting conditions should be good with a south-southeast wind of about 11 knots on a sunny, cool day. More wind is forecast for Saturday with 18 knots from the north-northeast. That should be perfect for the Bug Light drift at Sandy Hook.
Capt. Chris Di Stefano said the report he got this morning was that the striper fishing was slow for the second day in a row. Those fish should be spawning in the Hudson River aroud this time.
Surfcasters should find better conditions tomorrow with chest high waves forecasted, it’s questionable if surf waters will have cleared by then.