Through party boats and some anglers have been struggling for a keeper, there seem to be plenty of schoolies in Raritan Bay.

Denise Leonard noted that a friend trolled over 20 bass on a shad umbrella rig without a 28-incher among them, but charter skippers such as Jim Freda on Shore Catch and Fred Gamboa of Andreas Toy have been reporting limits daily while casting and trolling shads, small swimmers and Spooks on light tackle. Capt. Vinnie Vetere was also in on that fishing, and will start chartering with his Katfish from Great Kills next week.

Big bass have been another story even though they seem to be available in the bay. Capt. Joe Massa reports bunkers are abundant and he marks many larger stripers on his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina. The bigger bass just don’t seem to be interested in chunks and live baits sometimes — though that will surely change.

This could be the weekend when ocean stripers finally turn on. The Golden Eagle from Belmar will be looking for them again on Saturday and daily after that. They have been seeing some though none have hit so far. A few mackerel were caught on the last trip, and this is the month when those fish used to swim along the Atlantic coast from Virginia to the north by the millions. NOAA Fisheries screwed that up by allowing foreign fleets to load up with “surplus” mackerel despite scientific advice and opposition by the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council. All we can do now is to hope for a miracle recovery just as was the case after the 200-mile limit was enacted.

The N.J. blackfish fleet will be out this weekend to get in their shots before the season closes at the end of the month. The weather looks great after the small craft advisory ends late tonight. Saturday’s forecast is for northwest winds at 10-15 knots with gusts to 25 before dropping out to west at a mere 5-10 knots by early afternoon. Sunday looks perfect with west winds at 5-10 knots.

When I fish with Crazy Alberto Knie in Florida it’s usually exotics that are targeted, such as the colorful and tough-fighting peacock bass. Thanks to Lee Wakefield and Seth Joel for their help and the photo.

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