Jamaica crushes porgies on offshore wrecks

Porgy fishing on far offshore wrecks was even better than it has been yesterday for anglers on the Jamaica from Brielle as everyone was able to limit on the big scup,  There wasn’t much variety, as Ralph Reevy of Camden won the pool with a 7.5-pound white hake while Angel Garcia from Lancaster, Pa. took second with a 3-pound porgy.


As a result of that fine fishing, the Jamaica will make the far offshore wreck trip next weekend on both Saturday and Sunday.  They’ve also added March 2 and 3. Reservations are required for the 1 a.m. trip. Call 732 528-5014.hake


Though the weather was good today, there were no other reports.

Some snow or rain is coming in with 10-15 knot east winds after midnight. The marine forecast for the morning is northeast at 10-15 knots with rain before shifting to northwest in the afternoon with gusts to 20.

Epic giant bite continues in N.C.

The Canyon Runner reports a continuation of the epic giant tuna bite out of Oregon Inlet, North Carolina. Multiple hook-ups are common, and often within minutes of lines in. Best of all, they are real giants with all over 85 inches, an average of 90 inches — and some over 100 inches. As noted earlier in the week, this may be the best chance you’ll have to catch a giant all year, but you should do so from a fighting chair or standing up as the commercial method of cranking on a rod in a rod holder is not accepted as a sportfishing catch.

Adam La Rosa of the Canyon Runner can be reached at 732 842-6825. He also has just 25 tickets left for the Canyon Runner N.Y. seminar on Feb. 23 in the Huntington Hilton at Millville, Long Island.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar had a nice day on the ocean, but the bite was slow. There were some short blackfish and a keeper, but not the big tog they were looking for. A few keeper and short cod were also caught, but they’ll be running in a different direction tomorrow to try to find a tog big enough to win the seasonal pool which is over $4,000.

The weather looks good, as the morning forecast is for northeast 5-10 knots and 2-3 foot seas before dropping to 5 knots in the afternoon.  It will hold at NE 5-10 knots for Monday before shifting to NW 10-15 with gusts to 20 in the afternoon.

As noted in last nights blog, the Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County hold their Fishing Flea market Sunday in the Hasbrouck Heights VFW — and the N.J. Boat Sale & Expo concludes at the N.J. Convention Hall in Edison.

Party boats getting back into action

There weren’t any party boat reports this week, but a favorable weather forecast is changing that.

Though there are small craft warning up through Saturday morning, this afternoon’s south winds at 20 knots are expected to drop to northwest at 15 after midnight — setting up a perfect 10-15 knot northwest in the morning as the Big Jamaica sails offshore at 1 a.m. for the deep water wrecks that have been loaded with big porgies.  There may be last minute openings on that trip. Call 732 528-5014.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar cancelled for today as the forecast of gusty south winds wouldn’t have been favorable for working the deeper wrecks and rocks they’ll be checking for big blackfish the next three days. By Sunday the forecast is down to a mere 5-10 knots north.

Blackfishing has been good some days to the south as Capt. Monty Hawkins reported a 14-pounder Sunday  and a 28-incher Thursday on his Morning Star from Ocean City, Md. Both were tagged and released. That’s common with the regulars on that boat where the pool is awarded on length and a released tog counts as well as a dead one.

The N.J. Boat Sale & Expo winds up Sunday at the N.J. Convention Hall in Edison. Visit njexpo.com for info.

The Saltwater Anglers of Bergen County Fishing Flea Market runs from 9-3  with a $5 admission (under 12 free) Sunday in the Hasbrouck Heights VFW at 513 Veterans Place.

The Philadelphia Fishing Show will run from Feb. 22-24 in the Greater Philadelphia  Expo at Oaks. Admission is $10, with kids 6-12 at $5. Visit phillyfishingshow.com for info.

The Atlantic City Boat Show is coming up from Feb. 27- March 3 at the Convention Hall.

The Staten Island Tuna Club’s Inshore-Offshore Expo is on March 3 at Mt. Loretto, 6581 Hylan Blvd. Admission is $5, with kids under 13 free. Dante Sorriente of Magic Tail Bucktails will present a seminar on blackfishing.



Fish or shows — lots to do this weekend

What a difference this afternoon! After shivering for so long, it was hard to believe the sudden heat brought in by south winds.

Those south winds are going to pick up after midnight to 15-20 knots with gusts to 25. That will continue into Friday with 4-7-foot seas.  It’s back to the northwest on Saturday at 10-15 knots with gusts to 25. That shouldn’t bother the Jamaica from Brielle which will sail at 1 a.m. for the abundance of big porgies on far offshore wrecks which may also produce a few cod and ling. Reservations for this $140 trip can be made by calling 732 528-5014.

Cod - Jamaica

Sunday also looks good with north winds of 10-15 knots in the morning before practically dying out to southeast 5 knots in the afternoon. The blackfish party boats should be back in action.

There will also be plenty to do ashore. The N.J. Boat Sale & Expo continues through Sunday at the N.J. Convention Center in Edison. Visit jerseyboatexpo.com for details.

Surf Day runs from 8:30-4:30 Saturday at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft. Visit jerseyshoresurfcasters.com for details.

The Southern Regional Fishing Show runs Saturday from 8-2 at Southern Regional Middle School, 75 Cedar Bridge Rd., Manahawkin with a fishing flea market plus seminars for the $4 admission. Dennis Kuntz of 2nd Chance Tackle is on at 8:30 with Reel Maintenance & Repair — followed at 9:45 by Harold Eckett of N.J. Salt Water Flies with Tie a Teaser. Chuck Nagel of Cranky Creek Tackle finishes up at 10:30 with Rig Building. This event benefits the Southern Regional H.S. Fishing Club.

There may be some last minute tickets to Saturday night’s JCAA Beefsteak Dinner at the Forked River Tuna Club if you call Paul Haertel at 973 943-8201 tonight. Seminars by Haertel and Anthony Arcabascio of Tony Maja Tackle are included.

The Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County hold their fishing flea market on Sunday from 9-3 in the Hasbrouck Heights VFW at 513 Veterans Place.  Admission is $5.























































































Great opportunity to catch a giant now in N.C.

With what used to be the traditional late summer to fall giant tuna fishery in the Mud Hole only a memory in recent years, the best bet for anglers seeking to tangle with the most powerful fish in the world is the winter fishery for giants out of Oregon Inlet, North Carolina.

The Canyon Runner and local charter boats have been trolling giants regularly, and Mike Lockwood of Lockwood Boat Works in Perth Amboy showed me a phot last Saturday during the Hi-Mar Striper Club Flea Market of a giant boated on his boat that was sent down there for the winter.

In order to use this opportunity to join the fraternity of sportsmen who have successfully battled a giant it’s important to note that what you see on Wicked Tuna has nothing to do with sportfishing. Cranking on a reel with the rod stuck in a rod holder is a commercial technique no different from harpooning or purse seining. That’s fine if the objective is to boat a giant for sale.  However, giants taken in that fashion don’t qualify as a sportfishing catch by any stretch of the imagination.

I can imagine what the late dean of N.J. giant tuna fishing, Capt. Bob Pisano, would have thought of fishermen bragging about “catching” a giant when they never had a rod in their hand!  That’s like a golfer claiming a hole-in-one by dropping his club and waking to the green to deposit the ball in the hole.

If you go, make the most of the trip by really fighting the fish out of a chair or standing up. The relatively shallow waters are a big advantage for anglers, and the experience will be much more meaningful if you actually feel the power of those magnificent fish rather than just cranking on a handle while the boat does all the work.

Paul Haertel needs a count by tomorrow of all those planning to attend Saturday’s JCAA Beefsteak Dinner & Seminar in the Forked River Club — as noted in last night’s blog. Call him at 973 943-8201.

The N.J. Boat Sale & Expo opens tomorrow at the N.J. Convention Center in Edison — and continues through Sunday. For info visit jerseyboatexpo.com.

Though yesterday’s snowstorm turned out to be nothing but a dusting at the Shore, the winds eliminated any fishing possibility. The marine forecast for Thursday is for west winds at 15-20 knots with gusts to 30 and 5-foot seas. The wind shifts to southwest on Friday at 15-20 knots with gusts to 30 and 6-foot seas, but by Saturday it drops off to northwest at a mere 10 knots and seas down to 2 to 4 feet — though there may be light snow in the afternoon. Sunday looks fine with north 10-15 knot winds dropping to 5-10 in the afternoon.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar got out Monday and reported a better bite than the day before as short tog were active in 80 to 100 feet depths along with some keeper blacks and cod.

Striped bass overfished

The long-awaited preliminary striped bass stock assessment shows that the most important inshore game fish along most of the northern Atlantic coast is overfished — and that overfishing is occurring.

Triggers in the Striped Bass Management Plan have been tripped, and there was only one vote at the recent ASMFC Striped Bass Board meeting against asking the Technical Committee to provide the commissioners by the next meeting in May with recommendations for reductions in mortality that will bring the stocks back to desired levels.

Since this was only a preliminary report, there’s little chance of any reductions being made this year. However, there could well be some significant changes proposed for 2020. Some commissioners may instead favor changing the trigger points which they may feel are too conservative. That’s a reasonable approach in the cases of sea bass and summer flounder as the original statistics were very questionable due to recreational catch figures from decades ago being little more than guesswork — and the obvious abundance of those species. In the case of stripers, there were good catch statistics over a long period of time — and most coastal anglers are complaining about the quality of  the coastal migrations. The N,J.-N.Y. area has been fortunate in having the Hudson River stock to provide a good local fishery with that stock which usually doesn’t migrate as far as  those from the Chesapeake and Delaware bay areas.

This will surely be a contentious issue as commercial and some charter interests seek more quota while sportsmen are more concerned with having a larger stock to fish on even if most have to be released.

Correction: Before sending out yesterday’s blog about the ASMFC decision to maintain status quo regulations on sea bass I forgot to eliminate the reference to the Mid-Atlantic Council in the first paragraph.

Needless to say, today was another blowout. A gale watch is up through Wednesday night, but the weekend is looking better.  West winds of 20-25 knots with gusts to 40 on Wednesday drop a bit to west 15-20 with gusts to 30 on Thursday. There are only southwest winds of 10-15 knots on Friday, but with a chance of rain in the morning and a likelihood in the afternoon.  Saturday may be fishable after all that ocean-calming west wind as the forecast is for northwest 10-15 knots with only 2-4-foot seas and a chance of rain.

The N.J. Fish & Game Council meeting went on as planned this morning, but the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association meeting tonight has been postponed

Fred Golofaro, editor of The Fisherman magazine Long Island edition, had good news about the passage of bunker bills in both the N.Y. Assembly and Senate that will prohibit bunker seiners from operating in N.Y. waters. I thought that had been the law there for a long time, but Golofaro said there was a “sunset”  provision which opened up the opportunity for seiners last year. There had been an unusual  run of bunkers into Peconic Bay, but the seiners even went there and cleaned them out completely. The governor is expected to sign that legislation.

The Jersey Coast Anglers Association (JCAA) is holding an all you can eat beefsteak dinner and fishing seminar on Saturday in the Forked River Tuna Club, at 18 Bay Avenue. The $50 ticket also covers the seminars by the JCAA’s Paul Haertel on fisheries issues and Anthony Arcabascio of Tony Maja Tackle who will detail trolling his father’s spoons for big bass. Haertel needs a count by Thursday. Call him at 973 943-8201 for tickets.

Surf Day will be presented Saturday at Brookdale Community College, 5 Newman Springs Rd. in Lincroft from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. with numerous seminars. For details visit jerseyshoresurfcasters.com. The New Jersey Boat Sale & Expo runs from Thursday through Sunday at the N.J. Convention Center in Raritan Center in Edison. Fishing seminars are also available. For info visit jerseyboatexpo.com.

Fishing flea markets continue, with the Southern Regional H.S. Fishing Show at Southern Regional Middle School, 75 Cedar Bridge Rd, in Manahawkin from 8-2 on Saturday. Admission is $4, and free for kids under 12.

The Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County Fishing Flea Market runs from 9-3 Sunday  in the Hasbrouck Heights VFW at 513 Veterans Place. Admission is $5. Call 973- 234-9618 for info.

Status Quo on sea bass

The  Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council voted last week to maintain  the same regulations for sea bass as were in effect last year as per the following press release:

The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission was formed by the 15 Atlantic coastal states in 1942 for the promotion and protection of coastal fishery resources. The Commission serves as a deliberative body of the Atlantic coastal states, coordinating the conservation and management of nearshore fishery resources, including marine, shell and anadromous species.
1050 N. Highland Street • Suite 200A-N • Arlington, VA 22201 703.842.0740 (phone) 703.842.0741 (fax) http://www.asmfc.org

Arlington, VA – The Commission’s Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Management Board approved status quo measures for the 2019 black sea bass recreational fishery (see Table 1). This action is based on the recommendations of its Technical Committee, which found that status quo measures are not likely to exceed the coastwide recreational harvest limit for 2019. Based on the most recent most stock assessment, the stock is estimated to be above the biomass target and not experiencing overfishing.

Table 1. 2019 Black Sea Bass Recreational Management Measures State Minimum Size Possession Limit Open Season ME 13″ 10 fish May 19–Sep 21; Oct 18–Dec 31 NH 13″ 10 fish Jan 1–Dec 31 MA 15″ 5 fish May 19–Sep 12
RI 15″
3 fish Jun 24–Aug 31 7 fish Sep 1–Dec 31
Private/Shore 15″ 5 fish May 19–Dec 31 Authorized Party/Charter 15″ 5 fish May 19–Aug 31 7 fish Sep 1–Dec 31 NY 15″ 3 fish Jun 23–Aug 31 7 fish Sep 1–Dec 31
NJ 12.5″ 10 fish May 15–Jun 22 12.5″ 2 fish Jul 1–Aug 31 12.5″ 10 fish Oct 8–Oct 31 13″ 15 fish Nov 1–Dec 31
DE, MD, VA, & NC (North of Cape Hatteras) 12.5″ 15 fish May 15–Dec 31
The Board also approved proposals from Virginia and North Carolina to participate in the February 2019 recreational fishery specified by NOAA Fisheries. The season will be open from February 1-28, 2019 with a 12.5 inch minimum size limit and 15 fish possession limit. To account for any harvest in February, Virginia and North Carolina will adjust their management measures later in the season, if necessary. Recreational anglers should verify regulations with their respective states.


The Jamaica from Brielle had another great trip to far offshore wrecks with many limits of big porgies. That trip was run on Sunday rather than the usual  Saturday to avoid the high winds. There were a few ling and cod added to the catch. Roger Buratti of Piscataway won the pool with a 9-pound cod. Those Saturday trips at 1 a.m. will continue through February plus March 2. Should there be a bad forecast, they will be postponed to Sunday if better weather is predicted. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.


The Canyon Runner continues to enjoy outstanding giant tuna action out of Oregon Inlet, N.C.. The Matt Motzitis party caught a giant Thursday, and had a wolf pack blast of four giants on at once Saturday — before hooking up with a giant in seconds on Sunday.

Those who didn’t make the sold-out Canyon Runner Seminar at Atlantic City can make up for that when the event is repeated Saturday on Long Island at the Huntington Hilton in Millville. Call Adam La Rosa at 732 842-6825 to determine if any tickets are still available.

The weather is turning on us again, with a gale watch up for Tuesday. East winds of 20-25 knots with gusts to 30 plus snow, sleet and rain increase to 40 knot gusts along with rain and 9-foot seas in the afternoon.  Wednesday is better with a shift to west winds of 20-25 knots with gusts to 40 which will start flattening the ocean. By Thursday morning it drops off to west at 15-20 knots before diminishing to 10-15 in the afternoon.

Get in last day before storm

Our break from midwinter weather will be coming to an end Monday night, but there’s one day left to enjoy a 5-10 knot northeast wind with seas of less than one foot despite some light snow. After that we’ll be in for much stronger NE winds.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar had a nice day at sea on Sunday, with a pick of keeper blackfish and a cod. They’ll be out again in the morning in search of the big tog that evaded them today.

There was better news from much further south as Ric Gross of Point Pleasant reported he fished last week with Capt. Chase on Reel Rival from Boynton Beach, Florida as they had lots of action in 75-degree waters with triggerfish up to 4 pounds, , mutton snappers to 2 pounds and , porgies to 12 inches. Sounds good to me.

Sunday looks great for fishing

The marine forecast looks great for fishing Sunday and almost as good on Monday before a return to poor east conditions on Tuesday. Sunday’s winds are forecasted to blow 5-10 knots west with 1-foot seas after today’s west blast knocked the swell down.

The Big Jamaica sails at 1 a.m. for offshore wrecks that are loaded with porgies as illustrated below.  Call 732 528-5014 to reserve a possible opening. Both the Big Mohawk and Ocean Explorer will leave Belmar at 7 a.m. for blackfish.


The Hi-Mar Striper Club had its usual big turnout for their fishing flea market. I met several blog followers there, and passed the word about the blog to many more who will be joining us.

Sad news Friday was the passing of Capt. Joe Occipinti, Sr., whose Little Hawk was an imposing sight on the Raritan Bay striper grounds. His son, Joe Jr., will carry on running that large group charter boat from Atlantic Highlands.

Gale warning, but lots to do on land at Hi-Mar Flea Market, etc.

There were small craft warnings up today, but they’ll be replaced by a gale warning at 6 pm. that extends ino Saturday. The good news is that even though Saturday is a blowout, there’s plenty to do  ashore before the northwest wind flattens the ocean for what looks like a perfect Sunday with 5-10 knot west winds  and a one-foot sea.

The Hi-Mar Striper Club Fishing Flea Market runs from 8-2 in the Middletown VFW on One Veteran’s Lane off Rt, 36 in Port Monmouth. I’ll be selling new and used tackle there as well as my last book — The Complete Book of Surf Fishing. Stop by and say hello. The $5 admission also includes seminars which start at 8:30 with Anthony Arcabasxio on trolling Tony Maja bunker spoons for big stripers. Capt. Derick Bielitz follows at 9:30 with inshore tuna fishing from his Fisher Price. The Zagorski brothers provide their blackfish secrets at 10:30 — and Jeff Dement discusses the ALS tagging program at 11:30.

Further south along the Shore, Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park has the Northeast Rod Builders gathering from 10-4, with a $25 admission covering breakfast and lunch.

The Salt Water Sportsman National Seminar will go on all day at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Hall Hotel, Call 800 448-7360  to determine if any tickets are available.

The Jamaica from Brielle postponed their Saturday offshore porgy trip to Sunday, and will sail at 1 a.m. that day. Reservations are required. Call 732 528-5014.

Blackfish party boats should be back in action on Sunday.