Raritan Bay striper run well underway in March

It wasn’t many years ago that anglers would just be starting to think about buying a bag of clams to see if there were any school stripers active in Raritan Bay. Now those fish have become established long before the month is out on live bait — with only lures required for good catches.

Capt. Frank Massaria said they were a bit tricky at first yesterday, but his party on Vitaman Sea from Keyport limited up to an almost 40-incher. He’s open next week on Monday and Wednesday.

At Highlands, Fisher Price IV got started with a steady bite yesterday that included one near 30 pounds. They may have an open spot Thursday morning.

Capt. John Contello said both of his Just Sayin boats had full striper limits and a few releases as yesterday’s jigging was steady for 26-36-inch bass.

A pleasant surprise at Fisherman’s Den on Long Beach Island was the weekend catch of a 2.35-pound winter flounder by Brandy Hillgrass. That almost 18-incher was caught on bloodworms while fishing in the back country for stripers.

A small craft advisory is up through Thursday morning when a northwest wind at 20-25 knots will start flattening the ocean before dropping to 10-15 in the afternoon.

Chuck Many brought his expertise to a new world of fishing at Pesca Panama

After having conquered the worlds of striped bass fishing from New England and Virginia to Tennessee, plus red drum in South Carolina, Chuck Many finally expanded his horizons to Central America by heading a group to Pesca Panama.

An entirely different range of species and conditions awaited him at that mothership operation based around Isla Coiba, but there was no learning process involved before new species personal records were being set

The colorful roosterfish was accounted for quickly as the group cast popping plugs and the Yo-Zuri Hydro Minnow into rocky areas. Chuck’s first shows off the cockscomb dorsal fin. Seeing those fins cutting through the water behind your plug is one of the great thrills in fishing!

Dave Glassberg shows off the dentures of a cubera snapper, a species which seems to be making a comeback with an all-release policy in place for a species which is excellent eating at any size. Chuck also got his share of those great fighting fish, but they didn’t provide the leaping strikes that were common in the past. The most thrilling sights I’ve seen in fishing was watching what appeared to be a stocky bottom fish leap several feet in the air to crash down on a popper before often cutting me off in bottom almost instantly. Many plugs were lost in order to catch a few cubaras. When they missed the plug, there was a boom as if a garage door had been dropped into the water.

Chuck with cubara. Unfortunately, he didn’t encounter the Pesca Panama cubera I released there in 2018 – and which is shown at the top of my blog. By formula, that one weighed 73.58 pounds, just a few pounds short of the IGFA world record — and only a few centimeters shy of the IGFA length mark.

For Pesca Panama info call 507 661-5850.

The NY/NJ Bight forecast is for north winds at 10-15 knots before going southwest at 5-10 in the afternoon.

White sharks off North Carolina

White sharks have been enjoying warm southern waters all winter, but the lure of feeding grounds loaded with seals has started the migration back to the north as indicated by pinging from tagged whites off North Carolina.

One of those on the way is Breton, a 13-footer of 1,427 pounds which as tagged in September 2020 off Nova Scotia.

Capt. John Contello reports stripers were a bit finicky in Raritan Bay over the weekend, though both of his Just Sayin charter boats had full limits plus some releases.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar got started Sunday with a bottom fishing trip that produced two cod plus some ling and released blackfish along with lots of dogfish. Daily fishing will start with Saturday’s opening of the spring blackfish season. They’ve also added a Raritan Bay party boat, the Victoria Marie. That 31-foot Rampage will sail from 6-11:30 and 1-6 from Lockwood Boat Works Marina on Rt. 35 in South Amboy.

The forecast is for north winds at just 5-10 knots.

Latest Fishing

How about those Owls!

When I brought my son Michael down to Boca Raton to seek his B.A. at Florida Atlantic University ,, there was certainly no thought that a Final Four in March Madness could be in their future. That educational choice turned out well not only in preparation for going on to an MBA at Miami and teams to cheer for in the future — but also for a fishing trip to be remembered after his graduation in 2003. I figured the best gift for a fisherman would be a Keys tarpon trip with my old Montauk fishing buddy Joe Alexander, who had become a Key West guide.

May 8 was a perfect day to fish out of the Stock Island marina where Capt. Joe kept his SeaVee, Joe Green, and we only had to run yards before Joe dropped anchor and started chumming with shrimp boat “trash” (small fish and crab by-catch). Mike fought a big tarpon on 15-pound spinning tackle before losing it after 35 minutes. Fortunately, everything went well after that as Mike ended up releasing seven tarpon out of 15 jumped, including two that Joe estimated at 100 and 110 pounds — plus a nurse shark and a small cobia. I backed him up with four tarpon. a nurse shark, a ray, and a mutton snapper.

All that was accomplished despite going in for a restaurant lunch before the last couple of hours in the afternoon. Mike said the day was so perfect that he’d probably never go tarpon fishing again — though I hope that will change in the near future as his son Aiden is an enthusiastic and talented angler who will relish that opportunity to tangle with one of the world’s great game fish.

A small craft advisory is up until 11 p.m., but the morning forecast is for a mere 5 knot northeast wind. That increases to east 10-15 in the afternoon along with a chance of rain.

Kil Song was back at his favorite Texas jetty to cast for red drum.

Capt. Ron Santee mourns Capt. Bob Sidorski

When I checked Capt. Ron Santee’s web site to see when he will be starting striper fishing with his Fishermen from Atllantic Highlands, I found the following bad news:

While thinking of my Sister yesterday who passed three years ago to the day, I get the call that one of my best friends, Captain Bobby Sidorski had passed.

Bob owned and operated the Satellite after taking over the business from his Dad “Whitey”, originally from Highlands before moving to Atlantic Highlands in the early 80’s. He ran my Sandy Hook Lady & the Fishermen from the early 90’s into 2005. To say we had some of the best times of our lives together is an understatement! 

He was the bigger brother and always ended our phone calls with “Love ya like a Brother” right till the end. Bob lost his wife Donna to cancer several years ago and had to raise his two beautiful children Bobby Jr. & Samantha “Sam” all by himself….I think he did an awesome job as they both turned out to be awesome….he even was blessed to have a Grandchild if only for a short time, Bobby Jr. the 3rd.

My heart is broken once again, the only joy I feel this time of year anymore is the fact that all these folks who passed before me were such a good mark on my soul. I shed the tears because I have been blessed to have had them in my life.

Until we sail again Captain…….Love ya like a Brother.

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Today’s east storm was a killer for fishing, but a shift to west winds should result in good conditions by Monday.

A small craft warning is up through Sunday afternoon. The forecast is for west winds at 20-25 knots before dropping to 15-20 in the afternoon. Actually, that could be fishable in backwaters and along N.J. beaches.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar didn’t find ocean stripers yesterday as they did the day before, but an early chop smoothed out and they found better bottom fishing with some cod, ling and blackfish biting.

Weather a problem tomorrow

The outlook for Saturday is terrible with east winds at 20-25 knots plus gusts to 30, 5-7-foot seas, and rain.

After Capt. Alan Shinn ran a crew trip Tuesday with Miss Belmar Princess that produced a striper limit in 15 minutes, he started running daily for them at 7:30 only to find that the bass weren’t where they had been. That’s not unusual in the spring as the bait and predators haven’t settled in as yet.

The Ocean Explorer had much better luck Wednesday after starting out on a cod trip. Heavy readings of bunkers led to sightings of stripers just under 38 inches which resulted in hot jigging. Unfortunately. they weren’t as lucky after switching to bottom fishing as only one keeper cod was caught along with short blackfish.

InIet Bait & Tackle in Point Pleasant Beach posted on Facebook that the Norma K III got into “over” stripers that day along with a couple of smaller keepers.

Though we’ve come to expect a March buildup of schoolies in Raritan Bay, those ocean reports are unusually early.

Capt. Hans Kaspersetz caught his first large striper of the season while fishing yesterday with Dexter out of Highlands.

Betty & Nick’s Bait & Tackle Fishing Club noted that Nick Canta has been fishing for most of his 78 years and finally caught a striper – a 30-incher which he released.

Get in your fishing before Saturday!

A small craft warning is up through late tonight for southwest gusts up to 25 knots, but that switches to northwest 10-15 by morning — and further to 5-10 in the afternoon with possible showers. Unfortunately, Saturday is a much different situation with east winds at 20-25 plus gusts to 30 and showers.

Raritan Bay striper fishing looks like the best bet and offers some protection in the rivers.

Capt. Fred Gamboa surely won’t be running his 44-foot Andreas Toy out of Point Pleasant to Hudson Canyon with the Saturday forecast, but is glad he took advantage of yesterday’s weather to get in a day of tilefishing that produced 15 up to 20 pounds before chunking near a showing of dolphins resulted in a 70-pound bluefin tuna that hit a squid..

Butch Pawson proved that white perch are still biting in South Jersey rivers by catching a 2 1/2-pounder today — which is large for that panfish.

CIt’s spring — and the first N.J. bluefin tuna has been boated

March is very early for N.J. tuna fishing, but Andreas Toy made a run out to Hudson Canyon today to catch tilefish — and also trying some chunking that produced the season’s first bluefin. I’m waiting for more info from Capt. Fred Gamboa.

It was no surprise that good striper reports came in today. Capt. Joe Massa fished the rivers across from Morgan Marina with his My Three Sons to castnet adult bunkers which were gobbled up by a half-dozen stripers in the 34-35-inch range. Six more were released from Flutter Spoons.

Capt. Frank Massaria found a full limit of bass up to an 18-punder with his Vitamin Sea from Keyport. He will be running open Sunday and Monday. Call 917 439-5448.

Capt. Alan Shinn ran a crew trip for stripers today with Miss Belmar Princess that produced a limit. As a rtesult he will begin begin sailing daily

Vinny D’Anton has been doing well wading for spotted sea trout in the Sarasota area where red tide hasn’t been a problem lately.

Thursday’s forecast is for southwest winds at 10-15 knots before increasing to15-20 in the afternoon plus showers.

Cod cooperated for Ocean Explorer

The windy weather finally relented, and the Ocean Exporer from Belmar was able to search for cod with some success. The bottom was lively, and some ling were added. It looks like a go for tomorrow, as the forecast calls for just 5-10 knots southwest before going south 15-20- with gusts to 25 in the afternoon.

Stripers building up

The weather is right, and school stripers are biting. The rivers are the best bet so far , and they also provide some protection for anglers when the wind is up.

That shouldn’t be a problem tomorrow with west winds at 10 knots before going southwest and gusting up to 20 in the afternoon.

There are lots of places to hide in South Jersey’s backwaters when wind is a problem, Absecon Bay Sportsman Center reported that Jynn and Jimmy Gifford brought in two stripers over 30 inches caught on St. Patrick’s Day while fishing with bloodworms.

Connor Henchey used a shad to catch this striper while fishing with Capt. Joe Massa out of Morgan Marina on Friday.

Capt. Hans Kaspersetz got off to a good start with Dexter on stripers out of Highlands on Sunday.

The Gambler from Point Pleasant will start their Lazy Man Tautog trips in April as they sail from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.