General category bluefin tuna season shut down today

NMFS has announced that the General category giant bluefin tuna season will close at 11:30 tonight since the quota from January through March has been taken. The season will reopen on June 1 with a daily quota of one per boat.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar enjoyed a fine day on a flat calm ocean with mild temperatures yesterday. They hope to get out for a last day of blackfishing on Sunday. Though there were lots of bites on bottom, blackfish were scarce yesterday. A few cod and ling were boated. That boat will be sailing for cod throughout March.

A small craft advisory is up today for south winds gusting to 30 knots, but the morning corecast is for only northeast 5-10 knots before increasing to southeast 10-15 late in the morning. Rain is also in the forecast.

Chuck Many made a quick trip to Florida to visit family — and also enjoyed releasing red drum.

NY seeking volunteer striper anglers

The N.Y. DEC has issued the folowing all for assistance:

Volunteer for DEC’s Striped Bass Cooperative Anglers Program

DEC is seeking participants to join the Striped Bass Cooperative Anglers Program to help biologists understand and maintain a healthy striped bass population. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) requires New York State to provide catch information from its recreational fishery to manage this species. Volunteer anglers play a crucial role in helping DEC satisfy this requirement, and all anglers who fish for striped bass are invited to participate.

Anglers who fish for striped bass in New York’s marine waters south of the George Washington Bridge should contact the Diadromous Fish Unit at sbcaprogram@dec.ny.gov or visit DEC’s Striped Bass Cooperative Anglers Program webpage. In marine waters, the recreational slot limit is 28 – 35 inches (not less than 28 inches nor greater than 35 inches) and the season is open April 15 through Dec. 15.

Anglers who fish for striped bass north of the George Washington Bridge in the tidal Hudson River should email hudsonangler@dec.ny.gov or visit DEC’s Hudson River Striped Bass webpage to learn more about the Hudson River Cooperative Anglers Program. In the tidal Hudson River, the recreational slot limit is 18 to 28 inches (not less than 18 inches nor greater than 28 inches) and the season is open April 1 through Nov. 30.

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If you don;t mind rain, Saturday may be fishable. There’s a 90% chance of rain in the marine forecast, but the wind will only be 10-15 knots southeast before going southwest in the afternoon.The Sunday forecast is for northeast winds at a mere 5-10 knots with an 80% chance of rain.

The Paramount from Brielle postponed tonight’s far offshore wreck trip to Saturday at 11 p.m. A few spots may be open. Call 732 528-2117 for reservations.

Perfect mid-winter fishing day coming up

With a calm ocean from west winds and a forecast of sunny weather with temperatures up to the low 40s, Friday appears to be as nice a day to fish offshore as can be expected in mid-winter.

Bottom fishing in NY/NJ Bight at this time of year is often poor due to very cold bottom water from snow melt flowing out of the rivers, but that wasn’t the case yesterday when the Ocean Explorer sailed from Belmar. Though the catch wasn’t too impressive, they reported lots of bites on bottom even though most were from bergalls.

They did catch 7 or 8 keeper blackfish plud some shorts, a few ling and a small cod. As a result, they will be sailing again on Friday. The wind forecast is northwest at 5-10 knots before going to soitheast in the afternoon.

Unfortunately, rain arrives tomorrow night and is forecast for Saturday.

Paul Haertel of the JCAA reminds NJ anglers that comments on the proposed fluke season (as noted in my blog), have to be in by noon tomorrow. His comments follow:

“The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Administration is accepting comments for the 2021 Recreational Summer Flounder Season. All minimum size and possession limit regulations will remain unchanged, including the Island Beach State Park and Delaware Bay special management areas. The possible options are as follows:Option 1) May 22nd – September 19th 121 days (the same as last year)Option 2) May 28th – September 28th 124 daysNo other options are available for our 2021 fluke season. Please include the following in your comments:1. Your preferred option (1 or 2)2. The state or county you fish in or from3. Describe the type of angler or general public category that best fits you (shore angler, private boat, party boat, charter boat owner/captain, or other type of fishing industryPlease make sure to include “2021 Summer Flounder Options” in the subject line when providingcomments to the following email address: NJmarineFishPublicComment@dep.nj.govThe comment period will close on February 26, 2021 at 12:00 PM. Comments need to be received prior to that time to be included in this management decision at the March 4th, 2021 Marine Fisheries Council Meeting. When available the webinar information will be posted at https://www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/mcnclmtg.htmThe Jersey Coast Anglers Association encourages all those who wish to comment to do so via email and/or during the public comment period during the meeting. We also realize that some people have different opinions and we respect that as well. We know that some back bay fishermen and others prefer the early season. Those who favor the early season believe that fluke bite better in their areas during May, they are anxious to get the season started and pointed out that there are often storms during September that ruin the fishing.However, that being said JCAA member clubs strongly support Option 2 with later season for the following reasons:1. We need to close the gap between when fluke season ends and sea bass season begins. With an early season there will be an 18 day gap with little for the inshore and shore based anglers to fish for. With the later season this gap will be narrowed to just 9 days.2. In the spring there are plenty of other fish to fish for. Sea bass season opens on May 15th and good sized striped bass, bluefish and black drum are available as well as a smattering of weakfish.3. The water in the ocean and even the bay is too cold for fluke to bite in May.4. Tackle stores, marinas and other businesses will suffer during the fall since other than being able to keep one blackfish there is not much to fish for unless you run offshore.5. With the later season we will have the opportunity to fish 124 days as opposed to 121 days with the earlier season. This could at least give us a little buffer if the ASFMC/MAFMC forces us to cut back again.6. Many fishermen like to target large and even trophy sized fluke as they migrate offshore and feed heavily stopping at reefs and wrecks along the way. There is a good chance of catching a true doormat during this time of the year.7. Most surf fishermen prefer to fish for fluke during the fall as their best opportunity to catch keeper fluke is during the mullet run.8. Polls were conducted on various Facebook fluke fishing group and with over a thousand responses people favored the later season by a margin of more than two to one. Even the Back Bay Anglers group favored the later season by a margin of 30-18.9. After losing most of our fall season in 2017 we were able to extend it again in 2018. At that time, we agreed to begin the season on the Friday before Memorial Day (5/25) and ended it on 9/22. In 2019 we lost a day at the tail end of the season which ran from 5/24-9/21. Then in 2020 we lost two more days at the end of the season which ran from 5/22-9/19. It seemed that the Friday before Memorial Day had become our traditional opening day and we would like to keep it that way. It’s time for the pendulum to swing the other way and have a later season. Next year and for the next few years Memorial Day will come earlier again so we can start the season earlier then. To reiterate, we now have an opportunity to close the gap until sea bass season begins from 18 day to just 9 days. Let’s do it!”

It’s north versus south on NJ fluke season

As noted in last night’s blog, the only option NJ anglers have on fluke is the season. hat comes up every year as the southern portion of the state would like to open in Apil when fluke are already available to them while those to the north don’t do well in still cool waters and have striped bass to fish for. There is also much better fluking toward fall in the north, and that’s when surfcasters do best with them. Some feel there should be a dividing line at Barnegat Inlet so both sides could be satisfied.

Hagemann released this big black grouper from Big Game Sportfishing in Marathon

Last chance for NJ fluke comments

The New Jersey Marine Fisheries Administration is accepting comments for the 2021 Recreational NJ Summer Flounder Season. All minimum size and possession limit regulations will remain unchanged, including the Island Beach State Park and Delaware Bay special management areas. The possible options are open seasons from:May 22 – September 19 (the same as 2020), or May 28 – September 28. No other options are available for the 2021 Recreational NJ Summer Flounder Season.Please include in your written comments the following:Your preferred option (1 or 2)The state and county you fish in or from. Describe the type of angler or general public category that best describes you (shore angler, private boat, party boat owner/captain, fishing industry, other).Submit comments to: : NJMarineFishPublicComment@dep.nj.govTHIS IS THE ONLY E-MAIL ADDRESS TO USE TO SUBMIT COMMENTS.
Please make sure to have “2021 NJ Summer Flounder Options” as the Subject.The comment period will close on February 26, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. Comments will need to be received prior to that time to be included in this management decision at the March 4, 2021 Marine Fisheries Council meeting. When available, webinar information for this meeting will be found on the meeting schedule page.

There may be a window of fishing opportunity tomorrow, and the Ocean Explorer from Belmar will be sailing for blackfish.

The forecast starts with southwest winds at 10-15 knots before increasing to south 20-25 with gusts to 30.

Bluefish hearings schedule

MAFMC and ASMFC to Hold Public Hearings for Bluefish Allocation and Rebuilding Amendment

The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (Commission) are seeking public comment on management options under consideration in the Bluefish Allocation and Rebuilding Amendment. This amendment contains alternatives to:

·       Revise the fishery management plan (FMP) goals and objectives;

·       Modify the bluefish allocations between the commercial and recreational sectors;

·       Modify the commercial allocations to the states;

·       Initiate a rebuilding plan;

·       Revise the quota transfer processes;

·       Revise how the FMP accounts for management uncertainty; and

·       Revise the de minimis provisions in the Commission’s FMP.

Comments may be provided at any of 5 virtual public hearings to be held between March 24 and April 8, 2021 or via written comment until April 23, 2021.

We encourage you to visit the Council’s Bluefish Allocation and Rebuilding Amendment web page or the Commission’s Public Input web page, where you can read the Public Hearing Document, the Draft Amendment, and watch the public hearing presentation (to be posted by March 12, 2021). The Council’s Public Hearing Document is an abbreviated version of the amendment which summarizes proposed management options and impacts. The Commission’s Draft Amendment is a more comprehensive management document that will resemble the Commission’s final amendment once approved. Both documents contain identical options for public input, but each have been developed according to each management body’s differing requirements. Commenters need only to submit comment on one of the documents. We have also developed a Quick Reference Guide which provides an overview of the alternatives under consideration in the amendment.

Virtual Hearing Schedule

Interested members of the public are encouraged to provide oral comments at any of the following public hearings. While we encourage you to attend the hearing that is targeted toward your state or regional grouping, anyone is welcome to participate in

Webinar Connection Instructions

To register for a public hearing please click here: Public Hearing Registration and select the hearing(s) you plan to attend from the dropdown menu. Hearings will be held via GoToWebinar, which can be accessed using a computer, tablet, or smartphone. When connecting to audio, we strongly encourage participants to use computer voice over internet (VoIP) so you can ask questions and provide input. To attend the webinar in listen only mode, dial 1-866-901-6455 and enter access code 140-544-592. Those joining by phone only will be limited to listening to the presentation and will not be able to provide input. For technical assistance setting up and logging into GoToWebinar, contact Dustin Colson Leaning at 703-842-0714.

If you are connected only by phone in listen only mode, you will not show up as a webinar attendee. In the event that there are no webinar attendees, the public hearing will be cancelled unless state staff request that the hearing content is presented. 

Written Comments

Written comments may be submitted through April 23, 2021 by any of the following methods:

1.       ONLINE:https://www.mafmc.org/comments/bluefish-allocation-rebuilding-amendment
2.       EMAIL:mseeley@mafmc.org
3.       MAIL:Dr. Christopher Moore, Executive DirectorMid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council800 North State Street, Suite 201Dover, DE 19901
4.       FAX302-674-5399

Please include “Bluefish Amendment” in the subject line if using email or fax, or on the outside of the envelope if submitting written comments.

Tips for Providing Public Comment

We value your input. To be most effective, we request that your comment include specific details as to why you support or oppose a particular alternative. Specifically, please address the following:

·       Which proposed alternative(s) do you support, and which do you oppose?

·       Why do you support or oppose the alternative(s)?

·       Is there any additional information you think should be considered?

Contacts

If you have any questions, please contact:

Matthew Seeley, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, mseeley@mafmc.org, 302-526-5262Dustin Colson Leaning, Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, dleaning@asmfc.org, 703-842-0714

A copy of the press release can also be found at http://www.asmfc.org/uploads/file/6033ed2bpr21-04_Bluefish-Amendment-Hearings.pdf.

——————–

Tina Berger

Director of Communications

Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission

1050 N. Highland Street, Suite 200A-N

Arlington, VA 22201

703.842.0740

www.asmfc.org

The marine forecast is for west winds at 15-20 knots with gusts to 30.

Chuck Many says ice fishing was slow — but not dead.

Ocean Explorer finds some bottom life

It didn’t amount to much, but at least there was some life on bottom whven the Ocean Explorer got out from Belmar today. It was breezy, but fishable — and bergalls were active on the bottom.

One legal blackfish was boated and a few shorts plus a short cod were released while a few ling came aboard. That was enough tp justify another attempt in good weather — perhaps on Wednesdy.

The lighter northwest winds didn’t last for long, as they shift to southwest tomorrow at 15-20 knots with gusts to 30 and rain.

NW wind to diminish Sunday

Though the northwest wind continues in the morning,that 15-20 knot forecast drops to just 5-10 during the day. As a result, the Ocean Explorer from Belmar is planing to sail Sunday for blackfish.

Those preferring to stay home can get a taste of rhe tropics at 8 a.m. by watching George Poveromo’s new show on yellowtail snapper fishing in the Florida Keys on the Discovery Channel. I’m enjoying the Florida cold snap (down to the 50s), but spending the day in Palm Beach Gardens to welcome my first granddaughter which Cyndi delivered two days ago. Elizabeth Gonzalez is a real keeper at 8 pounds — and Luis has her first rod and reel ready to go.

Possible blackfishing Sunday

Despite all the “global warming” this winter, there may be an opportunity to go blackfishing Sunday on the Ocean Explorer.

That Belmar party boat has canceled for Saturday. but hopes to fish Sunday 15 to 20 miles offshore to give anglers a shot at the seasonal tautog pool which is currently tied with two10.8-pounders.

The marine forecast is for northwest winds of 15-20 knots plus gusts to 30 Saturday as small craft warnings are up to that afternoon. Sunday’s forecast is for for 15-20 northwest to start with before diminishing to 10-15 knots in the afternoon.

George Poveromo starts this year’s World of Saltwater Fishing TV series at 8 a.m. Sunday on Discovery Channel with It’s Snapper Time in the Florida Keys.

Michael Criscola II apponted to IGFA Board of Trustees

The IGFA has restructured and appointed famed N.J. angler Michael Criscola II to its Board of Trustees as per the following the release:

IGFA Announces Significant Changes to Board of Trustees
Exciting changes follow annual board meeting

DANIA BEACH, FL – February 18, 2021 – The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) recently announced several changes to the Board of Trustees following the organization’s annual board meeting, including new leadership in the executive committee and the addition of five new board members.

Executive Committee

IGFA Chairman Charles “Carlos” Duncan, III, who had served in this role with distinction since 2015, announced that he would be stepping down as IGFA Chairman. “The years that I’ve spent serving as IGFA Chairman have truly been rewarding,” said Duncan during his final board meeting as IGFA Chairman. “Between working with fellow board members and staff, I am confident that we have collectively made the organization stronger than when I assumed this role.”

Assuming the role of IGFA Chairman is Roy Cronacher, who has been an IGFA Trustee since 2010 and who has most recently been serving as Vice Chairman & Treasurer for the organization. “I have had the pleasure of working closely with Carlos over the years, and he and I have always worked as a team and will continue to do so. I look forward to continuing the legacy that Carlos, the  IGFA Board of Trustees, the directors, and staff built during his time as IGFA Chairman,” said Cronacher. “I’m excited to get to work!”

Additional changes to the IGFA Executive Committee include the appointment of Chase Offield to the role of Vice Chairman, and the appointment of Robert Kurz as Treasurer.

Board Expansion

In addition to the changes within the IGFA Executive Committee, there were also five new individuals appointed to the IGFA Board of Trustees during the recent board meeting. The appointment of these five individuals increases the total number of the IGFA Board of Trustees to 23. Listed below is additional information on the five recently appointed Trustees:

Michael Criscola, II
Michael is the Executive Vice President and Principal for the Crisdel Group, Inc, which is a family‐owned company that provides specialty construction and contracting services including asphalt and concrete paving, excavation, heavy civil and highway construction, site development and utility infrastructure construction throughout New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida. In addition to his responsibilities with Crisdel, Michael is currently a Heavy Highway Representative on the Board of Trustees for the Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey (ACC of NJ). Michael is a passionate angler that also serves as the Chairman of the Gold Cup Tarpon Tournament and also serves on the Board of Directors for the Guides Trust Foundation in Florida. Michael fishes both inshore and offshore with conventional and fly tackle.

Molly Fleming
Molly Fleming has been an active member of the International Women’s Fishing Association (IWFA) since 1972, and an IGFA Lifetime Member since 2001. Her mother became an IWFA member in 1960, just five years after it was founded. Molly is especially adept in fishing with light tackle and has won a number of IWFA fishing tournaments. She fishes for virtually everything that swims, from black marlin to bluegill, on conventional and fly tackle. Molly has an encyclopedic knowledge of fishing history, especially when it comes to women’s influence and involvement in the sport.

Nassim Joaquin
Avid fly angler Nassim Joaquin of Cozumel Island, Mexico, founded the Peninsula Fly Fishing Club‐‐Mexico’s only saltwater fly-fishing club. He co‐authored the book “Flyfishing in Mexico: The Yucatan Peninsula” with Juan Pablo Reynal and Daniel Beillinson, and has achieved three IGFA World Records and numerous IGFA Inshore Grand Slams on fly. Working with Dr. Aaron Adams of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Joaquin launched the bonefish and permit tagging program in Mexico. Former president of Amigos de Sian Ka’an A.C.‐‐ the largest fishing conservation organization in Southeast Mexico‐‐ Joaquin also served as president of the State of Quintana Roo Sport Fishing Committee. He founded the e‐fly fishing magazine “Pesca Con Mosca” and contributes to numerous publications worldwide. Nassim has been an IGFA Lifetime Member since 2001 and an IGFA Representative since 2005.

Nathaniel Linville
A resident of Key West, Florida, Nathaniel Linville owns and operates the Angling Company, a premier fly shop in the Florida Keys. Linville has been an IGFA Representative since 2015, and is a passionate tournament angler and an IGFA World Record chaser. In his angling resume, Linville has won the March Merkin Invitational Permit Tournament twice and the Del Brown Tournament once. He has also won the fly division in the Cuda Bowl four times and the Superfly three times. Always looking to advance the sport and educate others, Linville is credited with developing the “Cobranagle” knot for tarpon fishing, and he writes regularly for his blog and teaches fly casting in Key West to students from around the world. Nathaniel also has a strong roster of six IGFA Tippet Class World Records to his credit, including the IGFA Men’s 6‐lb Tippet Class World Record for tarpon record for a 140-pound, 4-ounce fish, and the IGFA Men’s 2‐lb Tippet Class World Records for a 16-lb permit. Nathaniel is a staunch proponent for adhering to IGFA Angling Rules and was instrumental in developing the inaugural IGFA Permit Invitational Tournament.

Stephanie Choate‐Oppenheimer
Stephanie Choate is the daughter of IGFA Fishing Hall of Fame member Tim Choate, and has been an IGFA Representative since 2017. Influenced by her father’s love of fishing, she continues the family’s dedication to the sport by fishing competitively in tournaments around the world. Stephanie has won the Blue Marlin World Cup, the Bermuda Triple Crown, and is the recipient of the IGFA Gil Keech Heavy Tackle Award. She also holds the IGFA Women’s 50-lb Line Class World Record for black marlin with a 1,111-pound fish. In her fishing travels, Stephanie spreads the IGFA’s mission and vision while inspiring younger generations of anglers. Stephanie is also a board member of Wild Oceans ‐‐a nonprofit that collaborates with IGFA to strengthen the ethics of the fishing industry.

“These five individuals are valuable additions to the IGFA Board of Trustees,” said IGFA President Jason Schratwieser. “Each of which bring experience and varied perspectives to the IGFA Board. I am confident they will help us better accomplish the IGFA’s mission for years to come.”

The IGFA Board of Trustees is responsible for setting the goals and policies of the association, and ensuring that its strategies, programs and initiatives fulfill the vision and mission of the organization. Drawn from across the global recreational angling community, the IGFA Board of Trustees includes business leaders and passionate anglers who have materially contributed to the advancement of ethical, conservation-based sport fishing.

To learn more about the current IGFA Board of Trustees, please visit: https://bit.ly/3uaBJdM.

About the IGFA

Founded in 1939, The International Game Fish Association is a nonprofit organization committed to the conservation of game fish and the promotion of responsible, ethical angling practices through science, education, rule making, record keeping and recognition of outstanding accomplishments in the field of angling. The IGFA maintains world records in freshwater, saltwater, fly-fishing and junior angler categories. The IGFA has members in more than 100 countries.

The marine weathere forecast is for north winds at 15-20 knots with gusts to 25. Seas will be 5-7 feet with snow, rain or sleet. Small craft warnings are up through Friday afternoon.