JCAA statewide Fluke Tournament tomorrow

There’s still time for anglers to enter the JCAA Fluke Tournament which will be contested tomorrow at ports from Jersey City to Cape May. There are identical prizes at each of the seven ports, ranging up to $1200 for first. Yet, even those who never weigh a fluke are eligible for the many prizes to be raffled off on June 20 — including a 14-foot StarCraft with 20 hp Yamaha and Yacht Club trailer.  Furthermore, there are optional Calcuttas at each port and overall  — plus the opportunity to win $50,000 cash for catching the largest fluke over 12 pounds. Another $25 has to be added to the $180 entry in order to win the doormat prize, and you can be sure that the angler who caught such a doormat last year but hadn’t invested the $25 will be doing so this year. You never know when lightning will strike! To enter visit http://www.jcaa.org

The N.J.  shark tournaments had their captains meetings last night, but the Staten Island Tuna Club has another from 6-8 tonight. They are fishing jointly with Mako Fever this year, and sharks can be weighed in at either Staten Island or Manasquan during the June 15-23 fishing days. Call Chris Beinert at 973 634-7754 for info.

Though it’s windy from the west this evening, the forecast is for southwest at 10-15 knots in the morning before shifting to south at 20-25 with gusts to 30 in the afternoon.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar couldn’t find any blues today, but ended up with decent sea bass action.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Ron Santee has switched to sea bass due to the poor fluking, and expected to have a tough day with them in a rough ocean before ending up with a good catch on his Fishermen. That boat is chartered tomorrow.

Capt. Stan Zagleski was surprised to see some better fluke on Wednesday’s trip with his Elaine B, II from Bahrs in Highlands. Dennis O’Brien of Bound Brook celebrated his birthday with a 5 1/4-pound fluke, and later added the pool-winning 8 1/8-pounder that was also the boat’s largest so far. See photo below that Word Press entered in the wrong spot.  Charlie Krippendorf of Spring Lake boated a 5 1/8-pound fluke.


The Big Mohawk from Belmar is sailing limited sea bass trips through Sunday. Call 732-974-9606 for reservations.

The Jamaica from Brielle has Elaine B June fluke,  been doing well with sea bass, ling and even some whiting. They’ll run a 3/4-day Father’s Day trip from 7:30-2:30. Ling will be the target Saturday night at 7:30.

After finding the surf too rough for poppers early this morning and Shark River to be unproductive, Vinny D’Anton, Frank Manzi and I switched to sand flea fishing which is best in a rough surf. It started out well as Vinny and I each caught a small striper quickly. I added two more, including a fat 25-incher — and lost two, one of which was probably of keeper size. However, that was it.



Manhattan Cup wrap-up

All the results are in from last Friday’s Manhattan Cup out of Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City. Quite in contrast to some of the earlier Manhattan Cups I’ve fished, the weather was good except for some light fog in the afternoon.

This is an all-release contest with all stripers and bluefish caught being measured and released. Winners are determined by using the standard formula of length to fork of tail, times girth squared, divided by 800. In addition to IGFA rules, anglers aren’t allowed to troll lures, and circle hooks are required for use with bait.  Participants in the event that raises funds for injured combat vets and gives them an opportunity to enjoy a day of fishing, all have  a fine breakfast at Liberty Landing Restaurant before a parade of boats out of the harbor at mid-morning. That eliminates the often prime dawn fishing period, but boat captains have already castnetted their supply of live bunkers — and some large stripers are usually caught even with the sun overhead.

That was the case very quickly for Capt. Brian Rice as he put half-brothers Clark Harris and The Fisherman managing editor Jim Hutchinson into a double hook-up of big bass on live bunkers down the beach. Both fish were measured and tagged quickly on Jersey Devil, but Clark’s 48-incher was the winner for largest bass by a celebrity angler at 43.47 pounds by formula. Harris is a former Rutgers tight end star who is now the long snapper for the Cincinati Bengals and the Guinness Book of World Records longest long snap record holder.

The closest competition for those bass was a 19.29-pounder caught by Bob Boyce on Dave Glassberg’s Critter Catcher. That boat, with Chuck Many aboard, tagged six bass from 31 1/2 to 37 inches to win the Striped Bass Mount.

The largest bluefish on an artificial was a huge 20.95-pounder caught by Jay Sozkesen while fishing on Adrian Muller’s Bass Appeal. If that blue had been landed and weighed on an official scale at one of the Fisherman Dream Boat Fishing Challenge weigh-in stations it would have taken over first place in the bluefish category which is currently held by Walter Fisher of the Staten Island Tuna Club at 18.10 pounds.

Efrain Diaz of Manhattan suffered back wounds in Iraq, but carries a photo on his cell phone of a pleasant moment from that conflict when he caught a large carp out of Saddam Hussein’s private pond.  Now he can also show off one of a 34-inch striper released in Raritan Bay that won him the trophy for largest striper by a vet. He was supposed to fish aboard one of the charter boats volunteered for that purpose, but that boat broke down on the way up.  However, Joe Massa had room on his private boat entry, My Three Sons out of Morgan Marina. We had picky fishing in the back of Raritan Bay, but Diaz hooked the only bass. I took the measurements before releasing the 13.77-pound striper,  It was a very special win as it was the first trophy memorializing Chris Raguso — a true American hero who rescued many others as a New York Fire Department Lt.; a volunteer fireman in Commack, L.I. ; and an Air National Guard pilot before dying at just 39 in a helicopter crash in Iraq.  The photo shows Diaz (holding crystal trophy) with Joe Massa (left), Chris’s father John (Boating/Electronics editor of The Fisherman) and ex-NJ Assemblyman Guy Talerico who won a bluefish award with the only one caught on My Three Sons.

Chris Raguso Award

I couldn’t catch a striper or blue in the contest, but was delighted  with the Lifetime Achievement Award presented to me by Manhattan Cup director Gary Caputi and founder Capt. Frank Crescitelli. I told the crowd that I probably was  being rewarded for leaving so few sore lips among the area’s released fish, but was greatly honored to receive that reward which had never been presented before. It’s been my good fortune to have followed my dreams as a kid of fishing over much of the world, catching most of the major saltwater game fish, and making a living by writing about my sport.

Today was a boating blowout, but it’s looking better for the weekend. Small craft warnings are up through Friday afternoon for seas, but the west wind forecasted for tomorrow mourning is just 10-15 knots with gusts to 25. Saturday’s southwest 10-15 knot winds will increase to 15-20 with gusts to 25 in the afternoon. That should leave us with 15-knot southwest winds and 4-to-6-foot seas on Sunday — along with a chance of showers.

Jerry Lasko said the surf was very fishable this morning, and he almost had his rod torn out of his hands with a strike on his first cast at Sea Girt with a sand flea. Anticipation was high after that, but he and Maren Toleno didn’t get another hit.

Shark fishermen should remember about the Thursday evening captains meetings being held for the Mako Mania and Mako Fever tournaments as noted in yesterday’s blog.

Fluke anglers still have time to join Saturday’s JCAA Fluke Tournament. Visit http://www.jcaa.org.

There was some good surf news before the storm. At Seaside Park, Betty & Nick’s Tackle weighed a 24 3/4-pound striper caught in the surf on bunker by Tom Brenner.

Grumpy’s Tackle weighed a 26.5-pound black drum caught in the IBSP surf on clam by Alberto — who also lost either a very large shark or ray he fought for two hours.

Grumpy's 48-inch bassA regular at the shop sent a shot of a 48-inch striper released in the surf.



Shark tournaments offer many fishing days

Both Mako Fever and Mako Mania are providing a choice of fishing days this year that will allow boaters to choose one with suitable weather conditions for the vessel.

The Jersey Coast Shark Anglers have a nine-day format starting Saturday. The captains meeting is at 6:30 June 14 in the Manasquan River Club. Visit jcsa.org for the rules. Mako Fever also has an arrangement with the Staten Island Tuna Club’s Monster Mako Shark Tournament in which anglers can enter both contests and fish under the same regs. In addition, by entering both contests and adding $100, boats can be entered in a thresher challenge that will pay out $25,000 for largest over 450 pounds.

The Greater Point Pleasant Charter Boat Association will run Mako Mania from June 15-23. The captains meeting is at 6:30 June 14 in Wehrlen Brothers Marina on Princeton Ave. in Brick. Visit makomanianj.com or call 732 892-3666.

Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen in Atlantic Highlands reports fluking remains poor, so he went right to sea bass fishing and had a fine catch that included a flounder, ling and ocean pout. The latter still have to be released.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar got into blues early, but only a few were caught before they left for a good catch of sea bass that included a triple of keepers. The first bonito I’ve heard of was also boated.

It’s unlikely that anyone will sail tomorrow as the weather turns after midnight and there will be east winds at 20-25 knots before shifting to southeast in the afternoon,

Allen Riley checked the Sandy Hook surfcasting at dawn, and had no competition from other surfcasters or fish. Fresh bunker and lures were ignored.

Vinny D’Anton and I joined Frank Manzi in finding nothing from shore in Shark River before checking the Belmar surf where we saw party boats trying to jig blues about a quarter-mile offshore. Vinnie and I ended up in Spring Lake where we fished sand fleas with little success. Vinny hooked a doubleheader of school stripers, but one got off just before the surf line. I got the skunk off with a 22-incher. Jerry Lasko was fishing further to the south and released two shorts on fleas.

David Walsh reported fishing in Manasquan River the last two days with Gulp and catching plenty of short fluke. Of the 45 caught today from 6-11, about a third were 14-17 inches — which would have been fine with a commercial license which allows a 14-inch minimum.

Great canyon bite

Last week was another great one in the canyons for the Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant. Adam La Rosa reports the totals for the two boats were over 100 tuna, including a 400-pound giant, 12 bigeyes and lots of smaller bluefins and yellowfins plus dolphin, a 96-inch,400-pound mako, a swordfish and four white marlin. Many of the smaller tuna were released since there was so much meat in he box. Canyon Runner coaching members were also in on the bite as one boat caught eight bigeyes on a day trip. For info on the coaching service and $899 last minute open boat seats call 732 272-4445- or e-mail adam@canyonrunner.com.

The 25th JCAA Fluke Tournament will be contested Saturday from ports throughout N. J. with identical prize packages at each ranging up to $1200 for first. Many Calcuttas will also be available plus a Doormat Fluke Prize of $50,000 for the largest fluke weighing over 12 pounds. The latter requires a  $25 fee in addition to the $180 entrance fee. For lack of adding that $25. an angler last year with a fluke over 12 pounds was unable to bank that $50,000.  This contest is a great deal, as even if you don’t catch a fish you’re still eligible for the June 20 drawing for the grand prize of a 14-foot StarCraft with a 9 HP Yamaha and Yacht Club trailer — plus many other prizes.  To enter visit jcaa.org, or call the office at 732 506-6975.

Today’s rain is long gone, and the clearing west winds are knocking down the ocean swell. The Big Mohawk didn’t sail from Belmar due to the weather, but will be back at it in the morning along with most of the fleet as the forecast is for northeast winds at just 5-10 knots before switching to southeast at 10-15 in the afternoon.

Shark River wasn’t very productive this morning for shore casters, but Jason did plug two short stripers. Tommy Cox waded way out to cast poppers to 4-pound blues. Though Bill Hoblitsell did nothing on the fly there, he moved to the surf for a 24-inch bass. Vinny D’Anton ended up switching to sand fleas in the surf and quickly released bass of 25 and 24 inches before that bite shut off.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported weekend surf fishing was tough, and there were few anglers in Monday’s weather, but a keeper-size striper was caught on bunker in the surf this morning. Blues are still being hooked in the bay.



Thresher sweeps cash in South Jersey Shark Tournament

The weather wasn’t favorable for the first big money shark contest of the season, but there was lots of action for anglers fishing in the South Jersey Shark Tournament. Aaron Hoffman of South Jersey Marina in Cape May reported as follows:

The weather wasn’t in favor of the 39th Annual South Jersey Shark Tournament as the Captains Meeting started off with a front coming through. While the forecast over the fish days seemed to put a damper on this year’s attendance the smaller, but enthusiastic fleet were rewarded with plenty of bites.
At first, Day One looked to be the less favorable of the three fish days. With only 6 boats deciding to utilize the breeze to their advantage, they found that the seas turned out to be one of the better options. Those 6 boats had plenty of action throughout the day releasing makos, blue sharks, hammerheads, tiger and dusky sharks. Kyle Denny and the anglers of the 38 Special took an early lead on mako release points with a total of 3 fought throughout the day, while the reels on the Saltlick were cranking all day with a total of 9 released sharks including two smaller makos. While they did manage to boat a possible contending blue shark, it ultimately would not make qualifying weight which left them itching to get back out on the water the following day.
Day Two was the big day when all 47 boats broke the inlet for the fishing grounds. Once again the fleet found the fishy water and within 18 minutes of lines in Garrett Foster on the Jiggle had the first hook up of the day — and after that it was game on. We saw plenty of releases throughout the day. Saltlick was busy once again with 9 releases including a mako,  but Warden Pass took the lead with 10 releases, 5 of which were makos. Francesca Rose, Castaway, and Saltick all came to the scales in hopes to make it to the scoreboard, but unfortunately none would meet the tournament minimums, leaving the board wide open for the final day of the tournament. While the crowds continued to wait anxiously for another day at the weigh stations, the nightly dockside atmosphere was filled with fish stories from the action packed day on the water.
With 6 boats fished out, it left 41 teams to make some magic happen on the scoreboard. Saturday’s forecast turned out to be the windiest of the 3 available fish days, which added to the anticipation at the weigh station. While the conditions were sporty, the remaining fleet found more makos than the prior days. Yet, it was the appearance of the Relentless crew to the weigh station that made the impact to the scoreboard. Halfway into afternoon of weigh-ins their 435 pound thresher set the bar for the heaviest shark across the board. While the
majority of the boats reported hook ups and releases, the tournament concluded with the Relentless as the payout
winner of the tournament.
As the event turned out to be busy with over 100 releases, the points categories were all filled. 3rd Most Points
Mako went to Rob Kurian and his crew on the Saltlick with 800 points total. 2nd Most Points Mako, which was
a tie broken by time, was awarded to Kyle Denny and the team of the 38 Special with 800 points. Most Points
Mako was taken by Val Fichera of the Warden Pass as he and his crew accumulated 1000 release point in total.
The big winners of the night went to Frank Gripp, Captain Joe Cunningham, and the team of the Relentless as
they cleaned out the purses in the Overall, Daily Double, and Under 35’ Calcuttas for heaviest shark with a total
payout of $88,642!

Sharkers can move on this weekend to the June 14-15 B Cityrett T. Baily Mako Rodeo out of Hoffman’s Marina in Brielle. For info contact Art Della Salla at 212 945-8704.

Inshore anglers will be fishing the 25th annual JCAA Fluke Toutnament out of ports Jersey to Cape May on Saturday, For entry info visit jcaa.org. I’ll have more about this and other tournaments tomorrow.

I doubt if many boats fished today, but there was some shore fishing. I was never around anyone fighting a small striper in Shark River this morning, but Tommy Cox had one plus a 5-pound blue plugging before I arrived, and Vinny D’Anton caught four on a popper.

Though most of the surf stripers hitting sand fleas have been in the 20-22-inch class so far. Maran Toleno pulled hooks on bass over keeper size both Sunday morning and evening at a Monmouth County beach.

Fog made it tough for tuna trollers

Yesterday was a pretty day inshore, but tuna trollers were frustrated by the lack of visibility for spotting birds, dolphins and whales that could lead them to bluefin tuna.

Bob Correll sailed with Mike Heaney on his Sea Vee from Clarks Landing in Point Pleasant, and the crew headed to Little Italy where we quickly boated a 48-incher last Sunday. The tuna didn’t seem to be there. and they ended up at Monster Ledge, where little tunny provided some action, An unusual catch was made on a chain of feathers. Bob said it was about an 18-incher shaped like a tropical mackerel — but wasn’t a Spanish. From his description, I suspect it was an early-arriving king mackerel which lacks any spots such as on the Spanish and cero. Kings have become occasional visitors off the Jersey Shore in the summer, but almost all in smaller sizes caught hooked by school tuna trollers.

Lots of tournaments are coming up, and I’ll try to get that info together tomorrow.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported looking everywhere for the jumbo blues which have been up-and-down this week. Some up to 12 pounds were jigged today, but the volume wasn’t there. The Big Mohawk from that port did well with sea bass today before adding ling and even some whiting. They’re keeping an eye on Monday’s weather, so check with them before coming down. The marine forecast is for southeast winds of 15-20 knots with gusts to 25.

Capt. Rob Semkewyz continues to pick away at fluke with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands — but is encouraged by rising water temps and increasing bait.

Tank Matraxia and his Lyndhurst crew did well jigging sea bass last week on Tagged Fish from Highlands, but they were surprised to find an empty hook rigged above the jig and found that over half of the sea bass hit that empty hook.

Sand flea (mole crab) fishing is producing summer school stripers in many surf areas. Most of the bass are small, but it’s a good way to catch stripers for those who aren’t proficient with lures — and keepers aren’t unusual. Here’s Jim Louro’s daughter Sophia with a typical sand flea bass released this morning.

Sophia Louro.jpg

Clark Harris tagged the biggest bass in the Manhattan Cup

Former Rutgers star tight end Clark Harris, who went on to an NFL career and is presently the long snapper for the Cincinnati Bengals, ran away with big striper honors at Friday’s Manhattan Cup out of Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City.

Harris Cup winner

Harris was fishing with his half-brother, Jim Hutchinson of the Fisherman magazine, aboard Jersey Devil when two big bass hit live bunkers down the beach. They were quickly measured, tagged and released. Clark’s bass was the largest at 48 inches and gained all the glory while Jim’s didn’t earn any awards despite being by far the second largest of the contest.

Wounded veteran Elfain Diaz was supposed to fish with a boat that broke down on the way to Jersey City, and was welcomed aboard My Three Sons from Morgan Marina by Joe Massa to fish along with Guy Talarico and me. That turned out well for him even though we had a tough bite in the back of the bay. Diaz released a 34-inch striper that was the largest by a vet, and earned the new Chris Raguso Memorial award in honor of that hero who died in the course of saving others. Talarico caught the only other eligible fish in the boat, and his blue of about 7 pounds won a private boat award. I lost a big blue that bit through the 40-pound leader.

I haven’t received the full list of winners yet, and will fill in when they become available. The most interesting catches weren’t involved in the contest as Manhattan Cup founder Capt. Frank Crescitelli found a school of big black drum in the bay. One over 50 pounds was released on a bucktail, and another on a fly!

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had to make a very long run today, but located a school of jumbo blues up to 15 pounds on jigs.

The first good party boat fluke report came in from Capt. Stan Zagleski of Elaine B II from Bahrs in Highlands. He reported more keepers today including a few limits — and also more shorts. As has been the case lately, many fluke are spotting up small porgies. The pool went to Mike Scher of Long Branch with a 5-pounder.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall fished his local beach yesterday with sand fleas to release bigger stripers of 28 and 26 inches. However, it was back to smaller bass this morning as Vinny picked a 21-incher and I released a 22 1/2-incher — though we had a few other hits.


Manhattan Cup was a winner

Not everyone caught blues or stripers, but all involved had a great time fishing in today’s Manhattan Cup held out of Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City. Capt. Brian Rice of Jersey Devil made the best move of all by running down the beach with live bunkers to hook a doubleheader of the two biggest stripers in the contest where all fish are measured and released. Jim Hutchinson of the Fisherman magazine boated one of about 39 pounds, but his stepbrother, Clark Harris, took the Manhattan Cup trophy with a 43-pounder.

I’ll have more about this tomorrow.

Canyon Runner has best day in 37 years

Saying the latest trip on the Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant was the best in 37 years may be hard to believe, but a long trip in the Ritchie 60 to an area where yellowfins had been reported produced a released 90-inch giant tuna, seven bigeyes from 90 to 130 pounds, 30 yellowfins, and 30 smaller bluefins . Most of the smaller tunas were released by Capt. Deane Lambros and the KieronTraynor party.  I’ve been having a tough time writing on Word Press tonight, and am making this short in hopes of getting something out. The Shore bluefish fleet hasn’t been able to find the jumbo blues since Tuesday, but are catching sea bass. I’m fishing the Manhattan Cup on Friday, son the blog will be late — if I can overcome this problem.








South Jersey Shark Tournament Underway

The 39th annual South Jersey Shark Tournament out of South Jersey Marina in Cape May gets the shark tournament season going for big money contests. It runs through June 8, with boaters fishing two out of three days.

At Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina, Bob Matthews reports tuna, sea bass and striped bass are the best bets. He’s weighed stripers up to 42 pounds recently, with early morning bunker spoon trolling providing a  pick of trophy bass.

There was some improvement in the river fluking as a rental boat returned yesterday with eight keeper fluke. More normally they catch two to four keepers with three times as many shorts.  Small stripers are being caught in the surf at night, and bluefish during the day.

Nick Honachefsky of Saltwater Underground joined Chris Driscoll, Christian Palmisano and Brian Keating as they ran 30 miles offshore on Fortunate Son to troll two 45-inch bluefin tuna yesterday on Chatter black and purple side trackers among dolphins and a whale.

There was no word as of 5 p.m. from the Golden  Eagle and Miss Belmar Princess as to whether they were able to find the jumbo blues encountered yesterday.

I cast a jig in Point Pleasant Canal with ideal conditions on the outgoing tide after daylight, but never had a bump. Jerry Lasko said he missed a few hits in another area of the canal before daylight, while Maren Toleno caught a small striper on a Bomber.

Thursday’s forecast is for southwest winds at 10-15 knots with gusts to 20 before diminishing to 5-10 in the afternoon. There may be some morning showers.