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Manhattan Cup coming up in J.C. on June 7

The Manhattan Cup, presented by Yamaha Outboards,  is returning to its new base at Liberty Landing Marina and Restaurant in Jersey City on June 7.  Entrants can fish in their own boats or with some of the best charter skippers in the Metropolitan area. Combat vets, many of whom are disabled, will join in  enjoying a day of striped bass and bluefish fishing in fly, artificial lure and bait divisions while being treated to a big breakfast, a gourmet lunch box, and then oysters on the half shell before a great dinner. The awards dinner also features a massive auction to benefit the vets and fishery conservation. I’ll have more about the Manhattan Cup in future blogs, but don’t hesitate to sign up for it now by calling Capt. Frank Crescitelli at 917 468-4867 or Gary Caputi at 732 740-9982.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc said the ocean was too rough for comfortable fishing, so he fished his Sea Hunter in the bay where there was good action with short stripers plus a few keepers The forecast for Saturday may present an opportunity to get back in the ocean, but it doesn’t look good for Sunday and Monday.

Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen also got into lots of shorts plus a few keepers up to 15 pounds in the bay,

Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina, said big blues up to 16 pounds have moved into all of the local rivers and inlets. Quite a few fluke are being caught by anglers fishing for other species, and Bob asks anglers to carefully release them before the season opens on May 24. Blowfish are a good bottom fishing target now. Everyone is getting ready for the May 15 sea bass opener, and some party boats are booking special extended hours trips for that day.

The Jamaica from Brielle will be sailing Saturday for blues and stripers at 7:30 a.m. — and then daily until the sea bass opener.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports excellent fishing for big blues in Barnegat Bay, but only a few small blues seem to be in the surf along with some stripers that are mostly on cut bunker

Mother’s Day is usually the starting point of bluefishing in the surf. Hopefully there will be some anglers trying it this weekend.

Saturday’s forecast is for northwest winds of only 10-15 knots. However, Sunday is a different story with east winds of 15-20 knots plus gusts to 25 — and likely rain.



Bluefin tuna regs better for anglers

It will be a bit easier to justify a trip offshore for school bluefin tuna this summer as NMFS has eased catch restrictions on school bluefin tuna.

Private boaters permitted in the Angling category will be allowed two schoolies from 27 to less than 47 inches plus one large school/small medium from 47 to less than 73 inches. Charter boats in their category get three schoolies plus the one larger bluefin. Head boats finally get a break with six schoolies and two larger.

Party boats had somewhat better luck with Raritan Bay stripers today. At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc found the weather forecast to be off as it was a lot rougher than expected in the ocean. After a couple of bass were caught, he ran the Sea Hunter back into the bay and didn’t do much jigging before anchoring and getting into a decent bite of shorts with a few keepers mixed in.

Capt. Ron Santee had only bailed out the last two days on his Fishermen by staying for the change of the tide — and warned his customers to be patient, Yet, it was just the opposite as they found bass on top and did best with jigs with tails. The late bite never developed.

Scott Leadbeater has been running his Aquasport out of that port to troll bass consistently  during short morning and evening trips with mo-jos at such nearby areas as Chapel Hill Channel. Most are in the teens plus a few over 20 pounds.

Capt. Hans Kaspersetz has stuck with the old favorite stretch plugs to troll bass during morning trips with his Sheri Berri from Twin Lights Marina in Highlands. He recently  released one that buried his 50-pound scale.

Capt. Vinny Vetere continues to do well in Raritan Bay with his Katfish Charters from Great Kills. The boat’s biggest bass so far was a 44.3-pounder boated Monday. Bunkers were hard to net on Tuesday, but the effort involved produced a great catch on both chunks and live baits.

Miss Belmar Princess took a shot to the north, but didn’t find bass where they had been among bait readings in the channels. A move into Raritan Bay put them into bunkers and whales, but no bass.

After not seeing anything doing at dawn in the inlet or river, I cast in Point Pleasant Canal. It was very slow, but I finally caught a blue of about 5 pounds on a white Z  Man paddletail. Only two other similar blues were caught by other anglers.

Fishermen casting on the Manasquan side of the inlet picked a few smaller blues in the afternoon.

A small craft warning is up through late Friday night. The morning forecast is for south winds at 15-20 knots with gusts to 25 — and a chance of showers.









Get your Dream Boat bluefish entries in before the spring run is over

The Fisherman magazine’s Dream Boat 2019 Fishing Challenge started on May 1, and continues to Nov. 30. Subscribers to that weekly  can compete for many prizes up to a Steiger Craft 23 Miami boat with an Evinrude E-Tec 250 hp outboard that’s completely rigged. The eligible species are bluefish, weakfish, fluke, sea bass, scup, sea bass, blackfish, dolphin and even sea robins. Merchandise awards for the largest of each species make it worthwhile to get on the board, and now is the time to do it in the case of bluefish. The minimum weight is 15 pounds, and blues that size were unheard of last year after the erly spring run until a few showed up in the fall. You may not have a better chance to take the lead than right now. See the latest Fisherman for details.

After getting into the best popper fishing for big fish that I’ve ever had in Point Pleasant Canal yesterday morning, there wasn’t a bluefish to be had there this morning. It wasn’t surprising that the big blues didn’t show, but there weren;t even the small blues which had been providing some daily action. Yesterday’s bite wasn’t really a blitz as there were no birds diving or bait being pushed out of the water.  The big blues were just there, and we never would have known it if poppers and swimmers weren’t used.

The only report from Raritan Bay as of 5:45 was from Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter at Atlantic Highlands. After two days of struggling with fussy stripers that were almost impossible to hook, Rob said it was better today. The pool winner was 23 pounds.

Miss Belmar Princess reported getting into a couple of good shots of big the morning.  If the Manasquan Inlet blues don’t show tomorrow, they’ll head north to seek stripers.

The forecast for Thursday is east winds at 10-15 knots with gusts to 20.

There was a general lack of shore action in the Point Pleasant area today as big blues seemed to take the day off. An angler at the inlet said there was a showing at 5:30 a.m.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported a weigh-in of a 30-inch, 10.85-pound striper on cut bunker in the IBSP surf by Tom Teall. Some blues are also being weighed.

Betty & Nick;s reported small blues are hitting bait in the surf, though the big ones are in the bay. Jim Freda May bass Capt. Jim Freda of Shore Catch Charters at Manasquan sent this shot of a bass that Mitch Wolcheck caught on a Tsunami bunker-colored shad in Raritan Bay.

Bluefish bite continues

Bluefish continue to build up in bays and rivers. Though I never got into them while moving around during the day, I was already satisfied after walking into the best surface plugging I’ve ever seen in Point Pleasant Canal. It started out with spme blues in the 6-pound class which were twice as big as the previous blues. Then the 8-10-pounders took over.  Jerry Lasko released a couple that had to be 12 pounds. There were blues raised on almost every cast for awhile, and the bite even continued into slack and the first of the incoming. Some anglers left before then because they were too tired to continue.  The old Gibbs pencial popper with no paint left on it that hadn’t raised a fish the previous day in Manasquan River proved its worth this morning, but all sorts of poppers and swimmers proved effective.

Checking the inlet later on I saw a strange sight — Miss Belmar Princess going out of Manasquan Inlet along with the Jamaica from Brielle as they had apparently gone well upriver with the blues.

Jim Louro got into lots of blues casting in the iinlet early. Tommy Cox boated one that weighed 17 pounds on the Boga Grip.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter said he had a second day of struggling with stripers that didn’t want to hit — though they caught a few and lost a few. Capt. Ron Santee had a similar slow morning, but waited out the change of tide with his Fishermen and ended up with a late hot bite in deeper waters where jigs did the job. Several fares caught multiple bass.

Tank Matraxia and his crew fron Lyndhurst went on a catch-and-release fluke trip to Jamaica Bay with Capt. Anthony on the Hard Bottom from Sewaren. They had a decent pick of fluke up to a 20-inch and a 23 which were tagged by Tank. Though the N,Y. season is open, those fluke could not be brought back to N.J. where the season opens on May 24 and runs to Sept. 21 with three fish at 18 inches minimum. Tank was proud of his two sea robins — a species I was shut out on last year. There was also an 11-pound skate boated. A try for stripers back in Raritan Bay was no good.

A couple of anglers who made the long walk to the tip of Sandy Hook this morning, after hearing about a Monday evening blitz of big blues there, ended up just missing the early morning bite.\

.Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported more catches of big blues in the bay and from local docks on bunker chunks and poppers.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar is out of dry dock and starts striper fishing at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday.

The weather forecast for Tuesday is a mere northeast at 10 knots — going to east in the afternoon, –

Big bluefish invade

Big bluefish finally spread out today with reports from Barnegat Bay to Raritan Bay.

There had been a blitz of blues in the rain yesterday afternoon in Manasquan Inlet, and Nick Honachefsky said  they were there from mid-morning on as the Jamaica from Brielle returned from a trip that produced some keeper stripers to get into lots of jigging blues up to 12 pounds. Nick said he got arm weary catching blues  on metal jigs with tails fished with a slow retrieve.

I fished the Manasquan from shore late in the morning when there was a pick going on. I couldn’t raise a fish to my favorite lure, a big pencil popper, but a last minute switch to a 7-inch swimmer produced a 10-pound blue on the third cast. I had fished Point Pleasant Canal in the morning to catch a small blue and a larger striper on a Z Man paddletail, but was high hook with that little action.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported more anglers getting into big blues on both poppers and cut bunker in the bay and from local docks.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano reported that Jimmy Herrick got into big blues in Raritan Bay — where they never showed at all last spring. He first clobbered stripers by trolling mo-jos, but that bite was over by 7:30. Those arriving later had to struggle for bass.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter at Atlantic Highlands said it was a struggle as he marked bass and they even followed shads to the boat but wouldn’t hit.

Tom Fote of the JCAA had a charter with Capt. Fletcher Chayes on Two Rivers Charters from Highlands. His party managed four keepers on live bunkers and shads.

The hard northeast wind forecasted blew through very early the morning and left anglers with a nice day. Tuesday’s forecast is for south winds of just 5-10 knots early, but increasing to 10-15 with gusts to 20 in the afternoon.

Capt. Tommy Joseph retires

Capt. Tommy Joseph, one of the Shore’s finest bottom fishing skippers, appears to have beaten lung cancer, but the operation took too much out of him and he’s decided to end his chartering career. That’s hardly surprising at 85 in any case, but in Tommy’s case he has been such a dynamo that it seemed he’d never take a break. The lung cancer was a surprise to a non-smoker, but it was small and his prognosis is good.

I first met Tommy many years ago on a trip aboard the Skipper from Belmar when Capt. Dom Vitolo told me to fish next to that customer as he was the best blackfisherman aboard. Tommy certainly was, and he outfished everyone for years before starting to run small boat charters. He soon developed a loyal trade on whichever boat he was running, starting with the Rightaway, and his regular customers included ex-heavyweight champ Larry Holmes.

I got tired just watching Tommy operate as he arrived early to cut bait and rig rods while working at high speed all day taking fish off hooks and clearing tangles before returning to fillet big catches — all without a mate. Tommy set a standard for expertise and service that will be hard to match.

There were no reports from today’s miserable weather, but Capt. Jim Freda of Shore Catch Charters at Manasquan stopped by my garage sale and showed me video of the great striper action Saturday in Raritan Bay on shads and mo-jos. It’s an expensive 70-mile trip to Raritan Bay, but worth it as his charters catch plenty of big bass. Hopefully we’ll see the migratory bass from the south heading along the beaches very shortly.

Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar reports the Asbury Park Fishing Club won the weekend Spring Lake Live Liners Tournament paced by Chris Buchta with a 21 5/16-pound striper. Bass are biting in the river and bays — and bluefish are building up in Shark River.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports big blues were caught on poppers and bunker chunks at local docks Saturday.

The Jamaica from Brielle will be sailing for stripers and blues on Monday at 7:30.

There’s a small craft advisory up through Monday afternoon. Northeast winds of 15-20 knots with gusts to 25 are forecast early, but they go east and drop off in the afternoon.

Plenty left at my garage sale for Sunday

There was a good turnout this morning at my fishing tackle garage sale, and it was great to meet many blog followers. There’s plenty of everything still available for Sunday, when the hours will be from 8 to 11:30. The rain won’t be a problem as it will be a real garage sale — inside the garage. The address is 1552 Osprey Ct., Manasquan Park, NJ 08736. Call 732 757-5531 for info,

There was good news un the Raritan Bay stripers. At Atlantic Highlands,  Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen reported a complete turnaround from Friday’s poor trip. Bunkers were up, but there were no bass in them until Santee found the right spot in the fog. After that there was a hot bite of large bass, followed by a lull and then another shot later. Capt. Rob Semkewyc had a similar report as there was  a boat limit on the Sea Hunter plus many releases.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports bass are being caught on bunker chunks in the surf, while blues are hitting the same bait off local docks and in the bay.

I tried casting in the afternoon at Point Pleasant Canal without a touch, but an angler there said he released a fluke of about 22 inches earlier on a paddletail. I’ve also heard of other fluke caught recently in the canal in that fashion. That angler also got good news from a passing boater who said he had a hot bite of big blues off the Mantoloking Bridge.

Rain is forecast to move in after midnight, and the morning wind will be northeast at 12-15 knots before increasing to 15-20in the afternoon with rain.

See you at my garage fishing tackle sale tomorrow

My garage sale is on Saturday from 8-2 and Sunday from 8-noon — rain or shine.  The address is 1552 Osprey Ct., Manasquan Park, NJ 08736. Call 732 757-5531 for information.


There are lots of rods of all kinds, including giant tuna models as low as $25 — plus tables of lures, lines and accessories. A display of Stan Gibbs original wood lures is available, as are rare Mitchell lever drag big game reels. There are videos on many subjects, and my books as well as others. Old fishing magazines and catalogs are free with any purchase.

Striped bass fishing in Raritan Bay was a bit tougher today. At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc said shorts were hungry, but they only had one keeper on his Sea Hunter by 10 a.m. They did get a shot of action later that included a few keepers as well as two black drum in the 60-80-pound class. They are fishing tomorrow, but will be taking Sunday off due to the weather.

Capt. Vinnie Vetere trolled bass in the back of the bay on Ho-Jos from his Katfish out of Great Kills. It wasn’t up to yesterday’s bite when there were schools of bunkers up and bass chasing them.

Hooked on the Hudson is on for Saturday at Ross Dock in Palisades Interstate Park from 9-3. This is the 34th edition of that event sponsored by the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association. There’s a free fishing contest from 9-1:30, and both loaner tackle and bait are included at no charge. There’s also a kid’s casting contest in the morning. For info call Peter Musse at 201 233-3119.

The Jamaica from Brielle will be sailing for stripers and blues Saturday and Sunday at 7:30.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant has an open striped bass trip for $100 on Sunday which is restricted to 15 fares. They’ll be doing the open bottom trips for $80 on Monday, Tuesday and Friday at 7 a.m. Call 732 370-8019.

Capt. Stan Zagleski is sailing for striped bass out of Bahrs in Highlands with his Elaine B II until the fluke and sea bass seasons open.

The New York season for scup opened this week, and their fluking begins Saturday.

Nick Honachefsky reported the first jumbo bluefish I’ve heard of so far — a 14-pounder he caught casting an Ava 17 in Manasquan River yesterday — and added a 25-inch striper on an SP Minnow.

I only took a few casts from shore in the river this morning because of the raw east wind blowing in my face. A move to Point Pleasant Canal put the wind at my back and I managed to release two 3-pound blues while missing a few other hits on a white Z Man paddletail. There were a few other similar blues picked  while I was there.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park weighed a 40-inch, 22.9-pound striper caught Thursday evening in IBSP by 9-Jason Saltes and his son Jarrett on cut bunker.

The forecast for Saturday is north winds at 5 knots early, switching to the southeast in the afternoon with possible showers and fog.

Blues spreading out slowly

I no sooner did I post last night’s blog than an e-mail came in from Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina noting that bluefish have finally arrived in Shark River. It’s only a start, as Shark River regular Bill Hoblitzell was fishing this morning in Point Pleasant Canal. I had a black & blue day there as four blues in the 3-pound class were released after hitting a Z Man white paddletail before I added four short tog releases on a few old sandworms. Bill caught the only other blue I saw, but a couple were lost by other anglers.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter reported good fishing for short stripers plus keepers up to 11 a.m. After that it was a tough pick on many stops. Capt. Ron Santee went to the same spots that produced a very good catch yesterday on his Fishermen, but good readings of bait and bass didn’t produce many hits.

With blackfish closed, the Ocean Explorer will sail in the morning from Belmar for ling. The forecast is for  east winds at 10-15 knots droping to 5-10 in the afternoon. There’s a chance of showers.


Al’s Fishing Tackle Garage Sale this weekend

Decades of fishing tackle, both new and used, will be coming out of my garage this weekend just in time for the best fishing of the year. There’s both fresh-and-salt-water gear ranging up to big game — including 130-pound giant tuna rods  as low as $25, and Mitchell lever drag reels in their wooden boxes. There are also many accessories such as a fish cleaning station, tackle boxes and bags, rod holders, coolers, Mikie’s Bait Catchers, and Chatillon hanging scales. I also have hundreds of classic fishing magazines and tackle catalogs that are free with any purchase. My latest book on surf fishing will be available along with other outdoors books.

The location is 1552 Osprey Ct., Manasquan Park, NJ 08736 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to noon Sunday. Call 732 757-5531 for information.

The inshore bluefish run has been very slow to develop. As noted in last night’s blog, Jim Louro and I had a few minutes of action with small blues at the start of the incoming in Manasquan River that afternoon from his Vicki Lynn out of Manasquan — but didn’t find any sign of them upriver.  This morning I fished in Point Pleasant Canal with lots of company, but there was only a pick of small blues with no flurries. It seemed strange that blues that size would be so scattered.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports some blues of assorted sizes being caught on both bait and poppers in Barnegat Bay, but it’s just a start.

The N.J. blackfish season is closed, but that didn’t stop them from hitting sandworms from Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant when I cast a few in the canal this morning. Four up to 14 1/2 inches were quickly released.

Capt. Chris DiStefano fished in Raritan Bay yesterday morning with Jimmy Herrick as they trolled stripers mostly in the high teens steadily on mo-jos along with a big fleet at the mouth of the bay.

The Jamaica from Brielle will be sailing for tilefish at 10 p.m. Friday — returning at 4 a.m. Sunday. Reservations for that trip can be made by calling 732 528-5014. The Jamaica will be starting the sea bass season on May 15 with a 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. trip that costs $80. Call for reservations.

I’ll get caught up on all the reports tomorrow. The forecast looks good with northwest winds at 5 knots early before an afternoon change to  east at 10-15 with gusts to 20 knots. There’s a chance of fog and light rain.