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Capt. Jim Freda outfishes WMO fleet for yellowfins — and does it in local waters

There were 319 of the finest fishing yachts along the east coast fishing during yesterday’s White Marlin Open at Ocean City, Md., but I only counted five tuna weighed in. At the same time, Capt. Jim Freda of Shore Catch Charters put a party from the Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County into 11 yellowfin tuna from 25 to 55 pounds while fishing the 30 line south of Chicken Canyon and looking for life — whales, dolphins and birds as everything is feeding on sand eels. The 55-pounder  being held by mate Jimmy Freda in the photo, would have been fourth in tuna at the WMO

 

Jimmy Freda yellowfin

As noted in last night’s late blog, there was one “see if you can beat that” fish weighed at the WMO. The 881-pound blue marlin weighed by Joe Rahman on Auspicious was the sixth largest in the 45-year history of the event.  That blue will be hard to dislodge from a potential; $700.000 payoff.

WMO blue marlin

Other than that there wasn’t much action on the first day despite good conditions.  The three white marlin brought in were all of legal length, but failed to make the WMO minimum weight of 70 pounds.  There were a few dolphin, with a 36-pounder by Doxie Boys taking over first from Halycon’s 30-pounder.  David Rose’s Dialed-In from Spring Lake took over second in tuna at 69 pounds behind the 71-pounder by Rhonda’s Osprey. Makai is third at 61 pounds. Those tuna entries aren’t likely to stand. There are 150 boats fishing today, and I’ll have the results in a late blog.

The Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant reports there’s been a great night chunking bite for yellowfins in local canyons. They have last minute openings for charters or open boat seats on the weekend. Call Adam La Rosa at 732 272-4445.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc was disappointed in fluking from his Sea Hunter as only a few keepers were caught. Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen noted that while there was good fishing yesterday with no current, it was slower today with a good drift. However, one angler had a 8 5/16-pound pool winner plus a 5 1/4-pounder. Sea bass saved the day for some fares.

At Castaways Tackle in Point Peasant, Joe Melillo had word of a hot bite of fluke over 20 inches yesterday on Sea Girt Reef.  He has green crabs in stock for blackfish in Point Peasant Canal.

Shark River was dead for both Vinny D’Anton and me this morning, and the Belmar surf was no better.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported continued good fluking in the surf’. Shane Carney brought in this 25.5-inch, 6.35-pounder. Shane Carney

Auspicious off to a great start in WMO with 881-lb blue marlin

Nothing is set in stone at fishing tournaments until the final whistle blows, but Joe Rahman’s Auspicious from Palm Beach is going to be hard to beat in blue marlin at the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Md. after bringing in an 881-pounder to take the lead for $900,000.

There were relatively few landings on the first day, with only five tuna coming to the scales. A 71-pounder on Brass Monkey leads for $960,000, but that’s not likely to last. David Rose’s Dialed-in from Spring Lake, N.J. is second with a 69-pounder. Makai had a 61-pounder for third followed by Rhonda’s Osprey at 54.5 pounds, and Uno Mas at 52.5 pounds.

Halycon was leading in dolphin with a 30-pounder before Doxie Boys arrived near the last minute with a 36-pounder. Two white marlin that made the tournament minimum length were weighed, but both were short of the tournament minimum weight of 70 pounds.

A once in a lifetime catch — again!

Just last week I wrote a blog noting the lack of southern species showing up to the north so far this season, but I’ll have to take that opinion back after fishing Sunday morning with Chuck Many of Annandale on his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands.

We were drifting sandworms at the mouth of the Hudson River for school stripers and weakfish and trying to work through bait-stealing porgies when I hooked a fish that fought just like one of those species with short runs against a tight drag. Peering into waters somewhat discolored by recent heavy rains, as the fish came toward the surface I was shocked to see the black bars on a roundish body of a big sheepshead.

Many quickly got the net under a sheepshead that was 23 inches long and weighed 9 1/4 pounds on my Garcia Abu Combi scale before we released it after a few quick photos.

sheepshead

As mentioned in my blog last week, I had been shocked once before by a sheepshead in the north. That was on Sept. 7, 2013 off a rock pile in Raritan Bay while seeking weakfish with Joe Massa on his My Three Sons out of Morgan Marina. Not wanting to use up the last few sandworms, I switched my jig head to a Gulp Jerk Shad and hooked a 20-inch, 7-pound sheepshead.

Since I’d never heard of a sheepshead in Raritan Bay before (and haven’t since), I figured that was a once in a lifetime experience.  That sheepshead was also larger than any I’ve caught in Florida, but Sunday’s second “catch of a lifetime” made the earlier fish seem small.

It’s likely that sheepshead were more common in northern waters over a century ago when channel bass (red drum) were the primary inshore game fish up to the central N.J. Shore.  Though large sheepshead are caught with some regularity in South Jersey up to the south jetty of Barnegat Inlet, they’re unusual north of there.

Sheepshead normally fight like a giant porgy, with lots of head-shaking, but the latest did none of that. In fact they are a giant porgy, being  one of the largest members of the porgy family Sparidae. which is represented by many species in temperate and tropical waters worldwide.  In addition to the prominent black bars, the crab-crushing teeth are a sure identifier.

Porgies were a problem when we  first started drifting worms at 7 a.m. in Shrewsbury River for school stripers. Some bass in the 20-inch class beat the porgies to our worms, but the scup even hooked up on my circle hook. Some were large for the river, up to a 14 1/8-incher. Many castnetted a tank full of peanut bunkers. and we snagged a few adult bunkers before filling our appointment with the sheepshead.

Porgies were also a problem in the Hudson, though we managed some small stripers among them before coming in to pick up Alex and Susan Katyan for the afternoon tides. There was just a pick of very small stripers on both worms and peanuts before Many made a move. The East River was clearer than expected, and produced some small bass plus a couple over 28 inches by Alex. Many then moved to deeper waters in the Hudson where we used the few large bunkers that had been snagged in the morning plus a few more snagged on the spot. I released a 23-pound striper and another a bit smaller, while Susan lost two large fish after she had caught her first few small stripers on worms earlier in the trip. We ended up with 20 striper releases for the day along with many porgies, the sheepshead and the only small bluefish which Susan hooked.

Joe Greco from Ft. Myers, Fl.  (formerly of Edison) is up north for the summer, and joined relatives plus several old friends (including the famed Capt. Wood – Gene Graman) on a Sunday charter with Capt. Chad Hacker on Tagged Fish from Highlands. Greco  said they picked at sea bass for their two-fish limits while adding the one blackfish now allowed — and loading up with ling.

The White Marlin Open began today in Ocean City, Maryland. I’ll be adding a blog later with the first day weigh-ins.

At Brielle, the Big Jamaica reported another day with lots of chub mackerel Sunday plus some small blues and a few ling and sea bass. Paul Farrell of Howell won the pool with a reported 3-pound mackerel which would be huge for a chub.

The Jamaica II had a good week for fluke with lots of 4-to-6-pounders plus sea bass up to 4 3/4 pounds. Mike Collins of Toms River took the lad in the monthly contest with a 7 1/2-pound fluke.

There were good fluke reports today from Atlantic Highlands. The Fishermen finally saw more large fluke as the swell dropped down, and a 7.9-pounder took the pool. The Sea Hunter reported a pleasant surprise as most fares caught keepers, and one limited among lots of shorts. Midships Mike (below) took the pool at 6 1/4 pounds.

 

Midship Mike on S.H.It was the best of days and the worst of days during Saturday’s JCAA Fluke Tournament for James Gurski of Nazareth, Pa.  as he had the rare good fortune of boating a 12.40-pound fluke that was big enough to win the contest’s $50,000 grand prize for the largest fluke exceeding 12 pounds.  The only problem was that Gurski hadn’t paid the extra $25 to enter that portion of the tournament.  To top it off, he also wasn’t in the overall Calcutta. As a result, he only ended up with $4569 for the Sandy Hook port prize and the two Calcuttas there. The second largest fluke was an 11.79 doormat entry from Absecon Inlet that was caught by Matthew Cornman of Gloucester City to win the Southern Region, He was less than four ounces short of the $50,000 prize — but did win the overall Calcutta to bring his earnings up to $4,569. There was yet a third doormat, and Joe Spero of Lincroft was in both Jersey City Calcuttas to become the biggest winner at $8,638.

The complete results from Paul Haertel of the JCAA follow:

24th ANNUAL FLUKE TOURNAMENT
PORT PRIZE WINNERS

Come to the Awards Ceremony at The Clarion Hotel in Toms River
Thursday evening, August 9th, 2018
Come early to register (3 PM to 7 PM)
Awards Presentation and Drawings start at 7:00 PM

The 24th Annual JCAA Fluke Tournament took place on August 4th. The weather forecast of thunderstorms throughout the day along with big waves and heavy winds resulted in only 221 entries competing in 7 regions throughout our state. Though the weather was in fact bad in some areas during the morning, most areas had sun during the afternoon. The fishing turned out to be very good for many of our contestants.

There were three true doormats exceeding 10 lbs. weighed in during the tournament. The largest fluke weighed in was 12.40 lbs., 30” and was caught by James Gurski of Nazareth, Pa. He weighed it in at Gateway Marina in the Sandy Hook Region. James did not add the extra $25 to enter our doormat fluke category that would have won him $50,000 for catching the largest fluke exceeding 12 lbs. However, he and his team did win both Sandy Hook Region Calcuttas along with the 1st place region prize for a total of $4,569.

The second largest fluke in the tournament was caught by Matthew Cornman of Gloucester City. He did enter the doormat fluke category but his fish weighed 11.79 lbs., less than 4 ounces away from winning the $50,000 prize. Mathew caught his fish in Absecon Inlet and weighed it in at One Stop Bait and Tackle Store in Atlantic City. He only entered the $50 overall Calcutta but along with the 1st place region prize his winnings totaled $4569.

Joe Saro’s 10.59 lb. fluke was the third largest caught in the tournament. It was weighed in at Liberty Landing Marina. Joe was the biggest winner in this year’s tournament as he won the $100 overall Calcutta along with both Jersey City Region Calcuttas and the 1st place region prize for a total of $8,638.

Harvey Karp of Kearny, NJ had the smallest fish this year which won a region prize weighing in at 2.02 lbs. at Liberty Landing Marina in the Jersey City Region. Harvey was a previous overall winner in 2016 winning $13,319. All the winners from each region are listed below.

All told, JCAA will pay out a total of $31,852 in cash along with region prizes and door prizes worth thousands of dollars.

This annual tournament provides funds to help the Jersey Coast Anglers Association continue its fight for sound management of our fisheries and our marine environment while seeking to protect or enhance fishing opportunities for our recreational anglers. We are currently seeking more reasonable regulations for our recreational anglers.

The Clarion Hotel in Toms River is the host for the 24th Annual Jersey Coast Fluke Tournament Awards Ceremony. The Clarion Hotel invites tournament entrants to come and enjoy their facilities both before and after the awards ceremony. You can meet JCAA Executive Board members and representatives from our sponsors.

By attending the awards ceremony this is your chance to win the drawing for the boat, motor and trailer Grand Prize. In fact, 19 of the last 20 Grand Prize winners did not weigh in a qualifying prize fish in the tournament. Someone from your boat must be present to win the Grand Prize and any of the fifty or so great door prizes.

We want to thank all tournament participants and especially our sponsors for making the tournament a success. Our nationally known sponsors include Yamaha Motors, Starcraft Boats, Yacht Club Trailers, Tica Fishing Tackle, Fuel Ox, Costa Sunglasses, The Fisherman Magazine, and ICOM. The $1,200 First Place Port Prizes were sponsored by Fisherman’s Headquarters (for Long Beach Island), South Harbor Marina (for Barnegat Bay), and Liberty Landing Marina (for Jersey City) and the remaining ports by the JCAA. Jersey Coast Fluke Tournament T-shirts and hats will be on sale as long as supplies last.

The JCAA Fluke Tournament GRAND PRIZE Registration will be at the Clarion Hotel on Route 37W on Thursday evening, August 9th. Follow the signs to find the registration site. We will be in the Ballroom. Registration is between 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM. At least one person from your boat must attend at the time of the drawing in order to win a prize. We expect a large turnout so please come early. Please bring your registration affidavit to save yourself time at the registration desk. There will be free hamburgers, hot dogs, mozzarella sticks and soft drinks served from 5-7PM. A cash bar will be open throughout the event. All winning numbers will be announced in the ballroom. We will also be distributing the port prizes for those in attendance. The registration desk will issue one ticket which is good for both the Grand Prize and for the door prizes. Additionally, we will be holding a huge a 50-50 raffle. Last year’s winner took home just under $2000. We really appreciate both your participation and patience and are sure everyone will have a great time. Congratulations to all the winners and thank you for your support.

2018 Fluke Tournament Port Prize List
(10 Identical Prizes for Each Port)

1st – $1200
2nd – Costa sunglasses and accessories
3rd – Canyon 5000 spinning reel
4th – Icom M-36 portable vhf radio
5th – Tsunami 4000 Shield spinning reel and Sapphire rod
6th – Tica Taurus TP5000S spinning reel and 12’ surfcasting rod
7th – Fishermen Magazine basket including assorted items and a 1 year subscription
8th – Fuel Ox additive, t-shirts and a Tony Maja bunker spoon
9th – Fenwick rod, JCAA t-shirt and hat
10th – Two dinner tickets to the JCAA Sportsperson of the Year Banquet

Also, any of the 1st through 9th place prize winners may exchange their prizes for two tickets to the JCAA Sportsperson of the Year Banquet which will be held on 11/11/18 at the Crystal Point Yacht Club. Tickets cost $80 each.

HERE ARE THE WINNERS FOR 2018
* Denotes $50 Port Calcutta Winner
** Denotes $100 Port Calcutta Winner
$ Denotes $50 Overall Tournament Calcutta Winner
$$ Denotes $100 Overall Tournament Calcutta Winner
1. Jersey City Region
Name Hometown Entry # Weight Length
1st Saro, Joe *, ** $$ Lincroft, NJ 219 10.59 29.50
2nd Atlas, Marc Fairview, NJ 149 8.80 28.00
3rd Reily, William Morganville, NJ 216 5.65 25.50
4th Mastrangelo, Damon Cliffside Park, NJ 102 5.03 24.50
5th Semit, Dave Matawan, NJ 173 4.94 24.00
6th Cordano, Daniel Bayonne, NJ 133 4.60 23.00
7th Napolitano, Nick Fort Lee, NJ 206 3.79 22.00
8th Kinney, Jason Lebanon, NJ 222 3.39 21.25
9th Karp, Harvey Kearny, NJ 90 2.02 18.50
10th None
48.81 216.25
2. Sandy Hook Region
Name Hometown Entry # Weight Length
1st Gurski, James *, ** Nazareth, PA 125 12.40 30.00
2nd Evens, Allan Jr Union Beach, NJ 163 8.43 27.50
3rd Manzi, Vito Morganville, NJ 204 8.36 27.00
4th Kelly, Steve Jersey City, NJ 171 8.04 26.25
5th Drumm, Jerry Upper Darby, PA 108 7.59 26.25
6th Herbert, Rick Ringwood, NJ 199 6.67 25.50
7th Smith, James Clark, NJ 129 6.34 25.75
8th Jakubik, Todd Colts Neck, NJ 46 5.63 25.00
9th McCarthy, Patrick Sayreville, NJ 232 5.17 24.00
10th Natelli, Jack Monroe, NJ 187 4.65 23.00
73.28 260.25

3. Shark River Inlet Region
Name Hometown Entry # Weight Length
1st Dudinetz, Andy *, ** Brownsville, NJ 81 7.63 26.50
2nd Young, Billy Howell, NJ 230 7.57 27.50
3rd Schoch, Herman Paulsboro, NJ 83 7.57 25.75
4th Temple, Chuck Wrightstown, NJ 4 6.94 26.00
5th Ricca, Philip Westfield, NJ 217 6.37 24.50
6th Cronin, Pat Wall, NJ 96 5.83 24.00
7th Montgomery, Dylan Franklinville, NJ 233 5.64 24.50
8th Gurrieri, Joe Howell, NJ 211 5.42 24.50
9th Mizsak, George Hamilton, NJ 174 5.39 24.50
10th Goetz, John Cream Ridge, NJ 212 5.02 23.00
63.38 250.75

4. Manasquan River Region
Name Hometown Entry # Weight Length
1st Coutant, Joseph * Brick, NJ 106 8.02 27.00
2nd Aives, Doug ** Old Bridge, NJ 35 7.92 26.00
3rd Houlman, Rodger Keyport, NJ 52 6.52 25.50
4th Remishofski, John Wall, NJ 39 6.35 27.00
5th Cameron, Bob North Haledon, NJ 36 6.03 25.00
6th Haley John Kendall Park, NJ 191 5.91 25.00
7th McCleary, Jason Jackson, NJ 208 5.9 25.50
8th Pleszia, Anthony Linwood, NJ 205 5.56 25.00
9th Cuba, William Piscataway, NJ 31 5.08 24.50
10th Wolf, Doug Stanhope, NJ 182 4.86 25.00
62.15 253.00

5. Barnegat Bay Region
Name Hometown Entry # Weight Length
1st Chudzinski, John * Cherry Hill, NJ 122 7.40 26.00
2nd Majewski, Alex ** Barnegat, NJ 135 6.80 26.00
3rd Costanzo, George Barnegat, NJ 192 6.67 26.00
4th Bonilla, Peter Whiting, NJ 45 5.00 24.50
5th Caruso, Camille Forked River, NJ 158 4.96 23.50
6th Fay, John Forked River, NJ 88 4.78 24.00
7th Sorrentino, Matt Ship Bottom, NJ 198 4.59 23.50
8th Tice, Ed Beachwood, NJ 80 4.46 22.75
9th Engle, Tom Medford, NJ 162 4.38 22.75
10th Kostick, John Jr Lakewood, NJ 44 4.25 22.00
53.29 241.00

6. Long Beach Island Region
Name Hometown Entry # Weight Length
1st Cliver, Kevin *, ** Sellersville, NJ 82 8.64 27.00
2nd Phillips, Richard Southampton, NJ 95 4.90 23.13
3rd Paoalella ,Dean Springfield, NJ 200 4.34 22.50
4th McKinnon, John Jackson, NJ 84 4.13 22.38
5th Trembula, Tom Cookstown, NJ 40 3.81 21.38
6th Rust, Brian Cinnaminson, NJ 53 3.81 21.25
7th Czamik, Jason Philadelphia, PA 111 3.70 21.00
8th Klebossis, Bob Manahawkin, NJ 137 2.92 20.38
9th Hoover, John Moorestown, NJ 183 2.85 20.00
10th Dean, Tom Little Egg Harbor, NJ 121 2.36 19.88
41.46 218.88

7. Southern Region (GB, OC, AC, CM, Port)
Name Hometown Entry # Weight Length
1st Cornman, Matthew $ Gloucester City, NJ 226 11.78 30.00
2nd Trainor, Roy *, ** Wildwood, NJ 234 6.93 25.50
3rd Mosloskie, Tony Essington, PA 34 6.63 25.00
4th Schafer, Dan Del Haven, NJ 209 4.89 23.50
5th Fitzick, Tim Somers Point, NJ 33 4.08 23.50
6th DeChurch, Daniel Moorestown, NJ 103 3.62 21.00
7th Choynowski, Michael North Arlington, NJ 143 3.44 21.00
8th Spiro, John Browns Mills, NJ 148 3.29 20.75
9th Murray, Chris Northfield, NJ 71 3.23 20.50
10th Olswfski, Tony Florence, NJ 184 3.11 20.75
50.99 231.50

Total Weight/Length-Ft 423.66 151

 

White Marlin Open starts Monday with record $5.45 Million purse

The White Marlin Open at Ocean City, Md. gets underway Monday with 382 boats competing for a record purse of $5.45 million. I’ll have daily updates on the event, including an extra one at night after all weigh-ins are completed.

Sorry about the late blog, but I joined Chuck Many on a quest for NY-NJ stripers in 82 degree waters. It turned out to be a very interesting and very long trip which will be covered in the next blog.

There wasn’t much change in the few reports I’ve seen. The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands reported it’sbeen pretty much the same since Tuesday with plenty of action when conditions are good, but not everyone finds 18-inch keepers among the many fluke caught.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported Sunday’s bottom fishing wasn’t quite as good as Saturday’s, but they still caught lots of sea bass  along with some ling and a fat fluke. That boat is chartered on Monday.

Fluke were caught in spite of some rain

The forecast of showers and thunderstorms put a big dent in fishing participation today, and even caused postponement of the Fluke Masters Tournament to Sunday — but the fluke didn’t mind.  Sunday’s weather looks great if you can deal with 5 knot winds.

The JCAA Fluke Tournament came off as scheduled. I’ll post results when they become available.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer reported running through rain on the way out, but ended up fishing under good conditions for a pick of fluke and sea bass. The Big Mohawk had a similar report with very little rain and decent fluking. They’ll be sailing at 6:30 in the morning.

Golden Eagle sea bass

The Golden Eagle had another good day of sea bass action plus a fluke, a few ling and some chub mackerel.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Ron Santee fished in the ocean each of the last two days and had a decent mix of keeper and short fluke plus some sea bass on his Fishermen despite a large swell.

Capt. Stan Zagleski said fluking started off well Friday morning on his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands, but conditions went bad after a thunderstorm and then gusty south winds. Dave Brink of Middletown had two keepers up to the 5-pound pool-winning fluke.

Dave Brink - 5-lb-EBII

The Jamaica from Brielle reported continued good variety fishing on Friday as they had lots of chub mackerel, plus some small blues, ling, and two-fish sea bass limits. Tony Pugh Sr. of Vineland won the pool with a 4.25-pound sea bass. The next tilefish trip will depart at 10 p.m. Aug. 12. Call732 528-5014 for reservations.

The White Marlin Open gets underway in Ocean City, Md. on Aug. 6. More about that tomorrow.

After all that south wind, I could feel cold air coming off the Manasquan surf as I cast into relatively shallow waters without any results.

At Seaside Park, Betty & Nick’s reported the water temperature had dropped to 65 degrees.

Jerry Kramer — Hall-of- Famer & angler

It was good to see Jerry Kramer receive long-overdue accolades last night during the Hall of  Fame pre-season football game. I remember watching Kramer make a great block on the Cowboys’ Jethro Pugh to clear the way for  Bart Starr  to score on a quarterback sneak after three running plays had failed on the minus-18 degree sheet of ice in Green Bay as the Packers came from behind to win  the famed “Ice Bowl” 1967 NFL championship on their last chance with just seconds to go and no time outs left.  It was that game which cemented my interest in professional football.

Kramer was the anchor of those great Vince Lombardi  Packers teams, and he seems to have stood up well over the decades despite the beatings a guard has to take on every play.

It was many years later when I fished with Jerry in the Bahamas and teased a shark in the 150-pound class into a hit that provided him with a lengthy  battle on relatively light tackle.

That occurred during one of Bill Munro’s Mako Marine Outdoor Writers trips during which we’d run Makos from Palm Beach over to various cays in the Bahamas — invariably taking a beating either coming or going across the Gulf Stream in the center consoles.  Kramer joined us on a couple of those trips, and proved to be a friendly, unassuming partner who really enjoyed the sport.

There’s a photo of him during that battle with the shark in my Outdoorsman’s Edge Guide to Salt Water Fishing as I stand alongside with the tagging stick. Since no blue marlin were trolled during the trip, that shark release won Kramer the award for largest fish — a unique addition to what has to be a huge collection of football awards now topped by the Hall of Fame.

Though I didn’t get any notice about the Community Fire Company Fluke Masters Tournament out of Leonardo, there was a note from Ron McClelland on Facebook noting that the event has been postponed from Saturday to Sunday. The 7:30 p.m. captains meeting will go on this evening.

Ironically, the small craft warnings that have been up this week went down today. The south wind forecast for Saturday isn’t bad, and seas are only predicted to be 3 to 4 feet, though there is a likely chance of showers and thunderstorms — whereas Sunday looks to be perfect,

The statewide JCAA Fluke Tournament will go on as scheduled because there’s always protected places to fish for fluke.

The only party boat fluke report today came from the Big Mohawk out of Belmar. They had a good day with lots of action and many limits of fluke up to 7 pounds. They sailed at 6:30 a.m. and will do so until future notice.

Also at Belmar, the Golden Eagle had another good day with sea bass plus a few ling, a fluke and some chub mackerel.

Shark River shore casting was totally dead this morning as both Vinny D’Anton and I failed to get a hit despite good conditions. but no bait. He also checked the area beaches which were very shallow then — and somewhat cooler after all the south winds.

An angler who fished Point Pleasant Canal in the morning said there were schools of peanut bunkers going through, but nothing on them. He didn’t get a hit while flyrodding.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports fluking is still the best bet in the surf. Tyler Pierce brought in a 3-pound, 20.5-incher he caught on Gulp in Island Beach State Park,

Tyler Pierce

Waiting for the late summer variety

The usual surge of late summer visitors from the south hasn’t really started yet despite very warm waters,

There haven’t been any red drum reports so far, after some indications last year that those semi-tropical fish might be moving north with climate change as NMFS has been predicting.  I caught a puppy drum two days in a row from Point Peasant Canal last August, and wrote an article about several northern N.J. red drum catches which has been published in the August New Jersey-Delaware Bay edition of The Fisherman magazine.

Those who followed my columns and blogs in the Star-Ledger are aware of the fact red drum were not only present in N.J. waters a century ago — but were the primary inshore game fish of the central Jersey coast.

They were called channel bass in in those days. and almost all of them were over 20 pounds rather than the few small red drum we see today. The first two world records for the species came from the central Shore as anglers all over the country flocked to Barnegat Inlet to seek 40-pounders in late summer and early fall.

The minimum size for red drum in N.J. is only 18 inches, but there’s also a maximum set by the ASMFC at 27 inches. Thus, the 55-pounder caught in Great Bay in 1985 by Dan Yaniro (now owner of Captains Quarters Bait & Tackle on Long Beach Island) will stand until regulations may be changed in the future.

The first southern visitors I heard about were caught several weeks ago.  Raritan Bay pro Matt Calabria caught a small cobia there while fluking — just as I had done many years ago while weakfishing in the bay with Lou Grazioso. Then Maren Toleno caught a houndfish on a popper in Barnegat Bay, behind Island Beach State Park. Capt. Al Crudele of Bayhound from Sea Isle City  had a report on Facebook of several cobia in his area this week,

Southern species such as gray triggerfish and cownose rays have become regular summer visitors to northern shores, but sheepshead remain common only up to the south jetty of Barnegat Inlet — and unheard of in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

Paul Haertel of the JCAA  sends the following reminder:

JCAA Fluke Tournament 8/4 – Win 50 K – Last Call

The JCAA fluke tournament is this Saturday. You may register online until 11:59 PM on 8/3. You may also call the office and register on the phone during the day today or Friday. The recent marine forecast has improved as has the fluke fishing during the last week or so. This is our biggest fund raiser so we really need your support so that we can continue to work on behalf of our recreational fishermen.

Visit http://www.jcaa.org to register.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk took a rare day off, but the Ocean Explorer reports the weatherman was wrong as the ocean was calm and they picked away at fluke. The Golden Eagle continues to enjoy good action with sea bass along with some ling and fluke.

The Jamaica from Brielle had plenty of chub mackerel on its Tuesday and Wednesday trips along with some small blues plus sea bass and ling. John Sanecki (10) won a pool with a 4-pound sea bass.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands reports it was mostly short fluke today, but more keepers were taken than yesterday.

Joe Melillo reports from Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant that blackfish became legal again on Aug. 1, even though it’s only one at a 15-inch minimum. Green crabs are in stock, and one of the regulars had a 4-pound tautog to open the season in Point Pleasant Canal.

Shark River shore fishing was very slow the last two days. I managed only two small stripers on jigs Tuesday evening (down from four the previous evening) and just one this morning when Vinny D’Anton hooked a 23-inch striper on a 7 1/2-inch Sluggo.  Tommy Cox quickly plugged four blues on a white popper Tuesday afternoon, but never had another hit.

 

 

 

 

 

An August shore trifecta

Anglers don’t necessarily need a boat in order to enjoy New Jersey’s mid-summer variety. That was certainly the case for me this morning as I started casting from shore into Shark River, and then moved to the beach in Belmar,

Though there was little current in the river at first light, I managed to release three small stripers on a silver shad Z Man SwimmerZ. Then I tried casting a Chug Bug into an area where I hadn’t raised anything in a month, and started getting some surface action culminating in a blast by a 20-inch bluefish. Unfortunately, that was it for that spot, and I decided to give the surf a shot.

It was rough, but very fishable in an increasing SW wind. Nothing came up on the popper, but a bather told me she’d seen fins in the water. I switched to a Tsunami Shad, and it only took three casts before a cownose ray was headed offshore with my lure.  After a pitched battle for 10 minutes or so, I had the ray at the drop-off where it was able to prevent me from pulling it onto the sand until a larger wave provided  the opportunity to slide it in those last few feet. As a youngster volunteered to hold my rod, I was able to dislodge the lure and get the ray of about 40 pounds back in the water. Releasing heavy rays isn’t that easy once  they’re well above the wash as there’s no obvious gripping area. Yet, I’ve found that by potting a finger in each of the large eye sockets and pressing upwards against the solid head it’s easy to lift rays for release into deep enough surf.

Since I still had a jacket on from fishing at dawn, I worked up a sweat and decided that one ray was enough on a warm morning. I probably should have switched to fluke and added another species.

Stripers, a blue and a cownose ray all within a couple of hours and a few miles. Nice action for the shore-bound in a heavily-populated area during the dog days of summer.

Capt. Chris DiStefano  reported that there was a city at sea Saturday night in Hudson Canyon, and most of the boats there loaded up on yellowfin tuna chunking at night.  That should have set up a great trip without the mob scene for Sunday night on Frank Criscola’s Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club.  Instead. there was hardly any action in the fleet. They had to troll most of the next day to jump off a small white marlin and troll three yellowfins in order to break the ice — though it looked as if the bite was developing when they headed in at 4 p.m.  Di Stefano  heard from other skippers that one boat had a mako of about 700 to 800 pounds hanging alongside Sunday night.

Adam La Rosa reports the Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant had a great weekend. The Viking was into yellowfins during the Friday to Saturday overnighter for an open boat party, while the Kevin McDermott party was fishing on the Ritchie Howell. Those boats had over 40 yellowfins, with more than half of them on the chunk.

Fishing was slower the next few trips, but the bigeye trolling bite continued. Capt. Phil Dulanie found three bigeyes for the Tom Cirsicks party.  An open boat trip produced an 68-inch bluefin as well as a blue marlin. Most of the bigeyes have been hitting Canyon Runner Green Machine spreader bars.

The weather reports must have scared off many anglers as there were few reports today. The Golden Eagle from Belmar noted that the ocean was a bit nasty today, but that didn’t bother the sea bass at all as they even hit diamond jigs and Sabicki rigs. Some ling and keeper fluke were also caught.

Capt. Vinny Vetere got into lots of big stripers up to the forties this week trolling his Ho-Jo lures from Katfish out of Great Kills. He may be running open on Thursday.Katfish striper

JCAA Fluke Tournament coming up Saturday

The Jersey Coast Anglers Association (JCAA) 24th annual  Fluke Tournament will be contested statewide on Saturday. This is the ideal contest for the world’s worst fluke anglers as they have as good a chance as anyone to win the biggest prize. Even those who never weigh a fluke are eligible to win the grand prize at the awards party on Thursday Aug. 9 in the Clarion Hotel on Rt. 37 East, Toms River. They’ll be able to enjoy free sliders, hot dogs and sodas while waiting for the boat number to be called for many valuable prizes up to the grand prize of a 14-foot StarCraft with 10 hp Yamaha and Yacht Club trailer.  It seems that most years the boat ends up being won by someone who never entered a fluke.

If you do manage to catch a fluke, there are lots of rewards for doing so. The tournament is contested separately at  seven regions with 10 prizes at each ranging from $1,200 cash for first through nine merchandise awards.

The potential is much greater than that as an additional $25 added to the $160 per boat entry fee makes you eligible for $50,000 cash by catching the contest’s largest fluke exceeding 12 pounds.  Then there are both port and overall Calcuttas.  Ten-year-old Dylan Cole was the overall winner last year and collected $12,881.

The regions to choose from are Jersey City, Sandy Hook, Shark River, Manasquan River, Barnegat Bay, Long Beach Island — and the Southern Region covering the former ports of Great Bay, Ocean City, Atlantic City, Cape May and Fortescue.

Enter online by visiting http://www.jcaa.org with your credit card. The phone number is 732 506-6565.

Today was another beautiful one the water, and Capt. Ron Santee was pleased with the fluke results on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands.  He had a pick of quality fluke and short sea bass most of the day before ending up with a flurry as a few fares finished with two keepers. Vic Babin led from the morning with a 6.4-pound fluke, but for the second day in a row the pool went to a fluke caught in overtime — a 6.9-pounder. The biggest excitement of the day was the loss of a doormat estimated at 10 to 12 1/2 pounds that came up tangled in the line and rolled free as the nets were coming. The Fishermen is chartered Saturday.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc had a letdown on his Sea Hunter from that port after yesterday’s 11.88-pound doormat by Willie Meyer and a good pick of keepers. It was mostly shorts in the same areas today,

Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst had a good report for his crew as they fished with Capt. Greg Fabrizzi on Manic out of  Keyport. They fished the ocean in the Sea Bright area and had lots of action. Matraxia didn’t get to catch a doormat, but he weighed a 29-incher at 10 pounds on his Boga Grip though it was on the thin side. Steve Lurria had the hot hand as he bucktailed the doormat among five of keeper size. Marty Nowinski was delighted with his largest fluke so far — an 8-pounder. Tank said there weren’t a lot of fish, but the quality was good. He had a 21-inch fluke and a legal  sea bass, while placing ALS tags in 13 short fluke.

Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina that Bob Crisci from Philadelphia weighed a 6.4-pound fluke that he caught on the Ocean Explorer.  It’s been mostly short fluke in the river but snappers are building up and make great baits for big fluke.

Indeed, John Mazzeo of South Plainfield can testify to that after surfcasting yesterday at Sandy Hook. Allen Riley went home earlier and reported that they hadn’t caught any fluke on live snappers. Yet, Mazzeo stayed later and landed a 25-inch fluke which is his personal best from the surf.

There was some life in Shark River this morning — except on the end of my rod. I had one impressive blow-up  on a Chug Bug , but never raised another. Vinny D’Anton caught three small bass on a 7 1/2-inch Sluggo and a Zoom jig before releasing a 24-inch bass on a Chug Bug.  Frank Manzi waded in another direction and his one hit on a popper turned out to be the release of a striper that might have made 28 inches. Bill Hoblitzell got a shot of action on the fly with school bass and blues, but I didn’t break the ice until releasing a small bass on a Kettle Creek jig just before leaving.

There’s some south wind coming Wednesday afternoon, but the morning should be fishable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WMIT ended with few changes — Doormat on Sea Hunter

The 49th White Marlin Invitational ended Sunday evening at Beach Haven with the only big change being the weigh-ins of two respectable dolphin — 10.9 pounds on Marine Max and 12.9 pounds by Outer Limits.  The 22-boat fleet ended the tournament with mixed results as Hard Four led the way with three white marlin releases plus tuna of 59.5 and 102.5 pounds. Smokin Again, Business and Melina each had a white release, and Endless Drifter boated a 66-pound bigeye.

That brought the tournament total for 22 boats fishing two days each to 12 white marlin releases. 37 tuna weighed, four dolphin, and one blue marlin. Melina had the 356-pound blue, and was the winner on points over Hard Four, Jersey Nutz (with a Saturday catch of a white release plus bigeyes of 140.5, 115 and 111 pounds), Nora Angela, and Reel Determined. However, Jersey Nutz came out slightly ahead in Calcutta earnings with $22,308 to Melina’s $21,622.  Mary Joe (the MJ’s crew)  won their tuna specialty with Friday’s 156.2-pound bigeye and had $11,250 in Calcutta winnings. Nora Angela won $10,246, and Reel Determined earned $2,668.

The volume of bigeyes in the canyons continued to be impressive, though many weren’t much larger than yellowfins. The volume of white marlin was disappointing, though it wasn’t surprising that one large enough to weigh wasn’t brought in. So far, dolphin remain as scarce as they were in last year’s canyon tournaments, and no wahoo were encountered. There’s been no word so far on winners of the various prizes other than Calcuttas.

The first doormat fluke reported so far by the Raritan Bay fleet was boated today on the Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands by Willie Meyer.  Capt. Rob Semkewyc said it weighed 11.8 pounds,  and there were also some  4-to-6-pounders as the fishing was much improved.  A couple of fares had limits and there was lots of action,

Willie Meyer-11.88

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk reported solid fluking with a good number of 4-5-pounders and a pool fluke of about 9 pounds. They’ll be sailing no later than 6 a. m. tomorrow.

The Golden Eagle had hot sea bass fishing for a boat limit (two per man) plus ling.

Allen Riley and John Mazzeo of South Plainfield plus Duke Matero from Piscataway fished the calm Sandy Hook surf this morning, but weren’t using Gulp for long as masses of snappers were nipping their tails off. Instead, they cast snapper poppers to catch the baby blues for fluke bait.  Though no fluke hit them, Mazzeo released a 3-pound bluefish and lost another in the wash — the first blues they’ve seen in some time. Allen ended up releasing a large sea robin.

I finally raised some fish to surface  lures in Shark River this morning, but the only one I hooked came off quickly. Vinny D’Anton caught two small stripers on his Chug Bug at the same time.  Flycaster Bill Hoblitzell had earlier caught a mix of school bass and blues.

Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno from Point Pleasant fished for sharks at Island Beach State Park  yesterday evening to release three browns and a blacktip. on chub mackerel. Though those sharks were in the 40-pound class, much bigger sand tigers are a possibility.

Maren with shark

Matt Slobodjian at Jim’s Tackle in Cape May sent the following report: “The weather finally broke, and for the first time in a week people are starting to get out. Fluke fishing has been best at the Old Grounds the last couple of days. There have been quite a few boats coming home with limits; but the bigger fish are tight to the bottom structure. There are a lot of fish on the Cape May Reef, but a ton of shorts with only a few keepers mixed in. There is still plenty of action in the backwaters for fluke. We’ve seen some nice fluke coming from Cape May Harbor and the intercoastal waterway heading up to Wildwood. We are starting to get some reports from Brown Shoal in Delaware Bay of some decent fluke catches. Tuna are still at Massey’s Canyon. The “Hooked Up” caught 4 bluefin trolling the area around Massey’s. It was an early bite and the action was over by 8 am. The canyon bite was ok, but not on fire. There was a bite between the Wilmington and the Spencer for tuna and a few marlin were caught there as well.
The beach fishing is slow, but more kingfish are starting to show up in the surf. By far the best beach fishing has been for sharks, with multiple releases of browns, sand tigers and a few blacktip hookups.”

A few spaces remain available for the Outdoor Women of NJ Workshop, to be held Saturday, Aug. 4 at the Sedge Island Natural Resource Education Center  off Island Beach State Park.