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Great fishing weather

Whether you caught fish or not today, if you were fishing you had to enjoy the nicest day of the fall with light west winds, warm temperatures and lots of sunshine. Some anglers also had good fishing.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had to anchor up yesterday in rough seas to catch 3-to-4-pound blues plus little tunny, some bonito and lots of porgies.  On the other hand, today was gorgeous as jigging produced lots of those species.  The same sort of weather is predicted for Sunday,

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reports red hot fishing for porgies and the one blackfish allowed in just 40 to 50 feet.  The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported blues up to 8 pounds, along with bonito, little tunny, porgies and even a dolphin.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reports a continuation of abundant small bluefish in the surf — primarily on mullet. Here’s  Jaydon Alemany with a typical cocktail blue.

cocktail blue

Betty & Nick’s also noted that some slot-size stripers are being hooked.

Jim Louro of Spring Lake hit it right this morning and plugged 10 school stripers in his local surf.

Manasquan was pretty slow despite perfect plugging conditions. Vinny D’Anton released one on a Chug Bug and missed a few bass, After he left I scratched out two stripers on the same lure.’

Bob Correll of Bay Head found some mullet at his beach and managed a small striper on a popper.

Allen Riley of South Plainfield rarely surfcasts on a weekends, but he couldn’t pass up such great weather at Sandy Hook. The tide was low and there was little water, but mullet were abundant. He caught a 2-pound blue on metal with his first cast, but the choppers stopped chasing the abundant bait and no other lures were hit in the 71 degree waters.

Porgies & blues best bets for weekend

The pre-dawn rain seems to have kept most anglers at home. However, there was very good bluefishing jigging offshore on Thursday — and that fishing should continue on both day and night trips.

The Atlantic Highlands fleet has been catching lots of porgies along with some triggerfish and blackfish (for which the limit is one at 15 inches in N.J.) while the sea bass have to be released at this time in Garden State waters,  The Ocean Explorer from Belmar will also join in that fishery, while Elaine B II from Bahrs in Highlands is concentrating on catch-and-release blackfishing until the season opens,

Though rain didn’t turn out to be a problem after dawn, the surf was rough today. From what I raised to my popper this morning at Manasquan I would also say it was fishless except that Vinny D’Anton managed to catch four stripers up to 24 inches on his Chug Bug. I also tried metal with no hits,

Jim Hutchinson Sr, reports for the BHCFA as follows:

“Fall officially arrived this week, and recent cooler temperatures have the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association starting to think about the arrival of the area’s greatest inshore sport fish, the striped bass.

Just like “snowbirds” heading down to Florida when winter arrives, the striped bass on their way south for the winter stop by local waters looking for food. When they find abundant food, they have been known to remain for quite some time. Right now with a good supply of mullet and bunker, they will be sure to stop in to fill their bellies.

To commemorate the presence of striped bass in the fall, there are several local striped bass tournaments, most for boats only. To mention a few-the Sea Shell Club, the Maximilian Foundation, the Stafford Township PBA, and the Red Men Lodge in Tuckerton all have e vents set for this fall. Most of these are for charitable causes and come with cash prizes, calcuttas, and various parties replete with good food.

Fishermen do not have to own a boat or be an expert to be competitive in one or more of these tournaments. Some of the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are available to take anglers out to compete in these events. A good boat and expert captain can make a difference in coming home with fish or empty handed.

To see how fishing with one of these experts might be accomplished, go the association’s website at and get in touch with one or more of the captains to see what can be worked out.”


Rough seas, but blues still bite offshore

The combination of a gusty northeast wind and a southeast swell made for a rough day offshore, but anglers aboard the Golden Eagle from Belmar still were able to jig limits of bluefish ranging from 1 1/2 to 8 pounds plus some little tunny.

The Big Jamaica from Brielle will also be seeking those fish over the weekend during Saturday’s 7:30 a.m. and p.m. trips. They reported a good bluefish bite last Saturday night, and will seek a combination of blues, little tunny and bonito during the day.  The blues (see below)  have ranged all the way up to 11 pounds.

Big Jamaica blues

The northeast wind was moderate this morning, so I decided to give the surf a try to see if it had cleared up yet. It was rough at Manasquan, but fishable — so I gave it some time with a 2-ounce Tactical Anglers Bomb Jr. popper which produced three small stripers up to 22 inches while another got off. Those fish were plucked from different spots along the beach, and there was no follow-up hit at any of them.

It felt like fall, but I was still in my summer “uniform” of AFTCO shorts which were perfect in the still very warm waters of over 70 degrees. There was no sign of bait, and no birds were working. Everything was on blind casts. We’re still a long time away from what we expect from fall striper fishing along the northern Shore where we’re also not seeing bluefish.

On the other hand, the Seaside Park tackle shops report plenty of small blues and a few bigger ones in that area — where mullet have been common. Some small bass have also been mixed in there.

Capt. Dave De Gennaro of Hi Flier at Barnegat is looking at the weather and only committing to fish for “stuff” during an open trip at 7 a.m. Sunday. It could be grass shrimping for weakfish in the bay; casting for blues in the inlet; checking the shoreline for little tunny; or trolling Barnegat Ridge for bonito — or a combination of those possibilities. Check with him at hiflierfishing@verizon,net

Actually, aside from some rain predicted for tomorrow, there seems to be good weather coming up for the weekend with light winds and even some westerly breeze.

Bonanza of blues to the east for Golden Eagle

The Golden Eagle from Belmar only had a small group aboard this morning, but took a shot at running out to the east where they had a blast of bluefish Saturday night. That worked out as anglers had hits on every drop with jigs from choppers ranging from 3 to 10 pounds. They also added a dolphin and jumbo porgies.

Capt. Ron Santee reports his first few porgy trips with the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands were very good for the target species plus a mix of triggerfish, blowfish and winter flounder.  Triggers in the 4-to-5-pound class took the pools.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park had a striper to report as Sal Timpani released a fat 28-incher in the surf there.

Sal Timpani 28-inch bass

Small blues have been hitting mullet in the surf from there to IBSP, but that’s the only surf action I’ve heard of. Vinny D’Anton took a look at the surf further north and said it was still high and discolored. He fished in Shark River to no avail. I worked Point Pleasant Canal after daylight, but there was nothing doing there.


Night canyon tuna bite should turn on in October

Chunking at night in the canyons is traditionally at its best  in October, which is what the party and charter boat fleets are hoping for after a slow start to that fishery so far.

The Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant had a very good spring to early summer yellowfin fishery, but tuna fishing has dropped off since. Fortunately, they did get in one good night of tuna and swordfish action last week during one of the many free canyon trips for armed service members and veterans that they run during the year, CR Sept. yellowfins

Adam La Rosa notes that he has some openings for that October chunking on open boat trips coming up. The cost is $899 per person, which includes food, drinks, tips and everything else on the Viking 48. Call 732 272-4445 for reservations.


Surfcasting for stripers has been tough in N.J. so far, but it wasn’t even great last weekend during the annual Montauk Surf Fishing Classic. Fred Golofaro of the Fisherman magazine reported that while some of the almost 300 surfcasters who fished from noon Friday to noon Sunday did well with small bass, there were only a few bigger fish entered. A 39.96-pound striper taken on a darter at Shagwong ran away with the title as the runner-up bass weighed only 22.54 and 17.8 pounds. For the first time there was no entry in the catch-and-release division with the contest’s 36-inch minimum.  The bluefish situation was even tough as there were few entries with just a 5-pound minimum. A 7.24-pound chopper won.

The Seaside Park tackle shops reported good bluefishing in the surf on Monday, with mullet being the best bet for bait. John Bushell Jr. at Betty & Nick’s is very enthused about the mullet run so far, and calls it 10 times better than last year’s. Let’s hope all this easterly wind doesn’t push them south too quickly.

I doubt if any boats sailed into today’s rain and wind, but the Golden Eagle from Belmar is set to try for bluefish on Wednesday.

Though small craft warnings are continued into Wednesday night, the wind forecast is for only 10-to-15-knots south. It’s looking very good from Friday through Sunday, with light winds including some of that rare northwest breeze.

Plenty of porgies to keep anglers busy

As noted in the headline of a previous  blog, the fluke season ended with a whimper as it appears most of the larger fish had already moved offshore to their spawning grounds on the edge of the continental shelf. Party boat skippers had such poor results toward the end that most seemed content to move on from their major source of income.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands reported only a couple of keepers and not many shorts on the last day.  Capt. Rob Semkewyc is taking some time off before starting striper fishing later in the month.

Also at that port, the Sea Tiger II reported one keeper fluke Friday afternoon, two Saturday morning, and one that afternoon. That was quite a contrast to the 1/2 to full bucket catches of porgies (see photo below) now  being taken on half-day trips.  They report most of the scup are over the 9-inch minimum, and there are some blowfish plus lots of sea bass that have to be released. Sea Tiger porgies

The Atlantic Star is also fishing for porgies half-days, and the Fisherman is sailing for them on their usual schedule. Prowler V has also switched to porgies, but won’t be fishing again until Thursday or Friday due to the continuing east winds that have resulted in small craft warnings through Tuesday. The Angler is in the ship yard prior to Coast Guard inspection.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant will be sailing open for bottom fishing Friday and Saturday at 7 a.m. — and has scheduled Hudson Canyon tuna trips on Oct. 8 and 18. Call 732 370-8019 for reservations.

The surf has been rough in the gusty east wind, but conditions were fine this morning at the Point Pleasant Canal. Many of the regulars were casting jigs, and I was among the fortunate few who caught a bluefish in the 5-pound class. I saw only two others caught while I was there.

At Seaside Park, Betty & Nick’s reported surfcasters were “crushing” blues in the 3-to-5-pound class plus a few to 8 pounds Sunday from the bathing beaches to the inlet.

John Avery, one of my blog followers, finished up the fluke season in his small boat in sheltered Oyster Creek Channel of Barnegat Bay where he was surprised to catch a lizardfish on a small Hogy epoxy jig. He thought that was an usual fish to see up here, but they’re actually common at this time some years. Indeed, I remember catching them while a kid with my cane pole from docks in Merrick, Long Island as I was seeking snappers. Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant told me that the last time he was able to catch large stripers on plugs during the day in Point Pleasant Canal was when the bass were attracted by lizardfish many years ago.

Blues still a best bet

With both fluke and sea bass closed in N.J., there wasn’t much boat traffic in Point Pleasant Canal this morning. There was also only a drizzle early, so casting conditions were good. However. very few blues were caught. I got one of about 5 pounds on my only hit before leaving as the rain increased.  Paddletail jigs produced the few fish caught.

The only boat report came from the Golden Eagle out of Belmar. Though today’s fishng only produced a pick of 2-to-5-pound blues plus some little tunny, they reported the Saturday night bluefish trip was “phenomenal”. They were limited by 11 p.m. and in release mode after that. Most of the blues were 3 to 5 pounds, but there were also some of 6-7 pounds and bonito.

Bob Matthews weighed a 4 7/8-pound weakfish at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina  that Leslie Katona of Hamilton caught in Shark River on a peanut bunker.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported lots of cocktail blues were caught in the surf on Saturday on both lures and bait.

Fluking ends in NJ with a whimper, but blues hit jigs

The New Jersey fluke season closed tonight, and I didn’t get a single report bragging about the last day.

Indeed, the only fluke report I could find was from the Ocean Explorer out of Belmar. They had tough drifting conditions with the one-day northwester, but managed to pick some fluke up to a 6-pounder after a lot of hard work. They switch to porgies and blackfish tomorrow.

That will also be the case with Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands. Capt. Stan Zagleski found last year at this time that his regulars were willing to catch-and-release blackfish except for the one allowed. That’s what he’ll be doing at 7 a.m. daily.

There was continuing good news from the bluefish fleet. Both the Golden Eagle from Belmar and the Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported good jigging for 2-to-5-pound blues plus some little tunny.

I took a ride up to Deal this morning because stripers had been on mullet in the surf there yesterday, but the regulars were leaving as I arrived since there were no mullet in the area. I decided to give Point Pleasant Canal a try for blues despite the boat traffic, but this “black cloud” arrived 15 minutes after a flurry of 5-pound blues.

The Seaside Park tackle shops report more mullet showing up in the surf, and continued good morning action on bait and small lures for small blues and bass.

Light east winds are forecasted for Sunday before stronger east winds at the start of the week.

Last day for NJ fluke, but jigging blues the best bet

The N.J. fluke season ends on Saturday, and several boats will be making a last effort though fluking has been generally tough. In several cases there are big seasonal pools still up for grabs, and the Big Mohawk from Belmar proved there’s still a possibility for a big fluke when a 10.1-pound doormat was boated this week. Ocean conditions should be better tomorrow with a brief shift to northwest before returning to east winds.

The Belmar boats had decent ocean fluking this week, but it’s been tougher to the north. Capt. Rob Semkewyc had taken a few days off with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, but found only shorts today under poor conditions. He will make the last effort tomorrow before taking some time off and then switching to striped bass.

The best bet seems to be jigging for bluefish. The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported plenty of 2-to-5-pounders today along with some bonito. The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant said they had their best bluefishing of the season plus some bonito and little tunny.

The Jamaica from Brielle will be sailing for those species at 7:30 a.m., before a 22-hour  tuna trip departing at  5 p.m. There are some spaces available at $335. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano has had reports of continued hot white marlin fishing in the Hudson Canyon area.

Mullet are moving out of the rivers, and providing an attraction for stripers, though it’s been picky so far. Vinnie D’Anton released a couple on a Chug Bug this morning north of Asbury Park, but stayed with a school of mullet all morning that never produced after that. Jim Louro of Spring Lake also plugged a striper and a cocktail blue. I cast at Belmar and only hooked lots of floating weed.

Jim Hutchinson Sr. reports for Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association that small blues are becoming common in that area and providing action along with some bonito, little tunny and Spanish mackerel.


Weakfish in Barnegat Bay

Capt. Dave De Gennaro passed along the good news that small weakfish are now solid in Barnegat Bay — at least for those using grass shrimp for chum. Many years ago I fished with him in small boats as he worked hard to dredge those  tiny shrimp and we picked them out of the eel grass that made a mess of the boat. Now he buys the shrimp and his anglers can get right to chumming for a variety of fish such as snappers, fluke, blowfish, sharks, silver perch and tiny sea bass in addition to the targeted weaks on 6-pound spinning tackle.  He’ll be running Hi Flier from Barnegat open from Saturday to Monday. Call 732 370-5674 for info.  That’s the skipper with an above average bay weakfish below.

Dave with weakfish.jpg




Vinny D’Anton walked into a rough surf this morning at Manasquan, but switched from his Chug Bug to a bucktail and caught a 17-inch fluke. However, that was it –and he drove north until finding some mullet. After walking a lot of beach to almost noon, he ended up releasing seven  stripers, including a 27-incher on the Chug Bug.

Paul Haertel said Wednesday’s fluking on his boat out of Barnegat Inlet wasn’t good, but Bill Browne boated a personal record fluke that weighed 9 pounds at Grumpy’s in Seaside Park.

bill BROWNE 9-LB.jpg

Grumpy’s also reported that small blues and bass continue to hit small baits and lures in the morning surf, but a few little tunny were also reported at the inlet.

The only good party boat report came from Miss Belmar Princess as they had a decent jigging catch of 2-to-5-pound blues plus some bonito and little tunny — along with a Spanish mackerel.