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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.

Lack of drift for fluke

The very light winds we had today made for pleasant ocean fishing conditions, but the resulting slow drift was a problem for fluke drifting.

Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst joined Emil Pavalac’s  party on Tagged Fish from Highlands. Emil’s nickname is Typhoon, but he certainly didn’t bring one today. Fluking in the Shrewsbury Rocks area was slow, but the six keepers they caught were all in the 3-to-5-pound class, and six large sea bass were added. Matraxia didn’t find many shorts for his ALS tags, but had lots of excitement with the same heavy spinning rod he used to catch his first doormat during his last trip with Capt. Chad Hacker. After a 15-minute battle, Tank got a shark alongside (probably a brown) before Hacker released what he estimated to be a 70-pounder.

Capt. Ron Santee said he only picked at fluke and sea bass most of the day in a poor drift with his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands, but waited for the afternoon ebb which produced a spurt of action in overtime that included the pool fluke of just over 6 pounds in the ocean.

At Belmar. the Big Mohawk couldn’t match yesterday’s doormat, but they weren’t too far off with an 8.13-pounder. The early start helped, and they’ll be sailing again Monday at 6 am.

The Golden Eagle had lots of sea bass action to fill two-fish limits along with ling and fluke plus a few small blues.

It was a mixed bag in Shark River this morning as I only released a 25-inch bluefish on a Kettle Creek jig, but the regulars waded to a shot of stripers on poppers.

Weigh-ins for the last day of the White Marlin Invitational are going on as this is being written. I’ll have the results whenever they become available later tonight or tomorrow.

WMIT ends today

There should be an exciting end to the 49th White Marlin Invitational run by the Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club.  That contest finishes with 21 of the 22 boats fishing and nothing unbeatable on the board — though the 356-pound blue marlin weighed by Melina will be tough to beat. I’m sorry I couldn’t update this last night, but the WMIT doesn’t change the leaderboard as new entries come in and this info wasn’t available until the morning.

Saturday’s fishing wasn’t up to Friday’s standard when all nine boats fishing had at least a catch or release for a slightly revised total of just four white marlin releases plus the boating of an exceptional nine bigeye tuna along with  18 yellowfins, two dolphin and the 356-pound blue marlin.

Dave Ridley reports that only  five of the 14 boats fishing Saturday scored with the unusual showing of bigeyes continuing  as 16 up to a 140.5-pounder were caught along with only five yellowfins up to 57.85 pounds and just one of the targeted white marlin was released.

The big money would be won by a white marlin large enough to weigh, though the scarcity of whites makes that look like a long shot. Mary Joe’s 156.2-pound bigeye is looking good despite the relative abundance of those tuna. Jersey Nutz won the Treasure Chest last year with only a 62.5-pound tuna, but could be in line for the dolphin money as they lead in that species at just 8.95 pounds. The wahoo category is wide open on the last day which ends with weigh-ins from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. and the awards party.  If provided in time, I’ll add a blog with the results tonight – or otherwise Monday morning.

Great opening to WMIT

The Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club’s 49th annual White Marlin Invitational was a week late in terms of good weather, and thus took a beating in entrees as only 22 boats hung in with the contest that was  moved back to provide for better fishing weather. Even then, no boats sailed into still lumpy seas on Thursday. It came down to a three-day tournament for each boat to get in two days of fishing, and only nine boats took a shot at Friday — which turned out to be probably one of the best in WMIT history despite a wicked late afternoon  thunder storm the held up the weigh-ins.

Every boat caught or released fish. The total reported came to only five white marlin releases and one 8.95-pound dolphin — but the expected 15 yellowfin tuna and the hoped-for eight bigeye tuna plus a rarely-seen blue marlin weigh-in.

Melina, a BHMTC boat, had a great day with the blue marlin longer than the contest minimum, which weighed 356 pounds, plus three bigeyes from 86.3 to 117 pounds.  However, their bigeyes weren’t big enough as Mary Joe (bigeye specialists MJ’s) took the tuna lead with a 156.2-pounder. The first day was already a huge improvement over last year when Jersey Nutz won the Treasure Chest with only a 62.5-pound tuna

Though only 22 boats are involved, the Calcutta total up for grabs is $67,500. After yesterday’s fine fishing, there should be plenty of action at the weigh-ins this afternoon. The results came in much too late last night due to the storms, but there shouldn’t be any problem in getting another blog out when results are in tonight.

The Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands did well all day with sea bass and mixed-size fluke despite a lack of current for drifting.

The Jamaica from Brielle reported a hot Friday bite of chub mackerel plus a few blues and lots of ling and sea bass’

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had another busy day today with sea bass to get the two-fish limits plus ling.

Capt, Dave De Gennaro is going to run open on Sunday for a trip to Barnegat Ridge with his Hi Flier from Barnegat for bonito and sharks  — and hopes the weather continues to look good Monday for the mid-range offshore areas that have been producing bluefin tuna.

 

There was no lack of boat traffic in Shark River this morning as stir-crazy boaters rushed out to sea. I managed a couple of small stripers casting from shore right away, but soon moved to the still somewhat rough surf where  I did nothing on poppers. Frank Manzi stuck it out with the small bass in the river and ended up with nine, while Vinny D’Anton got three there (including one on a Chug Bug) before adding another on that popper in the Belmar surf.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar found an 8 3/4-pound fluke that was close to the seasonal leader despite still large swells Friday. The Big Mohawk from Belmar did even better today as Joe Links boated a 10 3/4-pound doormat fluke.

TBM-Joe Links

R. I P. Walter F. Johnson III

The Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club got their White Marlin Invitational underway today, and I’ll add a blog later if there are any weigh-ins this evening. The registration gathering last night was stunned with the news that the club’s greatest striped bass fisherman has died. As best I can determine at this time, Walter F. Johnson III was only 66.

Walt’s proudest catch among many he made was a 59.40-pound striper  boated in 2008. I had the privilege of fishing with him and his daughter Allison from Vermont aboard Chuck Many’s Tyman from Highlands a couple of years ago. I’ll have more information about the passing of one of New Jersey’s famed anglers as it becomes available.

Walter Johnson III

Speaking of huge stripers, Fred Golofaro reports from the Long Island edition of The Fisherman magazine that quite a few 50-and-60-pound trophy bass have been caught at Montauk and Block Island this summer. However, Capt. Vinnie Vetere  has been proving that there are still similar lunkers to the west. He did a crew trip earlier this week with his Katfish from Great Kills and trolled his Ho-Jos to not only boat a 60.10-pounder himself — but added a 53 for a friend. He was hoping he’d found the ultimate honey hole for huge stripers, but a charter party the next day had to settle for a limit up to the twenties.

Vetere -62

Though many boats sailed into much better weather conditions today, there were few reports.   The Golden Eagle from Belmar had no trouble filling the two-fish limits of sea bass once again along with some fluke and ling plus a few of the targeted, but so far scarce bluefish.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc wasn’t happy with the fluking is found on a beautiful day with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands. It wasn’t nearly as good as yesterday as there were relatively few keepers among the shorts.

Shore fishermen benefited from the poor weather earlier in the week when there was no boat traffic. That changed today, and I only released two school stripers in Shark River. However, Vinny D’Anton caught two before I arrived on jigs, and later waded to an area where his Chug Bug raised bass up to a 24-incher during a brief flurry that was the first surface showing in some time.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported better surf conditions and continued good fluking  there. Rays also returned to the calmer surf.

Allen Riley of South Plainfield didn’t have high hopes for Sandy Hook this morning, but found the surf to be quite fishable. There were some snappers popping out of range, and they didn’t bother his Gulp in the wash that produced two small fluke while another hit a bunker chunk.

The big money Grandpa Savino Memorial Fluke Tournament will be contested out of Great Kills on Saturday after having been postponed last Saturday due to the weather forecast.

The weather forecast for the weekend sounds pretty good if you can handle the forecasted 5-10-knot winds.