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NJ Marine Digest available at tackle shops

The 2018 New Jersey Marine Digest has been provided to tackle shops around the state, and can be picked up free of charge. All of the year’s regulations are included except for sea bass which was settled after publication. The sea bass season opens on May 15, and the Jamaica from Brielle has scheduled 10-hour Marathon trips for the first two days. The cost is $78, and reservations are required. Call 732 528-5014.

The striped bass situation in Raritan Bay didn’t change today as it remained tough for party boat fishing, but private and charter boats fishing with live bunkers do well.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc said he only had a few keepers today on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, though the readings he had on his third drop were the best of the season. Yet, they didn’t get a bite on them.

Chuck Many only fished a half-day with his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands, but Rob Rommel and Mike Greene helped in releasing 20 stripers which included bass of 24, 28, 29, 32 and 38 pounds.

After Capt. Jim Freda got everyone excited about the start of the inshore jumbo bluefish run when his  Saturday afternoon charter on Shore Catch Charters from Point Pleasant caught 15 by casting SP Minnows in Manasquan River. However, the following morning there were no bites on the cold incoming tide. John Wasnewski of Jackson was aboard late this afternoon along with your reporter as there were decent water temperatures in the mid-fifties during the ebb — but the blues were missing. John and the skipper at least each got a hit. None of the other boats caught anything either. Normally there’s a steady build-up of blues after the first catches, and Freda will be ready for them when they start biting again. Call him at 732 762-0870. Capt. Dave De Gennaro of Hi Flier at Barnegat found the same thing Sunday in his bay, even where water temperatures were over 60 degrees,

Jerry Lasko of Point Pleasant caught a blue on his first cast into the Manasquan this morning, but his popper didn’t raise another fish.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park only heard of a few blues in northern Barnegat Bay over the weekend. Anglers reported they were sluggish, rather than attacking poppers.

Bob Mathews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina, reports the Asbury Park Fishing Club, led by Gene Amato’s 17-pound striper, won the Spring Lake Live Liners Spring Tournament over the weekend with 64 points.  The Live Liners were second with 24 points, and the other clubs didn’t score. Matthews says Shark River is loaded with fluke up to 24 inches prior to the season opening.



Results from Striper Challenge


Following are the official results from Saturday’s Striper Challenge, the first leg of the Triple Challenge, as submitted by the organizers:
1st Place TY MAN 35.6lbs $5,000.002nd Place Surf N Turf (A Hojnowski) 32.2lbs $1,000.00

3rd Place Milling Around 30.2lbs FREE ENTRY NEXT YEAR AND Tony MaJa Custom Tackle EZ OUTRODDER.

1st Place Mike DeMarco 36″ $1,000.00
2nd Place Rob Nemeth 31″ $100.00
3rd Place Nick Rodriguez 29″ FREE ENTRY NEXT YEAR

CALCUTTAS… OVER $12,000.00 Combined!

$100 HEAVIEST 2 COMBINED 35.6 + 21.4 TYMAN
$250 HEAVIEST 2 COMBINED 35.6 + 21.4 TYMAN
$500 HEAVIEST 2 COMBINED 35.6 + 21.4 TYMAN

$25.00 BLUEFISH $150.00 Tom Loughron
$50.00 STRIPER $150.00 Mike Demark?


Over $21,000.00 in cash was given away today!

Chuck Many of Annandale was the big winner on his Tyman from Gateway Marina in Highlands with his crew of Rob Rommel of Highlands, Bob Bowden of Little Silver, Mike Greene from the Bronx and me.  Greene caught the big bass on our first drift after fishing started at 6 a,m. — but most of the bass were only in the 10-to-14-pound class as we caught 22. We needed a second bass to add to the big one for the Calcuttas that were cased on a two fish total weight. We couldn’t come up with anything very large for the second bass, but the 21.4-pounder I hooked late in the trip proved to be adequate.  Those bass were brought in alive for weighing so they could be released to spawn this month in the Hudson River. We were fishing with live bunkers, and found the bass to be very fussy about taking them. Changing baits frequently seemed to make a difference, and we had to take time out during the day to seek out a fresh supply of bunkers which we also ran out of. Bryan Pieros was fishing near us and had the same sort of action. He managed a pair of bass over 20 pounds among the “average” bass for an entry, but it wasn’t enough
Capt. Pete Wagner reported a striper of over 50 pounds was caught today on his Hyper Striper from Twin Lights Marina in Highlands.  Party boats reported somewhat better striper fishing over the weekend. The Atlantic Highlands boats got into a few better bass casting shads to surfacing fish before boat traffic put them down and just a few shorts and keepers were added on bait.
Capt. Dave De Gennaro trolled for stripers with his Hi Flier out of Barnegat, but found no life off Island Beach State Park as the water temperature had dropped to 45 degrees.  He had tried casting for the overdue blues in Barnegat Bay on Saturday, but didn’t raise anything.
At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported a pick of bass and blues in the surf on clams and bunker despite the cool waters.
Bluefish reports became more common on Saturday. In addition to the kayack winner in Raritan Bay that was listed above, there were some caught in Manasquan River.  Capt. Jim Freda of Shore Catch specializes in Manasquan River bluefishng, but noted the run is just beginning as cold seawater seems to be holding back the choppers. That could change at any moment, but I checked the river and inlet a couple of times today from shore and didn’t find anything going on.  Below is a jumbo blue caught in the Manasquan River on Saturday with Capt. Jim Freda on Shore Catch.
Manasquan River blue

Ty Man wins Striper Challenge

Sorry for the late blog, but I was part of the crew on Chuck Many’s Ty Man from Gateway Marina as he won all the money he was eligible for in that contest out of Baker’s Marina on the Bay in Highlands. Many had a game plan developed after fishing every day this week — and got a huge boost when Mike Greene from Long Beach Island boated a 35.6-pound striper on live bunker during the first drift. Late in the day I finally came through with a 21.4-pounder to provide the 75-pound total for the Calcuttas, We totaled 22 stripers, though most were only in the 12-to-15-pound class. I’ll have more about that contest in Sunday’s blog.

Striper fishing wasn’t easy in Raritan Bay on Saturday. The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands reported slow action, though they had a few more keepers than on the day before.

Though bluefish action didn’t break open in the Seaside Park and IBSP surf. there were more reports — primarily in the evening. There were also reports of blues in Manasquan River.Ty Man morning stripers

Small legal stripers are released from Ty Man after hitting live bunkers

Photo by Rob Rommel


Stanczyk boats 601-pound swordfish at Islamorada

Capt. Nick Stanczyk had only one angler aboard his charter boat from Bud N’ Mary’s Marina in Islamorada, Florida Keys, but managed to boat a 601-pound swordfish on 50-pound stand-up tackle.

Nick’s father, Richard Stanczyk, was the pioneer of daytime swordfishing in the Keys, but Nick has become master of that sport as he regularly brings in multiple catches. If you want to catch the most elusive and prized of all billfish, a charter with Capt. Nick is the best bet. Contact him at 800 742-7945.

Nick-601-lb sword

Striped bass fishing in Raritan Bay was generally tough again today. Capt. Rob Semkewyc didn’t have any good readings with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, but scratched out three keepers and some shorts — while a big bass broke a line.

Chuck Many and his crew on Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands were primarily looking for areas to fish during a tournament on Saturday. Live bunkers produced just eight striper releases that were in the 12-to-14-pound class except for a 23-pounder.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle weighed in a huge striper from back bay waters. Kevin Horvath was fishing  a bunker for the bluefish that should be in there now and instead caught a 45-inch, 28.6-pound striper.  The first surf bluefish weighed in was a 33-inch 10.5-pounder that hit an SP Minnow.  Short stripers are hitting best in the surf in the evening.

The Jamaica from Brielle adds a Saturday afternoon jigging trip on Saturday from 3:30 to 9:30 p.m. The 6:30 a.m. trip will be run Saturday and Sunday– and the tilefish trip departs at 10 p.m. Sunday.  Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.

The Mimi Vi from Point Pleasant will be running open for bottom fishing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The fare is $75, and Capt. Ken Namowitz sails at 7 a.m. Call 732 370-8019 for reservations.

The New York fluke season opened today, and I heard good reports from both Moriches and Jamaica Bay.






















that hit an SP Minnow.School stripers have been hitting best in the devening.















45-inch, 28.6-poundr. The first surf bluefish weigh-in was a 33-inch, 10,5-pounder

A tough day in Raritan Bay

After a great Tuesday morning jigging bite, party boat striper fishermen had a much tougher time Wednesday, when only a few keepers and shorts were hooked. That was actually very good compared to Thursday. Capt. Ron Santee ran his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands all over the bay without marking all the bait and fish seen the day before — ending up without a bite. The Golden Eagle from Belmar read some fish and bait, but got no hits.

Don Marantz of Clarksburg had a charter on Billchaser out of Twin Lights Marina in Highlands. They started out with a 27-inch bass, but after that only had a skate and a big sea robin chunking —  while trolling was also unproductive,

Chuck Many said it was tougher on his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands than it was Tuesday when four of us released 30 bass up to 33 pounds on live bunkers.  Yet, he and three other anglers managed to release 17 stripers on both live bunkers and chunks today. The largest was a Ty Man season best of 40 pounds, though the next largest was only about half that size.

I gave the Sea Girt surf a brief try this morning, and got blanked there for the third time this spring. Jimmy Wilson felt the water and said the temperature had dropped quite a bit due to upwelling from the gusty southwest afternoon winds.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported John Alcoriza released both a large bluefish and a decent bass Wednesday night in the surf. Betty & Nick’s had the first blowfish reports in the surf. Adult bunkers have moved in close enough to be snagged, but there have been no reports of hook-ups.

Big bass38-pounder before release from Ty Man on Wednesday.

First bluefish in surf

We’ve been waiting for the bluefish to arrive in force as they usually do by the end of April, but nothing has been happening in N.J. — and Fred Golofaro of The Fisherman, Long Island edition had the same report from another early location at Fire Island Inlet. However, just before writing this blog I got a photo from outdoor writer Nick Honachefsky of Normandy Beach of a surfcaster with a good-sized bluefish. I picked a logbook from 1998, and found that my charter party was inundated with blues on May 1 in Raritan Bay. Yesterday, Honachefsky caught eight small bass (a 26-inch and micros) plus five hickory shad on a fly rod in the surf.

First surf blue

There have still been no reports of blues up there, and a message from Rob Rommel noted that he fished with Chuck Many on Ty Man as they released 20 stripers up to a 38-pounder.  in Yesterday’s release count when I was with them was 30 bass up to 33 pounds, but I forgot to credit Many with his best catch — the first sea robin reported from the bay,  an aggressive little fish that hit a 6-inch shad cast into small bait off Staten Island.

Reel Fun from Twin Lights Marina in Highlands had the Sean Basilone party with six legal stripers just a half-hour from the dock this morning, but Capt, John Kolias said they couldn’t come up with an over 43-incher.   Kolias usually trolls.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported they had some bass chasing their jigs, but none were caught. After yesterday’s hot early jigging reports from Raritan Bay, there were no reports today from Atlantic Highlands boats.

Capt. Vinny Vetere of Katfish Charters in Great Kills reported small bass dominated early as he trolled his Ho-Jo’s, but bigger bass hit as the tide ebbed. Green chartreuse was the hot color.

Jim Louro of Spring Lake fished Raritan Bay in an outboard during the afternoon and had to fight the southwest wind while trolling mo jo’s and casting shads. He said they marked fish, but had no hits and didn’t see anything caught on other boats. The forecast for the next two days is similar with light SW in the morning before gusty winds in the afternoon.

Allen Riley of South Plainfield was happy with his Tuesday morTodayndy Hook surf. After catching a very small bass on a Tsunami Shad before sun-up, small bass turned on to sandworms fished on a very light rod. He released bass of 22, 24, 25 and 28 inches before the bite ended at 8 am. John Mazzeo of South Plainfield fished a bunker chunk to release a 26-incher.



Raritan Bay comes alive with stripers

Just about everyone caught legal stripers today in Raritan Bay — and with both lures and live bait — while surfcasting produced mostly shorts in many areas.

I joined Chuck Many of Annandale for an afternoon trip on his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands along with Rob Rommel of Highlands who had already cast netted a live swell full of bunkers. Many set up very long drifts in shallow waters and we had blow-ups on the live baits all afternoon as 30 stripers from about 12 pounds up to Many’s 33-pounder were released. We must have raised about 100 bass in order to do that as most just played with the live bunkers and never ate them. Changing to fresh very lively baits was most effective, and we had to make another run to net bunkers during the afternoon.

30-pound bassThis 30-pounder is loaded with roe that will be shed very shortly in the Hudson River. Photo by Rob Rommel

Chuck Many will be coming in a bit earlier on Wednesday to explain how he releases so many stripers during a free seminar for the Staten Island Tuna Club to be held at the Great Kills Yacht Club from 7-9 p.m.

Boaters who got out in the morning were greeted with stripers on the surface. The Atlantic Highlands party boat fleet got into its first jig fishing of the year for legal bass as swim shads and metal with tube tails worked best. Capt. Rob Semkewyc said everyone ended up with a keeper on his Sea Hunter. Capt. Ron  Santee had a similar report from the Fishermen, as they picked on bait after the jigging bite stopped — but the outgoing was no good. Erick Simbard had a 20-pound pool winner.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had more keeper stripers than had been the case while fishing both lures and bait.

There were very good surf striper reports all the way from Sandy Hook to Island Beach State Park. Most of the fish were small, but some keepers were mixed in. Nothing compared to the 58.10-pound striper weighed at Julian’s Tackle in Atlantic Highlands by John Callahan, who caught it at Sandy Hook on a bunker chunk. That was his only hit in three hours, and it took 30 minutes to bring in what might end up to be the largest surf striper of the year.


Boaters had to fight a hard west wind

The west wind blew even harder than predicted today, but some anglers fought through it.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc  said the wind blew a steady 30 mph with gusts to 40 — and it was raw as the few fares on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands picked at some shorts and keepers during every drop. That wind is predicted to drop down tonight, and only be 10-15 mph tomorrow.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar managed to finish up the spring blackfish season with food action and some limits despite the roaring west wind as they were close enough to shore that the sea was calm. They’ll be taking a day off to decide what fishing to pursue before the sea bass season opens on May 15.

Capt. Vinny Vetere continued to load up with stripers over the weekend while trolling his Ho Jo’s from Katfish out of Great Kills.  However, he hasn’t been able to get into the bass by chunking bunkers due to seals finding the baits first.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar caught some stripers over the weekend, but one day it was all on plastics, and the next only on bait. Their report about bluefish blitzing at the Manasquan Inlet jetties on Saturday didn’t check out as I’ve still had no bluefish reports from anyone. I talked to a regular at the inlet this morning who said he’s been there every day and hasn’t seen a blue as yet — though very small stripers hit the small bucktail he’s been casting.

I tried the Sea Girt surf this morning, and only got cold hands for my effort. It was hard to believe that the air temperature was only in the 30s just hours before May 1. The surf wasn’t flat, but very fishable. Jim Louro of Spring Lake caught a small striper on a 4-inch shad this morning, and hooked a 26-incher the previous afternoon.

Jerry Lasko of Point Pleasant had no hits in Island Beach State Park this morning, but the Seaside Park tackle shops had some good reports. Grumpy’s had good surf reports on shorts, but also weighed two stripers. Though both were only 29 inches, Dick Kenny’s that hit a Mag Darter was a hefty 12.45 pounds — while the other on a shad was only 9 pounds.  Betty & Nick’s reported one angler caught 12 bass to 16 inches in two hours at  three spots in the park.

The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant is sold out of canyon trips in May and June, and only has a few left in July and August. They do have an opening for an active military or retired veteran for a free striper trip on May 7. Call Adam La Rosa at 732 272-4445.

Dave Perruso reports the Bi-State Shad Contest on the Delaware River was a big success with 100 sponsors and 890 anglers fishing over the weekend. The largest shad was a 5.942-pounder worth $20,000 to Jake Kocsis. Many others were just ounces smaller. Zack Zupan took $3,000 for second at 5.768 pounds, and Bob Leciston was third for $2,500 at 5.686 pounds.

Chuck Many will be doing a striped bass seminar on Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. in Great Kills Yacht Club. All anglers are welcome to attend the event. For information call Walter Fisher at  917 335-7607. The Staten Island Tuna Club is sponsoring this presentation.

Chuck striper


















































































































































































































The canyon Runner from Point Pleasant is almost


First party boat striper jigging catch reported

The first significant party boat striper jigging catch was taken today by the Brooklyn VI out of Sheepshead Bay. They reported a near boat limit catch with a pool bass of about 25 pounds. It wasn’t specified whether that jigging took place in the ocean or Raritan Bay. They will also be carrying bait tomorrow, but don’t expect to need it.

There was also good news on bait, from the Sea Hunter out of Atlantic Highlands. Capt. Rob Semkewyc had a slow Saturday, and Sunday started out the same. However, a move resulted in a hot bite of both shorts and keepers. They ended up with a boat limit of bass from 28 inches up to a pool winner in the 20-pound class.

That was the only report from Atlantic Highlands today, though the Atlantic Star had a 20-pound pool winner Saturday morning, and a 25 1/2-pounder on the Saturday afternoon trip.  The Sea Tiger II had a boat limit of legal bass on Saturday running up to one over 20 pounds.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer reported a lively bottom that produced a good mixture of short and keeper blackfish on a flat calm ocean created by west winds. A few legal cod were also boated. The blackfish season closes after the Monday trip which should have similar conditions from continuing west winds.

Saturday’s report from the Golden Eagle about a bluefish blitz on the Manasquan Inlet jetties led to my checking out Manasquan River early this morning, where a few anglers were doing nothing –before moving to the inlet, where there was no one casting on either side in the light rain. It didn’t look as if a blitz had occurred the day before.

There was good news from Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park as they had their first two striper weigh-ins of the year on Saturday. Doug Cobb had a 30-inch, 9.05-pounder on clam from the back bay, but Dave Hankins came in late Saturday with a 37-inch, 19.85-pound bass that hit an SP Minnow in the surf. That fish was a new arrival full of sea lice.

The surf was clearing today, and should be calm by the morning.

Chuck Many, with a recent striper released from his Ty Man, will be doing a seminar on striper fishing at the Staten Island Tuna Club on Wednesday evening. Details in tomorrow’s blog.Chuck striper

Are the bluefish in?

Bluefish are overdue by the standards of recent springs, and I still didn’t have any confirmed reports from shore fishing sources as of this morning. Yet, while checking the striper report of the Golden Eagle from Belmar this afternoon there was a mention of a bluefish blitz on the Manasquan Inlet jetties. I’ll be checking that out tomorrow!

The Golden Eagle did boat a couple of keeper stripers and lost a few others — which was still better than previous trips and provides some hope for tomorrow.

I made my first surf attempt of the year in the morning at Sea Girt, but the surf was rough and there were no hits. A couple of other anglers there did likewise. Jim Louro of Spring Lake took a look at his local surf and switched to Shark River. The water was fine there, but he and Frank Manzi had no hits. Capt. Chrid Di Stefano of Wall lost a fish that hit a lure in the river during the week, and saw a fly fisherman catch a small bass.

Jerry Lasko and Maren Tolano of Point Pleasant combined for 10 small stripers this morning at Island Beach State Park though conditions weren’t good. The switch to west winds should improve surf conditions over the next few days.

Castaway’s Tackle in Point Pleasant is now open after a winter renovation took longer than expected. Joe Melillo said flounder fishing has been good at both ends of Point Pleasant Canal, and some stripers are also being caught in the canal.

Blackfish anglers are running out of time as that season closes at the end of the month. Bottom fishing party boats will be concentrating on them tomorrow.

Trolling was once again the best bet for stripers in Raritan Bay. Capt. Rob Semkewyc said he had some shorts and keepers on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, but not nearly enough. On the other hand, outdoor writer Nick Honachefsky made a late morning trip on Bunkertown, a Contender from Shrewsbury River, after the fog lifted enough for safe navigation. They had a good bite on mo-jos, with chartreuse being the hot color.  There was a mixture of sizes, but a 41.8-pounder reeled in by George Marc-Aurele was by far the largest. She was weighed on a hand scale before being released to spawn in the Hudson River within a couple of weeks.