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Hurricane effect looking to be minor so far in NY/NJ Bight

The Jersey Shore has been blasted by large waves from previous storms for a week, but there doesn’t seem to be anything worse coming to us from Hurricane Florence. There are small craft warnings up now for hazardous seas and rough conditions at inlets, but the present east winds aren’t strong and the marine weather forecast from Saturday to Monday doesn’t include any winds over 15 knots or seas larger than five feet inshore from Saturday to Monday.

The swell on the ocean isn’t good for bottom fishing, but boaters should be able to at least try for fluke before the N.J. season closes on Sept. 22.  Capt. Ron Santee is going to give fluking a try on Saturday with his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. He had his best trip of the season last Friday, but isn’t sure if that fishing will still be there when he finally gets back to the ocean. This is the time of year when fluke head off to the edge of the continental shelf in order to spawn and overwinter out there.  Santee said he won’t “beat a dead horse” and will switch to porgy fishing if fluking isn’t worthwhile.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar is also looking forward to getting back out for blues, little tunny, bonito and chub mackerel as soon as sea conditions permit comfortable fishing.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant has the same plans, but is chartered on the mornings of Sept. 15 and 17.

Chub mackerel (below)


chub mackerel

Capt. Vinny Vetere reports he had to run from Great Kills to Keyport on Tuesday with his Katfish in order to get one castnet shot at bunkers for live bait. Stripers were also tougher to catch, but they still caught six up to 34 pounds.

There wasn’t much life in Shark River early this morning, though Frank Manzi got into some rolling fish just before daylight and caught two bass and a blue on a popper. Vinny D’Anton saw the same thing a bit later, but they ignored his Chug Bug. Bill Hoblitzell had blues hitting his yellow Deceiver at first light, but they kept cutting that fly off. I got there a bit late and was lucky to catch one small bass on a Z Man Swimmereez jig as I was reeling full speed to get it in for another cast. I made a move to Point Pleasant Canal and added three releases of blues in the 4-pound class on the same lure.

Betty & Nick’s in Seaside Park reports some “decent” blues were caught in the surf on mullet yesterday morning — and there were also three stripers reported from waters that are relatively clear.

Youngster caught a record dolphin

Eddie Kelly (15) of Ocean City. N.J.  may be fishing a lot of years in the future before he ever comes up with a catch like that which he caught on Lisa Marie during the Labor Day  Ocean City Marlin & Tuna Club Tournament — a 66-pound dolphin!

Not only was that a contest winner, but it also exceeds the N.J. state record of 63 pounds by Scott Smith Jr. in 1974, but also the IGFA World Junior record of 61 1/2 pounds — if all sportfishing standards were observed. It was caught on 30-pound tackle being used for white marlin.

dolphin 66 lb Eddie Kelly

I had hoped to have the first boat reports of the week this afternoon, but it appears there were none. Both the Golden Eagle and Ocean Explorer from Belmar had reported that they would be fishing today, but neither posted anything. The ocean isn’t calm, but the small craft warnings posted are just for the large swells that require caution at the inlets. Considering how relatively close Hurricane Florence is, the upcoming forecasts aren’t all that bad — including sunshine on Saturday.

Vinny D’Anton found only some very small blues in Shark River this morning, but went back in the afternoon to pick four small stripers between his Chug Bug and the Storm Searchbait jig

Point Pleasant Canal is a good bet for bluefish, but those fish can be  very fussy. They only seem to hit in spurts, and keep switching preferences.  Yesterday evening I managed one 4-pounder just before the rain started coming down hard on a Z Man Swimmereeez. but it was hard getting hits on the same lure this morning until I quickly lost two jigs to larger blues which chopped the 30-pound leader.  By going to a heavy leader and a 2-ounce Run-Off Sand Eel metal I released a 4-pounder before leaving.

I was hoping that was a solution to the problem, but when I stopped by at lunch time Joe Melillo of Castaways Tackle  in Point Pleasant had just landed a blue on plastic because they wouldn’t hit metal.  As the bite got tough again, one angler caught a blue by switching from a larger plastic to the same 4-inch Gulps we use for fluke.

Party boat skippers  are keeping an eye on ocean conditions to determine when they can get back offshore at what is normally a prime time for tuna. Below is a Big Jamaica tuna from last week.

Jamaica Sept. tuna.jpg


Memories of 9/11

It’s hard to believe it’s been 17 years since 9/11, but that was one of those days when people never forget where they were when terrorism struck close to home. Though I was not many miles from the destruction, I may also have been among the last in the area to become aware of it as I was fishing for giant tuna with the late Capt. Bob Pisano at the Lillian wreck in a brisk northwest wind.

It was a clear day, and on a straight line basis we were close enough to NYC to have seen the smoke except for the northwester that blew the smoke so close to the ground that we didn’t even see it on the way back.

Bob heard something on the VHF about a plane striking one of the towers, but we had no clue that it was anything but an accident at the time. We could only get a little audio out of the TV, but what we were hearing wasn’t good — and we headed in very early.

Rain put a damper on fishing today, and I doubt if any boats went out, However, light winds are in the forecast and some party boats will be sailing tomorrow. Both the Golden Eagle and Ocean Explorer at Belmar intend to fish at 7:30. The Golden Eagle also has a few spots available on its first tuna trip that’s set for Sept. 16.  Call 732 681-8144 for reservations.  That boat will be night bluefishing Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Check with the Raritan Bay fleet before taking the ride. Capt. Rob Semkewyc said he’s going to wait until it’s possible to fish in the ocean with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands. He spent all day Saturday in calm Sandy Hook Bay and only caught some very small fluke. The Fishermen is also holding off until further notice.

The Jamaica from Brielle  reported that tuna fishing had been good, but that wasn’t the case Thursday and Friday. Nuno De Costa of Yonkers, N.Y. got things going by casting a popper to  dolphin. and others then also scored with them. Tuna were spotted under schools of rays, but only a few were caught. Capt. Howard Bogan is checking the upcoming weather before deciding when to make the next tuna trip. Call 732 528-5014 for information.Jamaica Sept. dolphin

Joe Melillo reports from Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant that bad weather blew some bluefish into Point Pleasant Canal. They’re mostly either cocktails or 4-pounders, but a few large choppers are mixed in.

Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina, is upset about the weather that’s been killing the end of the fluke season after we finally got some more days to fish for them in September. The last fluke weighed in from the river was a 3 1/4-pounder caught by Mike Fauci of Neptune. He noted there are some small bass and blues in the river chasing peanut bunkers and spearing.

Though the winds have dropped off, the continuing swell is a problem at the mouths of inlets. Small boaters must take that into account, especially on the outgoing tide.

Lighter winds coming

Gale warnings go down at 8 p.m., and light winds are forecast for tomorrow. However, there will still be a big swell and rough conditions at inlets. Check with skippers before coming down.  The swell is usually a problem for bottom fishing, and we may not see the end of that this week with Hurricane Florence offshore.

Capt. Vinny Vetere of Katfish Charters at Great Kills will be fishing tomorrow on an open boat basis as the light winds should be fine in protected waters. He cancelled the last two days, but fished Saturday  when he had to run to Keyport with the new Pursuit 32 before picking at bass up to 29 pounds in the Hudson River.

The surf is a mess with the current sea conditions. Betty & Nick’s in Seaside Park described it as a dishwasher.

The Relentless from Sea Isle City had a most unusual catch before the storm. They went out for cobia, which have been unusually abundant in South Jersey this summer, but instead ended up in a 30-minute fight with a large barracuda — a real oddity this far north. They also added some fluke, but were driven in by the worst invasion of black flies ever — which won’t be a problem in the NE winds.

Relentless cuda






Gale warnings wipe out fishing

There were no reports today, and I doubt if any boats fished. Indeed, there were probably only a few diehards who fished from shore in rain and wind.

I have to admit I was one of those nuts.  I’ve often fished from shore in Shark River with a northeast wind and rain at my back. Yet, today that combined with very high water and a roaring flood tide that made it hard to maintain my footing while wading.  To make things worse, I didn’t get a hit during the short period I cast. Needless to say, I had no competition and there was no boat traffic.

Gale warnings are posted through Monday afternoon, and even as winds decline in the middle of the week we’ll be dealing with big waves from offshore storms.

Below is an 11.8-pound dolphin that Kyren Dooly caught while fishing for fluke with Paul Haertel of the JCAA in much better conditions last week.

Kyren Dooly11.8-lb

Northeast weather takes hold

There wasn’t much going on locally in the northeast wind today — and there will be even less Sunday and Monday if the forecast is right.

I fished in light rain this morning from shore at Shark River, and wasn’t bothered by the usual Saturday morning boat traffic. Unfortunately that didn’t make any difference in the fishing as I got only one hit and released a bluefish of about 4 pounds on a Z Man Swimmereez jig.

Vinny D’Anton tried there on the low tide in the afternoon and caught only one very small blue on his Chug Bug. The only boat I saw go out was Miss Belmar Princess, and they reported picking at 2-to-4-pound blues all day as limits were possible. They’ve cancelled Sunday and Monday trips as has the Ocean Explorer from Belmar which had tough fluking on Friday when the drift was already too fast during the start of the NE weather.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant had good bluefish jigging on Friday for choppers up to 6 pounds, but cancelled today and won’t be sailing the next two days. That boat is also chartered for the mornings of Sept. 12,15 and 17.

There were no reports today even from somewhat protected Atlantic Highlands. Check with skippers before coming to the Shore the next two days.

A better bet Sunday is to attend the free Jersey WILD Expo from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Colliers Mills Wildlife Management Area at 299 East Colliers Mills Road, New Egypt. For additional info visit

Capt. Chris DiStefano returned from a trip to Hudson Canyon aboard Frank Criscola’s Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club after they went five for seven releasing white marlin in the Hudson Canyon area. Chris said that the white marlin fishery is breaking up, though there are still boats coming from as far away as North Carolina to seek them. Another boat hooked a blue marlin out there.  Once again, there were no tuna — but boats fishing the Triple Wrecks area were catching yellowfins up to 70 pounds. A blue marlin was also hooked in those mid-range waters.

Betty & Nick’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported that anglers who took advantage of the northeast wind got into a morning bluefish blitz at the pocket in Island Beach State Park.










Rougher weather coming

The spell of generally nice fishing weather in the NY-NJ Bight is being interrupted  by  east winds which are predicted to be worst from Saturday night to Monday.  Small craft warnings are going up tonight, but Saturday may be fishable in some areas. Be sure to check with skippers before coming down.

It was already somewhat rough on the ocean today, and only one report was received from Atlantic Highlands about the fluking. Prowler V started offshore, but only found a few keepers among many 16-to-17-inch fluke plus sea bass that also had to be released. They went into the bay for comfortable fishing by noon, and will only fish in the bay on Saturday for anyone willing to try there.

Capt. Stan Zagleski reported good fluking Thursday on his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands when John Lipari of Woodland Park  won the pool with a 5-pounder. EBII Friday


The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a very good day of bluefishing which included an 8-pounder — the largest party boat blue I’ve heard of in some time. They also caught some fluke and released sea bass — and had excitement with a cownose ray.

Capt. Vinny Vetere of Katfish Charters in Great Kills used the big boat to deal with rough seas today as the Seakeeper keeps it stable. They used live bunkers to catch over a dozen stripers from 15 to 32 pounds. He may have one or two spots open on Sunday.


Katfish Sept. striper

Vinny D’Anton of Wall fished his local surf this morning and nailed a 29-inch striper on a Chug Bug in very fishable conditions as the east wind was only blowing about 15 mph at the time. He also hooked a 24-incher, but I never raised a thing.  Vinny found only sand fleas and a calico crab in his keeper — no fish bait at all. The windy weather ahead may finally get mullet moving out of the rivers to improve surf fishing.

Surprise “inshore” white marlin on Hi Flier

Capt. Dave De Gennaro fished the mid-range offshore areas with his Hi-Flier from Barnegat on the weekend and his party managed to jig a yellowfin tuna before the skipper anchored up to chunk. When a hit came, it didn’t seem like a tuna and the fish soon revealed itself to be a white marlin.  Though presently abundant in Hudson Canyon, whites rarely wander far inshore from the canyon edges.

That white was being fought on relatively light tackle with an Avet reel while Dave continued to chum. He was in for another surprise because a second white was eating every butterfish thrown in the water. At first it wouldn’t take one with a hook in it, but eventually made a mistake — and Hi Flier had an even rarer “inshore double of whites being fought. The original white was released, but the second one broke off.

De Gennaro noted that weakfish still haven’t shown in Barnegat Bay, but there’s lots of action with blowfish which have been of two sizes — tiny and “giant”.

The Shore party boat fleet had another good day with small blues. The Golden Eagle from Belmar started off well jigging before getting into bonito, chub mackerel, fluke and released sea bass. They start night bluefishing on Saturday Sept. 25.

Miss Belmar Princess had good jigging with A-27 diamonds both plain and with red tail for 2-to-4-pound blues north of the inlet. A couple of whales were spotted.

There were two totally different fluke reports from Atlantic Highlands. Capt. Ron Santee said he had his best day of the season on the Fishermen. Gary Long caught fluke of 7.7 and 5.2 pounds plus a 19-incher. Jeff Criswell  had a 6.9-pounder. Santee is chartered Saturday morning, and is worried that the weekend NE forecast could send the fluke offshore before the season closes on Sept. 22.

On the other hand, Capt. Rob Semkewyc had one of those days every skipper dreads as conditions were terrible where he was fishing with the Sea Hunter and only one keeper was caught among the shorts.  There’s never been any question but that Rob tells it like it is — good or bad.

Fluke pro Dave Lilly of Hazlet was incapacitated by a bad back this year and gave others a chance to win fluke tournaments, but got out for the fist time recently to fish with Charlie Parker in the ocean as they caught plenty of large fluke topped by an 8 1/2-pounder for Parker’s son CJ (5).

Capt. Vinny Vetere had another fine day of striper fishing Wednesday with a one-man charter on Katfish from Great Kills as Jim Calvo caught 20 up to 30 pounds. Vetere is open on Sunday.




Please continue past empty boxes.









Jim Hutchinson Sr, reports: “Labor Day weekend at the New Jersey shore is pretty much the traditional end of summer, but it certainly does not mean the end of summer fishing for the boats of the Beach Haven Charter Association. Rather, the captains are experiencing some of the best fluke fishing of the year as they fish out the final weeks of the fluke season.


To celebrate Labor Day weekend, the Senker Family and AVH Demolition jumped onboard the “Miss Liane” with Captain Ray Lopez for an offshore charter. By mid morning, the Senker’s son reeled in a 50 pound plus bluefin tuna. The bite didn’t end as the eager anglers caught 5 mahi-mahi also. Another day the Crotty family joined Captain Ray for a day of fishing off Barnegat Light doing some bottom fishing. Throughout the day 8 year old Connor caught a keeper fluke for his family and along with numerous black sea bass.


On the boat “Starfish” with Captain Carl Sheppard and mate Marlyn Graham there has been some good fishing for bonito within 2 miles of the beach. They trolled their favorite lures at different depths to score on bonito ranging from 6-8 pounds. The fish have been swimming in with the snapper bluefish along with the mackerel. The water is warm enough for the wildcards from the south.”



White marlin bite continues in Hudson Canyon area — but no tuna there

Capt. Chris Di Stefano was aboard  Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club yesterday as Frank Criscola and his crew enjoyed another great day of white marlin trolling from Hudson Canyon east and north. It’s been the best white marlin bite in that area in many years, and Chis said it’s drawn not only the South Jersey fleet to the north — but even boats from Virginia.

The only problem from his point of view has been the complete lack of tuna in that area. The yellowfin tuna bite has been much further inshore, and the same applies to dolphin. Crisdel trolled the canyon lobster pots and didn’t raise any dolphin. They’re also inshore, where blue waters extend into the Mud Hole and flying fish are a common sight. Surprisingly, Di Stefano said there was no surface life where the white marlin are abundant.

Fluke fishing was much better for the Atlantic Highlands fleet today.  Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter said there many more keepers plus lots of short action all day. Capt. Ron Santee had a similar report from the Fishermen, where his father boated the largest fluke at 6.6 pounds. The pool went to a 4.5-pounder.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk reported OK fluke fishing that wasn’t as good as the previous day though there were a few limits and the pool fluke was about 8 pounds. They sail at 6:30 a.m.

The Golden Eagle picked at 2-pound blues before adding some fluke and releasing many sea bass.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant had an angler aboard who limited on blues plus two bonito by 10 a.m. Capt. Dave Riback noted that four of his last six trips have been successful.

Vinny D’ Anton of Wall fished his local beach this morning to release stripers of 20 and 24 inches on his Chug Bug. Lots of snappers were also hitting it.

John Bushell Jr. got out of Betty & Nick’s Tackle in Seaside Park yesterday to fish and reported some blues up to 6 pounds in a surf full of bait.


Blue Runner dominates Offshore Open

Capt. Mark De Blasio was one of the big money winners with his specialty bigeye tuna during the MidAtlantic Tournament out of Cape May, and he continued his hot streak with Blue Runner during the 38th Manasquan River Marlin & Tuna Club Offshore Open that concluded over the weekend.

The Joe Miele party boated tuna of 95.55 and 93.85 pounds that took most of the Calcutta funds, over a 75.75-pounder by Charles Heil on Miss Tres — though the latter was in the tuna stringer Calcutta and won at 138.05 pounds just ahead of the 134.95 pounds posted by Marshall Allegra on Internal Fixation.  Miss Tres also won the Small Boat Calcutta.

De Blasio left no doubt in the mahi and wahoo Calcuttas with a huge 51.25-pound dolphin and a husky 44.85-pound wahoo.

dolphin 51.85 lbs

The Costa Release Award for blue marlin releases was tied at one and decided on earliest release by Tom Britt on Lucky Strike over Adam La Rosa on Canyon Runner.

The Costa Release Award for white marlin was a tough one as so many whites were caught that it took 33 releases on Jason Parker’s Reel Steel to win. Larry Hesse recorded 28 white releases on Goin’ In Deep.  There were no entries for the swordfish and longfin albacore awards.

There was no contest on Labor Day, but Blue Runner scored big with tuna at the mid-range grounds. Capt. Hans Kaspersetz of Sheri Berri at Twin Lights Marina in Highlands was aboard as the crew limited on yellowfins and used up all their mackerel for chunking before returning a day early. A big golden tilefish was added on an electric reel drop along with the smaller grey tilefish. (see below)


Ocean bluefish jigging was very good today. Miss Belmar Princess got into them north of Shark River Inlet on long drifts as A-27 jigs both plain and with tails produced best on the small choppers. The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported very good bluefish jigging as anglers could limit with fish up to 4 pounds plus some bonito before they switched to catching some short and keeper fluke.

The Jamaica from Brielle got into blues that didn’t hit jigs well on Labor Day morning, and switched to chumming offshore where fish were in the slick but not hitting during several drops. They finally found eating fish and ended up with lots of chub mackerel plus some bonito, blues and fluke. The pool went to a 5-pound bonito caught by Sammuel  Florea from Reading, Pa. Reservations are available for the first canyon trip on Thursday at 7 a.m. Call 732 528-5014.

Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina that anglers continue to weigh in big fluke. Ryan Sherwood boated a 9 3/4-pounder on the Big Mohawk, and Noah Pokojni (9) from Easton, Pa. had a doormat of 10 pounds, 1 ounce in Shark River. The river also produced fluke of 5 1/2 pounds for Myra Reevey and 5 3/4 pounds for Harris Reevey. Bob also noted the great tuna bite at the mid-range areas, and hopes for better surf striper action when the mullet drop out of the river.

Vinny D’Anton caught a school striper in the river this morning, but the only other action was from pound-size blues. He moved to the beach and caught two mini-bass on a Chug Bug before switching to fluke to catch four small ones before snappers started tearing up his lures.

Bob Correll of Bay Head was on his local beach at about 10:30 yesterday morning when birds started working over cocktail blues. Bob did well with them on metal, but two friends each caught a legal striper in the midst of that bluefish blitz.

Capt. Ron Semkewyc said drifting conditions were horrible for him yesterday on Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, as the current was too strong. Today started out the same, but conditions turned around at noon and his fares started catching fluke up to the 4.6-pound pool winner.

Sea Hunter fluke

Capt. Vinny Vetere reported another good day of striper fishing on his Katfish from Great Kills with over 10 bass up to 30 pounds.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park noted a mix of fluke plus small blues and stripers in the surf along with an occasional bonito or Spanish mackerel. Blowfish are building up in the bay at the BB and BI markers. Chumming is important.