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Ice Age in Florida

Though it’s still a lot milder than the north, this has been the coldest winter I’ve experienced in Florida as one cold front after another drives early morning temperatures down to the forties. Fortunately, it usually warms up later in the morning and there’s been no fish kills which occur when there are longer periods of very cold temperatures.

It just doesn’t seem to be right to wear long pants in Florida. I live in AFTCO shorts which also permit me to wade into the the largemouth bass ponds I fish in Ft. Myers in order to untangle larger bass that get tangled in reeds as I try to drag them through — while hoping that an alligator doesn’t appear and have to choose between the bass and me.

Bob Correll of Bay Head doesn’t have to worry about that problem while casting from a beach near his Hutchinson Island home as large quantities of small bait have been drawing Spanish mackerel, jack crevalle, and now also bluefish right to the beach for hot action.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall has been wading in waters near his Sarasota winter home to consistently release spotted sea trout and ladyfish every morning while wading and casting such lures as the Z Man paddletails, DOA Shrimp and MirrOlures.

The Big Mohawk from Belmar had good conditions in west winds yesterday, but blackfish didn’t respond. That wind direction will prevail for some time and permit tog fishing to continue. Small craft warnings remain up, but drop a bit tomorrow to 15 to 20 knots plus higher gusts from the west.

Another trophy tog on Ocean Explorer

Though today’s trip was cancelled due to the winds, the Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported good blackfishing for some on Friday. “Howard”, who released a 14-pounder recently, caught another over the 10-pound mark. There were some limits, though others didn’t score. Whiteleggers worked best.

Small craft warnings are up trough Sunday night. There are west gusts to 30 knots which continue tomorrow.

Blackfish still a weekend possibility

Though small craft warnings went up at 1 p.m. through Saturday afternoon for east gusts to 25 knots, ocean conditions should improve with a shift back to west winds,

The morning forecast is for southwest winds at 10-15 knots before increasing to 15-20 in the afternoon with gusts to 30. Rain is likely in the morning. On Sunday the winds go west at 20-25 knots with gusts to 30 that should flatten the surf for anyone still seeking stripers along the Jersey Shore. The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported some tog limits Thursday, but some didn’t score with fussy blackfish.

Jamaica catching jumbo porgies

Though the sea bass season is closed, the Jamaica from Brielle is concentrating on far offshore wrecks that hold great quantities of large porgies during weekend trips. The Saturday and Sunday sailings leave at 11:55 the night before. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.

Last weekend’s trip also produced a few ling and a surprising large bonito as catches ranged up to 30 fish. Chris Clendening of Sellerville, Pa. won the pool with a 4-pound porgy that edged a 3.75-pounder by Rich Stevens of Somerset.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported another good day of blackfishing on Wednesday.

Though the wind is shifting to the east on Friday, the forecast is for only 10-15 knots until it increases to gusts to 20 knots at night along with rain.

Nick Honachefsky has new episodes of his Saltwater Underground coming up on the Sportsman Channel. The first showing is at 10:30 a.m. Friday, and then again Sunday at 4:30 a.m. and p.m.

Tog were chewing for Ocean Explorer

Party boat blackfishing in N.J. has been generally tough recently, but there was a good report Tuesday from the Ocean Explorer from Belmar as they reported limits for all plus releases. The tog ran up to 7 pounds and hit both green and whitelegger crabs.

Tomorrow should be fine for blackfishing as the forecast is for west winds at a mere 5-10 knots.

Big Mohawk sailing again

The recent sudden death of Capt. Chris Hueth from a heart attack resulted in the Big Mohawk from Belmar taking a break from blackfishing, but Sheepshead Bay pro Capt. Mike Ardolino is now sailing that boat daily.

Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina says there are still some small stripers in the surf, but few anglers have the patience to scratch them out.

The weather is fine, with a forecast of west winds at 10-15 knots.

Chuck Many reports there was only one bite trolling eels from his Ty Man out of Cape Charles, Va., but it was the right one for Mike Greene and Nikki Bowden

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Canyon Runner almost sold out on canyon trips

Canyon tuna fishing is months ahead at present, but the most productive period has been in the spring during the last few years. The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant has only three days in May, none in June — and very little is left in the summer. They recorded over 800 tuna last year, including 44 bigeyes and two giants in 65 trips. If you are interested in joining them during their 39th season, call 732 272-4445.

The weather continues to look good. Tuesday’s forecast is for west winds at 10-15 knots with 2-3-foot seas.

Even Florida anglers aren’t warm

Florida should be where anglers go to enjoy their sport in the winter; but there’s been one cold front after another lately – and yesterday may have been the coldest I’ve ever experienced in Florida during mid-day.

It was 55 degrees in Ft. Myers early. but felt even colder than that with north wind later as I was shivering in a light jacket at noon. Crazy Alberto Knie drove to several freshwater areas that didn’t produce at all as the fish must have also been too cold to respond.

Alberto finally found a county pond where there was some largemouth bass action casting artificial worms. My only catch was at least large enough for Alberto to take a photo before release.

Kevin Markow of the Surf Kings in Sea Girt reported 53 degrees and a north wind in Key Largo that didn’t turn off the snook as he released three at a pier.

Mike Monte thought he heard the fat lady sing this morning at the Belmar surf as there were no hits in good conditions plus no sign of bait.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar had poor blackfishing Friday, and it wasn’t much better yesterday except for the huge 14-pounder released by “Howard” who wasn’t in either the daily or seasonal pools.

There’s some great weather coming up for tog anglers as the forecast is for 5-10 knot west winds through at least Tuesday.

Calm seas coming up

Though small craft warnings are up, west winds at just 5-10 knots are in the forecast from Monday to Wednesday. North winds at 10-15 knots with gusts 25 are forecasted for Sunday before dropping to 5-10 northwest at night.

Special trips target big blackfish

If you are going to put up with the potential discomforts of a winter fishing trip, you might as well seek a really special fish. That’s what a couple of N.J. party boats are doing this weekend.

As noted this week, the Ocean Explorer from Belmar is running a Super Pool trip Sunday at 6:30 which costs $100 but also requires another $100 for the pool for the biggest tog. Call 848 565-0519 for a reservation.

The Gambler from Point Pleasant will be making a limited trip 35 to 50 miles to trophy tog wrecks and rocks to the south on Saturdays and Tuesdays this month. The fare is $200, and there will be big money pools. Call 732 295-7569 for reservations.

Mike Monte gave the Belmar surf 45 minutes of casting under perfect conditions this morning without a hit. Yet, he plans to keep trying as the water temperature is 47 degrees and stripers should still be around.

Surfcasting conditions remain favorable Saturday as the forecast is north winds at 15-20 knots with gusts to 25 that drop to 10-15 after midnight and set up a calmer northwest on Sunday.