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Cold day, hot stripers

It was very cold this morning, but many anglers who dressed for the weather enjoyed fine striper fishing both in Raritan Bay and the ocean.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc was disappointed to see so few anglers at his Sea Hunter in Atlantic Highlands, but they soon warmed up to the jigging and all went home with stripers.

Capt. Joe Massa was out by himself on his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina and said he had his choice of school stripers over most of the bay. Though there were no keepers caught there on poppers, he went outside the bay and trolled keepers on mo-jos.



The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported lots of fish on top as they boated a mix of bonus bass and keepers while releasing sorts before the current died around noon and dogfish took over.

Capt. Vinny Vetere had hot trolling action with his Katfish from Great Kills and ended up catching 36 bass to a 47-pounder. That boat is open for Sunday,. Call 917 693-8908 if you’d like to get in on that fishing.

The day starts well with southwest winds at 10-15 knots before small craft warnings go up for afternoon gusts to 25 knots that continue into Monday.


Capt. Dave De Gennaro is running open Monday with his Hi Flier from Barnegat. The 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for a $200 fare. Call him at 732 330-5674.

The JCAA is running its annual Sportsperson of the Year Dinner Sunday at Martell’s Water’s Edge, 125 Bayview  Ave., in Bayville. Tickets are $80 for the 4-8 p.m. dinner. Call Dan Miller at 609 641-7821  to reserve tickets.






Better weather tomorrow

It may not be warmer, but the wind forecast for Saturday is a lot better with west winds at just 5-10 knots and dropping to a mere 5 knots in the afternoon.

Most boats cancelled trips today, so there were few reports. Saturday will be a different  story.

Surfcasting remains a tough pick. Allen Riley and John Mazzeo tried Sandy Hook this morning and did nothing in 58 degree water, Allen had caught a 20-inch striper and a short fluke there Monday morning, but there was nothing caught early today.. Frank McGuire later reported he worked North Beach with no sign of bait or fish.

I got to Brick Beach at dusk and quickly caught a sun dial on a tiny sand eel teaser which also attracted a 25-inch striper in the wash at dark. That was my only hit during a short effort. That was a big drop from the 30 stripers I released yesterday in Raritan Bay from Mark Roy’s boat. Yet, every striper from the surf is a treasure this fall — and well worth the effort.


At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc found good jigging action with slots and shorts yesterday in Ambrose Channel from his Sea Hunter. Capt. Ron Santee had a similar report from Thursday with a 15-pound pool winner and several large bonito on his Fishermen.




Vinny D’Anton tried Manasquan in the afternoon and at least came up with some hickory shad.


Light tackle sport with Raritan Bay stripers

The west wind was stronger than predicted, and there weren’t as many birds as yesterday at the mouth of Raritan Bay when I joined Mark Roy on his Release Me from Raritan Marina this morning, but we soon spotted good marks that allowed us to pick away with school stripers. That action died after awhile, but we stuck around long enough to find more bass further back in the bay during the afternoon.

The release count was up to  48 by the time we returned, though that included only one 28-incher that I measured . However, there were lots of slots, including several 25-26 inchers. All were on Tsunami and Storm shads. See photo below with a double ready for release.

Mark & Al bassA small craft advisory is up for tomorrow, with 20-25 knot northwest winds plus gusts to 30 by the afternoon. Most boats are canceling for Friday, so be sure to check before coming down.

Capt. Vinny Vetere didn’t have anyone to join him for “monster” striper fishing yesterday, so he went out himself on Katfish from Great Kills to try out new colors on his TGT bunker spoons. The monster he was looking for turned out to be only ounces short of 60 pounds!

The Golden Eagle from Belmar once again found lots of uncooperative stripers on the surface, but did catch some along with large bonito. They won’t be sailing until Saturday — nor will the Big Mohawk from Belmar.

Bud Mc Arthur was fishing with friends ot of Manasquan Inlet this morning and tried snagging the abundant bunkers there, However, spiny dogfish ate them as fast as they snagged that prime striper bait. Trolling ended up producing a 35-pounder.

Vinny D’Anton got word of a surf striper blitz yesterday morning at Sandy Hook, but found nothing there today.f

The Big Jamaica from Brielle  is taking reservations (732 528-5104) for an offshore wreck trip for jumbo sea bass on Saturday. The Paramount will take the Saturday night bluefish trip at 7:30 p.m.


Ocean stripers frustrating anglers

Big stripers are splashing on the surface in many ocean areas, but getting them to hit is another problem.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported catching some large and medium stripers, but only a small portion of what was seen. That same thing seemed to apply to everyone out there today.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc had good striper jigging yesterday on his  Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, but today it was mostly shorts though some slots were included.

Trolling wasn’t the answer yesterday, according to Capt. Chris De Stefano who was aboard Frank Criscola’s Crisdel from Brielle Yacht as they worked hard to troll three bass up to 28 pounds at Norton’s Point.

Capt. Vinny Vetere did well with medium stripers in the Hudson River, but will be looking for “monster” stripers in the ocean by trolling the next two days with his Katfish from Great Kills.

The Jamaica from Brielle has a Striper Marathon at 6:30 in the morning by reservation at 732 528-5014.

The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant is trolling stripers now, and may have room on their free Veteran’s day trip for vets. Call 732 272-4445.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant is running open striper trips the next two days at 6:30 for $120 per man. Call 732 370-8019.

Wednesday’s forecast is for northwest winds at 10-15 knots with gusts to 20. That should drop off to west 5-10 knots in the afternoon.

Surfcasting has been very slow, but I got into a little action this evening south of Mantoloking. There was no sign of fish, and the swell was big, but I caught a 19-incher in the wash on a Tsunami Sand Eel  on my second cast. I later hooked a 15 1/2-inch fluke on a Joe Blaze teaser fly. At dusk a 25-inch bass hit the sand eel, and I added a third bass under the moon. It hit the teaser in the wash and measured 27 1/2 inches.

Better showing of stripers

Though there was no hot bite, striped bass results in both the ocean and Raritan Bay areas was generally better today.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter was pleased with much better jigging for mostly slot stripers in N.J. waters. There were a few bass over 28 inches including s 35-pound pool winner.

Capt. Ron Santee had a similar report on his Fishermen from that port. He said the bass were on small bait, and small diamond jigs worked best in shallow waters .

I was casting in the Manasquan surf to no avail this morning when I spotted schools of bunker splashing a couple of hundred yards offshore. Boats didn’t stay in those schools for long, but Capt. Dave Riback of the Queen Mary from Point Pleasant said he managed to get a few stripers from them.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar saw stripers on the surface and caught some, but they were hard to fool. That boat is now sailing early at 6 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays to get a better shot at those bass.

The Paramount from Brielle is taking reservations for a  50-70-mile sea bass wreck trip on Saturday, Nov. 9. Call 732 528-5014 for details.

Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno  each caught a school striper just before daylight turned them off in the northern Ocean County surf. The afternoon southwest blow killed that bite.

Tuesday’s forecast is for southwest winds at 10-15 knots with gusts to 20 and a chance of rain..

Big stripers turn back on in ocean

Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina passed along the good news that big stripers are biting again in the ocean. He said the Big Mohawk from Belmar had 10 stripers aboard today up to a trophy 54 1/2-pounder hooked by Nick Commisso of Riverside on a Tsunami Shad.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands said there was some improvement in his striper fishing today. He expects better tomorrow without all the boat traffic.

Mark Roy said it was very quiet today in Raritan Bay as he didn’t get any hits on his Release Me from Raritan Marina while trolling mo-jos, but managed a short bass casting under birds late in the afternoon.

Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno got into some large short bass that were swirling in the evening along the northern Ocean County surf. Those fish hadn’t been there in the morning.

They also weren’t in the Bay Head surf in the morning, though Bob Correll was surprised on his first cast before daylight when a spiny dogfish hit histeaser.

Tough day for stripers

Many were called, but few were chosen. That sums up the striped bass reports from today.

As noted in last night’s blog, I joined Bob Correll on his Sea Vee  32 from Crystal Point in Point Pleasant for a run to the north under good conditions yesterday afternoon  after the hard northwester — but we saw nothing to fish on all the way up to the Highlands Bridge.

Not discouraged by that, we ran south today to find the same thing. There were very few birds and no signs of fish though Bob jigged a spiny dogfish that was hooked in the tail. We ran down to Seaside while Miss Barnegat Light passed us going north. The Golden Eagle from Point Pleasant saw a few bass splashing to the north, but they were quickly chased down by the fleet. They did catch a thresher shark and a few dogfish.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands reported there was only one spot that produced for jiggers, but too many boats were there. Worse yet, it was in N.Y. waters where the slots they jigged had to be returned. Remember that N.J. slot bass are just shorts in N.Y.

Mark Roy returned from Florida to miss the good striper fishing in Raritan Bay with his Release Me from Raritan Marina. He got nothing trolling mo-jos and jigging, but did raise a couple of short bass to pencil poppers late in the day.

The forecast for Sunday is west winds at 15 knots with gusts to 20.

Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant, said some surfcasters at local beaches caught lots of hickory shad on teasers and a couple of stripers on metal. Blackfishing in the canal is a best bet.

Jamaica finding tuna for chunking in canyons

It took a long time to get started, but it appears that night tuna chunking in the canyons is turning on.

The Jamaica from Brielle reported a slow start on the Tuesday to Wednesday trip as only a few dolphin were caught. They then switched to the anchor in hopes of a daytime tuna bite. There were only a few bites at night as two swordfish were boated and two released. Tuna moved under the boat toward dawn and  a bite of yellowfins to 70 pounds plus albacore that were holding at 50 to 150 foot depths.That bite slowed as the sun came up, but a few more were chunked.

The Jamaica has room on a 31-hour trip at 7 a.m. Thursday –and 22-hour trips at 8 p.m. Nov. 10, 17 and 24.  A Striper Marathon is set for Saturday. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.

Capt. Vinny Vetere had another great Raritan Bay trolling Trip Thursday on his Katfish from Great Kills. Many of his bass were in the 40-pound class and larger.

There were no boat reports today due to the strong NW winds — except for the one I made with Bob Correll from Manasquan Inlet to the Highlands Bridge late in the afternoon to seek casting or jigging stripers. Unfortunately, the only birds we saw were just picking on small bait. Despite the wind, it was fairly calm within a mile of the beach , and visibility was fine though there was nothing to see.

Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant, said some of his regulars caught decent-sized school stripers in the surf from several areas south of Manasquan Inlet this morning. Metal lures did the job. warnings were discontinued this evening. Saturday starts with northeast winds at just 5-10 knots before shifting to southeast in the afternoon. The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant will run striper specials with a 15-man limit at 6;30 A.M. Wednesday and Thursday for $120. Call 732 370-8019.

Capt. Dave De Gennaro is running open striper trips on his Hi Flier from Barnegat on the next three days at 1:30 p.m. Call 732 330-5674.

ASMFC sets coastal striped bass limit at one from 28-35 inches

Yesterday’s Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission meeting in N.H. agreed 0n striped bass regulations for 2020 that included a coastal limit of one at 28-35 inches; one at 18 inches in Chesapeake Bay; and mandatory use of circle hooks when fishing with bait.

The official release follows:

ASMFC Atlantic Striped Bass Board Approves Addendum VI

New Castle, NH – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s Atlantic Striped Bass Management Board approved Addendum VI to Amendment 6 of the Interstate Fishery Management Plan for Atlantic Striped Bass. The Addendum reduces all state commercial quotas by 18%, and implements a 1 fish bag limit and a 28”-35” recreational slot limit for ocean fisheries and a 1 fish bag limit and an 18” minimum size limit for Chesapeake Bay recreational fisheries. States may submit alternative regulations through conservation equivalency to achieve an 18% reduction in total removals relative to 2017 levels.

Addendum VI was initiated in response to the 2018 Benchmark Stock Assessment, which indicates the resource is overfished and experiencing overfishing. The Addendum’s measures are designed to reduce harvest, end overfishing, and bring fishing mortality to the target level in 2020.

Since catch and release practices contribute significantly to overall fishing mortality, the Addendum requires the mandatory use of circle hooks when fishing with bait to reduce release mortality in recreational striped bass fisheries. Outreach and education will be a necessary element to garner support and compliance with this important conservation measure.

States are required to submit implementation plans by November 30, 2019 for review by the Technical Committee and approval by the Board in February 2020. States must implement mandatory circle hook requirements by January 1, 2021. All other provisions of Addendum VI must be implemented by April 1, 2020. Additionally, in February 2020, the Board will consider a postponed motion to initiate an Amendment to rebuild spawning stock biomass to the target level and address other issues with the management program.

Addendum VI will be available on the Commission’s website ( on the Atlantic Striped Bass webpage in early November. For more information, please contact Max Appelman, Fishery Management Plan Coordinator, at or 703.842.07

ASMFC Presents Thomas P. Fote Prestigious Captain David H. Hart Award

New Castle, NH – The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission presented Thomas P. Fote, New Jersey’s Governor Appointee to the Commission, the Captain David H. Hart Award, its highest annual award, at the Commission’s 78th Annual Meeting in New Castle. Mr. Fote has admirably served the State of New Jersey and the Commission since 1991 when he replaced Captain David Hart as New Jersey’s Governor Appointee to the Commission.

Mr. Fote’s longstanding service to marine conservation and management is notable. His history is one of dedicated volunteerism on a continuous basis. After volunteering to serve in Vietnam, Mr. Fote was medically retired from the US Army as an Army Captain in 1970. Upon his return, Tom began to carve out a critical spot for himself in the world of marine conservation through diligent study, hard work, the willingness to ask penetrating questions, and engagement into a wide spectrum of conservation and fisheries management roles, all as a full time volunteer. In the process, he has become a knowledgeable and staunch fishery advocate, acting locally on behalf of his fellow New Jersey anglers, while also considering the needs of other states.

A strong proponent of habitat protection and enhancement, Mr. Fote recognizes the critical role healthy habitat plays in fisheries management. As the founding member and first chair of the Habitat Committee, was instrumental in the development of the Commission’s Habitat Program. Throughout his life, he’s become increasingly active in environmental issues and has been a powerful voice in opposition to those who would degrade the marine environment. Having seen firsthand the devastation of “Agent Orange” in Vietnam, Mr. Fote found that this same Agent Orange had been made in New Jersey and dumped into Newark Bay. Mr. Fote worked with numerous conservation agencies to rid New Jersey’s waters of a whole spectrum of contaminants.

With his service to the Commission dating back to 1991, Mr. Fote has become the onsite “functional historian” for the Commission. His long range perspective puts difficult decisions into context and brings clarity to confusing dilemmas. Understanding how important it is to bring new members up to speed so they can quickly and constructively engage in the Commission process, Mr. Fote goes out of his way to help new Commissioners understand the complexities of the organization and how to work through the sometimes confusing maze of options.

Mr. Fote firmly believes in the inherent strength of partnerships and collaboration. He frequently communicates with others to develop a compromise and/or coalition for the common good. His extensive knowledge, reputation, and impassioned viewpoint are key catalysts in bringing divergent groups together for a common cause. This is exemplified through his work as a volunteer with numerous organizations including the New Jersey Environmental Federation and the New Jersey Coast Anglers Association. Throughout his life, Mr. Fote has demonstrated that a conservation ethic and spirit of volunteerism can be lifelong passions. Atlantic coast fisheries management is better because of his involvement.

The Commission instituted the Hart Award in 1991 to recognize individuals who have made outstanding efforts to improve Atlantic coast marine fisheries. The Hart Award is named for one of the Commission’s longest serving members, who dedicated himself to the advancement and protection of marine fishery resources, Captain David H. Hart, from the State of New Jersey.

Strong winds today resulted in cancellations and difficult fishing conditions. The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands found a few keeper and short stripers plus some shorts.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar cancelled today, but saw some bass splashing Wednesday though they were hard to catch and only some were boated. A few shorts and little tunny hit.

Bob Correll of Bay Head checked his boat at Crystal Point in Point Pleasant around noon and was surprised to see a couple of stripers in the 40-pound class being lifted out of another boat that had braved the seas in order to troll off Long Branch.

I tried casting in Point Pleasant Canal, which was very fishable — but had no hits and didn’t see anything caught.

The forecast is west gusts to 40 knots tonight with seas to 14 feet after midnight in a gale warning. Friday starts with west winds at 25-30 knots and gusts to 40 before diminishing in the afternoon. That should help flatten the seas and clear the surf for a good weekend.

Tha bass bag limit increases in N.J. on Friday, but so does the size limit which goes up to 13 inches. for the 15 sea bass you can bag through the rest of the year.

Capt. Vinny Vetere had a hot trolling bite of stripers up to the 40-pound class yesterday morning far west in Raritan Bay with his Katfish from Great Kills. This time his TGT bunker spoons were more effective than his Ho-Jos. The hot spoon was was the gold/white Rattle Spoon.

TGT spoon.jpg



Scales n Tales found Raritan Bay stripers

Capt. Erwin Heinrich  faced difficult conditions with his Scales n Tales from Twin Lights Marina in Highlands this morning as light fog made it hard to spot bird action. Jim Hutchinson Jr. and John De Bona of the Fisherman, Jerry Gomber of Folsom Fishing Tackle and  I were intent on casting and jigging for stripers even though trollers were doing best on the scattered bait and fish marks. It took lots of moves before Erwin found some birds diving on surfacing fish in the west of bay. It wasn’t easy fishing, but we hooked up during the few shots on the surface while also scoring  by casting Tsunami Shads blind in the area.

Though the volume wasn’t great, almost all the bass were of legal size. I spent some time fighting a 46-incher that hit a 5 1/2-inch weighted Tsunami Shad on a 7-foot Tsunami Maxell  Platinum rod with a Tsunami Saltx spinning reel.  Erwin revived that bass alongside after the long fight before it started biting down on his hand took off with a slap of her tail. Gomber later caught a bass almost as large — and also caught others on a popper and a Tsunami Sand Eel. Erwin can be contacted at 908 477-7537


Capt. Vinny Vetere fished his Katfish from Great Kills even further back in the bay, and had steady action trolling with his bunker spoons producing best.

Unfortunately, the weather is turning on us, with small craft warnings up tonight before going to a gale warning tomorrow night. South winds at 15-20 knots start tomorrow before going to 20-25 with gusts to 30 in the afternoon. Showers and fog are other morning conditions.

Below is a shot by Jim Hutchinson of my 46-incher before release.


Al-46-inch bass