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Raritan Bay striper fishing starting to open up

Even with windy and cold conditions, Raritan Bay stripers are active enough to indicate a big bite is coming — which could be tomorrow in the fine weather predicted.

A small craft advisory comes down tonight, and by morning it will be west at a mere 10 knots before going southwest in the afternoon.

Capt. Joe Massa sent the photo of his snag hook filled with peanut bunkers that aren’t supposed to be present at this time of year.

Peanut bunkers in March!

Capt. Joe Massa had two unusual reports from Friday’s fishing aboard his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina. A couple of fat legal stripers were kept after being caught on shads upriver at the back of Raritan Bay — and it turned out that they had adult bunkers in their stomachs. It wasn’t surprising that bunkers were there already, but stripers usually don’t feed on them this early. Massa then spotted what appeared to be a bunker school and cast a snag hook to get a bait, but was shocked to see the treble filled with peanut bunkers. Bunkers arrive in the bay full of roe before going back to the ocean to spawn, That results in large quantities of peanuts by late summer, but how could there be peanuts now when spawning hasn’t even started? Peanuts migrate south in the fall, but perhaps they’ve adapted to overwintering in the warmer rivers.

A small craft warning is up through Sunday afternoon as west winds gust over 30 knots after midnight. The morning forecast calls for west winds at 20-25 knots plus gusts to 30.

The Saltwater Expo finishes up Sunday at the NJ. Expo Center in Edison.

The 30th Asbury Park Fishing Club Show in on today from 9-2 at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel, 1401 Ocean Ave.. Admittance is $5. It’s a great show for custom lure collectors as almost all regional wood lure artists will be there. Skip Smith’s Skippy plugs will be at the Crazy Dogs display, It was in 1997 that Skip earned his way into the Asbury Park Club by catching a most unusual March ocean jetty striper of 25 3/4 pounds.

Chuck Many reports from Hilton Head, S.C. as follows:

Had calm seas on Thursday, so Bobby and I decided to run out to the inshore reefs and see what we could find. Had a great Black Drum bite on one reef and a bunch of grouper on another (mainly small, but a couple beauties). When we weren’t catching them, other reef critters (sea bass, bluefish, squirrel fish, jacks) made it non stop action. Great day!


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Another huge tog from Maryland

Twenty-pound blackfish were virtually unheard of when I was a kid, but they continue to come of areas fished by boats out of Indian River Inlet in Maryland. Veteran angler Dennis Muhlenforth scored the latest with a 20+pound, 31-incher on the Fish Bound from Ocean City.

That tog was released, and was also the 16th of at least 20 pounds caught on Fish Bound over the years.

Capt. Fred Gamboa is busy at the Saltwater Expo which continues through Sunday at the N.J. Expo Center in Edison. but his Andreas Toy is in the water at Perth Amboy and already finding school stripers in the back of Raritan Bay.

The Saturday forecast is for west winds at 10-15 knots plus gusts to 20.

I haven;t been getting ay winter flounder reports, but Tom O’Conner called with his results after a few hours at Belmar this morning when he caught four on sandworms including 13-and14-inch keepers. .

Saltwater Expo opens at noon

Saltwater Fishing Expo opens tomorrow

The only sportsmans show devoted to saltwater fishing opens tomorrow at the NJ Expo Center in Edison and runs through the weekend. Friday is the ideal time to take in that show as the crowds will be lighter and you’re more likely to be able to interact with the pros at over 200 exhibits. There are also many seminars by pros such as Crazy Alberto Knie. For a complete list of seminars, visit Adult admission is $15, though kids 6-11 pay only $3 — and those under 5 are admitted at no charge.

The show opens from noon to 8 Friday. Saturday hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — and it wraps up Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Rahway Fishing Flea Market is set for Saturday at St. Thomas Church Hall at 1400 St. Georges Ave. Admittance is $5, except for kids 12 and under who don’t pay.

The Saltwater Underground TV segment on surf stripers will air on Sportsman Channel at 10:30 a.m. Friday and at 9 a.m. Sunday.

The gale warnings are down, and morning winds will be south at just 10-15 knots before going west at an ocean calming 15-20 knots in the afternoon.

Gale watch

A gale watch is up in NY/NJ Bight. Northwest winds at 15-20 knots will gust to 25 in the afternoon. Rain is also likely.

Another “lost” great white caught in Alabama surf

Not long after I wrote about the most unusual catch of a big great white shark in the Pensacola surf, an even more unusual similar catch was made on March 6 in the Alabama surf at Orange Beach. Once again there was a professional shore fishing charter service involved as Coastal WorldWide guides put their party into a very big shark — though a species they never expected. Everyone took part in the battle at 4 a.m. before the protected white, estimated at close to 11 feet, was released. Not surprisingly, that was the first instance of a white being hooked in the Alabama surf which is much shallower than ocean surf.

A gale warning is up in NY/NJ Bight though Wednesday afternoon. Northwest winds at 30-35 knots are predicted for the morning, before dropping to 25-30 in the afternoon.


Saltwater Fishing Expo opens Friday in Edison

The best sportsman’s show in the east opens Friday in the N.J. Expo Center at 97 Sunfield Ave. in Edison. All the major fishing tackle companies exhibit at the Saltwater Expo, which also features seminars by such famed anglers as Crazy Alberto Knie and Nick Honachefsky.

Friday is an ideal day to take in the show before the weekend crowds. The Expo opens at noon, and runs through 8 p.m.

Adult admission is $15, while kids 12 and under are admitted at no charge. For detailed info go to

A small craft warning is up at present before changing to a gale warning through Wednesday afternoon. The morning forecast is for west winds at 25-30 knots plus gusts to 40. Rain is also likely, but snow is expected in New England.

Chuck Many is hooking fish in Hilton Head salt ponds, such as the black drum below, before turning his attention to NJ stripers.

My son Mike is down from Nashville and enjoying a few days in the sun with Kathy and I in Ft. Myers while his son Aiden fishes ponds in our development. The bass weren’t large or abundant, but Aiden fooled a big tilapia with a bread bait. I wasn’t aware of them being in the ponds until then.

Trophy tog still being hooked off MD

Blackfish in the teens and even bigger continue active for anglers fishing aboard the Fish Bound out of Ocean City, Maryland. Friday’s trip produced nine tog over 10 pounds up to 30-inch, 20 1/2-pounder plus a 17-pounder!

There was an error in my account last night of a season-opening Raritan Bay striper trip as I noted that we had a four-man release total of over 400. After publishing, I realized that the actual total was “only” over 200, and revised the blog to reflect that. This is to correct the earlier post.

Monday’s forecast is for east winds at 10-15 knots before switching to 15-20 with rain in the afternoon. A small craft warning goes up late tonight before becoming a gale watch Tuesday morning to afternoon.

Worms out-stripers in

North Jersey striper pro Dave Lilly has a foolproof method of determining when striped bass turn on in local waters, and the good news is that it happened today as heavy rain and mild temperatures brought worms out of the ground! Now it’s just a question of catching the linesiders

Capt. Joe Massa did just that yesterday with his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina by trolling small stretch plugs far back in Raritan Bay and tributaries. There were no keepers, but most were decent bass such as t to break the one below.

Chuck Many tried tried to break the ice on stripers a few years ago on his Tyman out of Highlands in early March with no success at first, before assembling a crew for a longer effort. He found some marks off Perth Amboy where we anchored and went through two flats of worms releasing school bass on light tackle. Then, on our way in, we spotted a few swirls and added more bass by casting jigs. The four-man release total ended up at over 200, though there wasn’t a keeper among them. I suspect that after the mild winter even legal bass are probably waiting to be caught right now.

Sunday’s forecast is for north winds at 10-15 knots before switching to east at 5-10 in the afternoon.

Great white shark released in Pensacola surf

Following up yesterday’s blog about tagged great white sharks being located in the Gulf of Mexico, there was a relevant entry this morning on my Facebook about a white that was actually caught in the Pensacola surf.

The Outdoor Life post was about a Feb. 12 catch during a Big John Shark Charter trip after Capt. David Miller ran a yellowfin tuna head for bait 900 yards offshore with his kayack. There was nothing “IGFA” about the battle as four fishermen fought the shark from a shark rack contraption anchored in the sand by just cranking on the big game reel as commercial giant tuna fishermen do from their rod holders.

It took only a bit over an hour to get the shark close enough to identify it as an endangered white rather the expected tiger or bull. Since federal law requires whites to be released immediately, there wasn’t time to properly measure it, but John McLean has caught 12-foot sharks and estimated the white at 13 feet before the crew cut the line and pushed it in the right direction.

This is the first time I’ve heard of a large white being caught in the surf, though they’ve proven several times that they aren’t afraid of shallow waters by attacking swimmers and surfers. Though NOAA Fisheries must be pleased to hear about that release, I wonder how Pensacola beachgoers feel about it?

A small craft warning is up in NY/NJ Bight from this evening to late tonight, before being followed by a gale warning from Saturday morning to afternoon. The forecast is for northeast winds at 20-25 knots plus gusts to 35 along with morning rain and snow.