Page 2 of 46

Still time to enter Friday’s Manhattan Cup

The Manhattan Cup will be contested Friday at its new site in Liberty Landing Marina at Jersey City. Last minute entries are possible by calling Gary Caputi at 732 740-9982.

The first year I fished that event (when it was in May) the weather was horrible, with a cold rain, hail, thunderstorms — and a tornado warning for Raritan  Bay to top it off. The weather the next year wasn’t much better, but it’s been a lot better since then —  looks perfect for Friday. Refer to the press releases from recent blogs for details about this event which primarily benefits disabled vets — including many who will be fishing for stripers and blues Friday.

There was good news today from the Golden Eagle out of Belmar as they started out catching sea bass before jumbo blues up to about 15 pounds showed up again. Anglers were able to jig as many as they wanted only a half-hour from the inlet.

Dave Lilly of Hazlet is probably the best fluke pro in N.J., with a string of tournament wins to prove it. Yet, he’s also found fluking to be terrible so far this year. He was all over today with no action until a rough bottom area off Sandy Hook produced the best ling bite he’s had in 30 years. The ling were big, and hit Gulp as well as squid on the drift. He left them biting to search for fluke again, and finally found a keeper plus a few shorts near West Bank.

At Atlantic Highlands, both the Sea Hunter and the Fishermen reported slightly better fluking today with some shorts and a few keepers. The Fishermen started out bottom fishing on rough bottom to put meat in the bags with sea bass up to 3 pounds plus a few ling and a couple of winter flounder.

Ray Soriente ran his outboard from Barnegat Bay to the north and found loads of bunkers from Shark River north. Working live bunkers didn’t produce, nor did hours of trolling.  Ray noted that fluking has been poor in Barnegat Bay so far.

Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno fished both the bay and surf sides of IBSP without a hit. Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park once again is getting reports of small sand tiger sharks hitting bunker baits intended for stripers and blues.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall came up with his first bigger striper on sand fleas this morning with a 27 1/2-incher from his local surf after being shut out in Shark River.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant will be sailing open for sea bass and ling at 7 a.m.  on Thursday. Call 732 370-8019 for reservations on the $75 trip.

Mc Ginn releases a fifty

Chris Mc Ginn was trolling a bunker spoon off Long Branch on Saturday from Hammer & Tails when he reached the summit of striped bass fishing success by hooking a 50-pounder. After trolling his trophy, he measured the 50-incher and weighed her at 52.10 pounds before releasing her to pass on those big bass genes to future generations.

While there hasn’t been much volume from the current run of big stripers, several in the fifties have been recorded along with many more 40-pounders. It’s been primarily a trolling bite, and lots of patience is usually required to get the right bite. There have also been reports of hits that just keep going before breaking off or dumping wire line reels — though those strikes are almost surely from bluefin tuna.

The 48-inch bluefin I caught Sunday while trolling with Mike Heaney on his Sea Vee from Point Pleasant in Little Italy wasn’t weighed, but I looked up a table of bluefin weights to length and that fish was listed at 65 pounds. It should have been on the heavy side of that average as it was stuffed with small sand eels  — many of which hadn’t even been swallowed when it hit a Chatter side tracker trolling bar just minutes after we started trolling. Al with Bob Correll in photo.


Al's bluefin

For the first time I was more worried about getting the $125 lure back than catching the fish, which was on the lightest tackle aboard — a Shimano TLD25 reel more suitable for small school tuna rather than an “over”.


This year’s regulations allow boats permitted in the Angling category to boat two small bluefins from 27 to 47 inches plus one large school/small medium of greater than 47 inches to less than 73 inches.  Charter boats are allowed three school tuna plus one large — and there’s also a quota for head boats of six schoolies and two large.

Boaters must be sure to obtain that permit by visiting or calling 888 872-tuna.

The surprise jigging catch of jumbo blues yesterday on the Golden Eagle from Belmar wasn’t repeated as blues they encountered were skittish and wouldn’t hit. They settled for a pick of sea bass.

The same applied to the big bluefish surf run at IBSP. Jerry Lasko said they never showed up this morning, though Maren Toleno caught a medium blue on a popper cast on the bay side.

I tried Shark River along with Vinny D’Anton as we failed to get a hit in good conditions. I moved to Point Pleasant Canal and did the same thing where other anglers said there hadn’t been a hit.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park had an unusual report of sand tiger sharks hitting bunker baits being fished for bass and blues . Those being sighted have been in the 3-4-foot class. Some anglers fish for them at night during the summer. They are protected and must be released.

At Atlantic Highlands, I haven’t been getting reports because Capt. Ron Santee frankly said fluking has been terrible. The only bright spot has been the occasional blast of big stripers that came up a couple of times early last week around Santee’s Fishermen and the Sea Hunter. Santee had a charter on Sunday and didn’t hesitate to switch to bottom fishing for sea bass, ling and some winter flounder which resulted in fillets for all. The Sea Hunter got lucky with a Saturday afternoon charter when big blues and stripers butted into the fluke fishing.

The forecast for Tuesday is northwest winds at 10 knots early, but switching to southwest with gusts to 20 in the afternoon.

Tuna moving closer

Mike Heeny of Allendale ran through Little Italy with his See Vee from Clarks Landing in Point Pleasant on the way offshore for tuna, and liked the looks of the bird action. Bob Correll ran out the $125 Chatter side running bar he’d bought the day before, and we were only trolling a few minutes before the Shimano TLD 25 reel started screaming. We had to run up on the fish to regain line, and I was tied up for awhile on that light reel before we were shocked to see a 48-inch “over” bluefin tuna just 14 miles from shore. I’ll have more about this tomorrow.

Jerry Lasko was into a big blue blitz in the IBSP surf this morning. The fish were moving fast, but he got four on poppers while Maren Toleno landed seven.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar got into a hot jigging bite of blues up to 14-15 pounds, and will be looking for them again tomorrow in clearing northwest winds at 7:30.


The Surf Kings competition yesterday evening at the Sea Girt National Guard facility only produced two small blues on bait. American Anglers took the lead with a 22 3/4-incher. but 45 minutes later Ray Lewis landed a 23 /4-incher to win the award for Surf Kings in an event that’s been contested for about 30 years. I made a few casts without result before dusk and a great cookout to conclude the friendly competition.


Little tunny move into tuna grounds

Though they normally don’t show up off the Jersey Shore until late summer, tuna trollers are already reporting quantities of little tunny jumping on their lures. I remember that happening once before, at least a decade ago, when they were mixed with small bluefins on the mid-range grounds. However, the bluefins being caught lately have been mostly much larger tuna such as the photo below which disappeared from yesterday’s blog when I published. That bluefin was trolled last Sunday from Capt. Dave De Gennaro’s Hi Flier out of Barnegat,

Capt. Chris Di Stefano was fishing aboard Frank Criscola’s center console from Brielle when the only fish of the day was trolled last week — but it turned out to weigh 54 pounds with the gill removed. Ironically, it was the same time last year when Chris took his son out and put him into a bass over 50 pounds on their boat from Shark River Yacht Club.

Fluke reports have been sparse with cold water still prevailing in the ocean and shorts dominating inshore. However, Greg Bazsa of Carteret did well Friday from his boat in Raritan Bay with four shorts and three keepers up to one of the biggest reported so far — an 8.25-pounder that was weighed at Fred’s Tackle in Sayreville.

Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno fished Island Beach State Park this morning and managed to get poppers to the only surface flurry they came across. Jerry said those blues were jumbos. There were lots of anglers on the beach, and they saw a few blues caught on bait.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported mostly big blues in both the surf and bay, but also weighed a surf bass of 38 inches and 17.9 pounds landed by Paul Berger in the surf on a bunker head.

Betty & Nick’s weighed two stripers this morning of 12 pounds on bunker and 15 pounds on clam. They also noted that big blues are in the inlet and hitting yellow Ava diamond jigs.

As of this morning, the Big Jamaica from Brielle had two openings on the Sunday 10 p.m. tilefish trip. Call 732 528-5014 for info.

Gary Caputi was fishing for the mid-range bluefins today, and reported that they moved from the areas where they had been. He still managed two large  little tunny, and said one boater making his first trip of the season managed to find the whales later in the day to make the only good tuna catch.

There was lots of boat traffic in point Pleasant Canal this morning, and I was happy to settle for a 21-inch birthday striper on a shad jig.

The forecast for Monday is south winds at 10 knots early, but becoming 10-15 with gusts to 20 in the afternoon with a chance of showers and thunderstorms. Continue reading → Little tunny move into tuna grounds

Hi Flier had a Memorial Day tuna blast

Capt. Dave De Gennaro got into the hot bluefin tuna bite  off  the central N.J. Shore on Memorial Day, and was limited out with 40-to-100-pounders by noon on his Hi Flier from Barnegat.. A call from Brian on the Dora Lee put him into the area of feeding whales and dolphins where the bluefins were gorging on sand eels.

The hot trolling lured were the Chatter Side tracking Bars which produced three tuna, and the Superbird Bar  that lured the other tuna.  Jim and Brady Trainor, Chip De Paul and Chris Whiting, all from Cherry Hill, were the anglers.  Hi Flier is running an open tuna trip on Sunday.  Call 732 330-5674 for info.

The Jamaica from Brielle had many limits of sea bass plus ling on its daily 7:30 a.m. trip. A monkfish (angler) was also caught . Alex Bell (8) of Whippany won the pool with a 4-pound ling.

The Jamaica has room on a tilefish trip departing at 10 p.m. Sunday. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.

Allen Riley had good news from the Sandy Hook surf this morning as his South Plainfield partner  John Mazzeo fished fresh cut bunker to beach a 38-inch striper estimated at 22 pounds before release.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar was into lots of small blues this morning, but they had a hard time catching them. A switch to bottom fishing produce a pick of sea bass.

Bob Correll and I joined Mike Heany of Allendale on his first trip of the season aboard his Sea Vee from Clarks Landing in Point Pleasant. We didn’t leave until 10 a.m., but found lots of bunkers just north of the inlet and up to Asbury Park, but there were no signs of stripers in them. North of there we didn’t see any bunkers. There were a few bluefish cuts on our live baits. Pound-size blues came up under birds as they fed on rainfish, and we caught some on metal.

I have lots more news to catch up on, but am still having writing problems with Word Press. Will try to catch up tomorrow.

Better shore fishing reports

Though there were few boat reports today, there was a slight improvement in northern N.J. shore fishing.

Vinny D’Anton broke the ice yesterday in his surf sand flea striper fishing with a 21-incher, and this morning he did the same thing in Shark River by releasing a couple of  similar bass and a cocktail blue on his Chug Bug. Bill Hoblitzell had caught a larger striper the previous day on his fly rod, so it appears the normal summer fishing there with light tackle may be underway.

I wasn’t part of that improvement while casting a jig in Point Pleasant Canal. My second cast at a favorite position produced a 3-pound bluefish and I had a bump on my next cast — but that was it. The only other fish I saw caught during my brief stay was a small blue released by Capt. Tom Savastano,

Capt. Vinny Vetere, of Katfish from Great Kills, has been trolling stripers up to the 30-pound class the last two days with his Ho-Jos. but bluefish have become a problem.

Sorry for the short report, but Word Press has been a problem tonight. I’ll catch up tomorrow.


Jin Louro fished the surf north of Spring Lake this morning to catch multiple short stripers and some small blues while casting the new Band of Anglers Hyperlastic Dartspin lure.






Enter Manhattan Cup now


Gary Caputi  provided the following press release:

The Manhattan Cup Charity Fishing Tournament, presented by Yamaha Outboards, is scheduled for June 7, 2019 at Liberty Landing Marina and the Liberty House Restaurant in Jersey City, NJ. You can support wounded combat veterans by entering to fish in any of several categories, and if you can’t fish, you join us for the awards dinner with these American heroes, guest speakers, celebrities and enter the raffles and auctions.

We bring a group of veterans out to fish the tournament in a special Warrior Division aboard boats donated by area charter captains. All are recently returning combat veterans dealing with wounds and PTSD, out for a special day of fishing and appreciation on the waters surrounding Manhattan and at shoreside events.

There are several ways you can enjoy the event. You can enter and fish your own boat and team in the Sportsman Division. You can purchase a donated boat for your team to fish with a professional captain. You can enter as an individual and be assigned to a donated boat. You can make a donation toward the purchase of a charter boat for a group or an individual veteran. Or you can simply make a donation or purchase dinner tickets. Got to and sign up, donate or purchase tickets. Not sure, call John DePersenaire at the RFA at 1-888-JOIN RFA; Gary Caputi at 732-740-9982 or Capt. Frank Crescitelli at 917-468-4817

This year the Manhattan Cup will honor Lt. Christopher J. Raguso, of Commack, NY, a true American Hero. Chris, an FDNY Lieutenant cited numerous times for bravery, died in a helicopter crash while deployed in Afghanistan in March of 2018 while piloting a US Air Force Rescue Helicopter tasked with evacuating wounded soldiers in the final battles against ISIS. Chris had deployed multiple times in war zones in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.  He lived his life in the service of others and eventually gave his life for his country, leaving behind a wife and two young daughters. Joining us to honor Chris is his father, John Raguso, noted fishing captain and outdoor writer.

In addition, the Manhattan Cup will honor Captain Al Ristori with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the dinner, something you certainly do not want to miss. Al has attended more Manhattan Cup tournaments as a member of the media and celebrity angler than anyone and he will be in attendance again this year.

If you fish, you can compete in any of three categories; Fly Tackle, Artificial Lures or Bait Fishing. You’ll enjoy an amazing day surrounded by wonderful people, celebrity anglers and chefs, all pitching in to make the event an epic one. It starts with breakfast and a pre-tournament meeting at Liberty Landing Restaurant followed by a day of fishing for striped bass and bluefish.  After fishing, premium cocktails, hot and cold appetizers with arguably the best view of the financial district around.  Following cocktails, fish tales, and networking the Awards Dinner starts. Raffles and auctions commence featuring fishing trips, charters, tackle and much more. All proceeds are used for fisheries conservation efforts and to get combat veterans out fishing.

Your entry includes a swag bag filled by our generous sponsors in addition to gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Top Chef Tom Colicchio is making up special box lunches at his Manhattan eatery, ‘WICHCRAFT. Capt Jeff Northrop will be supplying piles of his world-famous Hummock Island Oysters sustainably farm-raised in Connecticut for everyone to enjoy. This is your opportunity to experience an unforgettable day of fishing in the shadow of downtown New York City while helping support the heroes who gave so much to defend our freedoms.

To purchase a professional captain and boat for the day or to enter your own boat and team go to or call Capt. Frank Crescitelli at 917-468-4817, Gary Caputi at 732-740-9982 or the RFA Office at 609-294-3810. You can also purchase a boat for a team of combat vet anglers or sponsor a single vet for a donation of just $750. This is an all charity event and is fully tax deductible.  For this one day New York is not just the Financial Capital of the World but will also be the fishing capital of the world.  Please join us in making the Manhattan Cup bigger and better than ever,


I got a shock this morning when  I stepped into the local surf and jumped right back out as it felt like it had dropped 10 degrees overnight after yesterday’s strong south winds. The striped bass must have felt the same way as the only hit on sand fleas produced a 21-incher for Vinny D’Anton. Tommy Cox had been casting his popper before we arrived and also found no interest.

Allen Riley found perfect conditions at Sandy Hook, but four hours of working lures only produced a short fluke on a teaser. He noted that the park is officially open, and anglers must arrive 5 and 7 a.m. to get a pass at the entrance for parking at no charge. Only four other anglers were fishing there this morning,

The Jamaica from Brielle is fishing daily for sea bass and ling at 7:30 a.m. — and doing very well. Bluefishing is poor, so they have switched the Saturday night trip to ling from 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported good bluefishing in the surf and bay on both lures and bait — and most are big.

There was a lack of fluke reports from Raritan Bay, but the Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands got a good surprise Tuesday when a school of stripers came up and fares with shad lures managed to catch a few.

Friday’s forecast is for light northwest winds in the morning which switch to west in the afternoon with a chance of showers.





Offshore fishing opening up early

With all the offshore reports coming in, it’s hard to believe that it’s still May. Bluefin tuna of all sizes have been well within range of seaworthy center consoles along the Shore, and the early canyon bite has been hot as the Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant has tallied four giants, 40 smaller bluefins and 19 mako sharks so far.

Giants have also been caught closer than the canyons in shallower waters where anglers have a better chance of beating them on the lighter tackle normally used for medium bluefins. Chris De Gennaro of Wall weighed the first on his Yellowfin from Manasquan  on Saturday at 392 pounds after a 2.5-hour battle.

That fishing has probably distracted attention from early season sharking, but South Jersey Marina in Cape May weighed two makos the weekend before last. An 88-inch female weighed 230 pounds, and an 83-inch male was surprisingly heavier at 248 pounds. The South Jersey Shark Tournament is coming up there June 5-8.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall opened up sand flea fishing for surf stripers last year on May 30. He made his debut for this season this morning after returning from Florida as we fished the local surf together. Tommy Cox was down early to try to duplicate yesterday morning’s catch of a legal striper on a popper, but nothing was raised this morning. It didn’t look good for the sand flea fishing either, despite perfect conditions with white water on the bars. However, we stuck it out and had a few light hits before I broke the ice with three small bass from 18 to 21 inches before beating the rain off the beach. Now that we know there’s hope, there will be more effort put into waiting out the bigger bass.

Joe Melillo reported from Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant that with little boat traffic there was a good pick of small bass and medium blues in the canal on plugs.

Bob Matthews , at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina, says fluke are being caught though keepers are at a premium.  Sea bass and ling are keeping party and charter boats in consistent action. Some boaters get into big stripers in the ocean. John Reilly of Hooked Café in Belmar trolled three from 36 to 38 pounds yesterday off Monmouth Beach. Small stripers are in the surf.

Nick Honachefsky says his friend Don Mancuso made a most unusual catch yesterday when a houndfish ate a bunker chunk fished off Normandy Beach. I’ve never heard of one of those tropical visitors being up here so early.

At Seaside Park, John Bushell Jr. was greeted by an angler as he opened Betty & Nick’s with news that big blues had been hitting in the surf all night on mullet and cut bunker.

This afternoon’s storm should just be a memory by morning as the forecast for tomorrow is north winds at only 5-10 knots before switching to southeast in the afternoon.





Another slow day for fluking

Once again it was a beautiful day for boating, but fishing reports were sparse.

Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands said fluke fishing was better today only in comparison to Sunday. There were lots of shorts, but only a handful of keepers. He tried some of his big fish spots, but they weren’t ready yet as perhaps the water is too cold.

I did no better in the Spring Lake surf after casting a Storm Searchbait jig for fluke near low tide. However, Tommy Cox had arrived earlier and cast a popper to release a legal striper. That turned out to be a one shot deal.

Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno fished Island Beach State Park, where Maren caught two large blues and a small striper on a popper. Jerry didn’t get a hit in what he called the clearest waters he’s ever seen in the park. However, the bars aren’t very fishable at low tides with any sort of swell coming in.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park is weighing in some blues from both the surf and bay. Grumpy's surf blue

Hunter Evans (12) beached this 31-inch, 9.8-pounder.

Grumpy’s also had in interesting report from Al Acquaviva about a small sand tiger shark he released in the surf Sunday evening — the first such report this season.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar looked for blues and stripers but couldn’t find either before switching to sea bass which produced catches up to limits plus ling, dogfish, ocean pout and a whiting.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant ended up with a decent pick  of sea bass and ling today.

Blog readers commented on yesterday’s entry about few reports. Stuart Rosen was happy with his fluke catch as that 28.5-inch, 7.5-pounder caught in NY Bight took the pool onCapitol Princess, which sails from Skyport Marina in N.Y.

Eric Wasserman ran his boat out of Hoffman’s Marina in Brielle yesterday, but didn’t get a hit trolling south of the inlet before finishing up with a couple of short fluke in the river.


Nice day – slow fishing

With a nice day on a holiday weekend, I expected to get a lot of reports — but that wasn’t the case.

Capt. Stan Zagleski of Elaine B II from Bahrs in Highlands said there was little movement today — which is never good for fluking. Some keepers were caught during periods of movement, but fishing wasn’t up to yesterday’s standard.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar found bluefish, but they were skittish and wouldn’t hit well. A attempt at striper fishing also didn’t work, so they filled in with decent sea bass fishing though not enough.

Jim Louro ran his Vicki Lynn from Manasquan up the river where he and Frank Manzi caught two keeper fluke plus shorts in a couple of hours this morning on pink and chartreuse bucktail jigs tipped with Gulp of the same color.

I gave Point Pleasant Canal a try despite the weekend boat traffic, and got a couple of bumps that kept me there longer than I planned. I didn’t see anything caught.