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Cutlassfish invade NJ

Many tropical species show up in NY/NJ Bight waters late in the summer, but rarely in quantity. Cutlassfish were virtually unheard of until a few years ago, but seem to be becoming a regular visitor. Indeed, Chris Lido (photos below) reported his last trip on the Gambler from Point Pleasant produced a quantity of that long, flattish, silver-skinned species with a narrow mouth full of fang-like teeth.

It was in 1960 when I first encountered cutlassfish in very different circumstances. I had been transferred from my initial assignment on a destroyer (USS John R. Pierce, DD-753) after graduation from Navy OCS, to serve as War Plans Officer at the Naval Station in Trinidad, West Indies. The first night there I went to the piers and observed those strange creatures chasing small forage fish under the lights — and found that they would hit a tiny diamond jig. At first glance, they looked dangerous to handle, but they’re no problem when gripped by the gill covers. The local workers who also fished on the piers wanted them and assured me they were good to eat.

I later found they are abundant in many areas, such as off Texas where they are called ribbonfish and are the prime trolling bait for king mackerel. In Venezuela I saw small boat fishermen returning to the beach at dawn with baskets of cutlassfish they’d jigged offshore at night.

A small craft advisory remains up through tonight, but by morning the forecast is down to southwest at 10-15 knots with a chance of afternoon showers.

Canyon bite still good when weather permits while porgies improve inshore

Offshore fishing continues at a good pace, but small craft warnings are up from Sunday morning to evening. The morning actually starts with a modest southwest 10-15 knot wind, but goes to 15-20 with gusts to 25 knots in the afternoon. Thus, inshore fishing conditions should be good early for the building porgy run.

Capt. Ron Dantee said he found improved porgy action on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands for the Quick Response charter. A 3-pounder topped the porgy catch, though there were none of the triggerfish also encountered on Friday. Thay did have a few blowfish and a fluke, while small sea bass are a bait-stealing problem. Santee will be back to daily open boat porgy fishing in the morning.

Capt. Mark DeBlasio reports his Sept. 15-16 overnighter for the Anthony Danza party on End Game encountered rougher seas than predicted, but was still successful as bigeyes and yellowfin tuna were biting — and a large wahoo was added.

Weekend prospects for blues & porgies look good

With light winds in the forecast, NY/NJ Bight boaters should be able to enjoy light tackle fishing for blues and porgies. while fluke are still in the picture to the east — and yellowfin tuna have been pretty consistent offshore.

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle didn’t have to anchor at all as 2-3-pound blues were jigged steadily on long drifts. Run-Off poppers were also very effective. The Big Mohawk has been finishing up fluking, but is chartered the next two days before going into dry dock Monday.

Capt. Ron Santee saw an improvement in porgy fishing on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands, and also noted that several large triggerfish up to 4 pounds were added to the catch. The volume of small sea bass and porgies stealing bait is a problem. The Fishermen is chartered Saturday.

The forecast is for east winds at just 5-10 knots with a shift to southeast in the afternoon.

Vinny D’Anton continues to pick away at school stripers in the Monmouth County surf, and even hooked a 32-incher this morning on a MirrOlure. That lure would be a good choice with mullet around, but Vinny hasn’t seen them at all so far.

Nick Honefchesky is offering the new Barrier Islands Beach Brawl t-shirt free to anyone signing up for the Oct. 7-8 event today at saltwaterunderground.com.

Lars Shuster took over the boat fly rod lead for little tunny in the Martha’s Vineyard Fishing Derby with this 11.8-pounder. Bob Correll got into a few surf blues in the 5-pound class on poppers, but the Derby leaders are around 12 pounds.

Plenty of inshore chumming action

Large quantities of chub mackerel have been located for some time off the Jersey Shore, and pretty much ensure a good light tackle catch for boats chumming them up along with small bluefish. Bonito and little tunny have been spotty so far, but are usually a possibility at the same time.

Miss Belmar Princess also hooked into several sand tiger sharks recently. The Golden Eagle from Belmar went right to the anchor this morning for the chubs while also adding choppers.

Bottom fishing for porgies is also taking hold, and should continue to improve. Sea bass are also in the picture, but presently out of season. Fluke remain legal in N.J. through Sept. 27, and boaters working to the east continue to catch them. This is also the best time for surfcasters to find a big fluke in the suds.

Both yellowfin and bluefin tuna are within range for most boaters, and often provide great sport by hitting poppers and jigs. Boaters working offshore lobster pot buoys usually find small dolphin plus an occasional bull.

The weather looks good with north winds at just 5-10 knots before shifting to west in the afternoon.

Chuck Many returned briefly to N.J. before heading back to his S.C. salt ponds and caught this fine channel catfish from a local pond.

Jim Hutchinson Sr. reports as follows for the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association:

“The entire crew of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association-including captains, mates, and supporters, invites everyone to participate in a truly exciting evening on Friday, September 23. There will be a cruising party aboard the “Black Pearl” pirate boat from 7PM until 8:30PM.

This event is slated to be a fun evening with proceeds benefitting the ongoing artificial reef project for the local reefs off LBI. Included in the scenic cruise will be music and prime viewing for the fireworks scheduled at Fantasy Island Amusement Park. There will be a cash bar.

The total cost of the event is $75 for adults and $25 for children. Questions about the evening can be directed to BHCFA president, Captain John Lewis. He can be reached at 609-670-5980 or captjohn22@comcast.net

A couple of the BHCFA boats had good angling action recently. Captain Ray Lopez had a successful trip out to the canyon on the “Miss Liane” chunking for tuna. He had on board David from Pittstown, Johnny from Forked River, and George from Watertown. They brought home some nice yellow fin and a big eye caught by Johnny, a 15-year-old.”

Captain Brett Taylor of “Real Reaction Sportfishing” had Joe Z and wife of Point Pleasant on a 3-hour bay charter. They targeted blowfish, and the team went home with 87 nice fish for the freezer. 

Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can be found at www.BHCFA.org

Golden Eagle’s dolphin trip was a success

It was “All the mahi you wanted” fishing during Monday’s canyon trip on the Golden Eagle from Belmar. Most were in the 5-10-pound class while a few were in the teens — along with some from 30-35 pounds. It was a lot different today on the inshore bluefish trip as only one small dolphin was boated among a good showing of 2-3-pound blues and a 5-pound pool-winning little tunny.

Capt. Ron Santee said he barely had enough fares to sail his first porgy trip of the season, but wanted to do some exploring in any case. That wasn’t very successful due to a roaring current, though there were some triggerfish boated. A move put them into some big porgies, but out-of-season sea bass were beating them to the clam baits. Santee will continue with the porgy fishing, but is not available on Saturday.

The forecast has improved considerably. Instead of gusty north winds, it’s now north at 10-15 knots.

It’s not often that a charter boat can make a half-day yellowfin trip, but that’s what Shore Catch did from Manasquan Inlet on Monday as they left at noon, loaded up on yellowfins by 4, and were drinking cocktails in port by 5.

89-lb Delaware state record cobia boated

What started out as an offshore trip turned out to be much more for Scott Brooks as he returned to Indian River Inlet with both a yellowfin tuna — plus a Delaware state record cobia weighing 89 pounds, 3.2ounces. According to the Field & Stream post, Brooks was on his way in when schools of bunkers were spotted off a beach close to the inlet — and he threw a bucktail jig into one of those schools before being surprised by the 63-inch cobia.

The Big Mohawk from Belmar will conclude its fluke season Friday before being chartered the next two days and going into dry dock on Monday.

The Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands switches to daily porgies on Wednesday.

The Paramount from Brielle has a special cod trip set for Wednesday 5-5 by reservation at 732 528-2117.

The morning forecast is for at west 10-15 knots.

Happy Birthday to Lee Wakefield, shown here with a sat-tagged striper on Chuck Many’s Tyman earlier in the year.

Fluke season winding down

Fluke fishermen are running out of time this season, though some of the largest are caught just before moving out to spawning grounds far offshore.

Capt. Ron Santee said there was less short action Sunday on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands when the weather was too nice with a lack of drift in crystal clear waters. A 7 3/4-pound fluke took the pool that day. There was also a 7-pounder reported Sunday on the Big Mohawk from Belmar.

Santee isn’t waiting for the N.J. fluke season to end on Sept. 27 as he’s already having to run beyond his normal fluke range in order to produce. The Fishermen will switch to full day porgy fishing on Wednesday.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a variety of fish on each drift today. Bluefish and chub mackerel were featured along with some jacks and bonito plus sea bass that had to be released and a big shark that released itself. Since they are on a canyon dolphin trip, the boat won’t be fishing for blues again until Wednesday.

The weather forecast is for southwest winds at 5-10 knots plus morning showers.

Bob Matthews sent the following from Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina :

“Lots of bait moving around the rivers and bays, Peanut Bunker,Spearing,Mullet
and some Sandeels.
We will soon see these bait fish migrate to our local surf,then the predatory fish
such as Stripers,Blues,Albies, and Fluke will be on the prowl,be ready.
As for the last few days Mother Nature has hurt the efforts for anglers,boats are
sailing again with mixed results,Fluke fishing is a little slower but still fairly good.
The Blue fishing has been very good,with a heavy mix of mackerel.
Tuna fishermen are venturing out with some good success,Mahi mahi,Cobia and
Wahoo are adding to their trips.
Our local ponds are giving up some very nice Large Mouth Bass and some big Catfish,
some anglers are going to the streams for holdover trout.
Fall is closing in and for many of us the best fishing of the year, see you all
on the hunt for Stripers. “

9/11 — a day that can’t be forgotten

There are a few days so significant that everyone remembers where they were and how they felt — and 9/11 ranks up there with Pearl Harbor and Kennedy’s assassination.

There had been a few giant tuna hooked at the wreck of the Lillian off the northern N.J. Shore, and the legendary Capt. Bob Pisano had to check that out. We left Belmar in a developing northwest wind, and had only started chunking when Pisano heard some radio conversation about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center. I checked out the TV, and though we were out of range we were able to hear some audio. Even the dedicated Pisano felt uneasy about what was going on, and we soon pulled anchor to head back.

We weren’t very far away from the World Trade Center on a straight line, and would have seen the smoke billowing high in the sky if not for the stiff northwester which kept it so low to the ground that we never saw any until almost back to Shark River Inlet. It was quite a while after that before we knew we were under attack — and who the enemy was.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a good day of bluefishing along with some chub mackerel, a few bonito and little tunny — and a surprise cobia. They have a few spots open on Monday night’s last canyon mahi trip. Reservations are required.

Monday’s weather looks good with south winds at 5-10 knots and 2-4-foot seas. Showers are possible.

Golden Eagle cobia

Bluefish limits common on Jamaica

The Jamaica from Brielle reported beautiful weather and a good bite of bluefish that provided limits for most along with lots of chub mackerel and a few little tunny. That boat also has openings on upcoming canyon tuna trips. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.

Little tunny were active this morning at Martha’s Vineyard, but Bob Correll of Bay Head, N.J. found them to be fussy during the first day of his vacation there. Fortunately, Bob was the only angler able to hook up and land one of those great game fish. The annual Martha’s Vineyard Fishing Tournament begins next week.

Capt. Ron Santee didn’t know what to expect after all the fluking time lost to bad weather, but was pleased with a decent pick on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. He’s ready to make the switch to porgies if fluke move to offshore spawning grounds early. A 4-pound fluke took today’s pool.

There’s a small craft warning up through Sunday morning though I don’t know why since the forecast is for northwest winds at 5-10 knots with 2-4-foot seas.

Mjke Rubino sent this shot of the Monmouth County surf this morning — which should be a lot calmer tomorrow.

Andea’s Toy had the U.S. wrestling team out to test their muscles on canyon tilefish before they headed to Serbia for the world championships

Small craft advisory up, but weekend looks good

Though most boaters cancelled NY/NJ Bight trips today and small craft warnings are up through Saturday afternoon, it’s only the 4-6-foot seas which seem to be a problem as the morning forecast is for northwest winds at 5-10 knots.

Capt. Frank Masseria of Vitamin Sea at Keyport said the previously good fluke fishing was tougher in northeast winds and a big swell, but should be fine by Sunday when he has availability.

Bigeye tuna caught on a recent canyon trip of Water Proof from Pt. Pleasant

Capt. Dave DeGennaro of Hi Flier at Barnegat had bluefin tuna action on his last trip as his party went 4 for 6 baiting 40-60-pounders on relatively light tackle. Dave notes that there’s still good weakfishing in calm waters of Barnegat Bay when the weather isn’t right for offshore trips.