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Hunker down for northeast gale

Some surfcasters got lucky today as the northeast winds held off and the surf was generally fishable. — though that’s not likely to be the case in the gale force winds predicted for Sunday.

Jim Louro said he caught three stripers before daylight at Belmar, and Frank Manzi got one. The action died at slack water, but Manzi kept at it and eventually beached his largest bass of the fall — a 30-incher. Vinny D’Anton got there in time to catch a bass on a 6-inch Tsunami Eel.

Jerry Lasko put in a full day at Island Beach State Park and caught three stripers casting metal, while Maren Toleno released 13.

The fishing conditions were good in those areas with outer bars to break the swell, but Point Pleasant Beach didn’t look good with a big swell breaking on the beach. The northwest winds following the northeast blow should set the surf up for mid-week fishing.

It may be a lost weekend

It appears that my blog didn’t post, so I’m summarizing the bad news. We’ve already got a rough surf. and it’s due to get worse with increasing northeast winds culminating in gale warnings for Sunday morning to evening, The switch to northwest winds after that will take time to knock down and clear up the big seas for better fishing conditions in colder temperatures by the middle of next week.

There were no good reports today in a southeast wind. Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno had been picking a few bass in Island Beach State Park early in the morning, but they caught nothing this morning.

Windmill hearing tonight

Capt. Paul Eidman sent the following message about tonight’s windmill hearing from 6-8 p.m.  in Atlantic City
The new wind farm area coming to the Atlantic City/Southern NJ area will be constructed 10 miles off the beach. It will provide new fish holding structures for rec boaters within the next 5 years. Recreational fisherman are key “stakeholders” and our input is requested. Learn more about what is happening along our coast.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) will be holding a Public Stakeholder Meeting focused on Governor Murphy’s offshore wind goals and the BPU’s solicitation for 1,100 MW of offshore wind capacity. At these meetings, BPU staff, members of the NJ Offshore Wind Interagency Taskforce, offshore wind developers, and environmental NGO’s will be describing the State’s process for developing offshore wind, the Offshore Wind Strategic Plan, and will open the opportunity for the public to participate and be engaged in the process.
Atlantic County Government Building Auditorium
1333 Atlantic Avenue
Atlantic City, NJ 08401
Capt. Paul Eidman
The east wind was tough on boaters today and also on surfcasters. I joined Jim Louro at Belmar where there had been sand eels on the beach yesterday and some decent-sized stripers feeding on them. The east wind was fishable, but the fishing was poor. Bill Hoblitzell caught a short bass on a teaser just before daylight, and I was shocked when a two-foot bass engulfed a blue paddletail, rigged by Louro on a 1/2-ounce jig head, right in the wash, Yet, I never saw another fish caught by over a dozen anglers spread along the beach despite what appeared to be ideal striper conditions with lots of whitewater plus birds picking often within casting range.
Jerry Lasko drove to IBSP again  where he scratched out a bass and Maren Toleno released a 27-incher. That little but of action occurred early. The word at Castaways Tackle in Pt. Pleasant was that some bass had been caught early in the local surf.

Sea Hunter throws in the towel on stripers

Even when keepers were hard to some by, Capt. Rob Semkewyc had been finding lots of short stripers with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands. However, all that changed today. The bait was still there, but not a single short could be jigged — and Capt. Rob is throwing in the towel on the season a bit earlier than last year.

Surfcasters should have more time, but you couldn’t prove that by my results this morning. I took a first light look at Pt. Pleasant, but moved on to Bay Head where there was some good-looking whitewater. I only got one very light tap there, and later found that some striper action had developed where I almost started. Jim Louro had three good-sized schoolies at Belmar, and Vinny D’Anton lost one there. Jerry Lasko caught two bass in IBSP and Maren Toleno had three as there was only a very early bite.

Sand eels are the attractor, and they tend to move around. Surprisingly, Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park had reports of bass being hooked on swim shads. I haven’t heard of any peanut bunkers in the surf for weeks. Everything could be different tomorrow as the perfect conditions of today with a light northwest wind are forecasted to change to east at 10-15 knots.

The Big Mohawk from Belmar reported that blackfishing was slower than yesterday, though some limits were taken. They’ll be sailing at 6:30 in the morning.


Christmas gift ideas for anglers

From the time I was a youngster just getting into fishing, there was nothing I looked forward to more at Christmas than any kind of fishing tackle. My parents didn’t fish, so the few hooks or floats they gifted were usually not appropriate for the dock fishing I was doing  by bicycle, but I still got a kick out of speculating about how I might be able to put them to use some day.


Though there’s only limited fishing opportunities now, small striped bass should be available in the surf throughout the month and possibly well into January. Thus, relatively light surfcasting gear can be put to use right away.

My favorite surf outfit is the Tsunami Elite 8-foot, 10-inch two-piece rod that’s light enough to cast with all day but still with enough power to handle a big bass should one show up. Even though I drive a Honda Accord, I use that rod as if it were one-piece as with just a a slight bend of the tip it fits in a compact car from the back corner to the front corner. It got a good workout with 40-pound cownose rays in the summer, and is teamed with a Sjimano Spheros SW5000 reel filled with 30-pound braid. That outfit can handle the 3-ounce metals required on a rough day or the light 6-inch Tsunami Halographic Sand Eels that are the go-to attractor on calmer days or when the wind is behind us. Below is a shot Jerry Lasko took of me at IBSP last week with a typical current striper on the outfit described and the Tsunami Sand Eel.


Al's surf bassYou can’t go wrong with a package of the Tsunami eels as a stocking stuffer. Many types of metal  will do the job in heavier water, but I’ve done best with the Run-Off Swimming Sand Eel in silver. Various 1 1/2-to-2-ounce metals with red, white, black or green tails are often effective with the small sand eels that are now the basic forage. Teasers are important, and a wide variety of flies  and small sand eel imitations will do the job. Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant ties up a no-tangle teaser rig that holds the teaser off at an angle so it doesn’t wrap around the leader. Melillo also notes that this is the time to bring in rod and reel repairs so he can work on them over the winter and have everything ready for next season.

If you’re not sure about what to get, a gift certificate is an easy alternative. For boat fishermen the same applies to party and charter boat trips.

Even lighter tackle is appropriate as the end-of-the-season mini-bass take over. I then switch to a light 7-foot rod with a Canyon 350 reel — the same outfit I cast with during the season in Shark River and Point Pleasant Canal.

There wasn’t much news from the surf today as it was still rough from yesterday’s north wind. I talked to one angler leaving Bay Head who hadn’t had a hit. but saw another surfcaster catch a 16-inch striper.  Jim Louro had much better conditions at Belmar than yesterday, and caught two bass that included a slim 24-incher and a mini-bass. His friend J.J. got one before dawn on a teaser, as did Dr. Dave Cheli.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar had “lock-and-load” blackfishing today as tog hit crabs as soon as they hit bottom. There were many limits plus loads of shorts.

The forecast for Wednesday is NW winds at 15-20 knots before dropping to 10-15 in the afternoon.

At Brielle, the Jamaica is sailing to the far offshore wrecks for jumbo sea bass at 11 p.m. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations. The 100-foot Paramount will be making the same trip 10 p.m. That’s a limited trip at $195. Call 732 528-2117 for reservations.





The Big Jamaica from Brielle will be sailing at 11 p.m. tonight and Tuesday to what’s almost definately the best bet right now — the far offshore deep water wrecks for jumbo sea bass plus some porgies, ling, white hake and pollock.

Limit catches of the big sea bass were common during Sunday’s trip when the pools were won by pollock. Kirk Davis of Middletown had a 15-pounder and Duy Mack of Hamilton a 12-pounder.  Reservations are required for these trips and others the Jamaica will be running throughout the Christmas period. Call 732 528-5014. Don’t worry about the cold, as you may be wearing gloves at the dock but be taking them off when the anchor is dropped as offshore water temperatures are higher and it can be quite mild out there.

The Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands has stopped operating until spring, but striper anglers can fish aboard the Sea Hunter from that port on Wednesday and Friday,

The marine forecast for Tuesday is looking good at north 5-10 knots before going northwest in the afternoon. Wednesday’s wind will be NW 10-15 with gusts to 20. Thursday should be east at just 5-10 knots before shifting to southeast in the afternoon.

This morning’s north wind was stronger than predicted and hard on surfcasters. Jim Louro toughed it out from Belmar to Shark River Inlet for two hours since the waters were clear and he saw some birds picking. The one bass he caught the day before was unusual in that it was larger than most at 25 inches and slim — wheras all of the smaller bass we’ve been catching in the surf appear to be stuffed with sand eels.

The Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands will be sailing for blackfish on Tuesday at 7 a.m.

bass-Tuesday-Sea Hunter The Sea Hunter will be looking for stripers like this on Wednesday and Friday

Stripers still here — just fussy

Striped bass fishing has been picky, but there are still bass in the vicinity and the fishery should last at least through the month.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc said his recorder marked bass that sometimes “paved the bottom” today, but his anglers on the Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands only picked at the suddenly very fussy fish. He’ll be sailing again on Wednesday and Friday.

Even the small bass in the surf have been hard to locate in quantity. I joined Bob Correll in Bay Head this morning where he had caught two bass yesterday, and I managed two 22-inchers on the 6-inch Tsunami Sand Eel that were the only hits. There was no sign of fish or bait, and those bass seemed like miracles after all the blind casting.

Jerry Lasko went to IBSP at dawn and came up with only one bass. Vinny D’Anton heard that Jim Louro got a bass in Belmar.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant got into some big blackfish last week, and will sail daily this week through Thursday as an open boat for $75 at 7 a.m. Call 732 370-8019 for reservations.

The forecast for Monday is north at 15-20 knots before diminishing to 10-15 in the afternoon. Tuesday looks great with just 5-10 knots north.

Blackfish biting — for some

Blackfishing is a matter of being at the right spot at the right time — and that’s where Nick Honachefsky was today. He fished aboard a 34-foot Regulator with Christian Driscoll, Christian Palmisano and Justin as they limited on tog by 9:30. They kept 3-5-pounders and released a couple of 8-pounders plus 10.6 and 12.6-pounders to spawn again.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer reported blackfishing was off today as they just weren’t committing to the baits. The Golden Eagle has ended their striper season due to low turnouts created by the cold. They will start up again if the mackerel run starts.

The Big Jamaica is sailing from Brielle to the offshore sea bass wrecks at 11 p.m. Call 732 528-5014 to check for openings.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands didn’t have enough customers to sail for stripers today, but will be ready to go tomorrow with a forecast of NE 5-10 knots shifting to SW in the afternoon.

Surf striper fishing remains tough, but Bob Correll of Bay Head caught two shorts in his local surf this morning. Jerry Lasko said there was only a minor bite early  in IBSP as Maren Toleno caught five though he only missed a few hits. Vinny D’Anton said that Jim Louro managed three bass in Belmar.

Good weekend wind conditions for fishing

While the weather remains cold, diminishing winds should produce more comfortable fishing conditions over the weekend.

The forecast is for 10-15 knot northwest winds on Saturday and just 5-10 north on Sunday before shifting to the west in the afternoon.

Party boat striper fishermen who are afraid of the cold are missing out on some good jigging. At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc  had another good day with his Sea Hunter despite a very fast drift, with three bass over 28 inches (down from seven yesterday and six the day before)  — put lots of slots. The jigging action has been between the channels and down the beach. Capt. Ron Santee didn’t have enough to sail, but hopes to get out tomorrow with the Fishermen.

The big swell has moderated and blackfishing conditions are good. The Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands had many limits on Wednesday. They sail at 7 a.m. The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported blackfish were chewing Thursday, and two old spawners of 8 and 10 pounds were released by conservation-minded anglers.

The Big Jamaica from Brielle is trying to put together an overflow trip for jumbo sea bass that will leave at 9 p.m. today . It’s limited to 25 fares at $195 each. Call 732 528-5014 immediately in order to secure a spot. If there aren’t enough to make the trip, the Jamaica will sail its regular striped bass trip tomorrow.

Surf striper fishing has been spotty. Steve Mirande put in a full day and caught a couple of small bass in Bay Head and Mantoloking early, but then didn’t do anything until catching a hickory shad and a sun dial in the Point Pleasant Beacch surf as the sun was going down.

John Letizia hit it right early in the morning when he fished the walk-in areas at Island Beach State Park and caught six bass and a hickory shad on a Tsunami Sand Eel before joining Jerry Lasko in his Beach Buggy to add a few more.  Jerry caught eight bass early while Maren Toleno had 10 on the Tsunami Sand Eels. I got there too late and only caught one bass on a Castaways white teaser ahead of the Tsunami Eel. Just as yesterday, the fishing shut down under the bright sun. Jerry and Maren returned at dusk to each catch one bass.

As action further north has also declined, Jim Louro of Spring Lake and his friend J.J. fished IBSP early from a beach buggy and each caught one bass.

Vinny D;Anton tried Point Pleasant Beach late in the afternoon and only saw one small bass caught.


Sea Hunter finds even better jigging for stripers

Capt. Rob Semkewyc was happy with yesterday’s half-dozen keeper stripers plus slots on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, but said today was even better. There was also plenty of action with shorts as the disappointing fall season may be shaping up for another hot December finish as occurred last year after a very good earlier fall fishery.

The surf striper report isn’t nearly as good despite ideal conditions with a northwest wind and light swell. There were good reports from the Seaside Park tackle shops of very fast fishing with small stripers early in the morning on metal and teasers — along with a pick at other times. I started at Point Pleasant and only saw one bass caught before moving to Bay Head where there was no action. I joined John Letizia for a ride to IBSP to fish the walk-in areas, but we got together there with Jerry Lasko in his beach buggy. It was already mid-morning, but Jerry and I each got two bass and John one at the first stop before low water and a bright sun shut off what little bite was left. Tsunami Eel rigs were most effective.

Nick Honachefsky reported nothing at Point Pleasant and Bay Head, but a move to Lavallette produced three bass up to a 27-incher.

Vinny D’Anton had negative reports from his friends fishing beaches to the north.

Tank Matraxia and his crew from Lyndhurst fished for blackfish at Sandy Hook Reef aboard Tagged Fish from Highlands. Legal tog were not hitting well, but spiny dogfish weren’t a problem. A toadfish was caught far from its normal inshore habitat.

Fishing conditions remain good despite the cold. Northwest winds of 15-20 knots are forecasted for Friday, but drop to -10-15 with gusts to 20 on Saturday — and to just 5-10 west on Sunday.