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Lack of drift for fluke

The very light winds we had today made for pleasant ocean fishing conditions, but the resulting slow drift was a problem for fluke drifting.

Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst joined Emil Pavalac’s  party on Tagged Fish from Highlands. Emil’s nickname is Typhoon, but he certainly didn’t bring one today. Fluking in the Shrewsbury Rocks area was slow, but the six keepers they caught were all in the 3-to-5-pound class, and six large sea bass were added. Matraxia didn’t find many shorts for his ALS tags, but had lots of excitement with the same heavy spinning rod he used to catch his first doormat during his last trip with Capt. Chad Hacker. After a 15-minute battle, Tank got a shark alongside (probably a brown) before Hacker released what he estimated to be a 70-pounder.

Capt. Ron Santee said he only picked at fluke and sea bass most of the day in a poor drift with his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands, but waited for the afternoon ebb which produced a spurt of action in overtime that included the pool fluke of just over 6 pounds in the ocean.

At Belmar. the Big Mohawk couldn’t match yesterday’s doormat, but they weren’t too far off with an 8.13-pounder. The early start helped, and they’ll be sailing again Monday at 6 am.

The Golden Eagle had lots of sea bass action to fill two-fish limits along with ling and fluke plus a few small blues.

It was a mixed bag in Shark River this morning as I only released a 25-inch bluefish on a Kettle Creek jig, but the regulars waded to a shot of stripers on poppers.

Weigh-ins for the last day of the White Marlin Invitational are going on as this is being written. I’ll have the results whenever they become available later tonight or tomorrow.

WMIT ends today

There should be an exciting end to the 49th White Marlin Invitational run by the Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club.  That contest finishes with 21 of the 22 boats fishing and nothing unbeatable on the board — though the 356-pound blue marlin weighed by Melina will be tough to beat. I’m sorry I couldn’t update this last night, but the WMIT doesn’t change the leaderboard as new entries come in and this info wasn’t available until the morning.

Saturday’s fishing wasn’t up to Friday’s standard when all nine boats fishing had at least a catch or release for a slightly revised total of just four white marlin releases plus the boating of an exceptional nine bigeye tuna along with  18 yellowfins, two dolphin and the 356-pound blue marlin.

Dave Ridley reports that only  five of the 14 boats fishing Saturday scored with the unusual showing of bigeyes continuing  as 16 up to a 140.5-pounder were caught along with only five yellowfins up to 57.85 pounds and just one of the targeted white marlin was released.

The big money would be won by a white marlin large enough to weigh, though the scarcity of whites makes that look like a long shot. Mary Joe’s 156.2-pound bigeye is looking good despite the relative abundance of those tuna. Jersey Nutz won the Treasure Chest last year with only a 62.5-pound tuna, but could be in line for the dolphin money as they lead in that species at just 8.95 pounds. The wahoo category is wide open on the last day which ends with weigh-ins from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. and the awards party.  If provided in time, I’ll add a blog with the results tonight – or otherwise Monday morning.

Great opening to WMIT

The Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club’s 49th annual White Marlin Invitational was a week late in terms of good weather, and thus took a beating in entrees as only 22 boats hung in with the contest that was  moved back to provide for better fishing weather. Even then, no boats sailed into still lumpy seas on Thursday. It came down to a three-day tournament for each boat to get in two days of fishing, and only nine boats took a shot at Friday — which turned out to be probably one of the best in WMIT history despite a wicked late afternoon  thunder storm the held up the weigh-ins.

Every boat caught or released fish. The total reported came to only five white marlin releases and one 8.95-pound dolphin — but the expected 15 yellowfin tuna and the hoped-for eight bigeye tuna plus a rarely-seen blue marlin weigh-in.

Melina, a BHMTC boat, had a great day with the blue marlin longer than the contest minimum, which weighed 356 pounds, plus three bigeyes from 86.3 to 117 pounds.  However, their bigeyes weren’t big enough as Mary Joe (bigeye specialists MJ’s) took the tuna lead with a 156.2-pounder. The first day was already a huge improvement over last year when Jersey Nutz won the Treasure Chest with only a 62.5-pound tuna

Though only 22 boats are involved, the Calcutta total up for grabs is $67,500. After yesterday’s fine fishing, there should be plenty of action at the weigh-ins this afternoon. The results came in much too late last night due to the storms, but there shouldn’t be any problem in getting another blog out when results are in tonight.

The Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands did well all day with sea bass and mixed-size fluke despite a lack of current for drifting.

The Jamaica from Brielle reported a hot Friday bite of chub mackerel plus a few blues and lots of ling and sea bass’

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had another busy day today with sea bass to get the two-fish limits plus ling.

Capt, Dave De Gennaro is going to run open on Sunday for a trip to Barnegat Ridge with his Hi Flier from Barnegat for bonito and sharks  — and hopes the weather continues to look good Monday for the mid-range offshore areas that have been producing bluefin tuna.

 

There was no lack of boat traffic in Shark River this morning as stir-crazy boaters rushed out to sea. I managed a couple of small stripers casting from shore right away, but soon moved to the still somewhat rough surf where  I did nothing on poppers. Frank Manzi stuck it out with the small bass in the river and ended up with nine, while Vinny D’Anton got three there (including one on a Chug Bug) before adding another on that popper in the Belmar surf.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar found an 8 3/4-pound fluke that was close to the seasonal leader despite still large swells Friday. The Big Mohawk from Belmar did even better today as Joe Links boated a 10 3/4-pound doormat fluke.

TBM-Joe Links

R. I P. Walter F. Johnson III

The Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club got their White Marlin Invitational underway today, and I’ll add a blog later if there are any weigh-ins this evening. The registration gathering last night was stunned with the news that the club’s greatest striped bass fisherman has died. As best I can determine at this time, Walter F. Johnson III was only 66.

Walt’s proudest catch among many he made was a 59.40-pound striper  boated in 2008. I had the privilege of fishing with him and his daughter Allison from Vermont aboard Chuck Many’s Tyman from Highlands a couple of years ago. I’ll have more information about the passing of one of New Jersey’s famed anglers as it becomes available.

Walter Johnson III

Speaking of huge stripers, Fred Golofaro reports from the Long Island edition of The Fisherman magazine that quite a few 50-and-60-pound trophy bass have been caught at Montauk and Block Island this summer. However, Capt. Vinnie Vetere  has been proving that there are still similar lunkers to the west. He did a crew trip earlier this week with his Katfish from Great Kills and trolled his Ho-Jos to not only boat a 60.10-pounder himself — but added a 53 for a friend. He was hoping he’d found the ultimate honey hole for huge stripers, but a charter party the next day had to settle for a limit up to the twenties.

Vetere -62

Though many boats sailed into much better weather conditions today, there were few reports.   The Golden Eagle from Belmar had no trouble filling the two-fish limits of sea bass once again along with some fluke and ling plus a few of the targeted, but so far scarce bluefish.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc wasn’t happy with the fluking is found on a beautiful day with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands. It wasn’t nearly as good as yesterday as there were relatively few keepers among the shorts.

Shore fishermen benefited from the poor weather earlier in the week when there was no boat traffic. That changed today, and I only released two school stripers in Shark River. However, Vinny D’Anton caught two before I arrived on jigs, and later waded to an area where his Chug Bug raised bass up to a 24-incher during a brief flurry that was the first surface showing in some time.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported better surf conditions and continued good fluking  there. Rays also returned to the calmer surf.

Allen Riley of South Plainfield didn’t have high hopes for Sandy Hook this morning, but found the surf to be quite fishable. There were some snappers popping out of range, and they didn’t bother his Gulp in the wash that produced two small fluke while another hit a bunker chunk.

The big money Grandpa Savino Memorial Fluke Tournament will be contested out of Great Kills on Saturday after having been postponed last Saturday due to the weather forecast.

The weather forecast for the weekend sounds pretty good if you can handle the forecasted 5-10-knot winds.

Much better weather & fishing

Though several party boats planned to sail today, the only report I received by mid-afternoon was a good one from Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter at Atlantic Highlands. His only problem was the lack of anglers on the docks this morning which, he attributed to the weather forecast. I don’t know what they heard, but it looked good to me — especially for inshore fishing.

The small craft warnings were just for waves that have created a messy surf, but are of no consequence except for small boaters having to exercise caution at inlets during the end of the ebb tide.  That small craft advisory is continued through Friday afternoon though the forecast for tomorrow is SW winds 5 to 10 knots with 3-5-foot seas.

Semkewyc said it was a gorgeous day on the water, and fluking was pretty good as everyone had a keeper and some bagged two among a lot of action with shorts.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported surprisingly good fluke action in less than ideal surf conditions. Hen Hollins weighed a 23-inch, 4.65-pounder this week, and a 24-incher was also reported. S&S bucktails with a Gulp teaser rig are doing the job.

Ken Hollins flukeThere was some life with school stripers in Shark River this morning. I cast a paddletail jig to release seven up to a 25-incher. Frank Manzi got one early, but returned late in the morning to once again find good action under the sun as he added six bass up to a 24-incher.

The Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club’s White Marlin Invitational got underway today, but I haven’t been able to find out if anyone sailed.  I suspect that most will opt for the great forecasts of light winds and moderate seas right through Sunday.

Better weather coming

It appears that the Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club made the right move by pushing back its White Marlin Invitational as fishing weather looks a lot better from Thursday through Sunday. Registration is going on from 6 to 8 this evening in the Beach Haven club house.

Though small craft warnings are posted through late Thursday night, winds are forecast to be dropping out that day so it may be fishable. Since the forecast is for light winds all the way from Friday to Sunday, most skippers will probably opt to use their fishing days then.

If you’re planning on boating a large medium or giant bluefin tuna, you’ll have to do so Thursday. The National Marine Fisheries Service has determined that the northern quota (north of Great Egg Inlet)  for trophy bluefins from 73 inches curved fork length up is almost filled and will be closed at 11:30 p.m. local time on July 26. Trophy bluefins can be aught in the Angling or the Charter/Head Boat (when fishing recreationally) categories, but can’t be sold. Regulations for school and small medium  bluefins from 27 to less than 73 inches remain the same. The southern trophy fishery was closed March 17. Catch-and-release trophy fishing is permitted.

The party and charter boat business has taken a beating this week with cancelled trips day after day due to the weather. Even though fluking is possible in somewhat protected waters for the Raritan Bay fleet, Capt. Stan Zagleski still didn’t sail with his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands rather than be confined to the calm waters of Sandy Hook Bay where the action has been from almost all shorts.  He resumes sailing Thursday. The Fishermen and Sea Hunter have indicated that will sail from Atlantic Highlands tomorrow.

The Big Mohawk from Belmar didn’t sail today, and is chartered on Friday — but will resume open boat  fluking at 6 a.m. Saturday.

Once again there was no boat traffic problem for shore anglers casting into Shark River this morning.  There were four of us casting at first light, but with no hits and rain moving across the river I lost two partners before finally hooking a 19-inch striper just after they left as it started raining lightly. Flyfisherman Bill Hoblitzell then gave it up with heavier rain starting just before I added a similar striper release — which was the end of my “action”.  Frank Manzi returned late in the morning  and was surprised to release 10 small stripers while also having his soft plastic jig cut in half by an unseen bluefish which have been scarce in the river this summer.

Surfcaasters are hoping that waves will diminish in the next few days so they can take their shots in more fishable conditions. Fluke are a best bet in the surf. and there’s always a possibility of hooking one like this 22.5- inch, 4.25-pounder  weighed recently at Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park by Warren Eckert — who beached it on a bucktail tipped with Gulp.

Grumpy's fluke

The WMIT is set to roll

The Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club’s White Marlin Invitational begins the summer series of offshore tournaments with lots of money involved. That contest begins Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. with registration at the Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club, followed by fishing from Thursday through Sunday after everything had to be moved forward a day due to offshore weather forecasts.. Fishing hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

In addition to the Beach Haven weigh-in, there will be another at Hoffman’s Marina in Brielle.  For details visit http://www.thewmit.com — or call Dave Ridley at 908 963-5924′

The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant will be fishing that contest with high hopes after doing very well with bigeye tuna this summer.  Indeed, Friday’s bigeye catches were unprecedented as the Viking 48 had 14 and the 60-foot Ritchie Howell added nine. bigeyes on canyon rnunner

Bigeyes were scarce during last year’s tournaments, and Jersey Nutz won $78,000 in the WMIT Treasure Chest with a “mere” 62.5-pound tuna. Almost any bigeye should be large enough to clear yellowfins off the leaderboard.

The lack of bigeyes  was a problem during the July 11-14 South Jersey Yacht Sales Offshore Showdown at Cape May as Jack Beattie won the tuna division with a 52-pounder that was barely ahead of three 51-pounders, a 50 and a 49.

The Canyon Runner fleet has an unusual open Saturday overnighter on both boats which can be chartered — or seats reserved on an open boat basis for $899. Call La Rosa at 732 272-4445.  They will also be fishing the fifth HUK Big Fish Classic that will be run out of ports from N.J. to Virginia from July 27-29  for overnight fishing. For info on that contest visit bigfishclassic.com.

Thanks to Al Hrehowsik for sending the results of Saturday’s Raritan Bay Anglers Fluke Tournament out of Perth Amboy that was won by Manual Prado of Union with a 7.85-pounder worth $1098. That fluke hit Gulp fished near the Verrazano Bridge as he and Cassiano Dos Santos added five other keepers up to 4 pounds.  See photo below with the trophy presentation.

Second and $500 went to a 5.57-pounder that Billy Anderson of Bedminster caught while fishing with Bryan Pieros of Leonardo on his Bid Time in Ambrose Channel. Brian Cleary from Bayonne was third for $323 as he used Gulp in N.Y. Harbor to catch a 5.4-pound fluke from Jason Zebrowski’s boat. Scott and Kathy Jo Kaelin of Parlin won $210 for fourth with a 4.92-pounder as both had limits in Raritan Reach.

 

A tug and tow ended up stuck on the sand bars at Lavallette this morning, and efforts to pull it off during low tides were fruitless. Hopefully, that can be accomplished om the high tide tonight. Bob De Pietri of Sharky’s Machine took the following shots:

barge aground off Lavallette

 

tug on beachThe weather forecast probably kept most anglers home today. I didn’t see a single boat while casting from shore in Shark River, but didn’t see many fish either. I managed two small stripers on a jig, and Bill Hoblitzell  got one on a fly while Frank Manzi raised a fish to his popper.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported some fluke were caught in the surf despite rough and dirty waters yesterday morning. They note that snappers are getting larger and more common both in the bay and surf. That’s bad news for surfcasters using Gulp as they’ll be sacrificing a lot of Gulp tails to snappers from now on. Grumpy’s also noted that before the rough seas there were “tons” of cownose rays in the surf.

Joe Melillo. at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant says fluke are being caught at the south end of Point Pleasant Canal — and boaters are doing very well with them from there into Barnegat Bay. Crabbing has been outstanding.

The only boat report today came from Capt. Rob Semkewyc, who barely had enough customers to sail his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands. The south wind was a problem right away — and then it got worse. Semkewyc had to fish calmer waters that produced mostly short fluke as there were fewer keepers than yesterday. With the forecast of more wind plus rain for tomorrow, the Sea Hunter won’t be sailing until Thursday.

 

Rockaway Reef .expanded

Important note: Due to the offshore forecasts, the Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club has moved everything in their White Marlin Invitational back a day. Thus, registration at the club will be on Wednesday evening instead of Tuesday, and fishing days will be from Thursday through Sunday. More about this in tomorrow’s blog.

Following is a release from the N.Y. DEC regarding additions to Rockaway Reef:

DEC Announces New Marine Habitat Created at Rockaway Reef as Part of Largest Artificial Reef Expansion in New York State History

Expansion of State’s Network of Artificial Reefs Will Provide New Marine Habitats, Promote Biodiversity and Restore Fishery Resources

Ongoing Efforts Will Bolster Economy Through Increased Opportunities for Tourism and Recreation

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the deployment of materials to create a new marine habitat at Rockaway Reef as part of the Governor Andrew Cuomo’s ongoing initiative to develop a stronger, more diverse marine ecosystem and provide shelter for fish and other marine life off New York’s shores.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Governor Cuomo’s innovative approach to expand New York’s network of artificial reefs is a visionary plan that will create healthier, more vibrant and diverse aquatic ecosystems while bolstering the economies of New York’s coastal communities. Today’s addition of material to Rockaway Reef will provide new habitat for countless marine species and increased recreational opportunities for the region’s sport fishing and diving industries, and is the latest example of the Governor’s recognition that our environment and economy are inextricably linked.”

Rockaway Reef is a 413 acre site located 1.6 nautical miles south of Rockaway Beach in the Atlantic ocean, with depths ranging from 32-40 feet. Through the largest artificial reef expansion in state history, this week materials from the Tappan Zee Bridge, including concrete columns, deck panels, and pipes, were added to Rockaway Reef to improve habitat and recreational opportunities at this site.

As directed by Governor Cuomo in April, and with unprecedented, multi-agency coordination, recycled materials from the Department of Transportation, Canal Corporation, and the Thruway Authority are being used to enhance New York’s artificial reef sites, including Rockaway Reef.

Construction of New York’s first artificial reef dates back to 1949, and this latest initiative marks the state’s first coordinated effort to stimulate the full environmental and economic benefits of artificial reefs. The artificial reef expansion will increase the biodiversity of habitats for a variety of fish and crustacea, promote biodiversity and environmental sustainability, and boost New York’s recreational fishing, sport fishing, and diving industries. DEC manages the state’s 12 artificial reefs, which include two reefs in Long Island Sound, two in the Great South Bay, and eight in the Atlantic Ocean.

New York’s marine resources are critical to the state’s economy, supporting nearly 350,000 jobs and generating billions of dollars through tourism, fishing and other industries. More than 500,000 anglers in the region will reap the benefits of this initiative, supporting the region’s growing marine economy which accounts for approximately 9.7 percent of Long Island’s total GDP.

The materials are being added to Rockaway, Smithtown, Shinnecock and three additional reef sites that will be enhanced this year, including Moriches, Fire Island, and Hempstead.

Materials used for the reef expansion are being strategically placed and built out of hard, durable structures such as rock, concrete, and steel pipes, and usually in the form of surplus or scrap materials that are cleaned of contaminants to mitigate potential impacts to sea life before being recycled on the reef sites. Once materials and vessels settle to the sea floor, larger fish like blackfish, black seabass, cod, and summer flounder, move in to build habitats within the new structures, and encrusting organisms such as barnacles, sponges, anemones, corals, and mussels cling to and cover the material. Over time, these recycled structures will create a habitat similar to a natural reef. Today’s enhancement of Rockaway reef follows recent expansions of Shinnecock and Smithtown Reefs.

Artificial reef construction is part of Governor Cuomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative, an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. Visit DEC’s website for more information about the Artificial Reef Program.

A map, site coordinates and additional information on New York State’s Artificial Reefs (PDF, 914 KB) are available to plan trips to a New York State reef site.

Before visiting one of New York’s artificial reefs, please bfamiliar with the current NYS Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations. View DEC’s artificial reef building video on YouTube and learn more about our volunteer observation program on DEC’s website.

Due to the wind forecast. it appears that few boats sailed today.  There was certainly no boat traffic problem in Shark River when I fished there from shore this morning. The waters were clear, but fishing was tough as I only released two small stripers on a jig — and didn’t have another bump.

Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina that Mother Nature has put a big dent in fishing activity. The largest fluke he weighed this weekend was a 5 1/4-pounder caught by Aiden Mulred of Wall

Capt. Rob Semkowyc .was surprised to see some anglers at Atlantic Highlands this morning in view of the weather forecast. He got them out aboard his Sea Hunter, but had to fish in Sandy Hook Bay due to rough conditions. It was mostly short fluke there, but one fare managed his three keepers.

The Raritan Bay Anglers Charity Fluke Tournament results have been received, and I’ll run them in tomorrow’s blog.

 

 

 

 

Boaters avoided tough ocean

The forecast of strong south winds on an already rough ocean was enough to keep most of the fleet ashore today, and there were no reports.

The Raritan Bay Anglers Charity Fluke Tournament was fished in rough  conditions on Saturday, but I’ve been unable been unable to get official results.  Bryan Pieros did report having been in the lead with the fluke caught by Billy Anderson, but ended up being pushed back to second place.

Pieros fluke

Capt. Stan Zagleski said his Saturday regulars on Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands were rugged enough to fish open waters while most of the fleet hid in Sandy Hook Bay. They did have shots at keepers during the first two drifts before drifting conditions deteriorated. Denney Coleman of Short Hills bagged his limit including fluke of 4 13/16 and 5 3/8 pounds to win the pool.

Denny Coleman fluke

Reader Steve Mirande said he hooked a cownose ray first, but “luckily” it got off so he could catch four fluke up to a 19-incher on a 1/2-ounce white jig tipped with a Zoom Fluke plus a few sundials on the teaser during a late afternoon trip to the Bay Head surf last week.

 

 

Last chances for JCAA Fluke Tournament early entry

 

The 34th annual JCAA Fluke Tournament is coming up on August 4 with seven regions and 11 weigh-in stations from Jersey City to Cape May. Those planning to fish that event should take advantage of the early entry fee of $130 per boat which must be paid by July 23. After that the fee is $160.

Each region features a $1200 first prize plus other prizes through tenth — and there’s also a Doormat Fluke Category worth $50,000 for the largest fluke over 12 pounds.

To top it off, this unique contest provides an opportunity for any entrant to be a big winner as all are eligible for prize drawings at the awards on Thursday, Aug. 9 in the Clarion Motel, Toms River. Topping those prizes is a boat combo consisting of a 14-foot Starcraft, Yamaha outboard and Yacht Club trailer. That grand prize is usually won by someone who never even weighed a fluke. To enter visit http://www.jcaa.org and use your credit card.

As noted last night, the Grandpa Savino Memorial Fluke Tournament was postponed to next Saturday due to the weather forecast, and the Point Pleasant Elks cancelled their contest at the last moment — but don’t have a make-up date as yet.  The Raritan Bay Anglers Charity Fluke Tournament was contested in poor conditions. I’ll have those results in tomorrow’s blog.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a nice start to bottom fishing, but the ocean got “cranky” in short order. They still caught quite a few sea bass, some ling and a 5-pound fluke. Following tonight’s gale warning and rain, Sunday is forecast to be very windy — and the Golden Eagle will not sail.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc reported a tough day for fluking on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands as he had to end up hiding from rough waters. The Sea Hunter will not sail Sunday.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant didn’t sail today, but reported lots of chub mackerel plus sea bass and ling on Friday’s trip. They will not sail Sunday.

Shark River was very pleasant early this morning, but shore fishing was slow. I scratched out two small stripers on jigs, and flyrodder Bill Hoblitzell also caught two. The previous morning he had caught three 4-to-5-pound blues on fly poppers and got bitten off by another — but there was no sign of them today. I made a few casts into the Belmar surf that was marginally fishable in the east wind — but full of marsh weed.

Bluefish haven’t only been scarce in Shark River this summer. Scott Leadbeater of Haddon Heights has found very few in Raritan Bay even though he sees many bunker schools there.