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Big Mohawk finds ocean stripers

The Big Mohawk sailed from Belmar this morning for blackfish, but ended up with a catch of stripers in the 10-to-15-pound class — presumably in the ocean. This sounds like the April run we had in the ocean during April about a decade ago. The Golden Eagle from Belmar got the news and has set up Saturday and Sunday trips at 7:30. The Big Mohawk also added a few blackfish.

The wind is going northeast at 10-15 knots after midnight, but is only forecast to be east at 10-15 with gusts to 20 knots in the morning. The Saturday forecast is west at 5-10 knots — but with rain in the morning.

Bigger bass showing

The Tackle Box in Hazlet reported Matt Calabria got into keeper bass Monday afternoon in the back of the bay — including this 37.5-incher which is the largest reported so far. He was casting Tsunami Shads soaked in Fin Essence bunker oil. mbass-Matt

Legal bass moving into Raritan Bay

Chuck Many had to cancel Monday morning’s trip with his Ty Man from Highlands , but Mike Greene joined him for an evening trip that produced 25 bass on artificials which were over half keepers.  The largest was 33 inches.

I’m having a problem with Word Press, and will add reports tomorrow.


Robert Dreyer has best catch — a kayacker in need

Blog reader Robert Dreyer had no luck seeking stripers while casting lures in the back of Raritan Bay on Friday and Saturday, but he made the best catch of all by rescuing a kayacker who had fallen in the water and was in big trouble as 45 degree waters were leaking into his two-piece suit for 15 minutes.

Hypothermia had started when the rescue was made, and they warmed him up as best they could before handing the victim over to surfcasters who waded out as far as possible at Keansburg Beach.

Dreyer warned kayackers to dress properly while waters are so cold — and exercise caution, but saw one on Saturday fishing in a t-shirt.

There was better news about stripers in the bay during the last couple of days. Phil Sciortino reported from The Tackle Box in Hazlet that Matt Calabria trolled Rapala X-Raps from his boat to catch bass up to a 20-pounder.

Kevin Kuriawa noted that his friend Rick Pagluco trolled over 20 bass including a 33-incher in the bay.

Capt. Rick Woerner of Carnivore from Cliffside Marina in Sewaren (where Dockside Bait & Tackle is located) made a trip this afternoon from 1:15 to 3:30 and cast Storm Shads in the back of the bay for 30 bass including the only keeper at 31 inches for Joseph Bobel plus Jeff and Jason Plungif.

This was the opening day of the blackfish season, but there were no reports as this was being written from the Belmar blackfish boats.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports stripers on bait in the back bay. Mike Di Salvo caught a 35-incher and released two other keepers.

Tuesday’s marine forecast is for southeast winds of 10-15 knots. It shifts to northwest 15-20 on Wednesday– with gusts to 30 in the afternoon.

Vinny D’Anton reports from Sarasota that he plugged an 8-pound jack cravalle and a 3-pound bluefish yesterday morning, while Frank Manzi fought a 10-pound cravalle — the toughest of all inshore fish.

Blackfishing opens tomorrow

Blackfishing opens tomorrow, and despite gusty northwest winds there will be boats waiting for the first catches of the spring.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar didn’t sail today due to lumpy seas, but they’ll be fishing inshore at 7:30 where the northwest wind will knock down the seas. The Big Mohawk from Belmar gets back into action for tog at 7 a.m.

Sorry for missing Saturday’s blog. We drove down to Florida on Friday and had expected to have internet in our home as I had checked with Comcast prior to leaving to ensure it was working. As it turned out were completely out of connections until a technician arrived this evening.

After the negative report about Raritan Bay stripers on Thursday, Capt. Chris Di Stefano reported that a friend trolled stretch plugs off Morgan on Friday to catch a dozen bass, including a 29-incher.

Ocean Explorer finds some cod

There’s still  some hope that a spring run of cod will develop off the Jersey coast. The Ocean Explorer got out from Belmar on Thursday and had warm, calm weather with plenty of life on bottom. Unfortunately, most of that life was bergalls. Some of the latter were big enough to provide fillets which are very good eating. Two cod were boated, including one over 20 pounds. They’ll be fishing again on Friday.

The news from Raritan Bay wasn’t as promising. Capt. Rick Worner had Art Berkman aboard his Carnivore from Sewaren to fish the back of the bay where there had been hot school striper action Monday.  However, the water temperature had dropped and none of the boats fishing had any action in poor conditions. This is probably just a temporary setback as that mass of schoolies likely haven’t gone far. The forecast for Saturday starts off well with south winds at 10-15 knots, but it blows up in the afternoon and some rain is possible.

I’m traveling on Friday, but will catch up Saturday afternoon.

Raritan Bay stripers were in perfect condition

It occurred to me after Monday’s wild light tackle action on Chuck Many’s Ty Man from Highlands, which produced 207 short stripers up to 26 inches  in the back of Raritan Bay, that there wasn’t a single fish that didn’t look healthy. There wasn’t a single mark or any sort of flaw on those fish, though I was surprised to see sea lice on a couple.

I assume these were Hudson River fish, but sea lice are only present in the ocean. I wonder where those bass came from as early as March? There were a couple of kayackers fishing on that 6-foot flat where we were catching bass on lures after first scoring with worms in 14 feet, but there have been no boat reports so far,. That will surely change in April.

April 1 will also be when the Big Mohawk from Belmar makes its first trip of the season as blackfishing becomes legal. Departure is at 7 a.m.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported a good bite of school stripers continues in the back bay along with a pick of winter flounder.

Friday’s weather is looking good with southwest winds of 10-15 knots.

Ocean Explorer codfishing Thursday

The northeast wind seems to have blown itself out, and the Ocean Explorer from Belmar is planning on a return to codfishing at 7:30 Thursday.

Their Sunday trip produced a few cod and ling as they had to fish through an abundance of dogfish. Spring codfishing is often good, and conditions should be suitable with a south wind of 5-10 knots before increasing to 10-15 with gusts to 20 knots in the afternoon.

Joe Melillo had no news on stripers in the canal or on the beach, but knew of a couple of short and keeper flounders caught off the pier at the end of Bay Street in Bay Head yesterday. Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant will be back to regular hours on April 1.

At Seaside Park, Betty & Nick’s Tackle reported lots of small stripers were caught over the weekend in the back bay. Yesterday was a blowout with that northeast wind. The shop opens at 6 a.m.

Best ever March school striper bite in Raritan Bay

As noted in yesterday’s brief blog, Chuck Many found a great bite of small stripers in Raritan Bay with his Ty Man out of Highlands. At my age it’s hard to come up with new  “best evers”, but there was surely never any better bite in March to compete with yesterday’s action on both bait and lures. That should set up a fine April when that sort of action might normally be expected.

I joined Bob Bowden and Dave Glassberg, both of Little Silver, at Bahr’s in Highlands around 10:30  as Many is mooring his Ty Man there until Gateway Marina gets its floating docks in. Many was full of hope despite having made three trips this month without even a bite. Bowden and Glassberg had been checking Shrewsbury River over the weekend and noted that the previously abundant bunkers had moved out.

Chuck ran right to the bay, and only marked small bait schools on the way west. A couple of stops to throw a cast net on those marks only produced one bunker before Many looked for a spot to ancho in the back of the bay. . He finally found a few small marks in 14 feet at 12:25.

It only took about 10 minutes before Chuck hooked Ty Man’s first fish of the year — a small striper. Then we all started to get hits on worms with the moderate northwest wind behind the outgoing tide.

There was only one short period of a slow pick when the current got stronger, but we stayed put to let our chum pots attract more bass and were soon  into a better bite of mostly 20-inch bass with a few up to 25 and 26 inches. There were no keepers, but one was hooked before the hook pulled after a good run. There was also one large flounder that hit the whole worm though a flounder rig with pieces of bloodworm never got hit.

Those bass had fancy tastes as they wanted the $220 a flat bloodworms, but also settled for the slightly less expensive sandworms. On the other hand, frozen clams drew very few hits. Chuck fills up his hook with worms, but I did about as well by fishing a large single bloodworm on a small circle hook. Several times I caught two or three bass on the same used bloodworm. The release count was up to 141 by the time the two flats of worms were finished, and we started running home by 4:50. We were also eating the food we hadn’t had time for — but that didn’t last long as swirls were spotted.

I had a Tsunami Shad on my light spinning rod and hooked up quickly. They were the same size bass, but seemed to be feeding on something very small as we only saw boils and no surface breaks. Yet, the bites in just six feet kept coming right up to almost dark as we left them biting when the wind went northeast and light rain started.

There must have been thousands of bass on that flat as we got at least a hit on almost every cast on everything we tried. without having to move the boat. Bob switched to a small top water plug and was soon raising bass and caught four that way — in March!.  Chuck wanted to get to 200 releases, but before he could got all the lines out the total was up to 207. Those fish were very aggressive, and some almost swallowed my shad. Chuck wasn’t even fishing during that non-stop action as he was busy taking fish off lures just as when he was a youngster mating on the Cock Robin from Point Pleasant.

Todays cold northeast wind wasn’t good for fishing’ but the winds are diminishing –and drop to 10-15 knots with gusts to 20 tomorrow.

Ty Man blitzes short stripers in Raritan Bay

Chuck Many proved today that persistence and skill  pays off in fishing success.. After three trips in Raritan Bay with his Ty Man last week didn’t produce a single fish, he went out this afternoon and came up with 207 striper releases plus one flounder for the four-man crew. All were shorts up to 26 inches, and we went  through two flats of worms after anchoring up in the back of the bay about 12:15. Over 100 bass were released before we started heading back to Highlands and coming across swirling bass that provided even better fishing on anything cast blind in 6-foot depths. We left them biting as it was getting dark with the northeast wind and light rain starting.  I’ll have more about this fishing tomorrow.

The weather that started this evening doesn’t bode well for tomorrow, but there’s no longer any question as to whether school stripers are present and hungry in Raritan Bay.