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Doormat & stripers bail out Ty Man trip

Sorry for the late report, but uncooperative fish forced Chuck Many to pull out all his tricks today and once again prove that striper fishing can be good in the N.Y. Harbor area when the conditions are right.

The star of the day was Bryan Pieros, who switched from striper fishing in the Hudson River and did the right thing at the right time to jig a doormat fluke weighing 10 pounds, four ounces on his digital scale while working a jig and live spot combo. Then Many returned to a previously unproductive spot late in the day to put us into three stripers up to a 31-pounder on live bunkers when wind and current were in the same direction after only one bass had been released all day. I’ll have more about this tomorrow.

Capt. Lou Grazioso passed along the good news that yellowfin tuna are still biting over 70 miles offshore. I’ll also have more details on that tomorrow.

The forecast remains good with east winds at just 5-10 knots.

Fluking isn’t easy these days, but it can still be good

While I was growing up on Long Island in the 1950s, even beginners could catch a fluke dinner most days by just drifting a killie in protected bays and rivers. I never caught one over 3 1/2 pounds doing that, but one morning I learned how to chum for fluke on Farm Shoals inside Fire Island Inlet where my fishing biddy and fellow college student, Bill McGuiness, and I combined to catch 93 fluke in a few hours.

Those fluke were all keepers, as there was no minimum length, bag limit or season at that time. Even the smallest fluke were usually kept in those days because most fish were eaten on the bone. However, we decided that 14 inches would be the smallest we’d keep. There were lots of meaty 15-and-16-inchers in our catch, but the biggest fluke was just 18 inches — not even a N.Y. keeper today.

Ironically, when N.Y. instituted the first fluke minimum, it was the same as ours. However, it wasn’t a conservation measure as the intention was to spread the catch over the summer after they found almost all fluke entering Great South Bay arrived about the same time each spring. That 14 inches much later became the commercial minimum after conservation regulations were adopted along the Atlantic coast. Yet, the angling public has been subjected to ever-higher minimums to reduce the catches which were unlimited when I was a kid.

The result has been that just dragging a bait on bottom rarely produces anything but shorts. An effort must be made in order to catch the few bigger fluke that are of legal size. As most party boat skippers will assure you, it’s essential that you constantly jig your rig, whether it’s a jig/ large Gulp Grub combo or just he Gulp Grub, live bait or long natural bait on a sinker rig. It’s a lot of work, but the difference between a successful trip or a boat ride under the new reality.

Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina, reports that big fluke are biting again in the ocean — while a Shark River boater caught his limit out of seven legal-sized fluke.

Capt. Ron Santee Jr. reported tough fluking conditions today on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands due to a very fast drift in the northwest blow. That wind is dying out and the small craft warning went down at 6 p.m. Monday’s forecast is for only 10 knots from the east before going southeast in the afternoon.

Albacore are an offshore species

Every year at this time I have to do a blog trying to straighten out the confusion created by skippers advertising inshore trips for “albacore”. The one thing guaranteed with such trips is that you will not catch an albacore.

Albacore are an oceanic species found in temperate waters throughout most of the world. They are impossible to misidentify due to their very long pectoral fins which reach almost to the tail. As a result, they are often referred to as longfins. In NY/NJ Bight they are most often taken from late summer through fall in the canyons. I only remember seeing them locally inshore of the canyons once while once many decades ago aboard the late Capt. Bob Pisano’s Ol’ Salty while trolling at the Texas Tower. Ironically, my personal record 60-pound albacore was chunked on Sept. 12,1985 on the west bank of Butterfish Hole only about a dozen miles from Montauk Point as an abundance of large sand eels drew them in where we caught them mixed in with both yellowfin and bluefin tuna in a very unusual situation.

The common name for the little tunny of false albacore probably came from anglers who had never seen an albacore which was not thought to be available to us before canyon fishing started. Only the general shape of the two species is somewhat similar. In addition to the long pectorals, albacore have no spots — and there’s a world of difference in edibility. Advertising albacore when little tunny are the target is like a restaurant advertising steak but serving hamburger with the excuse that they’re both beef.

Little tunny are, pound for pound, as game as any fish in the oceans. They are well worth the money to pursue with light tackle. and fight so hard that some can’t recover for a release. Though the flesh is coarse and bloody, they can be utilized by cleaning them right away and blanching all the blood out. Some do that by soaking the fillets in milk in the fridge overnight. When my charter customers wanted to try them, I dropped the fillets into a bucket of sea water along with ice. By the time we were back those fillets were white and very edible.

The Jamaica from Brielle had a great variety trip Friday as two bluefin tuna and two houndfish were included along with king and Spanish mackerel plus bonito, loads of chub mackerel and many bluefish limits. They will sail at 6:30 a.m. Monday on a limited trip to get more of the early bite. For reservations call 732 528-5014.

Phil Sciortino, at The Tackle Box in Hazlet, reported that St. Croix Pro Staffer Dave Torrick had double hook-ups from tilefish on last week’s trip of the Gambler from Point Pleasant by using Fisherman’s Choice marinated salmon strips.

Small craft warning s are up through Sunday afternoon. Northwest winds at 10-15 knots will gust to 25.

Weather changing

The weather has been pretty good for fishermen lately, but it appears that will be changing on Sunday.The inshore forecast is for only southwest at 10-15 knots — but with gusts to 25. Showers are also likely.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands has canceled its fluke trip for tomorrow. A fast drift today resulted in fishing not being as good as yesterday with only one limit taken.

Capt. Ron Santee Jr. reported that 10 ounces was required to stay near the bottom on his Fishermen, but Anthony Rullo worked through that to catch a double limit up to the pool-winning 6.11-pounder plus two large sea bass.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had another super variety day with lots of chub mackerel. The non-stop action included blues, sea bass, Spanish and king mackerel, bonito and little tunny.

With thunder booming outside my office, I’m cutting this off before the lights go out!

Odd looking fluke

As noted in last night’s blog, Dave Lilly boated a 9-pound, 28 1/2-inch fluke at the Rattlesnake that was special because it hit a frozen snapper that his granddaughter Maddie had caught for him — and also because of its unique shape. As you’ll see, it was almost circular — and the oddest shaped that fluke pro has ever seen

Fluking conditions were better today. Capt. Ron Santee Jr. of the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands said the calm ocean was a big improvement over yesterday’s butt-kicking. The best action was on the change of the tide when it was solid for an hour as many limits up to 5.6 pounds were caught.

Also at that port, Capt. Rob Semkewyc had a similar report on his Sea Hunter.

It’s looking good again for tomorrow as the forecast is for west winds at 10 knots — going to southwest in the afternoon.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported super bluefishing today along with some bonito and little tunny plus a few houndfish, king and Spanish mackerel — and uncountable chub mackerel.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant had posted a report about bluefin tuna with Tuesday’s date, but now notes a successful trip with yellowfin tuna up to 75 pounds that day. Today was very good inshore with “tons” of blues and even a cobia.

Pic

Golden Eagle has productive mid-range tuna trip

There was no lack of action on Tuesday’s mid-range exotics special of the Golden Eagle from Belmar. The Golden Eagle wad more success in getting yellowfin tuna into the boat than during previous trips with 14 caught while over 30 were lost. The tuna ranged from 40 to 65 pounds, and were hooked on both bait and jigs.

I can understand the losses as it was hard enough Sunday for just three anglers on a 32-foot center console to prevent tangles or untangle those that occurred when multiples were hooked. We only lost one, but I can imagine what a mess that is on a party boat where fares are often using tackle too light to control big fish alongside. Another such trip is being planned by the Golden Eagle.

Paul Haertel was also there for the hot Sunday bite. The long-time JCAA official said they had nine yellowfins up to 65 pounds on his center console. Despite the large number of boats over 70 miles offshore on Sunday, they were spread out in small clusters as everyone seemed to be catching and there was reason to gang up.

Though the forecast for today was only northwest at 10-15 knots, fluke pro Dave Lilly said he couldn’t keep his cap on, and wasn’t able to hold bottom at the Mud Buoy. He ended up with a boat limit at the Rattlesnake, but could barely hold even in shallower depths in a wind he estimated at 30 knots. All of that was worthwhile when he boated a 28 1/2-inch fluke that went 9 pounds on his Boga Grip. Best of all, Dave hoked that big fluke on a frozen snapper that his granddaughter Maddie caught for him to use for bait.

Hopefully, NOAA will be more accurate with tomorrow’s forecast of southwest winds of 5-10 knots before increasing to 10-15 with gusts to 20 knots in the afternoon when showers and thunderstorms are possible.

The Golden Eagle was back to inshore variety today, and reported good action with bluefish up to 6 pounds plus some sea bass and fluke.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant found some bluefin tuna Tuesday. Some anglers limited on blues before they headed out for little tunny and tuna that included a 35-pounder. They also lost a few tuna and released shorts. Both king and Spanish mackerel have been caught on recent trips.

The Jamaica from Brielle did well with blues today along with lots of chub mackerel plus a few bonito, little tunny, sea bass and fluke. Mike Madsen of Grand River, Michigan won the pool with a 9-pound little tunny.

Capt. Ron Santee Jr. has been getting into the best large fluke action of the season with his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands, but that often requires heavy sinkers. Thus, he figured it’s time for his fall, “Bring a heavier action rod” speech — Something that can handle 8-10 ounces and I don’t mean an Ugly stick that bends in half to the 4th guide with the weight, while you are telling me how many fish you caught with that rod!!  You will loose rigs galore as we can’t bounce the sinkers out of the rocks with light tackle….You have been warned once again!

Capt. Rob Semkewyc, of the Sea Hunter at that port said the last two days haven’t been up to par due to very fast drifts. Some keepers are caught, but he’s looking forward to better drifting conditions tomorrow.

Large bluefins inshore

Capt. Arthur Stokes was aboard a big boat Sunday morning when the generator was lost and they decided not to go way out to the yellowfin grounds. Stokes felt confident he could troll a bluefin not far from shore, and worked from Scotland to Shrewsbury Rocks with horse balao on a Tom Novak head to do just that with a 63-incher boated.

Apparently there have been many bluefins spotted. Capt. Chris Di Stefano got a report of boaters casting to fish that were in the 63-inch class at the Rattlesnake though they wouldn’t hit. It appeared that they were feeding on the abundant bunkers.

Party boats have also mentioned bluefins, though I I suspect they’re talking about much smaller tuna. The Jamaica from Brielle is making a limited trip at 6:30 a.m. Friday to seek them along with little tunny, bonito and bigger blues plus Spanish mackerel and dolphin. Call 732 528-5014.

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle noted good weekend fishing with bigger blues plus sea bass, large porgies and little tunny. Yesterday started slower, but they went into overtime to do well with the same species and bluefin tuna — though no sizes were specified.

Fluking has also been very good. Parker Pete reported on Facebook that Monday’s catch included 10 fluke from 6 to 9.6 pounds.

At Atlantic Highlands, the Fishermen got into larger fluke Monday when Sal Celcesco boated a 29 1/2-inch 9.6-pounder plus a 6.13 and a 4.5.

Scott Leadbeater ran his Aquasport off to Sandy Hook Reef on Saturday to boat his personal best 28 1/2-inch 7.2-pound fluke.

Dr. Pat Donnelly is one of the few who catches fluke limits consistently from his Shanakee out of Manasquan Inlet, but last weekend was outstanding even by his standards. The Brielle dentist’s crew limited Friday up to 7.8 and 6.4 pounds; again on Saturday to 9.7 and 7.5 pounds; and on Sunday up to Joe Martz’s personal best of 6.4 pounds.

The great weather continues tomorrow with a forecast of northwest winds at 10-15 knots.

Yellowfin bite is hard to believe – CONTINUED after Word Press cut off my blog last night when submitted

It’s been many years since NY/NJ Bight anglers have seen yellowfin tuna fishing short of the canyons such as they’re experiencing right now. The only negative is that it’s still much further offshore than during the days when we were chunking them at such relatively nearby spots as Yellowfin Lump, but these fish seem to be more abundant and easier to hook.

Some of them are also bigger than I’d prefer them to be. Capt. Joe Massa and I joined Bob Correll on his Big A from Crystal Point Marina in Point Pleasant for a 5 a.m.Sunday run to numbers which Capt. Lou Grazioso gave us the night before. Sure enough, when we got there tuna chicks were working over swirls, and there were yellowfins and skipjacks flashing under the Sea Vee as soon as we threw some sardines in the water. Joe and Bob were hooked up right away, but as I lowered my sardine I saw a “carpet” of cownose rays under us. I got a light hit and hooked what I assumed was a ray as there was no hard run. I fought that fish just to get it up to be released, so I could get to the tuna, for about 10 minutes before seeing the color of a tuna that had been playing possum before than beating me up around the boat. Both that fish and another Bob caught at the same time needed two hands on the gaff to boat. I estimated them at 80 pounds, and after that battle felt like an 84-year-old man — which I am!

Nevertheless, I got a bait back in the water and soon hooked up another odd fish. That one made the typical sizzling run, but then felt like it was stuck in bottom. I was yanking on the rod to no avail as there was no sign of life. I figured the fish might be foul-hooked, and we ran up on the line to get a better angle on it before I could gain some line by pumping directly over what turned out to be a yellowfin with the hook in its side. I don’t know how that happened, but I’m sure I’d still be trying to gain line if we hadn’t run up to change the angle. With five large yellowfins taking up our space and ice, we left them biting at 12:08. That turned out to be a good move because the fuel pump on one engine went down on the way home. and we made the last 60 miles at 10 miles an hour. Thankfully, the beautiful day continued and the wind remained light while there were none of the predicted thunderstorms.

Grazioso was back out there Monday morning while working with Capt. David Goldman on Shore Catch, and their party had all the yellowfins they wanted by 8:30 a.m. before heading in.

I’ll catch up with the rest of that blog’s info, including inshore bluefins, in this evening’s blog.

Jamaica finds more variety offshore a bit

The Jamaica from Brielle ran beyond their usual daily range today and came up with more bonito, blues and little tunny than they’ve been seeing — plus a couple of bluefin tuna and some Spanish mackerel. As a result they are taking reservations for a special 6:30 a.m. trip to that area on Monday.

The inshore forecast remains good for tomorrow morning, with south winds at 5-10 knots. Thunderstorms are possible in the afternoon.

The mid-range yellowfin tuna bite continues. Mark Roy overnighted Thursday and his crew caught three of the 11 they hooked from Release Me out of Raritan Marina in Hazlet while chunking. He said there were 80 boats in the area on a Friday.

J