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Stripers have been tough for party boats so far

Even though NY/NJ Bight striped bass fishing has been generally very good, the spring run hasn’t worked out well for party boats. Indeed, after waiting until May 5 to get started, Capt. Ron Santee has given up on that fishery and switched to bottom fishing with his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. Santee will be targeting ling before the sea bass season opens on May 17.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had a good bite of large bass in bunkers yesterday, and found the menhaden again today — but this time the stripers among them wouldn’t hit even snagged bunkers. Of course, that could change again tomorrow!

NYC charter skipper John McMurry got into very cooperative stripers yesterday that jumped on flies and plugs. The largest was a 45-inch fork length bass on fly pictured below.

Higbee’s Bait & Tackle in Fortescue has been reporting big bass being released by local surfcasters using bloodworms — such as this 43-incher by Steve Gallo.

Ron McCelland with a 12-pound tautog he caught last week from Fish Bound out of Ocean City, Maryland.

Capt. Frank Massaria finally had a tough morning with Raritan Bay stripers on his Vitamin Sea from Keyport this week, but was back into them on his afternoon charter.

The forecast remains good with west winds at 5-10 knots before increasing to southwest 10-15 plus gusts to 25 in the afternoon.

Jumbo stripers take the spotlight

If you want to catch a personal record striper, now is a good time to try for one provided you are prepared with a large scale or a tape for taking measurements with which to use the formula for weight since those jumbos have to be released.

Chuck Many reported as follows:

Left the dock yesterday a little after 10am, brought 70 eels, out of bait by 4pm. Damn Son! That was sick William Veth, Matt Wellbrock, & Cesar Carranza! Ended 35 for 48 to Willie’s 50. In addition to the eels, smashed a few on the C80 Plugs!! Just a great time with great people!!! WOOOOOOO!!!!

In addition. the Golden Eagle from Belmar reported lots of bunkers on the surface with jumbo bass under them. All caught were released after being hooked on live bunkers plus a few on shads.

Mimi VI from Point Pleasant will be running a limited Mother’s Day trip for stripers, and also has some for bottom fishing coming up. Call 732 330-5674.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant hasn’t started running yet, as Capt. Dave and Cole Riback have been battling big dolphin and casting to yellowfin tuna in Panama along with Jerry Postorino.

The forecast is for west winds at just 5-10 knots before going southwest at 10-15 with gusts to 20 knots in the afternoon.

Party boats hoping blues start biting

Though there have been some

Though there have been some blues around for a few weeks, they haven’t turned on for the NY/NJ Bight party boats anxious to switch over from stripers that have also been fussy.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar concentrated on lues yesterday — and found them. The only problem was that they wouldn’t bite. The blues, including some big ones, were splashing, but wouldn’t hit anything thrown at them. The few that hit were all lost. An attempt at fishing for them on a reef only produced sea bass that are out-of-season until May 17. The Golden Eagle didn’t fish today, but will be back at it at 7:30 a.m.

Though charter and private boaters with live bunker continue to do well with Raritan Bay stripers, those fish have become hard to interest in party boat techniques many days.

Capt. Dave DeGennaro has been doing well with 30-36-inch stripers on both bait and lures in Barnegat Inlet. The tide is key to that action rather than time of day, so he’s sailing open with Hi Flier from Barnegat from 1:30 to 8:30 p.m. from tomorrow to Friday. Call 732 330-5674.

Barnegat Inlet striper on Hi Flier

The forecast is for west winds at just 5 knots before going southwest 10-15 plus gusts to 20 in the afternoon.

Vinny D;Anton and Frank Manzi fished the Sarasota area yesterday with a guide to cast shrimp under docks for redfish and other local species. Frank is heading back to N.J. today, and the stripers there are in trouble as he’s now retired from the FBI and can put in a lot of time seeking them.

Tyman leads the way to 50-pounders

Even by Chuck Many’s standards, Sunday was a great one due to the size of stripers released from Tyman out of Highlands. Though many jumbo bass were unexpectedly lost, Many’s crew caught 33 out of 54 hooked — including the first two 50-pounders reported on the boat since it returned from the winter fishery in Virginia. Personal records were set by Chris Pereina with a 54, and by Chris Fiori at 52 pounds.

Fifty-pounders have always been the primary goal of dedicated anglers, and many outstanding ones, including Al Reinfelder, have gone to their graves without ever being fortunate enough to encounter one among the thousands they caught.

It was almost unheard of to release a potential 50-pounder in previous decades, so it was easy to keep track of most of them caught since they ended up on an official scale. There were big swings as numbers jumped whenever a large Chesapeake year class got to about 20 years old, but the Schaefer Contest that covered the Atlantic Coast estimated about 50 a year were weighed over a long period.

Now that it’s illegal to retain those super-spawners, the numbers of fifties reported has shot up even though many are merely estimated and often don’t even look close in photos.

Though a 50-nch striper was usually just above or below a 50 decades ago, that was because fish were measured to the fork of the tail at that time. Most anglers don’t have a 60-pound scale as Many does, but the formula developed many years ago is well-accepted as a legitimate means of determining released fish weights.

As noted here many times, the formula involves measuring the length to the fork of the tail plus the girth. It only takes seconds to do that, so the fish can be safely released. The formula is girth squared times length to fork of tail divided by 800. Many anglers forget to use the fork length which results in false fifties. In order to correct that on a big bass subtract about four inches from the overall length.

Capt. Ron Santee marked lots of bait and saw some bass trolled, but couldn’t find any biters today on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. He’ll stick with that fishing until switching to sea bass when that season opens on May 17.

Andreas Toy from Perth Amboy reported bunkers were hard to come by this morning, but they kept working for them as that’s what the bigger bass wanted.

Capt. Mark DeBlasio reported a successful May 6 tilefish trip on his Water Proof from Point Pleasant from Point Pleasant, but a big bluefin tuna hooked while doing that was lost.

The Viking Starlite Sag Harbor Scup Express won’t be sailing tomorrow, but will then finish up there through Sunday. One angler caught both the largest 3-pound porgy and 5-pound weakfish today as porgy fishing was very good.

Tilefish cooperate for Jamaica

The Jamaica from Brielle reported a good tilefish trip yesterday with many limits taken. In addition to the golden tiles, several of the smaller bluelines were added. There is room on the next tilefish trip at 10 p.m. Saturday. Another trip has been added on Monday May 15 at 10p.m. Call 732 528-5014 for reservatios.

The Jamaica II made a ling trip yesterday, and had a good pick with a high hook of 33.

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle will be concentrating on bluefish tomorrow while also being ready to switch to stripers if they are feeding. Capt. Ralph Leyrer ran an open trip on his Last Lady as a hot bite at the end resulted in leaving them biting.

Tomorrow starts fine with north winds at just 5-10 knots before switching to west in the afternoon.

Manasquan River often has lots of blues at this time of year, but that wasn’t the case this morning when Andrew Sokol cast an SP Minnow there — though a 21-inch fluke provided a pleasant surprise.

Nicholas DiNapoli worked the Monmouth surf yesterday with both clams and bloodworms to catch three short stripers. For the first time, clams worked better for him — though Nick is still waiting for his first keeper this season. There have also been some good striper reports on clams in the Seaside Park area.

Much further south, cobia, such as this one caught by Amber Marchant, are showing off Palm Beach.

Mixed results on a beautiful day

There was nothing to complain about weather-wise today, but only some boaters hit the Raritan Bay striper bite when the linesiders were turned on.

Capt. Ron Santee said the morning change of tide which produced good action on lures yesterday was only a pick today on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. Santee said the water was muddy, and the big moon may have also been a negative factor,

Andreas Toy had the opposite report as the 39-footer was run offshore to check for tuna without finding anything before they ran back inshore and got into the stripers.

Several other boaters reported the usual limits and releases. Especially on a crowded Saturday, you have to be at the right place at the right time — and with the right ammo — which is often live bunkers.

Bluefish are slowly building up. and there was a new leader in the L.B.I. Surf Fishing Classic. Shawn Gallen entered a 35-inch, 12-pound chopper that was caught at Holgate on bunker.

Fluke fishing is improving slowly. At Atlantic Highlands, the Sea Tiger 2 had a 25.5-incher yesterday, and Prowler 5 had a 5.3-pounder come aboard this week despite the bottom waters still being cold.

The great weather continues through Sunday morning when the wind will be west at 5-10 knots before increasing to southwest at 10-15 plus gusts to 20 in the afternoon.

At Brielle, the Jamaica will be sailing at 7:30 a.m. for stripers while the Paramount will leave at the same time to bottom fish for ling, flounder and pollock.

Capt. Ron off to a good start

Capt. Ron Santee was among the last few party boat skippers to get started this season, but he made a trip into Raritan Bay this morning to join in the steady spring striped bass bite. Fish were up on the morning change of tide as shads and flutter spoons produced bass up to 43 inches. That bite backed off as the current started ripping, and searching around didn’t result in another hot bite to add to the successful opener. Santee will be back at it with the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands at 7:30 a.m.

Capt. John Contello not only had another fine striper trip with Just Sayin from Highlands, but topped it off with the boat’s largest release of the spring at 51 inches.

Chuck Many repeated his afternoon venture for super-sized stripers with Tyman from Highlands yesterday with trolled live baits that bass up to a 52-incher (48 pounds) hit.

The forecast remains fine through Monday. Tomorrow starts with northwest winds at a modest 5-10 knots before going southeast in the afternoon.

There were many charter and private boat reports from Raritan Bay as all seemed to have striper limits if they wanted them plus releases using both live bunkers and lures. Some boaters jump right on them, while others have to make some moves.

Small blues are building up there, and into backwater areas. Some of the big blues which often show up inside the inlets at this time may be on their way as indicated by this bay photo from Fisherman’s Headquarters on Long Beach Island.

The Berkeley Striper Club holds their 28th annual Fisherman’s Flea Market from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Marina Park in Seaside Park. Admission is $7, with kids under 10 admitted free. Grumpy’s Tackle partners with them to present saltwater seminars.

Fluke fishing is off to a slow start in Sandy Hook Bay, but some keepers are being caught among the shorts.

Striper regs remain the same in N.J.

Though the ASMFC Emergency change in striped bass regulations are supposed to be effective immediately, jurisdictions have until July 2 to do so. New Jersey voted against the proposal, and isn’t rushing to change anything.

Chuck Many had a hunch that big ocean stripers may have arrived, and made a solo trip yesterday afternoon to check it out. Most anglers would be satisfied to troll one line, but Chuck set out his usual spread of six lines to slow-troll live baits throughout the water column — and twice loaded them up as total mayhem ensued. Those released bass ranged from a minimum of 44 inches up to a 50-incher!

The weather looks good right through the weekend. North winds at 5 knots in the morning switch to southeast in the afternoon. Showers are likely.

Capt. Ron Santee starts his season with the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands by targeting stripers tomorrow.

Capt. Dave Gennaro is loaded up with bait on his Hi Flier to get his season out of Barnegat started with stripers in the bay, inlet and ocean with open trips the next three days. The Friday trip is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Call 732 330-5674.

School bluefin anglers get good news from NOAA Fisheries

School bluefin tuna are probably already available off the Mid-Atlantic coast, and anglers will be able to boat more of them this year as a result of a change in regulations announced today by NOAA Fisheries.

Private vessels with a HMS Angling category permit will be allowed two school bluefins ((27-47) inches) plus one large school/small medium (47-73 inches).

Charter boats with a HMS Charter category permit fishing recreationally are allowed three school and one large school/small medium.

Headboats are moved up to six school bluefins and two large school/small medium bluefins

The adjusted limits take effect immediately and extend through December 31, 2023, unless modified by later action

  • Summary of Change
  • Vessel
  • /Permit Type
  • Default Retention Limit per Vessel per Day
  • TripAdjusted Retention Limit per Vessel per Day/Trip
  • Private vessels with a Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Angling category from 2 school bluefin tuna (27-47inches) and one large school/smsl
    • 2 school bluefin tuna (27 to <47”)1 large school/small medium (47 to <73”)
  • Charter boats with an HMS Charter/Headboat permit fishing recreationally from
  • 1 school, large school, or small medium 
    • 3 school1 large school/small medium
    Headboats with an HMS Charter/Headboat permit fishing recreationally1 school, large school, or small medium from 1 school and to 6 school and 2 large school
    • 6 school2 large school/small medium
    Who is affected?
  • The changes apply to HMS Angling and HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessels when fishing recreationally. The daily retention limits are effective for all areas except for the Gulf of Mexico, where NOAA Fisheries does not allow targeted fishing for bluefin tuna.
  • Catch reporting
  • HMS Angling and HMS Charter/Headboat permitted vessel owners are required to report the catch of all bluefin retained or discarded dead within 24 hours of landing or the end of each trip by: p.m.
  • Yesterday’s surprising striped bass news from the ASMFC is still being digested. Tom Fote noted that the Technical Committee hadn’t considered it, and the proposal wasn’t on the agenda. New Jersey was the only jurisdiction that voted against the reduction in maximum size to 31 inches in order to take pressure off the strong 2015 year class. Ironically, the May trophy season in Chesapeake Bay was exempted from the emergency regulation which must be adopted by July 2.
  • Yesterday’s opening of the N.J. fluke season was pretty dull. The Atlantic Star reported most anglers were scared off by showers, but they sailed the morning trip from Atlantic Highlands with a few fares that caught some shorts and a couple of keepers in Sandy Hook Bay. The Sea Tiger 2 from that port made both trips and actually had a couple of limits.
  • The forecast remains favorable, with north winds at 10-15 knots in the morning before going northeast in the afternoon — but at only 5-10 knots.

I published this shot of Paddy Sciortino with a large weakfish he released after it hit sandworms at night in Raritan Bay, but it may not have appeared due to another photo below it. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet says his son has been trying to find another big one, and has heard of some weakfish-like marks in the bay. The weakfish cycle has been down for years, but over the years they’ve come back from out of nowhere many times.

First fluke wins Absecon Bay Calcutta

The N.J. fluke season was celebrated early this morning when Kevin Mc Gloin raced in with a keeper to win the opening day Calcutta at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center.

As noted a few days ago. Wednesday looked to be a good one for fishing — and that forecast holds with southwest winds at 5-10 knots before going northwest after midnight. There is a chance of showers. Now it looks good through Saturday.


Just before publishing, I got a note from Tom Fote that the ASMFC Striped Bass Board has taken emergency action to change the striped bass max length to 31 inches no later than July 2. More about this tomorrow.

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Announces New Recreational Fishing Regulations for Black Sea Bass and Scup Harvest
Changes Maintain Compliance with Interstate Fishery Management Plans

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced new recreational saltwater fishing regulations that take effect immediately in New York’s Marine and Coastal District. These regulatory changes are necessary for New York State to remain in compliance with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) by reducing recreational harvest of scup and black sea bass.Black Sea Bass
New York’s recreational black sea bass season opens June 23, and the minimum size limit is 16.5 inches. From June 23 through Aug. 31, recreational anglers may possess three black sea bass per day; and from Sept. 1 until Dec. 31, anglers are allowed six fish per day. New York State is required to reduce harvest by 10 percent per a joint decision by the ASMFC and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC). New York is complying with the new rule by increasing the minimum size limit by one half-inch.Scup
The recreational scup season will be open from May 1 through Dec. 31. The minimum size limit for recreational anglers from shore is 9.5 inches and for vessel-based anglers the minimum size is 10.5″. Recreational anglers may possess 30 fish per day and anglers aboard licensed p