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Be ready to figure out the weight of your trophy striper

As of April 1, N.J. anglers will no longer be able to keep their striper of a lifetime, but they can still determine a commonly-accepted estimate of their trophy’s weight with nothing more than a retractable tape in their pocket.

The new N.J. striper regulation will allow just one bass from 28 to 38 inches, which means that the really big bass must be released. That’s not really a problem for those still waiting for that “one for the wall” as taxidermists have molds for all large sizes. Just take the length and girth before you release that trophy spawner and you’ll get back the same fish you’d receive as if you’d shipped the fish.

The important thing is to always have that retractable tape or a cloth one with you as it’s the girth that really determines a striper’s weight. A flat measuring stick is useless for girth which is measured at the fattest portion of the body just behind the head.

The standard formula of length to the fork of the tail times girth squared divided by 800 works well for the striper’s body shape. Remember that it’s the fork length measurement which is used in the formula rather than the tail length. It only takes seconds to make those measurements before releasing the fish, but you’ll have a meaningful estimated weight rather than a wild guess that no one believes.

That cubera snapper which the Pesca Panama mate and I are holding at the top of the blog was released seconds after I took those measurements which allowed me to later calculate the weight at 73.58375 pounds — just a few pounds short of the world record. Of course, the formula isn’t accepted by the IGFA for record purposes — but it’s fine for me to know now big my cubera of a lifetime was!

Should you forget the tape, you can get an accurate girth by pulling some line off a spool and clipping it off to be measured later.

There are hand scales which can be used for very large fish, Chuck Many uses a 60-pound Boga-Grip which he sent to the IGFA for certification. It can be used to weigh fish for record submissions — but only on land. I have an old 80-pound Chatillon which I carried on exploratory trips around the world in the old days. However, it’s very heavy, and not too practical to carry in airplanes now that bags are weighed.

Small craft warnings are up tonight. Friday starts with south winds at 15-20 knots before switching to southwest in the afternoon with possible rain and fog.plus 4-7-foot seas.

 

 

 

 

 

Large stripers turn on in Raritan Bay

It isn’t even April yet, but large stripers haveJoe Massa first bass turned on to lures in Raritan Bay.

Joe Massa made a short trip yesterday afternoon with his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina. After only catching small bass on worms, he decided to troll a Rapala X-15 diving plug and soon hooked into a 31-inch bass.

That fishing exploded today. The Tackle Box in Hazlet reported that Andrew and Kenny Dubman had lots of bass up to a 30-pounder while casting shads, and Capt. Johnny Bucktails had a similar report from Just Sayin’ out of Keyport.  E. Brem from Oceanport reported doubleheaders trolling mo-jos. Matt Calabria continues to catch stripers up to a 30-incher from shore using his wormballs.

Wormball bass

Jerry Lasko fished the bay side at Bay Head yesterday evening as Maren Toleno broke the ice for the spring with a 14-inch striper.

I was holding off writing up the annual IGFA Fund-raising Banquet in Spring Lake Heights next month while expecting to get a cancellation notice due to the pandemic — which did come from Jeff Merrill today.

The annual Spring Lake Trout Contest for kids also had to be cancelled.

The weather is turning on us with southeast gusts to  20 knots tonight plus rain. Thursday starts with east winds at 10-15 knots plus gusts to 20 before dropping to northeast at 5-10 along with rain in the afternoon.

Correction to bluefish comments address

The e-mail address in yesterday’s blog for comments on bluefish not submitted at last month’s bluefish scoping hearings was incorrect. It should be mseeley@mafmc.org. Your bluefish comments can be submitted prior to midnight.

I emphasized the fact that the Mid-Atlantic Council and ASMFC have to take part of the responsibility for he bluefish decline by allowing unused recreational quota to be transferred to commercial fisheries even as the shortage was developing. There was no provision in the management plan for such transfers, and it’s vital that such actions must be specifically prohibited by amendment to the plan.

Comments on fluke will also be accepted before midnight by e-mail to jbeaty@asmfc.org. My response emphasized the fact that NOAA Fisheries estimated the recreational summer flounder catch in 1970 (before management started) was 39 million pounds — nearly seven times the commercial landings. Yet, the management plan provided 60% of the quota to commercial interests in one of the worst abuses of the public trust since fisheries management started. The result has been ever-larger minimum sizes, short seasons and small bag limits for the public while dozens of party and charter boats have gone out of business.

The ASMFC has cancelled its spring meeting from May 4-7 in Arlington, Va. due to the pandemic. One day may be added to the summer meeting in August, and issues demanding quick action can be handled through webinars or by conference calls.

One more day of fishable weather is coming up as the forecast for Wednesday is for north winds at 5-10 knots before going to southeast in the afternoon — and blowing up to 15-20 after midnight along with rain.

The Ocean Explorer is planning to sail from Belmar for cod on Wednesday at 7:30 a.m.

Betty & Nicks Tackle in Seaside Park notes that the restaurant remains open though no one will be seated or waitress service provided. Orders will be delivered to your car.

Tomorrow is last day for fluke & bluefish comments

March 17 is the last day for submitting comments to the ASMFC relative to the recent scoping hearings on both bluefish and fluke. The e-mail address for bluefish is mseeley@asmfc.org — and for fluke, sea bass and scup it’s jbeaty@asmfc.org.

Andrea’s Toy from Keyport noted on Facebook that their first trip in Raritan Bay produced six stripers up to a 28-incher on Sunday. There was lots of bird life.

Joe Massa gave it a short try that day along with Herman Peters on his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina. Bunker were everywhere, and it was no problem to net then — but live baits weren’t bothered at all. They ended up catching three small stripers in shallow waters on the NJ side with bloodworms. Massa said he never saw so many gannets diving in the bay. Water temperatures were still low at 46-47 degrees in a chilly east wind.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar had nice weather for Sunday’s cod trip, and got into more ling than the previous trip. Two keeper cod were also boated.

Southeast winds at 10 knots are forecast for the morning, with patchy fog and possible light rain. The wind shifts to southwest in the afternoon.

Sad news was received about a couple of North Jersey old-timers.

Manny Luftglass passed away in Lake Worth, Fl. last month at 84 after suffering complications from the flu. Manny wrote many fishing books, did some fishing columns for local papers and radio fishing reports.  He was twice elected as mayor of Somerville. His boat was named Gone Fishin, and I’m sure that’s what he’s doing now in heavenly waters.

Manny Luftglass

The Hudson River Fisherman’s Association lost Fred Rung, a former vice president and 2013 winner of the HRFA’s highest honor– the Pete Barrett Award.

 

More striper signs

We’re still not up to what’s become the normal April start of the spring striper run in Raritan Bay, but there have been a few encouraging signs.

Just before publishing this blog, I got word from Andrea’s Toy Sportfishing in Keyport that they got into stripers today. Presumably, that was by trolling in Raritan Bay, but I’ll have to confirm that tomorrow.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reports more stripers are being hooked on both bloodworms and small lure throughout Barnegat Bay. Most are under 25 inches, but a few keepers were reported Saturday.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar got out in good conditions yesterday, but didn’t find any cod. There was lots of action with dogfish and bergalls. A few ling and a pollock were boated.

Monday starts with east winds at 10-15 knots and 3-foot seas. The wind will shift to southeast and blow harder at night with a possibility of showers after midnight.

Bob Correll of Bay Head has had to put up with constant northeast winds in Marathon, Fl. , but his wife Mary Agnes managed to jig a good-sized cero mackerel yesterday. Ceros are the least abundant of the tropical mackerels, and rarely encountered to the north when Spanish are often common and a few kings also reported during the summer. The cero is easy to identify  by the fairly solid lateral line. Others cut the mono leader with those sharp teeth.

cero - Agnes

Chris Appell of Locust Valley, N.Y. got a good fight out of a small tarpon before the release the previous evening when Correll ran his 32 See Vee to the shallows where it hit a live bait.

tarpon-Chris

Sunday looks good

You couldn’t ask for a better wind forecast than the north at 5-10 knots posted for Sunday morning. To top it off, after the hard west winds, the seas are a mere two feet.

No reports today, but I’ve been having problems with AOL.

Old regs in force through March

The N.J. DEP wants early anglers to be aware that last year’s bluefish and striped bass regulations remain in effect through the end of March. If you can find them that early, the bluefish limit remains at 15, while two striped bass are legal, with one at 28 inches or greater and a another 43 inches or more.

All that changes when the new rules come ito effect on April 1. The bluefish limit drops to just three — except on party/charter boats where it will be five. Striped bass are then down to one from 28 to 38 inches. The Bonus Bass program opens very early, on May 13, for those enrolled.

Nick Honachefsky had a new presentation on surf fishing in N.J. for exotics, but the Saltwater Fishing Expo was canceled. However, he’s going to make that presentation tomorrow morning at Fisherman’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach from 11-12. The first 30 attending will get a free Tsunami lure package. After the event, he’ll lead a group to a greet & meet with Capt. Bobby Bogan on the Gambler.

The Big Jamaica from Brielle will be sailing to the offshore  wrecks at 1 a.m. Reservations can be made by calling 732 528-5014.

The Ocean Explorer plans to seek cod from Belmar at 7:30.

Small craft warnings are up through Saturday morning, with west gusts 25 knots tonight. The morning starts with west at 10 -15 plus gusts to 25 before gradually calming to north at 10-15 by Sunday morning — and down to 5-10 that afternoon.

 

 

Friday looks tough, but weekend may be better

Today was a good one for fishing, but Friday may be just the opposite.

Rain and fog are on the menu for tomorrow morning, with small craft warnings into Saturday morning. The day starts with south winds at 20-25 knots before shifting to southwest in the afternoon.  A clearing and calming 10-15-knot west wind on Saturday should improve conditions though it will gust to 20 knots.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar got offshore today with good conditions, but an effort for cod in 200 feet or more was ruined by spiny dogfish. The best bottom life was in 90-120 feet, where some ling and short cod were hooked.  They won’t be fishing in Friday’s weather, but are planning to sail Saturday.

The Big Jamaica will make their Saturday offshore wreck trip at 1 a.m. The last trip produced pollock, ling, white hake and porgies. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.

pollock-Jamaica

Some school stripers are being wormed from Raritan Bay shorelines, and winter flounder turn on at times from the Belmar Marina docks. Phil Fischer took a couple of friends up the Shrewsbury on Sunday to look for flouder, but only came up with tree small stripers. He figures this week’s weather may have brought those waters up over 50 degrees and turned on the flatties.

As noted yesterday, the Saltwater Fishing Expo had to be cancelled due to the virus problem. but crowding shouldn’t be a problem if you fish this weekend.

 

 

 

Saltwater Fishing Expo cancelled

Though I was hopeful yesterday that the Saltwater Fishing Expo would go ahead as scheduled, the ongoing concern about the coronavirus spread led to a cancellation notice today of the show that was set to open Friday.

Tady Lures owner Gary Quon was one of those who arrived just before the decision, and had to make arrangements to fly back to California right away. At least the decision to comply with other shutdowns in the area came before exhibits were set up.

Anglers should have a good day coming up. The Thursday forecast is for only 5 -10-knot winds in the morning before increasing to 10-15 in the afternoon.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer will be seeking cod tomorrow at 7:30. The Golden Eagle has scheduled a return to fishing on March 28 and 29.

 

A free Tady lure to those attending my Saturday striper seminar at the Saltwater Expo

The biggest and best show of the winter for saltwater anglers opens Friday in the N.J. Convention Center at Edison, and the Saltwater Fishing Expo continues through Sunday.

There’s lots to see at this show, which features complete displays from almost every major fishing tackle manufacturer and lots of seminars by local pros — but you can really make out by taking home a valuable Tady metal lure which will be presented to the first 100 attending my 11:30 Saturday morning seminar on catching big stripers.

As usual, Gary Quon will be aboard to explain how to get the most out of his Tady  metals which were developed in California but have spread to saltwaters worldwide.

There’s plenty of free parking at the Expo, which has an adult admission of $13. Youngsters 6-11 pay just $3, and those 5 and under are admitted free. Adults attending on Friday can save $3 by going online through Thursday at Sportshows.com to buy their ticket.

Windy weather persisted today, but it looks good for Thursday. Small craft warnings are up into Wednesday. After southwest gusts to 30 knots this afternoon, it’s down to northwest  at 10-15 with gusts to 20 by morning– but calming to north at 5 knots in the afternoon.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar had nice weather Monday, but tracing down a cod report to the north didn’t work out and they ended up with ling.  They expect to sail for cod on Thursday.

Jeff Dement of the American Littoral Society will be a guest speaker at tonight’s 7:30 meeting of the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association in the Ridgefield Park Elks at 19 Cedar St.

Vinny D’Anton was into lots of spotted sea trout yesterday as he was wading at Sarasota, Fl. and casting a variety of lures. He usually gets into quite a few small blues at times down there during the winter, but they’ve been as scarce as blues were in our surf last fall. I’m sure that blues in the Gulf of Mexico are a different stock, but it’s curious that they’re also suddenly scarce.