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NJ fluke opens Friday

The New Jersey fluke season opens Friday with a limit of three fish at a minimum of 18 inches in all waters except for three at 17 inches in Delaware Bay and its tributaries — and two at 16 inches from shore in Island Beach State Park. Check with your favorite skipper in case he’s sailing early. Capt. Stan Zagleski will be sailing his Elaine B II from Bahrs in Highlands at 6 a.m. through Memorial Day before returning to his regular 7:30 a.m. daily schedule on Tuesday.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano of Wall went striper fishing this morning with his son Boomer on the latter’s 17-foot Angler from Shark River. After hearing the trolling bite at Shrewsbury Rocks was off, hey trolled off Asbury Park with a green bunker spoon Chris has had for 36 years. They only had one hit on the wire line outfit, but he knew it was a big one as Boomer fought a trophy striper that weighed 54 pounds at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc reported that striper fishing was slower today in Raritan Bay from his Sea Hunter out of Atlantic Highlands, but they still had six keepers plus shorts. A big bas was lost at the gaff. Stripers came up at one point. but they only managed to catch one at that time.

Capt. Dave De Gennaro  trolled a 42-pound striper Wednesday from his Hi-Flier out of Barnegat. That bass hit a big white mo-jo. Some bunkers were up, but he stuck with the trolling.

The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant has an opening on a free canyon trip for active duty or retired military. It’s first come – first served. Call Adam La Rosa at 732 272-4445.

The Staten Island Tuna Club Striped Bass Tournament that was set for last weekend was postponed due to small craft warnings, and has been moved to this weekend.  The captains meeting is from 5-6 Friday evening in Captain’s Marina, Staten Island. Call Robert Ludwig at 201 538-5252 for info.

The New York fluke season has been open for some time. and ocean fluking has been very good to the east. The Hampton Lady from Shinnecock has had big catches including doormats. The following recent shot should excite every fluke angler.

Hampton Lady


Sea bass fishing in good shape

Though the opening of the sea bass season in N.J.  wasn’t good for everyone, that fishery has bounced back for most. Bud Mc Arthur of Brick was one of those who were disappointed in the opener, but today was a different story as he fished with Gerald D’Luisi of Verona on Hook & Cook from Brick for a four-man catch of 39 keepers out of about 80 sea bass  on the Axel Carsen Reef. Mc Arthur was also surprised by a 22-inch fluke he released after it hit a bergall strip.

Tank Matraxia and his crew from Lyndhurst limited with sea bass this week on Lock & Load from Belmar. They added one ling, and Matraxia was able to put ALS tags in three out-of-season blackfish.

The N.J. fluke season opens Friday, and there will be a big fleet waiting to greet them. That won’t include the Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands as Capt. Rob Semkewyc has decided to stick with daily stripers which are providing good action.  He said today’s pool bass was in the mid-to-upper twenties.

Capt. Vinny Vetere had another fine day of striper trolling with his Ho-Jo’s from Katfish Charters out of Great Kills.  They kept three out of 18 large bass, and were back by 9:30.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar fished the ocean, but bass and blues weren’t cooperative today.

The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant continues to find bluefin tuna while trolling in several canyons.  A few blue sharks were caught at night, when a possible giant tuna broke off after a long fight.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reports small stripers are still hitting well on clams in the surf, while bluefish are becoming more abundant in Barnegat Bay. I posted the results of Sunday’s Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament in a separate blog this morning.

I had planned to try the Manasquan River bluefish this morning, but missed my exit and continued on to Point Pleasant Canal. Without much hope, I cast an Ava 007 with a short red tail because that’s what I had on my light spinning rod from my last river pick of 3-pound blues. It was a shock when I hooked a good fish that tore across the canal just as the first boat was coming through. Fortunately, the boater responded to my waving and moved over. Though I assumed I had a big blue on, the fish turned out to be a 29-inch striper with the small hook buried in the corner of its jaw so I could reach down and grab the lure to lift it up for the release. 




Ho-jo's bassKatfish Charters striper on Ho-Jo

Woman wins Governor’s Cup

Keri Mauger of Mohnton, Pa. not only won the bluefish adult female division of Sunday’s Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament at Island Beach State Park, but her 36-inch chopper was also the longest fish of the tournament and won her the Governor’s Cup.

Following are the complete results as supplied by the NJ DEP:



Child Categories



Child Male:

Second Place: Shane Stimon, Hamilton NJ – 20 4/8”

First Place: Dylan Pelle, Little Falls NJ – 23”



Teen Categories



Teen Male:

Third Place: Aiden “AJ” Elmore, Galloway NJ – 28 4/8”

Second Place: Eric Mayers, Cranbury NJ – 29”

First Place: Anthony Pedone, Toms River – 30 1/8”



Adult Categories



Adult Male:

First Place: Vincent Dimarco, Delran NJ – 23 4/8”







Adult Female:

First Place: Alyssa Dimarco, Delran NJ – 29 6/8”


Adult Male:

Third Place: Bobby Barranger, Forked River NJ – 31”

Second Place: Ralph Amato, Toms River NJ – 31 4/8”

First Place: Gary Grimm, Chester NJ – 33 2/8”





Adult Male:

Third Place: Al DiMartino, Clifton NJ – 34 4/8”

Second Place: Bob Shoremount, Oxford NJ – 34 6/8”

First Place: Dan Damato, Forked River NJ – 35 4/8”


Adult Female:

Third Place: Pam McGee, Newton NJ – 25” (time caught 8:57am)

Second Place: Juanita Ormazabal, Cockeysville MD – 31”

First Place: Keri Mauger, Mohnton PA – 36”






Keri Mauger, Mohnton PA – 36” Bluefish





Third Place: Delaware Valley Regional H.S. – 23 1/8” Bluefish

Second Place: Toms River High School North – 30 1/8” Bluefish

First Place: Toms River High School South – 35 4/8” Bluefish

























Number of fish caught





Adult Male: 30


Adult Female: 8


Teen Male: 7



Total Bluefish: 45






Adult Male: 5


Adult Female: 1


Total Striped Bass: 6






Adult Male: 1


Child Male: 2



Total Black Drum: 3









Working hard for stripers

As noted in last night’s blog, striped bass fishing has been spotty lately along the N.J. Shore, but when Chuck Many’s first choice of seeking the potentially largest stripers off the Shore from Sandy Hook to the south didn’t work out, he quickly changed direction with Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands to the Hudson River. The current there was boiling, and we got a lot of light bites — but  Many feels the river is a best bet for a 30-pounder. He guaranteed that we would catch bass despite the current that required 10-ounce sinkers.

Once again, Many was proven right as I reeled fast on a light hit to set my circle hook on a fish moving toward me.  It took quite a while trying to gain line on that fish fighting into the current, especially when it opened its mouth. Eventually Many was able to use his extra-large net to scoop up a bass that weighed 34 pounds on his certified Boga Grip before releasing the female still heavy with eggs.

Alex Katyan of Annandale, Paul Kiatski from Port Monmouth. Rob Rommel of Highlands, Many and I only picked at bass from 29 inches up to about 15 pounds after that. We ended up drifting live bunkers at the mouth of Raritan Bay where trollers had been doing well, but we only had a few hits despite good marks — and brought the release count up to 13 bass while finishing a short day (by Many’s standards) in rain at Shrewsbury River.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc said it was a ghost town at Atlantic Highlands this morning as anglers were scared off by the rain forecast even though the wind was only 5-10 mph.  He didn’t get out with his Sea Hunter even though big bass had been boated the last two trips.

.Chuck Many with a 38-pound striper released last week south of Sandy Hook on a live bunkerChuck-38C



















The other bass that Rob Rommel of Highlands, Paul Kiatski from Annandale, Ale

Stripers around, but not easy to hook

Striped bass catches haven’t been up to what we have come to expect in May so far, but bigger fish are becoming more common — and there are finally some blues in the ocean to fill in the holes.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar jigged a few blues early before moving to where they had seen stripers on top Sunday. Only two were boated, but one was a 46-incher. The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported good morning jigging for blues.

Tom Fote of Toms River had a charter with Capt. Fletcher Chayes today on his Two Rivers Charters from Highlands. Fote said they had stripers hitting live bunkers on top both in the ocean and bay, but Eleanor Bohanek caught the only bass of about 14 pounds.

Capt. Vinny Vetere said it was too rough Saturday off Sandy Hook to fish there, so  he burned a lot of fuel in his Katfish out of Great Kills to troll his Ho-Jo’s in L.I. Sound between Stepping Stones and Execution Rocks Lighthouses for a good striper catch — and did the same thing Sunday.

Though Sunday’s weather was good for the Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament at Island Beach State Park, Capt. Jim Freda said the southwest wind made for tough fishing as he only saw a few blues caught. The D.E. P. hasn’t posted results. and even a call didn’t produce them.

Freda tried trolling for stripers with Shore Catch from Point Pleasant  off Manasquan Inlet when he returned, but never had a hit on bunker spoons or Mo-Jo’s.  Freda released a bass of about 38 pounds Thursday on a Tony Maja bunker spoon.  Bud Mc Arthur of Brick joined a  friend today for a run up to Asbury Park and then down to Seaside. No bunker schools were spotted, and they never had a hit trolling. He only saw a couple of blues trolled among boats to the south where the water was 55 to 57 degrees, .

Capt. Rob Semkewyc said Sunday’s bait fishing for stripers from his Sea Hunter out of Atlantic Highlands was slow, but they picked some bass including a 33-pounder. Bass came up in the afternoon, but most of those hooked broke off. Monday produced a better bite on bait, including two 30-pounders that tied for the pool.

striper-Sea Hunter




Blues show in ocean

Jersey Shore party boats that have been struggling to catch stripers up in Raritan Bay got some good news today when bluefish finally turned on in ocean waters.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar caught 3-to-5-pounders on jigs, and they also had a keeper striped bass — though there were more rolling on the surface.  The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant also got into blues up to 8 pounds. I got a second hand report that blues were being caught in Manaasquan Inlet this morning, but after checking the inlet many times and having seen only one blue caught during the last few weeks,  I went upriver this morning and released a 25-inch blue that was my only hit on a large pencil popper. Another angler there had released a 10-pouder just as I arrived, and then fought what looked like a 15-pounder almost to shore before the lure popped out.

There was lots of excitement aboard the Fishermen out of Atlantic Highlands when Lynn Fair boated a 36-pound striper. Capt. Ron Santee said there was good action at anchor with shorts and some keepers

At Brielle, the Jamaica is leaving at 10 p.m. for a two day tilefish trip. Some spots are open on the $360 trip. Call 732 528-5014.

Capt. Ryan Bogan says sea bass fishing has been good on Jamaica II except for a spotty opening day. The sea bass are averaging 2 to 4 pounds, and there are also some ling and a few cod. Wes Shourt of Manahawkin had a sea bass limit plus four ling and a cod, while James Carter of Newark limited on bass to 3 1/2 pounds along with five ling and two cod. The Jamaica II is sailing from 7: a.m. to 4:30 p.m. until switching to half-days on June 2.

Jim Louro of Spring Lake is hoping the local surf will be clear and fishable in the morning. He fished the backwaters Saturday to catch a 25 1/2-inch striper on a 4-inch Tsunami Shad, and Frank Manzi added a 3-to-4-pound blue on the same lure — but there were no hits today,

There were no results from the Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament at IBSP, but I’ll post them as soon as they become available.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported more blues showed in the surf Saturday afternoon. Two blues were weighed in Sunday morning. Kyle Kleme had a 38-incher on an SP Minnow that weighed 11.95 pounds, but Matt Miccio’s 37-incher on bunker was actually a pound heavier.





Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament at IBSP

The Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament will be contested Sunday at Island Beach State Park.  Those not pre-registered can register at 5:30a.m. in Pavilion 2, before the fishing hours of 6:30 to 1. There will be lots of prizes in many categories — especially for children. Action should also be good for those using clam or bunker for bait.  Visit NJFish and for details.

Manasquan River bluefish cooperated this morning for Capt. Jim Freda’s Shore Catch Charters party. He said it was mostly 3-to-4-pounders off the mouth of the canal, but he found some bigger blues hitting SP Minnows in other areas. Fly fishermen were also able to score.

Manasquan River blueBob Correll of Bay Head and I cast for blues in the river from his Boston Whaler late in the afternoon. We picked a few on swimming plugs before trying small poppers just before the evening rain started. That was a much more interesting way to catch the 3-to-4-pounders we located.

As noted in last night’s blog, the Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands was one of the few party boats planning to sail into the forecast of rain and some wind. Capt. Rob Semkewyc was surprised to get enough fares to sail, and striper action was decent on one drop with shorts and some keepers up to a 19-pounder. However, the action died for the wet, but happy, anglers when the tide slacked at 12:30.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar cancelled today, but will be back out in the morning for stripers — while also prepared to switch to sea bass if necessary. It’s likely that the better forecast for Sunday will result in all party boats sailing.


Ocean striper fishing underway

The long-awaited ocean fishing for migrating striped bass is finally getting underway off the Jersey Shore, but the weather is putting a crimp in that fishery. Most party and charter boats cancelled today due to a forecast of northeast winds gusting to 30 mph. Yet, there wasn’t a bit of wind early in the morning. The wind did come through late in the morning, but boaters could have had a good early shot if the forecast had been on target. Though Saturday’s forecast isn’t as bad, there’s still more rain expected — and many party boats have  cancelled in advance. Be sure to check with your favorite skipper before coming down.  The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands will be shaping up tomorrow, and it’s likely that everyone will sail Sunday/.

Capt. Tom Savastano got a report that stripers were being hooked on snagged bunkers right outside Manasquan Inlet Thursday evening.  Bob Matthews reported from Fisherman’s Den in Belmar that trolling, bunkers and shad lures have been working on the ocean stripers the last few days for those putting up with the rain.  He noted that Skylarker, Parker Pete, and Striper Sniper have all had catches of 30-to-40-pound stripers. The biggest so far is 42 1/2-pounder by Steve Germann of Freehold.  Surf and shore fishermen have also caught a few decent bass. Scotty Pullen had 17-and-14-pounders — while Payton Gepp weighed an 11 1/4-pounder.

The Staten Island Tuna Club Striped Bass Tournament was postponed a week due to small craft warnings. It will be run  next Friday to Saturday with a $100 per boat entry. For information call Robert Ludwig at 201 538-5252.

Sea bass are being caught, but a lack of reports indicates that the very cold bottom temperatures may be holding that fishery back a bit.

The 27th annual Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament is being held Sunday at Island Beach State Park. Fishing hours are from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. I’ll have more about that tomorrow. For details visit

Sunday’s fishing conditions look good, and there should be lots of action on clams and bunker. Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park weighed eight bass Thursday; though all were between 29 and 33 inches except for a 41-inch , 22.98-pounder by on bunker by Todd Updike. 58.10 lb striper

This 58.10-pound striper caught on a bunker chunk at Sandy Hook last month by John Callahan gives surfcasters something to shoot for.

Canyon Runner’s First canyon trip was a good one

After a fine winter and spring in N.C. , the Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant opened up the northern canyon season this week with a flurry.

Captains Phil Dulanie and Charlie Vander Beck got the John De Rosa and sons party out to the edge by 2 p.m., and they soon had three rods hooked up. It was over an hour before  they were finished fighting what turned out to be a 50-pound bluefin and two 150-pounders.  They added a 35-pounder trolling before setting up for the night chumming. The constant blue shark bite they expected didn’t develop. Instead, they hooked a 40-pound bluefin before finishing up the night with a real battle as a 68-inch bluefin of close to 250 pounds fought for over an hour. The morning troll produced a bluefin in the 100-pound class before the southwest wind came up hard and they ran back to Point Pleasant.

CR May bluefins

The spring that started out cold, but fishable, has become warmer but a lot wetter. Capt. Rob Semkewyc didn’t have enough fares to sail with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands. That was too bad, because Capt. Vinnie Vetere of Katfish Charters from Great Kills said he had his best day of the year in Raritan Bay.  Big bass were on the surface, and live bunkers produced steady action with bass mostly in the upper 20s — but up to a 42-pounder. When the bait was gone, Vetere switched to trolling his Ho-Jo’s and kept catching as they ended up with about 30 releases.

Capt. Joe Massa took a neighbor out for just a few hours Wednesday morning on his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina and has able to net bunkers in the back of the bay that were turned into six stripers in the same area.

Unfortunately, there’s a forecast of northeast winds gusting to 30 mph for tomorrow.The Sea Hunter has cancelled, as has the Golden Eagle from Belmar. It’s not official yet, but the Staten Island Tuna Club Striper Tournament will probably be postponed a week.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported a good showing of blues in the surf yesterday along with bass — especially on bait in the evening.  There was a 35-inch blue on a SP Minnow that registered 11.3 pounds on the scale. Vin Nolan Sr. used the same lure to fool a 34-inch striper that weighed 12.5 pounds.

There was no repeat of the surf bluefish blitz around high tide for Jim Gates of Bay Head at his local beach, but he did get one before I arrived to turn off the bite.

Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant, said cocktail blues are hitting at times in Pt. Pleasant Canal. Kettle Creek paddletails are best, but Melillo says they’re also turning on to metal.

Blues make a showing in Pt. Pleasant surf

Spring bluefishing has gotten off to a slow start, but there was a hopeful sign this afternoon when Jim Gates of Bay Head got into them in his local surf.  Gates had been on the beach early in the morning and caught a short striper. However, the blues turned on when Gates returned as the tide started ebbing. He was unhooking his 14th chopper when I arrived and cast a dark cloud over the surf. I did hook up on my second cast with a large pencil popper, but that fish came off right away — and  there was nothing else caught.

The fish I saw was a medium, but Gates said he had also released a 12-pounder.  The surf was getting rough, and the rain steady when I left. It wasn’t much, but at least we now know that it’s worthwhile to cast for blues in the ocean.  They showed just a day later than two years ago when there was a blitz of jumbos at Point Pleasant the day after Mother’s Day.  I had been on the beach before sun-up when a couple of big whales  were  cruising along only a couple of hundred feet off the shore. The dreary day kept most anglers home, and no party boat reports were posted.

Capt. Stan Zagleski said yesterday’s sea bass opening on his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands started slowly as the first spot he tied was dead. After that he got into a mix of short and keeper sea bass plus two cod and out-of-season blackfish. Zagleski had been diving last week and found the bottom temperature was just 44 degrees in depths of 80 feet.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle weighed a 38-inch 18.8-pound striper that “Russ” caught on his last piece of bunker in the surf. Betty & Nick’s reported a 28 1/4-pound striper taken on bunker in Island Beach State Park, where the Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament will be contested on Sunday.

The 29-pound striper below was weighed last week at The Tackle Box in Hazlet after Jim Schaublin of Stockholm landed it at Sandy Hook while fishing with clams.