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Inshore bluefins creating excitment

Blue fin tuna if various sizes have shown up not too far from shore at such areas as the Mud Hole and Axel Carlsen Reef and are providing anglers with the opportunity to cast poppers to great game fish.

The striper migration remains way behind due to high water temperatures, but Vinny D’Anton ended up having a good bite in mid-morning. He had caught a couple in the Belmar surf yesterday morning, but only Jim Louro could catch a short there this morning. Yet, Vinny took a shot to the south with the sun up high and in shallow waters, but caught five bass including a 28-inch and a 29 on the Chug Bug.

Very small bonito have been showing in the surf, and Bob Correll caught three of the one-pounders in metal this evening in the Bay Head surf.

Tank Matraxia and his crew from Lyndhurst  fished aboard Tagged Fish from Highlands and cast to lots of those bonito plus some little tunny, but bottom fishing for sea bass was slow. There were lots of birds working off Sandy Hook.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported rough seas where they read lots of fish but only picked some blues, sea bass and porgies. With more windy weather in the forecast for tomorrow, they’ve cancelled and will resume on Thursday.






Small blues in N.J. surf

Sorry about the computer problem yesterday. It’s not solved yet, but I’m sending this out from Joe Blaze’s office.

The abundance of small blues in the surf that’s been reported for some time by the Seaside Park tackle shops spread yesterday to many other areas. Bob Correll of Bay Head got into them during late afternoon in his area, and blog reader Dan left a message noting the same thing happening early yesterday morning in Sea Bright along with some small bonito. There were no little tunny, but Dan said they had been there the previous day.

Tommy Cox went to Monmouth Beach Sunday morning based on the previous day’s report of little tunny there. He didn’t see them, but caught three Spanish mackerel. Those fish were only 12 to 14 inches, but a big surprise in mid-October.

Vinny D’Anton didn’t run into any blues in the Belmar surf this morning, but he did catch three school stripers on his Chug Bug. When the SW wind got too strong,he moved to Shark River and managed two more larger bass of 24 and 26 inches on the Chug Bug.

I tried the Bay Head surf early, and caught a small blue on a Chug Bug. Birds started picking on rainfish in the surf, but I didn’t see blues in them before the SW wind started cranking and everything disappeared.

Capt. Stan Zagleski was very happy with Sunday’s sea bass fishing on Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands. Those who fished with green crabs also managed their single keeper blackfish. With the water temperature at 69 degrees, Stan expects to see limits of sea bass continue along with a showing of triggerfish.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported good action with 4-to-12-pound blues during Saturday night’s trip.  There were only a few small blues jigged Sunday, but those lures also produced some bonito and little tunny plus lots of big sea bass and porgies.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar weighed a personal record 12-pound blackfish that Mikey Kim caught Saturday.  There ere lots of sea bass, and those who fished well off bottom caught limits of the bigger bass.







Great weather for Sunday

You couldn’t ask for a better Sunday forecast in the fall. The Marine Weather Forecast is calling for 5-to-10 mph NW winds before a shift to SW later in the day — and only seas up to two feet on a fair day. Perfect weather for surfcasting or anything else for that matter.

The ocean was a bit rough in today’s NW wind, but the Big Mohawk from Belmar reported outstanding bottom fishing with many limits of sea bass plus big porgies and even some winter flounder.

Also at that port, the Golden Eagle picked away at 3-to-8-pound bluefish on jigs while adding many sea bass and porgies. Miss Belmar Princess reported running offshore where there was only a tender pick of blues along with sea bass and porgies. They moved inshore to the north and ended up with better bluefishing.

The surf calmed with the west winds, and also cleaned up — setting up a good situation for the morning except for the low tide.

Looks like fine fishing weather for the weekend

The northwest wind is honking as this is written, but small craft warnings come down at 2 a.m. — and fishing conditions should be fine for the weekend with a light NW by Sunday before shifting to SW.

Today was pretty much a blowout, with most skippers cancelling in advance.  However, every party boat should be sailing over the weekend. The bluefish on the Jamaica should be repeated tomorrow when they sail from Brielle at 7:30 a.m.

bluefish on the Jamaica

As noted in yesterday’s blog, the surf was bound to be dirty due to Thursday’s south winds. I didn’t even attempt to fish it, but went right to Point Pleasant Canal for the slack with sandworms left over from the Wednesday evening trip with Chuck Many. Five tog up to 13 1/2 inches jumped on them before the incoming tide speeded up. Four more were released on the afternoon slack. Some light tackle fun with a single split shot when conditions elsewhere aren’t good.

The surf at Bay Head looked pretty much unfishable in the morning, but better by afternoon as the NW wind knocked down the swell. The weekend should be fine for surfcasting with the wind at our backs.

Jerry Lasko said the Seaside surf was loaded with very small blues and some hickory shad in the evenings until the south wind ruined it yesterday. He’s been doing well with tog in the canal — and even caught a pinfish there. Maren Toleno caught a juvenile jack crevalle and some lizardfish while snapper fishing near the canal boat ramp.

Mimi VI from Point Pleasant has some openings on a charter tomorrow for sea bass and porgies. The fare is $75 for the 7 a.m. trip. Call 732 370-8019 for reservations.

NOAA closed the General category bluefin tuna on Oct. 5, but is reopening it for two days on  October 15 and 16 for one large medium or giant bluefin per day. That fishery then reopens again on Dec. 1 for one fish.


Surfcasters to finally get their northwester

Today’s south wind and the forecast of rain seemed to keep almost everyone in — and Friday looks like a blowout as the hard NW wind N.J. surfcasters have been hoping for finally arrives.

Most skippers have already cancelled for Friday, so be sure to check with the skipper before coming down tomorrow,

Though surf conditions should be fishable, waters may still be dirty from today’s  south winds. Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported that 1-to-2-pound blues continued to cooperate in the surf  on Wednesday– and all you needed was metal.

Vinny D’Anton started out in Shark River   this morning and caught a couple of very small stripers, but kept working at it and eventually got a blast on his Chug Bug that turned out to be a hefty blue of 6-7-pounds. Blues that size haven’t been in the river for weeks. Yet, that was the only one. Vinny isn’t expecting much tomorrow as the barometer is falling like a stone. He also tried the beaches at Spring Lake, Belmar and Manasquan with no results.

I tried Point Pleasant Canal in the morning and was surprised not to see anyone fishing. That might have been because of the fishing as I didn’t get a touch on a paddetail jig, and saw no signs of fish.

There was an odd report the previous day at the canal as I talked to an angler who had been getting tails of his paddletails nipped off before finally hooked the attacker that turned out to be a 14-inch blackfish. Those lures are being fished every day during the season in the canal, but I never before heard of a blackfish hitting one.  I have caught  a very few tog on artificials over the years in the ocean, but it’s a rare exception for that crustacean eater.

I had fished the night before with Chuck Many and his crew on Tyman from Gateway Marina in Highlands as we got a break from the fog which had enveloped that area earlier and enjoyed  decent conditions for a late afternoon trip. Unfortunately, the Hudson River stripers didn’t appreciate our offers of live adult bunkers that Chuck had castnetted — or the bunker chunks we offered at anchor after dark even though we had some very good readings. We all had hits that wouldn’t stay with the baits to provide a hooking attempt, and only one 33-inch striper was released.  The water temperature going across the bay had gone up from 71 to 72 degrees, and it’s hardly surprising that we’re still dealing only with our hard hit Hudson River stock as the waters are far too warm for a migratory run of stripers and bait from the east to arrive.


Crisdel fought a deep drop daytime swordfish

Capt. Chris Di Stefano was among the crew aboard Frank Criscola’s Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club that last week attempted to catch a daytime swordfish on a daytime deep drop off N.J. — and came close to doing so.

Nick-601-lb swordThey made a very deep drop well beyond Hudson Canyon and hooked a large swordfish fought for some time before the hook pulled. Without a fleet of boats experimenting in order to pinpoint particular areas where swordfish dwell in the great depths during the day, this fishery is a real shot in the dark up here at present. However, Richard Stanczyk of Bud ‘N Mary’s Marina in Islamorada has developed a very consistent daytime swordfishery  in that area — and his son, Capt. Nick Stanczyk (pictured above with a 601-pounder) now catches them regularly and often several in a day. Crisdel winters in Islamorada, and they cut their teeth on daytime swordfishing last winter.

Though Crisdel was using electric reels, it’s not a big problem to fight large swords on sportfishing tackle. I’ve caught daytime swords in both Venezuela and Islamorada, and had no problem doing so because swordfish rise to the surface when hooked,  It’s tedious to sit in a fighting chair and continue to reel in line before the real fight begins a long time later. At that point they often jump and act like a fish just joked as they haven’t been expending much energy beforehand.

Di Stefano noted that they also had a couple of other hits in the depths, and ended up moving inshore to put some tilefish in the fish box. Criscola is planning to make another daytime swordfish trip when weather conditions permit.

Tuna have been scarce lately, but Capt. Bobby Bogan found plenty of variety to fill out his 36-hour canyon trip with the Gambler from Point Pleasant.  He found a massive weed line that was full of dolphin plus some almaco jacks. Then it was off to a wreck in 250 feet that produced  some large pollock and white hake. More dolphin were caught around lobster pots before he anchored on the east side of Hudson Canyon. The anglers were kept busy catching huge squid and a few more dolphin under the lights plus blue sharks. Very small bluefins also invaded the slick, but were released. It wasn’t until after daylight that there was a shot of what they were looking for as a few 50-pound yellowfins and a couple of 30-to-40-pound albacore were hooked. A report of some yellowfins inshore didn’t work out, though some little tunny were caught plus a big bull shark.  Edwin Ortiz ended up with a 40-pound albacore, two 20-pound pollock, six 8-to-10-pound dolphin, four white hake of the same size, and two dozen big squid.

The Big Mohawk from Belmar reported many limits of sea bass during the extended season-opening trips Monday and Tuesday plus variety that included big porgies, winter flounder and of all things — a 40-pound tuna.

Miss Belmar Princess had a slow pick of 2-to-4-pound blues today along with some bonito, Spanish mackerel. sea bass and porgies.

The Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands had very good porgy fishing Tuesday along with variety including sea bass, bluefish and triggerfish.

Bob Correll of Bay Head spent last weekend on Martha’s Vineyard trying to catch little tunny in the surf. He said there was so much bait that the tunny were very fussy. The few being caught were on blind casts. Bob ended up catching some small blues just as he had left at home — and caught more of those 2-pounders yesterday evening and this morning than he did at the Vineyard.

The Spring Lake surf looked fine to me this morning with no wind and only a moderate swell, but I couldn’t raise a thing to a popper. Vinny D’Anton fished Shark River for a 22-inch striper on a Chug Bug, but with no action after that he tried the surf at Belmar to no avail. Though Frank Manzi hadn’t done anything at Manasquan earlier, Vinny tried it at mid-morning and was surprised to catch two bass up to 25 inches on the Chug Bug.  He also saw very small bass that must have been feeding on tiny bait because he threw everything small at them without a hit.

Capt. Vinnie Vetere of Katfish Charters in Great Kills said he only had a pick of stripers today on live eels during a crew trip. He’s open until the weekend.


Tyman works hard for stripers

It took some time this morning for Chuck Many to find bunkers with his Tyman from Gateway Marina in Highlands before one throw produced all we needed for the day. Unfortunately, the Hudson River stripers didn’t appreciate all that time and effort. It’s not that we didn’t get hits on the drifted live adult bunkers, but the bass were mostly whacking them and refusing to follow through by picking up the stunned bait. We did release four stripers of around 20 to 22 pounds, and lost a few that were briefly hooked, but it could have been much better. A move to the East River produced a fifth legal striper release as I hooked a 28-incher on sandworms at a spot that usually produces lots of schoolies — but this time none at all. The very healthy looking striper below was the only bite we had drifting outside the East River where 12-ounce sinkers were needed.

SeaAl with East River bass.jpg

Mimi VI from Point Pleasant has some room on a sea bass charter tomorrow , as well as on open trips Thursday and Halloween. Call 732 370-8019.

Dolphin have been making up for a lack of tuna on party boat canyon trips. The Jamaica from Brielle loaded up with mahi up to 20 pounds on weekend trips, and also lost a swordfish and several tuna at night.  The Golden Eagle was pleased with the dolphin action on the Monday to Tuesday trip, and also had a swordfish. They won’t be sailing for blues the next two days while performing maintenance on the vessel.

Jon Falkowski of Linden fished aboard Miss Belmar Princess today and only jigged two very small blues. He said all the blues were small, but there were also a few bonito and Spanish mackerel hooked as well as sea bass — and even one lost whiting.


Diamond jigs produced biggest sea bass

Sea bass were waiting this morning for N.J. anglers anxious to get another shot at what’s probably our best eating fish.  The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported no problem  finding sea bass, but those using diamond jigs and sand eel teasers were the ones able to fill limits with bigger fish. Jigging well off the bottom was also a best bet.

It wasn’t very nice on the ocean due to the unexpected gusty northeast wind, but the fish didn’t mind. That wind and the consequent rough surf made for tough conditions on the beach, though I thought it was actually more fishable than Sunday morning as the big offshore swell appeared to have moderated. That didn’t do me a bit of good at Spring Lake as I never raised a thing in areas where I’d caught stripers Saturday morning. Vinnie D’Anton managed a couple of small bass at Manasquan on the Chug Bug — and got two more bass during a brief try in the afternoon at Shark River. The wind is predicted to shift to the south tomorrow, and ocean conditions should improve.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported a few small bass are hitting plugs in the dark. Some small blues are being caught on mullet baits, and a few little tunny were reported.  Betty & Nick’s noted the mullet run has slowed, but a couple of surfcasters rushed back to the shop this morning for more mullet that the bluefish were crushing.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc broke the ice with stripers on Sunday during his first trip of the fall season with Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands. Mike and Matt Sheer had the hot hands as they boated two keepers (see photo below). A couple more were lost, and there were also a couple of shorts. The skipper was ready to sail again this morning until the wind started blowing harder than predicted. He advises anglers to check with him before coming down.

First fall stripers on Sea Hunter

Mimi IV from Point Pleasant will be bottom fishing on an open basis at 7 a.m. both Thursday and on Halloween.  Call 732 370-8019 for reservations.


Jumbo blues arrive

There weren’t many caught, but the sudden appearance of jumbo bluefish during the last two trips of the Golden Eagle from Belmar is a sign that the huge blues we’ve been seeing in recent years during the fall are arriving.  They only had fair Saturday night bluefishing with 3-to-6-pounders dominating — but a few 15-pounders were mixed in.  It was the same thing on Sunday’s day trip, plus some bonito, but a few of the jumbos also showed up — including a 20-pound pool winner.

Many boaters will be seeking sea bass on the N.J. Columbus Day opener. As I’ve been noting, some party boat are running extended trips by reservation.  Be sure to check with your favorite skipper before coming down.

The big swell pounding on beaches from the offshore storm seemed to turn off stripers this morning. I couldn’t raise a thing where I had caught them yesterday morning in Spring Lake, and Vinny D’Anton had the same experience in Belmar.

Joe Melillo. at Castaways Tackle in Pt. Pleasant reports some bluefish were caught on jigs in the canal.