Page 35 of 38

Are the bluefish in?

Bluefish are overdue by the standards of recent springs, and I still didn’t have any confirmed reports from shore fishing sources as of this morning. Yet, while checking the striper report of the Golden Eagle from Belmar this afternoon there was a mention of a bluefish blitz on the Manasquan Inlet jetties. I’ll be checking that out tomorrow!

The Golden Eagle did boat a couple of keeper stripers and lost a few others — which was still better than previous trips and provides some hope for tomorrow.

I made my first surf attempt of the year in the morning at Sea Girt, but the surf was rough and there were no hits. A couple of other anglers there did likewise. Jim Louro of Spring Lake took a look at his local surf and switched to Shark River. The water was fine there, but he and Frank Manzi had no hits. Capt. Chrid Di Stefano of Wall lost a fish that hit a lure in the river during the week, and saw a fly fisherman catch a small bass.

Jerry Lasko and Maren Tolano of Point Pleasant combined for 10 small stripers this morning at Island Beach State Park though conditions weren’t good. The switch to west winds should improve surf conditions over the next few days.

Castaway’s Tackle in Point Pleasant is now open after a winter renovation took longer than expected. Joe Melillo said flounder fishing has been good at both ends of Point Pleasant Canal, and some stripers are also being caught in the canal.

Blackfish anglers are running out of time as that season closes at the end of the month. Bottom fishing party boats will be concentrating on them tomorrow.

Trolling was once again the best bet for stripers in Raritan Bay. Capt. Rob Semkewyc said he had some shorts and keepers on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, but not nearly enough. On the other hand, outdoor writer Nick Honachefsky made a late morning trip on Bunkertown, a Contender from Shrewsbury River, after the fog lifted enough for safe navigation. They had a good bite on mo-jos, with chartreuse being the hot color.  There was a mixture of sizes, but a 41.8-pounder reeled in by George Marc-Aurele was by far the largest. She was weighed on a hand scale before being released to spawn in the Hudson River within a couple of weeks.

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Last days for NJ blackfish

The N.J. spring season for blackfish concludes with the end of April. Blackfish anglers should have fishable weather this weekend to get their last licks in. The Big Mohawk and Ocean Explorer will be sailing for their target species plus a shot at a cod or two. The Paramount from Brielle will be bottom fishing both days from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The Elaine B. II from Highlands sails the next two days for tog at 7 a.m., but then won’t fish Monday and Tuesday before switching to stripers at 7 daily on Wednesday.

The Jamaica from Brielle will be seeking stripers at 7:30 a.m. the next two days before starting daily trips on May 4. The Golden Eagle sails for stripers from Belmar

Atlantic Highlands party boats had action with short stripers today, but added some keepers. The Sea Hunter started slowly, but ended up with a good flurry despite “lousy” conditions.

Trolling was a different story for Capt. Vinny Vetere of Katfish in Great Kills as at least 40 stripers from 31 to 44 inches hit his Ho-Jo’s.

Ho-jo's bass

Both Grumpy’s Tackle and Betty & Nick’s in Seaside Park reported a hot Thursday night bite of small bass in the surf on bait plus small bucktails and shads. The shops have fresh bunker in stock plus some clams. Grumpy’s runs an ODM rods demo Saturday from 10-1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bait fishing for stripers was mostly shorts today for Atlantic Highlands party boats. The Sea Hunter started slowly, but ended up with a good shot of keepers despite “lousy” conditions. The Fishermen also had legal bass, but they were all under 30 inches.

Trolling was a much different story for Capt. Vinny Vetere. who was using his Ho-jo’s from Katfish Charters out of Great Kills to catch at least 40 stripers from 31 to 44 inches. The largest bass preferred the pink infused models. Ho-jo's bass

 

 

Big swell hurts ocean fishing

The ocean swell was big enough today to make Shark River Inlet so rough that the Big Mohawk turned around and returned to its berth in Belmar.  They’ll give it another try at 7 a.m. Friday — and at 6:30 am. from Saturday through Monday to finish out the spring N.J. blackfish season which closes at the end of the month.

Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina that winter flounder still haven’t produced much action at the docks there, with more fluke taking the baits. Small stripers are being caught in the surf. However, Jim Louro of Spring Lake said he gave up quickly this morning due to the big swell. The forecast for Friday is for moderate east winds with small craft warnings plus rain before west winds should produce better conditions over the weekend.

The Sea Hunter got out into Raritan Bay from Atlantic Highlands this morning, but Capt. Rob Semkewyc said it was just a pick of shorts with an occasional keeper that kept him on the first drop for the rest of the tide rather than taking a chance by moving from the modest bite. He noted that trollers were doing better.

Capt. Joe Massa made a short Wednesday evening trip with John D’Andrea on My Three Sons from Morgan Marina and had good trolling in greater depths than the fleet has been fishing. They caught five bass of legal size, which had sea lice on them, plus two shorts.

Capt. Hans Kaspersetz is back from serving as an observer at a billfish tournament in the Dominican Republic, and ready to start chartering Sheri Berri from Twin Lights Marina in Highlands. If you’d like to fish with Hans and me on that fast 25-foot Regulator, send a e-mail to me at cristori@aol,com. — or call 732 757-5531.

 

Hank Matri - March 2018 - East End Lodge - Grand Bahama Is

A touch of the tropics. Hank Matri with a Bahamas bonefish on a fly before the release in March

Where did all the mackerel go?

While cleaning my office on a rainy day, I came across one of my old logbooks and opened it up to April 25, 1970 to see what I was catching on that Saturday when I was still living on Long Island. It turned out that I fished with a couple of friends on their boat out of Jones Inlet as I jigged 102 mackerel and two herring.

That was just a routine day of spring mackerel jigging then, and in almost every other spring after I started saltwater fishing. Huge schools of mackerel started their northern migration off Virginia, and moved steadily up the coast during April before ending up in New England waters within a few weeks. Some years were better than others, but catching 100 or more a man was routine, and party boat fleets thrived on the great fishery for both food and a freezer full of bait for the months to come.

The foreign fleets caught millions of pounds and put a big dent in that fishery, but mackerel did come back after the 200-mile limit went into effect.  Yet, foreign fleets were allowed to continue taking mackerel if they participated in joint ventures with American trawlers. NOAA Fisheries considered mackerel to be underfished at that time, but after a few more years the spring runs diminished and then virtually disappeared even as NOAA Fisheries kept setting large quotas that weren’t being filled. When I called them about this, they admitted to be using an old stock assessment. There were some years when there was a good winter mackerel run off the N.J and L.I coasts, but even that has died out — and party boat skippers who used to run experimental trips for mackerel in the spring now don’t even bother. From millions of fish to none at all!

Due to today’s weather, there have been no reports. There was a very good one about surf stripers that came in after last night’s blog. Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno from Point Pleasant cast Kettle Creek paddletail jigs in the Ocean County surf to release dozens of small bass in a spot where they never got a hit the afternoon before when the surf was calm.  A bit of white water turned the stripers  on, though the largest was only 22 inches.  It may take another day for the surf to settle and clear.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park has been reporting small bass in the surf for over a week, and Betty & Nick’s notes the surf temperature has warmed to 50 degrees.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar will be sailing for stripers at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

There is a thick fog warning until 7 a.m. before a west wind kicks in.

The first two stripers caught last Thursday morning on bunker chunks before release from Ty Man in Raritan Bay

Ty Man morning stripers

Rain & wind coming Wednesday, but it looks good after that

The weather from N.J. to Long Island isn’t looking good for Wednesday with rain and gusty winds in the forecast, but it’s supposed to be back to just 10 to 15 knots from the west for Thursday — and the weekend looks good.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands clammed in Raritan Bay today, but it was mostly short bass that responded. There were some keepers topped by Eric Nova’s 15-pounder. Capt. Rob Semkewyc won’t be sailing tomorrow due to the weather, but will be ready to go on Thursday.

Tank Matraxia and his crew from Lyndhurst fished with Capt. John Contello aboard Just Sayin from Keyport. After casting produced only one short, they switched to trolling mo-jos and limited out with keepers up to about 32 inches. Matraxia was also able to put ALS tags in five legal bass and a short. One of those bass had a fairly recent bite taken out of it — possibly by a seal. The action was in the back of the bay where there were lots of boats and kayaks.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk reported a good blackfish bite today, but won’t sail again until Thursday. The Ocean Explorer had good blackfishing Monday with some limits.

The Gambler has been getting out from Point Pleasant. but blackfishing has been slow so far due to cold waters. The Queen Mary starts striper fishing out of that port on Saturday.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reports small stripers are hitting in the surf on small pieces of bait and lures. An angler fishing bunker chunks reported losing a better fish in the wash. An ODM rod demo will be held at Grumpy’s on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

 

Sandy Hook Late April SunriseAllen Riley photo of Sandy Hook at dawn Monday. Don’t expect that tomorrow!

N OAA gives tuna anglers a break

The bluefin tuna regulations just issued by NOAA provide some hope for anglers who spend a small fortune to run offshore for them. The NOAA release follows (scroll down):

Atlantic HMS

April 23, 2018

bluefin tuna

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Angling Category Fishery: Recreational Daily Retention Limit Adjustment

NOAA Fisheries is adjusting the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) daily retention limits that apply to vessels permitted in the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally for BFT) effective April 26, 2018, through December 31, 2018, as follows:

Table

In deciding these retention limits, NOAA Fisheries considered the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments, which include available quota, fishery performance in recent years, availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, and the effects of the adjustment on the stock and on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and amendments.  NOAA Fisheries also considered input from the HMS Advisory Panel.  These limits should provide opportunities to harvest the available U.S. BFT quota without exceeding it; prevent overharvest of the 2018 quotas; and collect a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes.

Who is Affected?

These daily retention limits apply to vessels permitted in the recreational HMS Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category while fishing recreationally.  The daily retention limits are effective for all areas except for the Gulf of Mexico, which is designated as BFT spawning grounds and where NOAA Fisheries does not allow targeted fishing for BFT.  Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip (e.g., whether a vessel takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in one day), no more than a single day’s retention limit may be possessed, retained, or landed.

NOAA Fisheries will continue to monitor the BFT fisheries closely.  HMS Charter/Headboat and Angling category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing the HMS Permit Shop,using the HMS Catch Reporting App, or calling (888) 872-8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.).  Depending on fishing effort and catch rates, additional retention limit adjustments or fishery closures may be necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas.

NOAA Fisheries regulations require that all BFT that are released be handled in a manner that will maximize their survival, and without removing the fish from the water.  For additional information on safe handling, see theCareful Catch and Release brochure.

This notice is a courtesy to BFT fishery permit holders to help keep you informed about the fishery.  For additional information, please go to the HMS Permit Shop or call (978) 281-9260.  Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.

The weather was good today, but Raritan Bay striped bass fishing was tougher for the Atlantic Highlands party boat fleet. The Fishermen reported all of their keepers were caught during the first hour before the bite dropped off to just a few shorts. The Sea Hunter had a similar report, but the largest bass of their season was boated by Dave Koczka with a 34-pounder.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk had the nicest day of the season even though blackfishing was sluggish. Yet, there were a few limits and others with two to three keeper tog among the shorts. Blackfish jigs were most effective. Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den, said blackfish are also being caught in Shark River Inlet. He weighed in a 14 1/2-pound tog that was caught by Ben Rich of Titusville, N.J. off Barnegat — and entered in The Fisherman Dream Boat Contest.

The rumor of weakfish in Barnegat Bay was confirmed in a Facebook posting by Frank Ruczynski. who once again caught the first one  April 19 on a Zoom jig.

Allen Riley of South Plainfield and Duke Matero from Piscataway tried the Sandy Hook surf early this morning with clams and fresh bunker, but caught only skates and the first sea robin reported from a flat surf.


 

Boat traffic slows striper bite

It was a beautiful Sunday on the water, but boat traffic seemed to slow the striped bass bite in Raritan Bay. Capt. Rob Semkewyc was coming off a very good day of clamming with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, but only put a few bass aboard today as he felt the volume of trollers passing close to him was the problem. There was one highlight, as Andy Sokol of Manalapan boated a 41-inch, 29-pound striper.

001Andy Sokol 29 lb

Capt. Joe Massa found the trolling to also  be way off from Saturday as Carl Drehwing, Bob Correll and I joined him on his larger My Three Sons (a Grady White 30) from Morgan Marina.  Yesterday he had trolled 15 bass, though all were shorts. We started out casting shads around scattered marks where I caught a small bass right away — but there were no more hits. A crowd of boaters trying to net bunkers in Great Kills convinced Joe to troll instead — especially since he had spent three hours Saturday chunking on good marks without a hit. We did hook a half-dozen bass on Rapala X-Raps, but they were very small, and there were no hits on the larger stretch lures. There were lots of boats trolling in the back of the bay, but I didn’t notice anyone stropping to fight fish before we headed back early.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar read some bait and fish, but couldn’t get any bites, and won’t sail again for stripers until Thursday.

Capt. Stan Zagleski started blackfishing daily with his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands on Saturday as he found one spot to be dead but picked away with tog and even a few cod on another. Art Garrett of Red Bank won the pool with a cod. Clams were most effective for both species.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports small stripers in the surf for those casting small pieces of clam or bunker. Skimmer clams are back in stock along with fresh bunker. There’s still no word of bluefish, but there has been talk of weakfish in the southern end of Barnegat Bay.  Betty & Nick’s noted that small stripers hit in the surf yesterday before the wind came up in the afternoon.

Stripers cooperate in Raritan Bay

With a good forecast drawing lots of boaters, I suspected that striper fishing in Rartan Bay might have been tough today — but that wasn’t the case! At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen had his best action right away as Chris Zotti caught two legal bass and three shorts in the first hour before ending up with a total of seven legal bass and 14 shorts.  Morris Duckett boated a 23-pound pool bass, and the first fluke of the season was released  — a 4-pounder. Santee said clams worked best as they caught over 20 keeper bass plus lots of shorts.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc had a similar report from his Sea Hunter with a super start followed by a pick the rest of the day.

Sea Hunter bass

A Sea Hunter striper from last Saturday

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle reported a beautiful ocean as they saw some stripers, but the fish wouldn’t hit.

The Ocean Explorer found lots of bottom life in the flat ocean, and a 7-pound blackfish that came up early ended up taking the pool. A few fares bagged two to three tog, and there were also some legal cod and a pollock.

The forecast for Sunday is NW 5-10 knots, switching to SW in the afternoon. Seas range from one foot early to two feet in the afternoon.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports lots of small bass in the surf on clams, paddletails, bucktails and small swimmers.  One angler reported bunkers coming close enough to be snagged, but there were no takers for that live bait.

Sunday is the last day for pre-registration for the Governor’s Surf  Fishing Tournament on May 20 at Island Beach State Park. The adult fee of $20 is reduced to $15, and you won’t have to be at Pavillion 2 that morning in order to sign up at 5:30 a.m. for the 6:30-1 contest.  Visit http://www.njfishandwildlife.com for forms and info.

Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst and Emil Pavalac fished a couple of days last week at Cedar Key on the northern Gulf coast of Florida. Cousins Steve and Jimbo Keith put them into limits of spotted sea trout and redfish, including eight redfish that got ALS tags,  but Tank lost a big tripletail after working hard to get a hit from those fish that hang around crab pot buoys and channel markers.

Matt 44-inchThe Tackle Box in Hazlet sent along this shot of Matthew Loiselle of the Urban Jersey Fishing Team with a 44-inch striper from shore before  its release

Much nicer weather coming

After yet another day of strong  NW winds, it appears that we’re finally  going to see some much better fishing weather.

The inshore marine forecast for northern N.J. to N.Y.  is for northwest winds dropping to 10–15 mph Saturday and then to 5-10 mph SW in the afternoon. Sunday is supposed to start at 5-10 mph NW — going to SW with seas of one foot or less. The seas remain the same Monday with a 5 knot breeze from the northeast — and Tuesday it’s 5-10 from the southeast increasing to 10-15 in the afternoon.

The Jamaica from Brielle should finally get a break for their offshore trips. An offshore wreck cod & pollock trip sails at 1:30 a.m. Saturday(boarding at midnight), and a tilefish trip departs Sunday at 10 p.m. Both trips are by reservation. Call 732 528-5014.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer found blackfishing to be very slow this morning, but it picked up in the afternoon as some fares had two to three keepers plus shorts.

The Atlantic Highlands fleet is getting more active as the Dorothy B. starts striper fishing Saturday from 7:30 to 2:30.  The Sea Hunter passed its Coast Guard inspection today, and will be sailing daily. The Fishermen got out with a dozen anglers on Thursday. Capt, Ron Santee said anchoring conditions were poor, but short stripers hit all around the boat along with the “odd” keeper.

Jim Louro of Spring Lake tried to fish Raritan Bay this afternoon, but the NW wind was too strong for comfortable small boat fishing. Trolling has been most effective lately for scattered stripers, but the bass are starting to turn on to bunker chunks when conditions are good.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant will be making limited open boat trips for blackfish at 7 a.m. on Sunday and Monday. Call 732 272-4445 for information and reservations.

The Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands begins its season with daily blackfishing at 7 a.m. on Saturday.

Some school stripers have been caught, mostly on bait, in the Island Beach State Park surf, but many more are hitting small lures in Barnegat Bay. Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports skimmer clams are hard to come by as bait, but they do have large chowder clams in stock.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Belmar,

 

NJ anglers should push for DEP marine funding renewal

A major topic at today’s NJ DEP Outdoor Writers Meeting was concern about continuing the hard-won funding for marine fisheries which Gov. Christie added to his last budget and which was supported by legislative leaders. Gov. Murphy didn’t include that funding in his budget, and hiring has been frozen until funds are assured. Though there have been ever greater demands placed on the DEP with the expansion of fishery management plans, the staff has been contracting for many years due to retirements.

Tom Fote of the JCAA has been meeting with legislators to try resolving this situation, but it may require pressure from the public on Gov. Murphy to get the funding restored. I’ll have more about this plus other information from the state meeting in the next few days.

Today’s weather wasn’t the best, and fishing started slowly for Chuck Many’s crew on Ty Man in Raritan Bay. David Glassberg of Little Silver only needed two throws of the cast net to load up with bunkers. There were enough marks in the bay, but we couldn’t give away a live bunker — even though trollers were stopping regularly as that seemed to be the best bet with the scattered marks.

Many doesn’t enjoy trolling, so he anchored to chunk. Bob Bowden, Dave and I had a flurry of action as four bass from about 29 to 32 inches were released, but the tide was dying out and the bites did the same. Chuck dropped me off to drive to the state meeting in Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, but that was just the start of the day for him. He checked out the Hudson River and found no marks up there before returning to the back of the bay where the bass turned on to bunker chunks in the afternoon. By late afternoon, the release score was up to 21 bass with a 22-pounder topping the catch.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk had decent bottom life and reported some blackfish limits though it wasn’t a good bite. The weather is looking a lot better after tomorrow’s NW blow, and the weekend should be fishable — with Sunday through Tuesday looking exceptional.

Bob Matthews has been very disappointed in the winter flounder bite from the Belmar Marina docks, but notes that some blackfish are being caught in the inlet. Capt. Chris De Stefano of Wall stopped by this week and saw a few flounder caught, including one with a bitten-off tail — plus a 17-inch fluke.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park had reports of some short stripers on bait in the Island Beach State Park surf.