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Ocean Explorer sails for cod tomorrow

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar is out of the shipyard and ready to fish again. They will be heading out at 7:30 Wednesday to search for cod on a daily basis when weather permits. There has been some good spring inshore codfishing in the past, and we’ll never know if they are there unless someone makes the effort.

The weather looks good, as a northwest wind of only 5-10 knots is forecast for the morning, followed by a shift to southwest in the afternoon — with one-foot seas.


Capt. Howard Bogan was surprised at the lack of porgies as they usually hold on those deepwater wrecks into April. He hopes to find them again when the Jamaica makes 1 a.m. trips on Saturday and Sunday. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.



Instead of the expected porgies, the Jamaica got unexpected variety.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano got word of good daytime swordfishing from Frank Criscola who has his Crisdel in Islamorada, Fl. for the winter. The largest sword so far was a 410-pounder, and a bigeye thresher shark estimated at 350 pounds was released. The latter is a very deepwater species which is protected. Criscola said sailfishing has been poor there so far.

Jim Louro continued to catch backwaters stripers this morning, and one of the 20 hooked was of legal size..

Vinny D’Anton continues to pick away at Spotted sea trout and ladyfish near his winter home in Sarasota, Fl,  — and also got into a few Spanish mackerel while wading. The light tackle action has been off due to the big fish kijjs fron last fall’s red tide.


Saltwater Fishing Expo runs from March 15-17 at Edison

The show saltwater anglers have been waiting for all winter is coming up from Friday through Sunday as the Saltwater Expo moves into the New Jersey Convention Center in Edison..

As usual, I’ll be putting on a Saturday seminar which this year will concentrate on casting and jigging for stripers, blues and tuna. Gary Quon will be flying in from California to provide his expertise in these techniques — and will be providing every angler attending the seminar with one of his valuable Tady metal lures. I’lJ have more about the Expo during the week.

Jim Louro of Spring Lake followed up his boat striper catch by braving today’s rain and wind to explore backwaters from shore and release 49 short stripers on plugs. Most were 22 inches or so, but one weighed 6 pounds.


Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park has had reports of a pick of small stripers plus winter flounder in the back bay. They will be receiving bloodworms Wednesday afternoon.

The Canyon Runner has an opening on a free military tuna trip out of Oregon Inlet, N.C. on March 14. Active duty or retired military can call Adam La Rosa  at 732                            842-6825 for info.

Small craft warnings are up through Monday afternoon. The morning starts off at 10-15 knots west with gusts to 20.

Louro reports first volume school striper catch

Very few school stripers had been reported in N.J. until yesterday, but Jim Louro of Spring Lake came up with a good report from an Ocean County river system. He joined Matt Del Mouro of Oceanport and Jerry Malanga from Point Pleasant on an 18-foot boat as they cast 4-inch plastics to release 38 shorts up to a 25-incher.  The fish were aggressive when they got on them, though the water temperature was only 34 to 37 degrees.

It sure felt like spring today, and warmer weather is predicted this week. However, the wind forecast isn’t good with, small craft warnings up after midnight for east gusts to 30 knots. Sunday’s winds are southeast at 20-25 knots with gusts to 30 in the afternoon plus rain.

NJ fluke anglers get status quo while commercials get a 40% increase

Tom Fote of the JCAA was fuming today after returning from the joint meeting of the ASMFC and Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Summer Flounder Boards in Virginia Beach.  Though N.J. underfished its quota last year, they decided that there had been overfishing by N.J. anglers which hadn’t been accounted for in previous years  and wouldn’t approve the 7.5% increase that should have been due — while handing a 40% increase to the commercial sector that’s already getting 60% of the fluke quota despite a NOAA study which showed the recreational catch was about 70% of the total catch before management started.,  The New Jersey public will have to get by with status quo while special interests are served by the management boards. I’ll have more about this as more information becomes available.

The marine forecast is looking good tomorrow before small craft advisories go up from late Saturday through Sunday evening.  Saturday starts with north winds at 5-10 knots before shifting to the east in the afternoon. Sunday will be southeast at 15-20 with gusts to 25 plus rain in the morning.

The Big Jamaica is scheduled to sail to the offshore wrecks for jumbo porgies (see photo below) both days at 1 a.m. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.

Jamaica porgy

The Philadelphia Boat Show continues through Sunday at the Greater Philadelphia \Expo at Oaks. Hours are 10-7 Saturday and 11-5 Sunday.

Two days of light winds

While it’s still cold, the forecast of light winds the next two days may inspire some anglers to make an effort for the early stripers and winter flounder.

The first legal striper was actually weighed in on the March 1 opening of the N.J. inshore striper season when Beau Bosum claimed the gift certificate for the first keeper at Absecon Sportsman Center. The 28-incher weighed 7.6 pounds  and hit bloodworms that were also attracting white perch. The location was probably Mullica River. The early season hot spot at the Forked River power plant may not be holding fish now that the hot water discharges aren’t being provided by the out-of-commission plant.

Phil Sciortino reports from the Tackle Box in Hazlet that he has bloodworms in stock. There were some very short bass caught from the Raritan Bay shorelines at Cliffwood and Union Beach last week, but the water temperature dropped this week and nothing more has been reported. We need some sunshine and higher temperatures to get those shallow waters producing.

Small craft warnings are coming down this evening, and there are two nice days coming up. Friday morning should bring southwest 5-10-knot winds switching to south in the afternoon with a one-foot sea. Saturday looks good for the Jamaica’s offshore porgy trip at 1 a.m. from Brielle with 5-10 knot west breezes before changing to northeast in the afternoon as seas increase to just two feet.  Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.

The Philadelphia Boat Show opens Friday from 1-8 p.m. in Greater Philadelphia Expo at Oaks, and runs through Sunday. Adult admission is $10, but those arriving after 5 p.m. will pay only $5.

Canyon Runner almost booked up for spring canyon trolling

The Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant is almost completely booked for the early canyon trolling that was the best of last year’s offshore sport.

Adam La Rosa advises those wishing to fish during that prime time to get in touch with him shortly as there are only eight days left on the 60-footer. and 14 on the 48 before September. The same applies for those booking on the open boat trips. As an incentive, La Rosa is offering 50% off on a fall striper trip for finishing up his rearly booking. Call him at 732 272-4445,


Capt. Deane Lambros with a N.C. giant on the Canyon Runner. Giants were also caught in the northern canyons last spring.

The Philadelphia Boat Show opens Friday from 1-8 p.m. in Greater Philadelphia Expo at Oaks, and runs through Sunday. Adult admission is $10, with no charge for those 16 or younger. There will be 27 dealers exhibiting boats, and parking is free.

Thursday starts out well with west winds of 10-15 knots, though freezing spray is a morning possibility. The picks up to 20 knots with gusts to 25 in the afternoon.  Friday looks much better with southwest 5-10 knots and 1-toot or less seas.

First weakfish & stripers boated — but don’t get excited

The first weakfish of the year was boated Sunday, but it was a most unusual catch that may not be repeated — from a far offshore wreck.

A last minute call from fluke pro Dave Lilly provided news of other firsts. A couple of guys he knows have been making short trips in Raritan Bay to the sailboat anchorage. While chumming with clams for flounder today they spotted small pods of bunker and ended up catching a 21-inch striper on a flounder rig baited with clam. Furthermore, they had also caught a 19-inch striper last week — though still no flounder.

Lilly additionally had talked to Phil Sciortino at The Tackle Box in Hazlet who reported having seen adult bunkers in the surf.

The Big Jamaica from Brielle got in their Sunday trip, and did well, as usual, with jumbo porgies plus a few ling, white hake, cod and pollock — but also a weakfish. A few years ago there were several weaks taken from those deep water wrecks during late fall, and I was aboard one day when a few were caught while sea bass fishing. However, this is the first time I’ve heard of a weakfish way offshore in March.  Large spawning weaks  may arrive in bays and rivers during April — though they rarely bite that early. Phil La Grossa caught one last year (probably in Barnegat Bay) on May 1, and that 10.13-pounder stood up all year to win the coastwise 2018 Fisherman Dream Boat Challenge in that category by a wide margin. Ed Teise entered a 7.57-pound N.J. weak on May 24, and the next two weaks entered were only 6.05-pounders caught  on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1.  Indeed, the weakfish situation is so bad that it took until Oct. 6 before all 10 places at a minimum of just 5 pounds could be filled by Fisherman subscribers fishing from N.C. to Maine.

The Jamaica’s pool winner was Andre Whitney from Washington, D.C. with a 21-pound cod, while second went to Big Lou from Philadelphia with a 9.8-pound cod.  That trip will be repeated Saturday and Sunday at 1 a.m. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.

There was finally some info about winter flounder being caught from shore. Fisherman’s Den in Belmar reported a very few being picked from the docks there. One boater who chummed caught two, That shop has bloodworms and sandworms in stock,

Joe Melillo will be reopening Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant on Saturday, and is ordering sandworms. He noted that the Spring Lake Live Liners have room for a few new members. Some of the finest surfcasters in the state belong to that club, and any dedicated striper angler joining would be sure to improve his success rate by learning from those pros. Those interested can fill out applications at Sunday’s Asbury Park show.

Small craft warnings went up this afternoon for gusty  west winds to 25 knots, It will be northwest at 20-25 knots tomorrow with freezing spray. That drops to NW 10-15 with gusts to 25 on Thursday — -but Friday and Saturday look good.

The Philadelphia Boat Show will run in Expo at the Oaks from March 8-10,

Canyon Runner releasing 3+ giants per day in NC —- open boat spots discounted

The Canyon Runner has discounted open boat seats available for the catch-and-release giant tuna season that started with three or more per day being released during the first three days.  In addition, there are some yellowfins available to provide tuna to be taken home.

The open spots are reduced to $550 a man, and only four anglers will be fishing. The includes all the amenities provided on charters, and includes the tip.  Call Adam La Rosa at 732 272-4445 to get details. There is also room on the March 14 free trip for active and retired military.

They didn’t expect to get out today,, but Tuesday was looking good down there. The marine forecast to the north is for small craft warnings today, but only 10-15 knots from the northwest in the morning before increasing to 15-20 with gusts to 25 in the afternoon — and into Wednesday. Thursday looks good at just 10-15 knots west.

Fighting giant

Snow may hold back flounder bite

Tonight’s snow may not result  in much accumulation, but every bit will further lower water temperatures and delay hopes for an early bite to break the winter doldrums.

Small craft warnings are up for gusty east winds, but it should switch to northwest at 15-20 knots by the morning. West to northwest winds prevail through the start of the week, and it will not be comfortable waiting for that first bite casting from the Belmar docks. Better days are coming — I think!

Shows wrap up

Both the Atlantic City Boat Show in Convention Hall and the World Fishing & Outdoor Expo at Rockland Community College Field Hose in Suffern, N.Y. finish their runs on Sunday.

The Expo winds up with Family Day from 9;30-5. but those with kids of 11 or younger should get there early as the first 100  kids will receive a free rod and reel while supplies last. For details visit

Next up is the Salt Water Expo in two weeks where I’ll be doing my usual seminar along with the free Tady lure for every attendee.

The weather forecast isn’t bad for tomorrow morning as the north wind is predicted to be only 5-10 knots before going southeast in the afternoon with likely rain. The Jamaica from Brielle is scheduled to fish the offshore wrecks for big porgies. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations on the 1 a.m. trip.

Capt. Chris De Stefano spent some time yesterday at the Belmar docks watching anglers casting for the first winter flounder of the season, but only two of those fishermen even claimed to have had a hit.

Nick Honachefsky gave it a try in the snow there yesterday and only had a coupe of taps in the very cold waters.

Vinny D’Anton has been picking away at spotted sea trout and ladyfish in the Sarasota area on the DOA Shrimp. He even released a pompano yesterday on a Mirrolure. Wade fishing has been well off from last year due to the recent red tide. At Siesta Key alone, there 29 tons of dead fish removed from the beaches.