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Night canyon tuna bite should turn on in October

Chunking at night in the canyons is traditionally at its best  in October, which is what the party and charter boat fleets are hoping for after a slow start to that fishery so far.

The Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant had a very good spring to early summer yellowfin fishery, but tuna fishing has dropped off since. Fortunately, they did get in one good night of tuna and swordfish action last week during one of the many free canyon trips for armed service members and veterans that they run during the year, CR Sept. yellowfins

Adam La Rosa notes that he has some openings for that October chunking on open boat trips coming up. The cost is $899 per person, which includes food, drinks, tips and everything else on the Viking 48. Call 732 272-4445 for reservations.


Surfcasting for stripers has been tough in N.J. so far, but it wasn’t even great last weekend during the annual Montauk Surf Fishing Classic. Fred Golofaro of the Fisherman magazine reported that while some of the almost 300 surfcasters who fished from noon Friday to noon Sunday did well with small bass, there were only a few bigger fish entered. A 39.96-pound striper taken on a darter at Shagwong ran away with the title as the runner-up bass weighed only 22.54 and 17.8 pounds. For the first time there was no entry in the catch-and-release division with the contest’s 36-inch minimum.  The bluefish situation was even tough as there were few entries with just a 5-pound minimum. A 7.24-pound chopper won.

The Seaside Park tackle shops reported good bluefishing in the surf on Monday, with mullet being the best bet for bait. John Bushell Jr. at Betty & Nick’s is very enthused about the mullet run so far, and calls it 10 times better than last year’s. Let’s hope all this easterly wind doesn’t push them south too quickly.

I doubt if any boats sailed into today’s rain and wind, but the Golden Eagle from Belmar is set to try for bluefish on Wednesday.

Though small craft warnings are continued into Wednesday night, the wind forecast is for only 10-to-15-knots south. It’s looking very good from Friday through Sunday, with light winds including some of that rare northwest breeze.

Plenty of porgies to keep anglers busy

As noted in the headline of a previous  blog, the fluke season ended with a whimper as it appears most of the larger fish had already moved offshore to their spawning grounds on the edge of the continental shelf. Party boat skippers had such poor results toward the end that most seemed content to move on from their major source of income.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands reported only a couple of keepers and not many shorts on the last day.  Capt. Rob Semkewyc is taking some time off before starting striper fishing later in the month.

Also at that port, the Sea Tiger II reported one keeper fluke Friday afternoon, two Saturday morning, and one that afternoon. That was quite a contrast to the 1/2 to full bucket catches of porgies (see photo below) now  being taken on half-day trips.  They report most of the scup are over the 9-inch minimum, and there are some blowfish plus lots of sea bass that have to be released. Sea Tiger porgies

The Atlantic Star is also fishing for porgies half-days, and the Fisherman is sailing for them on their usual schedule. Prowler V has also switched to porgies, but won’t be fishing again until Thursday or Friday due to the continuing east winds that have resulted in small craft warnings through Tuesday. The Angler is in the ship yard prior to Coast Guard inspection.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant will be sailing open for bottom fishing Friday and Saturday at 7 a.m. — and has scheduled Hudson Canyon tuna trips on Oct. 8 and 18. Call 732 370-8019 for reservations.

The surf has been rough in the gusty east wind, but conditions were fine this morning at the Point Pleasant Canal. Many of the regulars were casting jigs, and I was among the fortunate few who caught a bluefish in the 5-pound class. I saw only two others caught while I was there.

At Seaside Park, Betty & Nick’s reported surfcasters were “crushing” blues in the 3-to-5-pound class plus a few to 8 pounds Sunday from the bathing beaches to the inlet.

John Avery, one of my blog followers, finished up the fluke season in his small boat in sheltered Oyster Creek Channel of Barnegat Bay where he was surprised to catch a lizardfish on a small Hogy epoxy jig. He thought that was an usual fish to see up here, but they’re actually common at this time some years. Indeed, I remember catching them while a kid with my cane pole from docks in Merrick, Long Island as I was seeking snappers. Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant told me that the last time he was able to catch large stripers on plugs during the day in Point Pleasant Canal was when the bass were attracted by lizardfish many years ago.

Blues still a best bet

With both fluke and sea bass closed in N.J., there wasn’t much boat traffic in Point Pleasant Canal this morning. There was also only a drizzle early, so casting conditions were good. However. very few blues were caught. I got one of about 5 pounds on my only hit before leaving as the rain increased.  Paddletail jigs produced the few fish caught.

The only boat report came from the Golden Eagle out of Belmar. Though today’s fishng only produced a pick of 2-to-5-pound blues plus some little tunny, they reported the Saturday night bluefish trip was “phenomenal”. They were limited by 11 p.m. and in release mode after that. Most of the blues were 3 to 5 pounds, but there were also some of 6-7 pounds and bonito.

Bob Matthews weighed a 4 7/8-pound weakfish at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina  that Leslie Katona of Hamilton caught in Shark River on a peanut bunker.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported lots of cocktail blues were caught in the surf on Saturday on both lures and bait.

Fluking ends in NJ with a whimper, but blues hit jigs

The New Jersey fluke season closed tonight, and I didn’t get a single report bragging about the last day.

Indeed, the only fluke report I could find was from the Ocean Explorer out of Belmar. They had tough drifting conditions with the one-day northwester, but managed to pick some fluke up to a 6-pounder after a lot of hard work. They switch to porgies and blackfish tomorrow.

That will also be the case with Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands. Capt. Stan Zagleski found last year at this time that his regulars were willing to catch-and-release blackfish except for the one allowed. That’s what he’ll be doing at 7 a.m. daily.

There was continuing good news from the bluefish fleet. Both the Golden Eagle from Belmar and the Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported good jigging for 2-to-5-pound blues plus some little tunny.

I took a ride up to Deal this morning because stripers had been on mullet in the surf there yesterday, but the regulars were leaving as I arrived since there were no mullet in the area. I decided to give Point Pleasant Canal a try for blues despite the boat traffic, but this “black cloud” arrived 15 minutes after a flurry of 5-pound blues.

The Seaside Park tackle shops report more mullet showing up in the surf, and continued good morning action on bait and small lures for small blues and bass.

Light east winds are forecasted for Sunday before stronger east winds at the start of the week.

Last day for NJ fluke, but jigging blues the best bet

The N.J. fluke season ends on Saturday, and several boats will be making a last effort though fluking has been generally tough. In several cases there are big seasonal pools still up for grabs, and the Big Mohawk from Belmar proved there’s still a possibility for a big fluke when a 10.1-pound doormat was boated this week. Ocean conditions should be better tomorrow with a brief shift to northwest before returning to east winds.

The Belmar boats had decent ocean fluking this week, but it’s been tougher to the north. Capt. Rob Semkewyc had taken a few days off with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, but found only shorts today under poor conditions. He will make the last effort tomorrow before taking some time off and then switching to striped bass.

The best bet seems to be jigging for bluefish. The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported plenty of 2-to-5-pounders today along with some bonito. The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant said they had their best bluefishing of the season plus some bonito and little tunny.

The Jamaica from Brielle will be sailing for those species at 7:30 a.m., before a 22-hour  tuna trip departing at  5 p.m. There are some spaces available at $335. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano has had reports of continued hot white marlin fishing in the Hudson Canyon area.

Mullet are moving out of the rivers, and providing an attraction for stripers, though it’s been picky so far. Vinnie D’Anton released a couple on a Chug Bug this morning north of Asbury Park, but stayed with a school of mullet all morning that never produced after that. Jim Louro of Spring Lake also plugged a striper and a cocktail blue. I cast at Belmar and only hooked lots of floating weed.

Jim Hutchinson Sr. reports for Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association that small blues are becoming common in that area and providing action along with some bonito, little tunny and Spanish mackerel.


Weakfish in Barnegat Bay

Capt. Dave De Gennaro passed along the good news that small weakfish are now solid in Barnegat Bay — at least for those using grass shrimp for chum. Many years ago I fished with him in small boats as he worked hard to dredge those  tiny shrimp and we picked them out of the eel grass that made a mess of the boat. Now he buys the shrimp and his anglers can get right to chumming for a variety of fish such as snappers, fluke, blowfish, sharks, silver perch and tiny sea bass in addition to the targeted weaks on 6-pound spinning tackle.  He’ll be running Hi Flier from Barnegat open from Saturday to Monday. Call 732 370-5674 for info.  That’s the skipper with an above average bay weakfish below.

Dave with weakfish.jpg




Vinny D’Anton walked into a rough surf this morning at Manasquan, but switched from his Chug Bug to a bucktail and caught a 17-inch fluke. However, that was it –and he drove north until finding some mullet. After walking a lot of beach to almost noon, he ended up releasing seven  stripers, including a 27-incher on the Chug Bug.

Paul Haertel said Wednesday’s fluking on his boat out of Barnegat Inlet wasn’t good, but Bill Browne boated a personal record fluke that weighed 9 pounds at Grumpy’s in Seaside Park.

bill BROWNE 9-LB.jpg

Grumpy’s also reported that small blues and bass continue to hit small baits and lures in the morning surf, but a few little tunny were also reported at the inlet.

The only good party boat report came from Miss Belmar Princess as they had a decent jigging catch of 2-to-5-pound blues plus some bonito and little tunny — along with a Spanish mackerel.


Bluefish hitting jigs

There weren’t many reports today, but one was very encouraging as the Golden Eagle from Belmar reported their anglers caught all the blues they wanted in the 3-to-7-pound class on jigs along with a few bonito and little tunny.

Also at that port, the Big Mohawk reported the swell was finally down and fluke fishing was good with some limits and a pool fish of about 6 pounds. During the last trip, on Monday, there was a 9 3/4-pounder boated. The best action was in 70 feet. That boat will sail at 6:30 a.m. the next three days.

The Jamaica from Brielle is sailing to the canyons for tuna on Wednesday at 7 a,m, for a 31-hour trip. Some spaces are available at $400. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.  The Jamaica will be back to run Saturday’s bluefish trip at 7:30 a.m.



The Golden Eagle has one spot open on next Monday’s 31-hour tuna trip at 6:30 p.m.  Call 732 681-6144.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reports lots of cocktail blues up to 3-pounders that are best caught on small pieces of bunker or mullet on a fireball rig. Some are also hitting epoxy jigs and metal. Small blues are also in the bay and can be caught from local docks. Betty & Nick’s has a similar report, and lists the water temperature at 71 degrees.

The Manasquan surf looked ideal for popping plugs today, but only Vinny D’Anton managed to hook a 24-incher on his Chug Bug.  Marty, one of my readers, said he had caught a couple of fluke on a swim shad.

Finishing the NJ fluke season

It’s all over but the shouting. The N.J. fluke season only runs through Saturday, and most party boats specializing in that species took today off due to the weather forecast, but will then sail daily through Saturday for the last shots

An exception is the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. Capt. Ron Santee was discouraged by finding mostly the smallest fluke he’s ever seen over the weekend and switched to daily porgy fishing on Monday.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer saw a big improvement in fluking on Monday, with quite a few 4-to-7-pounders in the mix and some limits. Surprisingly, bait draggers did better than jiggers that day on a steady drift. (see photo below}

fluke -OE

Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina, weighed a 6 5/8-pound fluke caught on the Ocean Explorer by Eric Olsen — as well as a 9-pounder on Parker Pete by Bob March of Mullica Hill.

The forecast is for fishable north winds into Friday morning. The return of high pressure may turn on the bite again. Vinny D’Anton was blaming the falling pressure this morning for the lack of any action in Shark River. I had the only hit, and that was only just a tap at the end of a cast a few away from me. That was quite a difference from Sunday morning when I caught a 21-inch striper on my first cast with a 6-inch Z Man Zwimmereez — though that jinxed me for some time before I released another 21-incher.

Capt. Jim Freda, of Shore Catch Guide Service at Point Pleasant, took his mate and buddies out to the inshore pots on Sunday where they had fun catching dolphin. dolphin-Freda



I’m back

After several days without internet, I seem to be back in business.  There hasn’t been too much going on, but I’ll bring things up to date now and add a blog later with any info from today.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar hade its first canyon trip and only had a couple of yellowfin tuna in the 50-to-60-pound range — but lots of dolphin plus some jacks and buckets of squid.


Capt. Vinnie Vetere reported continued good striper fishing over the weekend with live baits from his Katfish from Great Kill. He noted the water temperature is down to 70 degrees. When it drops to 65 degrees he’ll also be trolling his Ho Jo’s. That boat is open except for Friday.

There was no good news on fluke from the Sea Hunter out of Atlantic Highlands. After finally getting out Sunday there was little action in the ocean swell, and the five keepers were caught on the way back. Monday was also just a pick of a few keepers and shorts.

Vinny D’Anton found some life in the Manasquan surf a couple of mornings ago and caught a small bass on his Chug Bug, but did nothing there that evening. I was there the following morning and couldn’t raise anything to a popper despite clean waters.





The internet strikes again!

Good evening once again to all the fishy followers of Tight Lines!

It seems that the internet gods do not want any fishing reports to be posted today as my father still has no internet.  He is working to have everything up and running by tomorrow.

Tight Lines from the Captain’s Daughter