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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.

Sea bass reopens in N.J. on Columbus Day

Much of the party boat fleet will shift to sea bass when that season reopens on Columbus Day. Some of those boats are making Marathon trips for which reservations are required.   Check with your favorite skipper in advance.

Capt. Ron Santee is one who won’t specialize on Monday as he’s enjoying the variety bottom fishing with the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. Porgy fishing was hot right from the start today, and they added some flounders, bluefish, blowfish and their first striped bass of the season. Up to 10 ounces of sinker were needed in the strong current.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc gets started with striped bass on Sunday with his Sea Hunter out of Atlantic Highlands.

The Jamaica from Brielle reported very good bluefishing on its Friday night trip. They’re taking reservation for a Monday Sea Bass Marathon at 6 a.m. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations on the $78 trip.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer reported excellent porgy fishing, while those fishing for tog could catch the one allowed.

The Golden Eagle reported bluefish jigging was slower than it had been all week, but those who worked hard caught some. They will be on a tuna trip Monday and Tuesday before doing some maintenance Wednesday and Thursday.

Miss Belmar Princess fished inshore of the Mud Hole as jigging started slowly before picking up during the day.  Most blues were 2-4-pounds, with a few 6-7-pounders mixed in.

The surf was very rough Friday evening due to the big swell from an offshore storm, but settled just enough for a shot at surf stripers in the morning. I released three at Spring Lake, two of which hit the Chug Bug with a jolt at the very last moment in the wash. Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant, said some of the regulars also picked short bass at Manasquan. Blackfishing has been very good in Point Pleasant Canal.

Where are the albacore?


The lack of yellowfin tuna in the canyons right now wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the mysterious lack of albacore in those waters. We’ve come to depend on an albacore run from late-summer well into the fall. At times they’ve been so abundant as to be a problem for those seeking yellowfins.

A few decades ago, while chartering out of Manasquan Inlet with my old Aquasport 28 center console Sheri Berri II, we had good chunking and jigging for bluefin and yellowfin  tuna at the Texas Tower — where it was only a few more miles to get out to Hudson Canyon. The couple of times my party decided to take advantage of calm weather to make that extra run it didn’t take long before the trolling rods were bending and we had all the 30-to-40-pound albacore they could handle before an early return home.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen every year — and I haven’t heard of any longfins so far. That’s a particularly big problem this fall because yellowfins have been very scarce lately.

Albacore are the most oceanic of our tunas as they rarely move inshore of the canyons. I remember once many years ago with the late Capt. Bob Pisano trolling albacore in the Texas Tower area, and I once caught a few while giant tuna fishing within sight of Montauk Lighthouse. Even more unusual was the 1985 chunking on the west bank of Butterfish Hole when an abundance of big sand eels drew in a mixture  of bluefins, yellowfins and albacore to that area only about 20 miles offshore of Montauk. You never knew what would hit a chunk dropped into the slick — and some boaters even caught white marlin and large dolphin. My personal record 60-pound albacore was hooked there on Aug. 12, 1985 just before returning to N.J. for the birth of my youngest daughter and future mate, Cyndi.

Party boat skippers love albacore because they’re more oriented to biting in the daytime and are a lot less fussy about baits and leaders than their cousins.  They also prefer cooler waters and will stick around into November when abundant. Capt. Chris Di Stefano checked with some longliner friends who told him there was no sign of albacore so far  — and that the yellowfins have been on the other side of the Gulf Steam off North Carolina .

The north wind created tough surfcasting conditions early this morning, but I got lucky on one cast into the white water with a Chug Bug at Spring Lake and released a 25 1/2-inch striper. Jim Lauro of Spring Lake then added another, and missed one down the beach — but that was it as the wind increased. Vinny D’Anton said he caught a small bass at Manasquan before it got too bad.  I finished up at Point Pleasant Canal and released a 3-pound bluefish on a Z Man 6-inch Swimmereez just as the tide started out. Only one other fish was lost after that during a short attempt.

Capt. Dave De Gennaro will be running his Hi Flier from Barnegat open Sunday and Monday. He’ll be chumming with live grass shrimp in the bay for weakfish that vary in size from day to day from 12 to 19 inches. Very light spinning tackle is used with a tiny jig tipped with shrimp for steady action with a variety of species. Call 732 681-6144 for info.

Capt. Stan Zagleski reported good catch-and-release blackfishing from his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands on Thursday. Everyone got their one keeper from many tog up to 6 pounds. There were also some blowfish, and lots of sea bass were released before Monday’s opening of that season when Stan will be sailing daily at 7 a.m. Other bottom fishing boats will be switching over that day, but some are taking reservations for extended hours trips. There will be one more catch-and-release tog trip aboard Elaine B. II on Sunday.

blackfish-EB II




Most boats probably stayed in today due to the north wind and rough seas. The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported good bluefish jigging Thursday for 3-8-pound choppers. Light winds are forecast for the weekend, and conditions should be very good. The Golden Eagle also has some openings on the Oct. 14 24-hour canyon trip. Call 732 681-6144 for reservations.

There was some better news from the Queen Mary out of Point Pleasant as their tuna trip produced yellowfins plus dolphin up to 20 pounds.

Capt. Vinnie Vetere said striper fishing has been tougher on his Katfish out of Great Kills, but they’re still catching them.