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Big stripers arrive off Jersey Shore

It took a few days after the NE storm, but the fall striped bass migration has started off the Jersey Shore — for boaters at least.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano was especially happy yesterday when he broke the ice on Frank Criscola’s Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club with a 51-inch bass of almost 48 pounds that hit a mo-jo. They found the bass on open bottom in 40 to 50 feet off Asbury Park. Crisdel ended up with seven bass from about 22 pounds up, though most were over 30 pounds. After biting best on mo-jos, the bass switched  to bunker spoons — though most hooked on the spoons pulled off. There were no schools of bunkers showing or birds working, but they saw gannets for the first time this fall — though they weren’t diving except well beyond the three mile limit.

The Golden Eagle from Bolden Eagle from Belmar didn’t go offshore for blues due to rough seas, but switched to stripers which didn’t cooperate at first. However, on their last drift they caught several large bass over 20 pounds — including two over 40 pounds. They’ll be trying again at 7:30 a.m.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc found on good patch of diving birds  in the morning with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands and managed one keeper bass plus 15 shorts. He made a move at 11:30 and hit it right as the boat limited. The pool bass was 22 pounds.

Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands had a rough trip trying to continue catching porgies  which left with the storm. His fares into some sea bass and blackfish. He will seek stripers daily starting Thursday.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant found “tons of bait”, but had no luck with stripers today. Encouraged by the Golden Eagle report, they will be sailing tomorrow.

The good news for boaters wasn’t the case for most surfcasters though Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park had some good bass reports from there to the park.

I gave the Manasquan surf a try in the morning, and did nothing even though conditions were good. A move to Point Pleasant Canal produced a 21 1/2-inch striper on a Z Man Swimmereez jig on my last cast.  Vinny D’Anton checked much of the northern Shore without getting a hit or seeing any bait.





































to the rough seas in a west wind, but






































the migratory run of striped bass off the Jersey Shore has begun — for boaters/

Swedish boy gets a spectacular intro to American fishing

There were so few reports today in the cool west wind that I had to reach down to Islamorada in the Florida Keys for a story. Bob Correll of Bay Head, N.J. is staying at Cheeca Lodge, and went out on the pier there to catch whatever might bite. That was only tiny yellowtail snappers, but he took time to mentor an 11-year-old boy from Sweden named Odd Haggard. The youngster was reeling in a snapper when a three-foot shark inhaled it and provided a strong battle on light tackle — until a 7-foot hammerhead ate Odd’s first big American fish in spectacular fashion!

There were no boat reports along the Jersey Shore today, but some should sail tomorrow in somewhat better conditions though there’s still a forecast of NW 15-20 knots with gusts to 25 for Tuesday. Wednesday morning is sounding better with SW 10-15.

Surfcasters were still facing large waves and discolored waters this morning, but that should improve with the west winds.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park heard of some bass and blues in the surf by late morning on fresh bunker and metal.

I fished Point Pleasant Canal briefly in the morning. As I walked in there was an angler fighting a fish that appeared to be big. Yet, it turned out to be a 24-inch striper snagged in the side with a jig. I figured if they are that thick even I should be able to catch one. Sadly, that was not the case.



























inexpected strong fight on light tackle. He was doing just fine with his first bi













The youngster was reeling in a little snapper when

Not much fishing in big swell from storm

There wasn’t much fishing today due to the aftereffects of Saturday’s storm. The gusty west winds predicted for tomorrow will also keep most boaters in again, but surfcasters may find some fishable and somewhat clear water.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands did get out in the morning for a good start as the first drift produced a keeper bass, and a 27-inch short while a lager bass was lost. Capt. Rob moved around and added got three more keepers. He didn’t see any of the birds on bait and breaking fish that we were hoping for after the NE, but the water was very discolored. He’s staying in tomorrow due to the gusty west winds that will be poor for his fishing area — but will resume on Tuesday. The Big Mohawk and Ocean Explorer from Belmar will do the same, but the Golden Eagle plans to sail.

Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina said some winter flounder started biting at the docks there today. A few small stripers were jigged today in Point Pleasant Canal.

Better weather and fishing ahead

We needed a northeast blow to move stripers and bait to the east, but today’s weather was a lot more than we needed. That should straighten out as winds shift to the west and begin the process of calming and clearing the ocean.

There was already a showing of stripers  Friday reported by Capt. Vinnie Vetere of Great Kills from his Katfish. He proclaimed that as the startof the fall migration even though the main body was still off Fire Island at that time.

We should be seeing more of stripers like the one held by Guy Talerico on his Jersey Patriot from Jersey City. Capt. Joe Massa took the shot on N.Y. Harbor with the British aircraft carrier in the background.

bass-Guy Talerico.jpg

Hold on to your hats tomorrow

Unless the weather forecast is way off, there probably won’t be much fishing tomorrow — especially from boats.

The SE wind is already starting to blow, and is predicted to increase to 25 knots with gusts to 40 as small craft warning are posted through Saturday. Tomorrow’s east winds will be 30 to 35 knots with gusts to 45 and seas up to 13 feet. The storm actually moves out quickly with south winds down to 10-15 Saturday night. Sunday looks decent with west winds at 15, though gusting to 25 to knock down the big seas. By Monday there are only 10-knot south winds shifting to the west — though rain is likely. It will probably take a day or two for seas to calm and clear — but then we’re looking for flocks of birds following schools of bait and stripers to the west,

It’s unlikely that any boats will sail tomorrow, but there are always shore areas where fishing is possible; Joe Melillo at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant says blackfishing on green crabs in the canal has been very good.

Melillo weighed a 34-pound striper trolled on a bunker spoon by Bill Mc Crystal of Point Pleasant at the Red Church.

Today’s reports won’t mean anything in any case because it will be a whole new ball game after the storm passes through. It will be an inconvenience for a couple of days, but should greatly improve striper fishing going forward.

That odd fish caught yesterday from the Belmar Marina dock by Joe Iandolo may not be a porcupine fish after all. The photo wasn’t clear, and Jeff Dement of the American Littoral Society thinks it may be a striped burrfish.







































Friday looks like a great fishing day before the storm

Friday is shaping up as the calm before the storm. The marine forecast is for NE at just 5 knots before shifting to SE in the afternoon. Then there are gusts to 25 before the gusts to 40 after midnight. Saturday looks like a total blowout with south winds 30 to 35 knots and gusts to 45. Inshore seas will be up to 13 feet, and even higher offshore. Yet, by Sunday it’s only predicted to be SW 15 with five to eight fot seas — and Sunday  Monday looks good with only 10 mph south winds but a chance of rain.

all the northwest winds have dropped water temperatures quite a bialbies

The Golden Eagle from Belmar once again got into lots of little tunny and bonito, but they were very fussy on jigs. Just a few small blues were caught among them. *Pictured above are anglers on Wednesday’s trip with little tunny.


Nick Honefchesky was shooting a segment for his Saltwater Underground internet program yesterday as Fish Monger got into loads of little tunny off Long Branch that were cooperative. The at night he drove the beaches at Lavallette with Pete Streit as they caught five stripers black Bombers.

All that northwest wind has lowered water temperatures. Vinny D’Anton noted a surfing cam at Belmar was reporting 57.2 degrees. Hopefully, the east winds will bring us stripers and sand eels from the east.

Joe Iandolo of Cedar Grove read about the winter flounder bite at Belmar Marina in this blog and decided to try it this morning.  It was tough casting into the NW wind, but everyone was catching 13-14-inch flounder. However, he also got a big surprise when something very different took his clam. The cell phone photo allowed me to identify it as a large porcupine fish.  Juveniles of that puffer are often caught in Barnegat Bay in the summer, but this was the first adult I’ve seen north of Florida.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant has last minute openings on tomorrow’s sea bass and porgy trip. Call 732 370-8019 for reservations.



Big stripers to the east should start moving west in weekend east winds

Fred Golofaro, editor of The Fisherman magazine;s Long Island edition, told me today that there’s great striper fishing on the sand beaches from Fire Island to Montauk right now as the big bass are staying close to shore to feast on very large sand eels.  With the strong east winds forecast for the weekend, that should start moving the bait and bass to the NY/NJ Bight.

We certainly need that action with birds working over schools of feeding fish, as it’s been a tough pick so far along the Jersey Shore. There has been some action in the N.Y. Harbor area on live eels. Capt. John Contello had a limit catch of large bass Tuesday on Just Sayin’ from Keyport, but those could be Hudson River stock Maren's bonitoresponding to the lowering water temperatures. Small bonito like the one caught by Maren Toleno at Seaside Park have kept anglers interested at Seaside Park as they await stripers/

Surfcasting for stripers has been tough in the calm waters created by days of west winds. Allen Riley was an exception on Monday morning at Sandy Hook as he released 10 bass from 19 to 24 inches on a Mann’s Super Stretch 1-Minus plus a black teaser. The surf was loaded with bait that morning, but this morning Riley only got one light smack in the wash from a small bass.

Even Point Pleasant Canal was off this morning. I didn’t get a hit and didn’t see anything caught. A local pro has been catching steadily there on live eels, including 10 keepers, but he didn’t get a touch last night or this morning.

The Big Jamaica from Brielle has room on a canyon tuna trip leaving at 7 Thursday morning. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar got into little tunny not too far from the inlet this morning, and everyone caught plenty on jigs.

Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands has been getting limits of sea bass, but the tog regulars wanted another catch-and-release blackfish trip which will be run at the daily 7 a.m. departure on Friday — when there’s a calm forecast before the easterly storm starts later that night.

Winter flounder hot at Belmar

With a forecast of NW winds of 20 knots with gusts to 30, a good alternative may be fishing for the large winter flounder that Bob Matthews of Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina says are on a hot bite. Catching a limit is routine, and he’s weighed them up to 3 pounds. Both worms and clams have been working, and up to 20 flounder have been released in addition to the limits.

The Big Mohawk from that port had a very good day with limits of sea bass plus big porgies and winter flounder. However, they’ll concentrate on blackfish closer to shore tomorrow in order to fish in comfort.

The Golden Eagle fished several areas and saw bluefish on top, but they were reluctant to hit. Some porgies and sea bass were added to the catch.

West winds are comfortable for surfcasters along the Jersey Shore, but too much of a good thing has not been good for striper action. I had two short hits on a Chug Bug from small fish at Manasquan this morning before moving to Point Pleasant Canal to break the ice with a 21-inch striper on a Z Man 6-inch  Swimmereez. Another angler released a 22-incher on a clam during the short time I was there. Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant says there have been quite a few bass being caught throughout the canal, and blackfishing has been very good with a 17-incher caught today. Melillo finally has clams back in stock– both salted and fresh.







Cap/t. Rob Semkewyc only had a few striped bass customers on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, but took advantage of the weather and put them into large stripers when the drift was right. Unfortunately, tomorrow’s forecast is not good for the area he’s fishing and the boat won’t sail — but will be back at it on Thursday.

bass-Tuesday-Sea Hunter

Red drum reported from surf

The first red drum report I’ve received from above South Jersey this year came from Betty & Nick’s Tackle in Seaside Park this morning. John Bushell noted that angler Kevin Deiter released a 33-inch red drum (probably in Island Beach State Park) while also catching small stripers that were chasing rainfish up on the beach. Though there were a few red drum reported from the northern NJ Shore last year (including my two puppy drum in two days at Pt. Pleasant Canal), none were anywhere near 33 inches

There was also another first today as Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina reported winter flounder are already being caught off the docks there. One angler had a limit today, and a couple of 14-inchers were caught recently. Matthews noted that some legal stripers are being caught in the surf at night, while little tunny have surfcasters running to catch up with them some days.

I have yet to be anywhere on shore when little tunny make a showing, and stripers were just as disrespectful of my efforts this morning. The waters at Spring Lake and Manasquan were beautiful and there was just a light swell, but I only raised one fish to my popper.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc returned to the same area where he limited on stripers Friday with his Sea Hunter out of Atlantic Highlands, but the tide was slack. He waited and waited, but there was never enough current. A move to another spot wasn’t much of an improvement in the drift, but a few large stripers were caught.

Also at that port, Capt. Ron Santee reported a one drop day of porgy fishing along with some sea bass and a few blackfish on the Fishermen.

The Bolden Eagle from Belmar went offshore for blues  and read them — but they wouldn’t come up. They did pick at some 2-to-5-pounders along with porgies, sea bass and a jack on jigs.

The Big Mohawk from Belmar reported good mixed bag bottom fishing with porgies, sea bass, blackfish and even triggerfish.

The Big Jamaica has a few spots open for Tuesday’s 7 a.m. canyon trip. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations. Tuna fishing was tough on trips over the weekend, but loads of dolphin were boated. A big swordfish and several tuna were lost Saturday night.

Fishing conditions look good for the morning with only a 10-15 mph SW wind early before some gusts to 25 late in the day. Friday is looking great with a 5-10 mph north wind, but there’s a forecast of 20-to-25-mph east winds on Saturday that should bring migrating stripers heading toward NJ under diving birds.

A little less NW tomorrow

Though there should be a more fishable NW eind tomorrow, it appears that we’re in for several more days of that wind direction with gusts to deal with. We’re in what woild be a more normal November syarem rather than the usual changeable October situation ibckuding northeasters that would be an inconvenience for a day before bringing the migearatory stripers yo NY/NJ Bight under thousands of diving birds.

I was surprised any boats ventured offshore in today’s gale force NW winds, but the Golden Eagle from Belmar made the trip to find lots of fish around the boat through they were very fussy. They ended up with a catch of small blues plus a few little tunny and bonito,

There also were few shore reports. though surfcasters are enjoying the wind direction. I fished Point Pleasant Canal again and managed one small striper on the incoming tide before a 12-inch fluke hit the same Z Man 6-inch Swimmereez oaddletail jig on the slack. That had been when I caught stripers the previous two days, but there were no hits this morning.

Joe Melillo weighed in a couple of bigger bass jigged in the canal over the weekend. The scales at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant recorded 21 1/2 pounds for Ken Reed of Pt. Pleasant, and 21 pounds for Joe Spenelle of Jackson; Melillo noted that canal blackfishing has been very good on green crabs.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported they weighed a couple of bigger blues up to 6.3 pounds from the surf on poppers among all the small blues feeding on abundant bait/ The water temperature there is down to 60.3 degrees.