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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.

Give pregnant stripers a break

Raritan Bay-area striper fishing looks as if it will be breaking open any day now, but the downside to the good fishing is that it’s mostly on females ready to spawn in a week or two.

Actually, almost all stripers over 20 pounds are females. The very occasional male that large will probably be easily identified as it leaks milt when lifted. There are fair numbers of amaller males and immature females around if you want a fish for the table, but it’s clearly a shame to take a bass bursting with eggs that will be rejuvenating the stock in just a few days.  That’s especially the case in Raritan Bay where the Hudson River stock has been providing us with fine summer fishing after the southern spawners are long gone to the east.

Pregnant striper.jpg

Bob Bowden with an obviously pregnant striper released in Raritan Bay recently from Ty Man  to spawn in the Hudson River next month.

The Atlantic Highlands fleet is getting into action. The Sea Hunter had a few keepers and some shorts Saturday, though trollers were doing better on the scattered fish.  They’re fishing daily except Friday when a Coast Guard inspection is scheduled. Capt. Ron Santee started his season Saturday on the Fishermen by observing a whale in the bay within a mile of the jetty before finding bait and some short bass plus three keepers up to 31 inches.

Capt. Stan Zagleski begins daily blackfishing at 7 a.m. with his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands on Saturday.

At Belmar,  the Golden Eagle sails for stripers on Thursday, while the Ocean Explorer and Big Mohawk seek blackfish and cod. Miss Belmar Princess joins the striper fleet on Saturday. So far, the weekend looks fishable — especially on Sunday.

The Gambler from Point Pleasant is running Lazy Man Tog trips from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Wednesdays to Sundays.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park had reports of some legal stripers in Toms River. Betty & Nick’s reported a calming and clear surf.

Allen Riley of South Plainfield gave the Sandy Hook surf a brief try with very expensive sandworms that were ignored in the calm surf that’s still a cold 43 degrees. The 38-degree air temperature and continuing blustery west wind this morning didn’t help.

Check those striper regs

Some anglers seem to be living in another age. A friend who was at Raritan Bay docks on Saturday talked to fishermen who were bragging about their two-fish striper limits, though all they had were two barely legal bass. It’s been some time since the bag limit in N.J. was two stripers at a minimum of 28 inches. The limit has been one at 28 inches — with a second legal only if it’s at least 43 inches!

The Marine District of New York (south of the George Washington Bridge) is also now open, but the rule there is one at a minimum of 28 inches. If you have that second legal fish in N.J. you’ll be illegal if you cross the line.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports 5-pound bluefish were caught in the surf north of them just before the northeaster.  Choppers are due to pour in through the inlets any day now. The strong west winds should be flattening out the ocean, and the surf may be clean enough to fish in the next day or two.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer plans to fish for blackfish tomorrow, while the Golden Eagle will be seeking stripers. The Big Mohawk is waiting until Thursday at 7 a.m. for tog.

Dave Perruso had good news of shad catches in the Delaware River. There’s been a hot bite from Trenton to Easton, though the shad north of there aren’t biting yet due to the cold waters. Dave took his nephew Todd Perruso out Saturday to catch 37, and Sunday morning he had friends from Easton aboard for 61 shad up to 5 pounds.

The Bi-State Shad Tournament will be contested there April 26 to 29, with $15,000 for the largest shad. Contact Eric Fistler for entry info at 610 762-0440 or http://www.shadfishingcontest.com. There’s also a G3 boat, Yamaha outboard and Bear trailer as a prize.

Keegan Rothman added the HOFNAD Tournament at Birch Grove Park to his list of fishing accomplishments. A trout took the contest, during which he helped disabled kids compete.

Keegan

IGFA Reps Dinner coming up Friday

New Jersey Banquet & Auction

Friday, April 20, 2018 at 7 pm
Doolan’s Shore Club
700 State Hwy 71
Spring Lake, New Jersey, USA

The International Game Fish Association’s New Jersey Representatives are pleased to announce that their 21st Annual Fundraising Banquet & Auction will be held on Friday, April 20, 2018 at 7 p.m. at Doolan’s Shore Club located on Route 71 in Spring Lake Heights, New Jersey.  Hosted by New Jersey representatives Rich Keller, David Matagiese, Jeff Merrill and Gene Nigro, proceeds from the evening will benefit IGFA’s Conservation and Education Programs. Over the past 20 years, this event has raised well over $282,000, making it one of IGFA’s most successful annual fund raising events.

A cocktail hour precedes a deluxe hot and cold buffet dinner followed by the popular Fishing Tackle Bonanza Auction, where thousands of dollars worth of fishing tackle including rods, reels, line and lures donated by major tackle manufacturers and local tackle shops, plus jewelry, marine artwork and other fishing related items and accessories will be won.  Numerous fishing trips have also been donated by charter boat captains.  The popular Grand Raffle is again well-stocked and will include two Maxel reels with matching rods, as well as an IGFA exclusive YETI cooler.  A silent auction will also be held and will include fishing trips and several high-value items.  Every attendee will receive a beautiful set of notecards by the IGFA Artist of the Year, Craig Smith. Act now- reservations are limited to the first 225 people!

Tickets:

Tickets are $75 per person. To reserve your tickets, please contact IGFA Representative Jeff Merrill at 908-451-1110 or jeffmerrill2@verizon.net. Checks may be made out to “IGFA” and sent to: IGFA Banquet, c/o Jeff Merrill, 918 Houston St., South Plainfield, NJ 07080.

Needless to say, the weather has shut down fishing since a beautiful Saturday, but the Golden Eagle from Belmar plans to get out for stripers on Wednesday. They caught some shorts with clams on Friday, but only watched trollers boat some stripers on Saturday as bait and lures didn’t work for them.

The Jamaica from Brielle makes their first 1 1/2-day tilefish trip at 10 p.m. Sunday with a return at about 4 p.m. Tuesday. The $360 trip is limited to 28. A rental rig for the deep waters fishing costs  $40. Reservations are required. Call 732 528-5014.

tilefish

Tilefish

 

N.Y. Marine District opens for stripers

The striped bass season in New York’s Marine District opened today, though I doubt if anyone was out there to enjoy it during a thoroughly miserable cold, damp and very windy day.

Saturday was a different story as there was the first big turnout of boats in Raritan Bay this spring. Indeed, Capt. John Kolias of Reel Fun from Twin Lights Marina in Highlands  said boat traffic turned off the bite in the morning before he trolled three keeper stripers later up to mate Rick’s 39-inch, 22-pounder. The best news was that the water temperature finally got up to  50 degrees.

Dave Lilly of Hazlet  couldn’t find any life under gannets diving in the bay Saturday morning, but on the end of the outgoing he got into all legal bass in just 12 feet at the back of the bay. It was too shallow for stretch plugs, but he took shads off an umbrella rig, put them on jig heads and trolled for steady action with bass from 29 1/2 up to 35 inches.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar was out Saturday in a “monster” swell that they were afraid would kill the bottom bite. Yet, there was good life until a hard wind developed. Catches ranged up to three blackfish, and there were also a couple of legal cod and some shorts. Fishing will resume when the weather straightens out, but the forecast for Monday is no good.

 

 

Mike Greene & Bob Bowden with bass in Raritan Bay Friday on Ty Man before release — and my 29-inch legal bass on a Tsunami Shad during my first striper trip of the season before also being released.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park got a report of a surfcaster releasing a legal striper on a clam. Still no word of bluefish.

A real garage sale Sunday — rain or shine

The weather forecast isn’t good for Sunday, but the garage sale will go on –in the garage. There was a good crowd today, and it was a pleasure to meet many of my readers. There’s still dozens of rods plus reels, and countless lures and line in all sizes. The 130–pound Internationals are gone, but other big game outfits remain along with the planer boards and many accessories. Free fishing magazines are available with any purchase. We’ll be there again Sunday from 8-2 at 1552 Osprey Ct., Manasquan Park, NJ 08736.

Though the weather was fine today, fishing reports were generally modest. The Golden Eagle from Belmar heard of some stripers being trolled, but there wasn’t much reported on bait or lures. They won’t be sailing Sunday or Monday as small craft warnings tonight are being upgraded to gale warnings tomorrow.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar found good bottom life on Friday with decent catches of keeper and short blackfish plus a few keeper cod.

The Prowler 5 started its season out of Atlantic Highlands today, and reported some keeper stripers plus shorts. They won’t be sailing again until next weekend.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle notes there’s  some stripers in the surf, but still no solid bluefish reports.

Joe Blaze of Brielle tried the backside of Island Beach State Park this morning. Conditions were good and he saw some bait, but there was no sign of fish. There were some good-looking bars showing on the surf side, but nothing was going on there either.

 

Hope to meet you at my weekend fishing tackle garage sale

As this is being written, I’m still filling up my garage with fishing tackle of all kinds for the weekend sale from 8-2 both days at 1552 Osprey Ct., Manasquan Park, NJ  08736.  There’s everything from light spinning and baitcasting to big game — including two 130-pound giant tuna rigs. There’s lots of canyon lures and big boxes of freshwaters lures for $1 and $2, plus other boxes of saltwater lures for $5 and $10 — including deep-diving plugs and poppers. There is even a planer board set for just $25. I’ll have my last two books for $10, and will be glad to autograph them for you. Classic fishing magazines are free with any purchase.

If you have any questions. call me at 732 757-5531. My daughter, and former charter boat mate, Cyndi,is coming up from Florida to help with the sale.

I took a break this morning to join Chuck Many on his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands for a shot at the big stripers he found yesterday in Raritan Bay. Bob Bowden was back again, and Mike Greene was up from LBI — but there wasn’t a sign of the big bass where they had been in the back of the bay. Bob only had to throw the cast net once to load the live well, but we couldn’t give those bunkers away. Many did mark a few bass in the shallow waters, and by casting Tsunami Shads we were able to release 17 bass that ranged from about 20 inches up to three of 29, 30 and 31 inches.  We were comfortable in our jackets all morning before a noon return into the heat on land. Keep in mind the fact that it will be cooler on the water now with the water temperature still at 48 degrees,

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had a beautiful day on the ocean, and saw lots of life, but only managed a few short stripers on clams.  The weather looks good again tomorrow, but east winds and rain are in the forecast for Sunday.

Allen Riley of South Plainfield made his first surf attempt of the year, and was happy to release two “rat” stripers on sandworms at Sandy Hook.

 

Ty Man finds big bass in Raritan Bay

The long-awaited arrival of big stripers in Raritan Bay seems to be getting started. Chuck Many loaded up with bunkers this morning and came upon big bass swirling in shallow waters. The largest fish responded to live bunkers, and shad lures produced smaller keepers for Many and Bob Bowden until the bite died off . When Brian Pieros came out later in the day with the same offerings, there wasn’t a bite.

Chuck striperChuck Many with big bass before release. Big bass hit live bunkers today in Raritan Bay.

 

Jim Hutchinson Sr. reports that captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are delighted with the dredging of Little Egg Inlet as they can now run in at least 10 feet through that unstable inlet.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar  had a pick of blackfish during Wednesday’s  trip, but some fares managed two to three of keeper size. Clams have been most effective.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park has fresh clams and bloodworms in stock, and expects fresh bunker on the weekend. They had their first weigh-inn, but it was of a blackfish caught by Billy Browne. That 20-incher weighed 5.65 pounds.

Keep in mind my Sat.-Sun. fishing tackle garage sale from 8-2 this weekend at 1552 Osprey Ct., Manasquan Park, N.J. 08736. In addition to all the fishing gear, there will be classic fishing magazines free with any purchase.