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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.

Raritan Bay stripers break out on lures

Jim Louro of Spring Lake had breakthrough news this evening after fishing in Raritan Bay with Matt Del Mauro of Long Branch on an 18-foot bass boat. They went out without any bait in the afternoon to fish with lures,  and saw three seals chasing fish plus lots of bird action. I suggested giving the back of the bay a try when they called, and that worked out fine even though no fish were marked. Casting 5-inch Storm Shads in shallow 47-degree waters produced 29 stripers that were mostly over 28 inches. Jim caught a 22-pounder — and Matt a 15. This was a complete reversal of a fishery dominated by almost all shorts on bait.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar will be sailing for stripers from Belmar tomorrow to check out what the gannets have been diving on in the ocean. Also at that port, the Ocean Explorer had a good bite of blackfish on Tuesday that resulted in 20 keepers plus a bonus cod.

Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina, had the first report of legal blackfish being caught in Shark River Inlet. However, the winter flounder bite has never turned on at the docks — and may not happen this spring.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park noted that a surfcaster reported releasing two short stripers — one on bait and another on a lure.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant will be sailing open for bottom fishing from Friday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Call 732 370-8019 for reservations and info.

I’m still finding things in the basement for this weekend’s garage sale at 1552 Osprey Ct., Manasquan Park, NJ 08736. In addition to all the rods, reels, lines, lures. etc., there was a never-used planer board rigging and Chatillon hanging scales.

 

Ty Man finds lots of small stripers

Chuck Many had no lack of action today with his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands as 100 small bass were released by three anglers even though the water temperature was only 46 degrees.

Gannets were diving all over Raritan Bay and on the outside, but Many didn’t mark any big bass. It only took one throw of his cast net to get what was needed, and he said the small bass even hit bunker chunks in the running tide before really turning on to worms and clams as the current slowed. Yet, there wasn’t anything close to 28 inches among them.

The Golden Eagle is making its first striper trip out of Belmar at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. Hopefully they’ll find some under those gannets in the ocean.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar found blackfish action on bottom during Sunday’s trip, and it was good enough to produce some limits.

The Jamaica from Brielle has room on Saturday’s 1 a.m. offshore wreck trip for cod and pollock. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations on the limited trip that costs $140.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported their first surf striper — a short that hit metal.

I’ve been tied up getting ready for this weekend’s fishing tackle garage sale at my home — 1552 Osprey Ct., Manasquan Park, NJ 08736.  I keep finding things hiding in my basement, including a Penn International II  80S on a Daiwa 80-pound bent butt rod that I never got around to using. Call for info at 732 757-5531.

Getting to be a little more like spring

Though it was still pretty chilly today, it appears that we will be experiencing more normal temperatures as the week progresses. Ocean waters are warming a bit, up to 43 to 44 degrees, and bottom fish are getting a bit more active.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk found blackfish life on some spots, and picked both some keepers and shorts. They are holding off until Wednesday for the next trip. The Ocean Explorer got out Sunday for some keeper and short tog plus short cod.

Jerry Lasko of Point Pleasant gave the Ocean County surf a try on Sunday with no results, but was pleased to see lots of small dolphins jumping and plenty of gannets diving on bait not too far offshore.

I’ve been busy getting gear together for this weekend’s garage sale at 1552 Osprey Ct., Manasquan Park, NJ 08736. I’m even putting up my two Penn International 130-pound giant tuna outfits. I’m not ready to take up golf, but at 81 I can close that page in my record book with 38 legitimately fought giants (no cranking in a rod holder as in Wicked Tuna) up to 1022 pounds .

One of the young readers of this blog, Daniel Myers (8) of Kendall, Fl. is working his way up to such fish in the future in his local waters where he caught a bragging-size largemouth bass. That was a lot more impressive than the 7-inch sunfish I caught on my came pole at his age.

 

Daniel's big bass

 

 

Blackfish bite starting in ocean

It wasn’t anything great, but at least the Big Mohawk from Belmar got out today in the northwest wind and found an “ok” bite in some spots but nothing in others. That’s about what could be expected after a cold winter, and they hope to do better at 7 a.m.  Monday when the forecast of light winds should provide better conditions.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported school stripers being caught on paddletail jjgs both in the bay — and in the surf

There’s finally warmer weather in the forecast for later in the week, and it’s looking good so far for my fishing tackle garage sale next Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1552 Osprey Ct., Manasquan Park, NJ 08736.

 

N.Y. saltwater regs have changed

DEC Announces Changes to 2018 Tautog, Summer Flounder, and Scup Fishing Regulations


New Amendment to Tautog Fishery Management Plan

A new Amendment to the Interstate Fisheries Management Plan for Tautog was adopted in October 2017 by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC). This amendment was adopted in response to the 2016 tautog stock assessment update. This update showed that the Long Island Sound and New York Bight tautog populations are overfished, and overfishing is occurring. The amendment applies more restrictive fishing rules for both recreational and commercial fishers specific to each area.

DEC has adopted rules consistent with this new amendment that will help maintain the long term sustainability of the tautog fishery, while remaining in compliance with the ASMFC.

Effective April 1, 2018 in New York State, the commercial and recreational tautog fisheries will be split into two management regions with separate seasons and possession limits:

Long Island Sound Management Region: includes all marine and coastal district waters lying east of the Throgs Neck Bridge and west of a line that runs from Orient Pt, NY to Watch Hill, RI.

NY Bight Management Region: includes all marine and coastal district waters lying outside of the Long Island Sound Management Region.

Commercial Tautog Season Changes:

  • Long Island Sound Management Region (Marine and coastal district waters lying east of the Throgs Neck Bridge and west of a line that runs from Orient Pt, NY to Watch Hill, RI): May 7 – July 31 and September 1 – November 23
  • NY Bight Management Region (Marine and coastal district waters lying outside of the Long Island Sound Region): April 16 – Jan 25
  • There is no change to the commercial possession limit or minimum size, which is 15 inches total length and 25 fish per vessel (except, 10 fish per vessel when fishing lobster pot gear and more than six lobsters are in possession).

Recreational Tautog Season and Possession Limit Changes:

  • Long Island Sound Management Region (Marine and coastal district waters lying east of the Throgs Neck Bridge and west of a line that runs from Orient Pt, NY to Watch Hill, RI): April 1 – 30 (2 fish) and October 11 – December 9 (3 fish)
  • NY Bight Management Region (Marine and coastal district waters lying outside of the Long Island Sound Region) April 1 – 30 (2 fish) and October 15 – December 22 (4 fish)
  • There is no change to the recreational minimum size, which is 16 inches total length.

Less Restrictive Recreational Scup and Summer Flounder Rules

DEC has liberalized rules for recreational summer flounder and scup fishing for 2018. This relaxing of the rules is in response to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council increasing the recreational harvest limits for scup and summer flounder.

New York’s 2018 recreational summer flounder and scup fisheries will have the following changes:

  • Scup: 9 inch minimum size limit. No change to possession limits or seasons
  • Summer Flounder: Open Season is May 4 – September 30 with 4 fish possession limit. No change to the minimum size limit.

Marine recreational anglers 16 years or older are reminded that they must register each year in New York’s free Recreational Marine Fishing Registry online or by calling 1-866-933-2257.

For more information on Recreational Saltwater Fishing Regulations, visit DEC’s website.

Though the weather turned out better than expected, there were no reports when this was written. Both the Ocean Explorer and the Big Mohawk from Belmar may be fishing for blackfish on Sunday. The weather looks much better Monday through Wednesday.

Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina, says both the Belmar and Atlantic Highlands stores are now open. With continuing cold water, the winter flounder bite off the docks at Belmar has been slow — just as has the offshore fishing been.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park continues to get reports of small stripers from the bay on worms and small lures, but nothing from the surf so far. Betty & Nick’s video showed clear, whitewater surf that should be producing bass by now .


 

NJ fluke & sea bass regs set

The NJ Marine Fisheries Council agreed yesterday on a 2018 fluke season starting 5/25 and running to 9/22 with the same regulations as last year — a three-fish limit at a minimum of 18 inches.  Paul Haertel of the JCAA said there were about 70 people at the meeting, with South Jersey back bay anglers seeking an earlier opening while those from the north wanted more days in September. Yet Cape May party boats also favored the later opening as they can’t fish the shallow back bay waters and the ocean is too cold for fluking this spring.

The sea bass rules were set, but here could be a change since New York and the states north of them have filed an appeal with the ASMFC against their regulations and that could end up reducing the N.J. quota. As it is, the N.J. season opens on 5/15 and runs to 6/22 with a bag of 10 at a 12 1/2-inch minimum. The summer by-catch opportunity for fluke fishermen runs from 7/1 to 8/31 with two at 12 1/2 inches.  The fall season from !0/8 to 10/31 provides 10 sea bass at the same minimum, and the year finishes with 15 at a 13-inch minimum from 11/1 to 12/31.

The brutal spring weather continued today, and the weekend doesn’t look much better. New York cancelled its fishing festival at Belmont Lake State Park.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar cancelled Saturday fishing due to the weather, and also Sunday based on the wind prediction. However, they claim to have heard of some striper life and will start fishing daily for them on Monday. If the bass can’t be found, they’ll fish wrecks for cod and ling.