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The WMIT is set to roll

The Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club’s White Marlin Invitational begins the summer series of offshore tournaments with lots of money involved. That contest begins Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. with registration at the Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club, followed by fishing from Thursday through Sunday after everything had to be moved forward a day due to offshore weather forecasts.. Fishing hours are from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

In addition to the Beach Haven weigh-in, there will be another at Hoffman’s Marina in Brielle.  For details visit http://www.thewmit.com — or call Dave Ridley at 908 963-5924′

The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant will be fishing that contest with high hopes after doing very well with bigeye tuna this summer.  Indeed, Friday’s bigeye catches were unprecedented as the Viking 48 had 14 and the 60-foot Ritchie Howell added nine. bigeyes on canyon rnunner

Bigeyes were scarce during last year’s tournaments, and Jersey Nutz won $78,000 in the WMIT Treasure Chest with a “mere” 62.5-pound tuna. Almost any bigeye should be large enough to clear yellowfins off the leaderboard.

The lack of bigeyes  was a problem during the July 11-14 South Jersey Yacht Sales Offshore Showdown at Cape May as Jack Beattie won the tuna division with a 52-pounder that was barely ahead of three 51-pounders, a 50 and a 49.

The Canyon Runner fleet has an unusual open Saturday overnighter on both boats which can be chartered — or seats reserved on an open boat basis for $899. Call La Rosa at 732 272-4445.  They will also be fishing the fifth HUK Big Fish Classic that will be run out of ports from N.J. to Virginia from July 27-29  for overnight fishing. For info on that contest visit bigfishclassic.com.

Thanks to Al Hrehowsik for sending the results of Saturday’s Raritan Bay Anglers Fluke Tournament out of Perth Amboy that was won by Manual Prado of Union with a 7.85-pounder worth $1098. That fluke hit Gulp fished near the Verrazano Bridge as he and Cassiano Dos Santos added five other keepers up to 4 pounds.  See photo below with the trophy presentation.

Second and $500 went to a 5.57-pounder that Billy Anderson of Bedminster caught while fishing with Bryan Pieros of Leonardo on his Bid Time in Ambrose Channel. Brian Cleary from Bayonne was third for $323 as he used Gulp in N.Y. Harbor to catch a 5.4-pound fluke from Jason Zebrowski’s boat. Scott and Kathy Jo Kaelin of Parlin won $210 for fourth with a 4.92-pounder as both had limits in Raritan Reach.

 

A tug and tow ended up stuck on the sand bars at Lavallette this morning, and efforts to pull it off during low tides were fruitless. Hopefully, that can be accomplished om the high tide tonight. Bob De Pietri of Sharky’s Machine took the following shots:

barge aground off Lavallette

 

tug on beachThe weather forecast probably kept most anglers home today. I didn’t see a single boat while casting from shore in Shark River, but didn’t see many fish either. I managed two small stripers on a jig, and Bill Hoblitzell  got one on a fly while Frank Manzi raised a fish to his popper.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported some fluke were caught in the surf despite rough and dirty waters yesterday morning. They note that snappers are getting larger and more common both in the bay and surf. That’s bad news for surfcasters using Gulp as they’ll be sacrificing a lot of Gulp tails to snappers from now on. Grumpy’s also noted that before the rough seas there were “tons” of cownose rays in the surf.

Joe Melillo. at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant says fluke are being caught at the south end of Point Pleasant Canal — and boaters are doing very well with them from there into Barnegat Bay. Crabbing has been outstanding.

The only boat report today came from Capt. Rob Semkewyc, who barely had enough customers to sail his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands. The south wind was a problem right away — and then it got worse. Semkewyc had to fish calmer waters that produced mostly short fluke as there were fewer keepers than yesterday. With the forecast of more wind plus rain for tomorrow, the Sea Hunter won’t be sailing until Thursday.

 

White Marlin Invitational opens during bigeye blitz

Boaters registering this evening for the Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club’s 49th annual White Marlin Invitational will be anxious to start fishing Wednesday in what Adam La Rosa of the Canyon Runner fleet in Point Pleasant calls possibly the best bigeye tuna bite ever.

Bigeyes have been hard to come by during offshore tournaments in recent years, and just one can wipe all the yellowfins off the board in an instant — and possibly win the big money if no white marlin large enough to weigh is brought in. Yet, La Rosa says bigeye caches have ranged up to an incredible 12 by Capt. Mark De Cabia.

Capt. Deane Lambros came in from an overnighter with “only” two bigeyes on the Canyon Runner in the course of catching over 50 yellowfins during an overnighter — which would ordinarily be considered a fine bigeye catch. bigeye being leadered

La Rosa has a last minute opening for a Friday overnighter that can be filled for the entire boat or on an open boat basis of $899 per person “all-in”.  Call him at 732 272-4445.

The Beach Haven registration is from 6 to 8 p.m. today in the clubhouse at Beach Haven. Fishing days run from Wednesday through Saturday — with the awards ceremony+ at 9 p.m. that night.

Chairman Dave Ridley expects there will be over 50 boats competing in the contest which also permits weigh-ins at Hoffman’s Marina in Brielle as well as at the headquarters. For information visit wmit@bhmtc.com or call Ridley at 908 963-5824.

There was a lack of reports today. Joe Melillo . at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant said the best bet has been crabbing which has been good everywhere — but especially at the Mantoloking Bridge. He weighed an impressive 6.5-pound fluke this week that was caught from a kayak at the south end of the canal by Doug Withstandley of Point Pleasant.

The Queen Mary from that town got into a showing of small blues during their Monday afternoon trip to go along with chub mackerel, sea bass and ling. They are sailing in the morning, but are chartered on Thursday and Saturday  mornings

Mixed bag of weather and fishing

Sunday was an odd day, both in terms of weather and fishing. As noted last night, there was a forecast of showers and thunderstorms for the morning, but while I was fishing from shore in Shark River there wasn’t a sign of rain — and no wind. Therefore, I was surprised this evening to see that some boaters ran into lots of rain and rough conditions.

Miss Belmar Princess was involved in that bad weather which didn’t prevent their anglers from catching lots of sea bass to pick out keepers for the present two-sea bass limit. The Golden Eagle from Belmar had a boat limit of sea bass along with some ling and fluke plus a couple of mackerel.  There’s also an occasional small bluefish on a jig. The Big Mohawk from that port had good fluke fishing, with many limits as everyone was using jigs.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands reports weekend fluke fishing was no ball of fire, with Saturday being the better of the two days.

My shore fishing started slowly when the river was quiet, but improved as the incoming tide got stronger even though there was boat traffic to contend with. I ended up with seven striper releases up to a 22-incher.

Adam La Rosa of Canyon Runner in Point Pleasant noted that not only have his boats been enjoying a great early canyon season, but so has former Canyon Runner Capt. Mark De Cabia’s who had a bigeye tuna blast recently on his own boat.

Mark DeCabia's bigeyes

Canyon fishing has been hot

Adam La Rosa reports the spring canyon season has left little to be desired for his Point Pleasant boats. The two boats combined for 42 yellowfin tuna, 10 bluefin tuna, four mako sharks, and two bigeye tuna during one overnight trip. The makos caught at night were released as they were short of the new 83-inch minimum. Though most of those fish were caught in the canyons, some of the bluefins were trolled coming or going in the Glory Hole — such as the one below.

ffCR Glory Hole bluefin

Fluke fishing was surprisingly good for the northern party boats depite the east wind being against the current all day as skippers used their engines to create drift. At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc had five limits on his Sea Hunter, while Capt. Ron Santee, Sr. put on a clinic by catching fluke of 5 and 7 pounds on his son’s Fishermen while others were happy with the number of  3-5 1/2-pound fluke sprinkled in. Capt. Stan Zagleski reported a 5 1/2-pound pool winner for Mike Pylypyshyn of Little Egg Harbor on his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands.   \

 

 

Elaine B limitAs good as the fluking was in Raritan Bay, it was the opposite when Tank Matraxia and his Lyndhurst crew fished in the normally productive and protected waters of the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers with Capt. Fletcher Chayes on Two Rivers Charters from Highlands as only a few shorts and sea robins hit.

The bluefish fleet had another tough day after being spoiled by all those huge blues jigged last week in Raritan Reach.

Capt. Vinnie Vetere lost last Saturday to the weather, but made up for it Sunday with a good striper catch on Katfish Charters from Great Kills.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall had a hot hand in the Spring Lake surf Monday morning when he caught three 21-inch stripers on a MirrOlure  plug, and later added two more releases to 24 inches on his Chug Bug — before finishing up with a 23-incher on sand fleas. There were three anglers, including me, keeping Vinny company this morning, but nothing was caught.

Allen Riley and John Mazzeo of South Plainfield fished the Sandy Hook surf early Monday morning, and enjoyed the great sunrise while catching only a very small fluke and a few sea robins on Gulp.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park is encouraged with two verified reports of sand eels in the local surf.

Mako Fever starts, but no weigh-ins

The Jersey Coast Anglers’ Mako Fever Tournament is underway, but no makos have been weighed in to that contest which continues through next weekend.

The biggest shark tournament on Long Island was won as usual by a thresher, but makos were also well-represented.

The big shark in the 46th Freeport Hudson Anglers Shark Tournament was a 329.6-pound thresher that was worth $52,740 to Kenneth Owens. Second was a 293.8-pound mako that was worth more as Kevin Jinks on Grand Slam pocketed $73,332. Lana Ann took third with a 290.6-pound mako — and fourth went to Fatal Attraction with a 282.8-pound thresher. Over 100 boats competed.

Raritan Bay fluke reports were mixed. At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc complained about a slow drift all day with his Sea Hunter that produced mostly shorts, but Capt. Ron Santee was happy with results on his Fishermen where Moe took the pool with a 6 7/16-pound fluke.  Capt. Stan Zagleski was also pleased with the drift on his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands that produced more keepers than yesterday. Dylan Myers came up from Egg Harbor to win the pool with 6 5/16-pound fluke.

 

dylan fluke

The Golden Eagle from Belmar jigged some blues this morning, but switched over to sea bass for more action and some keepers,

The initial reports Capt. Chris Di Stefano got from the canyons today weren’t that good as two boats reported only one strike — though they were good ones. Miss Christina boated a 216-pound bigeye tuna, and Out of Sight had a 63-inch bluefin tuna.

Though there’s been some good canyon tuna reports this year, I haven’t heard a word about dolphin. Maybe they’re all still in Florida where my daughter Cyndi’s boy friend, Luis Gonzalez throlled this one in 450 feet off Key Largo yesterday.

luis mahi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big money mako shark contests coming up

There will be lots of money at stake in the upcoming mako shark tournaments which get started this weekend.

The opening tournaments were somewhat disappointing, but that might have been due to the late and cool spring. However, water temperatures are up to 60 degrees and betting closer to the 64 degrees usually favored by makos.

Last weekend’s South Jersey Shark Tournament at Cape May only produced one mako at the new 83-inch minimum. Another mako didn’t make the contest’s 200-pound minimum, and there were only 29 mako releases by the 68-boat field. Gina L. ran off with $117,826 for their 269-pound mako.

I happened to come across a round-up of the 2002 South Jersey contest by Nick Honachefsky for comparison. During that contest, the winning mako was 443 pounds, and 1,115 sharks were caught. That included 264 makos, with 19 boated and 245  released.  Blue sharks are usually a pest early in the season, and 844 were caught in 2002.  This is the only N.J. contest that offers a prize for a blue shark, but only 54 were caught this year — and none of them made the 200-pound minimum for the prize money.

The official results for the Warriors for Warriors Charity Shark Tournament out of Hoffman’s Marina in Brielle produced just one mako of 86 inches and 225 pounds that swept the mako Calcuttas for Tra Sea Ann. Just Bill Me had the big shark with a 243-pound thresher. The new tuna division was no contest for Miss Tres at 121 pounds, with Taylor Jean second at 35 pounds.

The 17th annual Brett T. Bailey Mako Rodeo will be contested out of Hoffman’s Marina West in Brielle from June 14-16 with a new 48-hour format.  The captains meeting is on June 14 at the marina. Visit http://www.btbmakorodeo.com for details.

The Jersey Coast Shark Anglers also jump into action with a new format as their 40th annual Mako Fever runs from June 16 to 24 — allowing contestants to pick good weather days and fish as many as they want to by paying entry fees for each day. The captains meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on June 15 in Manasquan River Club, Brick. For details visit http://www.jcsa.org

The Greater Point Pleasant Charter Coat Association waits until June 23-24 for their 33rd annual Mako Mania which will be run out of  Captain Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant. The captains meeting is on Friday June 22 in Wehrlen Bros, Marina on Princeton Ave. in Brick. For info call 732 892-3666 or visit gppcba.com

Matt Slobdjian reports from Jim’s Tackle in Cape May as follows: “The tuna bite really turned on last week in the canyons. The fishing moved from north to south throughout the week. The water was in the Lindenkohl and the Spencer canyons mid-week and moved down from the Spencer to the Wilmington by Saturday. There were good numbers of yellowfin, bluefin, and also some bigeye tuna caught through the weekend. A couple of large blue marlin were sighted, but not hooked up in the same areas.
Drumfish are still biting, but have slowed down a bit. They are still being caught at Tussy’s Slough and in the lower Bayshore Channel.
We are starting to get some fluke reports from the artificial reefs. The bite is not great yet, but some nice fish are being caught on the party boats and private boats fishing the reefs.
Small blues are starting to show up around the inlet rockpiles early morning and again in the evening. There are still some weakfish around the inlet as well.
The surf was slow last week, but we did see the first few kingfish come from the Point, and we weighed the first nice fluke from Sunset Beach for George Barnard from Folcroft Pa.  — a 4.23lb., twenty-two incher caught on a bucktail with a squid trailer.”

Capt. Chris Di Stefano of Wall got word from offshore that the good water has moved out, and canyon boaters are on the prowl again.

CR canyon tuna

Canyon Runner tuna last week

The forecast of some rain seemed to scare off most party boat anglers today. The Sea Hunter didn’t get out from Atlantic Highlands after having a good pick of fluke, including some 4-to-6-pounders, Tuesday until the SE wind shut it down. That wind also hurt the afternoon trophy striper trip as some areas weren’t fishable. Some bass were marked, and Capt. Rob Semkewyc saw a few caught by trollers — but there were no hits on bait. He’s giving it another try at 2 p.m. Thursday.

Also at that port, the Angler reported that their 7 a.m. sailing time put them into a good fluke bite Tuesday morning, including their best drift of the year with 22 keepers coming aboard. Dennis Fuchs of Cranford won the pool for the second straight day with a 5-pounder. Juan Cortez of Bayonne had a very long 35-inch fluke for Sunday’s pool, but it was so thin that it only weighed 5 1/2 pounds.

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle got into lots of small blues splashing under birds today — and they stayed up most of the day even though they were a bit fussy. Jigs and teasers also produced some sea bass and a short striper.

I was satisfied with the light tackle casting in Shark River this morning, as I released two 3-pound blues and a small striper on a Z Man 6-inch Swimmerz jig, but there wasn’t much life despite a complete lack of boat traffic. I only had one other bump, and Vinny D’Anton of Wall raised just one small fish to his Chug Bug — which got off before being identified. Jim Louro of Spring Lake barely beat the rain to release a 26-inch striper on sand fleas at the beach. He caught a smaller bass and a 20-inch fluke there Tuesday morning when D’Anton caught two small bass and an 18-inch fluke on the bugs. There doesn’t seem to be any volume of bass in the surf, but the good news is that all being caught are in perfect shape — with none of those red blotches seen on almost every surf bass last summer.

Allen Riley of South Plainfield was surprised to see a rough surf Tuesday morning at Sandy Hook even though there was no wind. His bunker chunks produced only a 13-inch fluke and a “huge” sea robin, while Lou Vargas of Fanwood released a 16.5-inch fluke on bunker.

SH surf

Tank Matraxia and his crew from Lyndhurst fished Tuesday with Capt. Fletcher Chayes on Two Rivers Charters from Highlands as they worked Shrewsbury River for nine legal fluke including one over 5 pounds while using Gulp, killies and squid. Matraxia placed 15 ALS tags in the shorts.   He also received info from the American Littoral Society of a tag return from a 23-inch striper he tagged on Nov. 29, 2017 while fishing off Sandy Hook with Chayes. It was recaptured on June 7 at the west end of Nantucket, but the angler didn’t supply the length. That was Matraxia’s 203rd  ALS tag return.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reports Tuesday’s surfcasting was improved, with a pick of blues on bunker in the evening in the park — and a few bass — including the release of a 36-incher on bait

R.I.P. Capt. Dom Vitolo Sr.

Just before writing this blog, I checked Facebook and found the sad information that Capt. Dom Vitolo Sr. has passed away.  That former Belmar skipper was a great blackfish specialist, and a real gentleman.  I’ll add news about arrangements when received.

Capt. Ron Santee reported that fluking was good on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands when he started on the end of the flood. The first keeper turned out to be the pool winner at 4.9 pounds.  Fluking really turned on with the ebb until the SE wind came up and killed it.

Capt. Vinnie Vetere had to work hard again to make a good catch of stripers. He’s covered from Scotland to Stepping Stones Lighthouse recently, and his Ho-Jos have always come through on Katfish from Great Kills.  Anyone wishing to try them can place an order by visiting http://www.HoJoFishing.com.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant had a Monday afternoon charter for John D’Andrea that produced a good sea bass catch before they fished up to dark for stripers. There were some readings, and a 46-incher was jigged on a Kroc.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk reported most fares limited on sea bass today and added some ling. The Golden Eagle found the 1-to-3-pound blues for jigging before adding sea bass and a few ling to the bags.

The Jamaica from Brielle got into the bite of bigger blues on Saturday, and found the biggest one I’ve heard of on a party boat so far this year — a 15 1/2-pounder by Marquise Berry.  They’re sailing daily for blues, but will be running another tilefish trip on Sunday June 24 at 10 p.m. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations.

Canyon fishing was outstanding over the weekend. Adam La Rosa of the Canyon Runner fleet in Point Pleasant says they were following a temperature break all week from South Toms to the Baltimore for big catches of bluefins, bigeyes. yellowfins and makos.   Both boats got in three overnighters during the week. Capt. Charlie Vanderbock on his first Canyon Runner charter put the Mike Earle party into a 403-pound mako as well as tuna. The 60-foot Ritchie Howell had a great catch for the Mike Kozak charter as three bluefins in the 125-to-150-pound class were caught along with smaller bluefins — plus four yellowfins —  and three makos of 125 to 175 pounds were released at night.  The Deane and Peter Wilcox party had giants of 400 and 500 pounds plus a bigeye and 10 yellowfins.  The John Mendes charter did very well on a bigeye barrage, catching five out of seven

403-lb CR mako

Work your baits for fussy fluke

Fluke fishing in the Raritan Bay area has been tough most days even though party and charter boats usually end up with decent catches. The difference between those anglers who limit regularly and those who struggle for a dinner is usually working the baits. Bait has generally been best so far, but just dragging it isn’t normally productive. Every skipper is frustrated when he sees anglers waiting for a fluke to commit suicide rather than continuously bouncing bait off bottom.

Modern lightweight tackle makes it a lot easier to work baits, but Dave Orlkel proved today on the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands that it’s not necessary to fool fluke as Capt. Ron Santee said his customer used his grandfather’s wooden-handled reel on a rod at least 50 years old to limit out and boat the pool-winning 7.4-pounder. Santee noted that there were also fluke of 6.5 and 5.7 pounds while some fares managed a couple of keepers  — but he emphasized that “In no way is it easy”. The Fishermen is chartered Saturday.

Also at that port, the Sea Hunter had similar fluking with a couple of limits and a 7.5-pound pool winner plus many shorts.

 

The small bluefish in the Shrewsbury Rocks area cooperated today and there were some limits up to 3 pounds jigged on both Miss Belmar Princess and the Golden Eagle from Belmar — while the Ocean Explorer, Big Mohawk and Capt. Cal continue to load up with sea bass out of that port.

Capt. Deane Lambros had a facebook post of a great canyon trip yesterday on the Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant that produced two giants of 96 and 90 inches plus a bigeye and 10 yellowfin tuna.

Capt. Dave De Gennaro trolled out of Barnegat Inlet with his Hi Flier from Barnegat and only caught a 14-inch fluke that actually was hooked in the mouth on a turn with a Tony Maja bunker spoon. However, there were bunker schools up that have attracted thresher sharks. Some threshers have been caught, and he was looking for another as I talked to him late in the afternoon.

Many short stripers and a few larger ones are still being reported by the Seaside Park tackle shops — and there’s also been a bonus of black drum on clams.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall didn’t have another day on his local beach such as the day before when he caught six stripers up to 35 inches on sand fleas. He hooked a similar bass right away this morning only to lose it almost in the wash due to a broken circle hook. After that there was only a pick of small bass. I even caught three, but none over about 23 inches. Joe Milko got a surprise when he hooked a 17 1/4-inch fluke on sand fleas.

Joe Melillo has had some weigh-ins recently at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant. Bill McCrystal of that town had boat stripers of 27 pounds, and 35 7/8 pounds. Terry Martuscelli of Brick landed a 24 9/16-pound bass from the surf on bunker.

 

 

 

 

 

Tuna bite still hot in N.C.

Though the Canyon Runner is concluding its winter tuna fishing out of Oregon Inlet today, that fishery remains hot. The Sam Mammiccio party waited around until the weather permitted Capt. Deane Lambros to get offshore where they had constant action on trolled Joe Shutes with balao as giant bluefins of about 450 and 525 pounds were released and another got off 50 feet from the boat. A bigeye tuna of about 125 pounds was boated along with small yellowfins. Adam La Rosa (732 272-4445) is booking the last few days of summer charters left on the Canyon Runner fleet out of Point Pleasant, but will recommend  Oregon Inlet charter boats for those who want to make the trip.Giant Tuna Pic 1

The April snow was another setback to spring fishing further north, but the Ocean Explorer from Belmar was encouraged by a showing of blackfish on Sunday despite the cold waters recently.  The Golden Eagle from that port got back offshore in nice weather on Saturday, but didn’t find any mackerel. They did go to bottom for a few short cod, a ling and lots of bergalls — and will switch to wreck fishing during upcoming trips until there are some mackerel reports.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park  has had anglers buying bloodworms that are attracting small stripers in the bay. One customer claimed to have caught bluefish on the east side of the bay, but those were likely holdovers from the power plant.