Some school tuna within small boat range.

Phil Fischer yesterday proved that a small boater can both get into some tuna action without running 90 miles offshore — and without $125 sidetracker spreader bars.

He ran east from Highlands toward the HA Buoy and trolled old-fashioned red/white feathers plus a couple of small Green Machines. As the HA came within sight, a short bluefin was released. That was followed by two more short releases before a 47-incher was boated. Trolling along the edge of the Mud Hole produced a bonito, and the two more on a course to the Farms.

Joe Massa had a good shot of New York Harbor stripers one day this week when he released eight on bunkers. However, today was a different story when I joined him on My Three Sons from Morgan Marina, We had no trouble netting bunkers, and there wasn’t the crowd we expected to see on a Sunday morning. Best of all, there were plenty of marks. Yet, the bass we were marking didn’t seem interested in live bunkers. Even staying into the start of the outgoing didn’t help much as I managed just a fat 30-inh striper and dropped another, while Joe released a 27 1/2-incher and lost two others. We also missed a few hits as it appeared that we were into small bass with big baits.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported Saturday’s bluefishing was slow though some bonito were mixed in and jigging produced some quality sea bass.

The forecast is for west winds at 5-10 knots, going to south in the afternoon when thunder storms are possible.

Summer stripers cooperate in N.Y. Harbor

The spring run of stripers in the N.Y. Harbor area has long been over, but some bass can be caught all summer if you have patience and knowledge — which is what Chuck Many has plenty of. I had missed all the early fishing due to the pandemic, but made up for some of that when I joined Chuck on his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands at 4:30 a.m. That timing turned out t be critical as the first stop provided a few marks before the anchor was dropped. Chunking only attracted smooth dogfish at first, but bass were there also. We had to release 15 dogfish in order to release four hefty summer bass from 16 to 28 pounds — and later added a 34-incher on a live bunker on the surface,

All of those bass were bright stripers without a mark on them, and none needed any help to shoot away when released. Surprisingly, the usually abundant small stripers in the Hudson and East rivers showed no respect for Chuck’s $90 a flat sandworms and we caught only two small fluke and a 14 3/4-inch porgy with them.

Bob Correll reported a successful school tuna trip on Mike Heaney’s new Cabo 42 from Clarks Landing in Point Pleasant as the crew trolled 15 “unders” near the Texas Tower. Two much larger bluefins were lost as one broke 80-pound line after a long battle, while another was eaten by a big shark near the boat.

Also at Clarks, the Canyon Runner reported continued great canyon trolling with catches such as seven bigeyes, 13 yellowfins and a big blue marlin for the Mike Davie party. The Peter Wilcox party had an 400-pound class giant tuna. One open boat seat has opened up for July 8-9. Call 732 272-4445.

Frank Criscola is back from Florida with his Crisdel out of Brielle Yacht Club. Capt. Chris De Stefano was part of the crew this week when they trolled the Carteret for six yellowfins and a blue marlin before releasing a 50-70-pound daytime swordfish — the first reported to this blog so far.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar picked away at small blues with some limit catches over the weekend, and had a few fat bonito mixed in. Today they started inshore for bigger blues , but had a hard time hooking them. There were shots of the smaller blues offshore though they didn’t last long.

Phil Fischer looked for a big fluke on the weekend out of Highlands, but was instead surprised by a 25-pound black drum on a strip of squid. A move out to Scotland resulted in good ling fishing — and he just made it back as the rain hit.

Bigger blues show in ocean

Bluefish in the 6-8-pound class were reported among the abundant 2-5-pounders today by the Golden Eagle out of Belmar. Though a slow drift made it harder to fool them, there were many five-fish limits.

Capt. Dave Riback of the Queen Mary from Point Pl easant says some of his trips have been providing “old time” bluefish jigging with enough 5-pounders among them to provide several meals. He also saw his first bonito last week as they were jigging blues, but knows there were lots more as a gillnetter in the area caught 700 pounds.

The Jamaica from Brielle has switched to ling fishing which has been good. Frank Amaya of Mays Landing had a 24-inch cod to win yesterday’s pool, and a 23-incher won today for Greg Stewart from Sharon Hill, Virginia. Anglers can now board without reservations and pay on the boat.

Capt. Ron Santee Jr. had John Uhl of Plugbaits aboard his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands yesterday as samples of the Gulp-like bait were passed out and produced good numbers of shoert and keeper fluke up to a 4-pound pool winner. The Tackle Box in Hazlet is handling that new product. Santee noted that he’s fishing in the ocean where medium action rods are required to handle 6-8-ounce sinkers.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports bait has been the best bet in the surf. A 15-pound striper was weighed in today, and there was word of two bass over the 38-inch maximum being released. They also noted that rays have been spotted — so don’t walk away from rods being fished out of sand spikes!

Tomorrow’s forecast is for southwest winds at 5-10 knots before going south at 10-15 in the afternoon.

Worst weather forecast of the year

Sorry for no blog yesterday, but AOL kept putting me off the internet. Perhaps that may have been for the nest as I was going to pass along a fine weather forecast that was totally inaccurate.

That forecast was for north winds at 5-10 knots, but the reality was a strong north wind that turned the ocean into a mass of whitecaps. It was barely fishable for those trolling the medium range grounds for bluefin tuna. Not surprisingly, I only heard of a few isolated tuna on the marine radio. Even little tunny were generally scarce in the sloppy seas during a morning that turned out to be quite chilly as Joe Massa and I trolled the Resor area to no avail with Bob Correll on his Sea Vee 32 from Crystal Point Marina in Point Pleasant.

Just like yesterday, when Mike Heaney and I trolled Little Italy with Correll, we saw only a few scattered tuna chicks, no whales or slicks and no other surface signs of tuna. At least yesterday there were a few large little tunny and a couple of early arriving bonito hitting the tuna lures.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had good bottom fishing yesterday in fine conditions as sea bass and ling cooperated along with two

cod.

There were no reports today from the Seaside Park tackle shops, but they will be open for normal business on Monday.

Capt. Vinniy Vetere is back to chartering his Katfish out if Great Kills, and is catching lots of stripers — though most are too big to keep.

If you can believe it, there’s some good weather coming after tomorrow. Today’s afternoon forecast is northwest at 5-10 knots. After midnight it goes to northeast at 10-15 knots with gusts to 20. That holds for the morning, but changes in the afternoon to 5-10 knots.

$3,368,490 on the line during last two days of the MidAtlantic

After a Wednesday during which all 157 boats entered took a lay day for the first time in the event’s 14-year history, the MidAtlantic was back in action today and concludes tomorrow at Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland as the distribution of the $3,368,490 purse will be determined.

Though the ocean looked good inshore yesterday, there was an offshore forecast of 20-30 knot winds. Running a canyon trolling tournament in hurricane season is always risky, but the MidAtlantic has been blessed with fishable weather after a northeast wind blew through before the first day. The first two days produced a remarkable release total of 387 white marlin and 16 blue marlin as 44 boats fished the first marginal day after the northeaster with good results — and 156 were out the next day  — as the contest averaged over two billfish per boat day.

There was also a showing of bigeye tuna after they had been absent at the recent White Marlin Open where the tuna awards went to modest-sized yellowfins.  Indeed, Capt. Mark De Blasio strained the scales Tuesday with five bigeyes on Blue Runner, and is in a second place tie with Toddy Time at 114 pounds – just behind the 116-pounder by Da Sea.  Though impressive, there’s still plenty of room for improvement in that category as the MidAtlantic record is a 254-pound bigeye on Bernard and Drew Dinardi’s Absolut-ly in 1993.

The big-money white marlin category got filled in quickly as two 73-pounders were weighed the first day by Justin Blanning of Wall, N.J. on 3’s Enough and on Special Situation.  Andrew Hall of Chester, N.J. moved into third Tuesday with a 68-pounder on Lucky Lady Jean — just ahead of Intents at 66 pounds and Gusto with a 65-pounder. None of those whites are sure things as the MidAtlantic record is 95 pounds by Topless in 2009.

Maybe I should send my wife, Kathy, down there to help out as her only white marlin was a trophy caught while sharking with me before we were married, when I kept my Mako 22 in Montauk. She hooked a white that took a small bunker drifted in Butterfish Hole. Even after being out of the water all day, it still weighed 99 1/2 pounds at Montauk Marine Basin — winning the Outdoor Life national contest that year.

As noted in yesterday’s blog, the blue marlin category remains wide open with a 400-pound minimum, despite all the smaller blues that have been released. The 43-pound dolphin by First Light appears to be the most likely entry to stand, though the contest record is higher still at 56 pounds on American Lady in 2010. The Zipper leads in wahoo at 71 pounds, which could stand even though it’s well below the MidAtlantic record of 97 pounds set by Joanna in 2009.

I’ll have a late blog with updates after the weigh-ins close at 9 p.m.

I was wondering about Climate Change this morning as I was shivering in a light jacket while casting a Tactical Anglers Bomb Jr. popper into the surf  north of Manasquan Inlet. I’ve never before been chilled during an August morning on the beach, but that northwest wind was cool. A fat 23 1/2-inch striper hit the plug as I was about to lift it out of the water for another cast,  and I later also released my first surf bluefish of the year — a mere 17-incher.

Vinny D’Anton caught two small stripers nearby on a Storm Searchbait, and later moved further north to catch two more on a Chug Bug.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc said the last two days have been windy, creating a fast drift that produced good action though not as many keepers (see below) as he’d like to see on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands.

Flike on Sea Hunter

Tank Matraxia and his Lyndhurst crew had good fluking off the Rockaways with Capt. Chad Hacker on Tagged Fish from Highlands as the seven anglers totaled 21 keepers from 19 to 23 inches with only a few shorts. Tank only put ALS tags into four fluke. He had a particularly good day catching six legal fluke. Surprisingly, there was almost no variety with only a couple of sea robins boated.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a fast drift to start, but it settled down for good sea bass and chub mackerel action plus some blues and fluke along with “some nice sharks”  — a notation I’ve never before seen from a party boat.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported a variety pick of blues, chub mackerel. sea bass, blues, fluke and bonito.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported lots of fluke were caught in the surf Wednesday, particularly in Island Beach State Park. They note that the 6-inch Gulp produces more keepers though there’s less action.  Matt and Megan Roser show off their 2.1-pound blue and 1.6-pound fluke from IBSP on bunker and Gulp.

Kid's blue & fluke

Hot canyon fishing during MidAtlantic opener

Though only 44 boats out of 151 entered in the MidAtlantic Tournament out of Cape May and Ocean City, Maryland braved the NE wind forecast to fish Monday’s opener, most of those boats experienced very good fishing.

White marlin releases were reported steadily, and two 73-pounders took over the lead in that richest category for Special Situation and 3’s Enough. There were also several blue marlin releases, though none close to the 400-pound minimum for weighing.

The tuna category was a huge improvement over the recent White Marlin Open at Ocean City, where a mere 75.5-pounder won over $900,000. M.R. Ducks (below) weighed an 85-pound bigeye, but is only in third place at the MidAtlantic.

ccbigeye -85 M.R. Ducks.jpgReel Estate (below) and First Light were the tuna leaders as the former took over first, fourth and sixth with weigh-ins of 110, 77 and 74 pounds — while First Light is second at 102 pounds and fifth with a 75-pounder.

ThTheReel Estate bigeyesThe only two dolphin entered were just 18 pounds by Ringleader and 17 pounds by Game Changer.

The early points leader is Billfisher with 12 whites and a blue for 1050 points. Give It Away released eight whites. while Big Deal, First Light, Bar South and Goose had six each. Special Situation not only had the white marlin entry, but also five white releases along with Taylor Jean and Real Chaos. 3’s Enough added releases of six whites and a blue marlin to their 73-pound white.

There are 146 boats fishing today, and I’ll have another blog after the scales close at 9 p.m. to report the almost inevitable changes. By the way, the MidAtlantic recounted the purse which went up a bit to $3,368.490.

Though the ocean remained a bit nasty, some N.J. party boats got back out. The Golden Eagle from Belmar had also fished yesterday and managed sea bass plus chub mackerel and some blues  and bonito then– while today’s variety consisted of blues and little tunny.

At Atlantic Highlands, the Sea Hunter found the ocean to be too uncomfortable so they fished in the bay for a decent pick of keepers among good short fluke action. The Fishermen stuck it out in the ocean where some sea bass, blues and triggerfish were added to the fluke. Scott Scudieri won the pool with a 6.9-pound fluke.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall fished his local beach and released a small striper on a Chug Bug in a still somewhat rough surf. I worked Shark River and didn’t hook a fish. Fly fisherman Bill Hoblitzell had the same luck as of the time I left — and he had already tried Sea Girt with the same result. Surfcasting should improve as the waves settle somewhat in the lighter winds forecasted.

 

Big change in weather coming tomorrow

Northeast winds gusting to 25 mph are forecast for later tonight, and it certainly should be cooler for fishing  tomorrow — but hopefully not too rough.

Getting a drift shouldn’t be the problem it was today for Capt. Rob Semkewyc on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands. He said there was too much bottom current in the deep, but the drift didn’t cover much ground. As a result, action was off from yesterday, the high hook only caught 12 to 15 shorts and there was just a pick of keepers.

Capt. Stan Zagleski said he left the strong bottom currents in the deep and found a fair number of keepers among shorts in shallower waters with his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands.

The hot bluefishing of the last few days along the Shore wasn’t repeated after yesterday afternoon’s hard south winds lowered the inshore water temperatures. At Belmar, the Golden Eagle reported blues were hard to tempt. though better anglers managed about a dozen before they headed offshore for variety bottom fishing and jigging that produced some sea bass and chub mackerel plus a couple of 4-to-5-pound fluke among shorts.  The Ocean Explorer noted that the weatherman was wrong about the weather and they had a beautiful day for fluking.

The Jamaica from Brielle had hot jigging for small blues on their Friday morning trip along with some bonito, A move offshore added sea bass, fluke and chub mackerel. The Big Jamaica has another tilefish trip coming up on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 10 p.m.  Call 732 528-5014 for reservations. John Gorman boated a 50.2-pound tilefish on the last trip.

Jamaica variety below.

Jamaica varietyAt least there were no reports of whales overturning small boats today. This week’s incident off Deal serves as an alert for boaters, though there really isn’t anything you can do to prevent such a rare occurrence. Jerry Lasko of Point Pleasant had a whale almost do the same thing as he was running at high speed out of Manasquan Inlet a few years ago.

The northeast wind may upset casting for semi-tropical species, but I got a report of a cobia being caught yesterday at Manasquan Inlet.

Capt. Vinny Vetere had to do a lot of running with his Katfish from Great Kills on Friday, but he found striped bass that would hit trolled Ho Jos and live bunker in the western L.I. Sound, though chunking was no good. He may have an opening tomorrow.

There was no such excitement in Shark River this morning, but I had light tackle sport with four school stripers on the Z-Man Swimmereez jig.  Frank Manzi did the same on a jig, and finished up with a small bluefish. Vinny D’Anton had caught a schoolie on a Chug Bug in the surf at Belmar the last time I talked to him.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported lots of bait and small blues in the surf on Friday along with fluke and some exotics.

The MidAtlantic opens tomorrow with 4:30 p.m. captains meetings at Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland. Fishing for a purse that should be well over a million dollars starts Monday and continues through Friday.

 

 

Loads of small blues for boaters

It was just a few days ago that I was discussing the lack of bluefish this season with some other writers, but all that has changed for boaters. Shore party boats are running into whitewater action with mostly 1-to-3-pound blues as their anglers catch 15-fish limits quickly before the boats head offshore to chum large quantities of chub mackerel and possibly some slightly larger blues while hooking sea bass, ling and fluke on bottom. Joe Melillo of Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant said he counted 37 boats fishing in front of Manasquan Inlet during the middle of the morning.

A few bonito, Spanish mackerel and small little tunny may be mixed in with the blues. Surfcasters get shots at those fish, but the action is sporadic with low tides at dawn and dusk while beaches are full of bathers and parking is often impossible during the day. While fishing the Manasquan surf early this morning, I saw a young angler cast metal at some fish that popped up within casting range and catch two very small bonito.

Nick Honachefsky  managed to catch his first Spanish mackerel casting from shore in N.J. yesterday morning.

Nick Spanish.jpg

The Jamaica from Brielle had one of those slightly larger blues offshore yesterday when Bruce Bates of Philadelphia won the pool with a 4-pounder.

Atlantic Highlands party boats had to fight strong currents today in their quest for fluke.  Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen said he never had to work so hard with so little to show for it. The Ambrose current was strong on the bottom while running in the opposite direction on top. A run offshore resulted in more current problems, while there was no drift further inshore. There was finally a bite late in the day, but it was mostly shorts. Yet, the pool fluke was just under 7 pounds, and there were a couple of very large sea bass boated.  The Fishermen is chartered Friday morning.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc was also frustrated by the poor drifting conditions on his Sea Hunter, but put together a catch of keepers among the shorts.

Capt. Stan Zagleski  didn’t fight the current conditions and went into shallower waters to pick some keepers on Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reports it was such a nice day that there was little drift offshore. Fluking was way off from the previous day, but some fluke and sea bass were picked during short drifts on rock piles.

 

 

West wind worked for some

Today’s west wind was just what the Ocean Explorer from

 

Belmar wanted, and they reported red hot fluke fishing with lots of keepers up to 8 pounds. Pink and white were the best jig colors once again.

Fluke reports from Atlantic Highlands weren’t as good. Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen said a hard south current combined with the west wind to create rough conditions where they had fished yesterday. A move to rocky bottoms resulted in calmer waters and a decent pick.  Yesterday was much better as a 6.8-pounder was boated before Capt. Ron Sr. added a 6.2-pound fluke. The skipper’s son, Ron Jr., boated a 5-pounder and most fares did well. Capt. Rob Semkewyc wasn’t happy with the west wind that was harder than forecast, but ended up with a decent catch on his Sea Hunter.

Small blues provided Shore party boats with a shot of good jigging action. The Golden Eagle from Belmar then went offshore to add chub mackerel and some sea bass.

The Jamaica from Brielle got into small blues yesterday morning, but they were hard to catch. As a result, they set up for chumming offshore to load up on chub mackerel plus a few ling and sea bass — while dolphin also invaded the slick.

Jamaica dolphin

 

Adam La Rosa is looking forward to the MidAtlantic Tournament in Cape May, where the Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant has been in the money four of the last five years. They have only one charter date left in August for chunking yellowfins

Mike Barrasso of Bay Head went to his local beach at 3:30 yesterday afternoon and was finally able to reach surfacing bonito to catch not only one –but a doubleheader on a hammered metal and a Joe Melillo Castaways Tackle teaser.

Outdoor writer Nick Honachefsky has caught bonito from the local surf before, but never a Spanish mackerel until this morning. After a series of mishaps at Point Pleasant, he made a blind cast before leaving and broke the ice.

Vinnie D’Anton fished north of Manasquan Inlet and was at the right place when some stripers started rolling. He released four up to 24 inches on a Chug Bug, and switched to metal when a school of small blues zipped by to catch one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pres. Trump signed billfish Conservation Act

 

President Trump Signs Amended Billfish Conservation Act!
Wild Oceans reports : We are happy to report that on August 2nd, President Trump signed into law HR 4528, the amended Billfish Conservation Act, closing a loophole in the 2012 act that allowed billfish caught under a “traditional fisheries” exemption for the Hawaiian islands to be sold in the mainland U.S., contrary to the BCA’s original intent.

Wild Oceans and IGFA began a campaign 10 years ago to Take Marlin off The Menu because we believe the future of these magnificent fish is not for sale. At the time, the United States was the largest importer of billfish.  The strengthened Billfish Conservation Act now ensures that no marlin, sailfish or spearfish can be sold in the continental United States, no matter where they are caught.

Today’s unpredicted east blow plus heavy rain probably kept everyone in this morning, but the ocean became fishable in the afternoon. Light west to southwest winds are forecasted for days to come. and the chance of showers ends on Wednesday,

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reports that the Sunday afternoon trip produced keeper sea bass among the shorts plus a large fluke and some chub mackerel.

The Jamaica from Brielle  started out with small blues Sunday morning along with a few bonito — then got blues back in the slick before chub mackerel took over. Kevin Zhong of Edison won the pool with a 7-pound bonito while adding a limit of 3-to-4-pound blues, several ling and lots of chubs.

Paul Haertel of the JCAA took his boat offshore to seek tuna for the first time in about 25 years last weekend and was delighted to boat a yellowfin tuna plus a dolphin.d

Capt. John Contello had a boat limit of fluke Sunday on his Just Sayin’ from Keyport. Included was the boat’s largest of the season — an 11-pound doormat that was a personal best for Mike Morgan.

Mike Morgan 11-lb on Just Syin.jpg

Vinny D’Anton figured Shark River would be a good place to hide from the northeaster this morning, but the only problem was a lack of fish in those protected waters.

Joe Melillo of Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant was hoping for another blast of Spanish mackerel this morning at Bay Head, but turned around after getting a blast from that east wind.

 

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