Last chances for JCAA Fluke Tournament early entry

 

The 34th annual JCAA Fluke Tournament is coming up on August 4 with seven regions and 11 weigh-in stations from Jersey City to Cape May. Those planning to fish that event should take advantage of the early entry fee of $130 per boat which must be paid by July 23. After that the fee is $160.

Each region features a $1200 first prize plus other prizes through tenth — and there’s also a Doormat Fluke Category worth $50,000 for the largest fluke over 12 pounds.

To top it off, this unique contest provides an opportunity for any entrant to be a big winner as all are eligible for prize drawings at the awards on Thursday, Aug. 9 in the Clarion Motel, Toms River. Topping those prizes is a boat combo consisting of a 14-foot Starcraft, Yamaha outboard and Yacht Club trailer. That grand prize is usually won by someone who never even weighed a fluke. To enter visit http://www.jcaa.org and use your credit card.

As noted last night, the Grandpa Savino Memorial Fluke Tournament was postponed to next Saturday due to the weather forecast, and the Point Pleasant Elks cancelled their contest at the last moment — but don’t have a make-up date as yet.  The Raritan Bay Anglers Charity Fluke Tournament was contested in poor conditions. I’ll have those results in tomorrow’s blog.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a nice start to bottom fishing, but the ocean got “cranky” in short order. They still caught quite a few sea bass, some ling and a 5-pound fluke. Following tonight’s gale warning and rain, Sunday is forecast to be very windy — and the Golden Eagle will not sail.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc reported a tough day for fluking on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands as he had to end up hiding from rough waters. The Sea Hunter will not sail Sunday.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant didn’t sail today, but reported lots of chub mackerel plus sea bass and ling on Friday’s trip. They will not sail Sunday.

Shark River was very pleasant early this morning, but shore fishing was slow. I scratched out two small stripers on jigs, and flyrodder Bill Hoblitzell also caught two. The previous morning he had caught three 4-to-5-pound blues on fly poppers and got bitten off by another — but there was no sign of them today. I made a few casts into the Belmar surf that was marginally fishable in the east wind — but full of marsh weed.

Bluefish haven’t only been scarce in Shark River this summer. Scott Leadbeater of Haddon Heights has found very few in Raritan Bay even though he sees many bunker schools there.

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.

Exotics in Florida

I joined Bruce Hrobek of Billy Bones Tackle in Port St. Lucie and Stuart  this week to fish Miami-area canals for some real exotic fish — Midas cichlids.  That invasive species from Central America is well-established in the clear water canals, and can be spotted before being baited. Though they feed on both plant and aquatic life, the most effective bait is a piece of white bread formed into a ball on a small hook. The strong south wind made it tough to present the virtually weightless bait, but I hooked one of the beautiful fish on my first attempt. It was 11-inches long and weighed 1 1/2 pounds — and I later caught another of the same size.

Midas1This was the first Midas, and the second looked like a copy. Both were males with the forehead lump.

Tanner midas

Tanner Hrobek with another big Midas. Tanner also caught a convict cichlid, which has the coloring of a sheepshead with black bars on the sides when it’s a juvenile.

Dr. Johnathon Levy of North London, England, was also with us as some peacock bass were added to the catch with live shiners.   Thanks to Hai Truing, the guide who directed us to these fish. He can be reached at wwwhaitruingfishing.com.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported the first small stripers being caught on bloodworms in the still cold local surf. Small bass are also hitting worms and small lures in the back bay — and Barnegat Bay is already loaded with bunkers — setting the stage for the spring run of big bluefish.