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First party boat striper jigging catch reported

The first significant party boat striper jigging catch was taken today by the Brooklyn VI out of Sheepshead Bay. They reported a near boat limit catch with a pool bass of about 25 pounds. It wasn’t specified whether that jigging took place in the ocean or Raritan Bay. They will also be carrying bait tomorrow, but don’t expect to need it.

There was also good news on bait, from the Sea Hunter out of Atlantic Highlands. Capt. Rob Semkewyc had a slow Saturday, and Sunday started out the same. However, a move resulted in a hot bite of both shorts and keepers. They ended up with a boat limit of bass from 28 inches up to a pool winner in the 20-pound class.

That was the only report from Atlantic Highlands today, though the Atlantic Star had a 20-pound pool winner Saturday morning, and a 25 1/2-pounder on the Saturday afternoon trip.  The Sea Tiger II had a boat limit of legal bass on Saturday running up to one over 20 pounds.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer reported a lively bottom that produced a good mixture of short and keeper blackfish on a flat calm ocean created by west winds. A few legal cod were also boated. The blackfish season closes after the Monday trip which should have similar conditions from continuing west winds.

Saturday’s report from the Golden Eagle about a bluefish blitz on the Manasquan Inlet jetties led to my checking out Manasquan River early this morning, where a few anglers were doing nothing –before moving to the inlet, where there was no one casting on either side in the light rain. It didn’t look as if a blitz had occurred the day before.

There was good news from Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park as they had their first two striper weigh-ins of the year on Saturday. Doug Cobb had a 30-inch, 9.05-pounder on clam from the back bay, but Dave Hankins came in late Saturday with a 37-inch, 19.85-pound bass that hit an SP Minnow in the surf. That fish was a new arrival full of sea lice.

The surf was clearing today, and should be calm by the morning.

Chuck Many, with a recent striper released from his Ty Man, will be doing a seminar on striper fishing at the Staten Island Tuna Club on Wednesday evening. Details in tomorrow’s blog.Chuck striper

Boat traffic slows striper bite

It was a beautiful Sunday on the water, but boat traffic seemed to slow the striped bass bite in Raritan Bay. Capt. Rob Semkewyc was coming off a very good day of clamming with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, but only put a few bass aboard today as he felt the volume of trollers passing close to him was the problem. There was one highlight, as Andy Sokol of Manalapan boated a 41-inch, 29-pound striper.

001Andy Sokol 29 lb

Capt. Joe Massa found the trolling to also  be way off from Saturday as Carl Drehwing, Bob Correll and I joined him on his larger My Three Sons (a Grady White 30) from Morgan Marina.  Yesterday he had trolled 15 bass, though all were shorts. We started out casting shads around scattered marks where I caught a small bass right away — but there were no more hits. A crowd of boaters trying to net bunkers in Great Kills convinced Joe to troll instead — especially since he had spent three hours Saturday chunking on good marks without a hit. We did hook a half-dozen bass on Rapala X-Raps, but they were very small, and there were no hits on the larger stretch lures. There were lots of boats trolling in the back of the bay, but I didn’t notice anyone stropping to fight fish before we headed back early.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar read some bait and fish, but couldn’t get any bites, and won’t sail again for stripers until Thursday.

Capt. Stan Zagleski started blackfishing daily with his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands on Saturday as he found one spot to be dead but picked away with tog and even a few cod on another. Art Garrett of Red Bank won the pool with a cod. Clams were most effective for both species.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports small stripers in the surf for those casting small pieces of clam or bunker. Skimmer clams are back in stock along with fresh bunker. There’s still no word of bluefish, but there has been talk of weakfish in the southern end of Barnegat Bay.  Betty & Nick’s noted that small stripers hit in the surf yesterday before the wind came up in the afternoon.

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

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.

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.

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.

 

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

 

 

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.

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.

Bad news for northern anglers

NOAA has the following bad news about recreational regulations for cod and haddock in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank:

Proposed 2018 Groundfish Recreational Regulations – Open for Public Comment
By April 6, please submit your comments on proposed groundfish recreational measures for 2018. Recreational possession of Gulf of Maine cod would continue to be prohibited, the haddock possession limit would be reduced from 12 to 10 fish for the charter/party fleet, and a new closed season would be implemented in May for private anglers. For Georges Bank cod, we are proposing an increase to the minimum size from 22 to 24 inches, and a possession limit for the for-hire fleet, set at 10 fish.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar will be sailing for cod on Thursday, while the Golden Eagle from that port gets started Friday for herring and mackerel.

Vinnie D’Anton reports from Sarasota that shore fishing was very good again today for spotted sea trout plus ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, snook and flounder all on the 3-inch Gulp  Shrimp in new penny color.

Joe Greco fished for redfish for the first time this spring on his small boat out of Fort Myers and cast for two of 20 and 22 inches.

Yesterday I fished from shore in the Miami area for some very unusual fish, and will have photos in tomorrow’s blog.