Sea bass still abundant as season is running out

There doesn’t appear to be any shortage of sea bass off the Jersey Shore as the spring season draws to a close on June 22. After that the bag drops from 10 at 12.5 inches to a by-catch of just two at the same minimum during the summer season from July 1 to Aug. 31.  The only problem now is getting through all the shorts to catch a limit — especially on the heavily-fished inshore reefs and wrecks.

Jigging has been the best bet for getting through to the bigger sea bass, The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported that today’s most successful angler was loading up on a sand eel teaser.

It was a beautiful calm day until the afternoon west wind, and another fine day seems sure for tomorrow.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano was fishing aboard Frank Criscola’s Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club yesterday as they trolled for eight hours without a hit from Raritan Bay to the Shore. Ricky Stavola was a guest angler fishing the Navesink-Shrewsbury Club contest, and he got busy in the afternoon when seven bass, all in the forties, hit bunker spoons. shad rigs and mo-jos off Monmouth Beach.

Di Stefano also had reports that canyon trollers were enjoying great yellowfin action from Lindenkohl to Baltimore canyons.

There was a Friday blitz of school stripers in Point Pleasant Canal, but lots of boat traffic put an end to that this morning. The miracle was that there was still a pick of small bass even though canal anglers had to wait for openings between boats in order to cast. I released three stripers up to 21 inches on a Z Man jig and lost an even smaller one.

Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno of Point Pleasant caught a couple of 26-inch stripers yesterday evening on sand fleas at Island Beach State Park before skates took over at dusk. Maren released a 30-inch striper there on that bait last Sunday.

Conditions weren’t great for Raritan Bay fluking today as Capt. Rob Semkewyc  said the wind came up against the tide when it switched.  His fares on Sea Hunter still managed to pick away. Also at Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Ron Santee was happy with his results on the Fishermen as 3-to-4-pounders were hooked by many anglers, and a pool winner over 6 pounds was boated at the end.

The fluke below was caught on the Elaine B II from Bahrs in Highlands last week, but had no chance of being accepted in the pool as the doormat was obviously stone dead and falling apart when snagged on the bottom.

Elaine B dead fluke

Fluke fishing improving — 9.4-lb. boated

Fluke fishing is improving in northern N.J., and the largest reported to this blog was boated today on the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands  — a 29-inch, 9.4-pounder boated by Scott Ure. That was his second largest fluke ever, as several years ago he caught an 11.2-pound doormat on the Fishermen. A 5-pounder took second in the pool, and Capt. Ron Santee said the morning action was much better than yesterday. The Madison Boy Scouts were aboard to enjoy the day.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc said he had tough conditions for his first fluking trip of the season — and was happy with his new full-day schedule. The Atlantic Highlands boats will try to get out Sunday despite a forecast of gusty NE winds.

Capt. Stan Zagleski was happy with the morning fluke bite on his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands as some regulars managed limits among lots of shorts. Zagleski will be sailing early at 6 a.m. Sunday.

The entire bluefish fleet from Brooklyn to Point Pleasant gathered at  Shrewsbury Rocks to jig the small bluefish that have been dependable all week. I joined Bob Correll of Bay Head in his Boston Whaler to look for stripers north of Manasquan Inlet, and we ere able to snag some bunkers from occasional flips, but saw no signs of stripers. When we got to the Shrewsbury fleet there were only a very few blues being hooked amid a constant blasting of horns as party boats kept moving to jump on readings due to a lack of birds on rainfish . Bob lost the only blue he hooked, but we did jig a few small sea bass and windowpanes off bottom along with a sea robin and a skate during a brief attempt. The blues must have turned on at other times as party boats reported fair to good bluefish catches. The Golden Eagle from Belmar also added sea bass and even winter flounder.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano was part of the crew on Frank Criscola’s Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club on Friday that trolled seven large stripers from Deal to Flynn’s Knoll. They were fishing in the ongoing Manasquan River Marlin & Tuna Clun Striped Bas Tournament and weighed in bass of 39 and 42 pounds — but are just behind entries of 42 and 45 pounds. Di Stefano said today’s trolling reports were very spotty, but he heard there was a showing of bass on top very early in the morning off the Red Church.  Capt. Dave De Gennaro ran his Hi Flier from Barnegat all the way up there, but had no luck trolling. He bailed out in Barnegat Inlet on the way back as his party cast shads to 3-to-4-pound blues. De Gennaro said the early Barnegat Bay run of jumbo blues just didn’t happen this year after three straight great springs.