Be ready to figure out the weight of your trophy striper

As of April 1, N.J. anglers will no longer be able to keep their striper of a lifetime, but they can still determine a commonly-accepted estimate of their trophy’s weight with nothing more than a retractable tape in their pocket.

The new N.J. striper regulation will allow just one bass from 28 to 38 inches, which means that the really big bass must be released. That’s not really a problem for those still waiting for that “one for the wall” as taxidermists have molds for all large sizes. Just take the length and girth before you release that trophy spawner and you’ll get back the same fish you’d receive as if you’d shipped the fish.

The important thing is to always have that retractable tape or a cloth one with you as it’s the girth that really determines a striper’s weight. A flat measuring stick is useless for girth which is measured at the fattest portion of the body just behind the head.

The standard formula of length to the fork of the tail times girth squared divided by 800 works well for the striper’s body shape. Remember that it’s the fork length measurement which is used in the formula rather than the tail length. It only takes seconds to make those measurements before releasing the fish, but you’ll have a meaningful estimated weight rather than a wild guess that no one believes.

That cubera snapper which the Pesca Panama mate and I are holding at the top of the blog was released seconds after I took those measurements which allowed me to later calculate the weight at 73.58375 pounds — just a few pounds short of the world record. Of course, the formula isn’t accepted by the IGFA for record purposes — but it’s fine for me to know now big my cubera of a lifetime was!

Should you forget the tape, you can get an accurate girth by pulling some line off a spool and clipping it off to be measured later.

There are hand scales which can be used for very large fish, Chuck Many uses a 60-pound Boga-Grip which he sent to the IGFA for certification. It can be used to weigh fish for record submissions — but only on land. I have an old 80-pound Chatillon which I carried on exploratory trips around the world in the old days. However, it’s very heavy, and not too practical to carry in airplanes now that bags are weighed.

Small craft warnings are up tonight. Friday starts with south winds at 15-20 knots before switching to southwest in the afternoon with possible rain and fog.plus 4-7-foot seas.

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Easter!

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy Easter. Fishing may be at a minimum today, but I was reminded about my recent trip to Pesca Panama yesterday while watching Jay Feely announce the Michigan-Loyola Final Four game on TNT.  Jay was part of Bob Correll’s group that flew into Panama City om March 17, but didn’t overnight there as is usual, before taking an afternoon flight to David in order to get out fishing earlier on Sunday.  The smaller hotel in David couldn’t come up with the NCAA Tournament games on their TV, but we were advised to walk over to a chicken restaurant a few blocks away. They had big screens showing soccer, but we talked them into searching the satellite to find the basketball in both English and Spanish while we enjoyed the chicken and beer.

The change in overnighting plans didn’t actually didn’t make any difference in getting started the next day, but the trip out to the Pesca Panama  barge on Oceanmasters  turned out well for those who were able to catch some blue runners on Sabicki rigs for big roosterfish live baits in the nearby Parides area. The next several days then produced most of the other species that make the Isla Coiba area of Panama one of the best variety sportfishing locations on earth.

 

_DSC0740This is what the “normal” 25-to-30-pound cubera snapper caught on Pesca Panama trips looks like — unlike the 73-pounder at the head of the blog. This one hit a small live Lane snapper drifted on bottom over a high piece on heavy spinning tackle before being released It’s hard to believe that this same fish can jump several feet out of the water to inhale a big popper!

 

 

 

Fishing resuming in N.J.

The head photo is of the huge Pacific cubera snapper described in yesterday’s blog just before release from the Pesca Panama Oceanmaster I was fishing aboard last week.

The late March northeaster put a big dent in northern fishing activity, but things are looking up this week. The Ocean Explorer from Belmar plans to sail for cod on Wednesday and the rest of the week, while the Golden Eagle from that port resumes fishing on Friday at 7:30 a.m. for herring and mackerel until stripers get started next month. The Ocean Explorer got into some 12-to-15-pound cod during the last trip before the storm — and finally saw water temperatures up to 40 degrees. Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports small stripers hitting small plugs in the back bay.

Inshore waters remain very cold, though that should change quickly. Joe Melillo, of Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant said it’s even been too cold for the largemouth bass in his local ponds. The shop is being refurbished, but they’re shooting for an opening next week.

Sometimes the one that got away makes a day more memorable than the catches. That was the case yesterday when I fished with my daughter Cyndi and her boyfriend Luis Gonzalez of Palmetto Bay, Fl. Luis ran his trailered 22-foot Pursuit, Sheri Berri III, to Pacific Reef off Miami. While the yellowtail snapper bite was slow, Cyndi suddenly found herself hooked up to a big fish on a very light spinning rod. My former mate on Sheri Berri II, when I had that boat at Point Pleasant and Brielle, did a fine job running around the boat with what we suspected was a toothy critter that had eaten a small fish on her line. Despite having no leader to a tiny jig, Cyndi hung on to the fish for quite some time and got a ray of hope when we saw the silver side of a big barracuda underwater before it finally cut the light mono. It was fun while it lasted!

Cyndi pic