Calm weather produced stripers for boaters

Calm weather made fishing bearable for boaters this morning, and striper fishing seemed to be good for them.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc had a light crowd for Black Friday on his Sea Hunter, but they ended up with a boat limit of bass over 28 inches plus slots and shorts. Capt. Ron Santee had good striper action on the Fishermen and noted that red-tailed jigs were most effective. He emphasized that anglers must turn the handle in this fishery rather than just bouncing bottom with jigs.  My usual technique is to hit bottom, give a good bounce like a sand eel coming out of the sand — and then retrieve to about 1/3 of the way to the surface before pausing. A lot of hits come on the pause. Then drop down and do it again.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had a good mixed jigging catch of short, slot and keeper stripers plus some blues.

Capt. Stan Zagleski said blackfishing was picky on his Elaine B II from Bahrs in Highlands, but those who worked at it did well.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant will be sailing open for tog at 7 a.m. Call 732 370=8019 for reservations at $75.

The Big Jamaica is sailing from Brielle at 11 p.m. for jumbo sea bass on far offshore wrecks. There are some spots open. Call 732 528-5014. They’ll be striper fishing Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

I was armed with hand warmers this morning, but didn’t see any of the birds dipping on tiny bait at Point Pleasant Beach — and didn’t brave the cold as anglers didn’t seem to be doing anything. I made a brief try at sun-down in “balmy” 32 degree temperatures and released a small bass on an old J&J lead quid with a swiveling green tube. That  was the only one I saw caught on the beach,

Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno found a pick of school stripers in the Seaside surf during the day, and saw a few 30-inch bass caught from among them.

 

 

 

hooked a couple of small blues recently in the Point Pleasant surf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blackfish season for five fish opens

This is a second blog for today as I forgot to include the very important information that the blackfish season for five at a 15-inch minimum opened today and extends through the rest of the year. I doubt if anyone took advantage of that opportunity today unless they fished in Point Pleasant Canal or in the inlets. However, the bottom fishing fleet should be in business starting tomorrow with good weather ahead.

Capt. Stan Zagleski had already postponed his first trip for his specialty with Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands to Saturday at his daily sailing time of 7 a.m.

$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

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.

 

 

A once in a lifetime catch — again!

Just last week I wrote a blog noting the lack of southern species showing up to the north so far this season, but I’ll have to take that opinion back after fishing Sunday morning with Chuck Many of Annandale on his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands.

We were drifting sandworms at the mouth of the Hudson River for school stripers and weakfish and trying to work through bait-stealing porgies when I hooked a fish that fought just like one of those species with short runs against a tight drag. Peering into waters somewhat discolored by recent heavy rains, as the fish came toward the surface I was shocked to see the black bars on a roundish body of a big sheepshead.

Many quickly got the net under a sheepshead that was 23 inches long and weighed 9 1/4 pounds on my Garcia Abu Combi scale before we released it after a few quick photos.

sheepshead

As mentioned in my blog last week, I had been shocked once before by a sheepshead in the north. That was on Sept. 7, 2013 off a rock pile in Raritan Bay while seeking weakfish with Joe Massa on his My Three Sons out of Morgan Marina. Not wanting to use up the last few sandworms, I switched my jig head to a Gulp Jerk Shad and hooked a 20-inch, 7-pound sheepshead.

Since I’d never heard of a sheepshead in Raritan Bay before (and haven’t since), I figured that was a once in a lifetime experience.  That sheepshead was also larger than any I’ve caught in Florida, but Sunday’s second “catch of a lifetime” made the earlier fish seem small.

It’s likely that sheepshead were more common in northern waters over a century ago when channel bass (red drum) were the primary inshore game fish up to the central N.J. Shore.  Though large sheepshead are caught with some regularity in South Jersey up to the south jetty of Barnegat Inlet, they’re unusual north of there.

Sheepshead normally fight like a giant porgy, with lots of head-shaking, but the latest did none of that. In fact they are a giant porgy, being  one of the largest members of the porgy family Sparidae. which is represented by many species in temperate and tropical waters worldwide.  In addition to the prominent black bars, the crab-crushing teeth are a sure identifier.

Porgies were a problem when we  first started drifting worms at 7 a.m. in Shrewsbury River for school stripers. Some bass in the 20-inch class beat the porgies to our worms, but the scup even hooked up on my circle hook. Some were large for the river, up to a 14 1/8-incher. Many castnetted a tank full of peanut bunkers. and we snagged a few adult bunkers before filling our appointment with the sheepshead.

Porgies were also a problem in the Hudson, though we managed some small stripers among them before coming in to pick up Alex and Susan Katyan for the afternoon tides. There was just a pick of very small stripers on both worms and peanuts before Many made a move. The East River was clearer than expected, and produced some small bass plus a couple over 28 inches by Alex. Many then moved to deeper waters in the Hudson where we used the few large bunkers that had been snagged in the morning plus a few more snagged on the spot. I released a 23-pound striper and another a bit smaller, while Susan lost two large fish after she had caught her first few small stripers on worms earlier in the trip. We ended up with 20 striper releases for the day along with many porgies, the sheepshead and the only small bluefish which Susan hooked.

Joe Greco from Ft. Myers, Fl.  (formerly of Edison) is up north for the summer, and joined relatives plus several old friends (including the famed Capt. Wood – Gene Graman) on a Sunday charter with Capt. Chad Hacker on Tagged Fish from Highlands. Greco  said they picked at sea bass for their two-fish limits while adding the one blackfish now allowed — and loading up with ling.

The White Marlin Open began today in Ocean City, Maryland. I’ll be adding a blog later with the first day weigh-ins.

At Brielle, the Big Jamaica reported another day with lots of chub mackerel Sunday plus some small blues and a few ling and sea bass. Paul Farrell of Howell won the pool with a reported 3-pound mackerel which would be huge for a chub.

The Jamaica II had a good week for fluke with lots of 4-to-6-pounders plus sea bass up to 4 3/4 pounds. Mike Collins of Toms River took the lad in the monthly contest with a 7 1/2-pound fluke.

There were good fluke reports today from Atlantic Highlands. The Fishermen finally saw more large fluke as the swell dropped down, and a 7.9-pounder took the pool. The Sea Hunter reported a pleasant surprise as most fares caught keepers, and one limited among lots of shorts. Midships Mike (below) took the pool at 6 1/4 pounds.

 

Midship Mike on S.H.It was the best of days and the worst of days during Saturday’s JCAA Fluke Tournament for James Gurski of Nazareth, Pa.  as he had the rare good fortune of boating a 12.40-pound fluke that was big enough to win the contest’s $50,000 grand prize for the largest fluke exceeding 12 pounds.  The only problem was that Gurski hadn’t paid the extra $25 to enter that portion of the tournament.  To top it off, he also wasn’t in the overall Calcutta. As a result, he only ended up with $4569 for the Sandy Hook port prize and the two Calcuttas there. The second largest fluke was an 11.79 doormat entry from Absecon Inlet that was caught by Matthew Cornman of Gloucester City to win the Southern Region, He was less than four ounces short of the $50,000 prize — but did win the overall Calcutta to bring his earnings up to $4,569. There was yet a third doormat, and Joe Spero of Lincroft was in both Jersey City Calcuttas to become the biggest winner at $8,638.

The complete results from Paul Haertel of the JCAA follow:

24th ANNUAL FLUKE TOURNAMENT
PORT PRIZE WINNERS

Come to the Awards Ceremony at The Clarion Hotel in Toms River
Thursday evening, August 9th, 2018
Come early to register (3 PM to 7 PM)
Awards Presentation and Drawings start at 7:00 PM

The 24th Annual JCAA Fluke Tournament took place on August 4th. The weather forecast of thunderstorms throughout the day along with big waves and heavy winds resulted in only 221 entries competing in 7 regions throughout our state. Though the weather was in fact bad in some areas during the morning, most areas had sun during the afternoon. The fishing turned out to be very good for many of our contestants.

There were three true doormats exceeding 10 lbs. weighed in during the tournament. The largest fluke weighed in was 12.40 lbs., 30” and was caught by James Gurski of Nazareth, Pa. He weighed it in at Gateway Marina in the Sandy Hook Region. James did not add the extra $25 to enter our doormat fluke category that would have won him $50,000 for catching the largest fluke exceeding 12 lbs. However, he and his team did win both Sandy Hook Region Calcuttas along with the 1st place region prize for a total of $4,569.

The second largest fluke in the tournament was caught by Matthew Cornman of Gloucester City. He did enter the doormat fluke category but his fish weighed 11.79 lbs., less than 4 ounces away from winning the $50,000 prize. Mathew caught his fish in Absecon Inlet and weighed it in at One Stop Bait and Tackle Store in Atlantic City. He only entered the $50 overall Calcutta but along with the 1st place region prize his winnings totaled $4569.

Joe Saro’s 10.59 lb. fluke was the third largest caught in the tournament. It was weighed in at Liberty Landing Marina. Joe was the biggest winner in this year’s tournament as he won the $100 overall Calcutta along with both Jersey City Region Calcuttas and the 1st place region prize for a total of $8,638.

Harvey Karp of Kearny, NJ had the smallest fish this year which won a region prize weighing in at 2.02 lbs. at Liberty Landing Marina in the Jersey City Region. Harvey was a previous overall winner in 2016 winning $13,319. All the winners from each region are listed below.

All told, JCAA will pay out a total of $31,852 in cash along with region prizes and door prizes worth thousands of dollars.

This annual tournament provides funds to help the Jersey Coast Anglers Association continue its fight for sound management of our fisheries and our marine environment while seeking to protect or enhance fishing opportunities for our recreational anglers. We are currently seeking more reasonable regulations for our recreational anglers.

The Clarion Hotel in Toms River is the host for the 24th Annual Jersey Coast Fluke Tournament Awards Ceremony. The Clarion Hotel invites tournament entrants to come and enjoy their facilities both before and after the awards ceremony. You can meet JCAA Executive Board members and representatives from our sponsors.

By attending the awards ceremony this is your chance to win the drawing for the boat, motor and trailer Grand Prize. In fact, 19 of the last 20 Grand Prize winners did not weigh in a qualifying prize fish in the tournament. Someone from your boat must be present to win the Grand Prize and any of the fifty or so great door prizes.

We want to thank all tournament participants and especially our sponsors for making the tournament a success. Our nationally known sponsors include Yamaha Motors, Starcraft Boats, Yacht Club Trailers, Tica Fishing Tackle, Fuel Ox, Costa Sunglasses, The Fisherman Magazine, and ICOM. The $1,200 First Place Port Prizes were sponsored by Fisherman’s Headquarters (for Long Beach Island), South Harbor Marina (for Barnegat Bay), and Liberty Landing Marina (for Jersey City) and the remaining ports by the JCAA. Jersey Coast Fluke Tournament T-shirts and hats will be on sale as long as supplies last.

The JCAA Fluke Tournament GRAND PRIZE Registration will be at the Clarion Hotel on Route 37W on Thursday evening, August 9th. Follow the signs to find the registration site. We will be in the Ballroom. Registration is between 3:00 PM and 7:00 PM. At least one person from your boat must attend at the time of the drawing in order to win a prize. We expect a large turnout so please come early. Please bring your registration affidavit to save yourself time at the registration desk. There will be free hamburgers, hot dogs, mozzarella sticks and soft drinks served from 5-7PM. A cash bar will be open throughout the event. All winning numbers will be announced in the ballroom. We will also be distributing the port prizes for those in attendance. The registration desk will issue one ticket which is good for both the Grand Prize and for the door prizes. Additionally, we will be holding a huge a 50-50 raffle. Last year’s winner took home just under $2000. We really appreciate both your participation and patience and are sure everyone will have a great time. Congratulations to all the winners and thank you for your support.

2018 Fluke Tournament Port Prize List
(10 Identical Prizes for Each Port)

1st – $1200
2nd – Costa sunglasses and accessories
3rd – Canyon 5000 spinning reel
4th – Icom M-36 portable vhf radio
5th – Tsunami 4000 Shield spinning reel and Sapphire rod
6th – Tica Taurus TP5000S spinning reel and 12’ surfcasting rod
7th – Fishermen Magazine basket including assorted items and a 1 year subscription
8th – Fuel Ox additive, t-shirts and a Tony Maja bunker spoon
9th – Fenwick rod, JCAA t-shirt and hat
10th – Two dinner tickets to the JCAA Sportsperson of the Year Banquet

Also, any of the 1st through 9th place prize winners may exchange their prizes for two tickets to the JCAA Sportsperson of the Year Banquet which will be held on 11/11/18 at the Crystal Point Yacht Club. Tickets cost $80 each.

HERE ARE THE WINNERS FOR 2018
* Denotes $50 Port Calcutta Winner
** Denotes $100 Port Calcutta Winner
$ Denotes $50 Overall Tournament Calcutta Winner
$$ Denotes $100 Overall Tournament Calcutta Winner
1. Jersey City Region
Name Hometown Entry # Weight Length
1st Saro, Joe *, ** $$ Lincroft, NJ 219 10.59 29.50
2nd Atlas, Marc Fairview, NJ 149 8.80 28.00
3rd Reily, William Morganville, NJ 216 5.65 25.50
4th Mastrangelo, Damon Cliffside Park, NJ 102 5.03 24.50
5th Semit, Dave Matawan, NJ 173 4.94 24.00
6th Cordano, Daniel Bayonne, NJ 133 4.60 23.00
7th Napolitano, Nick Fort Lee, NJ 206 3.79 22.00
8th Kinney, Jason Lebanon, NJ 222 3.39 21.25
9th Karp, Harvey Kearny, NJ 90 2.02 18.50
10th None
48.81 216.25
2. Sandy Hook Region
Name Hometown Entry # Weight Length
1st Gurski, James *, ** Nazareth, PA 125 12.40 30.00
2nd Evens, Allan Jr Union Beach, NJ 163 8.43 27.50
3rd Manzi, Vito Morganville, NJ 204 8.36 27.00
4th Kelly, Steve Jersey City, NJ 171 8.04 26.25
5th Drumm, Jerry Upper Darby, PA 108 7.59 26.25
6th Herbert, Rick Ringwood, NJ 199 6.67 25.50
7th Smith, James Clark, NJ 129 6.34 25.75
8th Jakubik, Todd Colts Neck, NJ 46 5.63 25.00
9th McCarthy, Patrick Sayreville, NJ 232 5.17 24.00
10th Natelli, Jack Monroe, NJ 187 4.65 23.00
73.28 260.25

3. Shark River Inlet Region
Name Hometown Entry # Weight Length
1st Dudinetz, Andy *, ** Brownsville, NJ 81 7.63 26.50
2nd Young, Billy Howell, NJ 230 7.57 27.50
3rd Schoch, Herman Paulsboro, NJ 83 7.57 25.75
4th Temple, Chuck Wrightstown, NJ 4 6.94 26.00
5th Ricca, Philip Westfield, NJ 217 6.37 24.50
6th Cronin, Pat Wall, NJ 96 5.83 24.00
7th Montgomery, Dylan Franklinville, NJ 233 5.64 24.50
8th Gurrieri, Joe Howell, NJ 211 5.42 24.50
9th Mizsak, George Hamilton, NJ 174 5.39 24.50
10th Goetz, John Cream Ridge, NJ 212 5.02 23.00
63.38 250.75

4. Manasquan River Region
Name Hometown Entry # Weight Length
1st Coutant, Joseph * Brick, NJ 106 8.02 27.00
2nd Aives, Doug ** Old Bridge, NJ 35 7.92 26.00
3rd Houlman, Rodger Keyport, NJ 52 6.52 25.50
4th Remishofski, John Wall, NJ 39 6.35 27.00
5th Cameron, Bob North Haledon, NJ 36 6.03 25.00
6th Haley John Kendall Park, NJ 191 5.91 25.00
7th McCleary, Jason Jackson, NJ 208 5.9 25.50
8th Pleszia, Anthony Linwood, NJ 205 5.56 25.00
9th Cuba, William Piscataway, NJ 31 5.08 24.50
10th Wolf, Doug Stanhope, NJ 182 4.86 25.00
62.15 253.00

5. Barnegat Bay Region
Name Hometown Entry # Weight Length
1st Chudzinski, John * Cherry Hill, NJ 122 7.40 26.00
2nd Majewski, Alex ** Barnegat, NJ 135 6.80 26.00
3rd Costanzo, George Barnegat, NJ 192 6.67 26.00
4th Bonilla, Peter Whiting, NJ 45 5.00 24.50
5th Caruso, Camille Forked River, NJ 158 4.96 23.50
6th Fay, John Forked River, NJ 88 4.78 24.00
7th Sorrentino, Matt Ship Bottom, NJ 198 4.59 23.50
8th Tice, Ed Beachwood, NJ 80 4.46 22.75
9th Engle, Tom Medford, NJ 162 4.38 22.75
10th Kostick, John Jr Lakewood, NJ 44 4.25 22.00
53.29 241.00

6. Long Beach Island Region
Name Hometown Entry # Weight Length
1st Cliver, Kevin *, ** Sellersville, NJ 82 8.64 27.00
2nd Phillips, Richard Southampton, NJ 95 4.90 23.13
3rd Paoalella ,Dean Springfield, NJ 200 4.34 22.50
4th McKinnon, John Jackson, NJ 84 4.13 22.38
5th Trembula, Tom Cookstown, NJ 40 3.81 21.38
6th Rust, Brian Cinnaminson, NJ 53 3.81 21.25
7th Czamik, Jason Philadelphia, PA 111 3.70 21.00
8th Klebossis, Bob Manahawkin, NJ 137 2.92 20.38
9th Hoover, John Moorestown, NJ 183 2.85 20.00
10th Dean, Tom Little Egg Harbor, NJ 121 2.36 19.88
41.46 218.88

7. Southern Region (GB, OC, AC, CM, Port)
Name Hometown Entry # Weight Length
1st Cornman, Matthew $ Gloucester City, NJ 226 11.78 30.00
2nd Trainor, Roy *, ** Wildwood, NJ 234 6.93 25.50
3rd Mosloskie, Tony Essington, PA 34 6.63 25.00
4th Schafer, Dan Del Haven, NJ 209 4.89 23.50
5th Fitzick, Tim Somers Point, NJ 33 4.08 23.50
6th DeChurch, Daniel Moorestown, NJ 103 3.62 21.00
7th Choynowski, Michael North Arlington, NJ 143 3.44 21.00
8th Spiro, John Browns Mills, NJ 148 3.29 20.75
9th Murray, Chris Northfield, NJ 71 3.23 20.50
10th Olswfski, Tony Florence, NJ 184 3.11 20.75
50.99 231.50

Total Weight/Length-Ft 423.66 151

 

Lack of drift for fluke

The very light winds we had today made for pleasant ocean fishing conditions, but the resulting slow drift was a problem for fluke drifting.

Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst joined Emil Pavalac’s  party on Tagged Fish from Highlands. Emil’s nickname is Typhoon, but he certainly didn’t bring one today. Fluking in the Shrewsbury Rocks area was slow, but the six keepers they caught were all in the 3-to-5-pound class, and six large sea bass were added. Matraxia didn’t find many shorts for his ALS tags, but had lots of excitement with the same heavy spinning rod he used to catch his first doormat during his last trip with Capt. Chad Hacker. After a 15-minute battle, Tank got a shark alongside (probably a brown) before Hacker released what he estimated to be a 70-pounder.

Capt. Ron Santee said he only picked at fluke and sea bass most of the day in a poor drift with his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands, but waited for the afternoon ebb which produced a spurt of action in overtime that included the pool fluke of just over 6 pounds in the ocean.

At Belmar. the Big Mohawk couldn’t match yesterday’s doormat, but they weren’t too far off with an 8.13-pounder. The early start helped, and they’ll be sailing again Monday at 6 am.

The Golden Eagle had lots of sea bass action to fill two-fish limits along with ling and fluke plus a few small blues.

It was a mixed bag in Shark River this morning as I only released a 25-inch bluefish on a Kettle Creek jig, but the regulars waded to a shot of stripers on poppers.

Weigh-ins for the last day of the White Marlin Invitational are going on as this is being written. I’ll have the results whenever they become available later tonight or tomorrow.

Better weather coming

It appears that the Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club made the right move by pushing back its White Marlin Invitational as fishing weather looks a lot better from Thursday through Sunday. Registration is going on from 6 to 8 this evening in the Beach Haven club house.

Though small craft warnings are posted through late Thursday night, winds are forecast to be dropping out that day so it may be fishable. Since the forecast is for light winds all the way from Friday to Sunday, most skippers will probably opt to use their fishing days then.

If you’re planning on boating a large medium or giant bluefin tuna, you’ll have to do so Thursday. The National Marine Fisheries Service has determined that the northern quota (north of Great Egg Inlet)  for trophy bluefins from 73 inches curved fork length up is almost filled and will be closed at 11:30 p.m. local time on July 26. Trophy bluefins can be aught in the Angling or the Charter/Head Boat (when fishing recreationally) categories, but can’t be sold. Regulations for school and small medium  bluefins from 27 to less than 73 inches remain the same. The southern trophy fishery was closed March 17. Catch-and-release trophy fishing is permitted.

The party and charter boat business has taken a beating this week with cancelled trips day after day due to the weather. Even though fluking is possible in somewhat protected waters for the Raritan Bay fleet, Capt. Stan Zagleski still didn’t sail with his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands rather than be confined to the calm waters of Sandy Hook Bay where the action has been from almost all shorts.  He resumes sailing Thursday. The Fishermen and Sea Hunter have indicated that will sail from Atlantic Highlands tomorrow.

The Big Mohawk from Belmar didn’t sail today, and is chartered on Friday — but will resume open boat  fluking at 6 a.m. Saturday.

Once again there was no boat traffic problem for shore anglers casting into Shark River this morning.  There were four of us casting at first light, but with no hits and rain moving across the river I lost two partners before finally hooking a 19-inch striper just after they left as it started raining lightly. Flyfisherman Bill Hoblitzell then gave it up with heavier rain starting just before I added a similar striper release — which was the end of my “action”.  Frank Manzi returned late in the morning  and was surprised to release 10 small stripers while also having his soft plastic jig cut in half by an unseen bluefish which have been scarce in the river this summer.

Surfcaasters are hoping that waves will diminish in the next few days so they can take their shots in more fishable conditions. Fluke are a best bet in the surf. and there’s always a possibility of hooking one like this 22.5- inch, 4.25-pounder  weighed recently at Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park by Warren Eckert — who beached it on a bucktail tipped with Gulp.

Grumpy's fluke

Boaters avoided tough ocean

The forecast of strong south winds on an already rough ocean was enough to keep most of the fleet ashore today, and there were no reports.

The Raritan Bay Anglers Charity Fluke Tournament was fished in rough  conditions on Saturday, but I’ve been unable been unable to get official results.  Bryan Pieros did report having been in the lead with the fluke caught by Billy Anderson, but ended up being pushed back to second place.

Pieros fluke

Capt. Stan Zagleski said his Saturday regulars on Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands were rugged enough to fish open waters while most of the fleet hid in Sandy Hook Bay. They did have shots at keepers during the first two drifts before drifting conditions deteriorated. Denney Coleman of Short Hills bagged his limit including fluke of 4 13/16 and 5 3/8 pounds to win the pool.

Denny Coleman fluke

Reader Steve Mirande said he hooked a cownose ray first, but “luckily” it got off so he could catch four fluke up to a 19-incher on a 1/2-ounce white jig tipped with a Zoom Fluke plus a few sundials on the teaser during a late afternoon trip to the Bay Head surf last week.

 

 

Matraxia boats first doormat

Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst is an enthusiastic fluke fisherman who charters the best skippers in the northern N.J. area to pursue that species, but he hadn’t been fortunate enough to catch a doormat even though he did hook a 9 1/2-pounder last year.  Though casual anglers often refer to any large fluke as a “doormat”,  serious flukers know that the only fluke entitled to that designation has to make double digits in order to join that exclusive “club” — just as striper anglers often spend a lifetime trying to catch a 50-pounder to join the exclusive top rung of the sport in the “’50-pound club”.

Tank's doormat

Ironically, Tank broke through during a poor year for doormats. I haven’t had a single doormat report from the Raritan Bay party boat fleet as yet, and only one from a Shore party boat — on the Capt. Cal from Belmar last week. As of the July 12 edition of The Fisherman magazine , their coastal (N.C. to Maine) Dream Boat contest for subscribers only had six doormats entered up to a 12.63-pounder from Long Island. Tank’s fluke probably would have fit into fourth place at this time

Matraxia was fishing today with Capt. Chad Hacker on Tagged Fish from Highlands and not doing very well as they started off Coney Island before moving back to rough bottom near Sandy Hook.  Tank had been bucktailing, but switched to a bottom rig with Gulp and a fish strip when he literally dropped it into the mouth of a fluke that weighed just short of 12 pounds on the BogaGrip. He was going to get an official weight at  Julian’s Tackle in Atlantic Highlands, but the mate filleted the doormat on the way in.

Tank's doormat

Tank’s so proud of that fluke that the blog printed the photo twice!

Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands said it was not only a beautiful day on the water, but fluke fishing was better with action all day. The pool fluke went 5 3/4 pounds, and Santee also put his fares into some sea bass.

The Jamaica from Brielle reported very good Tuesday variety fishing for chub mackerel and sea bass. Vladimir Savon of  Fair Lawn won the pool with a 4-pound sea bass Some bluefish have been reported offshore, and will hopefully move inshore soon.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar also had very good action Tuesday with sea bass and mackerel plus some fluke and ling as well as “tommycod” which I expect were actually spotted hake as tomcod are virtually unknown in offshore waters.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall fished the surf to the north with his Chug Bug to catch four school stripers. I found very little water in the Manasquan surf, but hooked a bass that hit a Chug Bug in the wash — but got off.