Canyon tuna trolling breaks open

The Canyon trolling season broke open with a bang for the Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant as Captains Deane Lambros and Mike Zajac made a Friday run to Lindenkohl Canyon.

They arrived at first light and had the first bluefin at 8 a.m. There were a dozen by noon, and it only got better as the final count was 39 tuna. Most were bluefins, but yellowfins were included — along with albacore which usually aren’t  here this early. In recent years, the spring canyon trolling has been better than the traditional summer and fall sport — though the spring  bluefins are often on the small side.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had another day which started slowly in a strong current before sea bass and ling turned on as the current slacked.

Despite the fog, Dave Lilly got off to a good start trolling bunker spoons for stripers over 20 pounds until a “red tide” moved into the middle of Raritan Bay and the bite died out though he still marked bass and bunkers.

Of course that’s not the real red tide that kills fish in Florida and  some other areas, but it turned the clear waters reddish.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano waited for the fog to lift before joining a friend at Sea Bright to seek bass in the ocean where there was a bite yesterday afternoon. They saw scattered bunkers in several areas before trolling at the Rocks and Highlands Bridge without marking a bass. However, as they ran back around the Hook there were large bass on top. They ended up having a blast casting poppers to those fish before they moved on.

Dense fog is predicted again tomorrow morning with southeast winds at 5-10 knots.

 

 

Fluke better today for northern boaters

The lack of reports from boats fishing for fluke in the Raritan Bay area had me worried about that fishery, but Capt. Ron Santee noted that both short and keeper fluke responded better today on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. The action was on incoming tide, and one fare managed a three-fish limit.

Bad news from there was relayed by Scott Leadbeater, who saw a boat on fire this morning in mid-bay at 8:30. He heard that the people aboard were rescued. A few stripers were being picked in the Old Orchard area by boaters fishing a variety of lures and baits.

Sea bass held up for the Golden Eagle as anglers on that Belmar party boat had big bass plus some ling during a fine day. A “nice” striper was lost due to a broken line.

If you get lucky while bottom fishing you might catch a 12-pound blackfish like Greg Harms of Untion did while fishing recently on Kaitlyn Nicole out of Sandy Hook Bay Marina recently. Capt. Chris Mahon released the trophy tog which was out of season

blackfish - 12 lbs

Chuck Many continues to release big stripers from his Ty Man out of Gateway Marina in Highlands. He had Ian Gardner and Alex Katyan aboard Saturday as 22 up to 48 pounds were caught — 15 on eels and six on live bunkers.

Small craft warnings go down tonight, and the morning forecast is for just 5-10 knot southeast winds plus patchy fog.

N.J. sea bass season opens Friday

Bottom fishermen in N.J.  have been waiting for the sea bass season to open, and tomorrow is the day. However, they’d better have a private boat in order to participate in the fishery which has a daily limit of 10 sea bass at a 12 ]/2-inch minim

Party and charter boats still don’t have permission to sail even under the social distancing guidelines they’ve adopted voluntarily Gov. Murphy opened up beach restrictions starting Friday in preparation for Memorial Day.  He also noted in today’s press conference that recreational fishing rules are being reviewed.

Both the Jamaica from Brielle and the Big Mohawk from Belmar were taking reservations for the sea bass opener in hopes they’d be able to sail. The Jamaica has canceled for tomorrow, but is still holding out hope for the weekend in case Murphy has a change of heart tomorrow. I wouldn’t count on that. Also don’t count on catching sea bass as large as those boated on a the Jamaica during a fall offshore wreck trip.

Jamaica sea bass

 

Though it’s blowing hard southwest as this is being written, that wind is forecast to drop to 10-15 knots by morning along with showers before increasing to 15-20 in the afternoon.

Dave Lilly said there were stripers swirling and chasing bunkers on the surface all over around the mouth of Raritan Bay this morning. He quickly trolled one of about 30 pounds, then another in the 20-pound class  on a Tony Maja bunker spoon before losing another good one- before bass in the low teens took over.  They would come back up right after boats ran over them, and everyone caught them on anything they used. Surprisingly, the water temperature had dropped to 48 degrees.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported lots of fresh clams and bunker in stock. Clams seem to be working best, and small pieces will also attract blowfish. Blues are scattered in the bay, and range from 2 to 10 pounds. They’re hitting a variety of lures.

Capt. Hans Kaspersetz with a Raritan Bay bass on his Sheri Berri from Highhands. Hans bass

 

 

Winds increasing

Small craft warnings go up at 6 p.m., before a switch to northwest winds gusting to 35 knots tomorrow — and a gale watch. That cold wind will result in freeze warnings in far northern areas, but surfcasters should be in good shape with winds from that direction.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano got a report from a friend about stripers in the 40-pound class being hooked in Raritan Reach. A boater out of Shark River Yacht Club  found lots of fluke waiting for the season to open in Shark River. Chris also heard about a bluefin tuna in the giant class being released short of the canyons recently. Scallop boats have been spotting bluefins following their nets.

Phil Fischer ran out to the rough bottom at Scotland this week from Highlands for a good catch of ling plus a small cod, and even an early sea bass that was released.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle noted that town’s beaches are open for anglers. IBSP is also open, and lots f small stripers are being caught on shucked clams which are also attracting the first blowfish.

John Bushell Jr. had sad news at Betty & Nick’s as his uncle George has passed away. He was the brother of the original Betty.

Lilly calls Raritan Bay a sure thing if you move around

Dave Lilly says he hasn’t had a bad day out of Keyport with stripers in Raritan Bay since the big fish arrived early on March 10.

The only problem is that the bass move around the bay. His advice is not to get locked into where you caught them the last trip.  He’s caught them everywhere except in the channels — and on both sides while trolling both Tony Maja mo-jos and bunker spoons.  Most of the bass he’s been releasing are in the 15-18-pound class.

Phil Fischer took advantage of Monday’s nice weather to find lots of action with 15 stripers in Shrewsbury River from his boat out of Highlands. There were more shorts than keepers, and they only kept one. Bunkers were plentiful, but there was no mention of blues which are usually plentiful there in May.

Betty & Nick’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports the local beach was opened today, and Lavallette was already open along with IBSP from dawn to dusk. Island Heights docks and bulkheads are open, and small stripers are plentiful in the bay — though there hasn’t been much word of blues.

News12 TV reported the opening of Belmar beaches coming up on Friday.

Thursday looks good with northwest winds at 10-15 knots that shift to southwest in the afternoon.

No sign of stripers in the ocean

Chuck Many has been catching lots of stripers every time he runs his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands out into Raritan Bay. That indicates the Hudson River stock is in good shape just before heading up the river to spawn. However, today he decided to check for even bigger bass coming up the coast from Chesapeake Bay.

Chuck ended up below Manasquan without seeing any signs of bird action or bass readings during what turned out to be a very chilly day in the northwest wind.

The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant every year sets aside a few canyon trips for active and retired military. Now they will do the same with a free trip for the doctors, nurses, EMTs and others who have been on the front lines fighting the pandemic. Call Adam La Rosa at 732 272-4445 about this opportunity.

Party and charter boat organizations in N.J. have been proposing social distancing restrictions on their boats that will allow them to get back into business, and the Big Jamaica from Brielle is hoping to take reservations for the May 15 sea bass opener. Though many organizations support the resumption of party and charter boat fishing, I haven’t noticed any indication from Gov. Murphy that he would consider such a thing.

The surf is flat with the northwest winds, but it’s predicted to go east at 10-15 knots by morning before gusting to 30 in the afternoon along with showers.

 

 

 

R.I.P. Capt. Stan Zagleski

The N.J. party boat fleet is being hit hard this month, though not entirely by the pandemic. I got word today that Capt. Stan Zagleski Sr., of Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands has passed away.

The information I have at present is that Stan broke his hip, but in the hospital they found him “full of cancer” — and he never got out.

Stan specialized in catching doormat fluke, even though he didn’t normally drift the rocky bottoms. I’m sure that Stan ,Jr. will carry on the tradition when party boat fishing resumes.

Though west winds are gusting to 30 knots this evening, they are predicted to drop to 5-10 in the morning before shifting to southeast in the afternoon.

 

First bluefish report

The Fischers not only caught stripers in the river yesterday from their boat in Highlands, but also added the first two bluefish I’ve heard of so far. Phil said they caught at least 20 stripers up a 15-pounder.

I didn’t have to wait for any fishing reports today, as it’s been blowing and raining all the time.  The lone positive has been the lack, so far, of the thunderstorms and a possible tornado that were also forecast. Winds did get up to about 70 mph off Atlantic City.

Storm warnings should come down at 6 p.m., and winds will turn to west with gusts to 30 knots after midnight before dropping to northwest at  10-15 knots plus gusts to 25 in the morning. That should start calming the 10-to-15-foot waves down a bit.

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.