Some school tuna within small boat range.

Phil Fischer yesterday proved that a small boater can both get into some tuna action without running 90 miles offshore — and without $125 sidetracker spreader bars.

He ran east from Highlands toward the HA Buoy and trolled old-fashioned red/white feathers plus a couple of small Green Machines. As the HA came within sight, a short bluefin was released. That was followed by two more short releases before a 47-incher was boated. Trolling along the edge of the Mud Hole produced a bonito, and the two more on a course to the Farms.

Joe Massa had a good shot of New York Harbor stripers one day this week when he released eight on bunkers. However, today was a different story when I joined him on My Three Sons from Morgan Marina, We had no trouble netting bunkers, and there wasn’t the crowd we expected to see on a Sunday morning. Best of all, there were plenty of marks. Yet, the bass we were marking didn’t seem interested in live bunkers. Even staying into the start of the outgoing didn’t help much as I managed just a fat 30-inh striper and dropped another, while Joe released a 27 1/2-incher and lost two others. We also missed a few hits as it appeared that we were into small bass with big baits.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported Saturday’s bluefishing was slow though some bonito were mixed in and jigging produced some quality sea bass.

The forecast is for west winds at 5-10 knots, going to south in the afternoon when thunder storms are possible.

Summer stripers cooperate in N.Y. Harbor

The spring run of stripers in the N.Y. Harbor area has long been over, but some bass can be caught all summer if you have patience and knowledge — which is what Chuck Many has plenty of. I had missed all the early fishing due to the pandemic, but made up for some of that when I joined Chuck on his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands at 4:30 a.m. That timing turned out t be critical as the first stop provided a few marks before the anchor was dropped. Chunking only attracted smooth dogfish at first, but bass were there also. We had to release 15 dogfish in order to release four hefty summer bass from 16 to 28 pounds — and later added a 34-incher on a live bunker on the surface,

All of those bass were bright stripers without a mark on them, and none needed any help to shoot away when released. Surprisingly, the usually abundant small stripers in the Hudson and East rivers showed no respect for Chuck’s $90 a flat sandworms and we caught only two small fluke and a 14 3/4-inch porgy with them.

Bob Correll reported a successful school tuna trip on Mike Heaney’s new Cabo 42 from Clarks Landing in Point Pleasant as the crew trolled 15 “unders” near the Texas Tower. Two much larger bluefins were lost as one broke 80-pound line after a long battle, while another was eaten by a big shark near the boat.

Also at Clarks, the Canyon Runner reported continued great canyon trolling with catches such as seven bigeyes, 13 yellowfins and a big blue marlin for the Mike Davie party. The Peter Wilcox party had an 400-pound class giant tuna. One open boat seat has opened up for July 8-9. Call 732 272-4445.

Frank Criscola is back from Florida with his Crisdel out of Brielle Yacht Club. Capt. Chris De Stefano was part of the crew this week when they trolled the Carteret for six yellowfins and a blue marlin before releasing a 50-70-pound daytime swordfish — the first reported to this blog so far.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar picked away at small blues with some limit catches over the weekend, and had a few fat bonito mixed in. Today they started inshore for bigger blues , but had a hard time hooking them. There were shots of the smaller blues offshore though they didn’t last long.

Phil Fischer looked for a big fluke on the weekend out of Highlands, but was instead surprised by a 25-pound black drum on a strip of squid. A move out to Scotland resulted in good ling fishing — and he just made it back as the rain hit.

Hot canyon tuna trolling

The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant has been off to a great start on their spring tuna trolling in Lindenkohl Canyon, as noted in the following message

109 Tuna in First Three Canyon Trips
Capt. Deane Lambros & Capt. Mike Zajac followed up their first trip of 39 tuna by going back out Monday to Tuesday with the Wallance Vicknar charter and found the bluefins right where they had left them. They went two out of three on bigeyes and had seven yellowfins. Out of 15 bluefins they kept a 60-incher and three around 30 pounds while releasing the rest.

The big trip so far this week was with another Canyon Runner Coaching and Fishing Report Member who was looking for a tutorial charter. Mike Bonnano and his crew didn’t have much time for lessons on gear, tackle, electronics etc. – as soon as they got on site – around the Toms Canyon – they had 4-5-6 fish on at a time.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a decent sea bass trip today as some limits were taken before it got very windy. There is some room on afternoon weekend trips.

That 25 knot southwest wind should drop to 10-15 by morning along with possible showers.

The Jamaica from Brielle reported a boat limit of sea bass yesterday along with some ling, a few whiting and couple of bluefish. That have reservations open for 7:30 a.m. Monday.

Fluke reports are still hard to come by from the Raritan Bay fleet. Capt. Stan Zagleski Jr. of Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands notes that it’s been slow, with almost all the fluke being caught in very shallow waters that are the warmest.

Warming waters a good sign for fluking to north

There haven’t been many reports coming from the northern fluke fleet, but there was a good sign today when Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands reported he finally read 60 degrees at one point.

There were more small fluke biting today, but all of the action was in no more than 18 feet. A 4-pounder won the pool.

Sea bass fishing is holding up for Shore party boats. The Jamaica from Brielle had a good trip yesterday, and will be sailing at 7:30 except for a Sea Bass Marathon at 6 a.m. Friday. Reservations are a must.

Jon Falkowski of Linden fished aboard the Golden Eagle from Belmar today and reported that six of the 25 sea bass he caught were keepers while he also added a  fluke and a ling. The boat report also noted whiting were caught.They have room for reservations on upcoming trips, including Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Bob Correll fished in Manasquan Rive near the canal yesterday afternoon and boated his first bluefish of the season on a shad, He also tried poppers and metal, but had no hits. There were other boats in the area, but nothing was being caught,

Phil Fischer fished the Scotland Grounds out of Highlands earlier in the week to release blackfish before boating sea bass to 3 or 4 pounds plus ling and some whiting. Mackerel were present at mid-depths.

A dense fog  advisory is up  until 11 a.m.  A southeast wind at 5-10 knots increases to south at 10-15 with gusts to 20 knots in the afternoon.

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.