Poor start to Sandy Hook surfcasting

Allen Riley and Duke Matero made their first Sandy Hook surfcasting effort of the year this morning, and had pretty good conditions with a calm surf and enough water.  Though Lot A is closed, there were other lots available at the southern end on a chilly, but pleasant day. Allen fished sandworms and Duke used fresh bunker chunks, but they didn’t even have a tap.

There was better surf  news from Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park. All of the local beach is open to anglers, and lots of short stripers are being hooked on small pieces of fresh shucked clam. It’s the same story at IBSP, where the hours are from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Admission is free, but a 2020 permit is required in order to drive the beach.

Mark Roy started off this morning with his Release Me from Raritan Marina in Hazlet off the Navy Pier, but only saw small stripers being caught there. After only catching one there, and not getting any hits from swirling bass, he ran to the back of the bay  where trolling mo-jos produced better-sized stripers for Robert and Jacob Foehner of Warren even though there was no sign of bunkers. The fish count was up to eight when I talked to him at 5 p.m.

The Thursday morning forecast looks good with a northeast breeze at just 5 knots before going south in the afternoon at 15-20 with gusts to 25 knots plus 4-6-foot seas.

The latest standings in the Hudson River Fisherman’s Association Catch & Release  contest (supplied by Joe Albanese) were topped by a 42.5-inch boat striper that was also the Calcutta leader. The largest from shore was a 34-incher, and a 29-inch bass from shore was the largest released with a tag.

 

 

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.

Still time for anglers to enter Friday’s Manhattan Cup

The weather forecast for the revival of the Manhattan Cup on Friday looks great, with sunshine and light west winds. That should be a big change from many of the past events which were held earlier in the spring. The first I fished featured wind and rain which turned to sleet — before ending in thunder and lightning. I’m looking for a much nicer day Friday in the contest to benefit wounded warriors which will be held at the much more accessible Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City.  There’s still room for anglers on charter and private boats that were volunteered for the fundraiser being promoted by the Recreational Fishing Alliance.  Any angler wishing to join in the fishing and the festivities from breakfast to a big dinner and prize party at Liberty Landing Restaurant should call Capt. Frank Crescitelli at 917 468-4817 or Gary Caputi  at 732 740-9982.

Fluke fishing was surprisingly tough today.  Capt. Stan Zagleski expected much better with a extra hour of outgoing in the morning, but the early bite on Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands didn’t hold up.  There were some limits, and decent keepers (as shown below), but shorts dominated.

Elaine B Weds, fluke

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Ron Santee  of the Fishermen reported it was a pick for a couple of hanfulls of keepers among many shorts. One angler released 14 shorts. The pool went to a 4.3-pound fluke.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc had a similar story on his Sea Hunter as he had to do a lot of moving for a few limits up to 4 pounds while some fares only caught shorts.

At Belmar, both the Golden Eagle and Miss Belmar Princess jigged some fussy small blues early before switching to sea bass to add to the catch.

Capt. Vinny Vetere was disappointed in the striper trolling from his Katfish out of Great Kills as only smaller bass up to 25 pounds cooperated even though he stayed out an extra hour. He’s open both Thursday and Friday.

 

Vinny D’Anton of Wall had a fine morning of shore fishing when he caught a couple of stripers up to a 25 1/2-incher and four cocktail blues on his Chug Bug in Shark River before going to a local beach to fish with sand fleas. After starting with a short, the bass turned on and he kept a 28-incher before staying much longer than expected to end up with six up to 31 and 35-inch releases. His bass had calico crabs in its stomach along with some sand fleas and a clam-baited hook from some unfortunate angler who has probably been telling stories about the big one that got away.  I got to the river late, but was surprised by a 21 1/2-inch stripers that blasted a relatively large Tactical Anglers Bomb Jr. popper, and also released a small blue that destroyed a Kettle Creek soft plastic.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported that surfcasters fishing clams for mostly short stripers are catching ever-larger black drum up to over 26 pounds. The only surf blues have been hitting bunker chunks.

Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno of Point Pleasant cast poppers on the bay side of IBSP in the morning, but the only hit came from a houndfish that grabbed Maren’s popper. Those tropical needlefish aren’t normally seen this far north until late summer.