A remora record in the family

Connor Correll was bottom fishing off Islamorada in the Florida Keys yesterday with his father Todd (my nephew) on their Sea Vee 39 when he reeled up the biggest remora they’d ever seen. Todd checked the IGFA record with his cell phone, and then called me to ask if it would be legal since it came up snagged  — which is very common with remoras due to their small mouth.

I checked the IGFA rule book, which states that only deliberately snagging is a disqualification, and also called the office in Dania Beach, Florida to be sure.

Connor  had been holding the fish alongside in the water while Todd was calling me, and I assured them there was no other fish except an eel that would survive better in a live well as they are also called sharksuckers.

Remoras are oceanic hitchhikers who use a laminated disc on top of the head to grab a free ride with not only sharks but with whales, billfish and almost anything else bigger than themselves.  Natives in many tropical areas around the world learned to tie a line to them and let them swim to a sea turtle they wanted for food.

There’s little information about this relatively common species in the reference books I use, but The Many Splendored Fishes of the Atlantic Coast by Gar Goodson notes that they grow to 3 1/2 feet. However, they are skinny. I’ve encoutered quite a few at times while chumming for yellowtail snappers in the ocean and while casting jigs tipped with shrimp  inshore along the Keys, but  most looked to be about 2 to 3 pounders. The current IGFA all-tackle record is 5 1/2 pounds from Cat Cay in the Bahamas in 2002.

Todd  ran into Bud N’ Mary’s Marina at Islamorada to record an official 7 1/2 pounds to clearly set a new standard after the necessary papers, line samples and photos are accepted by the IGFA.

remora

Conner, a student at Baylor University and a skilled competitive sailing  champion, should be joining me in the IGFA world record list with my 6-pound round whitefish from Putahow River Manitoba, Canada in 1984 and a 27 1/2-pound leather bass on a Tady jig from the Royal Polaris off Isla Clarion, Mexico in 1988. Both of those fish were also surprises caught while seeking other species.

Though southwest winds are gusting to 25 knots tonight and some rain is expected, the morning forecast is better with west winds at just 10 knots before switching to northwest with gusts to 25 knots in the afternoon.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Large stripers turn on in Raritan Bay

It isn’t even April yet, but large stripers haveJoe Massa first bass turned on to lures in Raritan Bay.

Joe Massa made a short trip yesterday afternoon with his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina. After only catching small bass on worms, he decided to troll a Rapala X-15 diving plug and soon hooked into a 31-inch bass.

That fishing exploded today. The Tackle Box in Hazlet reported that Andrew and Kenny Dubman had lots of bass up to a 30-pounder while casting shads, and Capt. Johnny Bucktails had a similar report from Just Sayin’ out of Keyport.  E. Brem from Oceanport reported doubleheaders trolling mo-jos. Matt Calabria continues to catch stripers up to a 30-incher from shore using his wormballs.

Wormball bass

Jerry Lasko fished the bay side at Bay Head yesterday evening as Maren Toleno broke the ice for the spring with a 14-inch striper.

I was holding off writing up the annual IGFA Fund-raising Banquet in Spring Lake Heights next month while expecting to get a cancellation notice due to the pandemic — which did come from Jeff Merrill today.

The annual Spring Lake Trout Contest for kids also had to be cancelled.

The weather is turning on us with southeast gusts to  20 knots tonight plus rain. Thursday starts with east winds at 10-15 knots plus gusts to 20 before dropping to northeast at 5-10 along with rain in the afternoon.