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.

Pres. Trump signed billfish Conservation Act

 

President Trump Signs Amended Billfish Conservation Act!
Wild Oceans reports : We are happy to report that on August 2nd, President Trump signed into law HR 4528, the amended Billfish Conservation Act, closing a loophole in the 2012 act that allowed billfish caught under a “traditional fisheries” exemption for the Hawaiian islands to be sold in the mainland U.S., contrary to the BCA’s original intent.

Wild Oceans and IGFA began a campaign 10 years ago to Take Marlin off The Menu because we believe the future of these magnificent fish is not for sale. At the time, the United States was the largest importer of billfish.  The strengthened Billfish Conservation Act now ensures that no marlin, sailfish or spearfish can be sold in the continental United States, no matter where they are caught.

Today’s unpredicted east blow plus heavy rain probably kept everyone in this morning, but the ocean became fishable in the afternoon. Light west to southwest winds are forecasted for days to come. and the chance of showers ends on Wednesday,

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reports that the Sunday afternoon trip produced keeper sea bass among the shorts plus a large fluke and some chub mackerel.

The Jamaica from Brielle  started out with small blues Sunday morning along with a few bonito — then got blues back in the slick before chub mackerel took over. Kevin Zhong of Edison won the pool with a 7-pound bonito while adding a limit of 3-to-4-pound blues, several ling and lots of chubs.

Paul Haertel of the JCAA took his boat offshore to seek tuna for the first time in about 25 years last weekend and was delighted to boat a yellowfin tuna plus a dolphin.d

Capt. John Contello had a boat limit of fluke Sunday on his Just Sayin’ from Keyport. Included was the boat’s largest of the season — an 11-pound doormat that was a personal best for Mike Morgan.

Mike Morgan 11-lb on Just Syin.jpg

Vinny D’Anton figured Shark River would be a good place to hide from the northeaster this morning, but the only problem was a lack of fish in those protected waters.

Joe Melillo of Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant was hoping for another blast of Spanish mackerel this morning at Bay Head, but turned around after getting a blast from that east wind.

 

Please ignore empty boxes

JCAA Fluke Tournament coming up Saturday

The Jersey Coast Anglers Association (JCAA) 24th annual  Fluke Tournament will be contested statewide on Saturday. This is the ideal contest for the world’s worst fluke anglers as they have as good a chance as anyone to win the biggest prize. Even those who never weigh a fluke are eligible to win the grand prize at the awards party on Thursday Aug. 9 in the Clarion Hotel on Rt. 37 East, Toms River. They’ll be able to enjoy free sliders, hot dogs and sodas while waiting for the boat number to be called for many valuable prizes up to the grand prize of a 14-foot StarCraft with 10 hp Yamaha and Yacht Club trailer.  It seems that most years the boat ends up being won by someone who never entered a fluke.

If you do manage to catch a fluke, there are lots of rewards for doing so. The tournament is contested separately at  seven regions with 10 prizes at each ranging from $1,200 cash for first through nine merchandise awards.

The potential is much greater than that as an additional $25 added to the $160 per boat entry fee makes you eligible for $50,000 cash by catching the contest’s largest fluke exceeding 12 pounds.  Then there are both port and overall Calcuttas.  Ten-year-old Dylan Cole was the overall winner last year and collected $12,881.

The regions to choose from are Jersey City, Sandy Hook, Shark River, Manasquan River, Barnegat Bay, Long Beach Island — and the Southern Region covering the former ports of Great Bay, Ocean City, Atlantic City, Cape May and Fortescue.

Enter online by visiting http://www.jcaa.org with your credit card. The phone number is 732 506-6565.

Today was another beautiful one the water, and Capt. Ron Santee was pleased with the fluke results on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands.  He had a pick of quality fluke and short sea bass most of the day before ending up with a flurry as a few fares finished with two keepers. Vic Babin led from the morning with a 6.4-pound fluke, but for the second day in a row the pool went to a fluke caught in overtime — a 6.9-pounder. The biggest excitement of the day was the loss of a doormat estimated at 10 to 12 1/2 pounds that came up tangled in the line and rolled free as the nets were coming. The Fishermen is chartered Saturday.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc had a letdown on his Sea Hunter from that port after yesterday’s 11.88-pound doormat by Willie Meyer and a good pick of keepers. It was mostly shorts in the same areas today,

Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst had a good report for his crew as they fished with Capt. Greg Fabrizzi on Manic out of  Keyport. They fished the ocean in the Sea Bright area and had lots of action. Matraxia didn’t get to catch a doormat, but he weighed a 29-incher at 10 pounds on his Boga Grip though it was on the thin side. Steve Lurria had the hot hand as he bucktailed the doormat among five of keeper size. Marty Nowinski was delighted with his largest fluke so far — an 8-pounder. Tank said there weren’t a lot of fish, but the quality was good. He had a 21-inch fluke and a legal  sea bass, while placing ALS tags in 13 short fluke.

Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina that Bob Crisci from Philadelphia weighed a 6.4-pound fluke that he caught on the Ocean Explorer.  It’s been mostly short fluke in the river but snappers are building up and make great baits for big fluke.

Indeed, John Mazzeo of South Plainfield can testify to that after surfcasting yesterday at Sandy Hook. Allen Riley went home earlier and reported that they hadn’t caught any fluke on live snappers. Yet, Mazzeo stayed later and landed a 25-inch fluke which is his personal best from the surf.

There was some life in Shark River this morning — except on the end of my rod. I had one impressive blow-up  on a Chug Bug , but never raised another. Vinny D’Anton caught three small bass on a 7 1/2-inch Sluggo and a Zoom jig before releasing a 24-inch bass on a Chug Bug.  Frank Manzi waded in another direction and his one hit on a popper turned out to be the release of a striper that might have made 28 inches. Bill Hoblitzell got a shot of action on the fly with school bass and blues, but I didn’t break the ice until releasing a small bass on a Kettle Creek jig just before leaving.

There’s some south wind coming Wednesday afternoon, but the morning should be fishable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rain & wind coming Wednesday, but it looks good after that

The weather from N.J. to Long Island isn’t looking good for Wednesday with rain and gusty winds in the forecast, but it’s supposed to be back to just 10 to 15 knots from the west for Thursday — and the weekend looks good.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands clammed in Raritan Bay today, but it was mostly short bass that responded. There were some keepers topped by Eric Nova’s 15-pounder. Capt. Rob Semkewyc won’t be sailing tomorrow due to the weather, but will be ready to go on Thursday.

Tank Matraxia and his crew from Lyndhurst fished with Capt. John Contello aboard Just Sayin from Keyport. After casting produced only one short, they switched to trolling mo-jos and limited out with keepers up to about 32 inches. Matraxia was also able to put ALS tags in five legal bass and a short. One of those bass had a fairly recent bite taken out of it — possibly by a seal. The action was in the back of the bay where there were lots of boats and kayaks.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk reported a good blackfish bite today, but won’t sail again until Thursday. The Ocean Explorer had good blackfishing Monday with some limits.

The Gambler has been getting out from Point Pleasant. but blackfishing has been slow so far due to cold waters. The Queen Mary starts striper fishing out of that port on Saturday.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reports small stripers are hitting in the surf on small pieces of bait and lures. An angler fishing bunker chunks reported losing a better fish in the wash. An ODM rod demo will be held at Grumpy’s on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

 

Sandy Hook Late April SunriseAllen Riley photo of Sandy Hook at dawn Monday. Don’t expect that tomorrow!

Ty Man catches first “20” in Raritan Bay

Chuck Many of Annandale, N.J. isn’t easily discouraged, even by a forecast of gale force winds, so he and Bob Bowden went down to his Ty Man in Gateway Marina, Highlands at dawn and found the only problem was fog covering a flat calm Raritan Bay. They had been catching lots of small stripers while clamming off Keyport, but this trip was completely different before the front blew them off the water. There were only a few hits, but Bowden caught the first 20-pound bass reported from the bay so far this spring. They also released a 30-incher and a bass only about 18 inches.  Many said the water temperature was in the narrow range of 44 to 45 degrees from the river to the bay. No bunkers were spotted in the bay, but gannets were diving in the ocean.

first 20

Capt. Chris De Stefano of Wall said he got a report of a big bluefish being caught in the Navesink River.

Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina, said the weather has made for tough fishing, but he finally saw six winter flounder caught from the docks on Sunday.  The Atlantic Highlands store isn’t open yet, but anglers fishing from shore in Raritan Bay have been catching school stripers.

Fly rod pro, Joe Blaze of Brielle, holder of IGFA fly rod world records for bigeye trevally, turned his attention to bonefish from March 13-18, 2018. He reports “Fished Grand Bahama Island East End Lodge and Little Abaco for bonefish and mutton snapper as a guest of Joe Jefferson Club members including Henry Matri, Peter Marron, Sean Davis, Bob LaViano, Bob Hekemian and Rich Pellizzi.  Weather and water was cool [65-75F], but significantly improving after the prior week of rain and overcast.  Fishing and catching was excellent with each member landing many bonefish each day.  A few permit spotted and one landed.  Several mutton snapper landed too.  Flies were the usual types including Crazy Charlie, Gotcha, Clouser minnows. ” 

I’ll be holding a fishing tackle garage sale with loads of new and used gear at 1552 Osprey Ct., Manasquan Park, NJ 08736 on April 14-15. More information will follow as the event gets closer.

Raritan Bay stripers turning on

The one bit of good local fishing news around the snow, rain and wind came from The Tackle Box in Hazlet as they reported lots of short stripers and some keepers caught by shore anglers on worms over the weekend. Coleen Shea of Cranford landed a 33-incher Sunday night, and released five other bass. The shop also noted that the water temperature was up to 49 degrees, and lures were starting to work.

 

Tackle box striperCapt. Joe Massa didn’t have such good fortune Saturday when he made a brief attempt with frozen clam bellies on his new My Three Sons from Morgan Marina. He chummed in very shallow waters, and got the skunk off with a short striper off Union Beach. Joe talked to Capt. Freddy Gamboa, who tried trolling in the bay on Andrea’s Toy from Keyport without success.

Gale warnings are up for Wednesday.