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Capt. Ron switches to sea bass

Fluke fishing so far has been so poor in the Raritan Bay area that there haven been few reports. Therefore, Capt. Ron Santee decided to spend today fishing for sea bass and ling which provided fish in all bags and happier faces peeping out behind masks. Therefore, the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands will be sailing for sea bass and ling until there are better prospects for fluke.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a beautiful day with many sea bass limits plus ling today.

Bob Correll reported there were lots of small blues and hickory shad hitting jigs in Manasquan Inlet this morning. He then ran his Sea Vee out to Axel Carlsen Reef where he’d had a good pick of sea bass during has last trip, but found it to be dead. There was a mob of boats on Sea Girt Reef and few fish, though his wife Mary Agnes struggled with a big fish that turned to be a skate.

Capt. Arthur Stokes made an afternoon trip that produced sea bass and ling before a 40-45-pound striper hit a Tony Maja bunker spoon and was released off Allenhurst.

Good fishing weather is coming up with northwest winds at 10-15 knots plus gusts to 20 in the morning before calming to just 5-10 knots in the afternoon.

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.

Sea bass still a best bet

The beat goes on for boaters seeking sea bass.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported another very good day with limits around the boat plus some ling, fluke and whiting. Call them for reservations which are required.

On the other hand, there are still no reports coming in from the northern fluke party boat fleet.

Nick Honachefsky boated a 5-pound fluke while fishing in Manasquan Inlet on Jim Louro’s Vicky Lynn during yesterday morning’s fog. They also had two more keeper fluke plus 20 shorts — and added 3-pound blues on poppers.

The Seaside Park shops are reporting better surf fishing from there to IBSP.  Grumpy’s noted that one angler caught over 15 small blues. Mullet and bunker are best for them, but some are also hitting artificials. Small stripers are hitting clam, and a 16.5-pound black drum was reported. At this time last year, Grumpy’s weigh-in log was full of jumbo blues ,— but so far it’s been empty.

The wind came up earlier than predicted this morning and blew away the fog. Fog is predicted again in the morning along with south winds at 15-20 knots and possible showers.

 

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.

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.

Bumpy morning turns out well

The only report I could find today came from the Golden Eagle out of Belmar which reported a bumpy start before an unexpected calming of the ocean which resulted in a good catch of sea bass along with some ling and winter flounder.  Some anglers anglers managed sea bass limits.

The Queen Mary did not sail from Point Pleasant, but will be going Monday.

The Jamaica from Brielle is sold out for Memorial Day, but is taking reservations for Tuesday and the rest of the week.

There was a lack of wind and poor drifting conditions for the Raritan Bay fluke fleet yesterday, but no reports today when there was east wind that should have been good in Sandy Hook Bay.

The Little Hawk from Atlantic Highlands posted a video of releasing a 52-pound striper on Friday which was far larger than this year’s 38 inch maximum  in N.J. waters.

Capt. Jim Freda reports it’s been slow developing, but he got into bluefish Friday in Manasquan River with his Shore Catch.

Freda blue

Small craft warnings are up tonight with northeast gusts to 20 knots, but it’s forecast to drop to east at just 5-10 knots by morning as seas settle to 3 to 5 feet.

 

Ling bite in the rain

A few claps of thunder early in the morning and some rain may have scared off most anglers as there are hardly any reports today.

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle noted a slow start again due to a strong current, but once that slowed down the sea bass hit — and there were many more ling than yesterday.  The Big Mohawk only noted that they had a good day. They had limited on sea bass during Friday’s trip while adding ling and the first whiting I’ve heard of in a long time.

There were no fluke reports from the northern fleet, but Nick Honachefsky caught a keeper yesterday in Manasquan Inlet along with shorts in just 1 1/2 hours of fishing.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano was expecting to do much better with fluke yesterday in Shark River but instead found a mass of boats and only one keeper for his crew among 32 fluke.

Kevin Kuriawa made the right move by fishing the south end of Barnegat Bay with Andy Hoydich as they boated four keeper fluke and released others that were close. Andy caught a small bluefish, and it was fillets from that fish on bucktails that produced all the fluke despite an abundance of grass.

The Mimi VI will sail open from Point Pleasant at 6:30 a.m. on Monday and Friday. The limited trip for sea bass costs $120. Reservations must be made by calling 732 370-9019.

Small craft warnings go up at 6 p.m. into late  Sunday night. Northeast winds gust to 30 knots tonight, but drop to 15-20 by morning before switching to east at 10-15 knots in the afternoon.

Slow start to NJ fluke

It was a beautiful day for fishing, but I didn’t get many reports of hot fishing.

The only report from the northern fluke boats came from Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. He said it started very slowly, with only a couple of shorts before the tide turned and brought in warmer waters from the river. After that they picked away with a couple of fares bagging their three fluke limit. A 3-pounder took the pool. Santee emphasized the importance of reserving a spot as Gov. Murphy is allowing only up to 25 anglers on a party boat.

Bob Correll had to work his way through a fluke fleet to get out of Manasquan River with his Sea Vee to fish Axel Carlsen Reef for a pick of sea bass on the drift. He heard on the radio that some boaters did well with fluke in the back, though the mob working the inlet did little. Some cocktail blues were also caught in the river.

Capt. Arthur Stokes fished Shark River with his 16-foot trailered boat as his son (8) boated the only keeper among shorts. There had been lots of fluke there before the season opened, but Arthur said the water felt very cold.

Party boat sea bass reports were better. At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer limited out as jigs and sand eel teasers worked best. Some ling and a few cod were also caught. The morning trip is sold out, but there are openings on the 3:30 p.m. weekend sailings.

The Golden Eagle reported a slow start in a strong current before they ended up with many limits of sea bass plus ling.

Frank Huza of Aberdeen made the long walk at Sandy Hook to find cold water and both sides of the tip closed to all uses. He saw the fleet of party and private boats drifting off the Bug Light. That spot will be even more crowded Sunday as it’s perfect in a northeast wind which is predicted for the afternoon after starting at just 5 knots from the east. The wind builds up to 10-15 northeast with gusts to 20 knots. Showers are also forecast.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported Monday was the best surf day with many 22-to- 27-inch stripers caught on clam and bunker, though lures weren’t producing. Small blues have been best in the south end of the bay, along with good numbers of blowfish.

John Bushell, Jr. at Betty & Nick’s said he’s heard that large blues are hitting in the bay, though only at night.

 

Trophy tuna closes tonight – NJ fluke starts tomorrow

If you want to boat a Trophy giant tuna in the Angling category, you’d better get right out there now as the northern Trophy allowance will be closed at 11:30 p.m. — and through Dec. 31. That classification for permitted boats allows for the one giant that can’t be sold and is often quickly filled. Thus, the surprising run of inshore giants in NY/NJ Bight will now be catch and release.  However, the new bluefin rules allow private boaters one large medium from 47 inches up to below the giant minimum of 73 inches — and two of that size for charter boats.

Of more interest to most anglers in N.J., the fluke season opens tomorrow with lots of that species having already been released in the coastal rivers. The regulations are the same as last year — with three at an 18-inch minimum being the bag limit.

Ocean waters are still cold(the Weather Service listed 47 degrees at Point Pleasant), but it should be much warmer in the rivers and bays — especially on outgoing tides.

No Shore party boat has indicated to me that they’ll be fluking right away, as sea bass are a much better target at present. The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported “crushing” sea bass today, with many scoring limits (10) of 12 1/2-inch minimum bass along with ling. The Golden Eagle from Belmar will be sailing for sea bass at 7 a.m. — and also on their first magic hours trip at 4:30 p.m., which will be repeated Sunday afternoon.

The Raritan Bay fluke fleet will be out in force tomorrow.  As with the ocean boats, reservations are required for boats that will fill up quickly due to limited capacities and social distancing. Masks will be required, and possibly also gloves. Don’t expect any special fares under these conditions. Check for new sailing times.

Drifting conditions should be good with a south-southeast wind of about 11 knots on a sunny, cool day. More wind is forecast for Saturday with 18 knots from the north-northeast. That should be perfect for the Bug Light drift at Sandy Hook.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano said the report he got this morning was that the striper fishing was slow for the second day in a row.  Those fish should be spawning in the Hudson River aroud this time.

Surfcasters should find better conditions tomorrow with chest high waves forecasted, it’s questionable if surf waters will have cleared by then.

 

Gale warning for tomorrow

No sooner did party and charter boats in N.J. get a chance to sail again than the weather is going to shut them out for a couple of days.

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle and Ocean Princess both reported good sea bass fishing today along with ling and some pollock and winter flounder, but the small craft warnings up now will go to a gale watch through Tuesday afternoon. It will be northeast 20-25 knots by morning along with gusts to 40 — plus 7-10-foot seas.  The Golden Eagle, which also pursued some bluefish reports to no avail,  has canceled through Thursday.  The Ocean Explorer has only called off trips through Wednesday so far. At least it now appears we’re not going to get much rain from Arthur. Photo below reflects Covid-19 bottom fishing variety on the Golden Eagle.

GE-COVID 19

It looks better for the opening of the fluke season on Friday. Capt. Chris Di Stefano saw a boat with a hook & line commercial fluke permit loading up in Sandy Hook Bay today, while shore anglers were casting for cocktail blues.  Unfortunately for Chris, he was in the bay because the Raritan Bay striper bite was off. His friend from Highlands had lots of releases Sunday, but bunker spoons only produced a large male of 22 pounds that had an eel in its stomach. Chris said he only saw one other bass caught, and a couple of charter boats that braved a run to the Romer Shoal area came back quickly. Chris noted that some bass were trolled in the ocean on Sunday.

Phil Fischer said he was trolling bass in Raritan Bay yesterday morning before moving into Sandy Hook Bay where two 30-pounders hit. He noted that those bass had a lavender coloration which is typical of stripers migrating in from the ocean.