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.

White Marlin Invitational coming up

The 49th annual Beach Haven White Marlin Invitational is coming up from July 24 to 26.

With Little Egg Inlet now back to a navigable inlet, there should be a lot more boats sailing out of Beach Haven, but the Manasquan River weigh-in alternative at Hoffman’s Marina will also be available. To sign up and get details visit http://www.TheWMIT.com.

While many other areas across the country have been complaining about extreme weather, we’ve had an exceptionally pleasant summer so far. That may be modified Sunday morning by some showers and possible thunder storms, but there appears to be a lot more good weather after that.

Today’s weather was almost too nice for the Big Mohawk from Belmar. They complained about a lack of drift, but still managed a decent catch up to a 7-pound fluke. They’ll be sailing at 6 a.m. through Monday.

Surprisingly, there were no fluke reports from Raritan Bay by 6 p.m. The Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands did report a good fluke catch on Friday. There were  a couple of limits — including the one below by Iris Rivera of Saddle Brook.


Iris Rivera

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had another good day with sea bass as two-fish limits were no problem along with some fluke, ling and mackerel. They gave the latter a good try, but they were fussy and only a few were caught. The Jamaica from Brielle had lots of variety action on Friday that included sea bass, plenty of mackerel, and some fluke and blues. They sail daily at 6:30 a.m.

Capt. Vinny Vetere continues to limit out with large stripers on his  Katfish from Great Kills even when he has to work through dogfish and skates to get them.

Shark River school stripers weren’t quite as active this morning, but I picked four on a small paddletail jig that included a 25-incher which was the largest I’ve released there so far. Tommy Cox was casting a popper in another part of the river when a school of 4-pound blues came by to provide surface action along with a striper among then. Vinny D’Anton got into small bass with the Storm Searchbait and released six.

Jim Louro of Spring Lake took Matt, a friend from Long Island to his local beach for sand flea fishing. After Jim caught a schoolie on a shad lure, Matt made his first striper trip a success by catching a 26 1/2-incher on the crabs — but kept fishing and ended up with a 29-inch keeper. Vinny and I also gave it a short try as he missed one hit and I landed a 21-inch bass.

Where did all the mackerel go?

While cleaning my office on a rainy day, I came across one of my old logbooks and opened it up to April 25, 1970 to see what I was catching on that Saturday when I was still living on Long Island. It turned out that I fished with a couple of friends on their boat out of Jones Inlet as I jigged 102 mackerel and two herring.

That was just a routine day of spring mackerel jigging then, and in almost every other spring after I started saltwater fishing. Huge schools of mackerel started their northern migration off Virginia, and moved steadily up the coast during April before ending up in New England waters within a few weeks. Some years were better than others, but catching 100 or more a man was routine, and party boat fleets thrived on the great fishery for both food and a freezer full of bait for the months to come.

The foreign fleets caught millions of pounds and put a big dent in that fishery, but mackerel did come back after the 200-mile limit went into effect.  Yet, foreign fleets were allowed to continue taking mackerel if they participated in joint ventures with American trawlers. NOAA Fisheries considered mackerel to be underfished at that time, but after a few more years the spring runs diminished and then virtually disappeared even as NOAA Fisheries kept setting large quotas that weren’t being filled. When I called them about this, they admitted to be using an old stock assessment. There were some years when there was a good winter mackerel run off the N.J and L.I coasts, but even that has died out — and party boat skippers who used to run experimental trips for mackerel in the spring now don’t even bother. From millions of fish to none at all!

Due to today’s weather, there have been no reports. There was a very good one about surf stripers that came in after last night’s blog. Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno from Point Pleasant cast Kettle Creek paddletail jigs in the Ocean County surf to release dozens of small bass in a spot where they never got a hit the afternoon before when the surf was calm.  A bit of white water turned the stripers  on, though the largest was only 22 inches.  It may take another day for the surf to settle and clear.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park has been reporting small bass in the surf for over a week, and Betty & Nick’s notes the surf temperature has warmed to 50 degrees.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar will be sailing for stripers at 7:30 a.m. Thursday.

There is a thick fog warning until 7 a.m. before a west wind kicks in.

The first two stripers caught last Thursday morning on bunker chunks before release from Ty Man in Raritan Bay

Ty Man morning stripers