Blue Runner moves into second in tuna at WMO

With the scales set to close shortly, and no boats expected, it appears that the highlight of Wednesday’s fishing in the 47th annual White Marlin Open was the 106-pound tuna on Blue Runner from Manasquan that put northern N.J. into a prize money position as they pushed Swords Fish back to third with their 92-pound tuna. Blue Runner has a potential payout of $395,000 if it holds up over the next four days. Restless Lady 2 remains first at 114.5 pounds.

A white marlin was weighed, but fell short of the 70-pound minimum at 67 1/2 pounds.

The two “fun fish” categories finally got an entry. Salt Lick weighed a 35.5-pound dolphin, and Magic Moment boated a 60.5-pound wahoo.

Looking for a big blue marlin in the MidAtlantic

While the other categories have had entries, there’s a big hole in the MidAtlantic tournament at Cape May and Ocean City, Maryland waiting for a blue marlin of at least 400 pounds to be caught during the last two days of the contest. For the first time in MidAtlantic history, all 157 boats decided to take a lay day with fine weather forecasted for the next two days. That was surprising as there are daily awards that a boat could do very well with for almost anything caught. With no weigh-ins, there will also be no late blog.

There have been quite a few blue marlin releases, but none have been close enough to even bring to the scale. The old 300-pound standard from the early days of what was then called the Mid-Atlantic $500,000 might have made a difference.

In 1995, it seemed that giant blues were becoming more common. I was fishing with Bernard and Drew Dinardi on their Absolut-Ly in the contest on Aug. 24 when a big blue came out of nowhere in the afternoon as I was the only angler in the cockpit. After a good battle, I boated what turned out to be a 503-pound blue that was only good enough for third at that point, and got knocked off the board the last day when the new leader was weighed.

I believe that was the only blue marlin over 500 pounds in MidAtlantic history that never won a penny — though combined with a blue release it did earn the Blue Marlin Points Trophy for Absolut-Ly. The minimum was then upped to 400 pounds as a conservation effort. but giant blues aren’t always available.

It looked yesterday evening as if lightning may have struck twice for Joe Rahman of Wanaque as his Auspicious came to the scale. Rahman won over $900,000 at the White Marlin Open with a first day 881-pound blue that swept the category, but this time there was only a white to be weighed — and it fell just a pound short of the 65-pound minimum to get on the board.

The volume of billfish releases has been excellent so far. Among the top release boats yesterday were Rhonda’s Osprey with two blues and three whites;  Texas Tea and Espadon with a blue and two whites; Canyon Lady with eight whites; Buckshot and Lights Out with seven whites; and both Business and Big Oil with six whites.

Billfisher is the overall points leader with 1507, ahead of 3’s Enough at 823; First Light 688.5; and Trust Me Too plus Reel Joy at 675.

Billfisher is also way in front of white marlin points with 1275, followed by Reel Joy, Trust Me Too and 3’s Enough at 675. In the Blue Marlin Points race, Southern C’s and Rhonda’s Osprey each have 300. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Capt. Mark De Blasio brought in five bigeye tuna yesterday on Blue Runner from Manasquan to take a strong lead in tuna points with 237.5 over Reel Estate with 131. However his biggest tuna of 114 pounds was tied by Toddy Time for second — and Da Sea took over first with a 116-pound entry.

There was a huge change in dolphin as First Light weighed a 43-pounder that may be hard to beat, putting them 10 pounds ahead of The Natural. The first two wahoo were a 71-pounder on The Zipper and a 46-pounder by Torta.

Andrew Hall of Chester, N.J. took over third in white marlin behind the two 73-pound leaders as his Lucky Lady Jean weighed a 68-pounder. Intents at 66 pounds and Gusto at a just eligible 65 pounds also got on the board.

Some party boats also took another day off, but the Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a boat limit of sea bass along with chub mackerel — though not as many as yesterday. The Ocean Explorer did well with fluke as experienced anglers limited. Mostly NW winds of 5 to 10 knots with two-foot seas are in the forecast up to Sunday

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported some cocktail blues were caught in the surf on metal yesterday, but fluking was the best bet.

Tom Spiller 23-inch 4.85-lb Tom Spicer beached this 23-inch, 4.85-pound fluke and weighed it Grumpy’s Tackle.

Despite a swell more pleasing to surfers, the surf at Manasquan was very fishable this morning though I never raised anything to a T.A. Bomb Jr. popper.

The Canyon Runner fleet at Point Pleasant has room on an open night chunking trip over the weekend. The cost per angler is $899 that covers everything– including food, drinks and tip.  Call Adam La Rosa at 732 272-4445.  Below is a Canyon Runner shot below of life in the canyons — whales, dolphins (mammals), tuna, shearwaters and tuna chicksCanyon Ruunner canyon life

 

 

 

Loads of small blues for boaters

It was just a few days ago that I was discussing the lack of bluefish this season with some other writers, but all that has changed for boaters. Shore party boats are running into whitewater action with mostly 1-to-3-pound blues as their anglers catch 15-fish limits quickly before the boats head offshore to chum large quantities of chub mackerel and possibly some slightly larger blues while hooking sea bass, ling and fluke on bottom. Joe Melillo of Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant said he counted 37 boats fishing in front of Manasquan Inlet during the middle of the morning.

A few bonito, Spanish mackerel and small little tunny may be mixed in with the blues. Surfcasters get shots at those fish, but the action is sporadic with low tides at dawn and dusk while beaches are full of bathers and parking is often impossible during the day. While fishing the Manasquan surf early this morning, I saw a young angler cast metal at some fish that popped up within casting range and catch two very small bonito.

Nick Honachefsky  managed to catch his first Spanish mackerel casting from shore in N.J. yesterday morning.

Nick Spanish.jpg

The Jamaica from Brielle had one of those slightly larger blues offshore yesterday when Bruce Bates of Philadelphia won the pool with a 4-pounder.

Atlantic Highlands party boats had to fight strong currents today in their quest for fluke.  Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen said he never had to work so hard with so little to show for it. The Ambrose current was strong on the bottom while running in the opposite direction on top. A run offshore resulted in more current problems, while there was no drift further inshore. There was finally a bite late in the day, but it was mostly shorts. Yet, the pool fluke was just under 7 pounds, and there were a couple of very large sea bass boated.  The Fishermen is chartered Friday morning.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc was also frustrated by the poor drifting conditions on his Sea Hunter, but put together a catch of keepers among the shorts.

Capt. Stan Zagleski  didn’t fight the current conditions and went into shallower waters to pick some keepers on Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reports it was such a nice day that there was little drift offshore. Fluking was way off from the previous day, but some fluke and sea bass were picked during short drifts on rock piles.

 

 

Still waiting for official results of WMO

Last night’s late blog summarized the major results of the White Marlin Open in Ocean City, Maryland, but I’m still waiting for the official results that were supposed to be sent today. Those would include the winners of  the release categories.

Now on to the 27th annual MidAtlantic Tournament out of Cape May from Aug. 19-24. That event had a $3.2 million purse last year. For info call 908  884-0177 — or e-mail southjerseytournaments.com.

Rain wasn’t much of a problem today along the Jersey Shore, though NYC and western Long Island got blasted.  The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported that rain held off all day,  and they caught lots of chub mackerel along with some sea bass,  ling, and fluke — plus even pollock and dolphin.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Ron Santee said there was more easterly wind than forecasted, ad it combined with a strong current to create a very fast drift  requiring heavy sinkers. As a result, fishing was off from Friday’s banner bite — though some quality fluke and sea bass were boated on the Fishermen.

Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant,  reports bonito were caught at Bay Head Friday evening by anglers casting metal. Bonito are a very rare catch in the surf (I’ve only caught one myself), but they were drawn in by an abundance of rainfish. Melillo said small pods of cocktail blues were in and out there and further south this morning. He noted that crabbing remains excellent, and there are plenty of snappers around.

There had been rainfish at Manasquan yesterday morning, but I didn’t see any this morning.  The waters looked good, but I never raised a thing until my last cast before having to move my car from a spot that became prohibited at 7 a.m. Fortunately, that 23-inch striper hooked up on a Chug Bug.

Capt. Dave De Gennaro ran his Hi Flier well to the southeast last Sunday where  he anchored up to chunk tuna. Jigging produced a surprise 16-inch ilex squid which was sent out on a float  and attracted an 80-pound bluefin tuna that was fought by Matt (with yellowfin below) and Tess Tebaldi of Manahawkin. A call from Brian Ewan on Dora Lee about a yellowfin trolling bite not far away inspired a change in tactics, and ended up trolling two 40-to-50-pounders.

Matt Tebaldi Yellowfin .JPG

Two 20-to30-pound yellowfins were trolled Monday among whales and dolphins. De Gennaro switched to sharking at Barnegat Ridge  Tuesday as small Atlantic sharpnose sharks provided action for Michael Fuhrman of Cherry Hill while Steve Karl of Loveladies released about a 200-pound dusky, and Erin Froose from Altona, Pa. released a 120-pounder.

Cocktail blues made a showing

There’s been such a lack of bluefish this year that even a showing of “cocktail” blues is exciting. That happened yesterday morning north of Shark River Inlet as anglers on the Golden Eagle from Belmar and Miss Belmar Princess got into whitewater jigging to quickly fill limits with the 1-to-2-pounders. The boats then switched to bottom fishing for sea bass.  Unfortunately, those blues didn’t show in force this morning. Miss Belmar Princess found a little surface showing  that produced only a few small blues before the switch to  sea bass.

Vinny D’Anton had seen that action from the beach yesterday morning, but  it was further south, off Manasquan, this morning.  He released a small striper on a Chug Bug early, but that was it as even a switch to fluke didn’t produce. There were no boats on the birds, and they were out of range for surfcasters. Schools of rainfish have been the attractor, and schools of them were also reported further north.  I didn’t see any bait during a short try early in the Bay Head surf, but did get a solid hit on a Tsunami Sand Eel.

Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina that the Big Mohawk and Ocean Explorer have been doing very well with fluke up to 9 pounds as many limits have been recorded. The inlet and L St. Pier have also been producing more keeper fluke — but most surf fluke have been shorts. There are lots of snappers to keep the kids busy.

Today’s Ocean Explorer report was very good as there were many 3-to-5-pounders and a pool fluke about 7 pounds as high hooks caught over 30 fluke with double limits even though only three could be kept. Pink or white bucktails were most effective. The seasonal pool is up to over $3200.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc was surprised to see relatively few fishermen at Atlantic Highlands this morning, but those aboard his Sea Hunter all went home with a fluke. Also at that port, the Dorothy B. has been running Monday and Tuesday for porgies and sea bass which worked out very well last week, but were poor this week. A 7.5-pound pool winner topped today’s fluke trip.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant reports good bottom fishing for ling and sea bass, and is running open tomorrow along with Aug. 15. Call 732 370-8019 for reservations on the 7 a.m. trips costing $75.

A correction from last night’s yellowfin report from Capt. Jim Freda. The photo was of his son and mate Tommy.Jimmy Freda yellowfin

 

As noted in last night’s late blog about the dollar Marlin Open in Ocean City, Md., there was a 75-pound white marlin boated yesterday to take the lead for a 2.4 million prize if it stands up. There were 320 billfish caught the first two days, with 312 being released. There were 129 boats fishing today in a continuation of calm seas. I’ll have a late blog after the weigh-ins are concluded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…has also been reported further north.

Fluke were caught in spite of some rain

The forecast of showers and thunderstorms put a big dent in fishing participation today, and even caused postponement of the Fluke Masters Tournament to Sunday — but the fluke didn’t mind.  Sunday’s weather looks great if you can deal with 5 knot winds.

The JCAA Fluke Tournament came off as scheduled. I’ll post results when they become available.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer reported running through rain on the way out, but ended up fishing under good conditions for a pick of fluke and sea bass. The Big Mohawk had a similar report with very little rain and decent fluking. They’ll be sailing at 6:30 in the morning.

Golden Eagle sea bass

The Golden Eagle had another good day of sea bass action plus a fluke, a few ling and some chub mackerel.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Ron Santee fished in the ocean each of the last two days and had a decent mix of keeper and short fluke plus some sea bass on his Fishermen despite a large swell.

Capt. Stan Zagleski said fluking started off well Friday morning on his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands, but conditions went bad after a thunderstorm and then gusty south winds. Dave Brink of Middletown had two keepers up to the 5-pound pool-winning fluke.

Dave Brink - 5-lb-EBII

The Jamaica from Brielle reported continued good variety fishing on Friday as they had lots of chub mackerel, plus some small blues, ling, and two-fish sea bass limits. Tony Pugh Sr. of Vineland won the pool with a 4.25-pound sea bass. The next tilefish trip will depart at 10 p.m. Aug. 12. Call732 528-5014 for reservations.

The White Marlin Open gets underway in Ocean City, Md. on Aug. 6. More about that tomorrow.

After all that south wind, I could feel cold air coming off the Manasquan surf as I cast into relatively shallow waters without any results.

At Seaside Park, Betty & Nick’s reported the water temperature had dropped to 65 degrees.

Matraxia boats first doormat

Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst is an enthusiastic fluke fisherman who charters the best skippers in the northern N.J. area to pursue that species, but he hadn’t been fortunate enough to catch a doormat even though he did hook a 9 1/2-pounder last year.  Though casual anglers often refer to any large fluke as a “doormat”,  serious flukers know that the only fluke entitled to that designation has to make double digits in order to join that exclusive “club” — just as striper anglers often spend a lifetime trying to catch a 50-pounder to join the exclusive top rung of the sport in the “’50-pound club”.

Tank's doormat

Ironically, Tank broke through during a poor year for doormats. I haven’t had a single doormat report from the Raritan Bay party boat fleet as yet, and only one from a Shore party boat — on the Capt. Cal from Belmar last week. As of the July 12 edition of The Fisherman magazine , their coastal (N.C. to Maine) Dream Boat contest for subscribers only had six doormats entered up to a 12.63-pounder from Long Island. Tank’s fluke probably would have fit into fourth place at this time

Matraxia was fishing today with Capt. Chad Hacker on Tagged Fish from Highlands and not doing very well as they started off Coney Island before moving back to rough bottom near Sandy Hook.  Tank had been bucktailing, but switched to a bottom rig with Gulp and a fish strip when he literally dropped it into the mouth of a fluke that weighed just short of 12 pounds on the BogaGrip. He was going to get an official weight at  Julian’s Tackle in Atlantic Highlands, but the mate filleted the doormat on the way in.

Tank's doormat

Tank’s so proud of that fluke that the blog printed the photo twice!

Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands said it was not only a beautiful day on the water, but fluke fishing was better with action all day. The pool fluke went 5 3/4 pounds, and Santee also put his fares into some sea bass.

The Jamaica from Brielle reported very good Tuesday variety fishing for chub mackerel and sea bass. Vladimir Savon of  Fair Lawn won the pool with a 4-pound sea bass Some bluefish have been reported offshore, and will hopefully move inshore soon.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar also had very good action Tuesday with sea bass and mackerel plus some fluke and ling as well as “tommycod” which I expect were actually spotted hake as tomcod are virtually unknown in offshore waters.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall fished the surf to the north with his Chug Bug to catch four school stripers. I found very little water in the Manasquan surf, but hooked a bass that hit a Chug Bug in the wash — but got off.

Close finish in SHBA Fluke Tournament

Bob Cameron of North Haledon took over the lead in the Sandy Hook Bay Fluke Tournament on Saturday with a 26-inch, 7.2-pounder, but that contest is a two-day affair — and Larry Natelli of Fords took the $3,000 first place on Sunday with a 26 1/2-inch 7.4-pound fluke. Cameron finished second for $1,000 plus $200 for the first day leader.

Jeffrey Guiliano of Salisbury Mills, N.Y. picked up $600 for third with his 26-inch. 7-pounder — while a similar fluke was fourth for $350 by Bob Moskal of Highlands. Robert Socia of Hazlet was fifth for $250 with a 25-inch 6.8-pounder. Mike Menzel of South Amboy won $125 for his sixth place 26-inch, 6.6-pound fluke. Seventh and $125 went to Emilio Ameno of Matawan for a 26 1/2-inch, 6.4-pounder  — and Joseph Ciervo from Eatontown finished the scoring with $75 for a  25 1/2-inch, 6.2-pound fluke. Debbie Gencarelli won the ladies rod and reel prize donated by Atlantic Bait & Tackle with a 23-inch, 4.4-pound fluke.  Capt. Brian Dunn noted that over 80 fluke were weighed in over the weekend at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina.

The N.J. Outdoor Alliance asks anglers to call the office of Gov. Murphy at 609 292-6000 to request he sign  bill numbers S2793/A4255 which would increase much-needed funding for marine fisheries. That increase was worked out last year between Gov. Christie and the legislature but not included in the new governor’s budget.

Veteran surfcaster Joe Milko got the surprise of his fishing career this morning when a very small striper he was reeling in was engulfed by a shark. Joe only saw the dark shape, and couldn’t identify it. Chances are good that it was a brown or sand tiger as Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park has reported that both species have been providing action there for those who specialize in fishing for sharks at night. Lots of cownose rays have also been reported there, while the best surf bet in the day has been fluking.

A boat shark fisherman also had a surprise, but not from a shark. Rob De Pietri was sharking at Shark River Reef when a N.Y. Police boat boarded his Sharky’s Machine with the explanation that they are deputized by NOAA Fisheries to enforce highly migratory species regulations everywhere. What they were doing so far from N.Y. wasn’t explained. They took a photo of the boat’s permit, and noted that not having it aboard would involve a $500 fine.  Sharking was no good, but the chum slick was full of chub mackerel.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc reported a lot more action today on his Sea Hunter, even if it was mostly from shorts. Capt. Ron Santee said the morning flood tide was poor on his Fishermen, but he found some sea bass later that included Mike Nolan’s 4 1/2-pounder.  However, the change of tide late in the trip produced a good fluke bite that enabled Santee to bail out in “overtime”. The Fishermen is chartered on Wednesday.

Vinny D’Anton took is grandsons, Brandon and Lucas Longo of Manasquan, to their local beach this morning after he caught a school striper earlier on a Chug Bug. They tried fishing with sand fleas and came up only with a skate. Just before leaving, Vinny told Lucas to make a few casts with the Chug Bug — and he hooked a 27-inch striper that fought him for eight minutes.

Costa Rica dorado & wahoo

Capt. Pete Wagner of Hyper Striper at Highlands put his daughter Nicole and niece Amanda into wahoo and small dolphin last week off Los Suenos, Costa Rica.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Mary jigs jumbo blues

Capt. Dave Riback welcomed jumbo blues back to Raritan Bay with his Queen Mary from Point Pleasant. The long ride was worthwhile as his fares jigged blues up to about 18 pounds — and he had them to himself today.

Riback said bigger jigs worked best as the blues are chasing bunkers, and they did better working on readings rather than when the choppers came up on the bunkers. As is always the case with large blues, many were lost. The Queen Mary is chartered the mornings of July 3, 8,15 and 21. Below are some of Sunday’s blues.

Queen Mary blues

Fluking was a lot tougher today in Raritan Bay due to the continuing lack of drift. Capt. Rob Semkewyc said he still managed a decent catch on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands though some only hooked shorts.

Allen Riley of South Plainfield surprised even himself during a beautiful morning in the Sandy Hook surf. He had only caught a sea robin early on a 4-inch Gulp fluorescent Swimming Mullet, and was about to retreat from the rising heat when a 23-inch fluke slammed his lure. It weighed 4 pounds at the Tackle Box in Hazlet.

Riley fluke

Vinny D’Anton managed another small striper on his Chug Bug this morning at Belmar, while I tried the same lure at Manasquan and Sea Girt without success.

The state budget problem was settled in time to allow fishing to continue at Island Beach State Park on Sunday, but Betty & Nick’s in Seaside Park noted that flies were a problem though fluke were also biting. Be sure to bring repellent if it’s calm or there’s a west wind.

The Jamaica from Brielle is running a fishing and Long Branch fireworks trip from 5-9:30 p.m. on July 4. There’s a $15 discount coupon on their web site.