Lilly trolls an “exotic” — a bluefish

Dave Lilly called this morning with news that he ad trolled an “exotic” — at least by last year’s standard in Raritan Bay — a bluefish.

Lilly went east from Keyport and saw nothing but a lot of boats on a calm morning.  Therefore, he went to the back of the bay where he’s been doing well by trolling 3-ounce Tony Maja mo-jos and caught the blue of about 8 pounds before starting a pick of bass in the 30-34-inch class that got better before he came in later in the morning. Dave said the radio was pretty quiet. He did see bunkers flipping in the back of the bay.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano said a friend trolled mo-jos in the bay to catch 30-inch  bass. He also had a report of cod at Sandy Hook Reef, including a 20-pounder. Another boater had lots of both short and keeper blackfish at Sea Girt Reef. In addition there were 18-22-inch winter flounder and the first showing of big sea bass that are out of season.

Unfortunately, those areas may not be fishable Sunday as small craft warnings are up. East winds of 20 to 25 knots are predicted along with gusts to 30, plus showers.

Marinas open from NJ to CT

The new coalition of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut governors acting together in selectively reopening the economy as the pandemic shows signs of diminishing took a big step this weekend by reopening marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers in all three states. Unfortunately, both charters and rentals remain prohibited.

Party and charter boat skippers remain out of work, and are finding that they don’t qualify for government programs aiding small business.

Small craft warnings are up until midnight for southwest gusts to 30 knots. The morning marine forecast is for northeast winds at 10-15 with gusts to 20 knots.

Capt. Jim Freda was able to get out on Raritan Bay with family this week and had no problem jigging and trolling large stripers from his Shore Catch.

Freda's striper

Check those striper regs

Some anglers seem to be living in another age. A friend who was at Raritan Bay docks on Saturday talked to fishermen who were bragging about their two-fish striper limits, though all they had were two barely legal bass. It’s been some time since the bag limit in N.J. was two stripers at a minimum of 28 inches. The limit has been one at 28 inches — with a second legal only if it’s at least 43 inches!

The Marine District of New York (south of the George Washington Bridge) is also now open, but the rule there is one at a minimum of 28 inches. If you have that second legal fish in N.J. you’ll be illegal if you cross the line.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports 5-pound bluefish were caught in the surf north of them just before the northeaster.  Choppers are due to pour in through the inlets any day now. The strong west winds should be flattening out the ocean, and the surf may be clean enough to fish in the next day or two.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer plans to fish for blackfish tomorrow, while the Golden Eagle will be seeking stripers. The Big Mohawk is waiting until Thursday at 7 a.m. for tog.

Dave Perruso had good news of shad catches in the Delaware River. There’s been a hot bite from Trenton to Easton, though the shad north of there aren’t biting yet due to the cold waters. Dave took his nephew Todd Perruso out Saturday to catch 37, and Sunday morning he had friends from Easton aboard for 61 shad up to 5 pounds.

The Bi-State Shad Tournament will be contested there April 26 to 29, with $15,000 for the largest shad. Contact Eric Fistler for entry info at 610 762-0440 or http://www.shadfishingcontest.com. There’s also a G3 boat, Yamaha outboard and Bear trailer as a prize.

Keegan Rothman added the HOFNAD Tournament at Birch Grove Park to his list of fishing accomplishments. A trout took the contest, during which he helped disabled kids compete.

Keegan