Be ready to figure out the weight of your trophy striper

As of April 1, N.J. anglers will no longer be able to keep their striper of a lifetime, but they can still determine a commonly-accepted estimate of their trophy’s weight with nothing more than a retractable tape in their pocket.

The new N.J. striper regulation will allow just one bass from 28 to 38 inches, which means that the really big bass must be released. That’s not really a problem for those still waiting for that “one for the wall” as taxidermists have molds for all large sizes. Just take the length and girth before you release that trophy spawner and you’ll get back the same fish you’d receive as if you’d shipped the fish.

The important thing is to always have that retractable tape or a cloth one with you as it’s the girth that really determines a striper’s weight. A flat measuring stick is useless for girth which is measured at the fattest portion of the body just behind the head.

The standard formula of length to the fork of the tail times girth squared divided by 800 works well for the striper’s body shape. Remember that it’s the fork length measurement which is used in the formula rather than the tail length. It only takes seconds to make those measurements before releasing the fish, but you’ll have a meaningful estimated weight rather than a wild guess that no one believes.

That cubera snapper which the Pesca Panama mate and I are holding at the top of the blog was released seconds after I took those measurements which allowed me to later calculate the weight at 73.58375 pounds — just a few pounds short of the world record. Of course, the formula isn’t accepted by the IGFA for record purposes — but it’s fine for me to know now big my cubera of a lifetime was!

Should you forget the tape, you can get an accurate girth by pulling some line off a spool and clipping it off to be measured later.

There are hand scales which can be used for very large fish, Chuck Many uses a 60-pound Boga-Grip which he sent to the IGFA for certification. It can be used to weigh fish for record submissions — but only on land. I have an old 80-pound Chatillon which I carried on exploratory trips around the world in the old days. However, it’s very heavy, and not too practical to carry in airplanes now that bags are weighed.

Small craft warnings are up tonight. Friday starts with south winds at 15-20 knots before switching to southwest in the afternoon with possible rain and fog.plus 4-7-foot seas.

 

 

 

 

 

Friday’s Manhattan Cup seeking more anglers for wounded warriors benefit

The Manhattan Cup was an annual tournament that pleased catch-and-release striped bass anglers and benefitted great causes such as wounded warriors. Loss of a sponsor stopped the FCA event, and the costs of trying to run it from Manhattan became too great, but Yamaha and others have provided some funding this year allowing the RFA to bring back a friendly contest  that provides an opportunity for wounded warriors to fish with some of the top skippers in the area while also raising funds for programs that benefit them. As noted in last night’s blog, Liberty Landing Marina in Jersey City will host the event this year, and the response from captains volunteering their boats has been excellent. Yet, Gary Caputi needs more anglers to utilize those boats on Friday. Give him a call at 732 740-9982  to get in on the fun that starts with an early breakfast before a day of fishing that’s capped off with a great dinner and lots of rewards before auctioning off valuable prizes.

The forecast of heavy rains this morning seems to have scared everyone off as I had no reports today.

Capt. Vinny Vetere said Saturday’s striped bass bite on his Katfish from Great Kills shut down at 8:30 a.m.. After that he fished everything from Sandy Hook to the Verrazano Bridge with no reaction. He’s fishing the Hudson River for big bass on Tuesday, and may have a couple of openings.

Great Deal:

I have a single angler looking for a partner to share a boat on our last trip of the year- fishing is absolutely wide open on fire.  Only deal of the season and a great one- normally 4895, this trip 3295.  Contact me please today or tomorrow, first call gets it-  TELL YOUR FRIENDS!

Capt Mike Augat

Co-Owner Pesca Panama

716-868-4432

mike@mikeaugat.com

www.pescapanama.com

 

 

 

 

Smooth dogfish taking over in Raritan Bay

Capt. Rob Semkewyc  was hoping to finish up his daytime striped bass fishing on the Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands with a good catch, but wherever he went today there were smooth dogfish and no bass. He did report that trollers were catching stripers, and the first two blues of his season were boated. That was a complete mystery as blues were usually interfering with Raritan Bay striper fishing by May 1 — not June 1. The Sea Hunter switches to fluke from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, but some evening striper trips will be added.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano confirmed those trolling reports from Crisdel out of Brielle Yacht Club. He was part of Frank Criscola’s crew as they picked at large bass trolling mo-jos from Flynn’s Knoll to Deal. They had a couple of bass in the 40-pound class aboard  before the deadline for weigh-in at the Manasquan River Marlin & Tuna Club Tournament

Scott Leadbeater of Haddon Heights  ran his old 20-foot Aquasport out of Atlantic Highlands this afternoon and was trolling a mo-jo on a spinning rod in Swash Channel when a fish almost spooled him. An angler in another boat watched the battle and offered Leadbeater a scale to weigh his 46-inch bass at 41 pounds before releasing the largest striper of his life. He noted that the bass was spawned out.

Stripers haven’t been easy for anglers fishing live bait. Tank Matraxia and his crew from Lyndhurst never had a hit on lively bunkers fished yesterday  from Two Rivers Charters out of Highlands.

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle and Miss Belmar Princess have been getting into lots of jigging action to the north with 1-to-3-pound blues.  Sea bass have been the targets on other boats there, and the Big Mohawk reported an early boat limit today.  Take advantage of that action on Saturday, because lots of NE wind is forecasted for Sunday.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant has been working on both the small blues and sea bass. They report that magic hours trips have been tough so far. The only remaining openings for the evening bite are on June 3, 5,10, 12 and 14.

Capt. Ron Santee  said he fished into overtime to bail out a slow trip with a late bite on the Fishermen up to Iris’ fluke of over 5 pounds.

Capt. Stan Zagleski had his best fluke action today from Elaine B. II out of Bahrs in Highlands on the incoming tide as almost all had a keeper and there were some limits.

 

If you’ve ever wanted to take advantage of a big price break in order to fish at world-famous Pesca Panama, there’s an opportunity coming up this month. Mike Augat has one boat open from June 17-22 for two to three anglers at a $1,500 reduction per person. He says the tuna bite has been red hot, and cuberas and roosterfish to over 50 pounds have been caught. Contact him at pescapanama.com

Chuck Many with a 46-pound striper release down the beach this week

huck-46.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Easter!

Here’s wishing everyone a Happy Easter. Fishing may be at a minimum today, but I was reminded about my recent trip to Pesca Panama yesterday while watching Jay Feely announce the Michigan-Loyola Final Four game on TNT.  Jay was part of Bob Correll’s group that flew into Panama City om March 17, but didn’t overnight there as is usual, before taking an afternoon flight to David in order to get out fishing earlier on Sunday.  The smaller hotel in David couldn’t come up with the NCAA Tournament games on their TV, but we were advised to walk over to a chicken restaurant a few blocks away. They had big screens showing soccer, but we talked them into searching the satellite to find the basketball in both English and Spanish while we enjoyed the chicken and beer.

The change in overnighting plans didn’t actually didn’t make any difference in getting started the next day, but the trip out to the Pesca Panama  barge on Oceanmasters  turned out well for those who were able to catch some blue runners on Sabicki rigs for big roosterfish live baits in the nearby Parides area. The next several days then produced most of the other species that make the Isla Coiba area of Panama one of the best variety sportfishing locations on earth.

 

_DSC0740This is what the “normal” 25-to-30-pound cubera snapper caught on Pesca Panama trips looks like — unlike the 73-pounder at the head of the blog. This one hit a small live Lane snapper drifted on bottom over a high piece on heavy spinning tackle before being released It’s hard to believe that this same fish can jump several feet out of the water to inhale a big popper!

 

 

 

Tautog seasons opening April 1

It’s time to start fishing for blackfish again on April 1.  The spring season opens that day in every state from Massachusetts to Delaware, though there is some variation in closing dates, minimum lengths and bag limits. In Ct., N.Y. and N.J., the first season only runs through April 30, with two tog at a minimum of 16 inches allowed in Ct. and N.Y., while N.J. anglers can take four at a 15-inch minimum.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar has been returning a few tautog that hit while cod were being sought on recent trips. About 15 cod were hooked on Thursday, but all were short. There were four legal cod Friday plus a dozen shorts despite a big ground swell and tough anchoring conditions.  They were planning on fishing Easter Sunday during normal hours, but check with them about that trip as small craft warnings have been posted for gusty SW winds Saturday night into Sunday. The Big Mohawk from that port has scheduled a trip for blackfish on Monday, but weather could be a problem there also with a mix of snow and rain in the forecast for Sunday night.

The weather is a lot nicer at Pesca Panama. Capt. Mike Augat reports “This week we had a 270lb tuna, one cubera over 50 lbs, good roosters, numerous other tuna 70-150 -lbs, a 24-lb snook, and two anglers had a species count contest- one took 25, the other won on the last day totaling 28 species.  Really fun week.”

 

 

 

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Yellowfin tuna are great sport on relatively light spinning tackle I used at Pesca Panama recently along with nephews Bobby and Todd Correll.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fishing resuming in N.J.

The head photo is of the huge Pacific cubera snapper described in yesterday’s blog just before release from the Pesca Panama Oceanmaster I was fishing aboard last week.

The late March northeaster put a big dent in northern fishing activity, but things are looking up this week. The Ocean Explorer from Belmar plans to sail for cod on Wednesday and the rest of the week, while the Golden Eagle from that port resumes fishing on Friday at 7:30 a.m. for herring and mackerel until stripers get started next month. The Ocean Explorer got into some 12-to-15-pound cod during the last trip before the storm — and finally saw water temperatures up to 40 degrees. Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports small stripers hitting small plugs in the back bay.

Inshore waters remain very cold, though that should change quickly. Joe Melillo, of Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant said it’s even been too cold for the largemouth bass in his local ponds. The shop is being refurbished, but they’re shooting for an opening next week.

Sometimes the one that got away makes a day more memorable than the catches. That was the case yesterday when I fished with my daughter Cyndi and her boyfriend Luis Gonzalez of Palmetto Bay, Fl. Luis ran his trailered 22-foot Pursuit, Sheri Berri III, to Pacific Reef off Miami. While the yellowtail snapper bite was slow, Cyndi suddenly found herself hooked up to a big fish on a very light spinning rod. My former mate on Sheri Berri II, when I had that boat at Point Pleasant and Brielle, did a fine job running around the boat with what we suspected was a toothy critter that had eaten a small fish on her line. Despite having no leader to a tiny jig, Cyndi hung on to the fish for quite some time and got a ray of hope when we saw the silver side of a big barracuda underwater before it finally cut the light mono. It was fun while it lasted!

Cyndi pic

Giant cubera release rather than record

The Pacific cubera snapper is noted for its ability to break off after being hooked in the rocky areas they populate from Mexico to Ecuador and out to the Galapagos Islands. I felt fortunate last week after catching yellowfin tuna out on Hannibal Bank to release a normal-sized 25-to-30-pound cubera  a that hit live Lane snapper on a stout Shimano spinning outfit while drifting over a high spot on the way back to the Pesca Panama barge. Since cuberas dive right into the rocks upon being hooked, spinning tackle seems an unlikely choice for stopping them just as it would be for trying to catch cod around wrecks. Yet, it worked again the next day when my nephew, Bobby Correll of Bay Head, and I returned to another underwater peak after catching tuna off Jicaron.

Felix, our mate on one of the Oceanmaster center consoles, had rigged the same spinning rod with a chunk of black skipjack (similar to our little tunny, and called bonito in the tropics), which I dropped to another high spot. No weight is used in order to prevent snags, and just the weight of the big bait is sufficient to get it to bottom on the drift as Capt. Thomas backs the boat a bit at times to stay in the pay-off zone for a few more seconds.

Bobby hooked up just before I lifted into a very heavy weight. He had a beautiful cubera of about 40 pounds to the boat before I had worked my fish hallway up twice only to have it dive back down again. Yet, because it didn’t break off in bottom after those dives I thought I might be fighting a big shark or amberjack. We were all shocked when I eventually saw the water turn red with the body of the largest cubera I’ve ever seen.

In the “old days” every big cubera was boated because they are a favorite food fish. However, Mike Augat, new owner of Pesca Panama, has established a conservation ethic for one of their most important species — and all are now released. The crew were all shocked at the size of the cubera, and were anxious to release it. I barely had time to get the tape I always carry in my pocket to measure it at 43 inches long with a huge 37-inch girth. What I didn’t do as they released the cubera was to measure it on the IGFA release length category tape that I received just before leaving for Panama. That tape is in centimeters.

After getting back, I used the formula (length times girth squared divided by 800) to get the approximate weight of the cubera which came out to be 73.58375 pounds. The all-tackle world record for Pacific cubera snapper in the 2017 IGFA World Record Game Fishes Book isn’t far larger at 78 pounds, 12 ounces from Costa Rica in 1988. That made me feel a lot better about the successful release of a great old warrior which I would never had expected could be caught on a spinning rod — and by an 81-year old!

Though probably everyone aboard Pesca Panama this week, including former Giants punter Jay Feely,  caught at least one tuna, and many added roosterfish and cubera releases, it was a slow week for black marlin. Connor Correll, son of my nephew Todd Correll from Fort Lauderdale, released the only black at over 300 pounds after 12 had been caught the previous week. Joe Massa, of My Three Sons at Morgan Marina in N.J. hooked a similar black on light spinning tackle after it took a black skipjack that he was bringing in for bait. Though the black threw the big bait after some time, the tiny treble of a Deadly Dick held it until the inevitable break-off much later.

For variety and the opportunity to hook world class game fish it’s hard to beat Pesca Panama!

Pesca Panama Sportfishing

Back from Pesca Panama

Just got back from Pesca Panama after joining my nephews, Bobby Correll of Bay Head, N.J. and Todd Correll from Fort Lauderdale on a charter for family and friends. Bobby and I got off to a great start as we released six roosterfish up to an estimated 45 pounds on live blue runners we had caught on Sabicki rigs last Sunday morning on the way out with one of the Oceanmaster center consoles from David to the barge.
The next morning we got into some yellowfin tuna at famed Hannibal Bank. God must have been looking out for me as I caught two tuna suitable for an old man on stand-up conventional tackle (about 45 and 80 pounds), but Bobby had no luck casting poppers. The following morning we were into tuna in very deep waters off Jicaron where I got involved with a 100-pounder that hit a live blue runner on a relatively light Shimano spinning tackle. It went straight down and tied me up for 1 1/2 hours before I could stop the runs down by holding on to the braid and turning the tuna. Later in the morning, Bobby and Todd made short work of an exciting double of 60-to-70-pounders on poppers. The most unusual catch was yet to come. I’ll post that tomorrow.