Blackfish season for five fish opens

This is a second blog for today as I forgot to include the very important information that the blackfish season for five at a 15-inch minimum opened today and extends through the rest of the year. I doubt if anyone took advantage of that opportunity today unless they fished in Point Pleasant Canal or in the inlets. However, the bottom fishing fleet should be in business starting tomorrow with good weather ahead.

Capt. Stan Zagleski had already postponed his first trip for his specialty with Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands to Saturday at his daily sailing time of 7 a.m.

Capt. Jim Freda outfishes WMO fleet for yellowfins — and does it in local waters

There were 319 of the finest fishing yachts along the east coast fishing during yesterday’s White Marlin Open at Ocean City, Md., but I only counted five tuna weighed in. At the same time, Capt. Jim Freda of Shore Catch Charters put a party from the Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County into 11 yellowfin tuna from 25 to 55 pounds while fishing the 30 line south of Chicken Canyon and looking for life — whales, dolphins and birds as everything is feeding on sand eels. The 55-pounder  being held by mate Jimmy Freda in the photo, would have been fourth in tuna at the WMO

 

Jimmy Freda yellowfin

As noted in last night’s late blog, there was one “see if you can beat that” fish weighed at the WMO. The 881-pound blue marlin weighed by Joe Rahman on Auspicious was the sixth largest in the 45-year history of the event.  That blue will be hard to dislodge from a potential; $700.000 payoff.

WMO blue marlin

Other than that there wasn’t much action on the first day despite good conditions.  The three white marlin brought in were all of legal length, but failed to make the WMO minimum weight of 70 pounds.  There were a few dolphin, with a 36-pounder by Doxie Boys taking over first from Halycon’s 30-pounder.  David Rose’s Dialed-In from Spring Lake took over second in tuna at 69 pounds behind the 71-pounder by Rhonda’s Osprey. Makai is third at 61 pounds. Those tuna entries aren’t likely to stand. There are 150 boats fishing today, and I’ll have the results in a late blog.

The Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant reports there’s been a great night chunking bite for yellowfins in local canyons. They have last minute openings for charters or open boat seats on the weekend. Call Adam La Rosa at 732 272-4445.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc was disappointed in fluking from his Sea Hunter as only a few keepers were caught. Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen noted that while there was good fishing yesterday with no current, it was slower today with a good drift. However, one angler had a 8 5/16-pound pool winner plus a 5 1/4-pounder. Sea bass saved the day for some fares.

At Castaways Tackle in Point Peasant, Joe Melillo had word of a hot bite of fluke over 20 inches yesterday on Sea Girt Reef.  He has green crabs in stock for blackfish in Point Peasant Canal.

Shark River was dead for both Vinny D’Anton and me this morning, and the Belmar surf was no better.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported continued good fluking in the surf’. Shane Carney brought in this 25.5-inch, 6.35-pounder. Shane Carney

Jerry Kramer — Hall-of- Famer & angler

It was good to see Jerry Kramer receive long-overdue accolades last night during the Hall of  Fame pre-season football game. I remember watching Kramer make a great block on the Cowboys’ Jethro Pugh to clear the way for  Bart Starr  to score on a quarterback sneak after three running plays had failed on the minus-18 degree sheet of ice in Green Bay as the Packers came from behind to win  the famed “Ice Bowl” 1967 NFL championship on their last chance with just seconds to go and no time outs left.  It was that game which cemented my interest in professional football.

Kramer was the anchor of those great Vince Lombardi  Packers teams, and he seems to have stood up well over the decades despite the beatings a guard has to take on every play.

It was many years later when I fished with Jerry in the Bahamas and teased a shark in the 150-pound class into a hit that provided him with a lengthy  battle on relatively light tackle.

That occurred during one of Bill Munro’s Mako Marine Outdoor Writers trips during which we’d run Makos from Palm Beach over to various cays in the Bahamas — invariably taking a beating either coming or going across the Gulf Stream in the center consoles.  Kramer joined us on a couple of those trips, and proved to be a friendly, unassuming partner who really enjoyed the sport.

There’s a photo of him during that battle with the shark in my Outdoorsman’s Edge Guide to Salt Water Fishing as I stand alongside with the tagging stick. Since no blue marlin were trolled during the trip, that shark release won Kramer the award for largest fish — a unique addition to what has to be a huge collection of football awards now topped by the Hall of Fame.

Though I didn’t get any notice about the Community Fire Company Fluke Masters Tournament out of Leonardo, there was a note from Ron McClelland on Facebook noting that the event has been postponed from Saturday to Sunday. The 7:30 p.m. captains meeting will go on this evening.

Ironically, the small craft warnings that have been up this week went down today. The south wind forecast for Saturday isn’t bad, and seas are only predicted to be 3 to 4 feet, though there is a likely chance of showers and thunderstorms — whereas Sunday looks to be perfect,

The statewide JCAA Fluke Tournament will go on as scheduled because there’s always protected places to fish for fluke.

The only party boat fluke report today came from the Big Mohawk out of Belmar. They had a good day with lots of action and many limits of fluke up to 7 pounds. They sailed at 6:30 a.m. and will do so until future notice.

Also at Belmar, the Golden Eagle had another good day with sea bass plus a few ling, a fluke and some chub mackerel.

Shark River shore casting was totally dead this morning as both Vinny D’Anton and I failed to get a hit despite good conditions. but no bait. He also checked the area beaches which were very shallow then — and somewhat cooler after all the south winds.

An angler who fished Point Pleasant Canal in the morning said there were schools of peanut bunkers going through, but nothing on them. He didn’t get a hit while flyrodding.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports fluking is still the best bet in the surf. Tyler Pierce brought in a 3-pound, 20.5-incher he caught on Gulp in Island Beach State Park,

Tyler Pierce

Waiting for the late summer variety

The usual surge of late summer visitors from the south hasn’t really started yet despite very warm waters,

There haven’t been any red drum reports so far, after some indications last year that those semi-tropical fish might be moving north with climate change as NMFS has been predicting.  I caught a puppy drum two days in a row from Point Peasant Canal last August, and wrote an article about several northern N.J. red drum catches which has been published in the August New Jersey-Delaware Bay edition of The Fisherman magazine.

Those who followed my columns and blogs in the Star-Ledger are aware of the fact red drum were not only present in N.J. waters a century ago — but were the primary inshore game fish of the central Jersey coast.

They were called channel bass in in those days. and almost all of them were over 20 pounds rather than the few small red drum we see today. The first two world records for the species came from the central Shore as anglers all over the country flocked to Barnegat Inlet to seek 40-pounders in late summer and early fall.

The minimum size for red drum in N.J. is only 18 inches, but there’s also a maximum set by the ASMFC at 27 inches. Thus, the 55-pounder caught in Great Bay in 1985 by Dan Yaniro (now owner of Captains Quarters Bait & Tackle on Long Beach Island) will stand until regulations may be changed in the future.

The first southern visitors I heard about were caught several weeks ago.  Raritan Bay pro Matt Calabria caught a small cobia there while fluking — just as I had done many years ago while weakfishing in the bay with Lou Grazioso. Then Maren Toleno caught a houndfish on a popper in Barnegat Bay, behind Island Beach State Park. Capt. Al Crudele of Bayhound from Sea Isle City  had a report on Facebook of several cobia in his area this week,

Southern species such as gray triggerfish and cownose rays have become regular summer visitors to northern shores, but sheepshead remain common only up to the south jetty of Barnegat Inlet — and unheard of in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

Paul Haertel of the JCAA  sends the following reminder:

JCAA Fluke Tournament 8/4 – Win 50 K – Last Call

The JCAA fluke tournament is this Saturday. You may register online until 11:59 PM on 8/3. You may also call the office and register on the phone during the day today or Friday. The recent marine forecast has improved as has the fluke fishing during the last week or so. This is our biggest fund raiser so we really need your support so that we can continue to work on behalf of our recreational fishermen.

Visit http://www.jcaa.org to register.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk took a rare day off, but the Ocean Explorer reports the weatherman was wrong as the ocean was calm and they picked away at fluke. The Golden Eagle continues to enjoy good action with sea bass along with some ling and fluke.

The Jamaica from Brielle had plenty of chub mackerel on its Tuesday and Wednesday trips along with some small blues plus sea bass and ling. John Sanecki (10) won a pool with a 4-pound sea bass.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands reports it was mostly short fluke today, but more keepers were taken than yesterday.

Joe Melillo reports from Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant that blackfish became legal again on Aug. 1, even though it’s only one at a 15-inch minimum. Green crabs are in stock, and one of the regulars had a 4-pound tautog to open the season in Point Pleasant Canal.

Shark River shore fishing was very slow the last two days. I managed only two small stripers on jigs Tuesday evening (down from four the previous evening) and just one this morning when Vinny D’Anton hooked a 23-inch striper on a 7 1/2-inch Sluggo.  Tommy Cox quickly plugged four blues on a white popper Tuesday afternoon, but never had another hit.

 

 

 

 

 

Fluking a little better

Though there were no hot reports, fluke fishing seemed to be a bit better on another beautiful day — and despite the big ocean swell.

At Atlantic Highlands, the Sea Hunter reported improved fluking with one limit taken and others with two. The Fishermen had decent fishing until the current got too strong. Kurt Wieditz boated a 6.11-pound fluke to run away with the pool. but there was also a 4 1/2-pounder and a couple in the 3 pound class. Capt. Ron Santee said grandpa John Sabonis brought his 15-year-old granddaughter Slyler Mosselle who caught three fluke on her first fluke trip. Some sea bass were also caught. The Fishermen is chartered from Friday through Sunday.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer had good action with fluke and sea bass. There were three or four fluke in the 4-pound class. The Golden Eagle had no problem filling two-fish limits of sea bass along with some ling and keeper fluke.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant caught sea bass plus some porgies and triggerfish on Wednesday — and fought a sand tiger shark.

Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst was invited to join a NMFS crew seeking live sea bass for studies aboard Tagged Fish from Highlands on Tuesday and Thursday. They fished in 40 feet the first day to ensure the sea bass would survive, but only ended up with small fish — though Marty Gras of Lyndhurst fought a sand tiger to the boat.  The Thursday trip to 70 feet produced bigger sea bass, including a 19-incher by Tank.

Shark River produced a pick of school stripers from 15 to 21 inches this morning as I cast a light paddletail jig to release seven plus a 20-inch bluefish that was my first there in almost a month. Vinny D’Anton had some short hits on his Chug Bug, and caught a small bass on a Zoom jig.  We then went to the surf to fight a much larger sea than yesterday’s — resulting from the far offshore hurricane. It didn’t look good for fishing, but I was shocked by a 21-inch striper that blasted my Chug Bug in the wash. That was it for us as sea weed was also a problem.

I was later surprised to hear from Allen Riley of South Plainfield, who took his wife, son Kevin of Raleigh, N.C. and two granddaughters to Sandy Hook and said it was calm there.  They managed to catch some short fluke on Gulp.

Reader John Westerdale saw lots of cownose rays in the Monmouth County surf this week, but they ignored bunker heads and lures. He’s been picking at 15-to-20-inch stripers on swim shads in Point Pleasant Canal — even during mid-day.  He fished last month on Cape Cod with Capt.  Ray Ransom on Bass River Charters at Dennis to catch lots of 15-pound stripers at Monomoy and jumbo sea bass off Chatham.

 

Capt. Pete Wagner of Hyper Striper at Highlands will be back to fluking this weekend after brief trip to Los Suenos in Costa Rica with his daughter Nicole and niece Amanda.  They fished aboard a friend’s L&H boat to get into lots of small dorado (dolphin), two small wahoo, a bigeye trevally, a cubera snapper on live bait — and Nicole’s first sailfish.

Wagner cuberaT

That cubera snapper is he same species as the one I’m pictured with at the head of this blog — which was released from Pesca Panama in March but weighed over 73 pounds by formula.

Nicole's first sail

Nicole’s first sailfish before release

It’s Mako Mania time

The 33rd Greater Point Pleasant Charter Boat Association’s Mako Mania Tournament gets started this evening with a 6:30 p.m. captains meeting at Wehrlen Brothers Marina on Princeton Ave. in Brick. N.J.  Anglers can fish either of the next two days — or opt to fish both by paying two entry fees. All boats sail out of Manasquan Inlet, and weigh-ins are from 4 to7 each day at Capt. Bill’s Lamding in Point Pleasant.

There’s expected to be about $250,000 in cash prizes, and Lester Glenn Auto Group will present a 2018 Chevy Silverado to the angler who breaks the state shortfin mako record of 856 pounds.  There’s also a provision this year that if no mako making the new 83-inch minimum length (a straight line measurement from the tip of the nose to the fork of the tail) is weighed, the largest thresher shark of at least 66 inches will be eligible for all prizes.+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Remember that each boat is limited to one shark. If last weekend’s BTB Mako Rodeo is any guide,  it doesn’t appear that they’ll be any problem in finding a few big makos among a large fleet.

Nor’Easter put a 729-pound mako on the scale at Hoffman’s Marina in Brielle to run away with that contest and blew away the old tournament record of 401 pounds. Other makos and threshers were weighed in, and Fin-Ominal won the first mako Calcutta with a 242-pounder.

The 40th Jersey Coast Shark Angler’s Mako Fever continues through Sunday. Anglers entered in that contest were relieved to find that Nor-Easter’s mako wasn’t also in Mako Fever. However, Big Nutz Required jumped on top of the leaderboard this week with a 258-pound mako.

The N.J. sea bass season concluded today. so there will be more pressure on ocean fluking.  Raritan Bay fluking wasn’t very good today, and Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands said he couldn’t fish every spot as it got a bit nasty at times in the east wind. Yet, there was one limit, and the pool fluke was 4.5 pounds.

Tank Matraxia joined the family and friends fluke charter arranged by Marty Gras of Lyndhurst today on the Bingo out of Atlantic Highlands. He said fluking was a tough pick in the bay with only a few keepers, though the kids caught a couple of 23 1/2 and 24 inches. With about 30 people aboard, there were only 30 short fluke big enough to be tagged by the American Littoral Society volunteers aboard.

The bluefish fleet in Raritan Reach had a tough day of jigging. The Golden Eagle from Belmar  reported it was nothing like the last four days as they only got a few brief shots of big blues. Miss Belmar Princess only got a shot of small blues early before scratching out some up to 12 pounds as there was none of the surface action they had been seeing.

Point Pleasant Canal was quiet this morning except for one very excited little girl who fought a 30-inch striper to the landing net.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall was happy to catch two small stripers on his Chug Bug in Shark River before heading to the surf. The east wind created good white water conditions for fishing sand fleas, and he quickly caught two stripers — including a 32-incher. I went down to take pictures of his fish, and gave it a try that resulted in a 29 1/4-inch release before losing two others on-and-off with circle hooks.

Vinny’s bass was so fat that we expected it was full of sand fleas. Yet, it turned out that it only had hard-shell calico crabs and a rock crab in the stomach — and was still carrying roe though the spawning period was over a month ago. Some stripers don’t spawn every year, and reabsorb their roe.

The Jamaica from Brielle will be making another tilefish trip that departs at 10 p.m. Sunday. Call 732 528-5014 for details and reservations.

Those who would like to fish fresh waters in New York State have the opportunity to do it for free this weekend.

Maren Toleno of Point Pleasant was surprised by this houndfish while casting a popper on the bay side of Island Beach State Park recently, but Jerry Lasko’s dog Bunker was properly wary of those small, but sharp teeth

Bunker & houndfish.jpg

Just ounces short of $100,000

Winning a tournament is a thrill for any angler, but the joy is modified somewhat when it turns out that the winning fish fell just ounces short of being worth $100,000.

John Frione from Ct. was fishing with Joe Bartnecki on KB3 from Shark River in the Staten Island Tuna Club’s Saturday contest that had a $100,000 prize for the largest striped bass over 50 pounds. Anthony Arcabascio Jr. was trolling near them off Sandy Hook when Frione trolled a bass of about the right size on one of Anthony’s father’s lures — a Tony Maja Magic Mojo. Frione was a runaway winner of the modest contest purse, but the scale recorded 48.9 pounds — just short of the magic $10,000 50-pound mark.

Capt. Vinnie Vetere was fishing the contest with his Katfish Charters from Great Kills, and managed to put together a striper catch — but without a bass to challenge the leader. He noted that Frione is a friend, and on the next day another friend caught the bass he needed the day before as Capt. Rudy on Lady L. II boated a 52-pounder.

h17 oz from $100,000

 

Yet another “50” was caught on Father’s Day — the eighth to be weighed so far this season at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina. Jason Hadzimichalis was trolling a Tony Maja bunker spoon from High Life off Asbury Park with his father William when the 54-pounder hit.

Father's day 54  The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant almost never has room on any of their canyon tournament trips, but the group scheduled for the Ocean City, Md. Tuna Tournament from July 13-15 fell apart. The Canyon Runner fleet has won lots of money in canyon tournaments, and this is an unusual opportunity for a group to pick up at the last moment.

It’s taken some time to track down last weekend’s shark weigh-ins at Brielle, but it appears that a 729.5-pound mako was weighed at Hoffman’s Marina for the Brett T. Bailey Mako Rodeo from Nor’ Easter. Capt. Tom Savastano had heard about that weigh-in over the weekend, but thought it wasn’t in a contest. I couldn’t find it on Hoffman’s web site, but came across it on their Facebook today. The Mako Rodeo organizers don’t send out press releases or maintain their web site. Last year it took weeks and many requests before I could find any results from that contest. In addition to the huge mako, there were other weigh-ins for Mako Rodeo listed in Hoffman’s facebook as follows: A 242-pound mako on Fin-ominal; a 206.5-pound thresher from Tra Sea Ann; and even a 196-pound bluefin tuna from Lucky Strike.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc was surprised to see very few fluke fishermen at Atlantic Highlands this morning. They must have read weather reports from earlier in the week that had predicted possible showers and thunderstorms in the morning. I didn’t see any of that in the forecast last night, and it was a picture perfect day. Semkewyc said fluking was also pretty good on his Sea Hunter with a couple of limits and a couple of 5-pounders.

The Jamaica from Brielle was in on yesterday’s big bluefish jigging bite that started out with 2-to-4-pounders. It was topped by the largest bluefish I’ve heard of this year — reported as a 20-pounder by Stephen Chesonis of Hopatcong. If he’s a Fisherman subscriber that blue would blow away the current leader in that division of the Dream Boat Challenge which is just 16.56 pounds from Long Island. As noted here last night, four of the 10 places in bluefish have been filled due to the 15-pound minimum. Golden Eagle from Belmar reported blues up to 18 pounds yesterday, but there was no report when this blog was published,

Speaking fof big blues, Vinny D’Anton of Wall was shocked to hook a 36-incher this morning in the Belmar surf on his Chug Bug. He said the fight lasted at least 15 minutes before he was able to release the chopper which may have been the largest in the Jersey surf during this disappointing season.  D’Anton also plugged two stripers up to 25 inches.

I had been casting at Spring Lake, but never raised anything to my popper there. A quick stop at Point Pleasant Canal on the way home around 7:30 revealed no one fishing at the public access, but I decided to make a few casts with the Z Man 6-inch jig — and I was surprised to catch two small stripers.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park had a big surf bass weighed in Monday as Terry Mcquad used bunker to attract a 42-inch, 31.10-pound striper.

Those attending tonight’s meeting of the Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County are in for a treat as famed fluke pro Dave Lilly of Hazlet is the guest speaker.  Lilly is a regular winner in almost every fluke tournament along the Jersey Shore. The 8 p.m. meeting is at the American Legion, 33 W. Passaic St., Rochelle Park.

Mimi VI from Point Pleasant has scheduled a Hudson Canyon open trip that will leave at 10 p.m. Monday night and return at that time Tuesday. It’s limited to 12 at a $400 fare.  Call 732 370-8019 for reservations.. That boat is also open for bottom fishing at 7 a.m. on Friday.

Blues show up in ocean again

It’s been a poor season for bluefish, but there was some hope this morning when the Golden Eagle from Belmar got into jigging blues ranging from 4 to 10 pounds. Up to this point, there’s only been off-and-on ocean jigging north of Shark River for small blues except for one short-lived shot of the bigger choppers that used to provide the basic charter and party boat action all summer. As it’s been so far, bluefish boats have had to switch to sea bass during the day after any early bluefish bite in order to send their fares home with some fish. However, that sport has been getting tougher as shorts remain abundant while keepers are a different story. The Capt. Cal II from Belmar has switched to fluke, which are showing signs of improving as ocean water temperatures rise.

The early inshore run of big blues was a flop after a few years when river and bay fishermen had great sport with heavy blues. That problem seems to affect the whole coast as there have been only three entries so far with the 15-pound minimum in The Fisherman’s 2018 Dream Boat Fishing Challenge which covers from North Carolina to Maine.

By the way, I only this week realized that The Fisherman has swapped out yellowfin tuna as one of their eligible species for something the average fishermen is much more likely to encounter — the sea robin. The ten spots in that category have been filled with a minimum size of 2 pounds. The leader so far weighed 3.9 pounds and came from Long Island  — as did all of the other entries.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc was looking forward to a south wind today for a good fluke drift on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, but it was actually SW, and didn’t help at all until it switched to SE. His anglers still picked away with fluke up to the pool fish of just under 5 pounds.

Allen Riley of South Plainfield said the sunrise was the only feature of this morning’s Sandy Hook surf fishing. Lures produced nothing in the calm, 67-degree surf, and only a skate ate the bunker he also fished as crabs feasted on that bait.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall found Shark River to be dead this morning, but was then pleased to release two stripers up to 24 inches that hit his Chug Bug in the local surf. I couldn’t hook a fish in Point Pleasant Canal this morning, though I did have a few bumps. A scattering of small blues provided most of the action for other anglers.

Kevin Kuriawa fished Raritan Bay on Father’s Day with his 97-year-old dad plus his brother and son. He was only 1 1/2 miles from the dock when the day became even more special as he hooked a 26.5-inch, 8-pound fluke.

Kevin 8-lb

 

 

Sea bass still abundant as season is running out

There doesn’t appear to be any shortage of sea bass off the Jersey Shore as the spring season draws to a close on June 22. After that the bag drops from 10 at 12.5 inches to a by-catch of just two at the same minimum during the summer season from July 1 to Aug. 31.  The only problem now is getting through all the shorts to catch a limit — especially on the heavily-fished inshore reefs and wrecks.

Jigging has been the best bet for getting through to the bigger sea bass, The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported that today’s most successful angler was loading up on a sand eel teaser.

It was a beautiful calm day until the afternoon west wind, and another fine day seems sure for tomorrow.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano was fishing aboard Frank Criscola’s Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club yesterday as they trolled for eight hours without a hit from Raritan Bay to the Shore. Ricky Stavola was a guest angler fishing the Navesink-Shrewsbury Club contest, and he got busy in the afternoon when seven bass, all in the forties, hit bunker spoons. shad rigs and mo-jos off Monmouth Beach.

Di Stefano also had reports that canyon trollers were enjoying great yellowfin action from Lindenkohl to Baltimore canyons.

There was a Friday blitz of school stripers in Point Pleasant Canal, but lots of boat traffic put an end to that this morning. The miracle was that there was still a pick of small bass even though canal anglers had to wait for openings between boats in order to cast. I released three stripers up to 21 inches on a Z Man jig and lost an even smaller one.

Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno of Point Pleasant caught a couple of 26-inch stripers yesterday evening on sand fleas at Island Beach State Park before skates took over at dusk. Maren released a 30-inch striper there on that bait last Sunday.

Conditions weren’t great for Raritan Bay fluking today as Capt. Rob Semkewyc  said the wind came up against the tide when it switched.  His fares on Sea Hunter still managed to pick away. Also at Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Ron Santee was happy with his results on the Fishermen as 3-to-4-pounders were hooked by many anglers, and a pool winner over 6 pounds was boated at the end.

The fluke below was caught on the Elaine B II from Bahrs in Highlands last week, but had no chance of being accepted in the pool as the doormat was obviously stone dead and falling apart when snagged on the bottom.

Elaine B dead fluke

Sea bass fishing in good shape

Though the opening of the sea bass season in N.J.  wasn’t good for everyone, that fishery has bounced back for most. Bud Mc Arthur of Brick was one of those who were disappointed in the opener, but today was a different story as he fished with Gerald D’Luisi of Verona on Hook & Cook from Brick for a four-man catch of 39 keepers out of about 80 sea bass  on the Axel Carsen Reef. Mc Arthur was also surprised by a 22-inch fluke he released after it hit a bergall strip.

Tank Matraxia and his crew from Lyndhurst limited with sea bass this week on Lock & Load from Belmar. They added one ling, and Matraxia was able to put ALS tags in three out-of-season blackfish.

The N.J. fluke season opens Friday, and there will be a big fleet waiting to greet them. That won’t include the Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands as Capt. Rob Semkewyc has decided to stick with daily stripers which are providing good action.  He said today’s pool bass was in the mid-to-upper twenties.

Capt. Vinny Vetere had another fine day of striper trolling with his Ho-Jo’s from Katfish Charters out of Great Kills.  They kept three out of 18 large bass, and were back by 9:30.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar fished the ocean, but bass and blues weren’t cooperative today.

The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant continues to find bluefin tuna while trolling in several canyons.  A few blue sharks were caught at night, when a possible giant tuna broke off after a long fight.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reports small stripers are still hitting well on clams in the surf, while bluefish are becoming more abundant in Barnegat Bay. I posted the results of Sunday’s Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament in a separate blog this morning.

I had planned to try the Manasquan River bluefish this morning, but missed my exit and continued on to Point Pleasant Canal. Without much hope, I cast an Ava 007 with a short red tail because that’s what I had on my light spinning rod from my last river pick of 3-pound blues. It was a shock when I hooked a good fish that tore across the canal just as the first boat was coming through. Fortunately, the boater responded to my waving and moved over. Though I assumed I had a big blue on, the fish turned out to be a 29-inch striper with the small hook buried in the corner of its jaw so I could reach down and grab the lure to lift it up for the release. 

 

 

 

Ho-jo's bassKatfish Charters striper on Ho-Jo