Calm weather produced stripers for boaters

Calm weather made fishing bearable for boaters this morning, and striper fishing seemed to be good for them.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc had a light crowd for Black Friday on his Sea Hunter, but they ended up with a boat limit of bass over 28 inches plus slots and shorts. Capt. Ron Santee had good striper action on the Fishermen and noted that red-tailed jigs were most effective. He emphasized that anglers must turn the handle in this fishery rather than just bouncing bottom with jigs.  My usual technique is to hit bottom, give a good bounce like a sand eel coming out of the sand — and then retrieve to about 1/3 of the way to the surface before pausing. A lot of hits come on the pause. Then drop down and do it again.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had a good mixed jigging catch of short, slot and keeper stripers plus some blues.

Capt. Stan Zagleski said blackfishing was picky on his Elaine B II from Bahrs in Highlands, but those who worked at it did well.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant will be sailing open for tog at 7 a.m. Call 732 370=8019 for reservations at $75.

The Big Jamaica is sailing from Brielle at 11 p.m. for jumbo sea bass on far offshore wrecks. There are some spots open. Call 732 528-5014. They’ll be striper fishing Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

I was armed with hand warmers this morning, but didn’t see any of the birds dipping on tiny bait at Point Pleasant Beach — and didn’t brave the cold as anglers didn’t seem to be doing anything. I made a brief try at sun-down in “balmy” 32 degree temperatures and released a small bass on an old J&J lead quid with a swiveling green tube. That  was the only one I saw caught on the beach,

Jerry Lasko and Maren Toleno found a pick of school stripers in the Seaside surf during the day, and saw a few 30-inch bass caught from among them.

 

 

 

hooked a couple of small blues recently in the Point Pleasant surf.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get out Tuesday while the weather holds

While there didn’t seem to be any Bonanza striper fishing today, there were many caught in various areas. With colder and windier weather coming, it might be best to get your shots in Tuesday when the forecast is for NW 10-15 knots in the morning before increasing to 15-20 with gusts to 30 in the afternoon. Small craft warnings will be going up through Wednesday afternoon — to be followed by gale warnings Wednesday afternoon.

There was a decent early jigging bite in the Sandy Hook area. At Atlantic Highlands, the Sea Hunter reported better fishing with more shorts and keeper bass plus a few slots. The Fishermen reported 10 keeper bass plus some bonus fish through there wasn’t as much bait as on Sunday.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had good jigging on long drifts. It was mostly shorts with some keepers and slots and even a couple of blues.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant had a similar report with stripers up to 20 pounds.

Though surfcasting remains tough, there was at least a showing of shorts this morning in Point Pleasant Beach. I was surprised to see over a dozen anglers on the beach when I arrived just before sun-up, but it was well a——————————————-fter that before some rods started bending. The two small bass I cau-ght were both on a Castaways teaser rig rather than the sand eel jig, an-d the only two anglers who did more than pick were casting diamond- jigs with a red tail. Nothing great, but the best action I’ve seen so far this fall. I returned late in the afternoon and didn’t see a fish caught.-

Steve Mirande made the right move -late this afternoon when he fished Bay Head and cast both swim shads and metal to catch three small stripers — all of which hit his hand–tied sand eel teaser. Steve thought he’d hooked a big one that was taking drag before his monster surfaced — a three-foot waterlogged plank!

Waters clearing — stripers improving

Ocean waters continue to clean up after the storm. There’s been no resumption of Wednesday’s hot jigging, but that fishing was somewhat better today.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands jigged mostly shorts in local waters, but added a couple to take home.

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle got into two dozen shorts and a few keepers. The Big Mohawk is blackfishing, and that was tough today though some limits were taken. They sail at 6 a.m. Monday when the forecast is for west winds at 5-10 knots.

Surfcasting remains slow, though I heard of a few shorts being hooked on metal at Bay Head and Point Pleasant.

Capt. Dave Riback of the Queen Mary from Point Pleasant didn’t have to run all the way to the Rockaways again, and managed a pick of stripers off Sandy Hook. In addition to shorts, the boat had 10 keepers for the weekend plus a few slots. Ashley boated a personal record 32-inch striper.

 

 

Ashley bass

A tough day in dirty waters after the storm — but clearing during the day

The weather was fine. but striped bass didn’t respond well in badly discolored waters after the storm. That situation improved during the afternoon and provides hope for Sunday

Capt. Dave Riback was hoping to find the new body of large bass which provided great jigging Wednesday on his Queen Mary out of Point Pleasant, but could hardly find anything in the dirty waters resulting from the storm before running to the Rockaways where conditions were better and there was some action with mostly short bass. Some keepers were caught, but slot bass are just shorts in N.Y. waters. He did add a few slots on the way home off the Highlands.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported mostly shorts before fishing improved in the afternoon.

The Atlantic Highlands boats ran to the areas of hot jigging on Wednesday and found them to be barren. They ended up in the action to the north where some keepers were added. The Fishermen had a 15-pound pool winner.

The Big Mohawk from Belmar had a poor start to their blackfishing, but the bite improved and they put together a decent catch with both jigs and sinker rigs producing. They’re sailing at 6 a.m. Sunday and Monday, but are chartered Tuesday. Jim Louro of Spring Lake found dirty water in the surf everywhere he looked this morning, but the swell was down and surfcasting could improve by tomorrow.

The weather forecast is fine, with north 5-10 knot winds Sunday before going to the SE in the afternoon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$3,368,490 on the line during last two days of the MidAtlantic

After a Wednesday during which all 157 boats entered took a lay day for the first time in the event’s 14-year history, the MidAtlantic was back in action today and concludes tomorrow at Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland as the distribution of the $3,368,490 purse will be determined.

Though the ocean looked good inshore yesterday, there was an offshore forecast of 20-30 knot winds. Running a canyon trolling tournament in hurricane season is always risky, but the MidAtlantic has been blessed with fishable weather after a northeast wind blew through before the first day. The first two days produced a remarkable release total of 387 white marlin and 16 blue marlin as 44 boats fished the first marginal day after the northeaster with good results — and 156 were out the next day  — as the contest averaged over two billfish per boat day.

There was also a showing of bigeye tuna after they had been absent at the recent White Marlin Open where the tuna awards went to modest-sized yellowfins.  Indeed, Capt. Mark De Blasio strained the scales Tuesday with five bigeyes on Blue Runner, and is in a second place tie with Toddy Time at 114 pounds – just behind the 116-pounder by Da Sea.  Though impressive, there’s still plenty of room for improvement in that category as the MidAtlantic record is a 254-pound bigeye on Bernard and Drew Dinardi’s Absolut-ly in 1993.

The big-money white marlin category got filled in quickly as two 73-pounders were weighed the first day by Justin Blanning of Wall, N.J. on 3’s Enough and on Special Situation.  Andrew Hall of Chester, N.J. moved into third Tuesday with a 68-pounder on Lucky Lady Jean — just ahead of Intents at 66 pounds and Gusto with a 65-pounder. None of those whites are sure things as the MidAtlantic record is 95 pounds by Topless in 2009.

Maybe I should send my wife, Kathy, down there to help out as her only white marlin was a trophy caught while sharking with me before we were married, when I kept my Mako 22 in Montauk. She hooked a white that took a small bunker drifted in Butterfish Hole. Even after being out of the water all day, it still weighed 99 1/2 pounds at Montauk Marine Basin — winning the Outdoor Life national contest that year.

As noted in yesterday’s blog, the blue marlin category remains wide open with a 400-pound minimum, despite all the smaller blues that have been released. The 43-pound dolphin by First Light appears to be the most likely entry to stand, though the contest record is higher still at 56 pounds on American Lady in 2010. The Zipper leads in wahoo at 71 pounds, which could stand even though it’s well below the MidAtlantic record of 97 pounds set by Joanna in 2009.

I’ll have a late blog with updates after the weigh-ins close at 9 p.m.

I was wondering about Climate Change this morning as I was shivering in a light jacket while casting a Tactical Anglers Bomb Jr. popper into the surf  north of Manasquan Inlet. I’ve never before been chilled during an August morning on the beach, but that northwest wind was cool. A fat 23 1/2-inch striper hit the plug as I was about to lift it out of the water for another cast,  and I later also released my first surf bluefish of the year — a mere 17-incher.

Vinny D’Anton caught two small stripers nearby on a Storm Searchbait, and later moved further north to catch two more on a Chug Bug.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc said the last two days have been windy, creating a fast drift that produced good action though not as many keepers (see below) as he’d like to see on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands.

Flike on Sea Hunter

Tank Matraxia and his Lyndhurst crew had good fluking off the Rockaways with Capt. Chad Hacker on Tagged Fish from Highlands as the seven anglers totaled 21 keepers from 19 to 23 inches with only a few shorts. Tank only put ALS tags into four fluke. He had a particularly good day catching six legal fluke. Surprisingly, there was almost no variety with only a couple of sea robins boated.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a fast drift to start, but it settled down for good sea bass and chub mackerel action plus some blues and fluke along with “some nice sharks”  — a notation I’ve never before seen from a party boat.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported a variety pick of blues, chub mackerel. sea bass, blues, fluke and bonito.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported lots of fluke were caught in the surf Wednesday, particularly in Island Beach State Park. They note that the 6-inch Gulp produces more keepers though there’s less action.  Matt and Megan Roser show off their 2.1-pound blue and 1.6-pound fluke from IBSP on bunker and Gulp.

Kid's blue & fluke

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.

 

 

West wind worked for some

Today’s west wind was just what the Ocean Explorer from

 

Belmar wanted, and they reported red hot fluke fishing with lots of keepers up to 8 pounds. Pink and white were the best jig colors once again.

Fluke reports from Atlantic Highlands weren’t as good. Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen said a hard south current combined with the west wind to create rough conditions where they had fished yesterday. A move to rocky bottoms resulted in calmer waters and a decent pick.  Yesterday was much better as a 6.8-pounder was boated before Capt. Ron Sr. added a 6.2-pound fluke. The skipper’s son, Ron Jr., boated a 5-pounder and most fares did well. Capt. Rob Semkewyc wasn’t happy with the west wind that was harder than forecast, but ended up with a decent catch on his Sea Hunter.

Small blues provided Shore party boats with a shot of good jigging action. The Golden Eagle from Belmar then went offshore to add chub mackerel and some sea bass.

The Jamaica from Brielle got into small blues yesterday morning, but they were hard to catch. As a result, they set up for chumming offshore to load up on chub mackerel plus a few ling and sea bass — while dolphin also invaded the slick.

Jamaica dolphin

 

Adam La Rosa is looking forward to the MidAtlantic Tournament in Cape May, where the Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant has been in the money four of the last five years. They have only one charter date left in August for chunking yellowfins

Mike Barrasso of Bay Head went to his local beach at 3:30 yesterday afternoon and was finally able to reach surfacing bonito to catch not only one –but a doubleheader on a hammered metal and a Joe Melillo Castaways Tackle teaser.

Outdoor writer Nick Honachefsky has caught bonito from the local surf before, but never a Spanish mackerel until this morning. After a series of mishaps at Point Pleasant, he made a blind cast before leaving and broke the ice.

Vinnie D’Anton fished north of Manasquan Inlet and was at the right place when some stripers started rolling. He released four up to 24 inches on a Chug Bug, and switched to metal when a school of small blues zipped by to catch one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pres. Trump signed billfish Conservation Act

 

President Trump Signs Amended Billfish Conservation Act!
Wild Oceans reports : We are happy to report that on August 2nd, President Trump signed into law HR 4528, the amended Billfish Conservation Act, closing a loophole in the 2012 act that allowed billfish caught under a “traditional fisheries” exemption for the Hawaiian islands to be sold in the mainland U.S., contrary to the BCA’s original intent.

Wild Oceans and IGFA began a campaign 10 years ago to Take Marlin off The Menu because we believe the future of these magnificent fish is not for sale. At the time, the United States was the largest importer of billfish.  The strengthened Billfish Conservation Act now ensures that no marlin, sailfish or spearfish can be sold in the continental United States, no matter where they are caught.

Today’s unpredicted east blow plus heavy rain probably kept everyone in this morning, but the ocean became fishable in the afternoon. Light west to southwest winds are forecasted for days to come. and the chance of showers ends on Wednesday,

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reports that the Sunday afternoon trip produced keeper sea bass among the shorts plus a large fluke and some chub mackerel.

The Jamaica from Brielle  started out with small blues Sunday morning along with a few bonito — then got blues back in the slick before chub mackerel took over. Kevin Zhong of Edison won the pool with a 7-pound bonito while adding a limit of 3-to-4-pound blues, several ling and lots of chubs.

Paul Haertel of the JCAA took his boat offshore to seek tuna for the first time in about 25 years last weekend and was delighted to boat a yellowfin tuna plus a dolphin.d

Capt. John Contello had a boat limit of fluke Sunday on his Just Sayin’ from Keyport. Included was the boat’s largest of the season — an 11-pound doormat that was a personal best for Mike Morgan.

Mike Morgan 11-lb on Just Syin.jpg

Vinny D’Anton figured Shark River would be a good place to hide from the northeaster this morning, but the only problem was a lack of fish in those protected waters.

Joe Melillo of Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant was hoping for another blast of Spanish mackerel this morning at Bay Head, but turned around after getting a blast from that east wind.

 

Please ignore empty boxes

Spanish mackerel in the surf

A very unusual showing of Spanish mackerel within range of surfcasters occurred today.  Some years we see a few jumping a little too far out, but that semi-tropical species does come in closer at times. You just have to be at the right place at the right time.

I was at the right place this morning as I cast a popper for stripers at Bay Head around dawn without raising anything or seeing any bait.  Joe Melillo, of Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant,  arrived as I left and caught two big sea robins casting a Run Off Sand Eel jig  — and was still there when the Spanish showed up. He could barely reach them, but caught three on that jig. I also heard that Joe Milko was fishing north of Manasquan Inlet when he saw another angler catch a Spanish on a metal before he switched to a metal and also caught one.  The best bet for them is to make long casts to where they are showing and reel the jig as fast as possible.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park didn’t report ant exotics, but noted some small blues are hitting metal in the surf — and fluking in the surf remains very good. They say all you need is Gulp and a bucktail. The Gulp 4-inch Swimming Mullet is standard, but those using the 5-inch Gulp Swinning Mullet or 6-inch Grub are catching more keepers while not getting as many hits.

Shell E. Caris fluke

Shell E. Caris is a famed surf striper pro, but even he is giving fluking some time. This 22-incher weighed 3.55 pounds.

There was lots of short fluke action out of Atlantic Highlands today. Capt. Rob Semkewyc said there were DEP employees aboard his Sea Hunter today who selected several anglers to check. Paul Schuckalo kept them busy as he caught 26 shorts and two keepers.  Capt. Ron Santee was into that short action on the Fishermen, but Scott Ure and his son combined for five keepers. Despite the forecast, it was a beautiful day without a drop of rain.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had catches of up to a bucket of chub mackerel today along with some sea bass, blues and ling.

Joe Massa decided to make a mid-afternoon  trip with his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina after it became obvious that the dire predictions weren’t likely to occur. The only problem with going out then is that bait is a lot harder to castnet than early in the morning. We couldn’t find any adult bunkers, and only  a few peanuts, but gave the Hudson River a quick shot anyway. I got a good fight out of a 15-pound striper on light conventional tackle before the release, and Joe released a similar bass before we ran back as the south wind started to blow harder.