Gale warning for tomorrow

No sooner did party and charter boats in N.J. get a chance to sail again than the weather is going to shut them out for a couple of days.

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle and Ocean Princess both reported good sea bass fishing today along with ling and some pollock and winter flounder, but the small craft warnings up now will go to a gale watch through Tuesday afternoon. It will be northeast 20-25 knots by morning along with gusts to 40 — plus 7-10-foot seas.  The Golden Eagle, which also pursued some bluefish reports to no avail,  has canceled through Thursday.  The Ocean Explorer has only called off trips through Wednesday so far. At least it now appears we’re not going to get much rain from Arthur. Photo below reflects Covid-19 bottom fishing variety on the Golden Eagle.

GE-COVID 19

It looks better for the opening of the fluke season on Friday. Capt. Chris Di Stefano saw a boat with a hook & line commercial fluke permit loading up in Sandy Hook Bay today, while shore anglers were casting for cocktail blues.  Unfortunately for Chris, he was in the bay because the Raritan Bay striper bite was off. His friend from Highlands had lots of releases Sunday, but bunker spoons only produced a large male of 22 pounds that had an eel in its stomach. Chris said he only saw one other bass caught, and a couple of charter boats that braved a run to the Romer Shoal area came back quickly. Chris noted that some bass were trolled in the ocean on Sunday.

Phil Fischer said he was trolling bass in Raritan Bay yesterday morning before moving into Sandy Hook Bay where two 30-pounders hit. He noted that those bass had a lavender coloration which is typical of stripers migrating in from the ocean.

 

 

Still working hard for stripers

The fall striped bass Bonanza we’ve been hoping for along the northern N.J. Shore still hasn’t started, but there have been some better signs.

The Atlantic Highlands fleet got into better jigging for mostly short bass today along with some keepers. Capt. Ron Santee said the jigging was held back by a very strong current, but when it dropped  to 2 knots there was good action with both plain and tailed diamonds. Capt. Rob Semkewyc said the bite from his Sea Hunter was on diamond jigs. He’s cancelling his Thanksgiving trip due to the forecast of extreme cold and wind, but Black Friday looks good,

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had good readings and saw fish splashing today, but they were very fussy and only a few stripers and a couple of blues were caught. They will be back out in the morning and are still planning a Thanksgiving trip from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Capt. Rob De Petri ran his Sharky’s Machine out of Barnegat Bay to troll stripers of 32 and 36 inches on green mo-jos for Ray Bonte. One was hooked off Lavallette in 60 feet and the other near the 3-mile line. There wasn’t much bait recorded.

Yesterday morning’s showing of small stripers in the Point Pleasant Beach surf didn’t occur again as most anglers left quickly. I found an old J&J lead squid with a swiveled green tube in my basement and decided to give it a try. Surprisingly, it produced the only two small bass caught in the area I was working.

Jimmy Louro of Spring Lake caught three small bass and Frank Manzi added another in the surf there during the morning — and Louro got into others late in the afternoon.

Capt. Vinnie Vetere said he stayed in calm river waters over the weekend to catch boat limits of stripers on Katfish from Great Kills. His Ho-Joes did the job with white being the best color.

The Jamaica from Brielle will be sailing to the far offshore wrecks for jumbo sea bass at 11 p.m. There are some openings that can be reserved by calling 732 528-5014. There were some limits on Sunday’s trip — and some cod up to 18 pounds and pollock to 16 pounds were added on the weekend runs along with white hake, ling and even a few barrellfish

It will be a lot windier and colder in coming days. A Small craft advisory will be increased to a gale warning from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday night. West winds of 15-20 knots tomorrow morning increase to 20-25 in the afternoon.

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.

Millions at stake during last day of WMO

With 324 boats fishing the final day, there’s likely to be some changes in the distribution of  the millions involved in the White Marlin Open out of Ocean City, Maryland. I’ll have the final results later tonight after the weigh-ins have been completed.

Though the tuna fishing has been way below expectations so far, billfishing has been good with 568 marlin caught during the first four days — and 559 of them released.

The big winners at this point would be the 83-pound white marlin that took over first place yesterday for Gregory Giron on Underdog for a projected $2.6 million — and the 881-pound blue marlin boated by Joe Rahman of Wanaque, N.J, on his Auspicious for a projected $700.000. Actually, the tuna winner could be in  the same area, depending on how many Calcuttas the eventual winner has entered. Gary Sansburry took the lead yesterday at just 75.5 pounds on Buck Shot .

Inshore anglers were treated to another fine day. The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a real variety as they started off with small blues, then had some Spanish mackerel before going back to blues plus chub mackerel, sea bass, ling and two 5-pound fluke. On  Thursday they also had a bonito over 5 pounds and a pollock, The Ocean Explorer at that port had good fluke fishing with many limits for those jigging Gulp baits.

Capt. Dave De Gennaro has been catching tuna on offshore trips and sharks at Barnegat Ridge with his Hi Flier from Barnegat. He’s open over the weekend, and I’ll have more about his fishing tomorrow.

Allen Riley and John Mazzeo went from South Plainfield to Sandy Hook this morning along with Duke Matero of Piscataway. They found calm seas with so many rainfish in the wash that the small waves were dumping some on the beach as they tried to evade snappers. in the 78 degree waters.  John caught a couple of short fluke on Gulp, and Allen lost a keeper fluke in the wash when it  gave up its hold on a live snapper.  Duke caught a mystery fish which they thought might be a pilotfish. It’s pretty hard to identify from the photo, but it might be a banded rudderfish.

 

At Atlantic Highlands,, Capt. Ron Santee said he finally had another banner day on the Fisherman as the Columbia Bank charter had both fluke action and quality. Marty Herrman of Branchburg took the pool with an 8.22-pound fluke as he limited and added the two sea bass allowed. Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter  had a similar report of good fluking.

The Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands has also had good fluke fishing this week — as shown below.

Elaine B II winning fluke

Capt. Vinny Vetere of Katfish Charters in Great Kills continues to do well with stripers. A father and son team caught bass up to 26 pounds today among lots of  big smooth dogfish. He’s open for Saturday.

Vinny D’Anton fished north of Manasquan Inlet this morning, and came across a spot where stripers were rolling in schools of rainfish. He managed to release a 27-incher and a small bass on a Chug Bug before it was over.

 

Capt. Jim Freda of Shore Catch Charter from Point Pleasant has been catching yellowfin tuna at the mid-range grounds with his Shore Catch from Point Pleasant as illustrated by this shot of Rich Brunger of the Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County party.

DDDRich Brunger yellowfin.jpg

Rain & wind coming Wednesday, but it looks good after that

The weather from N.J. to Long Island isn’t looking good for Wednesday with rain and gusty winds in the forecast, but it’s supposed to be back to just 10 to 15 knots from the west for Thursday — and the weekend looks good.

The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands clammed in Raritan Bay today, but it was mostly short bass that responded. There were some keepers topped by Eric Nova’s 15-pounder. Capt. Rob Semkewyc won’t be sailing tomorrow due to the weather, but will be ready to go on Thursday.

Tank Matraxia and his crew from Lyndhurst fished with Capt. John Contello aboard Just Sayin from Keyport. After casting produced only one short, they switched to trolling mo-jos and limited out with keepers up to about 32 inches. Matraxia was also able to put ALS tags in five legal bass and a short. One of those bass had a fairly recent bite taken out of it — possibly by a seal. The action was in the back of the bay where there were lots of boats and kayaks.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk reported a good blackfish bite today, but won’t sail again until Thursday. The Ocean Explorer had good blackfishing Monday with some limits.

The Gambler has been getting out from Point Pleasant. but blackfishing has been slow so far due to cold waters. The Queen Mary starts striper fishing out of that port on Saturday.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reports small stripers are hitting in the surf on small pieces of bait and lures. An angler fishing bunker chunks reported losing a better fish in the wash. An ODM rod demo will be held at Grumpy’s on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

 

Sandy Hook Late April SunriseAllen Riley photo of Sandy Hook at dawn Monday. Don’t expect that tomorrow!

Stripers cooperate in Raritan Bay

With a good forecast drawing lots of boaters, I suspected that striper fishing in Rartan Bay might have been tough today — but that wasn’t the case! At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen had his best action right away as Chris Zotti caught two legal bass and three shorts in the first hour before ending up with a total of seven legal bass and 14 shorts.  Morris Duckett boated a 23-pound pool bass, and the first fluke of the season was released  — a 4-pounder. Santee said clams worked best as they caught over 20 keeper bass plus lots of shorts.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc had a similar report from his Sea Hunter with a super start followed by a pick the rest of the day.

Sea Hunter bass

A Sea Hunter striper from last Saturday

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle reported a beautiful ocean as they saw some stripers, but the fish wouldn’t hit.

The Ocean Explorer found lots of bottom life in the flat ocean, and a 7-pound blackfish that came up early ended up taking the pool. A few fares bagged two to three tog, and there were also some legal cod and a pollock.

The forecast for Sunday is NW 5-10 knots, switching to SW in the afternoon. Seas range from one foot early to two feet in the afternoon.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports lots of small bass in the surf on clams, paddletails, bucktails and small swimmers.  One angler reported bunkers coming close enough to be snagged, but there were no takers for that live bait.

Sunday is the last day for pre-registration for the Governor’s Surf  Fishing Tournament on May 20 at Island Beach State Park. The adult fee of $20 is reduced to $15, and you won’t have to be at Pavillion 2 that morning in order to sign up at 5:30 a.m. for the 6:30-1 contest.  Visit http://www.njfishandwildlife.com for forms and info.

Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst and Emil Pavalac fished a couple of days last week at Cedar Key on the northern Gulf coast of Florida. Cousins Steve and Jimbo Keith put them into limits of spotted sea trout and redfish, including eight redfish that got ALS tags,  but Tank lost a big tripletail after working hard to get a hit from those fish that hang around crab pot buoys and channel markers.

Matt 44-inchThe Tackle Box in Hazlet sent along this shot of Matthew Loiselle of the Urban Jersey Fishing Team with a 44-inch striper from shore before  its release