Better weather coming

It appears that the Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club made the right move by pushing back its White Marlin Invitational as fishing weather looks a lot better from Thursday through Sunday. Registration is going on from 6 to 8 this evening in the Beach Haven club house.

Though small craft warnings are posted through late Thursday night, winds are forecast to be dropping out that day so it may be fishable. Since the forecast is for light winds all the way from Friday to Sunday, most skippers will probably opt to use their fishing days then.

If you’re planning on boating a large medium or giant bluefin tuna, you’ll have to do so Thursday. The National Marine Fisheries Service has determined that the northern quota (north of Great Egg Inlet)  for trophy bluefins from 73 inches curved fork length up is almost filled and will be closed at 11:30 p.m. local time on July 26. Trophy bluefins can be aught in the Angling or the Charter/Head Boat (when fishing recreationally) categories, but can’t be sold. Regulations for school and small medium  bluefins from 27 to less than 73 inches remain the same. The southern trophy fishery was closed March 17. Catch-and-release trophy fishing is permitted.

The party and charter boat business has taken a beating this week with cancelled trips day after day due to the weather. Even though fluking is possible in somewhat protected waters for the Raritan Bay fleet, Capt. Stan Zagleski still didn’t sail with his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands rather than be confined to the calm waters of Sandy Hook Bay where the action has been from almost all shorts.  He resumes sailing Thursday. The Fishermen and Sea Hunter have indicated that will sail from Atlantic Highlands tomorrow.

The Big Mohawk from Belmar didn’t sail today, and is chartered on Friday — but will resume open boat  fluking at 6 a.m. Saturday.

Once again there was no boat traffic problem for shore anglers casting into Shark River this morning.  There were four of us casting at first light, but with no hits and rain moving across the river I lost two partners before finally hooking a 19-inch striper just after they left as it started raining lightly. Flyfisherman Bill Hoblitzell then gave it up with heavier rain starting just before I added a similar striper release — which was the end of my “action”.  Frank Manzi returned late in the morning  and was surprised to release 10 small stripers while also having his soft plastic jig cut in half by an unseen bluefish which have been scarce in the river this summer.

Surfcaasters are hoping that waves will diminish in the next few days so they can take their shots in more fishable conditions. Fluke are a best bet in the surf. and there’s always a possibility of hooking one like this 22.5- inch, 4.25-pounder  weighed recently at Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park by Warren Eckert — who beached it on a bucktail tipped with Gulp.

Grumpy's fluke

Last chances for JCAA Fluke Tournament early entry

 

The 34th annual JCAA Fluke Tournament is coming up on August 4 with seven regions and 11 weigh-in stations from Jersey City to Cape May. Those planning to fish that event should take advantage of the early entry fee of $130 per boat which must be paid by July 23. After that the fee is $160.

Each region features a $1200 first prize plus other prizes through tenth — and there’s also a Doormat Fluke Category worth $50,000 for the largest fluke over 12 pounds.

To top it off, this unique contest provides an opportunity for any entrant to be a big winner as all are eligible for prize drawings at the awards on Thursday, Aug. 9 in the Clarion Motel, Toms River. Topping those prizes is a boat combo consisting of a 14-foot Starcraft, Yamaha outboard and Yacht Club trailer. That grand prize is usually won by someone who never even weighed a fluke. To enter visit http://www.jcaa.org and use your credit card.

As noted last night, the Grandpa Savino Memorial Fluke Tournament was postponed to next Saturday due to the weather forecast, and the Point Pleasant Elks cancelled their contest at the last moment — but don’t have a make-up date as yet.  The Raritan Bay Anglers Charity Fluke Tournament was contested in poor conditions. I’ll have those results in tomorrow’s blog.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reported a nice start to bottom fishing, but the ocean got “cranky” in short order. They still caught quite a few sea bass, some ling and a 5-pound fluke. Following tonight’s gale warning and rain, Sunday is forecast to be very windy — and the Golden Eagle will not sail.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc reported a tough day for fluking on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands as he had to end up hiding from rough waters. The Sea Hunter will not sail Sunday.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant didn’t sail today, but reported lots of chub mackerel plus sea bass and ling on Friday’s trip. They will not sail Sunday.

Shark River was very pleasant early this morning, but shore fishing was slow. I scratched out two small stripers on jigs, and flyrodder Bill Hoblitzell also caught two. The previous morning he had caught three 4-to-5-pound blues on fly poppers and got bitten off by another — but there was no sign of them today. I made a few casts into the Belmar surf that was marginally fishable in the east wind — but full of marsh weed.

Bluefish haven’t only been scarce in Shark River this summer. Scott Leadbeater of Haddon Heights has found very few in Raritan Bay even though he sees many bunker schools there.

Canon Runner calls early canyon bite the best ever

Adam La Rosa of the Canyon Runner fleet at Point Pleasant has been calling this year’s early season canyon fishing the best they’ve ever had. That view was reinforced over the weekend as they hosted a total of 12 military and veterans for the fishing trips of their lives. All caught all the yellowfins they could handle during the July 3-4 and 4-5 overnighters. One of those catches is illustrated below:

Miltary on CR with yellowfins

The Canyon Runner may have a spot open on Saturday’s open trip. The cost is $899, but that includes food, drinks and tips. Call Adam at 732 272-4445.

Capt. Vinnie Vetere had friends aboard his Katfish from Great Kills on Monday when big stripers turned on to his Ho-Jo lures for just 15 minutes of trolling — but that was enough to produce one of the biggest bass of the year for the skipper — a 57.3-pounder. They added others of 29. 34 and 46 pounds.

Fluke fishing was slow today in Raritan Bay. Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter was once again surprised by the relatively few anglers at Atlantic Highlands this morning. Fishing was just a pick during the beautiful day. Capt. Ron Santee reported a very fast drift that made fishing difficult, though some fares managed two keepers. The Fishermen is chartered from Friday through Sunday.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar found no blues today, and ended up with two-fish sea bass limits plus a pick of ling and several keeper fluke among shorts. They did find a few blues Tuesday, and heard of a bluefish concentration 50 to 100 miles southeast that they’re hoping will eventually move a lot closer.

Shark River was unusually cold this morning, but I still managed six stripers from 18 to 20 inches on a small paddletail jig. Vinny D’Anton released four bass up to a 21-incher. A short attempt with sand fleas in the surf didn’t even result in a bite. The big swell from the offshore.  hurricane  seemed to turn off the surf fluke as I only caught three windowpanes while briefly casting a Storm Searchbait.

Tommy Cox used his fly rod in the Spring Lake surf to hook 15-inch stripers early, but switched to a Chug Bug to land a 23-incher further north.

Oliver Anderez (9) of Miami throws a great castnet for bait, and he used one of the pinfish he caught at Sanibel Island on the west coast of Florida to hook a trophy snook which he released.  Other readers are encouraged to send info about their catches and photos if they care to. E-mail to cristori@aol.com.

Oliver castnetting

 

Oliver with snook.jpg

Queen Mary jigs jumbo blues

Capt. Dave Riback welcomed jumbo blues back to Raritan Bay with his Queen Mary from Point Pleasant. The long ride was worthwhile as his fares jigged blues up to about 18 pounds — and he had them to himself today.

Riback said bigger jigs worked best as the blues are chasing bunkers, and they did better working on readings rather than when the choppers came up on the bunkers. As is always the case with large blues, many were lost. The Queen Mary is chartered the mornings of July 3, 8,15 and 21. Below are some of Sunday’s blues.

Queen Mary blues

Fluking was a lot tougher today in Raritan Bay due to the continuing lack of drift. Capt. Rob Semkewyc said he still managed a decent catch on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands though some only hooked shorts.

Allen Riley of South Plainfield surprised even himself during a beautiful morning in the Sandy Hook surf. He had only caught a sea robin early on a 4-inch Gulp fluorescent Swimming Mullet, and was about to retreat from the rising heat when a 23-inch fluke slammed his lure. It weighed 4 pounds at the Tackle Box in Hazlet.

Riley fluke

Vinny D’Anton managed another small striper on his Chug Bug this morning at Belmar, while I tried the same lure at Manasquan and Sea Girt without success.

The state budget problem was settled in time to allow fishing to continue at Island Beach State Park on Sunday, but Betty & Nick’s in Seaside Park noted that flies were a problem though fluke were also biting. Be sure to bring repellent if it’s calm or there’s a west wind.

The Jamaica from Brielle is running a fishing and Long Branch fireworks trip from 5-9:30 p.m. on July 4. There’s a $15 discount coupon on their web site.

 

Best day of Raritan Bay fluking

It’s not often that a flat calm sunny and hot summer day turns out to provide the best Raritan Bay fluking of the year — except for shorts!

The early start that Capt. Stan Zagleski had with his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands enabled John Vanderstad of Pompton Lakes to limit by 6:55 a.m. — before other party boats had even left the dock.  He ended up taking his limit out of seven keepers that included two 6-pounders that won the pool. There were several other limits, and some of the fluke were spitting out sand eels — something Zagleski never saw last year.

Capt. Ron Santee said the drift was poor and he had to power drift with the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands — but there wasn’t a fluke under 19 inches. There were several limits, and the pool fluke was 7 3/16 pounds. Young Marcus Coe was fishing with his dad and caught a fluke over 5 pounds that he wanted to release. He did just that, and the skipper rewarded him with a Fishermen tee-shirt for his conservation spirit.

Lady Christine took the lead in the first Manasquan River Marlin & Tuna Club Bluefin Open. Capt. Chris Di Stefano had originally heard that boat was bringing in a bigeye from Wilmington canyon (which was noted in last night’s blog), but it turned out that Neil Franzoni boated a 191.5-pound bluefin at the Bacardi to move ahead of Douglas Johnson on Double D at 180.5 pounds.  That left Frank Criscola still with all three places in yellowfin tuna on his Crisdel in the Jack Meyer Trolling Tournament

The Golden Eagle from Belmar jigged some 1-to-3-pound blues along with porgies. Some sea bass were released, but they’ll be able to keep them Sunday when the two sea bass by-catch season starts.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported nice action with the porgies.

Kevin Markow of the Surf Kings at Sea Girt reported catching a 28-inch striper just before daylight on a small swimmer despite the dead low tide.

Jim Louro of Spring Lake fished his local surf Fridy evening to release a 26 1/2-inch striper on sand flies — and added a 26-incher this morning.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reports good fluking in the surf where cownose rays are also being reported. Betty & Nick’s reported a 31-inch striper was caught.

 

 

i

Capy. Ron Santee

Little change in council appointments

NOAA Fisheries made very few changes to fishery management councils in this year’s appoinement process. with almost everyone reappointed to new three-year terms.

The New England Council will have Matthew McKenzie of Ct.; Terry Alexander of Maine; John Quinn from Maine; and Eric Reid of R.I. in the obligatory seats plus Vincent Balzano of Maine at-large.

In the Mid-Atlantic, Tony Dilernia  of N.Y. returns along with Adam Nowalsky of N.J., Peter Defur of Vir., and Sara Windslow from North Carolina.

It appears that the early thunder and lightning scared off most fishermen as there were no reports. The marine forecast had warnings for hazardous seas into tonight, though the wind forecasts for the rest of the week are only 5-10 mph from the west.

 

Capt. Stan Zagleski of Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands reports fluke being cleaned on his boat often have mantis shrimp in their stomachs. That strange-looking creature has long been a favorite of stripers and weakfish in Raritan Bay. They’re also a great permit bait in Northwest Channel at Key West if you can find them in shrimp boat “trash” (by-catch)

mantis shrimp.jpg

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

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

 

 

Opening day fluking was promising

The opening day of the N.J. fluke season was probably better than most anglers expected as weather conditions were perfect.

Capt. Ron Santee was pleased with the drift in Raritan Bay as wind and the outgoing tide were together for anglers on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. Fluke were located in many areas. and keepers were well represented.  Robert Neilsen and his wife combined for five. The pool fluke was a 6.3-pounder.

Capt. Stan Zagleski said his early start with Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands gave him a jump on the competition as fluke were found in several areas and there were some limits. He’ll continue to sail at 6 a.m. through Memorial Day.

Elaine B fluke

Capt. Rob Semkewyc is sticking with the striped bass on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands . The last couple of days have been slower, but today’s catch was topped by a 27-pounder fought by Jon  Keidel. The skipper hopes the full moon coming up will spark the striper action.

Capt. Sal Cursi relocated to Florida. but didn’t forget everything he learned from years of running his Cathy Sea from Sewaren. He Joined Capt. Hans Kaspersetz and his crew on Sheri Berri from Twin Lights Marina in Highlands as they scratched out a few fussy stripers plus some opening day fluke.

Cursi said they only had one bluefish at a time of year when we used to be overrun with them. Yet, Nick Honachefsky reports that Keith Schaudecker got into 15 gator blues up to 16 pounds Wednesday off Port Monmouth on live bunkers from his Castaway.

It took awhile to find them, but Bob Correll of Bay Head and I had plenty of action with 3-to-4-pound blues while casting Thursday afternoon in Manasquan River from his Boston Whaler. Metal was the best bet, but Bob also got hits flycasting.

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle had no luck with stripers and blues before switching to sea bass for a good pick along with a few ling. Miss Belmar Princess ran north, but didn’t find stripers and blues before finishing up with sea bass.

At Point Pleasant, the Queen Mary had a good catch of sea bass today, Don Marantz and his party fished yesterday on Barb-Gail for limits of sea bass and some ling. Mimi VI will be sailing open on Tuesday. Call 732 370-8019 for reservations.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported surfcasting was slower Thursday, but bluefish are hitting bunker chunks off local docks.  Billy Martin checked into Betty & Nick’s early this morning with two 19-inch fluke taken in IBSP on a white bucktail with a chartreuse Gulp.

Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant,  weighed a 35-pound, 14-ounce striper caught from a boat for Bill McCrystal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A tough day in Raritan Bay

After a great Tuesday morning jigging bite, party boat striper fishermen had a much tougher time Wednesday, when only a few keepers and shorts were hooked. That was actually very good compared to Thursday. Capt. Ron Santee ran his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands all over the bay without marking all the bait and fish seen the day before — ending up without a bite. The Golden Eagle from Belmar read some fish and bait, but got no hits.

Don Marantz of Clarksburg had a charter on Billchaser out of Twin Lights Marina in Highlands. They started out with a 27-inch bass, but after that only had a skate and a big sea robin chunking —  while trolling was also unproductive,

Chuck Many said it was tougher on his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands than it was Tuesday when four of us released 30 bass up to 33 pounds on live bunkers.  Yet, he and three other anglers managed to release 17 stripers on both live bunkers and chunks today. The largest was a Ty Man season best of 40 pounds, though the next largest was only about half that size.

I gave the Sea Girt surf a brief try this morning, and got blanked there for the third time this spring. Jimmy Wilson felt the water and said the temperature had dropped quite a bit due to upwelling from the gusty southwest afternoon winds.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported John Alcoriza released both a large bluefish and a decent bass Wednesday night in the surf. Betty & Nick’s had the first blowfish reports in the surf. Adult bunkers have moved in close enough to be snagged, but there have been no reports of hook-ups.

Big bass38-pounder before release from Ty Man on Wednesday.