Small craft warnings up through Monday afternoon

The cold, raw spring continues as small craft warnings are posted through tomorrow afternoon.

Northeast winds of 15-20 knots tonight drop a bit to north at 10-15 plus gusts to 20 in the morning along with likely showers.

Scott Leadbeater of Haddon Heights got his Aquasport center console into the water yesterday morning for its 24th year at Atlantic Highlands , and took advantage of the calm morning to fish for stripers among about 100 boats in Raritan Bay from Romer Shoal to Union Beach. Only one short was caught among lots of marks tight to the bottom before he moved to Chapel Hill where the marks were higher. Three stripers from 15 to 18 pounds were then caught in 30 minutes.

Tommy Cox has been enjoying kayak fishing in Lemon Bay on Florida’s lower west coast before heading back to New Jersey. Casting to the mangroves has produced a variety of species up to large redfish and snook.

The lack of pressure on Florida’s east coast has resulted in much better fishing. My nephew, Todd Correll got a report of one boat that caught 40 sailfish in a day off Key West, which is something I’ve never heard of there before.

Stripers best bet for weekend

Striped bass in Raritan Bay are the best bet at present, if you can find a way to get at them. Relatively few anglers have boats in the water so far, and getting launched may be a problem as marinas aren’t considered to be an essential business. To top it off, there are no party boats sailing in the bay, and some charter skippers aren’t sailing until the legality of doing so is settled.

Joe Massa went out himself with his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina today and had steady action casting a large shad. He then netted some bunkers and found that the bass responded to them as well. The stripers were mostly 15-20-pounders, but he also released a 40-incher.

Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina can supply bait, and reported a pick of flounder from the docks.  One angler told them that he had done well with stripers at Union Beach. A few small stripers have been taken on lures in the local surf.

At Seaside Park, Betty & Nick’s  is open for food take-outs, and the rest of the store is accessible for bait and tackle purchases. John Bushell continues to report a strong smell of bluefish blowing in from the surf, though it’s very early for blues.

Grumpy’s Tackle is closed, but the mail order business continues for those using Pay Pal.

Bill Hoblitzell has been raking worms and fishing for flounder, but only catching shorts lately. Yet, he did get a surprise in Point Pleasant Canal when a very early 18-inch blackfish put up a spirited battle on light tackle before the release.

Lots of N.J. anglers are still in Florida. Ric Gross of Point Pleasant said he had a fine offshore trip Wednesday with a boat  out of Hillsboro Inlet which trolled lots of blackfin tuna plus little tunny.

Tommy Cox bought a kayak, and has been doing very well in Lemon Bay on the west coast with seatrout, redfish and snook –including a 30-incher yesterday.

Vinny D’Anton is still wading in the Sarasota area, and finding good action as the waters have warmed to 80 degrees. Snook have been hitting the Zara Spook, though it’s been hard to get hooks in them. Seatrout and ladyfish have also been abundant.

Bob Corell of Bay Head and his wife Mary Agnes hosted his brother Todd and wife Karen on his Sea Vee out of Marathon yesterday as they finally got a calm day which produced a good catch of dolphin and blackfin tuna trolling out at the Hump.

Capt. Sal Cursi, who ran the Cathy Sea from Seawaren for many years,  took advantage of the good weather a couple of days ago to get out in his small boat at Palm Bay for a limit of mangrove snappers while releasing a few puppy black drum.

 

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

Bad news for northern anglers

NOAA has the following bad news about recreational regulations for cod and haddock in the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank:

Proposed 2018 Groundfish Recreational Regulations – Open for Public Comment
By April 6, please submit your comments on proposed groundfish recreational measures for 2018. Recreational possession of Gulf of Maine cod would continue to be prohibited, the haddock possession limit would be reduced from 12 to 10 fish for the charter/party fleet, and a new closed season would be implemented in May for private anglers. For Georges Bank cod, we are proposing an increase to the minimum size from 22 to 24 inches, and a possession limit for the for-hire fleet, set at 10 fish.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar will be sailing for cod on Thursday, while the Golden Eagle from that port gets started Friday for herring and mackerel.

Vinnie D’Anton reports from Sarasota that shore fishing was very good again today for spotted sea trout plus ladyfish, Spanish mackerel, snook and flounder all on the 3-inch Gulp  Shrimp in new penny color.

Joe Greco fished for redfish for the first time this spring on his small boat out of Fort Myers and cast for two of 20 and 22 inches.

Yesterday I fished from shore in the Miami area for some very unusual fish, and will have photos in tomorrow’s blog.