Canyon tuna trolling breaks open

The Canyon trolling season broke open with a bang for the Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant as Captains Deane Lambros and Mike Zajac made a Friday run to Lindenkohl Canyon.

They arrived at first light and had the first bluefin at 8 a.m. There were a dozen by noon, and it only got better as the final count was 39 tuna. Most were bluefins, but yellowfins were included — along with albacore which usually aren’t  here this early. In recent years, the spring canyon trolling has been better than the traditional summer and fall sport — though the spring  bluefins are often on the small side.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had another day which started slowly in a strong current before sea bass and ling turned on as the current slacked.

Despite the fog, Dave Lilly got off to a good start trolling bunker spoons for stripers over 20 pounds until a “red tide” moved into the middle of Raritan Bay and the bite died out though he still marked bass and bunkers.

Of course that’s not the real red tide that kills fish in Florida and  some other areas, but it turned the clear waters reddish.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano waited for the fog to lift before joining a friend at Sea Bright to seek bass in the ocean where there was a bite yesterday afternoon. They saw scattered bunkers in several areas before trolling at the Rocks and Highlands Bridge without marking a bass. However, as they ran back around the Hook there were large bass on top. They ended up having a blast casting poppers to those fish before they moved on.

Dense fog is predicted again tomorrow morning with southeast winds at 5-10 knots.

 

 

Fluke better today for northern boaters

The lack of reports from boats fishing for fluke in the Raritan Bay area had me worried about that fishery, but Capt. Ron Santee noted that both short and keeper fluke responded better today on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. The action was on incoming tide, and one fare managed a three-fish limit.

Bad news from there was relayed by Scott Leadbeater, who saw a boat on fire this morning in mid-bay at 8:30. He heard that the people aboard were rescued. A few stripers were being picked in the Old Orchard area by boaters fishing a variety of lures and baits.

Sea bass held up for the Golden Eagle as anglers on that Belmar party boat had big bass plus some ling during a fine day. A “nice” striper was lost due to a broken line.

If you get lucky while bottom fishing you might catch a 12-pound blackfish like Greg Harms of Untion did while fishing recently on Kaitlyn Nicole out of Sandy Hook Bay Marina recently. Capt. Chris Mahon released the trophy tog which was out of season

blackfish - 12 lbs

Chuck Many continues to release big stripers from his Ty Man out of Gateway Marina in Highlands. He had Ian Gardner and Alex Katyan aboard Saturday as 22 up to 48 pounds were caught — 15 on eels and six on live bunkers.

Small craft warnings go down tonight, and the morning forecast is for just 5-10 knot southeast winds plus patchy fog.

Bumpy morning turns out well

The only report I could find today came from the Golden Eagle out of Belmar which reported a bumpy start before an unexpected calming of the ocean which resulted in a good catch of sea bass along with some ling and winter flounder.  Some anglers anglers managed sea bass limits.

The Queen Mary did not sail from Point Pleasant, but will be going Monday.

The Jamaica from Brielle is sold out for Memorial Day, but is taking reservations for Tuesday and the rest of the week.

There was a lack of wind and poor drifting conditions for the Raritan Bay fluke fleet yesterday, but no reports today when there was east wind that should have been good in Sandy Hook Bay.

The Little Hawk from Atlantic Highlands posted a video of releasing a 52-pound striper on Friday which was far larger than this year’s 38 inch maximum  in N.J. waters.

Capt. Jim Freda reports it’s been slow developing, but he got into bluefish Friday in Manasquan River with his Shore Catch.

Freda blue

Small craft warnings are up tonight with northeast gusts to 20 knots, but it’s forecast to drop to east at just 5-10 knots by morning as seas settle to 3 to 5 feet.

 

Ling bite in the rain

A few claps of thunder early in the morning and some rain may have scared off most anglers as there are hardly any reports today.

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle noted a slow start again due to a strong current, but once that slowed down the sea bass hit — and there were many more ling than yesterday.  The Big Mohawk only noted that they had a good day. They had limited on sea bass during Friday’s trip while adding ling and the first whiting I’ve heard of in a long time.

There were no fluke reports from the northern fleet, but Nick Honachefsky caught a keeper yesterday in Manasquan Inlet along with shorts in just 1 1/2 hours of fishing.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano was expecting to do much better with fluke yesterday in Shark River but instead found a mass of boats and only one keeper for his crew among 32 fluke.

Kevin Kuriawa made the right move by fishing the south end of Barnegat Bay with Andy Hoydich as they boated four keeper fluke and released others that were close. Andy caught a small bluefish, and it was fillets from that fish on bucktails that produced all the fluke despite an abundance of grass.

The Mimi VI will sail open from Point Pleasant at 6:30 a.m. on Monday and Friday. The limited trip for sea bass costs $120. Reservations must be made by calling 732 370-9019.

Small craft warnings go up at 6 p.m. into late  Sunday night. Northeast winds gust to 30 knots tonight, but drop to 15-20 by morning before switching to east at 10-15 knots in the afternoon.

Slow start to NJ fluke

It was a beautiful day for fishing, but I didn’t get many reports of hot fishing.

The only report from the northern fluke boats came from Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. He said it started very slowly, with only a couple of shorts before the tide turned and brought in warmer waters from the river. After that they picked away with a couple of fares bagging their three fluke limit. A 3-pounder took the pool. Santee emphasized the importance of reserving a spot as Gov. Murphy is allowing only up to 25 anglers on a party boat.

Bob Correll had to work his way through a fluke fleet to get out of Manasquan River with his Sea Vee to fish Axel Carlsen Reef for a pick of sea bass on the drift. He heard on the radio that some boaters did well with fluke in the back, though the mob working the inlet did little. Some cocktail blues were also caught in the river.

Capt. Arthur Stokes fished Shark River with his 16-foot trailered boat as his son (8) boated the only keeper among shorts. There had been lots of fluke there before the season opened, but Arthur said the water felt very cold.

Party boat sea bass reports were better. At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer limited out as jigs and sand eel teasers worked best. Some ling and a few cod were also caught. The morning trip is sold out, but there are openings on the 3:30 p.m. weekend sailings.

The Golden Eagle reported a slow start in a strong current before they ended up with many limits of sea bass plus ling.

Frank Huza of Aberdeen made the long walk at Sandy Hook to find cold water and both sides of the tip closed to all uses. He saw the fleet of party and private boats drifting off the Bug Light. That spot will be even more crowded Sunday as it’s perfect in a northeast wind which is predicted for the afternoon after starting at just 5 knots from the east. The wind builds up to 10-15 northeast with gusts to 20 knots. Showers are also forecast.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported Monday was the best surf day with many 22-to- 27-inch stripers caught on clam and bunker, though lures weren’t producing. Small blues have been best in the south end of the bay, along with good numbers of blowfish.

John Bushell, Jr. at Betty & Nick’s said he’s heard that large blues are hitting in the bay, though only at night.

 

Trophy tuna closes tonight – NJ fluke starts tomorrow

If you want to boat a Trophy giant tuna in the Angling category, you’d better get right out there now as the northern Trophy allowance will be closed at 11:30 p.m. — and through Dec. 31. That classification for permitted boats allows for the one giant that can’t be sold and is often quickly filled. Thus, the surprising run of inshore giants in NY/NJ Bight will now be catch and release.  However, the new bluefin rules allow private boaters one large medium from 47 inches up to below the giant minimum of 73 inches — and two of that size for charter boats.

Of more interest to most anglers in N.J., the fluke season opens tomorrow with lots of that species having already been released in the coastal rivers. The regulations are the same as last year — with three at an 18-inch minimum being the bag limit.

Ocean waters are still cold(the Weather Service listed 47 degrees at Point Pleasant), but it should be much warmer in the rivers and bays — especially on outgoing tides.

No Shore party boat has indicated to me that they’ll be fluking right away, as sea bass are a much better target at present. The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported “crushing” sea bass today, with many scoring limits (10) of 12 1/2-inch minimum bass along with ling. The Golden Eagle from Belmar will be sailing for sea bass at 7 a.m. — and also on their first magic hours trip at 4:30 p.m., which will be repeated Sunday afternoon.

The Raritan Bay fluke fleet will be out in force tomorrow.  As with the ocean boats, reservations are required for boats that will fill up quickly due to limited capacities and social distancing. Masks will be required, and possibly also gloves. Don’t expect any special fares under these conditions. Check for new sailing times.

Drifting conditions should be good with a south-southeast wind of about 11 knots on a sunny, cool day. More wind is forecast for Saturday with 18 knots from the north-northeast. That should be perfect for the Bug Light drift at Sandy Hook.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano said the report he got this morning was that the striper fishing was slow for the second day in a row.  Those fish should be spawning in the Hudson River aroud this time.

Surfcasters should find better conditions tomorrow with chest high waves forecasted, it’s questionable if surf waters will have cleared by then.

 

Gale should moderate

It’s literally blowing a gale as this is being written, but conditions should improve before the fluke opener on Friday and the Memorial Day weekend.

East winds up to 40 knots today are predicted to drop to 20-25 with gusts to 30 by morning, when seas will be 8 to 11 feet.

The Big Mohawk from Belmar may try to get out tomorrow, but be sure to call tonight at 732 974-9606. They had many sea bass limits yesterday, and also several “head fish” — which are properly known as anglers, or as monkfish in the market. If you fish wrecks in the big swell, you’ll also probably catch congers (silver eels) which usually come out of their hiding spots  under those conditions.

The Big Jamaica from Brielle plans to sail Thursday at 7:30 a.m. before sailing sea bass Marathons the next three days. Reservations at 732 528-5014 are required for all trips.  Masks must be worn.

The Mimi VI from Point Pleasant is taking reservations for open boat sea bass trips Friday and Saturday at 6:30 a.m.. The $120 limited trips can be reserved at 732 370-8019.

 

Blassberg bass Dave Glassberg’s 54-pounder with Chuck Many on Ty Man before release

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.

 

 

For–hire fishing a go for tomorrow

Much to my surprise, Gov. Murphy  opened up party and charter boat fishing in N.J. , plus boat rentals, as of 6 a.m. Sunday under restrictions that weren’t specified, but are probably those already proposed by the United Boatmen and RFA and checked by the DEP.

You will have to make payment in advance in order to eliminate payment contact, and provide name, address and phone contact information for possible contact tracing. No one with a temperature or virus symptoms will be allowed aboard, and the boat may require facial coverings and gloves.

The Jamaica from Brielle will be sailing for sea bass at 6:01 a.m. Since that trip had been cancelled, even those with reservations have to call 732 528-5014 to confirm they are included in the reduced capacity required for social distancing.

The Golden Eagle will open its season from Belmar at 7:30 a.m. Sunday and Monday.

Bud McArthur of Brick fished with friends in 60-70–foot local waters today, and reported legal sea bass (12 1/2 inches) were scarce. The water temperature was fine at 52 degrees, and there was lots of life on bottom even though it was mostly shorts plus bergalls and dogfish. Surprisingly, they did catch some Atlantic mackerel of a foot or so — as did other boats. There was also a report from the Axel Carlsen Reef of some cod.

Bud finished up by trolling bunker spoons for stripers. They had no hits, but a friend doing that off Deal came up with the first ocean bass I’ve heard of so far –a keeper, but not one of the big spawned-out bass coming up from southern spawning grounds.

The Hudson River Fisherman’s Assn. Catch & Release Striper Derby  finished up this weekend as Doug Palmer easily won the tagging division with 22 releases.  There were 35 bass released with ALS tags during the contest.

Joe Albanese sent a quick recap of the 2020 Derby.  Despite only 34 anglers competing, uncooperative winds & weather and low water temperatures we still had a successful Derby. Those fishing further north in the Hudson River had much more success than those fishing Haverstraw or south. We opened the Derby up this year to tributaries of the Hudson River and received a bunch of photos of bass captured in the Hackensack River from Dirk van Everdingen. In WEEK-1 there were only 12 stripers entered. Two photos were disqualified. However, two of the biggest fish were entered just a few hours into the Derby start. They were from Douglas Dean and Shane Dean. In WEEK-2 there were only 7 stripers entered.  In WEEK-3 there were 9 entries and 1 disqualification. In WEEK-4 the action turned hot and heavy up around the Newburg area. We had 27 entries this last week, 22 from Doug Palmer.
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The morning weather looks great with an east breeze of 10 knots forecast — with mild temperatures and no showers until after midnight.

Betty and Nick’s Tackle in Seaside Park didn’t have any special word on surfcasting except for blowfish.

Congratulations to C.J. Parker (7) who caught his first keeper striped bass yesterday from his father’s boat in Raritan Bay while casting and jigging a 6-ounce white glow Tony Maja mojo with no assistance throughout the fight.

 

 

 

For-Hire fishing being considered

It’s been a long process, but there now seems to be some movement toward reopening party and charter boat fishing with many restrictions.

Jim Hutchinson Jr. of The Fisherman was at Thursday night’s N.J. Marine Fisheries Council meeting when a letter was sent to Gov. Murphy urging such an action with the social distancing provisions worked out by the United Boatmen and RFA.

The Council also noted unanimously to retain the season openings. They could have postponed them in order to add seasons later when more anglers may be fishing.

Fred Golofaro, editor of The Fisherman’s Long Island edition, said New York has worked up similar restrictions, including a 50% capacity cap, that they hope to consolidate with Connecticut and New Jersey for a possible joint for-hire opening.  Gov. Murphy of N.J. did note at this afternoon’s press conference that a charter boat opening was under consideration.

Though the N.J. sea bass season opened today to good morning weather, there were no reports. There was also an opening of the N,J, Striped Bass Bonus Program (SBBP) today, though Bud McArthur said that when he had applied for his tag it was noted that they wouldn’t be available for several weeks. Thus, without the tag to apply, the open season is meaningless. I tried calling the Division of Marine Fisheries late in the afternoon, but the phone wasn’t answered and the mailbox was full.

Storms were predicted for this afternoon, but they may be restricted to the north. A southwest wind gusting to 25 knots is predicted for late afternoon, but it’s down to northwest at 5-10 knots by morning before going to southeast in the afternoon.