$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

 

 

 

Big change in weather coming tomorrow

Northeast winds gusting to 25 mph are forecast for later tonight, and it certainly should be cooler for fishing  tomorrow — but hopefully not too rough.

Getting a drift shouldn’t be the problem it was today for Capt. Rob Semkewyc on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands. He said there was too much bottom current in the deep, but the drift didn’t cover much ground. As a result, action was off from yesterday, the high hook only caught 12 to 15 shorts and there was just a pick of keepers.

Capt. Stan Zagleski said he left the strong bottom currents in the deep and found a fair number of keepers among shorts in shallower waters with his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands.

The hot bluefishing of the last few days along the Shore wasn’t repeated after yesterday afternoon’s hard south winds lowered the inshore water temperatures. At Belmar, the Golden Eagle reported blues were hard to tempt. though better anglers managed about a dozen before they headed offshore for variety bottom fishing and jigging that produced some sea bass and chub mackerel plus a couple of 4-to-5-pound fluke among shorts.  The Ocean Explorer noted that the weatherman was wrong about the weather and they had a beautiful day for fluking.

The Jamaica from Brielle had hot jigging for small blues on their Friday morning trip along with some bonito, A move offshore added sea bass, fluke and chub mackerel. The Big Jamaica has another tilefish trip coming up on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 10 p.m.  Call 732 528-5014 for reservations. John Gorman boated a 50.2-pound tilefish on the last trip.

Jamaica variety below.

Jamaica varietyAt least there were no reports of whales overturning small boats today. This week’s incident off Deal serves as an alert for boaters, though there really isn’t anything you can do to prevent such a rare occurrence. Jerry Lasko of Point Pleasant had a whale almost do the same thing as he was running at high speed out of Manasquan Inlet a few years ago.

The northeast wind may upset casting for semi-tropical species, but I got a report of a cobia being caught yesterday at Manasquan Inlet.

Capt. Vinny Vetere had to do a lot of running with his Katfish from Great Kills on Friday, but he found striped bass that would hit trolled Ho Jos and live bunker in the western L.I. Sound, though chunking was no good. He may have an opening tomorrow.

There was no such excitement in Shark River this morning, but I had light tackle sport with four school stripers on the Z-Man Swimmereez jig.  Frank Manzi did the same on a jig, and finished up with a small bluefish. Vinny D’Anton had caught a schoolie on a Chug Bug in the surf at Belmar the last time I talked to him.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported lots of bait and small blues in the surf on Friday along with fluke and some exotics.

The MidAtlantic opens tomorrow with 4:30 p.m. captains meetings at Canyon Club Resort Marina in Cape May and Sunset Marina in Ocean City, Maryland. Fishing for a purse that should be well over a million dollars starts Monday and continues through Friday.

 

 

White Marlin Open moving toward an exciting finish

There were 213 boats fishing today in the White Marlin Open out of Ocean City , Md. , and if they don’t shake up the standings  it will almost surely happen tomorrow since 335 boats still have a day of eligibility to fish the conclusion.

Nothing is unbeatable, but Joe Rahman must be comfortable with the 881-pound blue marlin he opened the contest with. If no others are weighed, he’s good for $700.000. A blue was brought in yesterday on Sea Note, but it didn’t make the 114-inch minimum length to be weighed.

The big winner so far is Bill Haughland  on Lights Out with a 75-pound white marlin worth $2.4 million. He’s had to sweat out a few smaller whites brought in that made the minimum length but not the 70-pound minimum weight.

Also looking good is the dolphin leader of 50 pounds caught by Louis Genello on Fin-Nominal. Large dolphin have been scarce during tournaments since last year.  The wahoo lead changed again last night after I had done my late blog. Kenny Sexton brought in a 58-pounder on Desperado just three minutes before the scale closed.

It’s the tuna category that’s prime for a shake-up. Only medium yellowfins have been weighed so far, and not many of them. The Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant has had record-breaking bigeye tuna fishing this year, and both boats are in this contest. However, the northern canyons are beyond the 100-mile limit from Ocean City.  There was a big change yesterday as Blinky IV from Point Lookout, N.Y. took over first for $520,000 with a 73.5-pounder,

I’ll have an update on today’s weigh-ins later tonight.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc had good news about fluke action today on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands. Everyone caught lots of fluke though keepers weren’t easy to come by.

The Jamaica from Brielle caught a dolphin and some bonito among the small blues, chub mackerel and sea bass on Wednesday’s trip. They have several August specials.  Go to their web site for savings.

Capt. Vinny Vetere continues to catch stripers up to 35 pounds from his Katfish out of Great Kills. He lost the bunkers for bait after waters were clouded from heavy rains, but they’re back. He’s open for Saturday.

There are some small stripers in the surf, but finding them isn’t easy. I tried the Belmar surf this morning, It was beautiful, but I never raised a thing. Vinny D’Anton was fishing a few miles south of there and came upon a area where he raised seven bass to his Chug Bug and released three from about 17 to 23 inches. Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported some small blues were caught in the surf on metal last evening. Fluke fishing remains the best surf bet. Some rays and brown sharks are being caught at night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can you say hot? Despite the heat inland, the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are finding beautiful conditions once they clear the inlet on their fishing trips. The water is clean, the seas have been calm, and the temperatures are much more comfortable than onshore. When you throw in some nice catches of fish, It adds up to ideal fishing conditions.

 

As an example, the “StarFish with Captain Carl Sheppard along with mates Marlyn Graham and Max Goldman had a group of avid anglers out on their second trip of the year. According to Max, they “threw back tons of fluke” while boating six fluke up to 23-inches. The ocean temperatures were a balmy 74-degrees with the calm breezes making for long slow drifts.

There is action offshore also. Captain Ray Lopez had the Senker group out on the “Miss Liane” for a non-stop day of tuna fishing about 50 miles offshore. The crew left the dock at 2am and began trolling early in the morning. The fish cooperated as the group put four yellowfin tuna in the box ranging from 30 to over 40-pounds. The offshore action is as hot as the weather.

 

A

Capt. Jim Freda outfishes WMO fleet for yellowfins — and does it in local waters

There were 319 of the finest fishing yachts along the east coast fishing during yesterday’s White Marlin Open at Ocean City, Md., but I only counted five tuna weighed in. At the same time, Capt. Jim Freda of Shore Catch Charters put a party from the Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County into 11 yellowfin tuna from 25 to 55 pounds while fishing the 30 line south of Chicken Canyon and looking for life — whales, dolphins and birds as everything is feeding on sand eels. The 55-pounder  being held by mate Jimmy Freda in the photo, would have been fourth in tuna at the WMO

 

Jimmy Freda yellowfin

As noted in last night’s late blog, there was one “see if you can beat that” fish weighed at the WMO. The 881-pound blue marlin weighed by Joe Rahman on Auspicious was the sixth largest in the 45-year history of the event.  That blue will be hard to dislodge from a potential; $700.000 payoff.

WMO blue marlin

Other than that there wasn’t much action on the first day despite good conditions.  The three white marlin brought in were all of legal length, but failed to make the WMO minimum weight of 70 pounds.  There were a few dolphin, with a 36-pounder by Doxie Boys taking over first from Halycon’s 30-pounder.  David Rose’s Dialed-In from Spring Lake took over second in tuna at 69 pounds behind the 71-pounder by Rhonda’s Osprey. Makai is third at 61 pounds. Those tuna entries aren’t likely to stand. There are 150 boats fishing today, and I’ll have the results in a late blog.

The Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant reports there’s been a great night chunking bite for yellowfins in local canyons. They have last minute openings for charters or open boat seats on the weekend. Call Adam La Rosa at 732 272-4445.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc was disappointed in fluking from his Sea Hunter as only a few keepers were caught. Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen noted that while there was good fishing yesterday with no current, it was slower today with a good drift. However, one angler had a 8 5/16-pound pool winner plus a 5 1/4-pounder. Sea bass saved the day for some fares.

At Castaways Tackle in Point Peasant, Joe Melillo had word of a hot bite of fluke over 20 inches yesterday on Sea Girt Reef.  He has green crabs in stock for blackfish in Point Peasant Canal.

Shark River was dead for both Vinny D’Anton and me this morning, and the Belmar surf was no better.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported continued good fluking in the surf’. Shane Carney brought in this 25.5-inch, 6.35-pounder. Shane Carney

Fluke were caught in spite of some rain

The forecast of showers and thunderstorms put a big dent in fishing participation today, and even caused postponement of the Fluke Masters Tournament to Sunday — but the fluke didn’t mind.  Sunday’s weather looks great if you can deal with 5 knot winds.

The JCAA Fluke Tournament came off as scheduled. I’ll post results when they become available.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer reported running through rain on the way out, but ended up fishing under good conditions for a pick of fluke and sea bass. The Big Mohawk had a similar report with very little rain and decent fluking. They’ll be sailing at 6:30 in the morning.

Golden Eagle sea bass

The Golden Eagle had another good day of sea bass action plus a fluke, a few ling and some chub mackerel.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Ron Santee fished in the ocean each of the last two days and had a decent mix of keeper and short fluke plus some sea bass on his Fishermen despite a large swell.

Capt. Stan Zagleski said fluking started off well Friday morning on his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands, but conditions went bad after a thunderstorm and then gusty south winds. Dave Brink of Middletown had two keepers up to the 5-pound pool-winning fluke.

Dave Brink - 5-lb-EBII

The Jamaica from Brielle reported continued good variety fishing on Friday as they had lots of chub mackerel, plus some small blues, ling, and two-fish sea bass limits. Tony Pugh Sr. of Vineland won the pool with a 4.25-pound sea bass. The next tilefish trip will depart at 10 p.m. Aug. 12. Call732 528-5014 for reservations.

The White Marlin Open gets underway in Ocean City, Md. on Aug. 6. More about that tomorrow.

After all that south wind, I could feel cold air coming off the Manasquan surf as I cast into relatively shallow waters without any results.

At Seaside Park, Betty & Nick’s reported the water temperature had dropped to 65 degrees.

Jerry Kramer — Hall-of- Famer & angler

It was good to see Jerry Kramer receive long-overdue accolades last night during the Hall of  Fame pre-season football game. I remember watching Kramer make a great block on the Cowboys’ Jethro Pugh to clear the way for  Bart Starr  to score on a quarterback sneak after three running plays had failed on the minus-18 degree sheet of ice in Green Bay as the Packers came from behind to win  the famed “Ice Bowl” 1967 NFL championship on their last chance with just seconds to go and no time outs left.  It was that game which cemented my interest in professional football.

Kramer was the anchor of those great Vince Lombardi  Packers teams, and he seems to have stood up well over the decades despite the beatings a guard has to take on every play.

It was many years later when I fished with Jerry in the Bahamas and teased a shark in the 150-pound class into a hit that provided him with a lengthy  battle on relatively light tackle.

That occurred during one of Bill Munro’s Mako Marine Outdoor Writers trips during which we’d run Makos from Palm Beach over to various cays in the Bahamas — invariably taking a beating either coming or going across the Gulf Stream in the center consoles.  Kramer joined us on a couple of those trips, and proved to be a friendly, unassuming partner who really enjoyed the sport.

There’s a photo of him during that battle with the shark in my Outdoorsman’s Edge Guide to Salt Water Fishing as I stand alongside with the tagging stick. Since no blue marlin were trolled during the trip, that shark release won Kramer the award for largest fish — a unique addition to what has to be a huge collection of football awards now topped by the Hall of Fame.

Though I didn’t get any notice about the Community Fire Company Fluke Masters Tournament out of Leonardo, there was a note from Ron McClelland on Facebook noting that the event has been postponed from Saturday to Sunday. The 7:30 p.m. captains meeting will go on this evening.

Ironically, the small craft warnings that have been up this week went down today. The south wind forecast for Saturday isn’t bad, and seas are only predicted to be 3 to 4 feet, though there is a likely chance of showers and thunderstorms — whereas Sunday looks to be perfect,

The statewide JCAA Fluke Tournament will go on as scheduled because there’s always protected places to fish for fluke.

The only party boat fluke report today came from the Big Mohawk out of Belmar. They had a good day with lots of action and many limits of fluke up to 7 pounds. They sailed at 6:30 a.m. and will do so until future notice.

Also at Belmar, the Golden Eagle had another good day with sea bass plus a few ling, a fluke and some chub mackerel.

Shark River shore casting was totally dead this morning as both Vinny D’Anton and I failed to get a hit despite good conditions. but no bait. He also checked the area beaches which were very shallow then — and somewhat cooler after all the south winds.

An angler who fished Point Pleasant Canal in the morning said there were schools of peanut bunkers going through, but nothing on them. He didn’t get a hit while flyrodding.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports fluking is still the best bet in the surf. Tyler Pierce brought in a 3-pound, 20.5-incher he caught on Gulp in Island Beach State Park,

Tyler Pierce

R. I P. Walter F. Johnson III

The Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club got their White Marlin Invitational underway today, and I’ll add a blog later if there are any weigh-ins this evening. The registration gathering last night was stunned with the news that the club’s greatest striped bass fisherman has died. As best I can determine at this time, Walter F. Johnson III was only 66.

Walt’s proudest catch among many he made was a 59.40-pound striper  boated in 2008. I had the privilege of fishing with him and his daughter Allison from Vermont aboard Chuck Many’s Tyman from Highlands a couple of years ago. I’ll have more information about the passing of one of New Jersey’s famed anglers as it becomes available.

Walter Johnson III

Speaking of huge stripers, Fred Golofaro reports from the Long Island edition of The Fisherman magazine that quite a few 50-and-60-pound trophy bass have been caught at Montauk and Block Island this summer. However, Capt. Vinnie Vetere  has been proving that there are still similar lunkers to the west. He did a crew trip earlier this week with his Katfish from Great Kills and trolled his Ho-Jos to not only boat a 60.10-pounder himself — but added a 53 for a friend. He was hoping he’d found the ultimate honey hole for huge stripers, but a charter party the next day had to settle for a limit up to the twenties.

Vetere -62

Though many boats sailed into much better weather conditions today, there were few reports.   The Golden Eagle from Belmar had no trouble filling the two-fish limits of sea bass once again along with some fluke and ling plus a few of the targeted, but so far scarce bluefish.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc wasn’t happy with the fluking is found on a beautiful day with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands. It wasn’t nearly as good as yesterday as there were relatively few keepers among the shorts.

Shore fishermen benefited from the poor weather earlier in the week when there was no boat traffic. That changed today, and I only released two school stripers in Shark River. However, Vinny D’Anton caught two before I arrived on jigs, and later waded to an area where his Chug Bug raised bass up to a 24-incher during a brief flurry that was the first surface showing in some time.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle reported better surf conditions and continued good fluking  there. Rays also returned to the calmer surf.

Allen Riley of South Plainfield didn’t have high hopes for Sandy Hook this morning, but found the surf to be quite fishable. There were some snappers popping out of range, and they didn’t bother his Gulp in the wash that produced two small fluke while another hit a bunker chunk.

The big money Grandpa Savino Memorial Fluke Tournament will be contested out of Great Kills on Saturday after having been postponed last Saturday due to the weather forecast.

The weather forecast for the weekend sounds pretty good if you can handle the forecasted 5-10-knot winds.

Much better weather & fishing

Though several party boats planned to sail today, the only report I received by mid-afternoon was a good one from Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter at Atlantic Highlands. His only problem was the lack of anglers on the docks this morning which, he attributed to the weather forecast. I don’t know what they heard, but it looked good to me — especially for inshore fishing.

The small craft warnings were just for waves that have created a messy surf, but are of no consequence except for small boaters having to exercise caution at inlets during the end of the ebb tide.  That small craft advisory is continued through Friday afternoon though the forecast for tomorrow is SW winds 5 to 10 knots with 3-5-foot seas.

Semkewyc said it was a gorgeous day on the water, and fluking was pretty good as everyone had a keeper and some bagged two among a lot of action with shorts.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported surprisingly good fluke action in less than ideal surf conditions. Hen Hollins weighed a 23-inch, 4.65-pounder this week, and a 24-incher was also reported. S&S bucktails with a Gulp teaser rig are doing the job.

Ken Hollins flukeThere was some life with school stripers in Shark River this morning. I cast a paddletail jig to release seven up to a 25-incher. Frank Manzi got one early, but returned late in the morning to once again find good action under the sun as he added six bass up to a 24-incher.

The Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club’s White Marlin Invitational got underway today, but I haven’t been able to find out if anyone sailed.  I suspect that most will opt for the great forecasts of light winds and moderate seas right through Sunday.

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