Get some Spanish mackerel while they last

The present abundance of rainfish has attracted great numbers of small blues to the Jersey Shore, along with some bonito, little tunny, chub mackerel and even Spanish mackerel. The latter is a semi-tropical species which is only spotted here during some late summers. and normally is hard to get a shot at as they only arc out of the water and disappear.  Though Spanish mackerel are commonly caught from the surf on both sides of Florida, they’re a relative rarity here. Like bonito, they usually respond best to small, very fast moving lures such as small metals and bucktails.

The Spanish mackerel we see here are normally small. Yet I can testify to the fact that they grow larger. When I was a Navy officer stationed at the Naval Base in Trinidad, West Indies in 1961 I used to troll many of them in the Caribbean from a 20-foot pirogue carved from a single tree and powered by an old West Bend 12 hp outboard. Most were just a couple of pounds, and I’d never caught one over 5 pounds until Oct. 18 that year when I was shocked to boat an 11-pounder on a small white feather. The IGFA didn’t keep world records for Spanish mackerel until many decades later and the present world record isn’t much larger — at 13 pounds from Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina. Thus, I suspect my personal best will continue to stand. Nick Honachefsky took this shot of his surf-caught Spanish mackerel this week.Spanish.JPG

Bonito are also unusually abundant close to shore, though mostly quite small.  Nick Honachefsky, of the Saltwater Underground daily video, got into a big blast of them during an afternoon trip outside  Manasquan Inlet this week with Jerry Malanga and Alex Kondas as over 30 were caught among all the bluefish.

bonito on boat.JPG

They also fished killies at pots further offshore to catch some chicken dolphin.  The cold front predicted for this weekend could be a problem for our semi-tropical fishing.

Joe Melillo of Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant ran his small boat out the inlet yesterday evening and said there were so many birds working over feeding blues that he could only cast side arm to keep the line low and avoid tangling birds on every cast.

At Atlantic Highlands, there was a big improvement in fluke fishing as drifting conditions were good all day. Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter said the bottom of Ambrose Channel seemed to be paved with fluke even though most are shorts. A couple of fares caught over 30, but there was a 4.5-pound pool winner.  Semkewyc said a basic rig was best with just a Gulp and spearing worked off bottom.

Capt. Ron Santee had a charter with McCarter & English on his Fishermen as everyone went home with dinner.  Pink Slime Gulp  with a fresh peanut bunker worked well.

The Angler had a new leader in both the Big and monthly pools Wednesday when Lance Reis of Morristown boated an 8 3/8-pound fluke — but Jim Custer boated an identical fluke the next day to share the lead.

Tank Matraxia joined friends from Lyndhurst on a charter aboard the Bingo today, The boat was anchored off Sea Bright for porgies, but very few were caught along with some sea bass. Tank caught a good-sized grey triggerfish.  A few anglers cast bucktails off the stern and boated a few legal fluke while Tank put 4 ALS tags in the shorts.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had another great start with hot jigging for 1-to-3-pound blues, plus some bonito and chub mackerel mixed in,  before that died late in the morning — and then went off to add some fluke and sea bass.

My second cast into Shark River this morning produced a 20-inch striper on a Kettle Creek paddletail, but the next hit resulted in a missing tail. I switched to a bluefish-proof Z Man Swimmereez to end up with three stripers plus two blues in the 3-pound class. Frank Manzi caught a 22-inch bass on a popper.  Vinny D’Anton worked the beach and released five bass in the 18-inch class that hit his Chug Bug.

 

Loads of small blues for boaters

It was just a few days ago that I was discussing the lack of bluefish this season with some other writers, but all that has changed for boaters. Shore party boats are running into whitewater action with mostly 1-to-3-pound blues as their anglers catch 15-fish limits quickly before the boats head offshore to chum large quantities of chub mackerel and possibly some slightly larger blues while hooking sea bass, ling and fluke on bottom. Joe Melillo of Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant said he counted 37 boats fishing in front of Manasquan Inlet during the middle of the morning.

A few bonito, Spanish mackerel and small little tunny may be mixed in with the blues. Surfcasters get shots at those fish, but the action is sporadic with low tides at dawn and dusk while beaches are full of bathers and parking is often impossible during the day. While fishing the Manasquan surf early this morning, I saw a young angler cast metal at some fish that popped up within casting range and catch two very small bonito.

Nick Honachefsky  managed to catch his first Spanish mackerel casting from shore in N.J. yesterday morning.

Nick Spanish.jpg

The Jamaica from Brielle had one of those slightly larger blues offshore yesterday when Bruce Bates of Philadelphia won the pool with a 4-pounder.

Atlantic Highlands party boats had to fight strong currents today in their quest for fluke.  Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen said he never had to work so hard with so little to show for it. The Ambrose current was strong on the bottom while running in the opposite direction on top. A run offshore resulted in more current problems, while there was no drift further inshore. There was finally a bite late in the day, but it was mostly shorts. Yet, the pool fluke was just under 7 pounds, and there were a couple of very large sea bass boated.  The Fishermen is chartered Friday morning.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc was also frustrated by the poor drifting conditions on his Sea Hunter, but put together a catch of keepers among the shorts.

Capt. Stan Zagleski  didn’t fight the current conditions and went into shallower waters to pick some keepers on Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reports it was such a nice day that there was little drift offshore. Fluking was way off from the previous day, but some fluke and sea bass were picked during short drifts on rock piles.

 

 

West wind worked for some

Today’s west wind was just what the Ocean Explorer from

 

Belmar wanted, and they reported red hot fluke fishing with lots of keepers up to 8 pounds. Pink and white were the best jig colors once again.

Fluke reports from Atlantic Highlands weren’t as good. Capt. Ron Santee of the Fishermen said a hard south current combined with the west wind to create rough conditions where they had fished yesterday. A move to rocky bottoms resulted in calmer waters and a decent pick.  Yesterday was much better as a 6.8-pounder was boated before Capt. Ron Sr. added a 6.2-pound fluke. The skipper’s son, Ron Jr., boated a 5-pounder and most fares did well. Capt. Rob Semkewyc wasn’t happy with the west wind that was harder than forecast, but ended up with a decent catch on his Sea Hunter.

Small blues provided Shore party boats with a shot of good jigging action. The Golden Eagle from Belmar then went offshore to add chub mackerel and some sea bass.

The Jamaica from Brielle got into small blues yesterday morning, but they were hard to catch. As a result, they set up for chumming offshore to load up on chub mackerel plus a few ling and sea bass — while dolphin also invaded the slick.

Jamaica dolphin

 

Adam La Rosa is looking forward to the MidAtlantic Tournament in Cape May, where the Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant has been in the money four of the last five years. They have only one charter date left in August for chunking yellowfins

Mike Barrasso of Bay Head went to his local beach at 3:30 yesterday afternoon and was finally able to reach surfacing bonito to catch not only one –but a doubleheader on a hammered metal and a Joe Melillo Castaways Tackle teaser.

Outdoor writer Nick Honachefsky has caught bonito from the local surf before, but never a Spanish mackerel until this morning. After a series of mishaps at Point Pleasant, he made a blind cast before leaving and broke the ice.

Vinnie D’Anton fished north of Manasquan Inlet and was at the right place when some stripers started rolling. He released four up to 24 inches on a Chug Bug, and switched to metal when a school of small blues zipped by to catch one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pres. Trump signed billfish Conservation Act

 

President Trump Signs Amended Billfish Conservation Act!
Wild Oceans reports : We are happy to report that on August 2nd, President Trump signed into law HR 4528, the amended Billfish Conservation Act, closing a loophole in the 2012 act that allowed billfish caught under a “traditional fisheries” exemption for the Hawaiian islands to be sold in the mainland U.S., contrary to the BCA’s original intent.

Wild Oceans and IGFA began a campaign 10 years ago to Take Marlin off The Menu because we believe the future of these magnificent fish is not for sale. At the time, the United States was the largest importer of billfish.  The strengthened Billfish Conservation Act now ensures that no marlin, sailfish or spearfish can be sold in the continental United States, no matter where they are caught.

Today’s unpredicted east blow plus heavy rain probably kept everyone in this morning, but the ocean became fishable in the afternoon. Light west to southwest winds are forecasted for days to come. and the chance of showers ends on Wednesday,

The Golden Eagle from Belmar reports that the Sunday afternoon trip produced keeper sea bass among the shorts plus a large fluke and some chub mackerel.

The Jamaica from Brielle  started out with small blues Sunday morning along with a few bonito — then got blues back in the slick before chub mackerel took over. Kevin Zhong of Edison won the pool with a 7-pound bonito while adding a limit of 3-to-4-pound blues, several ling and lots of chubs.

Paul Haertel of the JCAA took his boat offshore to seek tuna for the first time in about 25 years last weekend and was delighted to boat a yellowfin tuna plus a dolphin.d

Capt. John Contello had a boat limit of fluke Sunday on his Just Sayin’ from Keyport. Included was the boat’s largest of the season — an 11-pound doormat that was a personal best for Mike Morgan.

Mike Morgan 11-lb on Just Syin.jpg

Vinny D’Anton figured Shark River would be a good place to hide from the northeaster this morning, but the only problem was a lack of fish in those protected waters.

Joe Melillo of Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant was hoping for another blast of Spanish mackerel this morning at Bay Head, but turned around after getting a blast from that east wind.

 

Please ignore empty boxes

Spanish mackerel in the surf

A very unusual showing of Spanish mackerel within range of surfcasters occurred today.  Some years we see a few jumping a little too far out, but that semi-tropical species does come in closer at times. You just have to be at the right place at the right time.

I was at the right place this morning as I cast a popper for stripers at Bay Head around dawn without raising anything or seeing any bait.  Joe Melillo, of Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant,  arrived as I left and caught two big sea robins casting a Run Off Sand Eel jig  — and was still there when the Spanish showed up. He could barely reach them, but caught three on that jig. I also heard that Joe Milko was fishing north of Manasquan Inlet when he saw another angler catch a Spanish on a metal before he switched to a metal and also caught one.  The best bet for them is to make long casts to where they are showing and reel the jig as fast as possible.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park didn’t report ant exotics, but noted some small blues are hitting metal in the surf — and fluking in the surf remains very good. They say all you need is Gulp and a bucktail. The Gulp 4-inch Swimming Mullet is standard, but those using the 5-inch Gulp Swinning Mullet or 6-inch Grub are catching more keepers while not getting as many hits.

Shell E. Caris fluke

Shell E. Caris is a famed surf striper pro, but even he is giving fluking some time. This 22-incher weighed 3.55 pounds.

There was lots of short fluke action out of Atlantic Highlands today. Capt. Rob Semkewyc said there were DEP employees aboard his Sea Hunter today who selected several anglers to check. Paul Schuckalo kept them busy as he caught 26 shorts and two keepers.  Capt. Ron Santee was into that short action on the Fishermen, but Scott Ure and his son combined for five keepers. Despite the forecast, it was a beautiful day without a drop of rain.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had catches of up to a bucket of chub mackerel today along with some sea bass, blues and ling.

Joe Massa decided to make a mid-afternoon  trip with his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina after it became obvious that the dire predictions weren’t likely to occur. The only problem with going out then is that bait is a lot harder to castnet than early in the morning. We couldn’t find any adult bunkers, and only  a few peanuts, but gave the Hudson River a quick shot anyway. I got a good fight out of a 15-pound striper on light conventional tackle before the release, and Joe released a similar bass before we ran back as the south wind started to blow harder.

 

 

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

NJ fluke & sea bass regs to be set today

Click here for the accessible version

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Re: 2018 Fluke and Sea Bass Options
Paul Haertel of the JCAA reports as follows on today’s NJ Marine Fisheries Council meeting which will select one of the approved options for both the fluke & sea bass seasons:
2018 FLUKE AND SEA BASS OPTIONS
     Below are the options for fluke and sea bass that the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council will consider at their next meeting on 4/5/18 at 5 PM at the Bay Av. Community Center located at 775 East Bay Av., Manahawkin, NJ.  The public will have an opportunity to give their opinions before the council votes on which options to adopt.  A top priority for JCAA is to close the gap between when fluke season ends and sea bass season begins. We certainly don’t want to go seven weeks with little to fish for inshore as we had to do last year after fluke season ended on 9/5. I will post the final regulations on the JCAA FB page on Thursday evening. Please “like” our page to keep abreast of the regulations and other important fisheries news.
Paul Haertel, JCAA Board Member – Past President
 
Fluke Options
5/25 – 9/22  3 fish 18”
5/22 – 9/20  3 fish 18”
5/15 – 9/16  3 fish 18”
(The special regulations of 3 fish at 17” for Delaware Bay and 2 fish at 16” for Island Beach are expected to remain the same)
Sea Bass Options
1.      May 23 – June 30, 10 fish, 12.5 inches
July 1 – August 31, 2 fish, 12.5 inches
October 8 – October 31, 10 fish, 12.5 inches
November 1 – December 31, 15 fish, 13 inches
2.      May 15 – June 22, 10 fish, 12.5 inches
July 1 – August 31, 2 fish, 12.5 inches
October 8 – October 31, 10 fish, 12.5 inches
November 1 – December 31, 15 fish, 13 inches
3.      June 9 – June 30, 10 fish, 12.5 inches
July 1 – August 31, 2 fish, 12.5 inches
October 1 – October 31, 15 fish, 12.5 inches
November 1 – December 31, 15 fish, 12.5 inches
Vinny D’Anton called from Sarasota last night to pass along the info that one of the “regulars” along the central N.J. Shore had caught some school stripers in the surf yesterday.  I haven’t been able to track down any details so far. The sea trout bite from Sarasota shores was off yesterday, but ladyfish and flounder continued to hit the 4 1/2-inch Rebel that’s been the hot lure lately. Surprisingly, D’Anton’s grandson, Luke Longo (10), caught a 27-inch Spanish mackerel on that lure.