A loss and a win from the surf

Surfcasting along the Jersey Shore is frustrating under the best of circumstances, and especially during the dog days of summer. We rarely see any large stripers except during the spring and fall migratory runs, and there’s usually so little bait present during the summer that the resident school stripers have little to feed on except crabs.

That’s not a good situation for casting lures, but persistence may provide the occasional bass. I was trying for that needle in a haystack yesterday evening despite the low tide at Sea Girt and didn’t raise anything to a popper before switching to a 4-inch white Tsunami Shad that had saved the evening during my previous two trips there with a small striper hitting it in the wash at dusk,

That lure is light enough to swim in very shallow waters, small enough to attract even small predators — and large enough not to be passed up by a big fish. It came through again yesterday evening, but I knew what smashed it immediately as line started pouring off my Canyon spinning reel. A cownose ray was heading for the horizon as I tightened down the drag, not being afraid to straighten the hook with my 30-pound braid. That slowed it down, and I had enough capacity to carry out what should have been a protracted but successful battle with what was probably a 30-to-50-pound fish — except that I couldn’t stop it from going across the tip of an adjacent jetty. I tried to get a clearing angle, but it had likely run my line around an underwater rock.  I sure wasn’t going out on those moss-covered jetty rocks in bare feet, and eventually had to break off — leaving only some mono backing for re-rigging last night.

This morning started off better as I released three small stripers on jigs in Shark River.  Vinny D’Anton released four small bass there, and then made a move to try sand fleas in the Spring Lake surf. I went down there to make a few casts with a Shug Bug in order to tighten up the braid I’d wound on last night. I made a half-hearted cast about 50 feet out into white water hitting the sand  and was sjocked to see the popper smashed by a fish that started taking line. That 28 1/2-inch first cast miracle fish was released — but proved that anything is possible if you have a lure in the water. Of course , we didn’t raise another fish during a brief attempt before having to leave the beach for bathers.

Those anglers entered in the Grandpa Savino Memorial Fluke Tournament at Great Kills will have to put off spending the $25,000 they were planning on winning for the heaviest  doormat over 13 pounds. The Staten Island Tuna Club has postponed the contest to next Saturday since gale warnings have been posted for tomorrow evening — though it may be fishable early in the day despite east winds.

The captains meeting for Saturday’s  Point Pleasant Elks Fluke Tournament is going on this evening,. and they are going ahead as Sunday will also be windy. Fluke can be caught in protected river and bay waters if it’s too rough in the ocean.

The Raritan Bay Anglers Charity Fluke Tournament is also set for Saturday.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc said Raritan Bay fluke fishing wasn’t even nearly as good as on Thursday for anglers on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk reported good ocean fluking with a 9-pound pool winner.

The Golden Eagle had another good day of sea bass fishing along with quite a few ling, a few blues, a couple of chub mackerel, and good fluking though mostly shorts. Since you’re only allowed two sea bass. it pays to wait for big ones!

Sea bass on GE

Some of those big ocean fluke are starting to show up. The Jamaica II from Brielle reported that Ed Nolen of Manasquan took the lead in the Monthly pool on Monday when he boated an 8.4-pounder in the morning  — only to watch  Rich Caputo deck a 10.1-pounder that afternoon — only the second party boat N.J. doormat reported so far. Fluking has been best during days with a fast drift, and sea bass up to 5 pounds are being added.  The Jamaica II sails half-day trips at 8 and 2 — except for Monday’s Fluke Marathon from 7:30 to 4:30.

Jim Hutchinson Sr, reports:

“The fishing action in the Beach Haven area is getting interesting for the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association. The water is warming, and fish from the southern climes are joining the mix.

 

Captain Jimmy Zavacki had the Cramer family out on the “Reel Determined” and they caught good numbers of short fluke and black sea bass. One of the anglers made an unusual catch when he reeled in an Atlantic Angel Shark.

 

Captain Ray Lopez had the Duston Lehman Group from Arizona aboard the “Miss Liane.” They caught many fish while enjoying a beautiful day on the water. The Arnett Group made up another group and caught a boatload of sea bass and fluke out on a local reef.

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Captain John Lewis reports a good week on the “Insatiable” with keeper sea robins, sea bass and fluke. Each day the fishing was different. One day the Di Salvo party took home a mixed bag of tasty robins, sea bass and fluke. Another day the Marquis family wanted to only “catch and release” their fish. The family caught a total of 37 fish including some of the largest sea bass of the year.  On Saturday the Hovan party caught mostly fluke up to 22-inches as well as an abundance of shorts.

 

Captain Brett Taylor of “Reel Fantasea” Sportfishing has been busy running seven days a week with quite a few double-charter days. He has been concentrating his efforts in the bay but will be heading out to the ocean very shortly. His bay fishing has been averaging anywhere between 20 to 35 fish per trip and keeper numbers ranging from 1 to 5 per trip.  His anglers have scored some 5, 6, and 8 pound fish.  The key has been finding biting fish, which at times has been a little challenging.

 

For the second year in a row the “Hot Tuna” with Captain Bob Gerkens won the Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club’s First Offshore Tournament.  This year it was with a 42.5-pound yellowfin tuna. Captain Bob was joined by Bryan Medford, Justin Crisp, John Humphries and John Clementson. The Hot Tuna also released a white marlin and had several smaller yellowfin. The fish were all caught inshore. 

 

 

Just ounces short of $100,000

Winning a tournament is a thrill for any angler, but the joy is modified somewhat when it turns out that the winning fish fell just ounces short of being worth $100,000.

John Frione from Ct. was fishing with Joe Bartnecki on KB3 from Shark River in the Staten Island Tuna Club’s Saturday contest that had a $100,000 prize for the largest striped bass over 50 pounds. Anthony Arcabascio Jr. was trolling near them off Sandy Hook when Frione trolled a bass of about the right size on one of Anthony’s father’s lures — a Tony Maja Magic Mojo. Frione was a runaway winner of the modest contest purse, but the scale recorded 48.9 pounds — just short of the magic $10,000 50-pound mark.

Capt. Vinnie Vetere was fishing the contest with his Katfish Charters from Great Kills, and managed to put together a striper catch — but without a bass to challenge the leader. He noted that Frione is a friend, and on the next day another friend caught the bass he needed the day before as Capt. Rudy on Lady L. II boated a 52-pounder.

h17 oz from $100,000

 

Yet another “50” was caught on Father’s Day — the eighth to be weighed so far this season at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina. Jason Hadzimichalis was trolling a Tony Maja bunker spoon from High Life off Asbury Park with his father William when the 54-pounder hit.

Father's day 54  The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant almost never has room on any of their canyon tournament trips, but the group scheduled for the Ocean City, Md. Tuna Tournament from July 13-15 fell apart. The Canyon Runner fleet has won lots of money in canyon tournaments, and this is an unusual opportunity for a group to pick up at the last moment.

It’s taken some time to track down last weekend’s shark weigh-ins at Brielle, but it appears that a 729.5-pound mako was weighed at Hoffman’s Marina for the Brett T. Bailey Mako Rodeo from Nor’ Easter. Capt. Tom Savastano had heard about that weigh-in over the weekend, but thought it wasn’t in a contest. I couldn’t find it on Hoffman’s web site, but came across it on their Facebook today. The Mako Rodeo organizers don’t send out press releases or maintain their web site. Last year it took weeks and many requests before I could find any results from that contest. In addition to the huge mako, there were other weigh-ins for Mako Rodeo listed in Hoffman’s facebook as follows: A 242-pound mako on Fin-ominal; a 206.5-pound thresher from Tra Sea Ann; and even a 196-pound bluefin tuna from Lucky Strike.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc was surprised to see very few fluke fishermen at Atlantic Highlands this morning. They must have read weather reports from earlier in the week that had predicted possible showers and thunderstorms in the morning. I didn’t see any of that in the forecast last night, and it was a picture perfect day. Semkewyc said fluking was also pretty good on his Sea Hunter with a couple of limits and a couple of 5-pounders.

The Jamaica from Brielle was in on yesterday’s big bluefish jigging bite that started out with 2-to-4-pounders. It was topped by the largest bluefish I’ve heard of this year — reported as a 20-pounder by Stephen Chesonis of Hopatcong. If he’s a Fisherman subscriber that blue would blow away the current leader in that division of the Dream Boat Challenge which is just 16.56 pounds from Long Island. As noted here last night, four of the 10 places in bluefish have been filled due to the 15-pound minimum. Golden Eagle from Belmar reported blues up to 18 pounds yesterday, but there was no report when this blog was published,

Speaking fof big blues, Vinny D’Anton of Wall was shocked to hook a 36-incher this morning in the Belmar surf on his Chug Bug. He said the fight lasted at least 15 minutes before he was able to release the chopper which may have been the largest in the Jersey surf during this disappointing season.  D’Anton also plugged two stripers up to 25 inches.

I had been casting at Spring Lake, but never raised anything to my popper there. A quick stop at Point Pleasant Canal on the way home around 7:30 revealed no one fishing at the public access, but I decided to make a few casts with the Z Man 6-inch jig — and I was surprised to catch two small stripers.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park had a big surf bass weighed in Monday as Terry Mcquad used bunker to attract a 42-inch, 31.10-pound striper.

Those attending tonight’s meeting of the Salt Water Anglers of Bergen County are in for a treat as famed fluke pro Dave Lilly of Hazlet is the guest speaker.  Lilly is a regular winner in almost every fluke tournament along the Jersey Shore. The 8 p.m. meeting is at the American Legion, 33 W. Passaic St., Rochelle Park.

Mimi VI from Point Pleasant has scheduled a Hudson Canyon open trip that will leave at 10 p.m. Monday night and return at that time Tuesday. It’s limited to 12 at a $400 fare.  Call 732 370-8019 for reservations.. That boat is also open for bottom fishing at 7 a.m. on Friday.

NJ fluke opens Friday

The New Jersey fluke season opens Friday with a limit of three fish at a minimum of 18 inches in all waters except for three at 17 inches in Delaware Bay and its tributaries — and two at 16 inches from shore in Island Beach State Park. Check with your favorite skipper in case he’s sailing early. Capt. Stan Zagleski will be sailing his Elaine B II from Bahrs in Highlands at 6 a.m. through Memorial Day before returning to his regular 7:30 a.m. daily schedule on Tuesday.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano of Wall went striper fishing this morning with his son Boomer on the latter’s 17-foot Angler from Shark River. After hearing the trolling bite at Shrewsbury Rocks was off, hey trolled off Asbury Park with a green bunker spoon Chris has had for 36 years. They only had one hit on the wire line outfit, but he knew it was a big one as Boomer fought a trophy striper that weighed 54 pounds at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc reported that striper fishing was slower today in Raritan Bay from his Sea Hunter out of Atlantic Highlands, but they still had six keepers plus shorts. A big bas was lost at the gaff. Stripers came up at one point. but they only managed to catch one at that time.

Capt. Dave De Gennaro  trolled a 42-pound striper Wednesday from his Hi-Flier out of Barnegat. That bass hit a big white mo-jo. Some bunkers were up, but he stuck with the trolling.

The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant has an opening on a free canyon trip for active duty or retired military. It’s first come – first served. Call Adam La Rosa at 732 272-4445.

The Staten Island Tuna Club Striped Bass Tournament that was set for last weekend was postponed due to small craft warnings, and has been moved to this weekend.  The captains meeting is from 5-6 Friday evening in Captain’s Marina, Staten Island. Call Robert Ludwig at 201 538-5252 for info.

The New York fluke season has been open for some time. and ocean fluking has been very good to the east. The Hampton Lady from Shinnecock has had big catches including doormats. The following recent shot should excite every fluke angler.

Hampton Lady

 

Boaters had to fight a hard west wind

The west wind blew even harder than predicted today, but some anglers fought through it.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc  said the wind blew a steady 30 mph with gusts to 40 — and it was raw as the few fares on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands picked at some shorts and keepers during every drop. That wind is predicted to drop down tonight, and only be 10-15 mph tomorrow.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar managed to finish up the spring blackfish season with food action and some limits despite the roaring west wind as they were close enough to shore that the sea was calm. They’ll be taking a day off to decide what fishing to pursue before the sea bass season opens on May 15.

Capt. Vinny Vetere continued to load up with stripers over the weekend while trolling his Ho Jo’s from Katfish out of Great Kills.  However, he hasn’t been able to get into the bass by chunking bunkers due to seals finding the baits first.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar caught some stripers over the weekend, but one day it was all on plastics, and the next only on bait. Their report about bluefish blitzing at the Manasquan Inlet jetties on Saturday didn’t check out as I’ve still had no bluefish reports from anyone. I talked to a regular at the inlet this morning who said he’s been there every day and hasn’t seen a blue as yet — though very small stripers hit the small bucktail he’s been casting.

I tried the Sea Girt surf this morning, and only got cold hands for my effort. It was hard to believe that the air temperature was only in the 30s just hours before May 1. The surf wasn’t flat, but very fishable. Jim Louro of Spring Lake caught a small striper on a 4-inch shad this morning, and hooked a 26-incher the previous afternoon.

Jerry Lasko of Point Pleasant had no hits in Island Beach State Park this morning, but the Seaside Park tackle shops had some good reports. Grumpy’s had good surf reports on shorts, but also weighed two stripers. Though both were only 29 inches, Dick Kenny’s that hit a Mag Darter was a hefty 12.45 pounds — while the other on a shad was only 9 pounds.  Betty & Nick’s reported one angler caught 12 bass to 16 inches in two hours at  three spots in the park.

The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant is sold out of canyon trips in May and June, and only has a few left in July and August. They do have an opening for an active military or retired veteran for a free striper trip on May 7. Call Adam La Rosa at 732 272-4445.

Dave Perruso reports the Bi-State Shad Contest on the Delaware River was a big success with 100 sponsors and 890 anglers fishing over the weekend. The largest shad was a 5.942-pounder worth $20,000 to Jake Kocsis. Many others were just ounces smaller. Zack Zupan took $3,000 for second at 5.768 pounds, and Bob Leciston was third for $2,500 at 5.686 pounds.

Chuck Many will be doing a striped bass seminar on Wednesday from 7-9 p.m. in Great Kills Yacht Club. All anglers are welcome to attend the event. For information call Walter Fisher at  917 335-7607. The Staten Island Tuna Club is sponsoring this presentation.

Chuck striper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The canyon Runner from Point Pleasant is almost