Blues in Barnegat Inlet

It’s that time of year when bluefish normally flood into rivers and bays along the New Jersey coast and Long Island’s south shore, but there are lots of questions this spring after bluefish stocks have been declining for a few years.

Some years those blues are small, but in other springs the first showings provide some of the largest blues of the year. That was the case last May, after the previous year was a bust with just scattered small blues and very few jumbos.

John Bushell reported getting word at Betty & Nick’s Tackle in Seaside Park on Saturday morning that blues were hitting bucktails in the inlet — though there was no mention of size. He also noted this morning that some juvenile stripers were hitting clams in Island Beach State Park.

The park reopened at daylight Saturday, but I heard of problems with cars getting stuck as some without permits were  trying to run the beach without lowering their tires enough.

Phil Fischer fished shallow spots in Raritan Bay just before the blackfish season ended Friday, and had great action with tog up to 8 pounds before running out of bait.

Vinny D’Anton is still fishing in Florida where there have been few restrictions on wading in the Sarasota area. He’s been plugging some spotted seatrout and snook — and also hooked his first bluefish there last week.

Pete Connell extended his stay in Florida, which provided him with lots of action with small snook in the back country at Islamorada plus a big day catching large tarpon..

The marine forecast looks good, with northwest winds at 10-15 knots before increasing to 15-20 with gusts to 25 in the afternoon.

 

Striper bite continues in Raritan Bay

Dave Lilly of Hazlet trolled up stripers in Raritan Bay again today, though it wasn’t as easy as it had been.

Lilly decided to head east from Keyport and never had a hit all the way to Romer Shoal before running to the back of the bay where about a dozen bass in the 34-35-inch class were trolled in 16-foot depths on Tony Maja 3-ounce mo-jos.  He only saw one bass caught to the east among a good fleet taking advantage of a calm morning — though some snow flakes were falling in the cold air when he started out. However, he did hear a radio report of a 7-pound fluke being trolled.  The water temperature was up a couple of degrees to 48 in the back, though there were no surface signs of bunkers or birds in the bay.

As noted in yesterday’s blog, Capt. Stan Zagleski passed away from cancer at 76. His son Stan sent this shot of his father with one of his top big fluke customers, Ashley, on Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands. Stan, Jr. will be running the boat as soon as party boat fishing is permitted.

 

Stan Zagleski

Capt. Art Hilliard was also lost to the for-hire fleet recently. He had run the large-group charter boat Eagle from Atlantic Highlands. R.I.P. Art.

Art Hilliard

Capt. Bob Garafano from Belmar also reported the recent loss of former party boat owner Marty Tave. Capt. Chris Di Stefano noted that he bought the Renegade from Tave and briefly ran it as a party boat.

Chis had some inshore cod news as a friend told him that 19 legal cod were boated at Sandy Hook Reef last weekend along with ling and blackfish. There was also a cod report from Sea Girt Reef.

Bob Correll of Bay Head has been hooking and jumping small tarpon from the back of a house he’s been living in at Islamorada in the Florida Keys, but finally got one that hung on for a photo a couple of nights ago.

Bob's tarpon

Rain is forecast after midnight, and the morning prediction is northeast winds at 15-20 knots with gusts to 25.