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.

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.