Trophy tuna closes tonight – NJ fluke starts tomorrow

If you want to boat a Trophy giant tuna in the Angling category, you’d better get right out there now as the northern Trophy allowance will be closed at 11:30 p.m. — and through Dec. 31. That classification for permitted boats allows for the one giant that can’t be sold and is often quickly filled. Thus, the surprising run of inshore giants in NY/NJ Bight will now be catch and release.  However, the new bluefin rules allow private boaters one large medium from 47 inches up to below the giant minimum of 73 inches — and two of that size for charter boats.

Of more interest to most anglers in N.J., the fluke season opens tomorrow with lots of that species having already been released in the coastal rivers. The regulations are the same as last year — with three at an 18-inch minimum being the bag limit.

Ocean waters are still cold(the Weather Service listed 47 degrees at Point Pleasant), but it should be much warmer in the rivers and bays — especially on outgoing tides.

No Shore party boat has indicated to me that they’ll be fluking right away, as sea bass are a much better target at present. The Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported “crushing” sea bass today, with many scoring limits (10) of 12 1/2-inch minimum bass along with ling. The Golden Eagle from Belmar will be sailing for sea bass at 7 a.m. — and also on their first magic hours trip at 4:30 p.m., which will be repeated Sunday afternoon.

The Raritan Bay fluke fleet will be out in force tomorrow.  As with the ocean boats, reservations are required for boats that will fill up quickly due to limited capacities and social distancing. Masks will be required, and possibly also gloves. Don’t expect any special fares under these conditions. Check for new sailing times.

Drifting conditions should be good with a south-southeast wind of about 11 knots on a sunny, cool day. More wind is forecast for Saturday with 18 knots from the north-northeast. That should be perfect for the Bug Light drift at Sandy Hook.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano said the report he got this morning was that the striper fishing was slow for the second day in a row.  Those fish should be spawning in the Hudson River aroud this time.

Surfcasters should find better conditions tomorrow with chest high waves forecasted, it’s questionable if surf waters will have cleared by then.

 

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