NJ Striped Bass Bonus Program opens May 15

As originally planned, the New Jersey Striped Bass Bonus Program will start on May 15 and run through the end of the year if the allocation isn’t taken.

That program is derived from the state’s commercial share of the stock that isn’t used by the commercial sector since N.J. became a game fish state. Anglers can now apply to the N.J. Division of Fish and Game website for a SBBP permit that allows for one striper from 24 to less than 28 inches. That is in addition to the standard one from 28 to less than 38 inches daily limit.

The N.J. for-hire fleet has been suffering from a shutdown while their bills just keep coming. They’ve proposed social distancing procedures which would allow them to operate, but Gov. Murphy hasn’t publicly acknowledged those requests. However, the federal government is coming to the rescue as the CARES Act has $300 million for the fishing industry that includes for-hire boats.  If skippers can get paid like some farmers do for not planting crops, they may never sail again.

Fred Golofaro of The Fisherman magazine N.Y. edition reports Monday’s fluke season opener in New York was generally slow in cold ocean waters.  The best reports were from shallow inshore waters during warmer ebb tides. Golofaro noted that weakfish and porgies are just getting started in Peconic Bay, and bluefish are late arriving in N.Y. waters– which he hopes is due to the water temperatures rather than a continuing scarcity.

Jim Tynan e-mailed a report about a friend who fished Shrewsbury River from shore below  the bridge over the weekend and caught a 10-pound blue as well as short stripers.

There’s another good day coming up as Friday starts at northwest 10-15 knots before switching to south in the afternoon with likely rain and a gale watch at night into Saturday evening.

Little change in council appointments

NOAA Fisheries made very few changes to fishery management councils in this year’s appoinement process. with almost everyone reappointed to new three-year terms.

The New England Council will have Matthew McKenzie of Ct.; Terry Alexander of Maine; John Quinn from Maine; and Eric Reid of R.I. in the obligatory seats plus Vincent Balzano of Maine at-large.

In the Mid-Atlantic, Tony Dilernia  of N.Y. returns along with Adam Nowalsky of N.J., Peter Defur of Vir., and Sara Windslow from North Carolina.

It appears that the early thunder and lightning scared off most fishermen as there were no reports. The marine forecast had warnings for hazardous seas into tonight, though the wind forecasts for the rest of the week are only 5-10 mph from the west.

 

Capt. Stan Zagleski of Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands reports fluke being cleaned on his boat often have mantis shrimp in their stomachs. That strange-looking creature has long been a favorite of stripers and weakfish in Raritan Bay. They’re also a great permit bait in Northwest Channel at Key West if you can find them in shrimp boat “trash” (by-catch)

mantis shrimp.jpg

Sharks starting to show in surf

Surfcasting for sharks at night has been catching on the last few years, and Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park notes that fishing seems to be getting underway with several sand tigers  reported recently. Daytime fishing was slow yesterday with only one striper and one blue weighed in. There are some fluke in the surf, with Colton Connell bringing in a 25-incher that weighed 3.55 pounds. Striper weigh-ins recently were topped by Annalee Nelson with a 39-inch, 19.20-pounder on clams in the surf — along with a 41.5-inch, 21.15-pounder the same way by John Radice.  Betty & Nick’s Tackle reported big blues were in the inlet Saturday.

Capt. Dave De Gennaro had no hits trolling for big stripers Friday with his Hi Flier from Barnegat, but while finishing up by casting soft plastics in Barnegat Inlet for 2-to-4-pound blues on 10-pound spin,  he was surprised after the tide turned by stripers up to 12 and 21 pounds.  De Gennaro will be looking for more of them, and is also taking along some shedder crabs and sandworms after getting reports of weakfish in Barnegat Bay. He also hopes to get offshore to the tuna that are edging closer — but only when the weather is right.

Capt. Stan Zagleski had tough fluking conditions today with his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands, but his regulars jigged some better fish topped by a 7-pounder for Mike Schmidt of Cranford.

 

 

Mike Schmidt 7-lb-Elaine B

 

Allen Riley and John Mazzeo from South Plainfield worked the Sandy Hook surf with bunker Thursday morning for lots of big sea robins and only one skate. John also released a 22-inch striper, and Allen hooked a 5-pound blue.

Fluking conditions in Raritan Bay were tough today, but Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter at Atlantic Highlands said he did much better than on Saturday as a few limits were taken. Colin Bennett (10) boated a 5-pounder to take the pool while his grandfather limited.  Capt. Ron Santee said he fought wind against tide with the Fishermen and stayed later as the fishing improved.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk reported very good sea bass fishing with many limits. Jigs produced the bigger fish. The Golden Eagle even had some sea bass limits on the Saturday afternoon trip.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant had lots of sea bass today, but Capt. Dave Riback noted that keepers are getting harder to come by. The Sunday and Monday magic hours trips were cancelled due to ocean conditions.

There were no bluefish reports today.

 

 

Sharks & bluefins well underway to the south

As northern anglers are gearing up for the first weekend of offshore tournaments,  those to the south have already been scoring with sharks and even some relatively inshore bluefin tuna.

The first big shark contest is the 38th annual South Jersey Shark Tournament out of South Jersey Marina in Cape May which runs from Thursday through Saturday after the 7:30 p.m. captains meeting on Wednesday. That $600 entry event paid out $307,763 in 2017.

The 5th annual Warriors for Warriors Charity Shark Tournament runs out of Hoffman’s Marina West in Brielle to benefit Operation Restored Warrior from June 8 to 10 with a $500 entry. The captains meeting is 5-7 pm. Friday in the marina.

Hoffman’s then hosts the 17th annual Brett T. Bailey Mako Rodeo on June 15-16 after the June 14 captains meeting.

While the Jersey Coast  Shark Anglers have changed their Mako Fever Tournament (732 551-3912) to a nine-day format from June 16-24 in order not to have to deal with weather problems, the Greater Point Pleasant Charter Boat Association is sticking with the weekend format for their 33rd Mako Mania on June 23 and 24.  For info call 732 892-3666 or visit gppcba.com.

Adam La Rosa reports the Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant is still doing very well with bluefins in the canyons, but private boats using their information service are also trolling them at such nearby areas as the Hot Dog, Tea Cup, Elephant Trunk and the 30 and 40 lines out to the Lobster Claw and inshore of the Lindenkohl. One boat even came across some yellowfins.  Below are veterans with the bluefins they caught last week with Capt. Deane Lambros during one of the Canyon Runner’s free canyon trips for the military.

military on c.r,

The Ocean City, Md. Mako Mania produced a possible Maryland state record 644.9-pound thresher, while the winning mako was 200.9 pounds.

Fluking bounced back after the northeast blow. Bob Matthews of Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina reported very good catches from his rental boats in Shark River. John Hunter and a friend from Ridley, Pa. limited two days in a row up to a 5-pounder. Jesse Thomas of Wall limited to 4 pounds, and Ben Green also had a 4-pounder.

Capt. Stan Zagleski had a good drift early with the west wind on the end of the ebb and found good fluke action with Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands until the tide switched. Some fares had limits. He’s looking forward to tomorrow morning with another hour of ebb.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Ron Santee said there was still a swell running, but fluking on the Fishermen was decent — especially for Dan who had a 6.9-pound pool winner. Capt. Rob Semkewyc  said fluking was good enough for everyone on his Sea Hunter to end up with dinner.  He has only one spot left on next Tuesday’s afternoon trophy striper trip, and that Thursday’s trip is 1/3 full.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar found small blues on the surface that wouldn’t hit, so they eventually switched to sea bass and did very well.

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant reported very good jigging for those blues that ran from 3 to 5 pounds and were caught on light tackle with small, plain jigs.

Matt Slobodjian sent the following report from Jim’s Tackle in Cape May: (scroll past boxes)

 

“We held our annual Shark Tournament Friday and Saturday. The weather held up and 31 boats competed. There was plenty of action with blue sharks, threshers, tigers, browns, makos, and even a couple of hammerheads. All but 4 fish were released. Another little bonus was there were bluefin tuna in several areas along the 30 line and out to the canyons. A few guys took the time to troll up a couple for dinner. The first place mako was caught by the crew of the “Miller Time” , a 261-lb. fish. Second was a 226-lb. mako caught by the crew of the “Fishin Technician”. The third place fish was a thresher caught by the crew of the “Team Player”  — a 324-lb. fish. I should explain even though the thresher was heavier, a mako shark takes precedence in our tournament. We would like to thank everyone who participated. You are the reason the tournament is a success. Thank you all we hope to see you again next year.

We are still seeing some striper action on the surf from Poverty Beach and still from the North Cape May beaches. We are also starting to see some nice bass coming from the surf in North Wildwood.  Steve Parness of Springfield NJ brought in a 33-lb. bass he caught on bunker chunks at Poverty Beach. George Harris of Philadelphia brought in a 28-lb. bass he caught on bunker around 5th street in North Wildwood.

Weakfish slowed down this week, though more small trout are starting to show up around the rocks.  Sea bass fishing turned on again this week on the 20 fathom wrecks. Some charter boats reported limits by mid-morning. It seemed the fishing slowed down around the full moon and picked right back up after it.

The drum bite is still good. Bait is the issue now that the clam boat isn’t getting enough orders to go fishing, so they’ll be in short supply.”

  4 Attached Images

Ocean lays down nicely

The surf was still a bit rough this morning after yesterday’s northeast winds, but the ocean calmed down for boaters after they cleared inlets, and fishing conditions should be good tomorrow.

Fishing reports weren’t quite as good, but also should improve with clearing waters tomorrow. At Belmar, Miss Belmar Princess was able to boat three stripers north of Shark River Inlet. They later moved further north to the Highlands to add some small blues. The Golden Eagle found dirty waters from yesterday’s winds, though they managed one striper and a few blues. They are adding a prime time 3:30 p.m. striper trip on Tuesday. Call 732 681-6144.

At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Rob Semkewyc thought he was going to have a good day on his Sea Hunter as a 20-pound striper was boated right away and another lost on slack water. Yet, a bite didn’t develop on the tide, and splashing fish they ran to were only small blues. Fishing up at anchor, one more striper was caught and two lost. Semkewyc may check down the beach in the morning, and urges anglers to bring a rod with which they can snag bunkers.

Capt. Ron Santee saw an improvement in fluking from his Fishermen as he fished a different area that produced a pick of 2-to-3-pounders plus a pool fluke of over 6 pounds.

Capt. Stan Zagleski hasn’t sent a report so far, but he did fish Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands despite Sunday’s rain. Fluking wasn’t bad as long as the wind and tide were together. Yong Sim from Palisades Park had a fluke limit and added another limit — a 6-pound weakfish.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported some surf blues were caught Sunday evening on poppers and heavy bucktails.

N OAA gives tuna anglers a break

The bluefin tuna regulations just issued by NOAA provide some hope for anglers who spend a small fortune to run offshore for them. The NOAA release follows (scroll down):

Atlantic HMS

April 23, 2018

bluefin tuna

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Angling Category Fishery: Recreational Daily Retention Limit Adjustment

NOAA Fisheries is adjusting the Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) daily retention limits that apply to vessels permitted in the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category (when fishing recreationally for BFT) effective April 26, 2018, through December 31, 2018, as follows:

Table

In deciding these retention limits, NOAA Fisheries considered the regulatory determination criteria regarding inseason adjustments, which include available quota, fishery performance in recent years, availability of BFT on the fishing grounds, and the effects of the adjustment on the stock and on accomplishing the objectives of the 2006 Consolidated HMS Fishery Management Plan (FMP) and amendments.  NOAA Fisheries also considered input from the HMS Advisory Panel.  These limits should provide opportunities to harvest the available U.S. BFT quota without exceeding it; prevent overharvest of the 2018 quotas; and collect a broad range of data for stock monitoring purposes.

Who is Affected?

These daily retention limits apply to vessels permitted in the recreational HMS Angling category and the HMS Charter/Headboat category while fishing recreationally.  The daily retention limits are effective for all areas except for the Gulf of Mexico, which is designated as BFT spawning grounds and where NOAA Fisheries does not allow targeted fishing for BFT.  Regardless of the duration of a fishing trip (e.g., whether a vessel takes a two-day trip or makes two trips in one day), no more than a single day’s retention limit may be possessed, retained, or landed.

NOAA Fisheries will continue to monitor the BFT fisheries closely.  HMS Charter/Headboat and Angling category vessel owners are required to report the catch of all BFT retained or discarded dead, within 24 hours of the landing(s) or end of each trip, by accessing the HMS Permit Shop,using the HMS Catch Reporting App, or calling (888) 872-8862 (Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.).  Depending on fishing effort and catch rates, additional retention limit adjustments or fishery closures may be necessary to ensure available quota is not exceeded or to enhance scientific data collection from, and fishing opportunities in, all geographic areas.

NOAA Fisheries regulations require that all BFT that are released be handled in a manner that will maximize their survival, and without removing the fish from the water.  For additional information on safe handling, see theCareful Catch and Release brochure.

This notice is a courtesy to BFT fishery permit holders to help keep you informed about the fishery.  For additional information, please go to the HMS Permit Shop or call (978) 281-9260.  Official notice of Federal fishery actions is made through filing such notice with the Office of the Federal Register.

The weather was good today, but Raritan Bay striped bass fishing was tougher for the Atlantic Highlands party boat fleet. The Fishermen reported all of their keepers were caught during the first hour before the bite dropped off to just a few shorts. The Sea Hunter had a similar report, but the largest bass of their season was boated by Dave Koczka with a 34-pounder.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk had the nicest day of the season even though blackfishing was sluggish. Yet, there were a few limits and others with two to three keeper tog among the shorts. Blackfish jigs were most effective. Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den, said blackfish are also being caught in Shark River Inlet. He weighed in a 14 1/2-pound tog that was caught by Ben Rich of Titusville, N.J. off Barnegat — and entered in The Fisherman Dream Boat Contest.

The rumor of weakfish in Barnegat Bay was confirmed in a Facebook posting by Frank Ruczynski. who once again caught the first one  April 19 on a Zoom jig.

Allen Riley of South Plainfield and Duke Matero from Piscataway tried the Sandy Hook surf early this morning with clams and fresh bunker, but caught only skates and the first sea robin reported from a flat surf.


 

Boat traffic slows striper bite

It was a beautiful Sunday on the water, but boat traffic seemed to slow the striped bass bite in Raritan Bay. Capt. Rob Semkewyc was coming off a very good day of clamming with his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands, but only put a few bass aboard today as he felt the volume of trollers passing close to him was the problem. There was one highlight, as Andy Sokol of Manalapan boated a 41-inch, 29-pound striper.

001Andy Sokol 29 lb

Capt. Joe Massa found the trolling to also  be way off from Saturday as Carl Drehwing, Bob Correll and I joined him on his larger My Three Sons (a Grady White 30) from Morgan Marina.  Yesterday he had trolled 15 bass, though all were shorts. We started out casting shads around scattered marks where I caught a small bass right away — but there were no more hits. A crowd of boaters trying to net bunkers in Great Kills convinced Joe to troll instead — especially since he had spent three hours Saturday chunking on good marks without a hit. We did hook a half-dozen bass on Rapala X-Raps, but they were very small, and there were no hits on the larger stretch lures. There were lots of boats trolling in the back of the bay, but I didn’t notice anyone stropping to fight fish before we headed back early.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar read some bait and fish, but couldn’t get any bites, and won’t sail again for stripers until Thursday.

Capt. Stan Zagleski started blackfishing daily with his Elaine B. II from Bahrs in Highlands on Saturday as he found one spot to be dead but picked away with tog and even a few cod on another. Art Garrett of Red Bank won the pool with a cod. Clams were most effective for both species.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports small stripers in the surf for those casting small pieces of clam or bunker. Skimmer clams are back in stock along with fresh bunker. There’s still no word of bluefish, but there has been talk of weakfish in the southern end of Barnegat Bay.  Betty & Nick’s noted that small stripers hit in the surf yesterday before the wind came up in the afternoon.