Bumpy morning turns out well

The only report I could find today came from the Golden Eagle out of Belmar which reported a bumpy start before an unexpected calming of the ocean which resulted in a good catch of sea bass along with some ling and winter flounder.  Some anglers anglers managed sea bass limits.

The Queen Mary did not sail from Point Pleasant, but will be going Monday.

The Jamaica from Brielle is sold out for Memorial Day, but is taking reservations for Tuesday and the rest of the week.

There was a lack of wind and poor drifting conditions for the Raritan Bay fluke fleet yesterday, but no reports today when there was east wind that should have been good in Sandy Hook Bay.

The Little Hawk from Atlantic Highlands posted a video of releasing a 52-pound striper on Friday which was far larger than this year’s 38 inch maximum  in N.J. waters.

Capt. Jim Freda reports it’s been slow developing, but he got into bluefish Friday in Manasquan River with his Shore Catch.

Freda blue

Small craft warnings are up tonight with northeast gusts to 20 knots, but it’s forecast to drop to east at just 5-10 knots by morning as seas settle to 3 to 5 feet.

 

Gale warning for tomorrow

No sooner did party and charter boats in N.J. get a chance to sail again than the weather is going to shut them out for a couple of days.

At Belmar, the Golden Eagle and Ocean Princess both reported good sea bass fishing today along with ling and some pollock and winter flounder, but the small craft warnings up now will go to a gale watch through Tuesday afternoon. It will be northeast 20-25 knots by morning along with gusts to 40 — plus 7-10-foot seas.  The Golden Eagle, which also pursued some bluefish reports to no avail,  has canceled through Thursday.  The Ocean Explorer has only called off trips through Wednesday so far. At least it now appears we’re not going to get much rain from Arthur. Photo below reflects Covid-19 bottom fishing variety on the Golden Eagle.

GE-COVID 19

It looks better for the opening of the fluke season on Friday. Capt. Chris Di Stefano saw a boat with a hook & line commercial fluke permit loading up in Sandy Hook Bay today, while shore anglers were casting for cocktail blues.  Unfortunately for Chris, he was in the bay because the Raritan Bay striper bite was off. His friend from Highlands had lots of releases Sunday, but bunker spoons only produced a large male of 22 pounds that had an eel in its stomach. Chris said he only saw one other bass caught, and a couple of charter boats that braved a run to the Romer Shoal area came back quickly. Chris noted that some bass were trolled in the ocean on Sunday.

Phil Fischer said he was trolling bass in Raritan Bay yesterday morning before moving into Sandy Hook Bay where two 30-pounders hit. He noted that those bass had a lavender coloration which is typical of stripers migrating in from the ocean.

 

 

Lilly trolls an “exotic” — a bluefish

Dave Lilly called this morning with news that he ad trolled an “exotic” — at least by last year’s standard in Raritan Bay — a bluefish.

Lilly went east from Keyport and saw nothing but a lot of boats on a calm morning.  Therefore, he went to the back of the bay where he’s been doing well by trolling 3-ounce Tony Maja mo-jos and caught the blue of about 8 pounds before starting a pick of bass in the 30-34-inch class that got better before he came in later in the morning. Dave said the radio was pretty quiet. He did see bunkers flipping in the back of the bay.

Capt. Chris Di Stefano said a friend trolled mo-jos in the bay to catch 30-inch  bass. He also had a report of cod at Sandy Hook Reef, including a 20-pounder. Another boater had lots of both short and keeper blackfish at Sea Girt Reef. In addition there were 18-22-inch winter flounder and the first showing of big sea bass that are out of season.

Unfortunately, those areas may not be fishable Sunday as small craft warnings are up. East winds of 20 to 25 knots are predicted along with gusts to 30, plus showers.

Good flounder bite at Belmar

It’s not often that a report from a tackle shop is modest about fishing in their area, but that seems to have been the case with the Fisherman’s Den assessment of winter flounder action Sunday  from the Belmar Marina docks. Tom O’Connor sent an e–mail noting that he had a keeper flounder within 40 minutes, and ended up catching six over the 12-inch  minimum in a couple of hours — keeping his two-fish limit with 14-and-16-inchers. Furthermore, Tom said everyone he talked to that was fishing with sandworms caught least one.

That doesn’t sound like any big deal unless you consider how bad flounder fishing has been in recent years. Sunshine and warm weather is perfect for that early season fishery. That’s what we have now, though small craft advisories are up for tonight, and the forecast for the morning is southwest at 10-15 knots with gusts to 25.

Betty & Nick’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported that a customer fished from local docks Sunday and caught a legal flounder plus three “decent” stripers. They’ll have bloodworms in stock by Friday.

Pete Kearns of Point Pleasant Beach was at his local beach around 6:30 p.m. Sunday when he spotted 12-18 dolphins swimming north about a hundred yards off the beach. He noted that’s something he doesn’t usually see until July.

Zancudo Lodge in Costa Rico reports there’s been a hot bite there recently of big roosterfish and yellowfin tuna. A 150-pound marlin also showed up among the tuna and jumped on a live bait. For info e-mail Gregg@thezancudolodge.com.

roosterfish-Zancudo

Big swell hurts ocean fishing

The ocean swell was big enough today to make Shark River Inlet so rough that the Big Mohawk turned around and returned to its berth in Belmar.  They’ll give it another try at 7 a.m. Friday — and at 6:30 am. from Saturday through Monday to finish out the spring N.J. blackfish season which closes at the end of the month.

Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina that winter flounder still haven’t produced much action at the docks there, with more fluke taking the baits. Small stripers are being caught in the surf. However, Jim Louro of Spring Lake said he gave up quickly this morning due to the big swell. The forecast for Friday is for moderate east winds with small craft warnings plus rain before west winds should produce better conditions over the weekend.

The Sea Hunter got out into Raritan Bay from Atlantic Highlands this morning, but Capt. Rob Semkewyc said it was just a pick of shorts with an occasional keeper that kept him on the first drop for the rest of the tide rather than taking a chance by moving from the modest bite. He noted that trollers were doing better.

Capt. Joe Massa made a short Wednesday evening trip with John D’Andrea on My Three Sons from Morgan Marina and had good trolling in greater depths than the fleet has been fishing. They caught five bass of legal size, which had sea lice on them, plus two shorts.

Capt. Hans Kaspersetz is back from serving as an observer at a billfish tournament in the Dominican Republic, and ready to start chartering Sheri Berri from Twin Lights Marina in Highlands. If you’d like to fish with Hans and me on that fast 25-foot Regulator, send a e-mail to me at cristori@aol,com. — or call 732 757-5531.

 

Hank Matri - March 2018 - East End Lodge - Grand Bahama Is

A touch of the tropics. Hank Matri with a Bahamas bonefish on a fly before the release in March

NJ anglers should push for DEP marine funding renewal

A major topic at today’s NJ DEP Outdoor Writers Meeting was concern about continuing the hard-won funding for marine fisheries which Gov. Christie added to his last budget and which was supported by legislative leaders. Gov. Murphy didn’t include that funding in his budget, and hiring has been frozen until funds are assured. Though there have been ever greater demands placed on the DEP with the expansion of fishery management plans, the staff has been contracting for many years due to retirements.

Tom Fote of the JCAA has been meeting with legislators to try resolving this situation, but it may require pressure from the public on Gov. Murphy to get the funding restored. I’ll have more about this plus other information from the state meeting in the next few days.

Today’s weather wasn’t the best, and fishing started slowly for Chuck Many’s crew on Ty Man in Raritan Bay. David Glassberg of Little Silver only needed two throws of the cast net to load up with bunkers. There were enough marks in the bay, but we couldn’t give away a live bunker — even though trollers were stopping regularly as that seemed to be the best bet with the scattered marks.

Many doesn’t enjoy trolling, so he anchored to chunk. Bob Bowden, Dave and I had a flurry of action as four bass from about 29 to 32 inches were released, but the tide was dying out and the bites did the same. Chuck dropped me off to drive to the state meeting in Assunpink Wildlife Management Area, but that was just the start of the day for him. He checked out the Hudson River and found no marks up there before returning to the back of the bay where the bass turned on to bunker chunks in the afternoon. By late afternoon, the release score was up to 21 bass with a 22-pounder topping the catch.

At Belmar, the Big Mohawk had decent bottom life and reported some blackfish limits though it wasn’t a good bite. The weather is looking a lot better after tomorrow’s NW blow, and the weekend should be fishable — with Sunday through Tuesday looking exceptional.

Bob Matthews has been very disappointed in the winter flounder bite from the Belmar Marina docks, but notes that some blackfish are being caught in the inlet. Capt. Chris De Stefano of Wall stopped by this week and saw a few flounder caught, including one with a bitten-off tail — plus a 17-inch fluke.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park had reports of some short stripers on bait in the Island Beach State Park surf.

Ty Man catches first “20” in Raritan Bay

Chuck Many of Annandale, N.J. isn’t easily discouraged, even by a forecast of gale force winds, so he and Bob Bowden went down to his Ty Man in Gateway Marina, Highlands at dawn and found the only problem was fog covering a flat calm Raritan Bay. They had been catching lots of small stripers while clamming off Keyport, but this trip was completely different before the front blew them off the water. There were only a few hits, but Bowden caught the first 20-pound bass reported from the bay so far this spring. They also released a 30-incher and a bass only about 18 inches.  Many said the water temperature was in the narrow range of 44 to 45 degrees from the river to the bay. No bunkers were spotted in the bay, but gannets were diving in the ocean.

first 20

Capt. Chris De Stefano of Wall said he got a report of a big bluefish being caught in the Navesink River.

Bob Matthews, at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina, said the weather has made for tough fishing, but he finally saw six winter flounder caught from the docks on Sunday.  The Atlantic Highlands store isn’t open yet, but anglers fishing from shore in Raritan Bay have been catching school stripers.

Fly rod pro, Joe Blaze of Brielle, holder of IGFA fly rod world records for bigeye trevally, turned his attention to bonefish from March 13-18, 2018. He reports “Fished Grand Bahama Island East End Lodge and Little Abaco for bonefish and mutton snapper as a guest of Joe Jefferson Club members including Henry Matri, Peter Marron, Sean Davis, Bob LaViano, Bob Hekemian and Rich Pellizzi.  Weather and water was cool [65-75F], but significantly improving after the prior week of rain and overcast.  Fishing and catching was excellent with each member landing many bonefish each day.  A few permit spotted and one landed.  Several mutton snapper landed too.  Flies were the usual types including Crazy Charlie, Gotcha, Clouser minnows. ” 

I’ll be holding a fishing tackle garage sale with loads of new and used gear at 1552 Osprey Ct., Manasquan Park, NJ 08736 on April 14-15. More information will follow as the event gets closer.