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Work your baits for fussy fluke

Fluke fishing in the Raritan Bay area has been tough most days even though party and charter boats usually end up with decent catches. The difference between those anglers who limit regularly and those who struggle for a dinner is usually working the baits. Bait has generally been best so far, but just dragging it isn’t normally productive. Every skipper is frustrated when he sees anglers waiting for a fluke to commit suicide rather than continuously bouncing bait off bottom.

Modern lightweight tackle makes it a lot easier to work baits, but Dave Orlkel proved today on the Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands that it’s not necessary to fool fluke as Capt. Ron Santee said his customer used his grandfather’s wooden-handled reel on a rod at least 50 years old to limit out and boat the pool-winning 7.4-pounder. Santee noted that there were also fluke of 6.5 and 5.7 pounds while some fares managed a couple of keepers  — but he emphasized that “In no way is it easy”. The Fishermen is chartered Saturday.

Also at that port, the Sea Hunter had similar fluking with a couple of limits and a 7.5-pound pool winner plus many shorts.

 

The small bluefish in the Shrewsbury Rocks area cooperated today and there were some limits up to 3 pounds jigged on both Miss Belmar Princess and the Golden Eagle from Belmar — while the Ocean Explorer, Big Mohawk and Capt. Cal continue to load up with sea bass out of that port.

Capt. Deane Lambros had a facebook post of a great canyon trip yesterday on the Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant that produced two giants of 96 and 90 inches plus a bigeye and 10 yellowfin tuna.

Capt. Dave De Gennaro trolled out of Barnegat Inlet with his Hi Flier from Barnegat and only caught a 14-inch fluke that actually was hooked in the mouth on a turn with a Tony Maja bunker spoon. However, there were bunker schools up that have attracted thresher sharks. Some threshers have been caught, and he was looking for another as I talked to him late in the afternoon.

Many short stripers and a few larger ones are still being reported by the Seaside Park tackle shops — and there’s also been a bonus of black drum on clams.

Vinny D’Anton of Wall didn’t have another day on his local beach such as the day before when he caught six stripers up to 35 inches on sand fleas. He hooked a similar bass right away this morning only to lose it almost in the wash due to a broken circle hook. After that there was only a pick of small bass. I even caught three, but none over about 23 inches. Joe Milko got a surprise when he hooked a 17 1/4-inch fluke on sand fleas.

Joe Melillo has had some weigh-ins recently at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant. Bill McCrystal of that town had boat stripers of 27 pounds, and 35 7/8 pounds. Terry Martuscelli of Brick landed a 24 9/16-pound bass from the surf on bunker.

 

 

 

 

 

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.”

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Wild giant tuna action in NC

The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant has been enjoying great giant bluefin tuna action during their winter stay in North Carolina — whenever the weather permits them to get offshore. Adam La Rosa has been frustrated by so many charters being lost, but when the boat gets out the fishing has been spectacular. Seven giants to over 700 pounds were caught during the two most recent days at sea — March 19 and 24. On the first trip, the Mark Brzozowski party hooked an unheard of quadruple of giants at once after a slow morning. The next trip produced non-stop trolling action not only with giants but also yellowfin tuna and dolphin for the Matt Mozitis party. If you want to get in on this incredible bite, and are willing to wait out the weather, call Adam La Rosa at 732 272-4445.

 

The Tackle Box in Hazlet reports Matt Calabria has been picking away at small stripers in the back of Raritan Bay on bloodworms, and also caught the first keeper there.

Vinnie D’Anton  has been enjoying good light tackle casting from shorelines near his winter home in Sarasota, Fl. Spotted sea trout have been hitting 3-inch Gulp, and he topped yesterday morning’s catch with a 24-incher.

 

Back from Pesca Panama

Just got back from Pesca Panama after joining my nephews, Bobby Correll of Bay Head, N.J. and Todd Correll from Fort Lauderdale on a charter for family and friends. Bobby and I got off to a great start as we released six roosterfish up to an estimated 45 pounds on live blue runners we had caught on Sabicki rigs last Sunday morning on the way out with one of the Oceanmaster center consoles from David to the barge.
The next morning we got into some yellowfin tuna at famed Hannibal Bank. God must have been looking out for me as I caught two tuna suitable for an old man on stand-up conventional tackle (about 45 and 80 pounds), but Bobby had no luck casting poppers. The following morning we were into tuna in very deep waters off Jicaron where I got involved with a 100-pounder that hit a live blue runner on a relatively light Shimano spinning tackle. It went straight down and tied me up for 1 1/2 hours before I could stop the runs down by holding on to the braid and turning the tuna. Later in the morning, Bobby and Todd made short work of an exciting double of 60-to-70-pounders on poppers. The most unusual catch was yet to come. I’ll post that tomorrow.