October 4, 2014
It's been a while since my last update so I thought I'd use this rainy Saturday to bring everyone up to date. The big news is that we just completed a repower on the boat, and now have a shiny new 300hp Suzuki engine to move us around. I've just finished the break-in period and haven't opened it up yet, but it almost flies! The difference is amazing and I can't wait to fish it this fall.
It was an odd summer this year, with many of our normal back bay critters not making an appearance or being few in number. Until recently blowfish were extremely scarce, and our normal blowfish by-catch (spot, croaker, sea bass, etc.) were almost non-existent. Weakfish were hard to come by in daylight, and even back bay bluefish were not as reliable as they usually are. On the positive side, bay fluke fishing was solid all summer and held up right through the season closing last week, with some of the largest specimens (including a fat 9-1/2 pounder taken in four feet of water) coming in the closing days. We also had a solid kingfish bite for much of August and September, and blowfish have finally arrived in decent numbers. The best summer fishing in the area was a bit offshore at Barnegat Ridge, where huge schools of bonito and false albacore took up residence the first week of August and stuck around. We had a few great days trolling out there this summer, and we'll have to see if this current blow moves them inshore a bit for us.
Which brings us to fall striper fishing. There seems to be an abundance of bait around right now, both along the beach and still lurking in the back bays waiting to migrate. That's a good sign for our fall striper run after a disappointing 2013. We'll have to see how this plays out, but if the bait stays inshore close to the beach we could see an epic fall run in 2014. I'll be doing two or three trips per week starting next week, initially fishing the bay and inlet with live spot and clams then moving outside with jigs as the run progresses. If you're planning on getting out this fall, let me know and I'll get it in the book now since the remaining open dates will fill up quickly once reports start coming in.
Until next time.
July 4, 2014
Happy 4th of July! While we're off to a bit of a wet and windy start, the rest of the holiday weekend looks fabulous and I hope everyone enjoys it.
I've had a surprising number of inquiries over the past several months about where my weekly fishing reports have been. Here's the scoop. After eleven years of chartering full time, I made the decision this past winter to start cutting things back a little bit this year. So instead of the four or five charters a week that I've done in the past, this year I've been trying to limit it to just a couple of days a week. Add in a couple of personal fishing days most weeks and I've probably been on the water as much as always, just with a little different focus. But one of the casualties of cutting back has been the weekly fishing report email that I sent out every Sunday morning for the past ten years. Based on the requests for updates I've received, I'm going to try to bring that back, probably not weekly but at least a couple times a month.
OK, so how has fishing been so far this year and what are we looking forward to? I would call our spring striper season somewhat disappointing. We had a few good days, but not what we were xpecting. Livelining around the bunker schools was inconsistent, and most days we had to resort to trolling wire line and Maja bunker spoons to put one or two fish on the boat. Seems like the main body of migrating fish passed our area well offshore for the second year in a row, hopefully not a trend. Back bay fluke fishing has been pretty decent this year. It hasn't been crazy fishing, but most days have seen steady action with four or five keepers in the box. And some quality fish have been landed, including one that taped out to 28" and quite a few fish in the 23-24" range. As usual we've been fishing light and ultralight tackle for fluke, and this year has also seen the return of 40-50" houndfish that are an absolute blast on light gear.
We're going to continue bay fluke fishing as long as it holds up. For anyone that's interested, I'm also planning to get in a couple trips next month out to Barnegat Ridge once the bonito start showing up. Add in some back bay bottom fishing (blowfish, kingfish, burrfish, snappers, weakfish, etc.) and we should have a full plate for the rest of the summer. Hope to see you all soon.
November 24, 2013
Well that turned out to be a little longer break than I expected, but we finally got medical clearance in time to catch the end of the fall striper run. Jay Berman and buddies Eric and Mitch were out with me last Friday and we found solid jigging action south of the inlet, boxing an easy limit of bass to over 32 pounds. That's the way to get started again! We wrapped the season up with the Jim Bresling charter experiencing a slow day of jig fishing in immense schools of sandeels and bunker, with only Jim getting his limit by the time we headed in.
Weather permitting, we'll be finishing up our 2013 season over Thanksgiving weekend this year. Many thanks for all the thoughts and prayers we've received over the past couple of months. They've meant a lot to my wife and I. See you all in the Spring!
September 22, 2013
What a beautiful time of year to be on the water, and plenty of fish to keep the rods bent. George Selph and I fished the Garden State Reef site last Saturday, finding a steady bite until the wind dropped out completely mid morning and we returned to the dock with eight fat flatties to 24" in the box. Bruce Conner was out from Chicago last week to take his dad out for a day on the water, and we found hordes of maniac bluefish swarming the inlet as the sun came up. After landing 40-50 of the yellow eyed devils on six pound outfits, the guys were ready to relax and try something different. A shift to the back bay resulted in a cooler filled with 45-50 large blowfish, with several large kingfish thrown in for variety.
I'm going to be taking a couple of weeks off to deal with some medical issues, but hope to be back at it right around the time that the stripers come back to life around here. See you in a few weeks!
September 8, 2013
What beautiful weather! I took advantage of it yesterday to run out to Barnegat Ridge with regular weekend guest George Selph to see what kind of marine life we'd find, and were rewarded with a cooler full of tasty Atlantic Bonito. The best part was that they were hitting small jigs that we dropped down on 8 pound test spinning outfits, making each and every one of them feel like a trophy fish. Not much variety for us (other than a lone skipjack tuna that somehow found us) but I did hear radio reports of a few false albacore and blues being caught a little to the north of us so it looks like the Ridges are coming to life for September. The fish we cleaned back at the dock were loaded with sand eels which should keep the fish around for a while.
Plenty of mid week dates open through September. Time to take advantage of the best weather month of the year.
August 31, 2013
Hope everyone's enjoying this fine holiday weekend. Looks like we've got some nice weather here for the unofficial last weekend of the summer season.
We've had a busy week now that the boat is back in the water and things have returned to normal. On Monday I had Chip Harter along with son John and son-in-law Mike out on his annual summer fluke excursion. After picking away at a few shorts in tough wind against tide conditions, a quick trip to the inlet put the guys on blitzing 4-5 pound bluefish before we rounded out the day by anchoring up in the back bay for a couple hours of non-stop action on fat blowfish and kingfish. Tuesday brought Jerry Bailey down from Monroe NY with grandson Daniel specifically for blowfish, and the guys proceeded to fill the large cooler with fat puffers and some of the biggest croakers I've seen in a long time. Several of the croakers were almost four pounds! Add in a mixture of kingfish, spot, snappers, sea bass, porgies and burrfish and it was five hours of fishing mayhem. Yesterday I decided to sneak out for a couple hours myself, and came back in with a couple dozen tasty blowfish for the missus and I to enjoy. Today was back to fluke fishing with regular George Selph, but the hard SSW wind and sporty seas all morning left us with nothing but a couple shorts and a few blues to show for it.
As is normal, September is a slow month for us with vacations mostly over and kids back in school. But the weather is generally beautiful and the fishing can be good, so if you've got the itch to get out there before we start getting ready for fall stripers we've got plenty of open dates still available this month.
July 14, 2013
August 18, 2013
We've been off the water for most of the past two weeks, first out of state for a few days at a family wedding in the Mid-West and most recently with some boat issues caused by an unidentified submerged object in the bay. When we did make it out, back bay fishing was holding up pretty well for fluke and a wide variety of other species.
Prior to heading out of state, I had Suzanne Lane out with her dad Bob and friend John on their annual mid-summer fluke expedition with 60-70 fluke coming over the side from the inlet area. They were followed up on Wednesday by Lou Pochettino bringing out son Dave and grandsons Alex and Mackie, combining to swing another five to six dozen over the side before the tide change slowed things down. The ratio of shorts to keepers is getting larger as it usually does this time of year, but the action is steady and we are still seeing enough keepers to send folks home with a nice fat bag of filets. This past Wednesday I had Carlisle PA's Mario Novi accompanied by Captain Gary Sacks from Ocean City, MD out on what turned out to be a fruitless fluke run in 20-25 knot winds. Switching to plan B rather than fighting the wind, the guys proceeded to load the box with a back bay mixture of blowfish, spot and kingfish (plus a few snappers and striped burrfish) before heading back in.
We'll be concentrating on doing a little reel maintenance and getting ready for fall for the next few days but with any luck, the boat repairs should be complete and we'll be back in the water by the end of the week.
August 4, 2013
The bay and inlet continued to produce some fine fishing this past week, and all signs point toward this continuing to be the case for the next couple of weeks. The bay and ocean waters cooled down a bit this week and while that's not good news for swimmers, it will help slow down the fluke exodus from the bay a bit. Weakfish have started to appear in decent numbers to join the fluke, sea bass, spot, kingfish, snappers and blowfish that have been keeping rods bent for the past few weeks.
This was a quiet week for me with two unexpected charter cancellations, but we did make it out twice and had pretty decent fishing both times. On Monday's trip I had the Hoffman brothers (Mike, Steve and David) out on their annual vacation fluke expedition, with the guys landing three dozen or so from Oyster Creek and boxing four of the largest for their evening fish fry. Friday I had a hankering for some tasty blowfish morsels, boxing a couple dozen larger specimens for our dinner table in two hours. Several dozen spot and a couple fat kingfish spiced up the catch. I may have to do that again this week.
Between charters and family commitments I'm pretty well booked up for the next few weeks, but I do still have August 24th (Saturday) and 28th (Wednesday) available before the summer draws to a close.
July 28, 2013
The back bay and inlet continued to produce extraordinary numbers of fluke this week, but there were signs of this fishery beginning to slow down by the weekend. We'll have to wait and see what the next few days bring.
As reported last time, we started the week on Sunday with regular George Selph banging well over 100 fluke including six that came home for dinner. Monday saw the vacationing Viggiano brothers (Chris, Mike, John and son in law Joe) landing an amazing 150-180 fluke up to 21" before heading in with the fish still biting. Wednesday I had Matt and Dan Kelleher aboard adding another 120+ to the count (including eight fat ones in the box) despite a slow start while we waited for the tide to change. But yesterday with George Selph back looking for a repeat performance the fish were either gone or had a serious case of lockjaw as only 15-18 fish were landed, all shorts. Was this a lingering effect of the strong northeast blow we had on Thursday or did the fish just move out? Hard to believe they all moved out that quickly, but only time will tell.
I had an unexpected cancellation for this Thursday (8/1) and still have a couple days open at the end of August for anyone looking to get in a summer trip.
July 21, 2013
Hope everyone survived all the heat this past week. It wasn't even pleasant out on the water, but hopefully we'll get a break over the next few days.
The fluke bite around the inlet area has really picked up, a sure sign that the huge body of fish we had in the bay has finally started to move towards the open water of the ocean. Not a surprise, it happens every year once the bay heats up into the 80's. The ocean water did chill down a bit today, so all we can do is hope that the migration slows down a bit and we'll continue to have good fishing in the bay for a couple more weeks.
Friday I had Tele Sudhakar along with his wife Mindi and son Andy out, celebrating their 33rd wedding anniversary by going fishing! Fortunately the fluke cooperated, with 40-50 fluke coming over the side topped by Tele's 7.8 pound monster that inhaled one of our custom teasers. Making the catch even more noteworthy is that while fishing was something they had long wanted to try, this was actually their first time ever out fishing. What a way to start! With six fish in the box, we headed in early to escape the heat when the bite died off mid-morning.
Today I had regular George Selph out on one of my rare Sunday excursions, and the fish started coming over the side within a minute of shutting off the engine. When we finally packed it in to get away from the ugly weekend boat traffic, well over 100 fish had been landed and six fine flatties were in the box ready for the cutting table.
We're going to stick with the bay fluke for as long as they hang around, but blowfishing in the back has continued to be on fire and will serve as our backup plan for days when the tide isn't right for fluke.
July 14, 2013
We were back at it this week after taking a week off over the 4th of July. While there are still plenty of fish to be had, things do seem to be starting to settle back into a normal mid-summer pattern as the bay waters continue to warm up. The back bay continues to give up some nice fluke to anglers working the flats, but the anticipated move into the channels has clearly gotten started and will get more of our attention over the next few weeks. Blowfishing is absolutely on fire, with catches limited only by how many of those tasty morsels you're willing to clean, with occasional kingfish and spot mixed in to spice things up. I was a little disappointed not to see any weakfish this week, but hopefully we can start targeting them pretty soon.
Atlanta's John Olsen was back on Tuesday with the grandkids on their annual fluke outing, and the kids managed to put 40+ fluke in the boat with a handful of fat keepers up to 22" in the box before heading in for surfing lessons. North Jerseyans Jim Wysocki and buddy Joe came out on Friday, only to be were greeted by unexpectedly strong NE winds and a 2-3 foot bay chop that made fluke fishing difficult at best. With that only producing a few shorts, a decision was made to drop the hook and give bottom fishing a try and mayhem broke loose almost immediately with blowfish coming over the rails before the chum had even started to defrost. I couldn't even guess at how many were caught over the next hour and a half, but there were three dozen of the largest ones in the box when we got back to the dock. Max Berger was back yesterday with son Andrew, nephew Theo and buddy Seth on what turned out to be a slow morning in the fog fishing the flats. A late move towards the inlet managed to put a few flatties on board by the time we headed back to the dock.
With the ocean water still being pretty cold, I expect to be fishing primarily in the bay for the next couple of weeks. I've still got a couple of openings this month for anyone interested.
June 30, 2013
It was a busy week despite the sometimes brutal heat and constant threat of thunderstorms, but the back bay continued to provide steady action on the fluke grounds and bags of tasty filets for everyone to take home. Chesterfield's Mike Smith was first up on Monday with buddies Tom and Dave, their catch highlighted by Mike's 24" weakfish and Dave successfully landing an 18-20 pound cownose ray on ultralight tackle that had him down to the spool several times before he was finally subdued. Steve Mastej came out on Wednesday with the family, boxing four fat flatties before switching to blowfish for a little diversity and fun for the kids. Narberth PA's Max Berger was back on Friday with son Andrew and nephew Theo, with Max celebrating his birthday by topping the catch with a fat 27" flattie that fell for one of our custom teasers in four feet of water. Rounding out the week on Saturday was Philadelphian George Graf and his two boys, boxing five to 23" before the wind chased us in late morning.
While the bay is starting to warm up, the ocean is still pretty cold so I think our back bay fluke action should continue to hold for a while. As I said last week, the action isn't red hot but it is steady and there are some quality fish to be had. Add in the occasional weakfish, super abundant blowfish and the opportunity to tangle with a large ray on ultralight tackle and you've got the recipe for some fun fishing within minutes of the dock.
June 23, 2013
The weather finally cut us a break toward the end of the week, and gave us a couple of absolutely beautiful days to probe the back bay for summer fluke. In fact it was almost too nice, with no breeze and power drifting needed to keep covering ground. Slime weed is a bit of a problem right now, but the fluke are there for those that persist in fishing through it. Jim and Gene Karamen, along with Jim's daughter Christina and husband Vince, were out for their annual summer fluke trip on Friday with the catch topped by Jim's 21" flattie that inhaled one of our custom teasers. George Selph came out again yesterday, landing a summer mix of fluke to 22", bluefish, a nice fat weakfish in the 5-6# class, and two cownose rays in the 25-30# class on ultralight tackle.
I wouldn't call the fishing red hot, but there's enough action to keep everyone engaged and rewarded back at the dock with fat bags of fresh fish dinners. We'll probably stick with the back bay fluke fishing for the next couple of weeks, unless the weakfish start showing up widely enough that we can target them specifically.
June 16, 2013
Weather again continued to be a problem this week, leading to two trips being outright canceled and Monday's trip being cut short due to a deadly mix of wind, slime grass and a minor mechanical issue. We did spend several hours on Saturday's trip trolling our favorite Maja spoons out front, but I'm beginning to think that our trophy bass fishery is over for this spring as the still cool inshore water seems to be keeping the main body of fish outside the three mile line and it's getting near time for the fish to be headed north. A quick run back into the bay for fluke late Saturday morning got the skunk off the boat for Bill and Ann Staples, with Bill's 22" flattie topping the catch.
There are still a few fish being taken from the jetties and along the beach so we're not going to put away our bass tackle yet, but we'll be starting to make the switch over to fluke and weakfish this week unless something dramatically changes. I still have a couple of openings in July and plenty of mid-week dates in August for anyone interested in a summer outing.
June 9, 2013
Thunderstorms early in the week and TS Andrea at the end kept us in for most of the week, but we did get out on Wednesday with Bill Ruskowski who along with pals Joe and Dan put together a fine example of the early summer Barnegat Bay fishery. When our original plan to anchor up with clams for striped bass was thwarted by a nasty wind against tide condition, a quick switch to back bay fluking produced a steady pick over the next three hours with nine flatties to 22" in the box while we waited out the change in tide. Switching back to our original plan produced non-stop action on 2-4 pound bluefish plus one 32" striped bass that managed to get to our baits before the swarming bluefish did. The bass was filled with fresh adult bunker, so it would appear they're still coming into the bay from outside. A quick solo run on Thursday before the winds cranked up put some nice fresh flounder dinners on our table as well, showing that Wednesday's action wasn't just a "fluke".
May 26, 2013
Hope everyone's having a good Memorial Day weekend. The weather is looking better each day, and should be ideal by tomorrow for celebrating outdoors and remembering those who have given so much for us.
Wind and fog through much of last week conspired to keep us largely tied to the dock, but we did get out Wednesday with Pennsylvania's Max Berger and his buddy Mark for a morning back bay expedition. Fishing in the bay continued to be hot, with 3-5 pound bluefish slamming poppers in the early hours and clams producing steady action on striped bass to 30" (and of course more blues) after the tide swung around.
We'll be back on the water tomorrow and Wednesday, looking to find a few more of the trophy striped bass that are traveling through our area. We'll probably continue with the stripers until mid-June before switching over to fluke and weakfish for the summer. June 10th and 13th are still available for anyone interested.
May 19, 2013
The big bass are finally here! What started to come together at the end of last week turned into a pretty consistent showing of trophy striped bass off Island Beach State Park all week long. So far the bite has been primarily a trolling one, with green and white #4 Maja spoons leading the way, but the old "snag & drop" technique was also showing signs of life at the end of the week as the bass were starting to key in on the bunker schools along the beach.
We started the week on Monday with Jim "Smitty" Smith bringing Janna Moore and his son Mike out, the trip highlighted by Mike landing a mid-twenties linesider that was also his first ever striped bass. Team Smitty returned for a rematch on Tuesday that resulted in personal bests for all three, with Smitty and Mike both besting 40 pounds and Janna topping 35. David Volk was up from Florida on Friday with a local buddy Tom Majesky, with Tom's 38 pound fish of a lifetime leading the way. Friday we opted to stay inside with Charlie Bedaro, who brought friends Theresa, Gerry and Erin out to celebrate Erin's birthday. Non-stop bluefish action made it difficult to get to the bass with baits being inhaled by 3-9 pound blues as soon as they hit the water, but five were boated topped by birthday girl Erin's 31" fish. All-in-all a pretty good week.
With the trophy fish action in the ocean picking up and the non-stop bay action on blues and stripers reaching its peak, we've got something to eagerly anticipate on all but the worst weather days. Add in that fluke also opened up this weekend, and you'll understand why this is my favorite time of year.
May 12, 2013
Weather again kept us pretty close to the dock this week, a bit frustrating when we're getting right into the prime time for trophy striped bass along the beachfront in this area. We did manage to get one bayside trip in this week with Wayne Pollack, son Joachim, and Mike Skurecki (Sr. & Jr.) putting a beating on bay 3-5 pound bluefish on light tackle poppers and swim baits. Lots of fun with steady bent rods most of the morning until we finally had enough and headed in a little early. I did get reports of a few big bass making an appearance on Friday for the guys that were trolling Maja spoons, so they are starting to show up right on schedule and all we need is for the weather to start cooperating. We're booked pretty solid for the next couple of weeks, the bunker spoons are ready to go and the big nets are aboard the boat. Time to go fishing! .
May 5, 2013
Bluefish, bluefish and MORE bluefish was the main story around here this week. The persistent hard east winds that have blown pretty steadily since last weekend put a bit of a damper on bass fishing, with most of the successes going to surf rats dunking clams or fresh bunker along the ocean front. But the back bay water temperatures are just about perfect for bass right now, so we gave clams a try on the outgoing on Thursday expecting to find hungry bass waiting for us in a few of our usual spots. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) what we found were non-stop bluefish that inhaled our clam baits almost as soon as they were in the water. Most of the blues were of the 3-5 pound variety, but a couple of larger 7-8 pounders came aboard as well. Were there bass there? I think so, but they were no match for the hordes of bluefish that immediately gobbled up everything we dropped down. A quick stop on the flats before heading back in produced more of the same on poppers, so they seem to be spread out pretty much across the bay right now.
Looks like this wind is going to be with us for a few more days, but hopefully we can get back outside later in the week. If not, we'll go with the flow and have fun with bluefish until conditions improve.
April 28, 2013
Looks like all the pieces are starting to come together right on schedule for an excellent spring fishing season. The first run of bluefish appeared in the bay this week and while that's fun by itself, it's also usually a sign that the back bay striper bite should be starting within the next two weeks. We gave it a shot with clams yesterday hoping for some early arrivals, but either they weren't around or the still cold (46-48 degree) water on the incoming had them huddled up for warmth someplace else. With the bay now in the mid-50's, I'm guessing the outgoing would have produced very different results and hope to verify that this coming week.
The cool ocean water is still making it tough for fishing the bunker schools or trolling bunker spoons, but reports from up north are starting to get exciting and it's not going to be long before the ocean warms up a bit and we can start targeting those spring trophy bass that we've come to anxiously await each May and June. I'll be running a reduced schedule this season, but still have a few open dates in early June for stripers or back bay fluke.
March 3, 2013
Hope everyone has been enjoying this relatively mild winter. It's hard to believe that it's March already, but next week we'll be bumping the clocks ahead and before you know it spring will be upon us. And that means the fishing season is right around the corner!
We'll be getting the boat ready over the next few weeks, and I'm looking towards a 2013 launch around the 1st of April. While my off season tax work will keep me pretty busy on weekdays until the middle of the month, we'll be watching to see if the exceptional bass fishing we had in early April last year repeats itself in 2013. If it does, we'll be running weekend trips to get out there and get in on the action whenever the weather permits. We'll be resuming our regular weekday fishing schedule around April 27th.
Plenty of good dates are still available, but they go fast once the bite gets started so now's the time to lock in the dates for those spring striper trips you've been thinking about all winter. Give me a call or shoot me an email and we'll get them in the book.
Hope to see you soon.Fishing Reports from the 2012 season
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