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The long-awaited coastal migratory run of large, spawned-out striped bass from Chesapeake and Delaware bays is finally underway, and a large fleet has been been chasing them off the northern Shore the last couple of days. Trollers did very well with the ocean bass Wednesday morning, and Capt. Erwin Heinrich decided to head down the beach into a southeast wind that afternoon with his Scales N Tales from Twin Lights Marina in Highlands as I joined him along with an all-star crew of Jim Hutchinson Jr. and John DeBona from The Fisherman magazine plus Jerry Gomber of Folsom -- who came equipped with the latest in Tsunami rods and reels. Boats trolling bunker spoons were picking bass over a broad area around Long Branch, but I only had one shot with one of the live bunkers Heinrich had netted for his morning trip in the bay. That bass was one of the most unusual I've ever encountered as it went right to bottom after being hooked and seemed to sulk there. I was only gaining braid slowly as it felt like the fish was snagged or tail-wrapped. We saw the tail of a large bass on the surface before realizing that it was only barely hooked in the skin toward the tail. Just the point of the hook was holding the 45-incher -- and that backed out as soon as it was boated by mate Dillon Chayes. How that fish ended up snagged in that fashion is a mystery, and the smooth drag of the Tsunami Hybrid reel was an important factor in preventing the hook from pulling out during the fight. Heinrich weighed it at 39 pounds, by far the largest first striper of the season I've ever caught. Jerry Gomber later released a bass of about 40 inches while jigging a white Tsunami Deep Shad. There was an armada of boats out there Thursday, trying to get into the bite before the northeaster being predicted for Saturday. Fortunately, the weather looks good after Sunday. Party boats had been having a hard time finding stripers in the ocean that would bite before breaking through on Wednesday. The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant not only broke the ice with a 40-pounder by John Lahey.on a bunker, but also loaded up with 3-to-7-pound blues on jigs late in the trip. Thursday was all blues up to 10 pounds. The Golden Eagle from Belmar had two bass on soft swim baits along with lots of blues from 3 to 10 ponds on jigs and Crocs on Wednesday, while  Thursday's jigging produced limits of blues from 3 to 10 pounds plus many releases. The Jamaica from Brielle had a couple of bass early Wednesday, and plenty of blues. They sail at 6:30 a.m. Friday, but at 7:30 other days.  The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant has been limiting out on trolled stripers to over 40 pounds the last several days, and releasing many others. The biggest striper of the week came from Raritan Bay, where Joe Bonner of Colonia trolled with his grandfather, Joe Preston, on Nancy Jane to bring a 54-pound trophy into Raritan Marina on Hazlet last weekend.  At Seaside Park, Grumpy's Tackle reported lots of blues in a variety of sizes in the surf -- primarily on bunker. Bucktails are best in the inlet, and poppers do the job in the bay. Capt. Rob Semkewyc had a decent catch of bass up to a 34-incher and blues on his Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands in the bay Wednesday morning, but it was slower Thursday. Last week's heavy rains seemed to chase most of the jumbo blues out of Manasquan River, but smaller blues have moved in. Capt. Dave DeGennaro broke the ice on the 60-foot depth trolling grounds off Island Beach State Park on Monday afternoon by boating a 34-pound striper on a number 4 white Tony Maja bunker spoon from his Hi-Flier out of Barnegat. De Gennaro said there are still bluefish in Barnegat Bay for casting popping plugs to, but they're now mostly 3-to-4-pounders with only some jumbos mixed in. Tom O'Connor walked his South Amboy beach last Saturday and saw 30 people fishing bunker that caught at least 35 blues and a 40-inch striper on chunks. After not having any luck casting a Hopkins, O'Connor switched to a Gus Geant wooden popper to beach two big choppers. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission met this week in Alexandria, Virginia, and there were lots of changes in regulations with possibly more to come next week when the Technical Committee meets to consider New Jersey's proposal. Tom Fote reports that the fluke season is now set to open on May 25 with three fish at an 18-inch minimum -- but the season will be shortened to end on the Tuesday after Labor Day. There will also be exceptions for Delaware Bay and Island Beach State Park similar to last year. New York starts their fluke season on May 17, and runs through Sept. 21, but with three fish at a 19-inch minimum. Due to huge landings of sea bass by N.Y. at the end of last year, the ASMFC has reduced the bag limit during the last period from 10/22 to 12/31 from 15 to just five. The sea bass season opens on 5/26 and runs through 6/18 with 10 fish at a 12 1/2-inch minimum. It reopens as a summer by-catch fishery of two sea bass at 12 1/2 inches from  7/1 to 8/31. The Governor's Surf Tournament will be run next Sunday at Island Beach State Park. There are lots of prizes in this contest in several divisions. For details visit www.njfishandwildlife.com; call 609 748-4347; or check my blog during the week at nj.com/shore/blogs/fishing.

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