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Captain's Focus

Sorry for the late blog, but Chuck Many of Annandale was determined to catch a striped bass today on his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands after not having fished since early spring due to family obligations. We went out at about 10:30 a.m., and had lots of action, but just as other experts had assured Many there were no stripers -- until a last effort when my sand worms were left alone long enough by bluefish and I reeled a bass of about 30 inches alongside, where Many removed the circle hook barely in its lip in the water for the release at 7 p.m. After a couple more blues, we headed in to get away from the flies we were fighting all day. We never saw so many flies fly aboard the boat before. Perhaps that had something to do with the approaching tropical storm. During late morning, Many worked some of his favorite summer spots in Raritan Bay which produced dogfish and small sea bass before he spotted a couple of breaks. After that I was able to cast a Tactical Anglers Bomb Jr. popper blind to bring up blues from 3 to 8 pounds -- with most in the 5-pound class. We eventually left them to try breaking the ice with small stripers on a favorite drift in the Hudson River that almost always produces them. Surprisingly, we never got a single bass there -- but did release four impressive weakfish on worms. Three were in the 5-pound class, and the largest measured 30 inches. Many also released two short fluke on peanut bunkers -- including one that was snagged in the tail.  The north wind wasn't much of a problem, and we found life at most stops. One of our high hopes drop for school stripers was so loaded with porgies that our worms were attacked instantly. Even with the ocean probably being unfishable over the weekend, Raritan Bay should be a good place to hide whenever wind and current are together  -- and there sure were lots of medium to large blues there today. Capt. Ron Santee was surprised he could fish the ocean for fluke today in reasonable comfort with his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands. There was a decent pick of shorts and keepers, with the largest fluke being a 24-inch, 6.2-pounder.  Santee plans to fish Saturday morning before ocean conditions are expected to become bad by late afternoon.  He noted that the night trip has been producing buckets of porgies, while the first croakers and weakfish are showing up. Anglers planning to fish aboard party and charter boats on Saturday should check with the skipper before making the trip. The Cock Robin from Point Pleasant has already cancelled trips for the next two days in view of the tropical storm warning -- and that storm could stall off our coast well into next week. Boaters should exercise caution in the inlets when the wind is blowing against the current.

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