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Captain's Focus

There was some very good fishing before the northeaster blew in Wednesday, and while it's been hard to deal with the wind and rain there may be even better fishing after it's over and waters clear up. From gale winds on Friday the forecast gets better – and it could be fishable over the weekend. The first fall northeaster often produces a surf blitz, but that wasn't the case Wednesday morning in the Spring Lake surf where Vinnie D'Anton got into the first good showing of surf stripers the previous morning as he raised eight to his Chug Bug and landed half of them up to 30 inches. The start of the northeaster was rough but fishable with poppers as we saw some mullet schools. Yet, no one raised a bass. I considered myself very fortunate to land stripers of 26 and 26 ½ inches that both hit in the wash, just before the Tactical Anglers Bomb, Jr. popper hit the sand. That emphasizes the importance of working lures all the way in. That was also the case for Leif Pettersen, who caught a 27.5-inch striper flyfishing with a white snake fly in the wash of the Deal surf. Bob Matthews, at Fisherman's Den in Belmar Marina, said he knew of surfcasters who got into a blitz of little tunny that morning in the Sandy Hook surf. Joe Melillo, at Castaways tackle in Point Pleasant, reported that some of his regulars caught lots of small blues at Normandy Beach that morning on plugs and metal. Bob Correll of Bay Head got to his local beach to land one small blue before it got too bad. The surf was out of the question on Thursday, but Point Pleasant Canal provided an opportunity to fish for blackfish with the wind howling at my back. Only short tog in were being released a hard-running current as anglers waited for the slack, some schools of mullet were passing by. When one of those schools got blown out of the water, I ran back to my car for the surf outfit and cast the Bomb Jr. to release four bluefish from 4 to 6 pounds. Ray Soriano of Chadwick Island, retired from the Star-Ledger, stopped by as that was going on and got a blue on his popper before they turned off. There was very good news offshore just before the northeaster as yellowfin tuna returned to local canyons. The Jamaica from Brielle got a call from Capt. Phil Dulanie of the Canyon Runner that put them on their first good tuna catch of the canyon season with 85 yellowfins up to a 75-pounder, two swordfish, eight dolphin, a mako, and a released 300-pound hammerhead shark on the Tuesday to Wednesday 31-hour trip. Congratulations to famed castnet-maker Percy Wentworth of Staten Island on his winning 55.2-pound striped bass in the Striper Cup competition over 4500 anglers from seven states. At 82, Wentworth was the oldest ever to win the Angler of the Year award in that coastal contest, and he led Team Rocco to the championship. The big bass was caught during a day trip on Capt. Vinny Vetere's Katfish out of Great Kills on a bunker Wentworth had taken in his Percy castnet.  The Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council will be meeting Tuesday at the Stockton Seaview Hotel, 201 South New York Road, Galloway 08205. On Wednesday from 2:30 to 4:30 they'll be discussing a proposal to manage river herring and American shad as a stock in order to deal with the by-catch losses of those species to commercial fleets netting sea herring and mackerel in offshore fisheries. There was some very good fishing earlier in the week when I fished with Chuck Many of Annandale on his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands. During a Monday prospecting trip that took us all the way to Hell's Gate, the best fishing was casting for surfacing blues from 4 to 6 pounds near the mouth of the East River, plus eight large weakfish on peanut bunkers and sandworms in Hudson River. There were numerous schools of small blues under birds north of Sandy Hook on the way back along with little tunny closer to the beach. We went out again Tuesday afternoon to release four small stripers casting the small Tsunami shad in Raritan Bay along with a 13 ½-inch sea bass among lots of little ones, plus legal porgies up to 12.8 inches on sandworms in Raritan Bay before heading to the Hudson for 32 weakfish releases in the 20-to-30-inch class plus a 16-inch blackfish, a 26-inch striper, and three fluke up to 17 inches on sandworms. Many caught the only bluefish while casting the shad.

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