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Captain's Focus

The fall migratory run of striped bass remains at a peak, with only a lack of large bass making it somewhat short of a great run. Even crowded party boats are usually able to satisfy everyone with a slot while most can add a keeper over 28 inches. Yet, there are few over 43 inches. That may have something to do with the bait, which has been primarily peanut bunkers and rainfish. Herring are overdue, and it could be a completely different story with big bass if they arrive before all the boats stop operating. Capt. Dave Riback had a great weekend on his Queen Mary from Point Pleasant , even returning a bit early on Saturday with the boat limited on slots and keepers under 43 inches.  He didn't even have to run far from the inlet in order to load up this morning. The hi-hook counted 14 bass. However, the Queen Mary will be running their last trip of the season on Monday due to poor weather forecast after that plus an opportunity to get into the boat yard. The Golden Eagle from Belmar had a big bass of 34 inches and plenty of bluefish. Most of their fish today were on crocs. Bob Correll of Bay Head and I ran out of Manasquan Inlet on his 23-foor Boston Whaler around noon for a short attempt at the local bass. I was surprised to see Miss Barnegat Light so far north when the hot fishing had been near their inlet. There were some birds picking, but we had good readings that were very fussy. I couldn't hook up with a bunker pattern heavy Tsunami swim shad while my nephew was doing so with a white version. I had to switch to a white Tsunami  deep shad in order to hook stripers -- but then a big blue cut off the tail. There was better news to the north as Capt. Rob Semkewyc kept his season going with the Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands. The day started slowly, but he then got into stripers that would bite. The largest was 27 inches, but Semkewyc has a good supply of bonus tags left. He will continue fishing on good weather days, but anglers should call him at 732 291-4468 the night before. Surfcasters have been finding stripers at many spots all along the Shore , but blitz fishing never seems to be repeated the next day at any location. Bob Matthews, at  Fisherman's Den in Belmar Marina reported the largest surf catch weighed there was a 26-pounder by Jerry Taylor of Belmar. The Jamaica from Brielle had another good offshore wreck trip on Friday as everyone loaded up on jumbo sea bass and porgies. The pool-winning sea bass weighed 6 and 5.5 pounds.

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