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Captain's Focus

The very good offshore fishing for sea bass is being shut down with the New Year, along with the winter flounder angling that's been producing two-fish limits from the Belmar docks. Tautog remain open, but the bag limit drops to four.  The Big Mohawk from Belmar had only a pick of tog this morning that included a a couple of limits before the wind came up at noon. They'll be fishing on New Year's Day, but the Elaine B II from Highlands isn't sailing Sunday. Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman's Den in Belmar Marina that there are some herring and windowpanes in the inlets, while small stripers are still a possibility in the surf. That shop will be open from 8 to 11 p.m. weekdays, and to 2 p.m. on weekends during the winter. The Gambler from Point Pleasant reported their last offshore wreck trip produced good fishing for big sea bass plus some porgies and bluefish. During the winter, starting Jan. 5, they'll be fishing open and much closer from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It was almost as cold in southern Florida yesterday as in the reading area, and southern species don't usually react well when the air drops into the fifties. Therefore, Crazy Alberto Knie decided to cast net some small bait for peacock bass rather than trying lures at a couple of spots near Naples. The peacocks didn't show, but we released three largemouth black bass -- and I got a very pleasant surprise from a three-foot tarpon that put on a running and jumping show on a new St. Croix Mojo Jig spinning rod I was using before being released from a canal bank. With the north wind added to the cold front chill, we were shivering as the sun got lower. Vinnie D'Anton of Wall got down to his winter home in Sarasota to quickly start casting his old reliable Chug Bug from shore to catch a jack crevalle and four small bluefish the morning before that front arrived.

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