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Captain's Focus

It wasn't hot fishing, but the party headed by Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst had quite a few bites throughout their trip with Capt. John Contello on his Just Saying from Brown's Point Marina in Keyport. Mate Steve Tosti didn't have any trouble loading a cooler with bunker after a few throws of a castnet even though we didn't leave until 9 a.m. Bluefish have been a big problem for those seeking stripers in Rartan Bay, so Contello ran to the Hudson River and waited out the bite on chunked bunker. A few 5-pound blues hit at first before stripers took over.  Matraxia said it was the same sort of chunking bite he's been experiencing all spring -- with light bites that suck the guts out of bunker chunks and heads before leaving them. Yet, we ended up catching eight keeper bass and five shorts. Matraxia put ALS tags in seven of them -- including two of the legal bass. Marty Gras had a good fight in a strong current from a 39 1/2-inch striper. I added the only end of the tide bluefish, and that chopper of about 8 pounds made out well as it had a broken off wire-leadered hook removed along with mine before being released. Brett Lee from Stroudsburg, Pa. did well with the bass and will be joining the ALS to get in on the tagging program which is so important to Matraxia. Contello (732 670-1919) is a very young skipper, but handles his charters like an old pro with the help of Tosti. The Golden Eagle from Belmar only found small blues that bit well for the first hour this morning, but later got into bunker schools with rolling bass in them that wouldn't hit. The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant also jigged 1-to-4-pound blues, but were fortunate enough to add a couple of stripers up to 30 pounds. The fluke season opens Thursday, and I'll have a lot more information on that in tomorrow's blog. Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant, weighed in an 18-pound striper caught on bait in the local surf by Anthony Pellagrino of Point Pleasant -- and an 18-pounder plugged by Bob Longo of Brick. Joe Spinelli of Point Pleasant caught a 12-pound bass on bait in the canal.

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