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Captain's Focus

Sea bass reports from party boats have been very good since the season opened last Friday, and there were high expectations as Tank Matraxia and Marty Gras from Lyndhurst plus Kevin Bollaro of Berkeley Heights and I left Twin Lights Marina in Highlands  at 8 a.m. with Capt. Hans Kaspersetz on Sheri Berri.  Though we had hoped to work a wreck well to the east, the fog and a big swell weren't a good combination for a long run. We ended up working a rough bottom in 90 feet off Sandy Hook that was surprisingly productive after two spiny dogfish hit on the first clam baits lowered. Sea bass of all sizes up to 16 inches took over and provided steady action until we decided there was enough in the box along with two big ling. Bollaro released a 16-inch blackfish. Matraxia also tagged a couple of sea bass just short of 12 1/2 inches with ALS tags.  He then added his first tagged fluke of the season (14 inches) during a single drift in Shrewsbury River on the way back to Twin Lights. Fluking in the Raritan Bay area has had it's moments. Capt. Stan Zagleski said he had many limits Wednesday, but that his anglers on Elaine B II from Bahrs in Highlands had to work harder for heir fluke on Thursday.. Rich Daniels of Phillipsburgh won the pool with a 4-pounder. At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Ron Santee reported the Wednesday evebing sailing of the Fishermen produced up to five keeper-size fluke, and Thursday's morning trip was decent as Capt. Ron Sr. hooked six legal fluke, and fares had up to five that size. Both Santee and Zagleski agree that natural bait has been outfishing Gulp and jigs so far. The first doormat was weighed in at The Tackle Box in Hazlet. Jose Pagano was drifting squid and killies off the Navy Pier on Saturday when he was shocked by an 11-pound fluke. Mixed-size blues were back outside Shark River Inlet on Wednesday, but the Ocean Explorer from Belmar didn't find them there Thursday morning. It wasn't until much later that they got into jumbo blues off Sandy Hook where only 15 were boated because of many break-offs. The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant got into blues up to 10 pounds while jigging Wednesday. After being unable to find bunkers for snagging the previous night, they snagged 20 and put them to good use on big stripers during the chartered evening trip. The Queen Mary is chartered June 3 Being at the right place at the right time; is the key to surfcasting success, and that was the the story for Mark Malfa of Brick when he was casting an SP Minnow before dawm in the local surf Wednesday morning and hooked a striper that weighed 27 pounds at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant. Allen Riley had no such luck Thursday morning in the Sandy Hook surf before his bait rod produced an 18-inch fluke that was able to inhale a bunker chunk. Those who have been asking about when I'll be holding my fishing tackle garage sale are informed it will be next weekend. For details e-mail me at cristori@aol.com, or call 732 757-5531. As readers of my daily blog (nj.com/shore/blogs/fishing) have noted there have been some strange happenings not too far from shore. One giant tuna was weighed in by Low Bid, and another was supposedly caught -- though precise locations weren't provided. The Canyon Runner from Point Pleasant not only caught the first mako shark while canton fishing last week, but also trolled the first school bluefin tina -- and then added the first yellowfin tuna in the canyons. < Party boat reports of fine sea bass fishing since that season opened

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