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Captain's Focus

A front page article in the Sunday Star-Ledger detailed the struggles of a research organization in finding sharks to study and tag during an almost three-week expedition from Virginia to New Jersey. The OCEARCH research vessel finally hooked a tiger shark with just three days left in their trip. Yet, I find it hard to believe that they did so poorly in June when blue sharks are usually so abundant that it's hard to get through to makos -- though the Mako Mania and Mako Fever skippers weighed in lots of makos in those contests and released many more without having the advantage of being able to fish around the clock. OCEARCH would be well-advised to hire some N.J. shark skippers next year to vastly improve their research efforts. That could well include Captains Dave Bender and Kevin Gerrity of Jenny Lee who brought a 990-pound mako to the scales at Hoffman's Marina in Brielle last Saturday after catching it in Hudson Canyon tht morning. That's the largest mako recorded off N.J., but because six members of the charter fought it, the state won't be able to accept it as the state record. That mark belongs to Christopher Palmer for an 856-pound mako caught in 1988 from Wilmington Canyon. The IGFA world record is considerably larger at 1221 pounds in 2001 from Chatham, Massachusetts. There was a rare tie for first place in last Saturday's Point Pleasant Elks Fluke Tournament as Ron Knolmeye of Howell on Bonefish and William Pistuvra on Fish Monger each weighed 9.6-pounders. Percivel Reese was close behind in third on Lock-N-Load. In the kayack division, Chris Johnstone measured a 26-inch fluke to beat a 23-incher by Kevin Micnalski and a 20.5-incher for Gary Newman. The three fluke combination Fluke Slam went to Ryan Crossan with 65 1/2 inches to nip Gary Ward with 64 inches and Judy Segar at 63.5 inches.  Mario Tiexierra caught a 35 1/2-inch jumbo blue to won the "trash fish", title, and added fluke, dogfish, porgy and sea robin to win in most species. Bob Corell of Bay Head introduced his daughter's boy friend  t surfcasting last weekend on his local beach at 2:30 p.m. Correll cast a jig tipped wirh a Gulp Shrimp and hooked a cownose ray before handing the rod to Chris Appell N.Y.C. who did a very good job with his first-ever surf fish by running along the beach to prevent the reel from being stripped before eventually releasing it. I wonder if he now expects to catch a 50-pounder from the surf every trip? The DEP has issued the Marine Fisheries Digest which can be downloaded from their web site at nj.fishandwildlife.com. There's also information on that site about t he DEP giving away Eagle Claw hooks though retailers in order to reduce mortality of shorts with their "If you can't keep it, Save it" program. Phil Silvester of Harrison was a hero among shore casters in Shark River Thursday morning as he used a jig to catch several cocktail blues before adding a small striper -- and then releasing a 28-inch bass. Vinny D'Anton and I kept working poppers that those fish wouldn't respond to until I watched a big blue jump over my pencil popper. Frank Conover of Sea Girt hooked what was probably that blue on his popper only to lose it on an obstruction after a long run.  The Beach Haven Marlin & Tuna Club White Marlin Invitational got underway Wednesday. I'll provide nightly updates on my daily blog at nj.com/shore/vlogs/fishing. Jim Hutchinson Sr. reports that "Once again the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association are both looking offshore for tuna and billfish as well as seeking some nice fluke in the inshore ocean waters around various types of structure as those fish begin their migration. Captain Matt Curtis made a couple of trips recently offshore with "Get Reel Sportfishing" which each trip resulting in several bluefin tuna. On most of the trips the crew boated both their "over" and "under" bluefin. The largest tuna were right at the 100-pound mark. Captain Mark has also taken a few inshore trips for summer flounder and has found improved luck with his keeper to throwback ratio. He is finding more fish in the 20-25 inch range with the bite in the ocean showing some definite improvement from recent weeks. Captain Ray Lopez along with his mate Max Goldman recently had three action packed charters on the "Miss Liane" looking for fluke and anything else they might find in the area. One trip resulted in a total of 58 fish including 49 fluke to go with the rest black sea bass. Another trip had anglers catching over 30 fluke to go with a mix of sea bass, bluefish, and even some weakfish. On all of the trips multiple keepers were netted."

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