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Captain's Focus

Shore fishing is in transition from summer to fall with fluke and sea bass closed, while bottom fishermen enjoy the best porgy fishing in years and blackfish bite as if it was November -- though only one per man can be kept. Ocean chumming has also been consistent with an outstanding bonito bite plus some chub mackerel and little tunny. On the other hand, ocean bluefishing remains very spotty even for the small fish that are jigged or chummed some days. This should be prime time for canyon tuna fishing, but its been up-and-down so far. The Jamaica from Brielle had a better canyon trip on Tuesday as some dolphin were boated before anchoring up at night. A 60-pound yellowfin was caught at 9:30, but after that there were only sharks and a couple of run-offs before a tuna bite developed at daylight. Everyone got a shot at a tuna, and some managed to hook two. Though there were some hits on jigs, bait worked best. Surfcasters are looking forward to the start of the fall migratory striped bass run, but with water temperatures in the 70s that's going to take some time to develop. Yet, the local striped bass should start hitting lures when the mullet pour out of rivers and bays. There have been enough of them so far at Island Beach State Park for mullet netters to supply the Seaside Park tackle shops with fresh bait, but there's been no hot bite so far. Betty & Nick's reports there are mullet in the wash from Midway Beach to Two Bit Road, along with loads of snappers. Grumpy's noted that one angler had hits from decent blues on every cast with bait on Wednesday, but the big blues are still in the bay and hitting bunker chunks from the local docks. The N.J. Beach Buggy Association is running a free  Children's (under 16) Surf Tournament on Saturday in the park. Registration is at the first bathing beach at 8 a.m. There will be lots of prizes. Joe Melillo reports from Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant that big bluefish were caught in Point Pleasant Canal Thursday morning on white 6-inch Tsunami Shads. Blackfishing is excellent in the canal, but green crabs have been hard to come by. He expects a shipment Saturday morning.  The Staten Island Tuna Club is running the John Haugen Memorial Weakfish Tournament on Saturday and Sunday. It's a length photo, catch and release contest with an entry fee of just $20 per angler for cash prizes plus Calcuttas for the biggest weakfish, striped bass, bluefish and fluke. The captains meeting is at 6 p.m. Friday in Great Kills Tackle at 4044 Hylen Blvd., Staten Island. The contest concludes with a B.B.Q. at 3 p.m. Sunday. For information call Walter Fisher at 917 375-7607. At Belmar, the Golden Eagle reported an excellent Thursday chumming catch of bonito along with chub mackerel and little tunny plus some blues. The Ocean Explorer had another big catch of porgies along with the one tog per person allowed.  Capt. Tommy Joseph is excited about the great porgy bite from his Fish Tank. He says he often doesn't even mark the fish when he arrives at his spot, but within minutes everyone is hooking doubleheaders. The long swell hasn't hurt that shallow water fishing so far. At Atlantic Highlands, Capt. Ron Santee said Thursday marked the seventh straight day of great porgy fishing along with blackfish and triggerfish. There were also weakfish and blowfish in the catch. There was sadness at that port this week with the passing of Capt. Al Hilliard of Prowler 5 at 82, followed the next day by that boat's mate Rob Izzo of East Keansburg at just 34.  Capt. Stan Zagleski has found that his regulars on Elaine B, II from Bahrs in Highlands would rather just catch-and -release blackfish in addition to the one they can keep, so that's what he's doing. Capt. John Contello of Just Sayin from Keyport has been loading up his charters with some pretty large porgies plus triggerfish, but then concentrating on big tog in 20-foot depths. Joe Zagorski boated a 12-pounder this week, and Ariel Collado released one just over 10 pounds. Capt. Chris Di Stefano joined Frank Criscola on his Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club for a Wednesday trolling trip to Hudson Canyon that ended up far offshore in Babylon Canyon. They managed five albacore up to 55 to 60 pounds plus a few small dolphin, and were high hooks as some boats never got a hit. One boat hooked a doubleheader of bigeyes, but the lines crossed and both were lost. Jim Hutchinson Sr. reports that the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association was well represented at last week's meeting of the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council in Manahawkin. On hand were current captains John Lewis and Fran Verdi, past member Captain Adam Nowalsky, and BHCFA member Jim Hutchinson Sr. Verdi and Nowalsky spoke to the Council and audience in representing the recreational fishing industry in New Jersey. An unusually large crowd of over 100 anglers and fishing professionals were in attendance seeking relief from the double hit of closed seasons for black sea bass and summer flounder. Their pleas were not able to gain any satisfaction, but they were urged to keep the pressure on and continue their efforts with other governmental agencies. Captain Adam said there would be a joint meeting of the Mid Atlantic Fisheries Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission December 14 and 15 in Annapolis, Maryland. He said that a large contingent of New Jersey anglers could help the cause for fishery regulations in 2018. Captain Fran asked the New Jersey Council to make sure the New Jersey DEP renewed its efforts in support of anglers, especially with black sea bass. Following the meeting Captain John said that he is trying to make the best of a poor regulatory situation on the water. He is currently fishing for porgy, bluefish and bonito as well as sharks, tuna and mahi offshore. Additional information on the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association can be found at www.BHCFA.net.

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