1000's of NJ Saltwater Fishing Reports, Dozens of Sources, Maps, Wrecks, Historical Search

Captain's Focus

Bluefishing has been off & on this year, and that pattern has continued into the fall so far. The days of party boats going out day after day to chum great numbers of blues morning and night have slipped into fond memory, but what we have is still far better than what I experienced as a youngster. Readers without as much grey in their hair as mine have never been without bluefish, but when I was growing up on Long Island in the 1950s there were virtually no adult bluefish even though every summer we caught snapper blues from docks in Merrick with cane poles.  It was a great thrill when a neighbor with a boat out east in Gardinars Bay took me out with him on Aug. 12, 1953 to troll a single 3 3/4-pound bluefish on a Tony Accetta Jig-it Eel. That was about as big as one could hope for at that time, but they started coming back shortly after that and two years later I was trolling blues from my 16-foot high school graduation 16-foot Lyman wooden lapstrake in Jones Inlet to raise my record to 6 3/4 pounds. The 25 hp Sears outboard weighed a "ton", and it was a good thing that I was a weightlifter as it had to be taken off the boat every trip and carried to a container to be run in fresh water. The bluefish revival got better every year, and my record increased on party boat trips (up to 7 pounds at 17 Fathoms in 1957) before becoming a Navy officer. When I returned from overseas, the Acid Waters chumming was in high gear -- and big blues had returned to New England waters that I covered as a sales rep for Garcia. Yet, it wasn't until 1965 that I caught my first double-digit chopper of 10 1/2 pounds while trolling a Rag Mop at Cotuit, Massachusetts. After that there were new personal bests every year as the bluefish population exploded. Hal Lyman, publisher of Salt Water Sportsman, was considered to be an expert on bluefish since he had been fishing during the previous period of bluefish abundance. He wrote a book in which he concluded there was a seven-year cycle of abundance, which had us fishing hard while anticipating another period of nothing. Fortunately, he was wrong - and there hasn't been another disappearance since. The population has moved up and down, and marginal bluefish areas both north and south of N.J. have suffered some tough years,, while we've had at least spurts of good bluefishing and many periods of wild action. We've also seen the biggest choppers of my lifetime in the last two years as legitimate 20-pounders were jigged off North Jersey a couple of years ago at this time of year, and I caught my first on a Run-Off jig while fishing off Long Branch with Pete Connell of Avon.  The Golden Eagle from Belmar got into some of those blues this week as they reported them up to 22 pounds. On Wednesday they had a hot early bite of 15-to-20-pounders before the blues stopped hitting even though they continued to see and read them. Miss Belmar Princess fished inshore that morning to jig smaller blues along with bonito and little tunny before finishing up with porgies that have been providing steady action for the Ocean Explorer from Belmar as well as the Atlantic Highlands fleet. Bluefish aren't everywhere, but there are still opportunities to get into hot fishing, such as I had in the Hudson River last week when Chick Many handled his Ty Man and took care of the releases as I caught 24 blues in less than an hour on a big pencil popper before a short striper beat them to it. Surfcasting for blues hasn't been good since early spring, but both Grumpy's and Betty & Nick's in Seaside Park reported small blues in the Island Beach State Park surf on both bait and small metal. They have fresh mullet for bait, but most anglers further north haven't been seeing the mullet migration as yet. Rough surf has been a problem even though the hurricanes have passed by, but I released a 20 1/2-inch striper Thursday morning in the Belmar surf on a Tactical Anglers Bomb Jr. for my first on a popper this fall. Vinny D'Anton of Wall didn't hear of any other bass that morning. but he landed a 33-incher on a Chug Bug earlier in the week. Though he expected to see mullet in its stomach, it was still feeding on the normal summer forage of sand fleas. Joe Melillo reports from Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant that some stripers have been caught on metal and teasers this week in the local surf. There have been a few stripers plus big blues in Point Pleasant Canal for those fishing jigs or live eels (which Castaways has in stock) at night. I released a 34 1/2-inch bluefish at dawn Sunday that exploded on a 6-inch white Tsunami Shad at the end of my cast. Short blackfish have been providing lots of action in the canal, even though small sea bass have been stealing bait -- especially the sandworms I've been using -- though I did release a 15-inch tog among the smaller ones this week -- and they're all fun on light spinning tackle. The Jamaica from Brielle reported a good Tuesday to Wednesday canyon trip that started with lots of dolphin before dark. There wasn't much doing until tuna came under the boat at 6 a.m. and they picked away at 60-to-80-pound yellowfins plus two albacore. At one time there was both a yellowfin and a marlin being fought, though the marlin got off. Pablo De Costa caught two yellowfins and an albacore in the last hour of the trip. Openings on upcoming canyon tuna trips can be confirmed by calling 732 528-5014. Capt. Chris Di Stefano of Wall fished Wednesday aboard Frank Criscola's Crisdel from Brielle Yacht Club on a day trolling trip to Hudson Canyon that didn't produce a single tuna hit. Di Steefano said the overnight boats had only caught a few tuna, but Crisdel did have a good shot of large dolphin. Jim Hutchinson, Sr. reports for the Beach Haven Charter Boat Association as follows: "Beautiful fall weather has finally arrived for the captains of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association. As they look forward to the arrival of schools of striped bass from the north and the re-opening of the black sea bass season on October 22, there are several current options available for fishing excitement. Although the summer flounder season is done for the year and black sea bass are out of season until October 22, there are still targets for inshore structure fishing. There have been some schools of weakfish traveling along the coast. Most are on the small side, but there are keepers mixed in. There are good numbers of bluefish in the ocean and inlets. These fish range from snapper size on up to some pods of fish over 10-pounds. On the reefs, there are tautog, triggerfish, and porgies on the bite. Recent strong winds have made trips offshore a bit risky, but now that the winds have finally settled back to normal, there are tuna, mahi, and sharks in the offshore canyons. In addition, boats making trips midway to the canyons have been finding bonito, false albacore, and bluefish. "The striper migration is still to the north of the Jersey coast, but there are bass active in the bay waters. Anglers tossing plugs, especially around the sod banks have been finding hungry bass. In addition, there is a decent night time bite around the LBI Causeway and various docks, especially those with lighting. These are mostly throwbacks, but some keepers have been caught on occasion. As the fall winds on, there are quite a few striped bass tournaments coming up for anglers fishing from boats. In recent years, those fishing the ocean have been making a good showing. Some of the captains of the BHCFA make themselves available for charters for anglers wanting to make a good showing in these tournaments."  

Report Conditions


Ocean Temps

Moon and Sun

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Web Analytics