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Captain's Focus

Small stripers are dominating from both boat and shore except for trollers dragging Mo-Jos and bunker spoons. Ocean striper jigging has been so tough for party boats that the Golden Eagle from Belmar is taking Monday and Tuesday off -- and Miss Belmar Princess won't be sailing again until Friday. Indeed, the latter may hang it up for the season  if striper fishing doesn't improve. They see lots of fish on the surface, but they don't bite. The Golden Eagle reported some anglers had a few shorts today.  It was much better to the north with the shorts, but Capt. Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands said even they were a little harder to fool today. He fished over on the N.Y. side where bonus bass aren't allowed and couldn't find a bass any bigger than 27 inches. Back on the N.J. side, there were none over 23 inches. The high hook still released 25 to 30 schoolies, but that was just the average on Saturday. Small bass continue to provide almost all the action in the surf, though Jerry Lasko of Pt. Pleasant released a 28-incher Saturday evening in Seaside Park. Grumpy's Tackle in that town finally had some weigh-ins of bass from 28.5 to 34 inches on Saturday -- all on bunker. Betty & Nick's had reports of legal bass being released in the surf both day and night. I picked away at Sea Girt this morning, and ended up with seven small striper releases on the Tsunami Sand Eel and Castaways Super Teaser. Then I moved to Point Pleasant Canal and equaled that number in blackfish releases -- the last of which was a 15-incher on a green crab on my last cast with light spinning tackle as the outgoing tide started to pick up. Vinny D'Anton and Frank Manzi got into a blitz of small bass in the evening on Mirr-O-Lures north of where I had been picking at them in the morning. D'Anton said they each must have released about 20.

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