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Captain's Focus

Posted on June 25, 2019 A stargazer surprise After not raising anything to a popper yesterday morning in the Manasquan surf, I switched to the Band of Anglers Dart Spin plastic (ith a metal blade at the rear) as it had produced fluke the last time I used it there. There were still no hits until it got stuck even though I was retrieving at a steady pace. After pulling hard to either get off or break my 30-pound braid, there was some movement before I reeled in what I hoped was a fluke but didn’t feel like one. The culprit turned out to be a 19-inch, 6-pound stargazer. I should have realized what I had hooked as they are common in the surf and typically feel like a snag when first hooked. That was the largest I’ve caught, though they grow to at least twice that size. While potential problems in handling most fish are obvious, the stargazer’s mouth full of sharp teeth isn’t all you have to worry about as they can give you a shock if you touch the top of their head. The bigger the stargazer, the greater the shock. Yet, they can be handled by holding them under the body — or under the gill cover. Releasing stargazers is an experience as they are likely to dig in rather than swimming away. Mine was completely covered with sand in a second, and you’d never know he was there. The same thing may happen when they’re being reeled in to shore. I’ve seen anglers who have fought a fish stare in amazement when they see nothing at the end of their line even though they can’t reel any further. Stargazers are edible, though I doubt if you’ll ever see such an ugly species in a fish store.  They will hit a wide variety of lures, especially jigs or metal bounced off bottom, but rarely put up much of a fight. Yet, with so little variety in our surf, I welcome those occasional surprises especially after getting shut out on them last year. It was another great week in the canyons for the Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant. They caught over 100 tuna which were mostly yellowfins and bluefins plus bigeyes and a 300-pound giant. In addition there were dolphin, a 92-inch 375-pound mako shark and 12 white marlin — including five one day. Capt. Deane Lambros has already accounted for 20 bigeyes out of the fleet’s 25. Vinny D’AntoN tried Shark River after the early storms and rasised a couple of bass or blues, but went to the beach to release six small bass on his Chug Bug. Wednesday looks like a beauty, with northwest winds at just 5 knots before they switch to southwest in the afternoon. The Golden Eagle from Belmar is planning a run far offshore to locate big blues which have been absent inshore lately. The Big Mohawk from that port will be sailing early for fluke at 6 a.m. this week before taking reservations for Saturday and Sunday sailings at 5:30 a.m.          

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