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Captain's Focus

With even colder temperatures on this weekend's menu, there's not much to cheer fishermen up except that New England has been recording record snow and cold this winter instead of us. There was a window of opportunity last weekend as a couple of party boats got offshore in fishable conditions. The Ocean Explorer fron Belmar found lots of bottom action Saturday even though most of it came from bergalls. Many of those fine eating fish were large enough to fillet, and anglers also added a few cod and ling -- but all the blackfish caught were shorts. Cod were also hooked Sunday. The Jamaica II from Brielle reported "dull" weekend fishing, though it was anything but dull when Tom Shectz of West Chester, Pa. boated a 30 1/2-pound cod. Rob Vellare of Barnegat caught seven cod, but only three were above the 21-inch minimum. There were a few other cod and ling plus big bergalls and spiny dogfish. The Jamaica II is running a winter schedule of 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. trips on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Fishing was a lot better much further south. Capt. Mike Auget reports from Pesca Panama that Larry and Matt Schmidt from Brielle were gown there recently with fellow Jersey anglers Kev and Kris Bento to get in on a black marlin bite that produced a couple of releases in the 400-to-450-pound class from relatively cool 80-degree waters off Isla Montousa. Cubera snappers, roosterfish, and many other game fish were added during the week from Oceanmaster center consoles fished from the barge anchored near prime fishing areas. Due to cancellations, there are some spots still available on Pesca Panama during the prime winter period when every day in the dry season is sunny and warm -- while we face just the opposite. For information call Teri at 800 946-3474. Capt. Steve Bianchi, of Hammerhead Charters in Keyport, went even further to fish from Maui in Hawaii recently with his daughter Laura and her husband Ryan. He chartered Capt. Jon Keilley on Action from Start Me Up Charters at LaHaina. They left at 4:30 a.m. in order to get in some bottom fishing that produced small trevally, reef fish, cuda, whitetip sharks, and a 6-foot gray reef shark before switching to trolling. Other than some very small tuna, they only got shots at shortbill spearfish. A couple of 39 and 44 inches (about 30 and 40 pounds) were caught and another lost. Spearfish are not only the smallest billfish, but they're also uncommon except in Hawaii. Thousands of humpback whales provided a show on the way back. As noted earlier, we can be thankful that that the worst of the storms have been doing their damage further north. The Star-Ledger reported on Tuesday that Boston had already set a record for the most snow in a 30-day period with 81.6 inches that easily beat the 58.8 inches in Feb. 1978. When we started getting these winters of "old-fashioned" snow and cold a few years ago, one of the nightly national TV news shows interviewed Pres. Obama's first NOAA Administrator to get her take on why there was so much snow and cold while they were pushing concern about Global Warming. Dr, Jane Lubchenco, a west coast environmentalist, replied "We told you there would be storms". Storms in the winter -- who could have ever imagined such a thing! Just as with the Delphic Oracle of Greek legend, she phrased her answer in such a way that she could claim to be right no matter what happened. She also didn't note that the reason storms are predicted with Global Warming is that they are fueled by much higher water temperates  -- hardly a factor in frigid winter ocean waters. I'm still holding out hope for the warm waters that produced great red drum fishing along the central Shore 100 years ago.' The 2025 New Jersey Boat Sale and Expo cruises into the N.J. Exhibition Center in Edison from Feb. 19-22. I'll be doing a seminar next Friday at 6:30 p.m.on the history of sportfishing in New Jersy.Look for further details in next Friday's column. Surf Day runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Brookdale Community College in Holmdel. Crazy Alberto Knie and many local pros are featured. Visit jerseyshoresurfcasters.com for details. The World Fishing & Outdoor Expo will be running at Rockland Community College in Suffern, N.Y. from March 5 to 8, and the biggest show for saltwater anglers in the northeast, the Somerset Saltwater Expo, is set for March 20-22.

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