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Captain's Focus

Though stripers remain hard to catch for the party boat fleet, bluefish have usually been bailing them out -- in sharp contrast to last year's spring scarcity. The Golden Eagle from Belmar had very good bluefishing today on Run-Off Hammered jigs and Crocs. The choppers were 5-to-10-pounders, with a 12-pound pool fish -- and they were releasing by noon. At Point Pleasant, the Cock Robin didn't see any striper readings worth stopping on yesterday, so they continued north to get into the tail end of a bluefish blitz. It was picky after that before they ended up in another hot bite. The Queen Mary got into very good bluefish jigging Monday, and also ended up with a bass for the pool.  Dave Lilly of Hazlet fished the N.Y. side of Raritan Bay on Monday to catch a limit of fluke. Oddly, he said there wasn't a half-inch difference in his five 21-inchers -- and the few shorts hooked were only hand-size. Capt, Stan Zagleski only found a pick of fluke Monday on his Elaine B. from Bahrs in Highlands, but many customers managed two or three keepers -- and there were five fluke between 4 and 5 pounds. All that changed today as the 5-pounders were back in force. Look for details tomorrow. Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst and his crew fished with Capt. Fletcher Chayes and Capt. Lou Grazioso on Two Rivers Charters from Bahrs as Matraxia got off to a good start with a striper over 40 inches that was saved by its red sores as Matraxia put an ALS tag in the unsavory-looking fish that was to be their only bass at Shrewsbury Rocks. He later released a jumbo blue, and other blues destroyed bunker baits. Capt. Bud McArthur didn't find any stripers to the north on Monday with his Splinter from Brick, so he went south today. Bunkers were scattered off Island Beach State Park, but he only saw a bass caught by trolling. A move out to a wreck produced a sea bass and a fluke.  Capt. Jim McFarland had a group from Perth Amboy out on his Big Mac from Green Harbor, Ma. today, and they limited with 72 cod and 24 haddock while adding some redfish. Allen Riley of South Plainfield had a blitz in the  Monmouth Beach surf, but it was of skates and sea robins hitting clam bait. Switching to bunker chunks produced a 2-pound blue that was released. He got two hits working a Tsunami Talkin popper before catching some 3-pound blues on a Mann-O-Lure metal. I was a lot less successful this morning in the Sea Girt surf as there wasn't a touch on my SP Minnow or a Tactical Anglers Bomb Jr. popper despite perfect conditions. Grumpy's Tackle in Seaside Park finally weighed in a surf fluke on Monday as Cheryl Morris brought in an 18 1/2-incher. Blues provided some action on bait and lures in the surf, and the top snag & drop striper from the boats and kayaks today was a 43-inch, 36.3-pounder by Justin Daley.

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