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

Captain's Focus

Following is Friday's column as submitted: SL1-24-14 RISTORI FOR FRIDAY WILL RED DRUM RETURN TO N.J. ! by Al Ristori When the red flag of Global Warming started flying, my inclination was to look on the positive side and hope that higher water temperatures would provide the opportunity to catch red drum in the surf. Fish don't read newspapers or scientific journals, but they can sense changes in their environment and expand or contract their range accordingly. Ironically, the most significant change since I started writing this column has been in the cod -- which had virtually disappeared from the Shore. Though still not abundant, they are common enough that party boats can sail trips specifically for them -- and cod can even be caught in the summer at Shark River Reef. Yet, the comeback of that cold water species would be a better indicator of Global Cooling. A few small redfish (puppy drum) have been reported in recent years, especially at Cape May, but there's been nothing significant so far. Yet, there is historic evidence that red drum were once common here. The Ocean City Fishing Club celebrated its 100th anniversary back in October. Their records indicated that the big fish weighed in by members fishing from their pier and the surf in the early days were not stripers or blues -- but red drum. That really wasn't surprising information since N.J. was once a hot spot for channel bass -- as red drum were known in the north when I was growing up. The famed angler and author, Van Campen Heilner in his classic Salt Water Fishing (1946) quotes the following from his friend Phillip Mayer: "When I started to fish the New Jersey coast, in 1893, at such places as Corson's Inlet and Barnegat Inlet, channel bass were more than plentiful. Fishermen often regarded them as pests. They were everywhere." Mayer went on to note "In those days I caught very few channel bass under twenty-five pounds. We did not spend overly much time trying to catch them, however, owing to the allure of striped bass which were plentiful at that time (1893-1902)." Despite occasional catches of small red drum, I haven't heard of a single bull red even though surfcasters are almost continuously soaking clam, mullet and bunker baits during the season for stripers and blues from Long Beach Island up to Island Beach State Park. Risking the possibility of joining those dubbed by President Obama as a "flat-earther", it seems likely that water temperatures 100 years ago were actually higher than in recent years unless the semi-tropical red drum had a different biological make-up at that time. Should you be fortunate enough to hook a red drum, the limit is one at a minimum of 18 inches -- but not greater than 27 inches. There is no closed season. There are several options for anglers to improve their skills this weekend without being exposed to the brutal cold. Tomorrow's Canyon Runner Tuna, Marlin & Sword Seminar in Atlantic City is almost sold out. Call Adam La Rosa at 732 842-6825 for tickets before making the trip.. George Poveromo returns to the Shore with his Salt Water Sportsman Seminar Series at the Performing Arts Theater in Long Branch Middle School from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m tomorrow. Among the local experts on hand will be Captains Lou Grazioso, Steve Purul, Bryan Di Leo, and Austin Perelli -- plus Nick Honachefsky. Call 800 448-7360 to determine if any of the $55 tickets are still available. The Somerset Fly Show is running through Sunday at the Garden State Convention Center. Hours today are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and tickets are $18. Dick Kondak is at the G. Loomis booth, demonstrating the new PRO 4x fly rods, and champion caster Steve Rajeff will provide casting tips there. An International Fly Fishing Festival at 6:30 tonight in the Double Tree Hotel costs another $15. Capt. Phil Sciortino Jr. at the Tackle Box in Hazlet will be running his Striper School this winter along with Anthony Altobelli and Capt. Mike Sisto of Jersey Key Charters. The $300 per person cost includes a charter trip aboard Jersey Key. Call 732 264-7711 for information. The severe weather has put a big crimp in fishing, but Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman's Den in Belmar Marina that the Ocean Explorer and Big Mohawk were doing well with blackfish before the storm, with the largest being over 16 pounds. Capt. Joe Bogan reports last Friday's 12-hour wreck trip on Jamaica II from Brielle produced some cod and pollock. Kyle Bussey of Manahawkin had three cod up to the pool-winning 23 pounds. Jerry Crane from Trenton bagged two cod plus three pollock up to 19 pounds. Hwa Choi of Fort Lee hooked four pollock and two cod On the other hand, the MLK holiday 12-hour trip was poor due to a very strong current plus an overabundance of dogfish. The Jamaica II is sailing on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays for 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. wreck fishing. Cod and pollock are targeted on Saturdays at 3 a.m. Call ahead if the weather is questionable. Capt. Pete Wagner, of Hyper Striper at Twin Lights Marina in Highlands, is running his Dream Girl out of Los Suenos in Costa Rica for the winter. David Buist was down from Toms River with his family recently to release 10 sailfish and boat six dolphin one day, before bottom fishing the next to catch 65 groupers. Most were 2-to-6-pounders, but there were a few in the teens plus ocean whitefish that look like a small tilefish. Bobby Lee and his crew from Whitewater Marine on Long Island boated eight wahoo from around a floating log , and then released six sails. The Bob Centamore party from Gillette released 10 sails from 80 to 110 pounds. My blog at nj.com/shore/blogs/fishing is now on a weekly basis through the winter.

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