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Captain's Focus

The surf was rough this morning after last night's southerly blow, but school stripers cooperated in many areas. I got a late start before fishing at Bay Head after seeing a small bass released. I had the 6-inch Tsunami Eel on my surf rod, and decided to give it a try despite the rough conditions, Surprisingly, I got a hit on my first cast. When I didn't get any more after a few casts, I switched to metal -- a 2-ounce Run-Off multicolored Sand Eel jig with a white bucktail hook. Though I only saw one other bass caught after I got to the beach, I started hooking up on that jig. There were no birds or any other sign to cast to, but a 24-incher hit about half-way in on my cast. I picked two more the same way before my fourth hit the teaser (a small Gulp Sand Eel) almost in the wash. That 23-incher was fat as a Butterball turkey and felt like a keeper in weight when I lipped it for release. Though the bass were scattered, it was good to see they were rod-benders rather than the 18-inch and smaller stripers that have been the norm in the surf lately. I took a beating for those bass as the big waves were rolling up the beach and blasting me at times. Fortunately, it was exceptionally mild (61 degrees in the city at dawn), and the water splashed on me felt warm. The wind had shifted to the north, and the temperature was dropping fast. We're looking at a high of 40 degrees on Saturday. Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant, had several reports of bass taken in the area by other anglers, including a 33-incher. He also heard of a 32-incher from Manasquan Inlet on Thursday, At Seaside Park, both Betty & Nick's and Grumpy's reported quite a few shorts being taken on metal and teasers, but nothing was coming to the scale. A couple of weeks ago we had a south storm followed by a blast of large stripers on the following northwest wind. Let's hope for a repeat! Boat fishing was shot down by the bad forecast, but many will be sailing for stripers tomorrow. The Sea Hunter finishes up Sunday at Atlantic Highlands. The Queen Mary makes it's last trip from Point Pleasant on Saturday, but the Cock Robin will sail both weekend days.

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