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Captain's Focus

Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant, said an excited customer rushed in yesterday to report catching a blackfish in Point Pleasant Canal. That 12-incher hit a sandworm and was released. The blackfish season doesn't open until Friday for 15-inch keepers, but this is very early for a tog of any size to be caught inshore. Melillo also had his first confirmed striper report as a customer said he released a couple of 14-inchers while casting a small bucktail tipped with a plastic tail around the Rt. 70 Bridge. Melillo noted that winter flounder up to 18 inches have been hitting sandworms from the south end of the canal to the Mantoloking Bridge -- but nothing has been coming in from Manasquan River. The Golden Eagle from Belmar got a good start jigging mackerel with the wind up, but when it dropped off the drift slowed and dogfish took over. The south wind came up again later and jigging improved. A single bluefish was spotted following a mackerel to the boat. Capt. Bobby Bogan took a shakedown trip with his Gambler from Point Pleasant, looking for the first ocean stripers. Some diving gannets were spotted, but there was no sign of bass. He ran out to the east to drift over rough bottom where there were lots of dogfish. However, they also picked up some keeper cod and only one short. Jigs worked best, and allowed them to fish through the dogfish. Bogan also briefly fished a wreck, where some blackfish were released. He plans to start daily (except Sunday)wreck trips from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Friday if the weather permits.  On Saturday nights, the Gambler will be sailing limited tilefish trips to fish Sunday. It doesn't look good this weekend as gale-force winds are forecast for Sunday. There's lots of south wind in the forecast for the next couple of days, with gusts up to 35 mph -- but Saturday may be fishable. There was a spectacular display of gannets diving on bait off Sandy Hook on Tuesday. Brian Donahue of NJ.com took video from shore of thousands of gannets diving in what scientists call a gannet waterfall. The American Littoral Society's Jeff Dement was quoted as saying "I have never seen that number of gannets in one spot in my entire life."

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