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Captain's Focus

Saturday is the last day of the tautog season, which will be closing on a high note. Bob Matthews, at Fisherman's Den in Belmar Marina, reports the Ocean Explorer and Big Mohawk have had many limits, and the charter boat Rock Bottom was in at 11 a.m. with a blackfish limit. Beatriz Soto had a limit to 13 pounds. Bluefish are building up in the ocean, and there are plenty of bunkers out there -- but stripers remain elusive. Big blues have been in-and-out of Shark River Inlet as well as Manasquan Inlet. Small stripers are being plugged in the surf at night. Bluefishing was just a pick in Manasquan Inlet on Friday, with flurries of a few big blues coming through at times. Jigs worked best early in the morning, while swimming plugs and metal produced at times later on. Wool caps came back out in a cold northeast wind. Capt. Dave De Gennaro plans to avoid the rough seas with his Hi Flier from Barnegat on Saturday by carrying clams and sandworms to fish for stripers in the bay -- where bluefish can also be taken on poppers. At Seaside Park, Grumpy's Tackle had several bluefish weigh-ins -- mostly on bunkers. The largest by far was a 38-inch,16.65-pounder by Chris Updike. A 30-inch striper was beached on clam. Frank McGuire of Woodbridge got into a surf bluefish blitz at Sandy Hook on Wednesday afternoon. He reported as follows: Had a great afternoon Wednesday fishing along North Beach up to the False Rip area. Arrived at 2 pm for the outgoing tide, light SE wind and immediately got Into some action with big blues on a red head white body Polaris popper in the bowl area along north beach. I had this whole stretch of beach to myself and took some time to work it and landed several fish and raised others while slowly working my way north towards false rip. I got up near False Rip by 3 pm to find the northern end of North Beach stacked with big blues that provided non-stop action from when I arrived up there at 3 pm until the tide went slack at 6:30 pm when the wild action finally petered out.  Initially a Polaris popper worked rather slowly was most effective as blues would often follow for awhile before making a swipe. As the tide dropped, the action intensified and a spring blitz developed with multiple fish swirling and striking on almost every cast. At this point I switched over to a white Gibbs pencil popper with single hooks and also used a Ranger surface plug which resulted in wild surface strikes as multiple blues would often take turns going after the plug and I often had fish following and striking all the way back to shore. Approximately 7 other fisherman were up there and there was plenty of hooting as routinely multiple guys were hooked up at once. I landed approximately 30 blues up to 35 inches with most fish in the 30-33" range. Only big blues were caught and released except for one fisherman that landed a 20" bass on a swimmer in the middle of all this action. That little bass must have been happy to get out of the water for a few minutes!" Capt. Russ Binns has Coast Boating School classes leading to the state boating permit coming up May 2 and 3  from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at Oceanport First Aid; May 9 and 10 from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at Hoffman's Marina in Brielle; and May 11 and 12 at East Brunswick Elks Club from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Call 732 279-0562 for registration.

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