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Captain's Focus

The northeast wind just keeps blowing, and is predicted to last through Friday before we finally get a break with west winds for Saturday. Shore fishing is just uncomfortable, and I didn't get a boat report today. Bruce Hrobak, the former owner of Jersey Shore Tackle in Brick, is also dealing with northeast winds at his Billy Bones Tackle shops in Stuart and Port St. Lucie, Florida. The dolphin fishing there is "lights out", but no one can get offshore right now. We had the same problem when I was down there recently, but solved it by fishing in the Lake Ida Canal at Delray Beach in search of a relatively new freshwater game fish, the clown knifefish.  Hrobak and his son Tanner joined me to fish with Captain Bill Lepree of South Florida Bass Charters (561 951-2790) aboard the Lunker Limo, along with Adam Rizzi of Reeladventures.com. Lepree's skiff barely fits under the pipes and bridges in the canal as anglers duck their heads while observing numerous large iguanas along the shores. Hrobak caught the only clown knifefish, which has a distinctive white-spotted body that's like a compressed eel toward the end. It was an aquarium species from southeast Asia that was turned loose when they grew too large. Though not abundant, they are now fairly common and prized as good fighting fish that have been caught up to 13 pounds. We used very small shad, that had been castnetted by Lepree, for live bait that attracted some largemouth and peacock bass. Just when the knifefish started showing by gulping air in the quiet canal, and Hrobak caught one, several jet skiers roared through to put them down. That's not usually a problem there, but it was a Sunday in a popular park Bruce and Ann Vitale of Piscataway had a fine day with bass and knifefish a few weeks earlier while fishing a half-day with Lepree, who supplies light spinning rods and bait. Rizzi also does shore guiding for another exotic, snakeheads, plus peacock bass. It doesn't make any difference how hard the wind blows when you're fishing in the protected Lake Ida canals with South Florida Bass Charters, but try to avoid Sundays. Today's rain and strong winds discouraged most anglers, but big blues continue to flurry in Manasquan Inlet. You just have to be there when it happens!. Joe Melillo, at Castaway's Tackle in Point Pleasant, notes that there's also a shot at stripers in Point Pleasant Canal. Bob Matthews, at Fisherman's Den in Belmar Marina, reports big blues are also in Shark River and the inlet. He recommends the L Street Pier. Some small bass are being caught on clams in the surf, but Matthews has been fishing Manasquan River for stripers up to 14 pounds.There are lots of fluke in Shark River, just waiting for the season to open. The Golden Eagle won't be sailing until Saturday. At Seaside Park, Grumpy's Tackle reported a 37-inch striper was released after hitting a bunker chunk near the Rt. 37 Bridge. Betty & Nick's Tackle reported that the few anglers fishing got into big blues on bucktails all morning at the south end of Island Beach State Park.

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