There was a big change in Raritan Bay striper fishing After Wednesday's poor bite, Johnny Bucktails said there were close to 20 bass caught livelining bunkers from his Sea Hunter out of Keyport -- including a 30-pounder. At Seaside Park, Grumpy's Tackle weighed a 10-pound striper caught on clams in the surf, but big blues in the bay are the feature there along with some on chunks in the surf.
While the boat fishing requires a guide, casting from the sides of bridges costs only the gas you burn moving from one bridge to another and where else can you catch such great game fish that size from shore and on your own Striped bass fishing has been up-and-down both in Raritan Bay and the ocean. It was down Thursday in the back of the bay hen Jim Hutchinson and John De Bona of The Fisherman joined Johnny Bucktails on his Sea Hunter from Keyport along with Art Berkman of Pompton Plains, and I after the boat had done well with live bunkers the previous day.
It's not often that NOAA Fisheries has good news for bluefin tuna anglers, but today was the exception as new rules for this season allow more boated fish in a very expensive fishery. Capt. Vinny Vetere of Katfish Charters in Great Kills said weekend striper fishing was very good, but Tuesday was a dud in windy weather as only spiny dogfish and skates were caught on four drops.
It took some time before I finally got a glimpse of the fish in the crystal clear waters, and determined it was a bonefish -- but a monster!As Richard lifted it in by the 20-pound leader, the leader broke and the bonefish catch of a lifetime had his release before those last shots.
Dave Perruso, of Palmer Township, Pa. reports shad fishing busted wide open over the weekend in the Easton Phillipsburg area of the Delaware River. I thought that might have been the first blue from the Raritan Bay area, but Mark Roy called to report he's been chunking in the bay for everal days with little striper action -- though three blues have been caught from his Release Me out of Raritan Bay Marina.
We had some interesting fishing (more about that later in the week), before I drove up to Islamorada to fish for tarpon Friday evening out of Bud Mary's Marina with old friend and retired marina owner Richard Stanczyk the pioneer of daytime swordfishing. As I was fighting that tarpon, Stanczyk noted that there must be an accident on the bridge as everything was stopped.
The word he got from other skippers Saturday afternoon is that Raritan Bay stripers weren't responding to trolling as they had been lately. Just the day before, Capt. John Kolias had started his charter season with Reel Fun from Twin Lights Marina in Highlands as the Bob Kagan party enjoyed that boat's best opener in 13 years by limiting with four bass over 20 pounds plus six releases from 7 45 to 10 a. m.
Striped bass fishing was good Friday morning in Raritan Bay for Capt. Vinnie Vetere of Katfish Charters in Great Kills. The Tackle Box in Hazlet weighed a 40-pound bass trolled Thursday in the Reach on a bunker spoon by Harry Mesbay of Robbinsville.
Last Friday's International Game Fishing Association Banquet in Spring Lake was another big success as N. J. IGFA rep Jeff Merrill reported a sell-out crowd of 170 raised 18,000 for the IGFA Junior Angler and Conservation programs. Capt. Joe Massa got into some fine redfishing on the flats near Venice, La. last Saturday, but the north wind had dropped off when he flew into Newark Sunday morning so he called me to make a late afternoon trip in the bay on his My III Sons out of Morgan.