I took Luis Gonzalez of Homestead, Florida down to the Sea Girt surf after the early afternoon high tide and released a 19-incher on a 6-inch Tsunami Sand Eel while Gonzalez had another small bass miss the same lure. Bob Matthews, at Fisherman's Den in Belmar Marina, also reported there were some small bass hitting in the Monmouth County surf.
That, at least, provides hope that what used to be one of our most dependable species will make a comeback this winter. NOAA Weather gave a 44 degree reading today at Sandy Hook (where its taken on the bay side), after it had dropped to 39 degrees last week.
Many years ago I was fishing wrecks off Seaside with the late Capt. Greg Venturo for the early sea bass run in April when he started off keeping a small blackfish barely big enough to eat when there there were no regulations on the species. Capt. Bobby Bogan will also get in this last trips for sea bass this week on the Gambler from Point Pleasant.
Indeed, the Jamaica from Brielle has room on the trip sailing to far offshore wrecks for jumbo sea bass at 10 p. m. Monday. Those trips will continue after Christmas up to the Dec. 31 end of the sea bass season.
Joe Melillo noted from Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant that no one had any reports of school stripers in the surf either Saturday evening or Sunday morning. They have 12-hour trips at 5 a. m. for cod, pollock and ling on Dec. 29, 30 and 31.
Not too many ling yet, but still some honker porgies, sea bass and a good showing of nice size cod. Dom Nguyen of Philadelphia boated four cod (8-10 pounders), a pollock, and 12 porgies Greg Cooke from Westfield had two cod to 15 pounds, seven sea bass to 5 1 2 pounds plus some chops while Ed Borkowski of Bayonne totaled two cod, a white hake, 13 porgies and bass --along with a few ling That trip is repeated at 5 am Sunday.
After having released four short stripers in the Sea Girt surf over the last two evenings, I thought we might have something going. The surf was beautiful, and air temperatures were comfortable enough in the mid-thirties, but none of us had so much as a bump.
N. J. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council member Chris reports the sea bass catch numbers from the last survey wave are high enough that we may be facing a 33 percent cut in quota next year. Bob Matthews, at Fisherman's Den in Belmar Marina, reports blackfish up to over 12 pounds plus a few ling, sea bass and lots of dogfish from offshore trips while striper fishing has been tough in the surf.
Despite the seeming lack of bait in the surf, that bass was in fine shape and heavy for its length. That was just enough to get me back, as we should be picking away at shorts in the surf every day this month and well into January, though I'm not convinced it's going to happen.