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.
BLOG4 Blackfishing turned on Sunday for anglers fishing aboard the Ocean Explorer and Big Mohawk out of Belmar Marina. Bob Matthews, at Fisherman's Den in that marina, reported that Rock Bottom Charters limited out and released others.
Though some stripers have been caught trolling and by casting jigs in Raritan Bay, those fish have been slow to turn onto the bunkers which have been abundant there for weeks. Massa released a similar bass on the next drift before we headed in after proving our point with three bass and a couple of other hits on just four bunkers.
Given that water temperatures of 45 to 47 degrees in the ocean aren't much lower than in Raritan Bay (where stripers are active), it seems likely that bass are also feeding along the coast. Capt. Steve Dellaportas of the charter boat Striper Sniper had one just over 10 pounds on Saturday.
There might be a window of opportunity Saturday morning in Raritan Bay in a lighter southeast wind before it switches to a howling northwester in the afternoon. The southeast is bad news for surfcasters as Betty Nick's in Seaside Park reported there was a big sea there this morning.
President Gerald Ford signed the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Management Act on April 13, 1976, culminating a sad period in American history during which massive foreign fishing fleets destroyed our marine resources as close as 12 miles from shore. There was no Recreational Fishing Alliance to turn to in those days, so I called together those party boat captains plus sportsmen and conservationists aboard Capt. Les Baletti's Palace II at Hoboken on a February night in 1972 to form an organization to fight for a 200-mile limit just as Ecuador had done to protect their waters from American tuna seiners.