Grumpy's also noted some shorts had been caught in the surf on buckrails, but that clams were required on Saturday. Bob Matthews, at Fisherman's Den in Belmar Marina, reports the blackfish boats also had some impressive winter flounder on Saturday.
The 31-pounder was caught on bunker chunks cast from Union Beach. Though stripers exploded on cast and trolled lures this week for boaters, that was also the first report I've received of a striper hitting bunker despite the fact that bunkers have been abundant in Raritan Bay for a couple of weeks.
Wind gusts to 40 and 50 mph are forecast from Saturday night into Sunday. Friday's winds appear to have kept party boats in port, but Capt. Fred Gamboa trolled stripers in Raritan Bay -- just as he's been doing for three days with Andrea's Toy from Keyport.
Mackerel are in local waters during the spring for the first time in many years, though there's a question as to whether it's a real spring run. Capt. Jimmy Elliott has been working on scattered schools of mackerel since the winter, and put his fares on the Golden Eagle from Belmar Wednesday into five-gallon buckets of them during Wednesday's trip.
Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant, said an excited customer rushed in yesterday to report catching a blackfish in Point Pleasant Canal. Capt. Bobby Bogan took a shakedown trip with his Gambler from Point Pleasant, looking for the first ocean stripers.
Today's gale-force northwest winds are predicted to die out to 5-to-10-mph north by Wednesday morning, which should make it possible for party boats to sail. John Bushell Jr. posted a video at Betty Nick's Tackle in Seaside Park that showed a blowout tide with that northwest gale at Island Beach State Park.
They didn't sail today due to Easter, but will be running daily trips whenever it's fishable. There were also a few other bites before it was time to run his Sea Hunter back to Keyport in time for Easter dinner.
Capt. Scott Hilliard made his first striper trip of the season today with Prowler V from Atlantic Highlands. Hats off to the crew today, Kenny and Ritchie for making sure we had fresh clams for today's trip and using extra bait working hard to try and catch some fish.
Bruce Vitale of Piscataway was in Florida this week, where Bruce Hrobak of Billy Bones Tackle in Port St. Lucie set him up for some freshwater fishing. Peacock Joe wasn't available, but Hrobak got in touch with Adam of Reel Deal Adventures (561 706-8013) for a small boat trip on the Lake Ida canal.
Anglers are up in arms about the proposal by the Navesink Maritime Heritage Association to seek a Sandy Hook Bay National Marine Sanctuary designation that would encompass not only that Bay but also the rivers flowing into it plus a portion of Raritan Bay. The April issue of Salt Water Sportsman states that proposals there would eliminate fishing in up to 30 percent of the reefs covered, and may be followed up by making the entire southeast Florida reef track a National Marine Sanctuary.