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The shark season busted open last weekend with a pair of mako catches which will go down in history, as identical makos of 537 pounds were weighed at Brielle and Cape May. Only in a rare year is one mako that size brought in, but for two to be caught within a couple of days and of exactly the same weight defies all odds. Capt. Rick Woerner brought the first into Hoffman's Marina in Brielle last Thursday on his Carnivore, a center console charter boat from Sewaren. The next was caught aboard Mushin from Canyon River Club across the river in Point Pleasant -- but off Cape May. Capt. Allen Lee had run the boat down there for this week's South Jersey Shark Tournament plus the upcoming tuna fishing, and was just fun fishing at 2:30 a.m. Sunday when the mako took two baits. It was fought all the way by both anglers, which resulted in it being boated in only about 25 minutes.  They already knew about the other huge mako, and when the weighmaster at South Jersey Marina read the scale he said "You'll never believe this -- also exactly 573 pounds!" The South Jersey Shark Tournament started Thursday with 84 boats entered. There were no qualifying makos during last weekend's Jim's Tackle Shark Tournament at Cape May as the money went to threshers of 240 and 184 pounds. Blue sharks were so abundant that up to 25 a boat were released.That's typical when waters are cold, as the ideal temperature for the start of the mako run is thought to be 62 degrees -- which is where we should be at this weekend in many offshore areas. As good a start as shark fishing is off to, the canyons are just as exciting with lots of bluefins and bigeyes in Hudson Canyon, and yellowfin tuna in canyons to the south. As noted this week in my daily blog at nj.com/shore/blogs/fishing, the Canyon Runner fleet from Point Pleasant has been crushing the tuna trolling, and also catching some makos on overnighters. Capt. Tom Savastano was going to help me with my fishing tackle garage saIe this weekend, but an invitation to get in on that tuna bite took precedence. I'll be carrying on at 1552 Osprey Ct., Manasquan Park 08736 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. There's all kinds of new and used tackle I've dug out of the basement, including shark and tuna outfits up to two 130-pound rigs. For info e-mail me at cristori@aol,com, or call 732 757-5531. Bluefishing bounced back Thursday for Shore Party boats. The Jamaica from Brielle reported limits and releases of blues from 2 to 9 pounds on jigs. They will also start sailing Sunday night long range tilefish trips leaving at 10 p.m. and returning between 4 and 5 a.m. the second day. These trips are limited to 28, and cost $350. Call 732 528-5014.  The coastal migratory run of spawned-out stripers from Chesapeake and Delaware bays has been generally disappointing, but there was some activity especially on Magic Hours trips this week. Bunkers often are hard to find, and some boats have reported seeing them well offshore. Stripers have also been read outside of the three-mile federal line where they are protected. Keep in mind the fact that fisheries laws are enforced where you are boarded. Thus, if you catch a striper close to shore and then go sea bass fishing offshore, you will be written up. Capt. Vinnie Vetere of Katfish Charters at Great Kills says that though the volume of large stripers is off this year, there are some very big ones available to those who wait them out. Nadir Einlalt (16) made her very first striper a special one as after a 20-minute fight she boated a 52.14-pounder.  The De Gennaros caught big fish both inshore and offshore last weekend. Capt. Dave Dave De Gennaro trolled a 48-pound striper on a Tony Maja #4 chartreuse bunker spoon for Rich Walton on Saturday from Hi-Flier out of Barnegat, when very few bass were caught all along the coast. His brother, Christopher of Wall, was in the canyons with his new Yellowfin to troll six bluefin tuna up to 100 pounds plus an 80-pound bigeye. Sea bass fishing has been outstanding. Don Marantz invited me to join his Monday party on BarbGail IV from Point Pleasant along with former JCAA presidents Tom Fote and Mark Taylor plus Bruce Vitale and Dr. Eleanor Bochenek as Capt. Chris put us into a boat limit of sea bass on a wreck before making a run to Shark River Reef for another boat limit of big winter flounder that had to outfight protected ocean pout for Gulp 4-inch Swimming Mullet. A few ling were also caught on a grey, drizzly, but very fishable day. BarbGail IV runs open when not chartered. Sea bass fishing was also good Thursday morning ion a small wreck off Sandy Hook for Tank Matraxia and Marty Gras from Lyndhurst with Capt. Hans Kaspersetz on Sheri Berri from Twin Lights Marina in Highlands. We had to go through lots of shorts during the non-stop action, but still ended up with a good catch. Matraxia had fished with a friend in Shrewsbury River on Wednesday as they limited with fluke while he also tagged 11 fluke that were mostly over 17 inches. At Seaside Park, there was very good news this week about the arrival of sand eels. That forage fish is perfect for holding stripers, blues and fluke in the area. Surfcasters are doing well with those species on bait, with several stripers being weighed lately after hitting bunker or clam. John Bushell had a similar report from Betty & Nick's, and noted that it's been six years since we had a quantity of sand eels in the surf. At Castaways tackle in Point Pleasant, Joe Melillo reported a 9 1/2-pound fluke was caught last weekend by a kayak angler at the Barnegat Bay end of Point Pleasant Canal. Joe Melillo, Jr. weighed a 40 1/4-pound striper that he caught off Asbury Park on Sunday when the bass suddenly started feeding. Surf catches included a 12-pound, 10-ounce striper on a plug by John Lynch of Brick, and a 12 -pound, 6-ounce bass on a teaser by Bob Longo of Brick. Anthony Pellagrino of Point Pleasant caught an 11 1/2-pound striper on a shad in the canal. Bob Matthews reports from Fisherman's Den in Belmar Marina that his rental boat customers have been catching lots of fluke in Shark River. The Golden Eagle had a good catch of 2-to-4-pound blues on Run-Off Hammer and Croc jigs on Thursday, and the Ocean Explorer has been producing limits of sea bass even in Tuesday;s wind and rain. Jigs have been best for bigger sea bass that are feeding on sand eels. Jim Hutchinson St. reports "The striped bass action for the boats of the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association has been hit or miss lately, but the black sea bass action has been nothing short of outstanding. Both inshore artificial reefs and some wreck sites have been producing "drop and reel" fishing. Captain Carl Sheppard of the "Star Fish" reports that there is a good number of keeper sea bass available for drift fishermen. Captain Carl was out with Wade and two friends of his friends, and they managed to catch over 50 fish in about two hours. He has been using the North Cut to travel through the inlet and has found sufficient water to navigate with comfort. Captain Gary Dugan fished Great Bay last Friday and had several summer flounder to 17.5-inches and one keeper at 19-inches. Saturday was more of the same as he had several fluke again to 17.5-inches along with 3 keepers in the cooler. On Sunday Captain Gary changed direction and went wreck fishing, He reported non-stop drop and reel action with sea bass and big blackfish that had to be returned. His party brought home a cooler of sea bass for the table. Captain Gary feels the fishing is starting to hear up. Captain Fran Verdi made two trips last weekend on the "Francesca Marie". On Friday he and his wife did a half-day trip and for a nice mix of sea bass and blackfish on a wreck in 60-feet of water. On Sunday Captain Fran had his whole family join him for their first sea bass trip to wrecks in 70-90 feet of water. His son got the first keeper and the boat's namesake, Francesca Marie, decided to show why the boat was named after her landing the most keepers. They had a mix of sea bass, blackfish and ling. On the trip in, Francesca turned to her dad and said "sea bass and wreck fishing blows away fluke fishing." Next up for the Verdi family is a tuna trip. BHCFA Captains Ray Lopez of the "Miss Liane" and Jimmy Zavacky of the "Reel Determined" donated their time and boats last Saturday to take out groups of wounded veterans. They were participating in the Project Healing Waters in Waretown sponsored by the Holiday Beach Club."
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