Though it's just a start, it's fair to say that New Jersey's fall striped bass run is underway.
That's especially the case in Raritan Bay where the sky is often full of birds working on peanut bunkers being pushed to the surface by stripers of various sizes, When I was out there Wednesday with Capt. Irwin Heinrich on his Scales N Tales out of Twin Lights Marina in Highlands, there was lots of small boat traffic in a gusty and very cold north wind -- and then that fleet was joined by the Golden Eagle from Belmar, Miss Belmar Princess, and the Queen Mary from Point Pleasant.
There was even a whale inside the bay as Jerry Gomber, just returned from a business trip to China for Mahwah-based Folsom Corp. wholesale fishing tackle, cast one of the Tsunami shads he helps design and hooked into a much bigger striper than expected -- a 36 1/2-incher.
We didn't see any bass that size the rest of the trip, though 30-inchers were caught along with many of slot size and only a few small shorts. Jim Hutchinson and John De Bona of The Fisherman magazine were along as Heinrich had to constantly move his Contender to stay with the schools and set up good casting angles. We actually did better with the Tsunami Talkin poppers than the reliable Tsunami shads.
Everyone seemed to catch bass, and a good percentage of them were keepers. The north winds we've had lately brought the bay temperature down to 58 degrees, and this fishery should continue for some time. Capt. Rob Semkewyc reported a 20-pound pool winner on his Sea Hunter out of Atlantic Highlands by Ray Frawley of Pompton Plains. Semkewyc said Thursday's northeast wind created a nasty, rolling bay with fewer birds and fussier stripers -- though shads worked best again and limits were common. He cancelled Friday's trip due to the forecast of northwest 20-to-30-mph winds. Fortunately, the weekend looks better.
Capt. Dave Riback had looked to the south on Tuesday with his Queen Mary, but found no stripers while jigging lots of spike weakfish that rarely made the 13-inch minimum, plus a few little tunny and a lone bonito that won the pool. He made the long run north on Wednesday for several keepers bass up to a 34-incher by Jim Stieves.
TroThere have been similar reports to the north somlling working close to the three-mile state limit have been coming up with a few big stripers on Tony Maja #4 spoons in the Seaside area. Dan De Pasquale boated a 48-pounder Sunday. There have been similar reports to the north some days. A few anglers have had success with large bass by snagging bunkers from the many schools being located some days. Whales have also been feasting on them at times. Jay Amberg said whales put on a near-shore show Monday at Sea Girt in those bunkers, though nothing was caught there. Vinny D'Anton of Wall saw the mame thing Wednesday at Belmar, but later found out that an angler at Long Branch was on the scene when stripers drove bunkers in and he caught two of 43 and 35 1/2 pounds on a pencil popper.
The Hi-Mar Striper Club's Bob Kamienski 40-hour Striped Bass Tournament was postponed last weekend due to gale-force NW wind forecasts, but will be run this weekend out of Bahrs Landing at 2 Bay Ave, in Highlands. The captains meeting starts there at 7 p.m. Friday, but boaters not already signed up can pay the $150 entry fee as early as 5:30. Fishing starts at 8 p.m., and continues through noon Sunday. For details visit falltournament@Hi-Mar.com.
The northwest gale last weekend kept a lot of boats at the dock on Saturday's sea bass opener, but the Jamaica II from Brielle stuck it out for good catches up to 4 pounds both days -- and every day since.
Some other boats have reported lots of sea bass action, but have had a problem filling limits due to the increase in minimum size to 13 inches. That extra half-inch makes a big difference.
The start of a northeast wind is an ideal time for fall surfcasting, but I didn't see a thing while casting a popper into a rough, but fishable, surf at Sea Girt. On the way back I made a brief effort for blackfish with light spinning tackle at Point Pleasant Canal and released two 15 1/2-inch tog along with five of the abundant small ones. small ones. The first of the legal tog was caught on a sandworm left over from last Friday, and the second on a dead green crab.
This is a request from the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance to support Special Management Zone (SMZ) status for New Jersey's offshore artificial reefs.
A brief history;
NJ's artificial reefs are built with recreational angler dollars, either thru direct contributions or via Wallop-Breaux taxes on sporting goods. This is part of the US Fish and Wildlife Service's Sport Fish Restoration Funding. SMZ status is needed to limit fishing activities on NJ's artificial reefs to hook and line and spear fishing. This is part of almost a nine year effort to eliminate gear conflict and ensure hook and line and spear fishing access to New Jersey's Artificial Reefs.
The following excerpt is taken from the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council (MAFMC) press release.
In November 2015, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) petitioned the Mid-Atlantic Council to designate 13 artificial reef sites as SMZs under provisions of Amendment 9 to the Summer Flounder, Scup and Black Sea Bass Fishery Management Plan. The petition was based on the need to reduce gear conflicts between hook and line fishermen and fixed pot/trap gear at those sites. The SMZ designation could prohibit the use of any gear except hook and line and spear fishing (including the taking of fish by hand) within the 13 potential SMZ sites. The Council's SMZ Monitoring Team (MT) evaluated the NJDEP request and recommended that the Council designate all 13 artificial reef sites as SMZs. The MT analysis indicated that commercial fishing vessels deploying pot/trap gear off the coast of New Jersey would likely face minimal to no losses in ex-vessel revenue if the artificial reefs are designated as SMZs. The Council is scheduled to review public comments and make a decision relative to NJ SMZ designation at its December 2016 meeting in Annapolis, MD.
The New Jersey Outdoor Alliance is requesting that you submit a written public comment which states the following... I support the MAMFC SMZ Monitoring Team's recommendation to designate all 13 artificial sites as SMZs.
Use this form HERE or send e-mails to Rich Seagraves at email@example.com please be sure to include "NJ SMZ Request" in the subject line. (Please submit your comments before November 25, 2016).
Send comments via postal mail to Dr. Chris Moore, Executive Director, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, 800 North State Street, Suite 201, Dover, DE, 19901 (Please include "NJ SMZ Request" on envelope and submit before November 25, 2016)
If you have the time available, please attend one of the public hearings closest to your location. (Bring a friend)
· Tuesday November 15, 2016, 7:00-9:30 p.m., Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Blvd., Brooklyn NY 11235, Room M239 of the Marina and Academic Center (The Lighthouse).
· Wednesday November 16, 2016, 7:00-10:00 p.m., Clarion Hotel & Conference Center, 815 Route 37 West, Toms River, NJ 08755.
· Thursday November 17, 2016, 7:00-10:00 p.m., Congress Hall, 200 Congress Place, Cape May, NJ 08204.
These meetings are physically accessible to people with disabilities. Requests for sign language interpretation or other auxiliary aid should be directed to M. Jan Saunders, 302-526-5251, at least 5 days prior to the meeting date.
Why are your comments important?
Based on the public comments and other inputs the MAFMC will take a formal vote and make a recommendation to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). The target date is expected to be sometime in 2017.
The NMFS can be expected to generate a rule proposal and then put this out for public comment (once again) probably to the states which are affected (New Jersey, Delaware and perhaps New York, Rhode Island and Massachussetts.)
Implementation of the new regulation can be as late as 2018.
New Jersey's recreational angling community has been working towards SMZ status for New Jersey's offshore artificial reefs for almost nine years. Help us land this fish!
Thank you in advance for your help with this project,
The members of the New Jersey Outdoor Alliance on behalf of New Jersey's Sportsmen and women.