When I joined Capt. Erwin Heinrich this morning on his Scales N Tales from Twin Lights Marina in Highands, I didn't expect to see many boats in Raritan Bay during a weekday on the coldest morning of the year with a continuing northwest wind gusting to 25 mph. Yet there were lots of small boats chasing birds and breaking fish -- plus the Golden Eagle and Miss Belmar Princess from the Shore.
Heinrich had invited Jim Hutchinson and John De Bona from The Fisherman magazine plus Jerry Gomber of Folsom wholesale fishing tackle, and I to do some of the exciting run-and-gun casting and jigging for stripers that is a special feature of the fall migratory run.
Gomber got things started in spectacular fashion when Heinrich stopped his Contender on bait readings and near a whale in mid-bay by tempting a 36 1/2-inch striper to hit a Tsunami Shad. Further west in the bay there were many more birds, but the bass were fussy -- and the traffic didn't help. We ended up doing best by casting Tsunami Talkin poppers whenever the bass came up. Several in the 30-inch class were caught along with others that would have been slot size -- and there were few small schoolies.
The party boats had similar reports of many keepers and slots in their catches. The Sea Hunter from Atlantic Highlands had a 20-pound striper boated by Ray Frawley of Pompton Plains.
Capt Joe Massa of My Three Sons from Morgan Marina had ex-Assemblyman Guy Talarico out with him as they used shads to catch eight bass, including three keepers, on the N.Y. side of the bay during a short trip.
The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant had a striper special, and found lots of bird life in the ocean, but no stripers. There were loads of spike weakfish on jigs, but few of them barely made the 13-inch minimum. There were also pound-size blues and a few little tunny. A lone bonito won the pool.
Tony Arcabascio of Bayville reports that his #4 green Tony Maja bunker spoon trolled up a 48-pound striper Sunday in 60 feet off Seaside for Dan De Pasquale.
The Jamaica from Brielle has three spots left on Friday's 5 p.m. canyon tuna trip. Call 732 528-5014.
Vinny D'Anton of Wall saw one bass caught on a popper early in the morning at Manasquan, but that was it in the surf all the way up to Belmar where there were whales putting on a show in bunker schools not too far offshore.