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NOAA Fisheries issued a warning to New Jersey fishermen a few years ago warning them that they'd better learn how to fish for red drum as climate change would be sending southern species further to the north. That seemed to make sense, but it hasn't happened. There was no indication in the NOAA Fisheries prediction that the fisheries scientists there are aware that the Central Jersey Shore was the place to be for red drum anglers a century ago -- and that their reappearance would only be a return to the norm of a hundred years ago. Readers of this column understand that as I've written several times about the accounts of great fishing for that species published by Van Campen Heilner and other outdoor writers of the era. The first two world records for red drum came from Barnegat Inlet and "New Inlet"-- and almost all of those fish were over 20 pounds -- causing major problems for anglers fishing for smaller species such as kingfish and weakfish as they ran off with expensive linen lines.  Perhaps the reason there's no mention of that fishery by scientists is that red drum in the north were called channel bass. Rather than striped bass or bluefish, it was the channel bass that was the primary surf sportfishing target along the Central Jersey Shore, while smaller numbers were caught further north along the Shore and east to Long Island.That name has disappeared over the years, and the center of northern red drum abundance shifted south to Hatteras.  Some small red drum are caught at the end of summer in the Cape May area every year, but I've heard of very few taken north of there in recent years. The only angler I know who has gotten lucky with them more than once is Vinny D'Anton of Wall. He caught a couple of small redfish in cold fall weather a few years ago while casting for school stripers at Sea Girt, and hooked an even smaller one early last fall while using peanut bunkers for schoolies at Avon. Yet, since I started writing this column, I still haven't heard of a single one of those over 20-pound channel bass which were the standard of the "very old days". Mother Nature continues to upset climate change predictions as she's brought cold water species such as cod, spiny dogfish, seals and whales to the Shore rather than the southern species we've been expecting. Scientists and politicians may make their pronouncements, but oceanic creatures don't read scientific journals and follow their own agenda.  The recent snowstorm has sent lots of cold Hudson River waters out to sea to lower bottom temperatures and shut down bottom fishing in waters not too far offshore. Blackfish are more likely to feed now further offshore and toward the south. The Ocean Explorer from Belmar continues to pursue them on fishable days as their anglers hope to win the ever-larger seasonal big pool. The Jamaica from Brielle continues to run its Saturday 2 a.m. trips to far offshore wrecks which produce lots of jumbo porgies. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations. Surf Day runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Brookdale Community College at Lincroft. Admission is just $10. Surf pros such as D.J. Muller discuss their specialties, and Nick Honachefsky has a special presentation on fishing for big sharks from the beach. Mike Laptew provides underwater video of the surf zone we fish. The Marine Trades Association of N.J. presents the N.J. Boat Sale & Expo from Thursday through Sunday at the N.J. Convention Center at Raritan Center, Edison. Admission is $8, and includes seminars presented by the RFA and The Fisherman magazine. Show hours are from noon to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.  The Canyon Runner N.Y. Seminar at the Huntington Hilton on Saturday, Feb. 25 is almost sold out of the $99 tickets. Check with Adam La Rosa at 732 842-6825 about availability. La Rosa notes that both of his boats are already almost completely booked for the upcoming canyon season.

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Latest NJ Weakfish Reports

  • 2017-06-08 Captain Ron Atlantic Highlands

    Found some better action today with nice keeper Fluke.  Capt. Ron Sr. did his thing and I even managed to wet a line and land a nice 4 pound fish. Had two Weakfish in the mix with a couple blues also. 
  • 2017-02-16 Ristori Bay Head

    NOAA Fisheries issued a warning to New Jersey fishermen a few years ago warning them that they'd better learn how to fish for red drum as climate change would be sending southern species further to the north. There was no indication in the NOAA Fisheries prediction that the fisheries scientists there are aware that the Central Jersey Shore was the place to be for red drum anglers a century ago -- and that their reappearance would only be a return to the norm of a hundred years ago.
  • 2017-02-02 Ristori Bay Head

    The ASMFC meeting in Virginia finally came up with a summer flounder regulation for 2017, but NJ DEP Commissioner Bob Martin is standing fast in insisting on status quo regulations pending completion of a new baseline summer flounder stock assessment which many expect will show that species is in much better condition than outdated statistics presently indicate. com shore blogs fishing or updates on the fluke situation as well as other species involved at the ASMFC meeting.
  • 2017-02-01 Ristori Bay Head

    Commissioner Martin will be testifying at 8 tomorrow morning before the ASMFC meeting in Virginia -- and seems prepared to go out of compliance if necessary. I'll have more about this tomorrow.
  • 2017-01-30 Ristori Bay Head

    There were a few legal blackfish and some shorts, but the Ocean Explorer is expecting better results offshore in lighter winds on Tuesday. Sunday's porgy fishing on the Jamaica from Brielle was slower than expected due to strong currents, but there were catches of up to 25 to 30 scup along with a few ling -- and several weakfish.
  • 2017-01-07 Ristori Bay Head

    The redfish were around the docks both N and S of the Ft. Pierce Inlet most were undersized, but we did catch a couple of slot fish as we fought our way through the sheepshead to get to them. I was able to get out the inlet and fish along the inshore reefs and had 2 days of great fishing.
  • 2016-12-09 Ristori Bay Head

    Following are preliminary results of the Beach N Boat Tournament 2016 Top Anglers CONGRATULATIONS to All Beach N Boat Anglers!2 BLACK DRUM Place Angler Weight First Place Luke Dombrowski 74 Second Place Denise Theiler 52.
  • 2016-11-03 Ristori Bay Head

    The Hi-Mar Striper Club's Fall 40-hour Bob Kamienski Striped Bass Tournament ended up with good weather last weekend after being postponed the previous weekend due to gale warnings. The striper tournament season concludes this weekend with the Staten Island Tuna Club's Big Bass Shootout from Saturday night through Sunday.
  • 2016-10-27 Ristori Bay Head

    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. 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.
  • 2016-10-26 Ristori Bay Head

    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. 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.

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