It’s safe to say most, if not all,Â fishermen who boarded a boat for Wednesday’s sea bassÂ opener got their 10-fish limit. Â
They were also able to do so with littleÂ effort because there are a ton of plump fish over 12Â˝ inches, the minimum size limit.Â Plus,Â the anchoringÂ conditions enabled captains to sit comfortably on the spots.
Captain William Egerter of the Dauntless said he had a crowd of 30 to 35 people on his boat and most of them had their limits by noon. He had to take them out to deeper water to catch ling to avoid the sea bass.Â Â
“IÂ didn’t want anyone getting in trouble for having too many fish,” Egerter said, referring to the sea bass daily bag limit.
Even when he pushed further offshore to 120 feet of water, Egerter said his fares still caught sea bass, but just not as many as he observed inÂ 70 to 80-foot water depths.Â
The sea bass range right now is probably between 55 to 120 feet of water, butÂ 70 to 80 foot sounds like the sweet spot.Â
It’s about a 50-50 mix of keepers and throwbacks.Â Even the fish that aren’t hitting the mark are only a half-inch or so off.Â Â
When you toss in the decent ling bite fishermen are getting about 20 fish in the bucket in exchange for theÂ full-day bottom fishing fare.
Surf fishermen had plenty of bluefish to wrangle in from the beaches as the surf seems to be catching up to the other fisheries.Â
The surf fishing though still favors theÂ Ocean County beaches.Â
Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle reported a good stretch of blues from Seaside down through Island Beach State Park. These fish are running smaller than the slammers that have been hitting the inlet, at least according to what the shop is reporting.Â
The report is of 3 to 6-pound blues hitting bunker, poppers, SP minnows and metals. A few jumbo blues are in the mix.
Jingle’s Bait and Tackle weighed in a 32-poundÂ striped bass for Chris Masino, who was fishing the southern end of Long Beach Island.Â Â
Mel Martens at Giglio Bait and Tackle said they’ve had some small blues in the surf in the Monmouth Beach and Sea Bright area but no blitzes. He did observe some passing schools of bunker and pods of dolphin following them.Â
Martens said they had several striped bass weighed in by anglers. He said they were mostly river fish landed from eitherÂ the Shrewsbury or Navesink.Â
The Atlantic Highland party boats fared pretty well on Wednesday. After three days off the water due to mostly to the weather, Captain Rob Semkewyc of the Sea Hunter said he wasn’t sure what to expect.Â
Â When he got to the ocean he found stripers up to 30 pounds hitting jigs and shads.Â
The quest for the Governor’s Cup will take place Sunday at Island Beach State Park.Â
The annual surf fishing contest that isÂ open to all ages is back for a 28th consecutive year. In this contest, anglers compete for the right to have their name will be engraved on the Governorâ€™s Cup, on permanent display at Island Beach State Park.
Only the top winner gets that honor, plus a new fishing rod and reel combo. Last year’s winner wasÂ Keri Mauger of Mohnton, Pennsylvania, who caught a 36-inch bluefish.
The winning fish are determined by length not weight. The eligible fishÂ and tournament size requirements for entryÂ are as follows:
Ray Bukowski, an assistant commissioner with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection said theyÂ Â â€śexpect hundreds of people of all ages and with all levels of experience,” to be on the beach come 6:30 a.m. Sunday, the start time.Â
Registration begins at 5 a.m. for those who have not pre-registered. The fishing takes place from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.Â
NJ history: historic photos of striped bass fishing in N.J.
The registration fee the day of the tournament is $20 for anglers age 18 and older and $5 for ages 13 to 17. There is no fee for children age 12 and under. The tournament entry fee is waived for student teams.
According to the DEP. all funds raised by the tournament will go toward improving beach access, constructing access ramps for disabled saltwater anglers, providing surf fishing instruction programs and equipment, and developing marine education and restoration projects.Â
Jersey Shore native Dan Radel is a lifelong fisherman. When he’s not reporting the news you can find him in a college classroom where he is a college professor. Reach him @danielradelapp; 732-643-4072; firstname.lastname@example.org