This year marks my 15th year as Barnegat Bay’s’ premier guide service. During my 15 years of guiding, I have been boarded by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) 3 times for safety checks. Two of the three times I have been boarded have been with the same charter, which is the Demareskis and it happened the other day. What are the odds of that? Kudos to the men and women serving in our USCG for everything they do! Off course, everything check out OK during the USCG safety check.
The Demareski’s have been coming out with me since 2007. During the first few years, Roger D came out with his three boys. Now he comes out with four. The youngest, Patrick 7 years old, was high hook today on fluke. The honking NW winds made conditions tough today and the bite was off but we caught a bunch of shorts and had lots of fun. The coolest thing we saw today was a gigantic sea robin chasing a 4-5” sundial to the surface in 10’ of water. The sundial lost that battle. We also caught a micro striper on a minnow. Some of the fluke are even eating their own kind (see picture). The inlet area is holding plenty of bass and blues but the dinner bell has been hard pin down. I have been finding small schools of the bunker just off the beach. And I mean just off the beach. They were on top of the bar just behind the breaking waves. Some of these bunker were only 10” long. Perfect sized baits for schoolie bass. I did snag and swim a few around the inlet. The blues loved them as did the small bass. With school out, I am available every day. Being a teacher and a Hooked on Fishing – Not on Drugs certified instructor I specialize in getting kids hooked on fishing.
Captain Alex 609-548-2511
I have been busy fishing land-based west side haunts finding good action with white perch and schoolie stripers in the dark. This evenings perch bite was good. I kept a few tasty slabs for dinner and released about a dozen fish.
So, check this out. I am a man of science and don’t believe in the supernatural stuff or curses and jinx. A couple of nights ago I had solid action with schoolie bass in the dark. The next night my wife, Deb, joins me. I walk up to the spot cast, one crank, two cranks, three cranks, zzzzzzzzzzzz Fish on screaming drag. Land a 22″ schoolie and that was it. Fished another 30 minutes without Deb and I catching a fishing. Sooooo, is there a curse of the first cast fish? Well, tonight first cast I caught a white perch and continued to catch perch until I left them biting. The moral is science rules and fishing is fishing or what you make of fishing.
I have both this Saturday and Sunday open and I am predicting the fishing will blow wide open before then. Give me a call to get in on the action
Screaming drags, Captain Alex 609-548-2511
Debbie M – Lighthouse Sportfishing
It’s that time again. What time do you ask? Time to go fishing. With the Debbie M still under wraps I jettisoned out in stealth mode aboard the MOS (my kayak). With some worms and plastics, I was well prepared for my pre-Easter big breakfast assault on the local schoolies. For the most part, it was slow but I did manage a few feisty bass to about 22”. All on sandworms. One thing that always blows me away when catching fish from a yak is how strong fish really are. One schoolie bass I was fighting actually was strong enough to pull my grapple style anchor out of the mud and set me adrift. No joke.
On the nature side of things: While kayaking I witnessed two environmental success stories in one fell swoop, literally. I watched an adult Bald Eagle swoop down to the water’s edge and pick out an adult bunker to bring to the breakfast table. The first story is the eagle which was brought back from the edge of extinction in the lower 48 states. I’ll make the story quick. Industrial revolution spawns DDT. DDT gets into our environment and is nothing but bad news to every living thing. In 1962, Racheal Carson publishes Silent Spring telling of the dangers of DDT which starts the environmental movement. Now 1970, the Feds create the Environmental Protection Agency and NJ has one known nesting pair of eagles. In 1972 the US bans the use of DDT. Ten years later NJ still has only one pair of eagles nesting, and the egg shells are still thin and have to be removed so the parents do not break them. The DDT ban, combined with restoration and management efforts by NJ’s Endangered and Nongame Species Program, brings the number of nesting pairs to 23 in 2000. Flash forward to the end of 2017 and there are 178 nests being monitored by the State.
Now onto the bunker, the most important fish in the sea. Have you read Franklin’s book The Most Important Fish in the Sea? If you care one iota about how the ocean’s ecosystems are balanced off our coast you must read this book. We completely decimated the bunker stocks decades ago. Native Americans showed us how to use bunker as fertilizer. Then during the industrial revolution, bunker oil was used for grease, replacing whales as the source for of industrial lubricant. Now bunker is used for bait, fish oil, fish meal, omega 3 fatty acids. Now get this, one company, one company, did I say one company?, Omega Protein (BTW: it was purchased last year by Cooke company.) gets 90% of the annual allowable harvest of the bunker in the US. Now for even more news, Omega Protein, employees only around 1,100 employees. So do the math, Omega with a little over 1,000 employees gets 90% of the most important fish in the sea. So for 1,000 US jobs, we disrupt marine ecosystems from Maine to Texas that could be giving tens of thousands of jobs to the to the US. Another example of how the rich get richer……Now on to the somewhat success story, in my close to 40 years on Barnegat Bay I have seen the bay go from no bunker anywhere through the eighties and nineties, to some fall peanut bunker, to now adult bunker in late winter / early spring and peanuts showing up earlier and in greater numbers than ever. Mother nature is resilient and will bounce back, she just needs some time and a little help from you.
Capt. Alex 609-548-2511
I have two spots left (I take no more than 3 anglers) for Black Friday 6 AM – 11 AM cost $150 pp. All tackle and bait provided. The Debbie M is capable of cruising at 35-40 mph, so plenty of time fishing and often the first on the fishing grounds. BTW, while everyone is chasing bass up an down the beaches they are missing some of the best light tackle back bay bassing we have had in years.
Screaming drags, Capt. Alex 609-548-2511
Had my #PennFishing Tackle Bag Stolen from the back of my truck Friday morning @ 5 AM while parked @ Manahawkin WAWA. Had 5 plastic tackle stowaway boxes filled with lures (1 #MannsStretch plugs, 1 full of #basskandydelights, 1 full of #SavageGearUSA plastic sandeels and Savage lead heads, 1 full of #SavageGearUSA Panic Prey Poppers, 1 full of #BomberLures. Also had a #berkleyfishing digital scale, 6 never used #MagicTail tog jigs, lots of hooks, sabiki rigs, and an unopened pack #BallParkbeefjerky (original). If you hear of anyone trying to sell some of this stuff let me know.
Capt. Alex, Lighthouse Sportfishing 609-548-2511
As predicted last report the end of this week the bass fishery should open up. And open up it did. Starting Thursday good number of slot fish to fish around 30” were found around the inlet and well into the bay. By the weekend this fishery even got better. I personally slipped out one morning and landed 10 bass from a short to 29”. Picture of a sunup shorty. Then Sunday morning the big girls moved within striking distance of Barnegat Inlet. Unfortunately, I was busy not fishing. The fish ranged from 20 lb to 40 lb + At first light the bass were spraying big bunker and catching was easy. Attached is a picture of 13-year-old Justin with a 41.5 lb cow caught on board my friend Capt Dan of the Becky D. Well this is what everyone has been waiting for so get out there!
Screaming drags, Capt. Alex 609- 548-2511
Somethings got to give already with this wind and weather pattern. Ocean still 62 degrees along the beaches and the bay finally broke sub 60. Not liking this climate change stuff when it comes to fishing. The good news is there are bass and monster blues just north of us. Some are north and far east of the 3-mile line or are in the EEZ. What exactly is the EEZ? Well……every coastal State may claim an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) beyond and adjacent to its territorial sea that extends seaward up to 200 nautical miles from its baselines (or out to a maritime boundary with another coastal State). Within its EEZ, a coastal State has: (a) sovereign rights for the purpose of exploring, exploiting, conserving and managing natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the seabed and subsoil and the superjacent waters and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds; (b) jurisdiction as provided for in international law with regard to the establishment and use of artificial islands, installations, and structures, marine scientific research, and the protection and preservation of the marine environment, and (c) other rights and duties provided for under international law.
What about the three nautical mile line? The Three Nautical Mile Line is retained on NOAA charts because it continues to be used in certain federal laws.
So what does this have to do with fishing? In an effort to keep the striped bass fishery sustainable, NOAA does not allow harvesting of striped bass in the EEZ of the Mid-Atlantic region. NOAA’s website says that they are increasing their targeted enforcement efforts to protect the species from illegal poaching activities this fall and next spring. Be warned
Been on the water a lot the last few days. And fishing has been slow, (bad news) but we still have been bringing some bass over the gunnels of the Debbie M. Like yesterday’s trip with the Frank Joie clan. And calling them a clan is exactly who they were. Frank, Fred, and Jerry. Bunch of good friends having a good time. I took them all over the bay to put a catch together. No big bass, but bass well earned. Oh and for the good news. Bait, inside, outside, up and down the beaches. And with their predators just to our north, I predict this week will be the breakout week for us fishing the LBI area. Off for teacher convention this week so I have some prime dates/tides still open from Wednesday on. Give me a call to get in on the action. Also, contact me if interested in sailing in an open boat spot for availability and competitive pricing.
Screaming drags, Capt. Alex 609-548-2511
Hey, hey, hey, it’s Fat Albert……. If any of you remember that show, you are old as dirt or as old as me. Got into the False Albacore (aka Fat Albert) this morning. They were pushing tiny rainfish, like 2”, to the surface. It was run n gun fishing to keep up with visibly active schools. If you have never caught a false albacore before on light tackle you do not know what you are missing. They scream drags like no tomorrow. If I was to make a list of the top “sports fish” to fish for on Lighthouse Sportfishing, Fat Albert would be number one. True dat! Before I got into the false albacore I was slamming several tiny blitzes just off the surf zone. Tiny blitzes??? Is that an oxymoron? What I mean is blitzes of snappers and super spike weakfish (6-10”). There were gulls, terns, and pelicans working the mayhem. The bay is way too warm for this time of year. Enough said….. Jimmies, male blue claw crabs, are still active and full of meat. Lots of openings for magic hour/night trips and some prime dates available for the bass season. Now is the time to hop on board the Debbie M or with one of the other light tackle guides if you want to get into the false albacore. They have not had a strong showing locally the last few years but that his history.
Screaming drags, Capt. Alex 609-548-2511
Did a magic hour trip during the week. Started outside along the beach trolling for false albacore and the likes. Even when trolling @ 8-9 mph I could not keep snappers off the line. Moved out to deeper water and I still was covered up by snappers. Might be the most snappers I have seen in my life this year. Moving back inside found schoolie bass blowing up before sunset and into the dark. Saturday I had Doug Chittenden and friend out. After loading the livewell with live bait we headed out in the morning fog. On a side note if you or you Captain are not loading the livewell this time of year you are missing out. I have written before about Florida style fishing in making bait for a trip and there is no better time than now with peanuts, mullet, and snappers. The Debbie M is a born and raised custom Florida boat and I like to fish that style as much as possible. One of her custom features is a 50-gallon oval livewell (standard was 25 gallon) that keeps the water moving in a true circular fashion. This is important with live baits such as peanut bunker since they do best in a circulating livewell. The other feature is that when full with 50 gallons, the water does not slosh when the lid is down. This minimizes the baits from getting “beat up” when the boat is rocking & rolling. I can keep 500 + peanut bunker healthy with almost no dead loss. No back to my report……… We did not find the bass cooperating as much as my magic hour trip but we did score (picture attached). One issue I see with the local bass and weakfish population going all out right now is water temperature. The ocean is still in the low 70’s and the bay is back up to 76. The second part of the trip we were able to work the inlet even though the tide was ebbing and a swell from Jose was coming in. Most of the swell was getting picked off by the South Bar which helped. Did a number on the bluefish from husky 3-4 pounders to racers in the 7-9 pound class. I think the racers are fish that spent the summer in Barnegat Bay and are starting to come out. Prior to this, all the blues caught aboard the Debbie M all summer were feeding well on the abundance of bait around the inlet. The blues that stayed in the bay had to deal with water temperatures above their optimum and not as much forage causing them to lose weight. All in all, two great trips by just going fishing. Oh, and a lot of catching. Give me a call if you want to head out and go fishing.
Screaming drags, Capt. Alex 609-548-2511
With the fluke and seabass fisheries shut down a lot of anglers don’t know what to fish for. To that, I suggest that you go fishing for fish. No really. There are plenty of things to catch right now around LBI and Barnegat Bay. Many snappers have grown up to be bluefish. Saturday morning I went around one of the local creeks around sun up and found snappers to small blues actively feeding. They were chasing bait, breaking water and even hitting bare hooks. That’s right, a bare hook. You always hear people saying that they can catch bluefish on a bare hook, but how many time have you actually seen it done? Well my BBF Capt Dan Sea-gull can do it and I have the video proving it. Just watch this YouTube link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2vQVE1nWiA&t=1s I could not catch one with a live peanut bunker while he slayed them with a bare hook. Plenty of big blue roaming the bay and even more around the inlet. Get some fresh bunker or frozen mackerel, anchor up and put some chunks down. Oh, and hold on! There are tons of small bass with keepers in the mix. You just need to fish the right tides, time, etc. Weakfish are present in big numbers of small fish right off the beach and bigger fish in the bay. Don’t wait for reports of weakfish go out and make your own report. No one has ever caught a fish reading reports., hint, hint….. The bay is loaded with small fish. Anchor up in a place with not too much current, put some clam chum down and fish small hooks with salted clam, squid or Fish Bites. I guarantee you will catch more species of fish than you can count on one hand and maybe on both hands. Word of false albacore right off LBI surf is ever so promising. This is a fast paced, hard fighting drag screaming fish.. If you never caught one, you are missing out on one of the best fighting fish New Jersey has to offer. And if there are any Bonito (true Bonito, not Florida bonito which are false albacore) or Spanish mack in the mix you are in for a tasty treat. True Bonito, bled, iced is sushi grade. Just ask anyone who has had some wasabi and soy sauce ready at the cleaning station.
So while others are waiting for stripers or sea bass season why not just go fishing. You may never know what you will catch and you just may find yourself enjoying all the other things offered when you are fishing. Anyone that has ever fished aboard the Debbie M with me knows even when not walking away with a cooler full of fish they are always walking away with life long memories. Now doing afternoon/magic hour trips and I have open next Sunday. Striper dates filling in fast.
Screaming drags, Capt. Alex 609-548-2511