Although fall is 5 days away, Mother Nature has shown enough signs to signal the fall run is about to begin. Bait from micro ¼” fish fry to 5” peanut bunker and mullet. With the weather not so ideal to fish around the inlet and ocean recently, I have spent some time in the back bay creeks targeting small blue and schoolie bass. Though these fish are small and young, I can tell you they are surely wise. For example, the other evening my BFF and I watched schoolie bass consistently blowing up with the feed bag on. While it looked like it was going to be like catching fish in a barrel, it was far from it! Throwing everything at em we could not connect. Even live peanut bunker drifted in the tidal outwash drew little attention. They were feeding on the smallest of small fry. Think about the smallest Sabiki rig you have seen and that is how small the fish were that the bass and blues were feeding on. Wait a minute……….Maybe I should have used a Sabiki rig! Next time.
I was out with the Tindall gang Saturday. First off, making bait was hard to do. The bunker were all down in the lowest part of the water column making it impossible to get a cast net on them. We fished the back creeks to the bridges to the Island Beach sedges and came up with a snapper and a small blue. Hey, that’s fishing sometimes. The incoming water was dirty and warm. Most of the bay was still a little turbid although we found some spots with clear water mid bay.
With the downtime I was able to get back to the video editing room and put together this video from 9/7/18’s magic hour trip. We slayed the blues that night and the magic hour lived up to its name. You can view the video here Bluefish Slayfest
If you like please subscribe to my YouTube Channel.
On the nature side of things: this past weekend some unfortunate person lost their life when attacked by a great white shark in Cape Cod. What is going on here is, we are seeing Mother Nature rebound from decades of over-harvesting species to the brink of extinction. Once hunted to almost extinction, our seal population is finally coming back. Their comeback is attributed to the protection granted under the Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Well, once the seal numbers started to increase so did their primary predator, the great white shark. Predator/prey relationships, it’s ecology 101.
With the best fishing of the year about to unfold, if you are thinking on getting on board the Debbie M you better think quick as my days a filling in.
Capt. Alex 609-548-2511
The variety of fish in and outside the inlet continues to be amazing. For example, my last inlet / inshore trip was a short one. However short, in three hours we managed to land a dozen and a half blues on Mag Darters and BKDs and then loaded the big guns, catching and releasing 2 brown sharks that were 5 foot +. You can see the action on my YouTube Channel here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7WFzpCldtQ&t=7s Remember to subscribe to my channel so you will be alerted instantly to my new fishing video. I plan on doing many more this fall. Southern speedsters are around, but you have to alert and put some time into finding them. Here is a pic of my bud Dave Werner with a very nice Spanish Mackerel. BTW, Spanish macs are top shelf sashimi 🙂
Give me a call if you want to go chase down some speedsters or tackle the brute force of our local sharks that are just “off the beach”
Capt. Alex 609-548-2511
If variety is the spice of life, then the Debbie M was around 500,000 Scoville Heat Units (the scale used to measure the spiciness/heat of peppers) this past week! My clients got into fluke and 1-5 lb. blues early in the week, then Saturday was an “off the beach” shark trip. Sunday, I put Joe T’s group on sharks; bonito; and blues. Talk about variety, and that’s my specialty. Fluke are everywhere. Still, good numbers of them in the early season haunts, around the inlet, as well as around inshore structures. The inlet continues to be ground zero for summer bluefish with a splash of schoolie bass at times. The blues have been holding here because there is an abundance of sandeels and bay anchovies. Been like that all summer. Question: if a bay anchovy swims into the ocean isn’t it really an ocean anchovy? Know what I’m saying?
So, about that Saturday shark trip. The DeCicco clan went 2 for about 10. It was one of those days. End result was a 6 to 7 ft. Dusky and a 5 ft. + brown. We had a spinner shark on for three jumps, or should I say spins? Very cool to see a 5 ft. shark jump out of the water. And only about a mile and a half off the beach I might say. Speaking of shark’s jumping……during Sunday’s trip we witnessed sharks jumping out of the water several times as they actively worked over schools of bunker. It was a Nat Geo moment indeed seeing the sharks feeding. After landing 1 nice brown shark, we went on the troll a few miles off the beach. Trolling yielded 2 nice sushi grade bonito. We finished the trip with a couple of blues on poppers and BKDs at the inlet.
I’m now booking fall striper trips. Shoot me an e-mail or text, or call me if you want me to pencil you have a date you want.
Capt. Alex 609-548-2511
There is some really nice water about 3-5 miles off the beach. What I mean by nice is canyon blue. And with that nice water comes fish that don’t usually venture in this close to LBI, like this nice 15 lb. Mahi my friend Dan got Sunday about 5 miles off the beach. This AM I ventured out into the nice water for a bit. The buoys in contact with this tropical water are holding pilot fish, banded rudderfish, and Amlaco jacks. You really need to be on you fish ID A game when trying to correctly identify these southern visitors. Small lures or pieces of bait are the way to go when targeting them. Unfortunately, I did not connect with any of the southern speedsters like kingfish or Mahi this morning when trolling. There are even loosely connected Sargassum weed lines in the nice water.
Still feisty blues in the 2-4lb range mixed in with schoolie bass to be had when the conditions are right around the inlet. Some of these blues I cleaned recently are getting ready to spawn. The bottom around the inlet seems to be paved with short fluke at times with catch rates of 10-15 fish an hour not uncommon. The keeper fluke has been a little shy my last few trips. I think it was due to the New Moon that just past. The current was rip-roaring most of the time and the back bay was flooded at high tide. I usually do better with bigger fluke during times of slower current which is now. Here is also some picture of a trip where there were three, that’s right three, people with the name Alex on board the Debbie M. First time ever and talk about confusion. Every time someone said Alex, three heads turned. I tapped out after five minutes and told those on board to address me as Capt Alex to minimize the confusion
I have Friday and Saturday open if you want to come on board and have some light tackle fun!
Also doing 2-hour kayak ecotours through LBIF around Cedar Bonnet Island on Thursdays.
Strike while the iron is hot, so they say. Having just guided my wife and a friend to second and first place in a recent women’s fluke tournament, respectively, I tossed my hat into the JCAA fluke tournament this past Saturday. After making bait in the early sunrise hour we headed for the lighthouse are to fish the end of the tide. We got into a nice bite of keeper fluke but the bigger ones kept getting off. It really hurts when you lose a true doormat and there is well over $1,000 on the line, literally if you know what I’m talking about. After that, we took a break a regrouped for the afternoon cooler water incoming. With the bay holding in the low 80’s outgoing tide is not the best time to fish right now. But if that is only when you can fish, you fish. With some fresh live bait in the live well round, two started slow. But around 4 PM I felt the telltale sign of a nice fluke pouncing the live bait in about 20 feet of water. The hook set was typical of a flukezilla, you feel like you are stuck at first but once you free the fluke from being suctioned to the bottom you get some head shake then line peeled off your spool. The fish weighed 6.8 lbs and took second place in the JCAA Fluke Tournament for the Barnegat Bay port (pic attached). We also took first in one of the Calcutta Once again live bait does it job. Those that know me or have fished with me know I am a live bait specialist. The way I look at it, artificials are called artificials for a reason they are trying to mimic the real thing. And when the real things are available why fish artificial? That’s the way I fish, plain and simple.
Monday I did two trips. The first trip with the Fields started around the inlet. Conditions were good but the bite was slow landing a couple 2-4 pound blues. After that we went sharking which was unexpectedly slow. We landed one small brown that came up our slick and took a pitched bait and got bit off. Cool stuff. Quite a few schools of bunker around the tires and a few miles in from of the inlet which was nice to see as they have been absent most of the summer after being sucked up by the bunker boats that came up from the south. I hate those boats and it kills me that there is no peer-reviewed research supporting the benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids. So we are totally messing up the food chain to make something that probably does not work but puts money in the pockets of a select few. My mind is blown on that one! Ok, off my soapbox. Monday afternoon trip was with father and son, Joe and Joseph Astraukas. We started off fluking and the bite was hot. As what has happened in prior years the bottom around the inlet is paved with fluke. Mostly shorts, but I already let you know how to catch keepers so I ’m not going there now. Joseph, 6, in attached picture catch at least a dozen shorts in about 2 hours of fishing. After fluking we hit the inlet to catch the cooler incoming water. There, Joe the father, managed a schoolie bass and some blues on BKDs giving him a Barnegat Bay Slam. I think I have had the most slams this summer thanks the healthy population of schoolie bass.
On the nature side of things: moo over Rover and let the cow-nose rays take over. The abundance of cow-nose rays over the last few years brings up a lot of questions like: why are they here; why are there so many, etc. to answer why they are here it is due to climate change and the average ocean temperature getting warmer. As the waters warm out front, look for new species to arrive taking Mother Nature’s cue that you can now survive in waters north of your historical range. I looked up cow-nose ray in Fishes of the Chesapeake Bay which was first published in 1928. This book is kind of like the Bible to Middle Atlantic States ichthyologists (people that study fish). I purchased my copy when I was in high school. Guess I was a nerd or something hehehe What the book has to say about cow-nosed rays is “This ray was not seen during the present investigations, and although previously recorded from the Chesapeake Bay it is evidently rare. So there you have it, we now have cow-nosed rays because the water is warmer.
Have some spots available if you wanna catch a Barneatg Bay Slam or just target a species give me a call. Also offering 2 hr kayak eco-tours on Thursdays around Bonnet Island
I have been on the water more days than not during the last week. Fluking is fluking, when the bite is on it is hot and heavy with shorts far outnumbering keepers. For fluke, I still sticking to what mother nature has to offer and that is live bait. If I’m on summer break from school why is school is session on most of my trips? What I mean is, there is a lot of cooperative schoolie stripers to be had when you are in the right place and the right time. Been getting most of them on soft plastics like Bass Kandy Delights (BKDs). Here are two pictures from last night’s trips with Lots of blues around the inlet with sizes ranging from less than a pound to 5-6 pounds. Whether you like them or not, cow now rays are in mass.
On the nature side of things: I have officially launched my kayak eco tours (see what I did there, LOL). I am running them through the Long Beach Island Foundation of Arts and Sciences. Details can be found at this link: LBI Ecotours Having been on Barnegat Bay for around 40 years now and having some of it’s brackish water running through my veins my tours showcase the magnificent wildlife Barnegat Bay has to offer. Although I guide these tours, I let mother nature set the stage.
Launching, mid-island the 2-hour tour take you around Cedar Bonnet Island which is part of the Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge. O, speaking of Forsythe….. I have been chosen to sit on The Friends of Forsythe committee for a 2-year position. Cool beans
I have some open slots available for guided fishing trips this week and right now I am running my ecotours on Thursdays,
Capt Alex 609=548-2511
Saturday, Debbie M was on board the Debbie M with Shannon Behre fishing in the Forked River Tuna Clubs 25th annual Ladies Catch of the Day Fluke fishing tournament. The ladies rocked it with Shannon taking first with a 5 pounder and Debbie taking second with a 4.2-pound flattie. Debbie also took first in the fun category of trash fish with a 4.1 pound clear-nosed skate. Debbie competed for the first few years this tournament was held and took first in fluke and first in bluefish. That is three first places out of four and the year she did not win a category she placed. Not a bad recorded. Now if she would learn to clean her catch…..
Who let the dogs out, who, who? Or should I say who let the cow-nosed rays out. I have seen squadrons of up to a dozen or more were cruising the inlet for the two hours I was there. The other day I had WoJo (Andrew) on board, and we doubled up on cow nose rays. Both fish were landed and released thanks to some precision boat handling on my part. The inlet has plenty of 2-4 pound blues around and schoolie stripers when the temperature is favorable. My go-to is poppers at dawn and BKDs when the sun comes up. With the schoolie bass being somewhat dependable as far as feeding, a Barnegat Bay Slam (striper, blue, and fluke) is not out of the question. In fact, I had a slam the other day and before that Matt Rozzi’s two young boys, Matt and Andrew, both had a slam. I like it when I can teach kids how to fish plastics.
Crabbing is stella. I do not think I have seen so many mummies before (adult females) which is a great sign. Snappers are starting to make a showing and are as ravenous as snappers can get. With snappers making a showing I wonder if any big fluke would be interested, hehehe
Still, have times available and will customize trips to target whatever species you want to go after. Don’t forget about my off the beach shark trips where we catch hard fighting 40 pound + sharks on light tackle. These trips are a blast and I usually have multiple hookups without sliding to the right LOL.
Capt Alex, 609-548-2511
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