Sandy Hook NJ Fishing Reports for 2019
"Capt. John's Fishing Reports" gives you the latest information about our fishing charters as they occurred.
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Dec. 31, 2019

Fellow Anglers,

As we come to a close to 2019, here are a few of my observations about Fluke and Striper fishing aboard Reel Fun.

As you are well aware, the weather was topsy-turvy for most of the spring Striper fishery. Luckily, fishing during the months of July and August was good, as the ocean was one flat calm day after another.....great sailing weather hunting for Fluke and covering long 40, 50 and 60 mile distances in calm waters.

The Fluke season was nothing to brag about for the most part based upon my standards. Sure we had some quality fish that went into the cooler, BUT we really had to hunt for them over vast areas of the ocean covering many miles and using tons of gas in the process. The vast majority of quality fish were found on rocky bottoms and wrecks. There were tons of shorts in close to the beach and in the bays, but if you wanted bigger, 4, 5 and 6 lb fish for the cooler, you had to travel for them. Would have been nice to get those bigger fish in the shallow confines of our bays using really light bucktails.

I think Hurricane Sandy really had an impact on the bottom structure in a negative way, reducing available summer lodging areas for Fluke. Many ocean dwelling fish like structure for both feeding as well as ambush points and safety so sand washing over rocks and wrecks covering up that structure reduced the areas that they have been accustomed to over the years. Once anglers understand the usual "hangouts" for Fluke, you'll know why many of the larger fish reside on all that rocky bottom stuff and not so much on open sandy bottom. I would suspect that Fluke fishing in 2020 will be a carbon copy of this past year. So be prepared to travel.

Striper fishing, both during spring and fall were good once we got the weather to cooperate. Normal, size spring Stripers, were in fair to good numbers as the fall run of shorts was outstanding along the beach. As you probably know, the highlight of our entire Striper effort was our 50.7 lb. fall Striper incredible fish to say the least.

But make no mistake, to catch the bigger Stripers was an excercise in trolling...plain and simple. The bigger fish generally swim within 5' of the bottom, and trolling deep and covering a lot of water was they key to a good catch for the day. Although I'm not a big fan of trolling, we do what we have to to put fish in the cooler.

Having said that, the crew and I had a nice year working hard to make it a good day on the water for you. Speaking of crew....allow me to extend my sincere gratitude to all my guys (Rich, Chris, Donnie and Braden) for an outstanding job. My guys are THE BEST. That's what I've been told and what I see on every fishing trip. They take pride in giving 110% for our anglers.

A good day on the water for you, is a good day for us too. When we see smiling faces and high fives, we know we've done our jobs.

But I will say this without's not for lack of trying. For us, not giving 100% is not an option. That is what Reel Fun Sportfishing is all about...service. Hard work, honesty in reporting, safety in sailing and above all, treating everyone with respect as well as trying to catch fish is our M/O. We will be back in the water and ready to go by April 15th for Stripers.

Have a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

Dec. 14, 2019

Fellow Anglers,

Just a quick note, that the date has been set for the ever popular Ramsey Outdoor's "Cast and Blast" show for Saturday, February 22, 2020, starting at 10 am till 4 pm. at their Succasunna, NJ store.

This is one of the biggest shows in the north Jersey area, that has gained tremendous popularity over the past few years. Seminars, both hunting and fishing as well as isles filled with vendors offering their expertise and goods and services at "show" pricing.

Reel Fun will be offering a show special $100.00 per person fare for a 6 hour Wednesday or Friday "Open Boat" fishing trip! Full payment is due at the show via credit card. Offer good for "one" trip only as all subsequent trips resort back to normal pricing.

Show organizer and store manager, Marty Brennan, has done a masterful job putting this show together with a varied collection of disciplines for hunters as well as fresh and saltwater anglers....NOT TO BE MISSED!

So mark your calendar for Saturday, February 22, 2020.

Once again, I will be there to talk fishing, answer any of your questions and of course, to reserve your dates fishing with us in 2020. Hey, you never know, another 50 lb. Striper might be waiting for you.

See you at the show!

Tight Lines, Capt. John & Crew

Dec. 2, 2019

Fellow Anglers,

The Ultimate Holiday Gift
***A Fishing Gift Certificate***

Stumped about what to get that special angler in your life? Well look no further than our Reel Fun Gift Certificate. Purchase that special person a 6 hour fishing trip for Stripers or Fluke aboard one of Sandy Hook's most professionally run charter fishing boat.

Reel Fun gift Certificates are redeemable for any one of our numerous "Open Boat" trips for a single angler as well as a full 4 man private charter in any denomination.

The fare for a 6 hour fishing trip is $140.00 p/p for "Open Boaters"
or $560 for a full 4 person charter.

What a great way to say "Season's Greetings" to that angler in your life.....something to look forward to for the spring or summer of 2020.

Your Reel Fun Gift Certificate will be mailed to you in time to put under your Christmas tree.....order NOW and don't miss out on this great gift idea.

To purchase your Reel Fun Gift Certificate, call me at 908-421-4761.

Tight Lines, Capt. John & Crew

Nov. 15, 2019

Fellow Anglers,

Fellow Anglers, Sad but true, the end of Reel Fun Sportfishing has arrived for 2019. As you read this message, mate Rich and I are stripping the boat down and having her hauled out of the water for the winter today and putting her to bed for a few short months.

Let's recap...

Spring Stripers.....A pretty damn good spring run WHEN we were able to sail in between rain and non-stop high winds. Once again, as did last year, my appointment book was a sea of "white out" with reschedules due to weather. But I've come to accept that now as the M/O for fishing in New Jersey. My apologies to all those that I had to bounce around like a rubber ball, but Mother Nature really does dictate whether we sail or not on any given day. As I've said many, many times before, your safety is first and foremost with us...the fish will always be there.

As has been the case the last few years, trolling MOJO'S and Bunker spoons throughout the bay was the key to success. The clam bite has virtually died out as availability of fresh sea clams in our area has been almost non-existent. Bunker came into the bay early in March, so having that bait was a big plus when those damn bunker reduction boats weren't netting everything in sight.

Summer Flounder (Fluke)....a tough summer to say the least. Small tight pods mostly in the ocean, which forced me to sail endless miles searching on a daily basis. 40, 50 and 60 mile trips became routine for almost ALL of our Fluke trips this summer. At $3.69/gal for gas, well you can do the math and see that making money on Fluke trips for me was not happening. Add to that insurance, dockage fees, engine maintenance, bait, ice and crew salary.....all I can say is it's a good thing I enjoy what I do. On the plus side, some of my anglers did catch some very impressive Fluke, and I was fortunate enough to bag a nice 8.5 lb'er with mate Rich on a Busman's holiday trip during the week on a search mission. A fish that size is one hell-of-a-fish.

Fall the past 4 weeks has been good on most of my trips. Once again, weather played a major role in whether we sailed on any given day with high winds being the major culprit. The Stripers didn't arrive en mass until October 15th, and for the past month we had a nice run of some really nice fish until recently when all the small (22" to 26") fish invaded our waters. Lots of action, but not much to show in the cooler.

50.7 Lb. Striper The highlight of our trips this fall was Ed Podgorski's 50.7 Striper that was hooked and landed on October 26 which is pictured left. By far, the biggest Striper to be caught on Reel Fun Sportfishing this year. A fish of a lifetime for sure.

Now about 2020 regulations.....word spreading around the state is that the Striper regulations for 2020, due to a downturn in the Striper population, is for one (1) fish per angler at 28" to 35" beginning March 1, 2020 here in NJ...... SO FAR. That may change as NJ is suppose to adjust for an 18% reduction, so who knows when the start date may officially be. We will, once again, start our Striper fishing on or about April 15th when the bigger fish show up in both NY and NJ plan accordingly.

Fluke reg's should be determined sometime around mid April, so it's anyone's guess as to how many and what size they with be. I will keep you informed as we get near the mid April time frame. There is no doubt in my mind that the effects of Superstorm Sandy had an impact on the Fluke fishery. The bottom structure changed everywhere as those fish are now hunkering down around rocky bottom structure....not easy fishing for bait draggers. A word to the wise....learn how to bucktail if you want to catch Fluke. That nice 8 lb. Fluke I caught was right on top of very rocky bottom.

So there you have it, my recap of 2019. Not a bad year overall considering the high winds we had to endure.

GOD willing, the crew and I will be at it again in 2020 and I should be at the Ramsey Outdoors show for a one day display if you care to sign up for fishing trips. I will be offering a show discount if you pay your full fare at the show....a nice savings.That show usually occurs around the end of February, so I'll keep you posted when the date and times are.

Finally, on behalf of the entire crew (Rich, Chris, Donnie, Braden) and I, Thank You for fishing with us this year and we really hope to see you again in 2020. It's always a joy to fish with you....we have the best anglers in NJ.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

October 27, 2019

Fellow Angler,

50.7 LB'ERPictured on the left is Ed Podgorski with one of the fish caught on today's charter fishing along with his family.

The fish weighed in at a hefty 50.7 lbs....a real bruiser that took quite awhile to reel in. Absolutely incredible fish. Although we did not measure it's length because we didn't have a scale long enough, but by a very reliable chart I have, it should have measured about 50".

This fish was so long, it was unable to fit into the landing net...that's big. Biggest Striper caught on Reel Fun so far, but the season isn't over yet.

Podgorski FamilyWe had consistent readings on the fishfinder for most of the morning, with schools of bunker all around the boat, but some fish just wouldn't commit to our offerings of either our MOJO rigs or bunker spoons trolled...but we worked over the area most of the morning hoping for another bruiser like that one.

Pictured here (left to right) is Brian, Rachel and Henry who caught that massive fish.

Many "Thanks" to the entire Podgorski family for a really nice fishing trip.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

Oct. 19, 2019

Fellow Anglers,

Had the Fred Ernst party out for a day attempting to locate Striped Bass locally, as reports that I've been reading for the past week have had fish located around the Jones Beach area of NY., a very long and time consuming journey that may or may not be productive for my anglers.

These fall migrating Stripers have to move into our area eventually, it's just a matter of timing, so we went on the search along our beaches. Marked numerous Stripers on the fishfinder within a mile off the beach, so I know that they are here, but regretfully, they were not in a feeding mood. Just because you find them, doesn't mean they are feeding....quite frustrating to say the least.

Bunker pods were in our area covering acres of water....incredible.

We tried trolling MOJO rigs as well as bunker spoons as well as livelining fresh bunker on weighted treble hooks....a very effective way of catching Striped Bass. We did it all, but the marks on the fishfinder didn't equate to putting fish in the cooler. These were some BIG marks, so I know they are Stripers cruising around within 3 feet of the bottom.

Amazing how many fish were under the boat, only for them to turn up their noses at our offerings. Reports that I heard were equally tough too. Just a tough day on a sunny sky beautiful day. I guess the fish like crappy weather.

In any event, it's that time of year when these fish are moving very fast through our area and it amounts to being at the right place and time to cash in, so we keep trying and working hard for our anglers. You know what they say....that's why they call it fishing and not catching!

The topsy-turvy weather hasn't helped much either. Water temps in the ocean on Saturday recorded at 61 degrees, prime temps for Striped Bass.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

Oct. 16, 2019

Good news....

The fall migration has begun for Stripers in our area just a few hours ago. I kind of thought that with that offshore nor'easter last week coupled with the Sunday full "Harvest Moon", the migrating bass would be showing up here any day now.

It's just a matter of how far offshore these fish were going to travel. Luckily for us, they are chowing down on baitfish along the beach...whatever, they have started to arrive.

These fish are migrating and won't be here long. So if you have any intentions of fall Striper fishing, do it NOW!

God....let the weather be in our favor for a few weeks to allow us to fish.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

Oct. 14, 2019

Fellow Anglers,

Good morning. It's been some time since we last conversed.

The weather over the past few weeks has made it very difficult to do just about any kind of fishing. Offshore lows (nor'easter) as well as some pretty substantial east winds and big swells have kept the crew, me and the boat in the slip.

Couple that with the Fluke season closing down on September 21st as well as the absence of any substantial Stripers swimming around and it's been pretty quiet here at the marina. This was, regretfully, to be expected as we await the arrival of the Stripers from the north on their southerly fall migration.

There have been fish caught, sporadically, within the confines of New York harbor drifting bunker and/or eels, but that too has been good to fair one day and poor the consistency for a charter trip for my anglers. Couple that with the boat traffic in that area and you can see my reluctance to fish really fast moving water.

There has been a lot of talk about the coming 2020 Striper regulations.

Number of keepers and size requirements are, at this point, anyone's guess for next year. But there is concern by many professionals in the field that the number of big, spawning females, have declined, so we have to be very mindful what we throw in the cooler.

Keep the smaller fish and release the big females is my M/O. Catch and release is always another option and as responsible anglers, I'm sure that's a viable way to think for 2020.

Something to keep in mind.....a full cooler doesn't always equate a fun day on the water. It's time to enjoy a day away from the office or being with your family, friends and fishing buddies. A good fight, a picture and releasing a healthy female does the heart good as well as helping to maintain the fishery for future generations.

For the record, the smaller Stripers taste a lot better on the dinner plate than the big cows that are swimming out there.

Weather permitting, we'll be starting our hunt for Stripers next weekend and have a better handle on what's going on out there. The passing nor'easter could have really helped push those migrating Stripers down to our waters as the ocean water temps have cooled to 64 degrees as of this morning. Moving in the right direction for sure. Now let's hope the baitfish are still around.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

Sept. 15, 2019

Fellow Anglers,

Now that the 2019 Fluke season is drawing to a close next Saturday, it's time to look ahead to the upcoming run of fall Striped Bass.

Reel Fun Sportfishing is now taking reservations for the anticipated arrival of the fall migration of Striped Bass.

When these fish arrive in our waters is, at this time, anyone's guess, but I would think that by mid October (4 weeks away), the first signs of Stripers should begin to appear. It's all based upon water temperature and bait fish swimming around.

Charlie's Striper(Pictured left...Striper fisherman Charlie. Nice fish....way to go young man!)

Please keep in mind that with fall fishing, we are totally dependent on the strength of the westerly winds to provide us with an opportunity to sail. It's all about conditions as I've said many times. Something to keep in mind.....we take our anglers out on days of best success of catching fish. Conditions dictate the success or failure of fishing for ANY species of fish. I'm not looking to go for a boat ride and we don't expect you too either. WE WANT TO CATCH FISH....plain and simple.

Getting a days pay is not how I operate my business. Happy anglers are repeat anglers AND bring more anglers to our docks. If the conditions are crap, we stay home and reschedule. That's been my M/O for 15 years and I'm not going to change now.

Having said that, I ask that you keep a day on either side of your reserved day open...BE FLEXIBLE! Strong winds from the west are common during the fall and as such we will usually be fishing the ocean close to shore. NJ waters are from the beach to 3 miles offshore, beyond 3 miles we are in Federal waters where Striper fishing is off limits.

We may be casting and retrieving lures, livelining bunker or trolling...whatever puts fish in the cooler. We will be hunting for Stripers starting around mid October and sailing, weather permitting, through to around Thanksgiving. The current NJ regulations for Stripers are still 1 fish @ 28" or greater AND 1 fish 43" or greater....2 fish total for 2019.

For our single anglers, don't forget about our "Open Boat" Wednesday's and Friday's. All our Striper trips are 6 hour trips and, as always, include the use of our professional gear...just you, lunch, beverages and away we go.

To make your reservation, call me at 908-421-4761.

Remember, if the weather knocks us out for your day, we will reschedule or you can elect to carry over for the spring run of Stripers which we start around April 15th.

What we ask is for you to put your trust and faith in our judgement. I've been blessed with an outstanding crew (Mates Rich, Chris, Donnie and Braden) with over 100 years of fishing experience and knowledge collectively. We've been through it all so to speak. Catching fish and having fun is our main objective along with your safety on the water. We analyze the conditions, then I decide whether it's a go or no-go for your trip.

This will be your last shot at fishing for Stripers in 2019, so call your fishing buddies and set up a date with us for the NJ Fall Striped Bass.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

August 28, 2019

Fellow Anglers,

Had the Smith family (Sean, Ron, Matt and Wayne) out for a search and fillet trip for Fluke under some tough conditions.

Rain, fog, and a crappy east wind hampered where I was intending to sail, so mate Rich and I adjusted our course and headed to a very unlikely but productive area to get better conditions....remember that word?.

If you want to get schooled on how to "bucktail", then you've got to watch these guys...outstanding! If there was a fish under the boat, these guys hooked up. Just about everything in our drift saw the hook and net, including what we came out there for.

Granted, no big Fluke but numerous shorts and some really nice meaty 3-4 lb'ers to hit the cooler. I would call this a "clinic". Boy, it feels good to fish with guys who know their sh*t.

Will be back again for another go at it in about a week or so and are making plans for trips for Stripers and Fluke in 2020.

Thanx guys....well done.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

August 22, 2019

Dear Anglers,

Had members of the SWABC (Saltwater Anglers of Bergen County) out for a try at some Fluke.

Left the dock at 7 am with some pretty stiff winds out of the West along with incoming current (the dreaded wind against tide)...not the best of conditions for where we wanted to fish. Decided to fish where the wind was the least out along the beach south of Sandy Hook.

Slugged our way fighting 5 foot swells every 6 seconds out of the Southeast...tough, but we still managed to make our destination after a slow journey. No one's safety was at stake here, just a long and slow trip nonetheless.

Put out the lines and had immediate action with short Fluke, some keepers and some beautiful keeper Black Sea Bass that went into the cooler. Mate Rich and I worked very hard trying to find keeper Fluke tight to the beach as well as about 3-4 miles offshore with slim pickings for Fluke.

Was told many years ago (Al Ristori) that Fluke don't like swells and will turn off the bite, which was proven again yesterday, but we had to try anyway.

Our anglers, Barry, Harry and Joe fished their a**es off all morning working hard and fishing in those swells...great job guys. Remember that fishing for Fluke is all about...CONDITIONS!

Got a very reassuring phone call from Barry this morning thanking Rich and I for a great job and a special "Thank You" to Joe Salib for the 5 Star Google rating. We are both very humbled.

Thank You and Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

August 15, 2019

Dear Anglers,

As you can see by my Aug 12th fishing report, it appears that nice Fluke are finally showing up in our area.

Although I'm still putting a lot of miles to these destinations, the fish seem to be holding upAug 12th Fluke and ready for any "Open Boat" anglers to put some tasty Fluke fillets in the fridge.

As you know, the Fluke season has been tough on almost every party and charter boat operation here in NJ. With the great catch that Rich and I had on Aug 12th, hopefully, now we can have some nice trips as we've zeroed in on a few productive areas and hopefully they will stay there.

Be forewarned....ALL the fish were caught by bucktailing on some very "sticky" bottoms and NOT dragging bait. So, if you know how to bucktail all is good, if you don't, then learn quickly and be prepared to loose some rigs..

Having said that, I have openings for any single anglers interested in joining other anglers on the following two dates for Fluke fishing.....

Wednesday Aug 21 or Friday Aug 23

We fish hard for you

Good fishing on a weekday....a lot less boat traffic....more fish for you.

As always, the fee for our 6 hour fishing trip is $130.00 p/p plus gratuity.

Call 908-421-4761 to reserve your spot.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

August 12, 2019

Dear Angler,

Mate Rich and I decided to take a Busman's Holiday and go on the hunt for some quality Fluke today.

Today's BountyAs you can see by the photos, we had a good day....8 lb., 4 oz. Fluke that hit the teaser and ran like a Cownose Ray...under the boat and around again.

I was using a 7' med/hvy G. Loomis GL3 rod paired with a Shimano 500 baitcaster with 30 lb. Power Pro line. The rig was my typical bucktail rig with a teaser and a 4 oz. white Spro with 2 strips of pure white squid.

Talk about a freight train....He had the muscle to peel a whole bunch of line off my reel. Incredible run for a Fluke....made my year to say the least.

We're finally seeing some quality fish in our area. Let's fish!

Capt's Fluke
Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

August 7, 2019

Dear Angler,

Well, what can I tell you that probably don't already know.

Good consistent action for legal keeper Fluke has been a real chore this year and my past 2 trips were just a repeat of the hard work that the crew and I have finding quality keepers to put in the cooler.

First off, let me say that if you're willing to go through a ton of gear, you will probably do well with these fish. Loosing bucktails over rocky bottom is the norm. I got a call from one of my mates that an angler on a southern boat lost 18 rigs fishing the Axel Carlson Reef...incredible! By my math, that's about $144.00 in bucktails alone. But as they say "you want to play, you've got to pay"

Fluke fishing in and around our local waters remains regretfully slow of keepers with tons of shorts, cow nose rays, skates, dogfish and sea robins as of late. But if I may say to our credit, my Fluke charters have all appreciated how hard we work and how much moving around we do to find fish for them. My gas bill is testament to that.

On Aug 4th we had Jolie, Jess and family out for a very active day catching just about everything in the water. Some nice meaty Fluke and Black Sea Bass for the cooler. 4 Cow Nose Rays in the 20-30 lb. range.....what massive fish on light tackle, Skates, name it and we caught it. Great ladies and even better fisherwomen.

On Tuesday, Aug. 6th we had the Jim Zimmer and SWABC members out under some really tough ocean conditions...east winds. Remember the old adage "Wind from the East, fishing the least" really held true with this trip. Sailed to some bay locations to get out of the wind with minimal results.

Look, I call it the way it is. No B/'s your money and my reputation. You want the truth????. What has happened to the North Jersey Fluke population is anyone's guess, but it's been hard work for the crew and we are giving it our best.

We remain optimistic for some better fishing in the remaining weeks of the Fluke season.

Thank you Jolie, Jess, Jim Z and SWABC members for your continued support and kind words. You are all wonderful people and good fishermen/women.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

July 27, 2019

Dear Angler,

Tough day getting the right "conditions" in order to put some Fluke in the cooler.

Had the Smith family from Morristown out with us who were all pretty good fishermen. Tried a spot that I've been using the past two weeks only to find the outgoing current was roaring at 2.3-2.8 kts. Way too fast to bucktail or drift baits without being forced to use 8-10 ounces of lead. Tough area, so we moved and headed south searching for better water.

Our move south had the effect of now doing the total opposite of what we drift at all. Oh brother. We had a light south breeze coupled with a outgoing north/south water flow which produced a wind/against situation. Jesus...what next!

Had to move around to many other locations trying to find the right conditions for a successful drift which put 50 miles on the odometer for the day. As you can see, once again mate Rich and I worked our a**es off yesterday.

We did, once again, catch numerous throwbacks and put a few legal Fluke in the cooler along with some nice Black Sea Bass too... my fares worked really hard for the days catch. Good job Smith family!

For the second straight year, we are finding that putting a good catch together requires us to put on a lot of miles (an enormous gas bill) looking for small pods of fish in a really big area of water. The usual Fluke "hangouts" are not there anymore. (A combination of "Sandy" and warming waters in my estimation)

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

July 17, 2019

Dear Angler,

Just returned from one of "Open Boat" fishing trips with Tom Tyls, Mort Percheck and Judy Schaible (pictured left with mate Rich) and as you can see we had a very good day. 7 keepers in the cooler and numerous throwbacks.

Judy and RichPictured are 2 of Judy's fish as she gave a clinic on bucktailing to all of us.....what a GREAT fisherwomen. Fish Rich is holding was 5 lbs and Judy's big fish weighed in at 7.3 lbs. (7 lbs, 5 oz. and 25" long).

It seems obvious that quality Fluke have finally moved into our waters and if you have any desire to fish for these guys, now is the time to do it. They are only about 6 weeks late in arrival, but better late than never.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

July 15, 2019

Dear Angler,

Finally, finally some quality Fluke for the cooler.

Smith FamilyAs pictured on the left was the Sean Smith (far right) family. Outstanding seasoned veterans who could give anyone a clinic on the art of bucktailing for Fluke.

We were fishing both sandy bottom and rocky sticky bottom structures to land some really beautiful fish as you can see.

If this was a few years ago when Fluke were more plentiful and the regulations were 5 fish at 18", we could have easily limited out with these guys.....great job.

Largest fish (far left) was 6.2 lbs. and most other fish were around the 3 lb range. They went home with 2 big bags of fillets to show for their hard work. Outstanding job Smith family as we are discussing 2 additional trips (August and September) for Fluke once again.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

July 13, 2019

Dear Angler,

Barry's FlukeHad the pleasure of having some members of the SWABC fishing club and friends.....Chuck, Bob and Robbie and as pictured on left, Barry with his 5.2 lb. Fluke.

Absolutely gorgeous day in the ocean as we went searching for some bigger fish for the group and a possible entry into the SHBA fluke tournament. Well, mate Rich and I worked our a** off searching numerous locations that we thought could hold some bigger fish.

Fluke fishing this year has been tough by my lofty standards as all my online reports have said.

Anyhow, we had the group drag bait and bucktail many locations close to the beach and in much deeper 65-70 feet of water looking to make our limit and hopefully a big fish for the tournament. Logged 65 miles in the process.

Shrewsbury Rocks, Rattlesnake, Red Church, Sandy Hook name. That's a lot of water to cover, but Rich and I had our plans and we stuck to it.

Hey look, we also caught beautiful Black Sea Bass and Ling to add to the cooler, so along with the numerous short Fluke, it was a very active day. So, many thanks for a fantastic effort by Chuck, Barry, Bob and Robbie and especially my mate Rich for an outstanding effort working the deck.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

June 28 and 29

Dear Angler,

Hard to sugar coat these reports but putting keeper Fluke in the cooler has been a tough thing to do lately.

Had an open boat trip Friday and fished very hard down the beach at numerous once productive areas, but it was a constant diet of short fluke, dogfish, skates and sea robins. Did we have action...yup.

Put on over 50 miles in the process and burned a ton of fuel for our efforts. You can't say we didn't try as mate Rich and I moved around many ocean and bay locations looking for a pod of keeper fish. Tough go to say the least.

Then Saturday, regretfully, was a carbon copy for my anglers of the SWABC fishing club. More shorts, dogfish, skates and sea robins.

It's been a month now since the Fluke season has opened and as of yet, the main body of quality fish have yet to arrive. The water temps were spot on in the mid 70's ideal for the Fluke.

Conversely, a new body of Fluke could swim into our area at any time...only mother nature knows for sure.

You want the truth?????? then you've come to the right place. That's the way I've run my business for the past 15 years and I'm not going to change now. We (I) value our customers. We want your business....repeat business. And if calling it the way it is accomplishes that, then I'm good with that and I can sleep peacefully at night.

Successful Fluke fishing is all about CONDITIONS. The right drift speed, wind direction, bait and location and most importantly fish, can make or break any trip. Everything has to be in harmony. I guess that's why they call it fishing and not catching. Maybe it's something I have to drum into my head.

Back at it again soon. Have a Happy July 4th.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

June 26, 2019

Dear Angler,

As the lyrics of a song goes...."I'm back in the saddle again".

My first charter trip was today after a 4 week layoff from surgery and it felt great to be back on the water again on a beautiful flat calm ocean day.

Had a group of anglers (Tom, Rick, Dick and Steve) on our open boat fishing trip searching for larger keeper size Fluke. Not an easy task lately!

Got a "heads up" report from one of my neighbor charter captains and headed straight for that ocean location. Had many shorts with some keepers in the mix...not a bad day considering what I've been reading with the online reports.

Most of the fish we caught drifting bait over sandy bottom, after numerous "hang-ups" on the sticky bottom stuff. If you don't know how to catch Fluke over very productive rocky bottom, you'll loose a ton of rigs as we did yesterday. Oh well, hopefully these guys learned something. Keep those bucktails bouncing!

Water surface temps read 70 degrees, but I'm sure the bottom readings were more like 60 degrees or so...cold sinkers coming up. Come on summer...let's warm up that water a little. More charters on coming soon.....stay tuned.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

May 26, 2019

Dear Angler,

VerdeAs you can see by the photo on the left, the Mike Verde party had a pretty nice day of this continuous Striper bite going on right now in Raritan Bay.

We are into a very nice resurgence of the 2019 spring Striper run that took a brief slowdown as the female and males played "house" up in the Hudson River during the spawn.

The spawn happens every spring and the timing of that mad orgy between the males and females happens on their time schedule, so you never know when or how long or even if the Stripers make a reappearance in our local waters. For the past two days, we've limited out our anglers with some nice Stripers quite close to the marina.

Weather still remains an issue on certain days with either rain, thunderstorms or high winds, so I juggle the appointment book constantly to get everyone on the water and catching fish. But this may not last too much longer as the water temps in the bay are steadily inching up, but the ocean temps are still cold and that may keep the bunker local and in the bay.

So the Bass and the Bunker are playing hide and seek throughout the bay for now. Let's hope this lasts another couple of weeks until the Fluke season gets into high gear.

Speaking of Fluke....the season opened officially for New Jersey last Friday with some success by a few boats. A 9 lb'er was boated the other day that set the bar pretty high for future fishermen. Cold ocean waters have hampered fishing outside somewhat, so it's mainly a bay thing so far. You have to sift through a ton of shorts to get to the keepers, but that is normal for this time of year for Fluke. A lot of action to say the least.

Finally, omage to all the Veterans out there for their service to our country on this Memorial Day 2019. While fishing the past two days, we saw numerous Navy ships sail into NY harbor for the fleet week celebration...what a sight.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

May 25, 2019

Dear Angler,

GardsyAs you can see by the photo on the left, Tim Gardsy (center) and his two sons had a really good trip with us today catching their limit of Striped Bass.

After some searching the bay, we found a really nice and active area of bunker and along with them, of course, the Striped Bass. Find the bait....find the fish as they say.

I knew after yesterday's BIG winds, the bait were going to be headed for shelter (the bay) and as I thought, the Bass were right behind them.

Years of experience really paid off big dividends today. Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you.

Today it was the Gardsy family that was the recipient of some good common sense fishing knowledge. Am I because mate Rich and I discussed today's plan at the dock before our anglers arrived. We both get credit for this.

Thanks men of the Gardsy family....great job today.

Tight Lines
Capt. John & Crew

May 11, 2019

Dear Angler,

If there was ever a job that will humble you....try Charter Captain and fishing for a few years.

Wednesday we had a good fishing trip for Stripers, but yesterday afternoons trip with my Accountants/CPA's group was in a word....stinker. Look, I'll report the good and the bad. We've been doing well since the start of the Striper season, but yesterday was inevitable if you are into fishing......a stinker comes along every so often. You can't hit a home run with every at-bat as they say. So tomorrow is another day.

Yesterday, we left the slip at 1 pm and fished our asses off till 6 pm moving around to different spots. I can only hope that my guys understand that this is fishing and NOT catching.

Are the big females up the Hudson River spawning....I really think so as the sheer number of males in the bay has diminished right now too. But once the spawn is over, these fish should return to feed again.

My initial spot produced a hit and a keeper (31" beauty) almost immediately after we put the lines in the water.....oh, oh I said to myself. That was too easy. The dreaded "first quick fish" curse. This curse, like banana's on a boat, sometimes is an indication that if you whack a fish early in the trip it then gets quiet.....just what happened yesterday afternoon.

We fished the mid Raritan Bay area as all reports and conversations told me that far west bay has been drying up as of late. I read on my SONAR loose roaming bunker schools with sporadic Stripers under them which should have produced hookups....regretfully for us and others around us, these fish just weren't on the feed. We saw a few fish netted, but for the number of boats around us, it was slim pickings to say the least. Really tough, tough afternoon on nice weather conditions.... calm waters and overcast skies....perfect for Striper fishing.

Oh well, there's always the next trip for redemption. Charter Captains are a very proud group of people. Just when we think we've got a handle on fishing, something changes and it's back to square one....maddening. This is a never ending learning process and if one thinks "I know it all" about fishing, I'll tell them that's total B/S! I've been fishing in NJ since I was a young boy and now as a charter business for 15 years and I will tell you that I learn something new on every trip I do...amazing.

Looking back to May 2018 appointment book, this May is a repeat of postponements and rescheduling due to weather. Can we please have some nice calm and sunny days?

Tight Lines
Capt. John & Crew

May 8, 2019

Dear Angler,

As you can tell by the photo on the below, we had another good day of Striper fishing with Hani Fares (far right) and a few of his coworkers.

Hani FaresThe day started out quite slow as our first stop yielded one nice keeper. But that soon turned off and we began an exhausting search for more fish. Scoured the bay along the Staten Island shores, and numerous points moving east and west in Raritan Bay. I went to one of my long time Striper "hangouts" and dirt.

We even went into release mode for awhile....go figure after a brutal slow start. Mate Rich and I think that some of the big ladies are up in the Hudson River spawning, as the bay has calmed down somewhat, but that will all change as soon as the ladies release their eggs in hopes of some lonely male making babies out of all those eggs...millions of them to be exact. Nature in all its glory.

Bunker (menhaden) were all over many parts of the bay. Bay water temps are right in the sweet zone of 58 degrees. Let's hope it stays there for a few weeks. Anyhow, we found fish and Hani and friends had a really nice day.

Tight Lines
Capt. John & Crew

May 5, 2019

Dear Anglers,

This is why we do what we do...a letter from yesterday's charter below:

"Captain John, Thank you so much for yesterday's fishing trip! The photo you posted is great and really capture the happiness they all felt on your boat. Charlie has certainly turned into quite the avid fisherman.

As always, we are thankful to you and your crew for supporting his love and providing these opportunities to fish with his Dad and Grandpa.

Maybe next time I'll get back out there!!

Warm Regards, Dana"

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

May 4, 2019

Dear Anglers,

Here's our fishing report for today with the Defonte party.

Defonte FamilyAfter a foggy morning with some showers, the Stripers cooperated with us and here is what we have to show for our efforts.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words......

Pictured on the left (left to right) Charlie, Grandpa Bob and Charlie's Dad Mike. I think we had a really nice morning fishing for these beautiful Stripers, but most of all some great quality time for this family who fish with us often.

Thanks Defonte family for a great day and your loyalty to Reel Fun Sportfishing. The fishing really in high gear now, with an occasional inactive day mixed in when the fish decide not to feed. They can't be hungry all the time.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

April 29, 2019

Dear Anglers,

Here are some fishing reports from this past week (Tuesday afternoon with the Scharf family and a Wednesday Open Boat trip).

We had nice success on both trips considering the topsy-turvy weather pattern that we've been in the past two weeks. Using Monday, April 15th, as our official start date to today, we've had to postpone charters to other dates in May because of the horrible weather pattern we're in. Good one day and crap for a few days.

Tuesday afternoon was a nice and calm day on the water as we had a really nice trip with Joe Scharf and his kids to put some nice Stripers in the cooler.

By contrast, Wednesday morning was like being on a Great Adventure thrill ride....very tough day to say the least for the crew as well as my anglers. Conditions can change on a dime on the water as winds out of the west at a sustained 20 kts. put a big hurting in the bay for our guys and minimal results of fish in the cooler. We did catch fish, but we paid the price for it.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

April 13, 2019

Dear Angler,

Trolling and casting shads have been the key to success. Surprisingly, the clam and bunker chunk bite, as of late, has been almost non-existent but that can change on any day. You just can never tell from one day to the next what these fish want.

With the New York waters opening on Monday April 15th, the possibilities for catching Stripers are much better as these fish come out of the Hudson River looking for a meal. It's been a long winter.

Reports from many of my sources, which also confirm what Chris, Rich and I found on our scouting trip the other day, is that the fish are spread over a wide expanse of Raritan Bay....some caught on the troll, others caught casting shads, but a very good body of fish are there. This is good fishing early in the season even with the water temps at sub 50 degrees....go figure.

As a reminder, not only do we offer full 4 angler, 6 hour charters, but we also have our Wednesday and Friday "Open Boat" fishing trips exclusively for our single anglers . We currently have spots open for Wednesday, April 24th and beyond. Look, the fishing has been very good, even by our standards, so don't procrastinate. Once these fish move north, it's bye-bye till mid November. You can view our current "Open Boat" schedule by going to our web page for booking your here.

We here at Reel Fun are now entering a very busy period with many bookings, so I'll keep you abreast of all that's going on "On the Water" as they say. I still do have some weekend dates open, as well as our "Open Boat" weekday trips, so stay tuned.

And finally.....LET'S GO LADIES!. A call to all the lady anglers. IT'S TIME TO FISH. If there is interest in an "Ladies Only" fishing trip, then let me know and I will be glad to accommodate a group of my lady anglers for Striped Bass. A fun day on the water and a day away from the office, hubby and the kids too. Give me a call.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

April 7, 2019

Dear Angler,

Crew Trip 4/7/19As you can see by the photo left, son and mate Chris (left) and mate Rich (right) holding some pretty hefty Striped Bass we caught today...4/7/19.

All fish caught in Raritan Bay....nice calm waters and a beautiful sunny day.

A three man limit of fish with the smallest at 30" long and a hefty 38" bruiser.

Great early season fishing is going on right now, so if you're a Striper fishermen/women, now is the time to get in on the action.

These fish are highly migratory and won't be here long. CALL NOW...908-421-4761.

April 3, 2019

Dear Angler,

Just a few quick words about where we are pertaining to the start of a new season of fishing for Stripers and Fluke.

The boat has all the equipment aboard as we await bottom permitting. Air temp's have to be 50 or greater to bottom paint the hull, so it's any day now that we are in the water for another season.

While at the marina, the word out is that there are many small to legal size Stripers now in the bay and surf casters as well as the kayak guy's are catching fish. A very good sign as water temps are still hovering around the 42-47 degree mark.....still a bit cold but the fish are hungry to say the least. A long winter for them too.

The bigger spawning females are just now entering the Chesapeake. No word yet on the fluke reg's.....par for the coarse. Rumor has it that we (NJ) are staying at 3 fish @18" like last year even though we did under fish last years quota. I won't take this issue any further as NOAA and NMFS won't care for what I have to say.

I have been in contact with my web hosting service and my web site is now "secure" according to Google and industry standards. A secure web site means that all information that you send to me through my web site is now encrypted, ensuring your internet safety as it pertains to Reel Fun Sportfishing. Any web site that has in it's address "https" is a secure web site.

Also be aware that I and my credit card processor DO NOT retain your credit card information after any transaction....another measure of security for the both of us. Again, all credit card transactions are encrypted for your safety.

Please take note that all the safety features that I use to ensure your privacy and safety comes at a cost. Part of my commitment to my loyal customers. This is what you pay for....professional service!

Finally, the boat as well as our season should be good to go by this weekend or by mid week of the next. Let the fun begin. There are a lot of fish out there waiting to be caught.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John & Crew

March 28, 2019

Dear Angler,

We are about to embark on another fishing season here at Reel Fun Sportfishing. Spring is finally here, the crocus are in bloom and a fisherman's thoughts turn to.....what! Weather permitting, a few of the crew and I will be at the marina this weekend preparing the boat for another season.

Our first charter is just 2 weeks away. Reports and scuttlebutt I've collected say that Stripers are in the western sections of Raritan Bay being caught using various methods. Not the big females as of yet, but smaller legal hard fighting resident fish searching for a meal just the same.

Bay water temp's as of this email at the Keansburg monitoring station was 42 degrees. But that can change within days with a warm front and some sunshine.

Now for a favor I ask of you... Google "reviews" is a very important part of the overall advertising strategy on the internet for many businesses, and mine is no different. Google is unquestionably the standard now in the "Search" tools arena that people use to find services and products to purchase.

Here is my request, which I don't ask of you often......

Would you be kind enough to offer your thoughts about Reel Fun Sportfishing in the review section of Google under Reel Fun Sportfishing?

Fishermen searching Google for a Striper or Fluke charter in the Sandy Hook area will come upon numerous charter businesses, but a 4 or 5 star rating speaks volumes about us and could really go a long way.

Also, if you are a Facebook subscriber, you can also find our page by searching for us and offering your thoughts about our business. Good, bad or indifferent, your comments are always welcome.

Or, if you would like to submit a "Testimonial" on our web site, please feel free to email me your thoughts and I will be glad to copy it to our "Testimonials" page.

In closing, the crew and I want to "Thank You" in advance if you decide to post a review on Google Search, Facebook or our Testimonials web page.

But most of all, we hope you have an outstanding fishing season...hopefully with us.

Tight Lines, Capt. John & Crew

March 14, 2019

Reel Fun Sportfishing is currently taking reservations for the Sandy Hook, NJ spring Striped Bass run starting with our first "Open Boat" trip on Wednesday, April 17th, 2019.

We also accommodate full 4 person private reservation charters. All our fishing trips are 6 hours all inclusive including the use of our rods/reels, fresh bait and tackle at NO additional charge.

We depart the dock at 7 am returning by around 1-1:30 pm. All our trips have a mate aboard able to handle all your fishing requests as well as teach you the current hot fishing methods being used to catch Stripers as well as Summer Flounder (Fluke).

We operate "Open Boat" trips every Wednesday and Friday mornings at the current fee of $130.00 p/p payable via a credit card over the phone "in full, in advance" of your date.

Trip availability (spots) can be found by going to our "Wednesday and Friday Open Boat Fishing" web here.

If you're looking for a fun day on the water with your family, friends or coworkers, look no further than Reel Fun Sportfishing where your fun AND safety is our top priority. After 15 years of fishing as a charter business and over 50 years of fishing the Sandy Hook area, the Captain and outstanding crew knows how to make your day a special one. Let's fish :)

Capt. John and Crew

February 24, 2019

Ramsey Outdoor's "Cast and Blast" Show report,

First off, let me say that this was a very busy show with outdoor enthusiasts from many parts of the north NJ area as well as, surprisingly, many from the Jersey shore area too.

It was a very active day for mate Rich and I at the Reel Fun booth booking many fishing trips for both spring Stripers and summer Fluke trips. We were offering a "one day" show special of $100.00 per person for an all inclusive 6 hour fishing trip for either species of fish......a savings of $30.00 per person. (All subsequent pricing now returns to our normal rates as listed on our web site.) A good deal to say the least for those that attended and took advantage of our show offer.

Now on to a few well deserved "kudos". Show organizer and manager of the Ramsey store, Marty Brennan, did an outstanding job, once again, setting up the store with numerous displays across the spectrum of outdoor life as well as some very interesting seminars throughout the day. Thanks Marty for a job WELL DONE.

This is a yearly show that you should mark your calendar to attend next year...well worth it. There were signs of 20% and more off on many desirable fishing items that I took advantage of to replenish and/or replace and upgrade gear on the boat.

Many new and current anglers of Reel Fun stopped by to chat about how the fishing was last year and to discuss what may be in store for the upcoming 2019 season.....Striped Bass and Fluke being the center of our discussions.

Many thanks too to the Ramsey staff for their professional and courteous service that I witnessed throughout the day. In today's very competitive business environment, service is key. Once again...kudos to Marty and his staff. Well done. My staff and I anxiously await next years show as a good "kick start" to our fishing season.

My appointment book is filling up nicely for the 2019 fishing season. So as not to be left out on those "prime tidal days" for both species, I am now taking bookings for the entire spring, summer and fall season. Have your credit card ready as a $100.00 deposit will hold your spot on the day of your choice.

Remember, we now offer Wednesday AND Friday open boat fishing for our single anglers. (Rich and I met a lady angler who, we are sure, will put a big hurtin' on a lot of the guys who fish with us for Fluke. Her knowledge base fishing for that species was out.)

Finally, to all our "new" anglers that booked a trip with us....Thank you. It was a pleasure meeting you as the crew and I look forward to fishing with you starting in about 6 weeks or so. Welcome to being a part of the Reel Fun Family of Anglers. See you at the dock.

Tight Lines, Capt. John & Crew

February 1, 2019

Dear Angler,

Well, here we are. February 1st and as you may have noticed, the days are slowly getting longer and longer. A welcome sight seeing that we are in a historic cold snap....yikes! Maybe I shouldn't say this, but so far the winter hasn't been too bad. No major snowstorms yet but that could change at any time. :(

A reminder that the SWABC Flea Market will take place on Sunday, Feb. 17th. at the Hasbrouck Heights VFW Hall. (Google map for directions), so mark your calendar for this one. A great show with tons of stuff, a 50/50 raffle, food and more....stop by and shake off that cabin fever.

Also a date to remember is Saturday, February 23rd for the Ramsey Outdoors "Cast and Blast" one day show at their Succasunna, NJ location. Reel Fun Sportfishing will be offering a "Show Special" for those who book a fishing trip at the show...significant savings, so don't miss out on this one. This is a one time offering with all subsequent fares returning to their normal pricing.

On the fishing scene....haven't heard anything about the NJ Fluke reg's as of yet. Way too early and with the gov't. shutdown, that didn't help either so we wait. I would suspect sometime by mid March on our Fluke reg's for 2019.

I personally would like to see NJ go with 4@19" for 5 full months (same as NY reg's). More time on the water....good for anglers and good for business. With the added advantage of utilizing the entire Raritan Bay and surrounding waters to fish.....common waters should have common regulations, or is that too simple a concept to understand.

Coming along soon will be a Striper assessment taken in the Chesapeake area. There were reports of an incredible number of "schoolie" sized Stripers during the fall migration, so if you're looking for action, this spring could be a bonanza.

Schoolies on light tackle while clamming or bunker chunking is a blast not to be missed. Throw in some big keepers and you've got yourself a great day on the water.

I hope that if we do get into some "cows", you'll practice catch and release with those big spawning females that can carry anywhere from 300-400,000 eggs. It may be time to show a little restraint with these big breeders and help to keep this fabulous game fish going strong. Catch and release feels great! Box the males....release the ladies :)

Tight Lines, Capt. John & Crew

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arters Sandy Hook, NJ