Sandy Hook NJ Fishing
Reports for 2020
"Capt. John's Fishing Reports" gives you the latest information about our fishing charters as they occurred.
So bookmark this page and check back with us regularly.
July 29 and Aug 1, 2020
....a couple of Fluke charters to report to you.
First off had Romy Weine, her husband and two children out on July 29th for a try at some Raritan Bay Fluke. Ocean had a substantial swell, so I decided to work the bay over the best I could especially with two young people onboard.
Did quite well in catching a bunch of short fluke, keeper fluke, a few Dogfish and Sea Robins which we used for bait. We were also treated to a fantastic display of Dolphin feeding within yards of the bow of the boat...bunker everywhere. A good day on the water for the Weine family.
Next up was yesterday, August 1 and the Mark McCarthy group from upstate New York (a 2.5 hour drive) to the marina. Moved out into the ocean for our trip to try to find keeper Fluke for the guys in numerous locations...Sandy Hook Reef and the Shrewsbury Rocks ( Rattlesnake) area.
Should have billed this the "Black Sea Bass" trip as it was a good pull of Black Sea Bass for most of the day with a about 21 Fluke being caught with a combination of throwback and keepers for the cooler. Some huge Black Sea Bass hit the cooler for the guys....great eating.
Beautiful day on the water as we had my favorite outgoing current along with a light and refreshing north breeze on a pancake flat ocean....doesn't get better than this.
Capt. John & Crew
July 21, 2020
Had some members of SWABC fishing club out yesterday morning for a try at Summer Flounder (Fluke).
Unlike my last report where we got blown out by 20 kt NW winds, yesterday was just the opposite. Light to no breeze coupled with an almost non-existent current to push us along.
Traveled 54 miles during the day searching for some movement (drift) so we could catch Fluke that require your bait to be moving slowly along the bottom or else you just won't catch these finicky feeders. We fished sandy bottom along with some very "sticky" rocky bottom structure while losing a bunch of rigs in the process. But that, sometimes, is the price you pay in this sport.
After reading reports from other boats in the exact same area we initially started out, it took 2 hours for the wind and current to finally materialize as they started to catch fish, but by that time we were long gone in our search....who the hell would have known that the area held fish. Our first stop was total frustration with the boat not drifting more than a few feet for the first 15 minutes...."Let's get the hell out of here" I said.
In hindsight, if I would have been more patient, we could have scored..oh well, live and learn. I tried my best is all I can tell you. Drifting around in the brutal heat for 2 hours waiting for something to happen is not my idea of a fishing trip.
Even still, we did manage to put some nice keeper Fluke in the cooler and a few nice Sea Bass too. Anglers Barry, Harry, Joe and Lou worked very hard during our trip and lost a ton of rigs in the process...kudos for all your hard work guys.
Let me reiterate once again for the umpteenth time.....it's all about CONDITIONS. That's the nature of the beast. We want to catch fish just as you do...and more. But, sometimes mother nature gives you and sometimes she doesn't.
Capt. John & Crew
July 12, 2020
Had the pleasure of having the Ed Podgorski group out on a charter for Fluke. First off, I have some really wonderful people who fish with us. For the most part, my anglers are polite, respectful and hard working at catching and learning what saltwater fishing is all about. Ed and his family are absolute sweethearts and are such a joy to be around for the entire morning even though we had to fish under "crappy" conditions which I'll tell you about and still catch fish.
On the plus side of Tropical Storm Fay, any Fluke that were offshore or along the beach now seemed to have moved into the safe confines of Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays.....good for all of us. (Not to crow, but I knew from previous storms, that these fish were going to do one of two things.....swim east and bail out of shallow water or go west and hunker down in the protection of Sandy Hook. They did what I suspected which was the latter)
So for the Podgorski party, I decided to pick someplace that had the least winds (winds were sustained 18-20 kts all day with 3 ft. waves every 3-4 seconds...really tough) and possibly hold Fluke that were hunkered down post Fay Storm. And guess what....we found some. Rest assured that if I didn't have someplace to get out of the wind, I probably would have turned around and come back to the marina and called it off.
It really wasn't easy fishing as the Parker was getting tossed around, but Ed and the kids fought it like champs and were rewarded with a good pull of a bunch of shorts and really nice 18-22" keepers for the cooler.
I think there were 7 by my last count......a good day considering what we had to put up with.
So a BIG KUDOS goes out to the Podgorski group (Rachel, Henry, Brian and Ed) for slugging it out under tough conditions, but I knew where I could find some cover and maybe bag some fish.... which we did.
Capt. John & Crew
July 10, 2020
Good Morning.....time for a few fishing reports while we endure Tropical Storm Fay just entering our area of NJ.
Our Fluke trip with Jolie and Jess on July 5th was an exercise in catching a lot of the wrong species we weren't targeting. Short Fluke, Dogfish, Sea Robins and a few Skates followed us throughout the numerous places we tried to find some keeper Fluke....tough day by my standards. Only to find out that a few other charter guys I am friends with had a tough day as well. Misery loves company as they say. Look, we had rods bent and tight lines for most of the day, regretfully, not enough of the right fish.
Now onto our Wednesday the 8th trip with Dick, Tom and Judy. Another day of stop and drift searching for some small pod of fish which we did eventually find after quite a few stops along the way, A better day than the 5th, but still a lot of work and moving around just the same. Left where we were fishing just in time as the skies opened up within a half hour after we finished filleting our catch for the day.
Look, let's call it the way it is.....this is hard, grind it out fishing. A lot of searching for small pods of keeper Fluke to put in the cooler. An exact carbon copy of last year. As a charter captain for 15 years under my belt, I can say that last year and this have been, without a doubt, the two toughest years that I had to endure fishing for Fluke. And that also goes for numerous other captain's in the Sandy Hook area. Are there some "doormats" and bigger fish around? Sure.
Between the Covid19 pandemic and the NOAA regulations, the charter/party and for-hire business is not something you would like to retire into now....tough times for sure.
But not to put a damper on any upcoming fishing trips....we keep on, keeping on. That big pod of Fluke that I WILL find will be mine...all mine. Rest assured, the crew and I continue to work diligently on every trip using our many years of fishing experience and know how to help fill the cooler.
I noticed the other day that the bunker reduction boats have been absent from our local waters, as is evident by the billions of bunker that are swimming in our bays. Incredible pods all over the place. (Where the hell are the Stripers when you want them?)
On another topic....would it be too much to ask NY and NJ to have the same reg's for fish while "sharing" the same water (bay)? Is that too much for our elected officials? Jesus! 3@18" vs 4@19"....same exact bay. Are we joking here?
Anyway, onward and upward to another week of fishing. Hopefully, T/S Fay won't do too much damage to the Fluke fishery and send them inshore and not offshore.
Capt. John & Crew
Meet you at the Dock
July 4, 2020
Here is a composite report of my last 4 Fluke charters (we've been busy) fishing with the Lamendola, Greenhagen, Tyls and Marsh charters.
It's been a workout. Are there Fluke to be caught...yes. Once your sift through the shorts, dogfish and sea robins there are some nice flatties to put in the cooler. A lot of line tugging action to keep you occupied. But to say it was a breeze would be a total lie.
We've had to work for every fish that went in the cooler. Whether your drifting bait or bucktailing we've had to work over small pods of fish just like last year. 2 to 3 keepers for the cooler, then it gets a little quiet. So we move to the next spot and start another drift....but hey, that's fishing. It's the anticipation that keeps your heart pumping right?
This seems to be the norm now as small pods of fish are scattered all over the bay and ocean and not hanging out in any one usual place. A lot of work by all of the party/charter fleet.
Having said that, a word to the wise for all my upcoming charters....be prepared to be moving around and hunting for these fish...they're playing hide and seek with us.
Finally.... Happy 4th of July!
Capt. John & Crew
Meet you at the Dock
June 24, 2020
Good Morning. Hope you and your family are doing well. Some very good news on the fishing front.
Got a email and photos late last night from my "eyes on the water", fellow fishermen that are kind enough to keep me abreast of how they did on days that I'm not on a charter.
It appears bodies of migrating Fluke have appeared in our waters. About time! Funny how these fish love just the right water temperatures to decide to come inshore and chow down on anything and everything in their sight.
Quite frankly, there are only a few guys that I place my trust in to give me the lowdown "truthfully" about what and most importantly where they did some nice Fluke fishing. And of course I always return the favor when I am asked by my contacts what I've done on my trips.
Bucktailing "Gulp" products did very well for these guys the other day so if you're fishing with me, do it soon or at least start planning your fishing in the very near future. One good "blow" (N/E storm) and everything could turn to crap in no time. Learning how to "bucktail for fluke" is not hard and is a much more productive and rewarding way to catch these fish. One trip with us and you'll be a cracker jack bucktailier.
I do have a few dates left in July as August is pretty much open. Quite frankly, I only like to do charters about 3-4 days a week as more than that and I get burned out quickly resulting in you not getting my best effort. The crew and I we have only one goal....PUT YOU ON THE FISH. Catching them is your job.
Listen to the direction of the crew as all my guys are outstanding fishermen in their own right and we all want you to have a good day. Happy customers, sends us more customers. Referrals are a beautiful thing.
Now that I'm on the topic, I ask if you could take a minute to do a Google search for Reel Fun Sportfishing, LLC and give a "review" of the business I would forever be grateful for your comments.....thank you in advance!
Finally, something I forgot to say on my last fishing report... HAPPY FATHER'S DAY to all the hard working and dedicated fathers out there. You deserve a fishing trip....hint, hint.
Sorry, one more thing. Covid cases are surging once again in some parts of the country because, what I am told, due mainly to not wearing a face covering. Having said that, please come prepared whenever we fish together. Just a reminder....thank you.
Capt. John & Crew
June 20, 2020
Had the opportunity of fishing with members of the SWABC (Saltwater Anglers of Bergen County) fishing club today searching for some Fluke within the NY Bight.
Absolutely gorgeous day on the water with very good drifting conditions.
Slow pick of Fluke was on order for the day along with some Dogfish, a few Sea Robins, and a few Skates thrown in for good measure.
Barry, Harry, Joe and Lou worked those bucktail jigs hard for a combination of shorts and legal keeper Fluke, but not enough to satisfy 4 experienced anglers for the day.
We are still awaiting the bulk of the influx of fish to arrive from their offshore wintering grounds as that could happen any day now with the water temp's in the bay inching up into the 70's and the fish getting ready to feed.
Any day now.... So we remain hopeful and keep plugging away for those bigger offshore fish. Maybe tomorrow or sometime with the next week or so.
Capt. John & Crew
June 13, 2020
Look, I'll make this short and to the point....spring Striper fishing aboard Reel Fun Sportfishing is over until the fall arrival of the returning Bass from up north.
It's obvious that the spring run, which exploded in April and which only private boaters were able to fish for, is now a thing of the past for charter operations like myself. As migrating fish, they have obviously moved on to their summer vacation spots up north, so we now await their fall arrival.
So for the most part, the Stripers won out for the spring of 2020, so we will be back at them whenever they reappear in our waters. When that will be is a good guess....it's all based upon water temps and their internal clock that it's time to return to their southern wintering grounds.
To that end, Reel Fun is now fishing for Summer Flounder (Fluke) until the season closes on September 19th or until I am told otherwise.
The water in the bay's and along our shores have cleared up nicely and, hopefully, we will see a substantial amount of nice Fluke come into our waters any day now. This is the prime fish that NJ and out of state anglers cherish while fishing in our waters. A big revenue producer for the State of NJ.
One final reminder. We are still are in a Pandemic in our country with numerous states, thankfully not New Jersey, experiencing surges of infections and deaths. As our numbers go down, regretfully, other states numbers are going up, which tells me that this beast is still around us and we must remain vigilant in our everyday life choices.
So, having said that, I must remind you that we still require some sort of face covering during our time together while fish out of respect to our fellow anglers onboard. I hope you agree. Safety and good health are very important to me, and I'd like to keep it that way.
We have a small supply of face coverings onboard for your use to keep, with our great looking Reel Fun "gaitor's" at no charge to you. Just ask.
Capt. John & Crew
June 6, 2020
Pictured on the left is Ed Kim and his wife Jin holding a few of the nice Stripers we caught today in Raritan Bay. Beautiful day to be out on the water as we came across a "blowup" of Bunker that were being harrassed by hungry Striped Bass.
Great sight to see as you see Bunker flying through the air trying to evade being eaten by the big mouthed Bass....incredible sight.
The Raritan Bay Striper fishing is holding up very well and without any major further weather distrubances, these fish could very well be with us till the end of June.
That's a good thing as we tried a few hours searching for Fluke later in the day, but that proved to be a tough go at this time. Water clarity has cleared up significantly, but the water temps for Fluke down below is, I'm sure, still quite cold.
But it's only a matter of a few days to a week or so that these migrating fish will arrive in our waters. Thanks Kim family for a great morning of fishing.
Capt. John & Crew
June 3, 2020
A quick update on the fishing front pertaining to Stripers and Fluke in our area.
Stripers...continue to provide good action throughout the bay. Water temperature at the Keansburg recording station this afternoon is registering 68 degrees, with a average over the past few days of 66 degrees. A little warm for the Bass, so it's only a matter of time when the bay fishing should slow down and move out to oceanside and the cleaner and cooler waters. But, all things considered, the Striper fishing is still going strong. A short 1/2 hour run and we usually have the lines in the water and in search mode.
And don't forget, we have our NJ Striped Bass Bonus Tags to help you put an additional fish in the cooler to take home....two is better than one, right?
Fluke..... which started a little slow this spring, is showing signs of improvement the past few days as the water temps in both bays are coming around to their liking. If you're not fishing shallow waters, which we are, you're just not going to catch these fish as by nature they're looking for the warmest possible place to feed and bed down.
Water in the 8, 10 & 15 foot range is just about right and fishing with some light sticks either dragging bait or bucktailing will do the trick. If you're bucktailing using penny colored gulp shrimp should work wonders for you. We have a big supply of Gulp products on board if you should run out of your own along with backup supply of bucktails in just about every weight available.
As the state opens up businesses and services, please remember we are still available for your charter by reservation.
All Covid19 safety precautions are in place on the vessel and based upon the numerous reports that I've seen, being outside in moving air is probably the safest place to be....so let's get fishing.
Since we are in
a distancing mode, I am starting to work on setting up either Zoom or Skype
"webinar" on my fishing knowledge sometime during the winter so stay tuned for
the arrival of that. Nothing
fancy, just a way to pick up a few pointers and pick my brains (if I have anything
left) with your questions.
Capt. John & Crew
May 22, 2020
Had a crew trip yesterday to sniff out some Stripers and Fluke for opening day of that species. The crew and I feel this is a necessary step that we must take to insure that when our customers arrive, we have as successful day as possible. Doing our homework behind the scenes for your benefit.
Yesterday was a slow pick for both species.
The constant NE/E/SE winds that NJ has been plagued with for the past month has put somewhat of a crimp in the fishing scene.
First off, the water temps are below the comfort range of hungry Fluke by at least 10 degrees. 58 to a high of 60 degrees just doesn't quite cut it with these fish to put on the feed bag as was evident by the slow pick yesterday for Fluke. Couple that with a wind/against tide situation in Raritan Bay and it was a major struggle to get a good drift.
So, as far as "Opening Day" 2020 for Fluke, it started off with a fizzle.
But, that will change as the waters warm in the next week or two. Bay water temps rise quickly with abundant sunshine and some westerly winds. 6-10 degree increase is common within 24 hours in the bay. The water clarity was a issue yesterday also as we were in stained waters for most of the day....why? Who knows. It's not melting snow runoff that's for sure. And it surely isn't an algae bloom from water temps in the 80's.
Now about Stripers. Baitfish galore in Raritan Bay. Pods of bunker swimming all around the boat, but not many takers in our presentation. Sometimes when there's too much bait around, these fish will turn up their noses...go figure. Add to the fact that there was a substantial fleet following the charter guys around and these fish get spooked and go deep...and get lockjaw to make it worse. So there you have our quick report from yesterday.
Cold water for Fluke, stained water for both species and just generally tough conditions all the way around. Sometimes you get the bear and sometimes the bear gets you. Tomorrow is another day.
I've been in the business long enough to know that you can go from a downright "stinker" day to an absolute incredible frenzy in just 24 hours....and sometimes less. In a way, that's the beauty of fishing....you just never know from one day to the next. That's why most captain's have grey hair and ulcers.
Capt. John & Crew
May 21, 2020
Dear Angler, Good afternoon...I hope you are well today.
First and foremost.....tomorrow is Opening Day of the 2020 Fluke season here in NJ. If you're like me, this is a long awaited day for NJ anglers and the start to what I hope is a very productive 4 months fishing for one of the best tasting fish in the water.
To reaffirm....the 2020 NJ Fluke reg's are 3 fish @ 18" minimum per angler/per day. Quite frankly, based upon what we caught most of last year, that 18" minimum should not be a problem once the ocean waters warm up to the mid to high 60's.
Also, we now have in our possession, Striped Bass "Bonus Tags" for those of you who are Striper fishing with us. This allows, in NJ waters, anglers to retain an additional fish in the 24-28" size range. So that would make possibly 2 fish to take home....one 28-38" and the Bonus Tag fish 24-28". There is NO additional charge to you as a patron of Reel Fun Sportfishing and because you are fishing with us. *Please note....one Bonus Tag per angler.
Now onto some Covid 19 information....
Party and charter operations have been given a set of parameters that we are being asked to abide by for the safety of both the angler and crew...which I am totally in favor of and in agreement with.
So please read the following....
1-All people on board will wear a cloth face covering at all times unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from doing so. Anyone refusing to wear a cloth face covering, without a medical condition, will be refused boarding and sent home.
2- If you remove your facemask during our trip and refuse to put it on again, at the crews request, all fishing will cease and you and your party will be returned to the dock immediately without any refunds and the trip is over.
Look, we're not trying to be hard asses, but your (our) safety is tantamount here as we all should respect each others health and well being. If you need to take a break from wearing your facemask, then you may do so for a brief time while sitting in the stearn seats "while we are underway"....fair?
3-As an added precaution, I will be taking your digital temperature before boarding and, as such, turning away anyone with a temperature of 100.6 or above.
4-Sharing of fishing equipment (rods/reels/lures...etc) is forbidden. I have latex gloves on board for anyone who cares to use them if that makes you more comfortable. As always, the boat is entirely washed down after every charter, so when you arrive she is as clean as she can be.
5-Nets and gaffs are to be used only by the crew.
6-Entrance into the cabin will be limited. So relieve yourself before we depart.
7-We will maintain 6' separation during our trip. Once you pick your spot, that's where you should stay for the duration. The crew is always there to get what you may need....so just ask.
8-Please note...our max for a Striper trip is 3 anglers in order to maintain mandatory 6' social distancing rules.
9-We will have a log of all anglers names and phone numbers in case the CDC has to contact anyone due to an infection. There will be hand sanitizer onboard for your use as well as some extra facemasks if you need one.
So there you have what the state requires of us to have a charter trip this season......a little bit of a pain in the ass, but worth it to insure your well being as well as ours. Remember, we are in a pandemic and it's quite shocking that we are still able to fish considering what has happened to our country and the world since the beginning of the year.
But here we are, so let's all work together and make the best out of this shitty situation. There are over 90,000 people who will never see the light of day again. We are the very fortunate ones so far....let's keep it that way and be safe doing so. We have warm sunny days ahead of us and a lot of fish to catch in the process. Let's work together for some needed happy time.
Capt. John & Crew
May 18, 2020
Good morning...I hope you are well today as the crew and I did some exploratory fishing for Striped Bass and Fluke yesterday.
Caught some small Stripers today but that can change daily, so you never know from one day to the next what's going to occur. Seems some of the bigger females from a few weeks ago may have moved on so now we await the arrival of the Chesapeake fish any day now to compliment our local resident Stripers. Although we search for the bigger fish, we urge all our anglers to release the bigger Stripers as they are mostly females.
Went prospecting for some Fluke later this afternoon. Tried a few spots with some limited success. The fish that were brought up in 25' of water were ice cold to the touch even though the surface temps were 60 degrees. Got to get that water warmer for these Fluke to feed. I'm sure they are hunkered down in shallow water of our rivers.
The Governor of NJ announced yesterday afternoon that we can now start fishing again as of 6 am this morning Sunday May 17th, 2020. I have before me Executive Order 146 dated May 16th which clearly spells out what regulations that the crew and I as well as the anglers will take fishing with us in detail.
These directives, let me affirm, will be followed for the benefit of both you and the entire staff of Reel Fun Sportfishing, LLC. Here are the directives....
1-First and foremost and one of the key ones..."All people on board will wear a cloth face covering at all times unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from doing so. Anyone refusing to wear a cloth face covering, without a medical condition, will be refused boarding and sent home."
We should have extra face coverings available to you for use. We use and highly recommend the "gaitor or buff" cloth device that is very comfortable and light weight to wear. Look, wearing a facemask for an extended period of time can become uncomfortable which I am well aware of. But, having a ventilator down your throat is a lot worse. The face covering protects both you and the crew from this very deadly killer.
Let's ALL work together to have an enjoyable day on the water considering this insane predicament we are in. I can be somewhat flexible at times....remember that. If you care about us as we care about you....well I think you get what I'm saying. Wear it.
2-As an added precaution, I will be taking your digital temperature before boarding and, as such, turning away anyone with a temperature of 100.6 or above.
3-Sharing of fishing equipment (rods/reels/lures...etc) is a no-go. I have latex gloves on board for anyone who cares to use them if that makes you more comfortable. As always, the boat is entirely washed down after every charter, so when you arrive she is as clean as she can be.
4-Nets and gaffs are to be used only by the crew.
5-Entrance into the cabin will be limited. So relieve yourself before we depart.
6-We will maintain 6' separation during our trip. Once you pick your spot, that's where you should stay for the duration. The boat is still small enough that you will have good interaction with your party without moving around alot. The crew is always there to get what you may need....so just ask.
7-We are still able to take out 4 anglers maximum based upon distancing rules and, as such, our current pricing structure for a 6 hour charter WILL NOT change. (Please note...our max for a Striper trip will be 3 anglers and for Fluke 4 anglers)
8-We are also being required to have a log of all anglers with names, addresses and phone numbers in case the CDC has to contact anyone due to an infection.
9-Please bring your lunch and beverage in a SMALL carry on.
On a personal note.....the past few months has been a long grind on everyone. How this country found itself in this nightmare is unbelievable and could have been avoided to some degree in my opinion. But here I am and there you are trying to keep our sanity in these very trying times and what better way for people like ourselves to let off some steam and release some anxiety is by doing something we love to do.... fishing.
Let me be perfectly clear here....the crew and I do what we do because we LOVE fishing. Trust me, IT'S NOT ABOUT THE MONEY. If you saw my yearly expenses, like my accountant does, he thinks I'm nuts. But I learned how to fish when I was only 6 years old, and the bug has still been with me ever since. Me and my dad at the Long Branch pier....ahhh great memories.
Anyway, let's all work together to make the best of this shitty situation and get some deserved sun and fresh air and a few laughs along the way. It's time to call and let's fill up that appointment book at 908-421-4761.
The Fluke season starts next Friday May 22, so let's target that for now.
Capt. John & Crew
p.s. I would think that because the directives are so fluid, things could change daily, so I and you have to be flexible. I'll let you know.
May 9, 2020
Good morning...I hope you are well as we move into the month of May and the summer.
First off, a big thank you and God bless to ALL the nurses, doctors, aides, first responders and EMS. Amazing and brave people.
Now onto a little fishing news... Mate Rich and I have been preparing the boat this past week and I'm glad to report that the boat is "in the water" and ready to go. Polished, a new coat of bottom paint and all the fishing gear is on the boat ready for another season....depending, of course, when we are allowed to sail under the current conditions we are in.
To have the safest possible day on the water, here will be some precautions that I will take before we set sail on your day...
I will be taking your digital temperature before boarding and, as such, turning away anyone with a temperature of 100.6 or above. You will also be required to wear a facemask and protective latex type gloves during our time together.
Based upon the timetable that I'm hearing from the Gov., it appears that we may be given the green light in about 2-3 weeks. And based upon some of the online reports I've been reading from private boaters, the Striper fishing has "thinned out" somewhat over the past week. Off course they are unaware of some of the locations that I fish, so I do take their info with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, Striper fishing still has calmed down as of late. The big girls may be up in the Hudson spawning....we'll see in a week or so.
If the Stripers have headed North for the summer, then we will start the season fishing for Fluke as our first trips in early June. May 22nd is the first day of Fluke fishing in NJ. Those fish are already being caught in shallow water in the bay.....a REALLY good sign.
For all of our safety, here are my guidelines for our 2020 fishing trips...
1-All (captain, crew and anglers) must wear facemasks at all times. (Bring a few extras in case you have to change...no extras will be available.)
2-Surgical type latex gloves must also be worn by at all times.
3-Anglers are to use their own fishing rods/reels.....if possible.
4-Only the crew will handle the net's and gaff's.
5-Entrance into the cabin will be limited. So relieve yourself before we depart.
6-Bring your lunch and beverage in a SMALL carry on.
As of this email, the state has not issued any guidelines as far as acceptable number of anglers on board for any given trip. I've heard that party boats may be reduced to 50% patronage.....and smaller charter operations (like mine) may have to follow suit, which I would be doing 2 man trips.
Regardless, once this brief cold snap passes by, we are going to be in for a great summer of weather for fishing for Fluke. We can do this if we all practice safe and responsible conduct in our time together. I'm sure nobody wants to get sick or get anyone else ill in the process...so let's fish smart.
We truly ALL need some time out in the warm air and sunshine after this very rough and trying 4 months. A pleasant day on the water would do wonders for our well being.
But if you are apprehensive about being out on the water, I do understand and look forward to seeing you sometime in the future. Stay healthy and be well.
Capt. John & Crew
April 24, 2020
As you are well aware, we are all in the midst of this Coronavirus gripping our nation and the world. Brutal, sad, incredible...quite frankly, hard to imagine in 3 short months for one of the wealthiest, most technically advanced nations on the earth. How could this have happened? Who the hell dropped the ball? The history books will have a lot to say about this I'm sure. Although, in my opinion, some of this could have been avoided, we are forced to adjust to a new, hopefully temporary, way of life.
A few days ago, the Governor's of the tri-state area proclaimed that marina's would open for "private boaters" and allowing them to fish with no more than 2 family members on the boat.
So, until further notice, charter and party boats are off limits to conduct business for the fishing public. Which includes Reel Fun Sportfishing.
Although this is making life very difficult for the entire fishing industry, I personally feel that there is no other choice until an antibodies testing system is enacted or a vaccine is made so I know who's safe and who isn't. This whole process could take weeks or months to accomplish. The "asymptomatic" person is my big worry. (Someone not showing symptoms, but able to spread the virus). Hopefully, with the right testing, that person will be quarantined and will be taken out of circulation for awhile until safe.
The slow methodical opening of shore based businesses will be just that....slow and methodical. Where the charter boat fleet fits into all of this is anyone's guess. But I am in total agreement that the "health and lives" are first and foremost. You can't have a successful business if everyone is dead.
Judging by what I have watched during both Gov's Murphy and Cuomo press conferences the past few days, it appears some shore parks and businesses may be allowed to reopen by the 3rd week in May....Memorial Day weekend. Once again, if that includes charter fishing.....who knows. If we do sail, I will require verification of your NEGATIVE test AND a facemask worn throughout the trip.
Just the same, it is painfully clear that based upon that timeline, our spring Striped Bass season will be done. The Striped Bass win big this year. There will still be a ton of Fluke to be caught if we are allowed to SAFELY sail.
Going forward, you might now be wondering what the fishing season holds. Well, to be perfectly honest with you, I'm not sure either. Obviously, keeping 6 feet apart from one another on my boat is tough. But, other precautions can be followed if we are given the green light to sail again.
But then again, I have to make the determination if it's safe for everyone. Let me be perfectly clear. Mate Rich and I are "high risk" people. And that goes along with some of my anglers too. But then again, I consider ALL my customers as high risk as I value all of you. I simply refuse to put our lives in danger for a fish. If I have to, and with the approval of my entire crew, I just will NOT sail at all this year.
As has been my M/O now and for my 15 years in this business, your safety is tantamount and, pardon the expression, trumps all else..even fish. If you are hellbent on fishing regardless of your well being, then maybe there's someone else out there that will take that chance, but not me.
You may think that this is strict, but it is done with everyone's safety in mind. Look, no one loves to fish more than the crew and I. But I have to consider "risk vs. reward" as it pertains to people being in tight quarters for 6 hours.
If and when a vaccine is developed that is readily available to the entire population, then everything I've said above goes out the window and we can get life back to normal....God, please let that happen soon!
In closing, I hope you are doing well. Stay away from crowds, get outside and get some fresh air, do some meditation and think good thoughts. Hopefully we'll be together on the water soon.
For those that have deposits down for charters and/or open boat trips....hang in there. As soon as I have some definitive word and timetable, I will be contacting you on possibly rescheduling.
Tight Lines and
Capt. John & Crew.
April 4, 2020
Haven't talked to you in awhile and if you're like me, sitting at home going out of your mind, a little diversion can go a long way. So here goes...
In case you haven't heard yet, the 2020 Striper regs are 1 fish at 28"- 38" per person/per day. One bonus Striper of 24-28" would be available to you providing you apply for a bonus tag from the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife's Striped Bass Bonus Program on their website. Retaining a bonus fish was suppose to start May 15th, but that's now on hold because of the Coronavirus pandemic we are in.
**BE ADVISED THAT THE BONUS TAG IS GOOD ONLY IN NJ. The vast majority of our spring Striper fishing is, and has been, in NY waters. So having said that, our plan of attack was to be to start fishing in NY waters and then move into NJ waters for those with bonus tags. Once we retain any 24-28" NJ bonus tagged fish, we are unable to reenter NY waters.
For you to retain your bonus fish, it is your responsibility to have your tag with you and ready to show on the day of our fishing trip. The tag must be affixed to the fish before it hits the cooler in case we are boarded by a NJDEP officer.
The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife's Striped Bass Bonus Program's website for registering has not come online yet, but should be operational soon once again depending on the coronavirus situation. I believe there is a $2.00 fee for the bonus tag and once you use your first tag, there is the possibility of getting additional tags depending on how many bonus fish are being harvested in NJ at any given time.
To show you how nice I am I'll reimburse you for the $2.00 fee when you fish with us and land your fish, so basically your bonus tag and second Striper is free!
As a service to my anglers and for the upcoming bonus tag registration, here is the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife's Striped Bass Bonus Program website......click here! Save this information for future use please.
I would recommend that you also register for their informative "emails" which will notify you of when the bonus registration is ready to go....click here.
Because of the very mild winter we had, the spring run of Stripers are here already. Regretfully, the coronavirus situation has turned everything upside down in many ways and fishing with us is no exception. Very few private boaters are fishing in the bay but the ones that are they are catching fish. Looks like the Stripers this spring are going to be the big winners.
We will be hunting for bigger quality Fluke wherever that may take us. Many times that will be oceanside fishing with bucktails on some sticky bottoms. It would be nice if some of those bigger quality Fluke came into Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays like in the past.....but we'll see.
The Fluke Reg's for NJ are the same as last year....3 fish @ 18" per angler/per day. The season starts Friday, May 22nd thru Saturday, Sept. 19th.
For those interested in Bluefish....it's 5 fish per angler on a charter boat (no size requirement) from Jan 1, thru Dec 31, 2020.
For Black Sea Bass or Tautog, please refer to my "What We Catch" web page for the reg's as they are all over the place on dates and keeper quantities.
Now about the Coronavirus situation...you really don't want to hear my personal thoughts about this... only to say how sad. My heart goes out to all those who have died and especially their families. The magnitude of this could have been avoided, but like I said, I will not get into that on this forum.
My thoughts and prayers goes out to all those hard working and devoted health care workers....God Bless them all. They will all be in heaven some day.
As you are now well aware, the entire nation basically is on "lockdown" and Reel Fun Sportfishing is no exception. As a "non-essential business" we are closed until further notice. If and when we are good to go is anyone's guess at this point in time, but I will still have to weigh the merits of opening up. Science will dictate my next move going forward.
Rest assured, that the well being of you and my crew are tantamount. As you can see, I'm sort of caught between a rock and a hard place. In the end, I was taught to "err on the side of caution" and as a licensed USCG Captain..."better safe than sorry".
We may be fishing sometime in May, we may not. Sometime in June....we may not. We may fish this year, we may not. I just don't know at this point in time.
Bear with me during these very difficult times. But more importantly, you stay tucked away in the safety of your homes, keep your distance when you go food shopping, wash those hands and try to stay upbeat. You're not alone on this. This too will pass!
Capt. John & Crew
March 22, 2020
I want to assure you that I take the health and well-being of my anglers and crew very seriously. Like you, I'm closely monitoring the quickly developing effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
I have temporarily paused any preparation and fishing activity to protect and care for those who fish with us as well as the entire crew.
We're still available for booking your full 4 man charters as well as your open boat reservations, but now more than ever, you must be flexible with your time schedule going forward.
When we'll start up for the 2020 fishing season is, at this point in time, unknown due that all non-essential businesses being shut down by the Governor's Proclamation as of last night. I will not be launching the boat until I am allowed to conduct business as usual.
The crew and I hope this will be soon, but I refuse to put anyone's health at risk until I'm given clearance to do so by government agencies. I will continue to keep you updated as conditions change and at such time as I am able to set sail again with you...my loyal angler.
We are all in this together. For now....stay home, hang tough and be well.
Capt. John & Crew
March 17, 2020
Good Morning...now don't get all riled up.....we did NOT go out this weekend because the boat is still in hibernation wrapped tight in her winter bed. I just wanted to give you some reading as we all sit home with the coronavirus to contend with for awhile.
Scary stuff this coronavirus. Bats....saw a one (1) hour special report last evening that the suspect of this thing, say researchers, came from bats infecting livestock in a food market in China.
Hopefully, and with a degree of wishful thinking, we all will be able to enjoy a beautiful day on the water doing what we all love to do soon. Don't have to worry about a ton of people in a tight crowded space that's for sure. But, as I'm sure you have come to know, I'm a big proponent of safety.....better safe than sorry. So, whatever we have to do to insure the well being of our nation has to be done.....and fast.
Now on to better news......Striped Bass are showing in Raritan Bay. Small fish....yes, but they are there nonetheless. Saw a report yesterday that some bay area surf guys caught mostly throwbacks (6) in the 24-26" range on sandworms, but the initial surge of spring Stripers are making their presence know just the same. Even though the water temperature in the bay was only 47 degrees yesterday, the first signs of Stripers showing up far back in the bay in shallow water is looking promising. Considering the bay never froze over during our mild winter, I can see why they are making an early appearance.
A few legal Winter Flounder are also being caught in the shallow back bay waters. Nice, as these fish have been very hard to find over the past few years. Saw pictures of them......a couple of guys fishing in a small wooden skiff. A real shame that these fish aren't around in abundant numbers as fishing for them can be a lot of fun anchored up chumming with a chum log, rabbit food, rice, corn, mussels or just about anything that will attract these great tasting fish to feed.
If you think Fluke makes a great dinner, you should taste Winter Flounder......oh boy! A dozen Oysters, a Blue Moon and a Winter Flounder dinner......Ohh my God! Doesn't get any better than that.
Making you hungry? Anyway, I'll be monitoring the weather over the next couple of weeks to see when the crew and I can cut the shrinkwrap off the boat, polish and clean the hull and load her up with all the rods/reels/tackle and other stuff to get ready for the season opener.
I'm aiming for a April 15th start date (when NY opens it's water for Striper fishing) and when bigger keeper size Bass are around. Once again, for the record, the legal NJ reg's......starting April 1, is one fish per angler 28"- 38" per day.
As you can see, the reg's are now set to harvest smaller Stripers and promote returning big breeding females back into the water. Over the past 5 years or so, I have seen a steady decline in the number of big females. But look at it this way.....a 38" fish comes in around 22-25 lb's. That's a damn good size fish with plenty of meat for some nice dinners. And the best part of that is you get to spend a day with me and my great crew...yes? :)
On a charter with 4 anglers, that's a lot of fish and a great day of fishing no matter how you slice it. Bottom line....we just have to leave the big females alone for a few years. Any Striper caught over 38" will go back in the water so be prepared....NO EXCEPTIONS!
There is also talk of a "Bonus Tag" Striper that can be harvested providing you register online with the NJ Div of Fish and Wildlife. I'm told that the registration will not become available until sometime in April. The beginning of the bonus fish is suppose to start May 15th in NJ WATERS ONLY. (NY does not participate in that program). I'm also looking into bonus tags for my charters as I hear there will will be an allotment for businesses in the for-hire trade.
Stay safe and be well.
Capt. John & Crew
March 11, 2020...7 pm EST
The Saltwater Expo has been cancelled according to their web site for the obvious reason of the pandemic outbreak of the coronavirus.
We've got a very serious problem on our hands. I truly hope you follow the guidelines that has been laid out by the CDC and wash your hands thoroughly and often and to avoid gatherings of friends and family until this thing can be figured out.
To read the official statement from the Saltwater Expo...click here.
And whatever you do, please protect yourself and say healthy.
Good luck and God Bless us all.
Capt. John & Crew
March 4, 2020
It's official. The 2020 Striper regs are 1 fish at 28"- 38" and a bonus fish, beginning May 15, of one (1) 24" to 28" with your Bonus Tag.
Considering the very mild winter we're having, I suspect that the spring run of Stripers will be here very early. I was told at the Ramsey Outdoor show the other day, that bunker have already arrived in our waters...a very good sign.
If you are planning on fishing with us for Stripers, I would recommend calling now to reserve your prime tidal dates whether you are a full charter group or one of my many "open boat" anglers. Let's go guys and gals....you snooze, you lose as they say.
A small deposit locks in your day and that also pertains to the upcoming Fluke season as well. We will be hunting for bigger quality Fluke wherever that may take us. Many times that will be oceanside fishing with bucktails on some sticky bottoms. It would be nice if some of those bigger quality Fluke came into Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays.....but we'll see.
Capt. John & Crew
Feb 23, 2020
The ever popular Ramsey Outdoors "Cast and Blast" show for 2020 once again proved to be a busy and well attended gathering of outdoor enthusiasts from the North Jersey area.
The crew and I talked to many people at our booth as well as giving a 1 hour seminar on the art of bucktailing for Fluke. Mates Chris, Rich and I answered questions about many different topics as well as giving away Reel Fun long sleeve T-shirts and drawing the winner of a free 6 hour Fluke fishing trip....which was won by Judy Schiabel!
We were also blessed to book numerous charters and "open boat" trips with anglers who were at the show.....a busy day for Reel Fun to say the least. A common comment that I heard from those who booked charters was how reasonable our rates were. Nice to hear...good vibes from new anglers fishing with us in 2020.
I would like to say "Thank You" to those of you who stopped by to say hello...it's always great to see familiar faces and talk about fishing.
I must also give a "shout out" to my guys who, without their help, I could never have done this show (sore back). Mate Rich and my son/mate Chris are THE BEST. Thank you guys..great men. All my crew (Donnie and Braden included) are outstanding persons.
Some preliminary information...I was told at the show that the start of the 2020 Fluke season looks like Friday May 22, 2020 and ends Saturday September 19, 2020 and will feature 3 fish @ 18" per angler per day as a bag limit. Same bag limit as last year (2019)
Also unofficial word on this, and waiting final approval by ASMFC, is the NJ Striped Bass reg's could be 1 fish 28-38" long with a "bonus" fish of 1 fish 24-28" long providing you have a NJ bonus tag that you will have to apply for online. What I am told, it's not carved in stone yet, but that's the way it's looking for 2020. Retaining the bonus fish would start May 15th.
So, there you have it for this morning. A busy day for Reel Fun Sportfishing with some nice bookings and a lot of information to be gathered. If this weather keeps up like this, the crew and I will be at the boat in a few weeks getting her ready for another fishing season.
Capt. John & Crew
Feb 20, 2020
The ever popular Ramsey Outdoor "Cast and Blast" show is this Saturday,10 am till 4 pm. at their Roxbury Mall, Succasunna, NJ store. (275 Rt. 10)
I will be giving a seminar on "Bucktailing for Fluke" as this is, hands down, the most effective way to catch bigger, quality Fluke.
Beginners, as well as seasoned veterans, are welcome to come and pepper me with questions that I or someone in my crew will be glad to answer. Bucktailing is not hard and quickly learned within your first half hour of instructions. It is, by far, the most productive way to catch bigger quality Fluke. Sure, you can catch fish drifting bait, but they are usually smaller "throwbacks" under our current NJ 18" minimum. If you're going to spend your hard earned dollars on a fishing trip, you might as well do it putting some fish in the cooler to take home for dinner...and bucktailing is the way.
I will be covering...... rods, reels, lines, lures as well as tips for the beginner as well as the tournament fishermen out there. Whether you fish with us or you patronize party boats, there are tips here you should know about to be successful. Bring your questions and TAKE NOTES!
The Ramsey Outdoor store has an extensive supply of rod and reels for sale as well as bucktails and Gulp products in colors too numerous to mention. Great deals to be had for Saturday's one day show at nice discounts.
Seating for my seminar is somewhat limited, so get there early. At the end of my seminar, I will open it up to a question and answer period and some time will be allotted for a brief discussion about the upcoming Striped Bass season.
those who attend my seminar, there will be a drawing for a FREE 6 hour "Open
Boat" Fluke fishing trip (valued at $140) to a lucky winner.
My seminar begins promptly at 10:00 am.
Capt. John & Crew
Feb 2, 2020
Good Morning and welcome to Super Bowl Sunday.
This promises to be a great game between the 49'ers and the Chiefs down in Miami. Two great teams that should produce one of the best Super Bowl football games in a long while. All things considered, I'm going with the 49'ers on this one as they have one hell of a defense...but don't put your money on what I say....you'll probably lose.
We are now into February and that means that flea markets and shows are springing up all over the place.
Here are a few....
The Hi-Mar Striper Club....Saturday February 8, 2020 from 8 A.M. to 2 P.M. at the Middletown VFW Post 2179 in Port Monmouth, New Jersey. Free parking. The Cost is $5 per person. Kids 12 and under are free..
Next on the agenda is the SWABC Flea Market....Saturday February 15, 2020 from 9 am to 3 pm at the Hasbrouck Heights Hilton. Admission is $5.00 and kids 10 and under are free. One of the biggest flea markets in North Jersey....a must see.
And don't forget the Ramsey Outdoor's "Cast and Blast" show at their Rt 10 Succasunna, NJ location. (Roxbury Mall) When and Where- Saturday February 22, 2020 starting at 10 am till 4 pm. Many vendors and seminars all day for the hunter and fisherman and a good day to get out with the family. Admission is FREE as well as my 10 am seminar on " Bucktailing for Fluke". (See below) Seating is somewhat limited, so please plan on getting their early. ***TAKE NOTES**
For those who attend my seminar, I will have a drawing for one FREE 6 hour "Open Boat" fishing trip (valued at $140) for Fluke to a lucky winner. Also worth mentioning, I will be offering my "Special Show Pricing" for my charters but the fare MUST be paid in full at the show. To see what that discount is.....just show up with your credit card. So mark your calendar for Saturday, February 22, 2020. Ramsey Outdoor's Roxbury Mall 275 Route 10 Succasunna, NJ.
On the fishing front, haven't heard anything definitive about reg's for Striped Bass or Fluke as of yet....way too early. But it looks like the Striper reg's will be one (1) fish per angler, 28" to 35" per day. Nothing over 35" as they're trying to allow the big spawning females some time to make babies for a few years. But hey, look at it this way....a 35" Striper weighs in at about 20 lbs...a really heafty and meaty fish. Good for at least 6-8 dinners. We have to leave the big females alone for awhile which is a good thing if we want these fish to propagate in good numbers in the future.
About the Fluke....nothing to report yet but let's hope that it stays at least the same as last years reg's...3 fish @ 18" per angler. Considering where we were fishing last year (ocean rough bottom) there are nice Fluke out there in the 4,5 & 6 lb. class to be had. So even at 3 fish, that's still some very good dinner's in the bag of fillet's you're going to bring home.
Enjoy the game...go 49'ers!
Capt. John & Crew
Jan. 8, 2020
Well here we are....the beginning of a new year. Let's hope 2020 is a little more quiet than 2019. It would be nice if we could all exhale and return to a more normal state of existance here in the good ol' USA.
So far, the winter has been quiet...above normal temps is a good thing. If this keeps up, the return of Stripers in the spring could be a earlier than normal which is a good thing too. The smaller schoolies usually arrive in Raritan Bay sometime around mid March with the bigger spawners around the mid April time frame. So stop back here often as I will keep you updated on their arrival. Or better yet, sign up for my emails.
Now is the time
to look at your calendar and start to plan your spring fishing trips with us
as I now have all my tidal data in my appointment book filled in. I am now taking
reservations for the spring run of bigger fish as we will be sailing out first
trip on or about April 15th.
You can call me at 908-421-4761 to reserve your date.
Now on to some show stuff.
The one show that I would like to draw your attention to is the Ramsey Outdoor "Cast and Blast" show and exhibit on Saturday February 22, 2020 at their Succusunna (Roxbury Mall) store. The show begins at 10:00 am and concludes at 4:00 pm.
Some great savings in the entire store are being offered (hunting and fishing) as well as a store full of vendors and seminars for the entire family....not to be missed. One of the biggest shows in northern NJ that has gained tremendous popularity over the past few years. Store manager, Marty Brennan, has done a masterful job assembling vendors from all over the tri-state area.
I will be giving a seminar on "Bucktailing for Fluke" at 10:00 am covering many topics for both the beginner as well as the veteran angler.
For those attending, I will be giving away a 6 hour Open Boat Gift Certificate, valued at $140, to a lucky person. Seating is somewhat limited, so get there early for this informative seminar and maybe win a trip for Summer Flounder.
Mark your calendar now and don't delay. See you at Ramsey Outdoor on the 22nd.
Capt. John and Crew
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