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Sharks add bite to fishing season - Ocean City Sentinel: Fishing

FISHING REPORT Sharks add bite to fishing season

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Posted: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 10:33 am

Sharks! Most of us associate the word with the movie “Jaws,” the popular 1975 movie about a great white shark terrorizing a New England town. 

The reality is shark attacks on beachgoers are extremely rare. 

Sharks are even featured for a whole “Shark Week” every summer on the Discovery Channel. It’s no wonder that shark fishing is so popular with fishermen all around the world. Along the New Jersey shore, June is considered prime time to target sharks, such as, makos, threshers, tigers and blue sharks. 

The most sought after shark in these waters is the mako. The mako shark is an apex predator; it is at the top of the ocean food chain. Makos are impressive animals. They can grow over 11 feet long and reach speeds in excess of 22 mph. The current world record, according to International Game Fish Organization is 1,221 pounds, caught by Luke Sweeney in Massachusetts in 2001.

Mako sharks have a large range in coastal waters, but are most often targeted between 40 and 70 miles offshore of New Jersey.

The most common method of shark fishing is drifting along temperature breaks over underwater structures. The fishermen deploy chum, or ground-up fish, to attract the sharks to the boat. Bait is either whole or strips of fish, usually mackerel or bluefish. The baits are deployed at various depths to maximize the potential of the shark finding it.  

After the bait spread is in the water, the anglers wait for the sharks to arrive. Once hooked up, mako sharks can be one of the most exciting fights in fishing, with a good chance of multiple acrobatic leaps and strong runs.  

The current National Marine Fisheries Services regulations for shortfin makos are one shark per boat with a 54-inch or greater length from nose to the fork of the tail. Also, keep in mind, sharks fall under the Highly Migratory Species permit, along with tuna, marlin and swordfish. So before you target any of these fish, make sure that your permit is up to date. Information on the permit can be found at hmspermits.noaa.gov.  

Mako shark is prized for its food value, and is very similar to the taste of swordfish.  

If you are not interested in eating your catch, besides taking photos, you can participate in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s mapping program. The program uses a smartphone application to record the GPS coordinates of a live release and then posting that location to a global map. More information about the program is available at nmfs.noaa.gov.

According to the NOAA, the shortfin mako shark population is currently healthy and sustainable. But be aware of the current regulations and practice safe and proper techniques when releasing all sharks.

For those interested in sharks, starting Thursday one of the biggest shark tournaments in our area will be taking place in Cape May. In its 34th year, the South Jersey Shark Tournament will be held out of South Jersey Marina from June 4-7. Weigh-ins will be from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. For more information, call South Jersey Marina at (609) 884-2400

 Fishing Reports

 Margate:

Robin Scott, from Ray Scott’s dock, reported, “The flounder season is off to one of the strongest starts in recent history with reports of fish over 6 pounds plentiful. It was gratifying to see many of the locals get into the fray on the Margate bay. Izzy Posner of Linwood, Michael Mosca of Linwood, Nate Acito of Ocean City, Jason Cadiou of Margate, Michael Corletto of Margate, Jim Varley of Margate, Mark and Ethan Vogin of Ventnor, the Perrone family of Margate, the Klein family of Ventnor, the Tabasso family of Margate, the Cherry family and Calhoun family of Ocean City and many others braved temperamental weather conditions over the past 10 days to yield fantastic flounder dinners. The dock set a record with entries into its annual season-long flounder tournament and awarded a number of $1000 gift certificates to rental customers catching flounder over 4 pounds. 

There were so many of them, it was suggested that we raise the required size to 5 pounds. That won’t be happening any time soon. We like to see anglers enjoy success and have a weekly target in sight. With the weather and fish forecast strong for this week, work places in the tri-state area might have a higher absentee rate as our extended family converges on the Margate bay.”

Atlantic City:

I talked to Noel Feliciano, owner of One Stop Bait and Tackle, who said there are, “Lot’s of bass!”

Most of the fish are averaging over 30 inches, with some up to 47 inches. The T-Jetty is still the place to be. Hot baits are clams and bloodworms and the hot artificials are Pink Zooms and SP minnows. Kingfishing is good, but Feliciano thinks it should get a lot better this week with the change in temperatures.  

Ocean City:

Mary Barrus, from The North Star, said the boat had mostly private bookings this weekend. But they did have an 8-hour sea bass trip with a 20-person limit up to 5 pounds.

The North Star is sailing weekends until Father’s Day, then daily. A full schedule is available at www.fishocnj.com.

Avalon:

Tammy Carbohn, of Avalon Hodge Podge, said it was quite a week of fishing in Avalon.

“Since my last report, we have weighed in 12 nice-sized fluke, five stripers and a 7.67-pound and 29-inch weakfish. The weakie was caught by CJ from Dorchester, N.J., using Bass Assassins. The biggest fluke measured 22½ inches and weighed 8.7 pounds caught by Mike Prus of Mays Landing using gulp in the Pig Pen. The largest bass this week was 38 inches and 22.55 pounds caught in Corson’s Inlet by Tom Schults of Maple Glen using clam. Niel Cox, of Lansdale, Pa., weighed in a 65-pound black drum from the Delaware Bay he caught using clam. Finally, one of my customers showed me a picture of a red drum he caught in the back bay on Friday using clam.”

Cape May:

Matt Slobodjian, of Jim’s Bait and Tackle, said “the drum fishing is as good as it has ever been. Charter boats are reporting double-digit catches almost every day. Bait has been a problem this year, as two of our normal clam suppliers have stopped handling clams. It’s a good idea to call a couple of days ahead to check availability and reserve bait. One of our Junior Anglers and a local boy Dennis Cluff, of Cape May, weighed in an 80.6-pound drum this week. The weakfish are biting pretty well on the Higbee’s Beach jetty and the Cold Spring inlet jetty on blood worms and artificials. We are starting to get some good reports from the Hereford Inlet rock piles as well.

“We held our shark tournament last week. Capt. Pete Hondros and his crew took everything with the only qualifying fish a 205-pound thresher. We weighed a couple makos but nothing over the 150-pound minimum. There were also a few big makos lost during the fight.”

“Fluke fishing is still a bit slow but a few are still being picked at the Cape May Reef. The backwaters are still the best bet for fluke.”

Fred Klug, of Utsch’s Bait and Tackle, said the charter boats did really well last week.

“The charter boat Full Ahead had a striped bass that hit the scale at 36.7 pounds and the largest drum was 66 pounds. The Full Ahead charter and the Gone Fishin’ charter had 13 drum each. Last weekend, I saw a 35-pound tile fish and a nice-size tuna from one of our slip holders. While the drum bite is still on, some of our slip holders are gearing up for shark fishing.”

Rusty Zeigler, of Off The Hook Bait and Tackle, reported “Flounder, weakfish, bluefish, tuna, black drum, and sharks, we have seen a little of everything this week. The drum bite is still on fire along the North Cape May beaches. We are still seeing fishermen catch their limits. I think the bite will be good up to the next moon. Mikey Viera, 7, caught a 61.2-pound drum with his grandfather, Dave Cluff. The weakfishing has been really good along the jetties, many fish in the 6- to 8-pound range. Jonny Thomsen weighed a 6.57-pound weakfish caught in Cape May Point. 

“The hot lure for weakfish has been a purple firetail Mister Twister on a bucktail. Flounder fishing is still good in the back bays. Sharking is getting good. Al Columbo, Chazz Columbo and Gary Miller on the Miss Jax weighed a 220-pound thresher from the 28-mile wreck. We will be bringing specialty bait for the shark tournaments. Call to reserve at (609) 884-0444.”

Captain Harvey Yenkinson, of VetCraft Charters, sent the following report, “Drum fishing continues to be good in the Delaware Bay if the timing is correct. Drum fish can be caught both day and night due to their ability to feed in both scenarios. It has been tradition in Cape May for anglers to fish during the late afternoon and evening time frame for these bottom feeders, but we often have a good daytime bite as well.

“Trips this week have had good bites in both time frames. In general, last week, the best bite was in the late afternoon toward the end of the outgoing tide in water depths around 20 feet. Holding the rod in your hand allows anglers to better feel the subtle tugging type of bite that these fish produce as they suck in the baits toward the back of their throats where they normally use their pharyngeal teeth to crush their normal prey of mussels, clams, oysters, snails, crabs and other items. 

“In the Delaware Bay, these fish feed heavily on the razor clams that tend to inhabit algae-laden bottom habitat. Charter captains in Cape May recommend keeping no more than one per person and releasing the bigger ones.” 

 Chuck Hinchcliffe is proprietor of Off the Hook Bait and Tackle at 989 Ocean Drive in Cape May. 

Wildwood:

Cathy Algard, of Sterling Harbor Bait and Tackle, said drum fishing remained excellent in the Delaware Bay when the weather allowed and should remain good through the next couple of weeks until after the full moon. Weakfish action slowed during the cool northeast winds, but as soon as the sun came out, so did the weakies. 

“Nice weakfish are being caught around the jetties at Cape May Point, North Wildwood and Cold Spring Inlet. Bill Hansen, of Philadelphia, checked in with a 5-pound, 11-ounce weakfish measuring 28 inches. Melisa Smith, of Philadelphia, weighed in a 5-pound, 8-ounce weakfish that hit a bloodworm near Cape May Point,” Algard said.

“Bobby Greenling, of Marmora, caught and released a 30-inch weakfish while fishing a Cape May jetty. Fluke fishing in the back bay remains good, with some 3- to 6-pound fish being caught. Bucktails with mackerel strips or spearing with a gulp. Swimming mullet on a teaser hook has been working well for anglers. 

“Jim Rossiter, of Bridgeton, had a 4-pound and a 5-pound flounder while fishing the Wildwood back bays on his kayak while using gulp. Swimming mullet on a bucktail. 

“Michelle and Rich Derer, of Wildwood, boated Flounder from 20 to 24 inches while drifting mackerel strips on a bucktail behind Wildwood on their boat.

“Sea bass action remains good on the wrecks around the 20-fathom line. Shark fishing is just kicking into gear with reports of thresher, mako and brown sharks between the 20 and 30 fathom line.” 

 

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