It’s unanimous – there’s plenty of fish in the sea

Ron Nuzzolo

Fish On High tide or low tide, call them what you want, you can’t escape the invasion of chopper blues, gators or spring runners.

Bluefishing in the bay is red hot and they will hit almost anything – you can’t miss. The trick is to get away from them if you want bass. For some anglers, that is almost impossible, but for others the bass fishing has been incredible. I ventured out on the Island Girl IV with my uncle Capt. Rich Nuzzolo, my brother Chris and fishing buddy Charles Barrale of Hazlet. We all scrambled to meet at the boat after work, and for three short hours we had released over 40 bluefish up to 14 pounds. Once the sun set, it seemed the bluefish had their fill and the bass turned on, allowing us to land six keepers to end a short but memorable trip.

The next day, I set up a six-man charter with Capt. Tim of Lucie Anne Charters and headed out with Rich Babicz, Andrew and Chris Brynczka of Clifton along with Trent Charilas of Dover. I started the trip with back-to-back keeper bass and that’s when the bluefish moved in. And for five priceless hours all hell broke lose as we slammed a good mix of big blues and stripers without a single break in action. We ended up with releasing over 100 bluefish and 10 bass up to 20 pounds, and we probably went through three dozen hooks. I have been going on charters with Capt. Tim for years and he always puts us right on the fish. He knows the bay like the back of his hand. He is also a Raritan bay clammer, so if anyone knows where the fish are feeding, it’s him .To reach Capt. Tim, call him direct at (646) 523-0384.

My friends from NJsaltwaterfisherman.com, Joey, Rich and father Ed Gahrmann, headed out of Keyport. The goal was to get their dad a trophy bass, so with big bluefish everywhere, they decided to anchor up outside the pack in the bay. Well, dad was smiling ear to ear by day’s end, as at the very first stop, Rich hooked into a solid 25-pound bass (37 inches), and went to net her, only to have the net break. Fortunately, Rich got her in the boat. Then, suddenly the line screams and peeled off 100 yards on Ed’s pole – their dad hooked into a cow, a fish he will never forget, a solid 40-pound striped bass, which didn’t even fit in their 150-quart cooler.

Then the giant gator blues took over, as the boys picked away 10- to 15-pound blues, going through a mess of hooks. They decided to make a move, headed inland a little and slammed into another cow. The fight was on for Joey, another solid 40-pounder. Again, the fish does not fit in the big cooler. The day turned out perfect with Mr. Gahrmann and sons, as Joey and Richie and dad captured both fish, and memories that will last forever.

Reports from Crabby’s Bait and Tackle of Keyport have never been better. Nice size bass are now on the prowl in the bay. Trolling in and around the reach will find you some nice fish. Tony Rule of Union trolled bunker spoons in the reach and had eight bass up to 32 pounds. Flynn’s Knoll has also produced some big fish. Joey Rassio of Clifton and three friends fished the knoll using clams, and hooked and released 20 keepers up to 22 pounds.

Off the surf anglers are building confidence with big bluefish around Cliffwood Beach and the rock wall, using bunker or metals will do the trick.

Weakfish are also back by popular demand, as Chris at Crabby’s tells me reports of big weaks have come in from Keyport bay and flats. Sandworms and bunker chunks have been choice baits. Bob Correll of Wyckoff fished bunker around 18 and 19 cans in the reach to land a 15-pound weak, and Jeff Jacobson with a beautiful 17-pound weakfish.

Don’t forget to weigh your fish. Crabby’s is having their annual Free Fishing Contest from May 15-31. The 10 biggest bass will win a prize including rods, reels, charters and lots more. You must stop by the store to sign in before you fish.

Recipe of the week

Every week I ask readers to send in their favorite local recipes to share with the rest of us. At the end of the year, I will post my three favorite recipes. Once we post them, you, the readers, will decide who will become the first “Fish on with Ron – Local Seafood Recipe Champ.” Please send your recipe and or fishing report to me at ron@signbrothers.com.

Our recipe this week is from Tom C from Njsaltwaterfisherman.com

Get the Net: 5 out of 5 nets

Difficulty: Medium

Comments: Just in time, you have to try these

Tomc76 Striped Bass Cakes:

Two pounds fresh skinned striper fillet (red meat removed)

Two heaping TBS mayo

One heaping TBS Dijon mustard

Two eggs

1-2 cups Italian breadcrumbs (without added cheese) – you use these to bind, so measurements are approximate – too much, you get hockey pucks.

One cup finely chopped red pepper

One cup cooked corn kernels (frozen work best)

1-3 tsp. Old Bay seasoning (to taste)

Red pepper flakes (to taste)

1/2 cup chopped celery

Cut fillets into manageable pieces and poach until flaky but not overcooked (white wine and bay leaf, or plain salted water). Sauté corn, peppers and celery until tender. Set aside in mixing bowl, combine mayo, mustard, eggs and sautéed veggies. Mix in old bay and pepper flakes, if using.

Drain fish of all excess moisture and mix fish with above until you have a crabmeat-like consistency. Add breadcrumbs a bit at a time until mix binds well (do not use too much!)

Either fry cakes in butter or olive oil or bake in 350-degree oven for 40 minutes. Great with tartar sauce.