|2011 Season in Review|
It's New Years Eve, its beautiful outside, and we thought we'd take a minute to write a quick article summarizing the 2011 season on Reel Class...
For the season, we ran exactly sixty trips combining charter and open boat trips. This number was down a bit from our usual number of trips due to the WILD weather from late August into late October, and our cutting the season 2 weeks short in November due to the upcoming arrival of Capt Allen's daughter Lauren who was born in December.
Reel Class was moved to her slip at Clark's Landing on April 16th, and our first trip wasn't until Friday 4/22 (Good Friday) where we ran an open boat trip. Our initial plan that day was to target bass on jigs (the day before the fish showed up!) but we were greeted with a hard, dry NNE wind as we broke Manasquan Inlet and steep 4-7' seas. We made a u-turn, went back to Clark's, and decided to give winter flounder fishing a try for a bit until the ocean settled. In the hour or so that we flounder fished, we had a couple shorts, and a few nice keepers for the guys. By 10 that hard NNE settled and we snuck out and headed north looking for bass. Off Long Branch, bass fishing was solid as we had 9-10 keepers on krocodile spoons. Trip #1 was a success, and from there on out we set the standard for an excellent season of fishing.
Late April and early May brought up and down striper fishing on the jigs - we ran to LONG ISLAND twice in search of bass (and finding some) but the spring jig bite wasn't what it was in 2010. What was good during this time span was the COD fishing in our "local" waters. Fishing in depths of 90-120' cod were THICK on some of the wrecks and rockpiles E of our inlet in the 15-25 mile range. We had 2 incredible trips, 1 on Mother's Day and the other a week later (Fred M's charter) where we had excellent days of cod catching - 40+ keepers and lots of throwbacks on fresh clams AND jigs!!! In 2012, we are going to focus on our cod fishery a bit more...On that same trip (Fred M's charter) the big bass finally showed - late in that trip we were on our way home where I got the call that there were some monsters being caught down off Seaside on bunker and on spoons, so off we went. An hour later, we had two 30# class bass in the boat - THAT set the standard for our spring fishery for the rest of May and early June.
What followed was some of the BEST spring bass fishing I've ever seen. Bass of 30# or more, every trip, showing up blowing up bunker and topwater plugs. Some trips were incredible, while others were just OK - but we caught some real monsters and the fishing was truly WORLD CLASS STRIPER FISHING.
Sunday, 6/5/11 will go down in history as the best bass day (to date) I can remember. John Kuhles chartered the boat, and after being out the day before with another charter and experiencing VERY slow fishing in the morning, and hearing how it BLEW UP in the afternoon, we flipped our trip to a 12PM departure. A hard E wind in the morning made the ocean a bit sloppy in the early afternoon, but by the time we broke the inlet at 1230 we had 2-3 foot seas and smooth sailing. We first loaded up on bunker, then got the call from a few friends that there was a bite down off Mantoloking. On the scene, we quickly boated 2 monsters, one of ~42# - but then found more fish south in a HUGE fleet. Working our way back north, with some intel from people on the beach (namely mate Mike G who is also a PPB Police Officer surveying the scene @ Jenks LOL) we worked our way up and found MILES of bass BLOWING UP on bunker. Every bunker that hit the water was destroyed, and once we ran out, dead bunker and plugs were working equally well or better. We followed these fish all the way to Spring Lake, then back to our inlet - we read an honest 6-8 miles of bass!!! Although we didn't keep count, we estimated that we boated somewhere between 30-45 bass, all of which were over 25# and most were that 25-35# bracket with Greg K's big fish going 42#. GREAT TRIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Following this trip, we had some more shots at the bass but we could not replicate this kind of action. It was onto fluke fishing until the end of August at this point. Fluke fishing to start was pretty good, and it stayed that way until around the time of Hurricane Irene. We had many trips of over 20 keeper fluke boated, with several of 30+ keepers occuring being topped off by a catch of 41 on the PP Elks tourney at the end of July. Fluke fishing in 2011 was EXCELLENT, and the only thing to slow it down were the vagaries of weather and poor conditions. At the end of August fluking definitely slowed, so we made another cod run with Rich Comly's charter on "earthquake day" just before Hurricane Irene and did a number on the cod (some bigger ones), sea bass, and ling as well as a couple of pollock and tog.
September and October were the months of lost trips due to the WILD weather we experienced. At one point, from just after Labor Day into early October (around Columbus Day) we lost approximately 10 trips due to weather - it was nuts!! We did get a few trips in in September, one was a fluking finale on the last day (we did catch some, and 1 nice keeper by Fred M) but we did well with jumbo porgies, tog, and some seabass that had to go back. Another trip in September with a hard NE wind we took a run down Barnegat Bay to cash in on the great blowfish and bay bottom fishing bite that was going on. The day we went down we loaded up on blowfish, also had a few kingfish and some other stuff that made it to the box. The few times we got out in October we did OK with some porgies and seabass, as well as tog, but bass were absent although we were able to jig big bluefish up at the Rocks for a few trips in a row.
...Just when we were thinking "Where the heck are our fall bass?" - the first week of November, all hell broke loose down off IBSP. What followed through the whole month of November (10 trips) was the BEST fall bass bite I've personally ever seen with numbers of fish and SIZE of fish. Although we caught plenty of shorts, we caught MORE keepers then I can remember. Even more impressive was that on every trip, we had our BOAT LIMIT by no later than 10AM (this is with 5-6 anglers fishing) - no huge fish, biggest I think was around 15#, but we had more 30-35" bass this fall then I can remember seeing in some time. Even better, was that we released just as many keepers as we caught, and most trips MORE then what we had in the box. A few trips, we also cashed in on the local tog and caught some nice blackfish to top off our fish boxes as well as cod, seabass, and ling.
Our 2011 photo gallery can be found here: http://reelclassfishing.com/photo-gallery?func=viewcategory&catid=7
Overall, our 2011 season was FANTASTIC. Even better for Mike, Kenny and myself was that we resumed relationships with many longtime customers, but welcomed several new faces from start to finish. In 2012, we plan on continuing right were we left off in 2011, and hope 2012 brings another excellent season of fishing AND catching for us. We, as always, will give our greatest effort to get you on the fish, and will make your day memorable and hopefully fish-filled!!!