The Somerset Saltwater Expo opens Friday in the Garden State Exhibit Center, just off I-287, and runs through Sunday. This is the big event each winter for saltwater anglers as most national manufacturers are on hand with full displays along with many local firms. Furthermore, the cost of admission includes access to many seminars by local and regional pros.
Those attending my 11:30 a.m. Saturday striped bass seminar can not only gain knowledge about Raritan Bay and coastal striper fishing from me and my sidekick, Capt. Hans Kaspersetz, but also from a slideshow presentation by Chuck Many, one of the top private striper pros in the northeast — and then end up with a valuable Tady metal lure given to each person attending the seminar. Gary Quon will explain how to work his lures that are designed quite differently from other metals.
Seminars a also being provided by Shimano surfcasting expert Roy Leyva, Bill Carson of Johnson Outdoors, and local charter captains Erwin Heinrich, Frank Tenore, Gene Quigley, Jim Freda, Brian Rice, Frank Crescitelli and Jimmy Gahm — along with Darren Dorris, RJ and Cody Melton, Capt. Pete Meyers of Run Off Lures, Keefe Valario on doormat fluke, Gary Ward on kayaks and Capt. Jack Houghton from Massachusetts. Paul Hebert, the outspoken skipper of Wicked Pissah on the Wicked Tuna TV show is also featured.
Show hours are from noon to 8 Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and 10 to 5 Sunday. Adult admission is $12, though those 5-11 are only charged $3 — with no charge for younger kids. Parking is free at the 50 Atrium Dr. location.
Capt. Dave De Gennaro will be exhibiting his Psyquatic fishing apparel line while getting ready to start the season out of Barnegat with his new Hi Flier, a 25-foot World Cat with twin 130 hp Hondas on April 29. With the bigger boat he’s also going to charter out of Ocean City, Md. from June 30 to July 10 for tuna.
The big change in weather this week has set back what Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar Marina was hoping would be an early spring striper run. The resulting drop in water temperature has also slowed the winter flounder bite in Shark River, though that should bounce back some sunshine. Party boats have been tied up this week, but the Ocean Explorer plans to fish for cod on Saturday.
The clearing northwester even brought cold temperatures far to the south. Just before leaving Ft. Myers on Wednesday to fly home for the Saltwater Expo, I was being blasted with that wind which seemed to turn off the black bass bite in the pond I was fishing until a fat 22 1/2-inch bass with a 15-inch girth blasted a new 4 1/2-inch Storm Searchlight jig without the lead (casting the paddle tail plastic as a surface lure on a single hook) and provided four great leaps before the release.
The southeast wind on Monday was a lot warmer off Key Biscayne when Mark Roy of Warren chartered Capt. Jon Cooper of Dive-Version for sailfishing with kites and live baits we jigged inshore. Roy released a sail that did lots of jumping, while Mark Levine of Slate Professional Resources in Freehold released his first-ever sail after another had jumped off. The live baits drifted along the edge of the Gulf Stream from Cooper’s customized 30-foot Contender also attracted Florida variety including little tunny, a kingfish, a rainbow runner, and two mutton snappers.