March 29, 2015
The weather has really slowed us up as winter just doesn't want to quit. We are still working hard to get the boat ready for April 1. Many folks have asked if we are still sailing on April 1.
We probably are, but PLEASE CHECK OUR TRIP CALENDAR AFTER 6 PM TUESDAY NIGHT to confirm.
Make sure the April 1 trip does not say "cancelled" on the far right hand column. We're sorry we had to cut it this close, but between the ice and the cold weather, things moved slower than expected. Thanks for your patience, it will be worth it.
March 14, 2015
Work continues at the shipyard and we are trying to get the air conditioning units for the main cabin in place by mid-week. We are finally getting hauled out of the water on Monday so we can paint the bottom and install a new transducer for the fish finder. Hopefully, we don't find any unexpected problems caused by our trek through the polar-grade ice floes on our way to the yard. If all goes well the VOYAGER will start fishing on April 1.
Just a final reminder to those who have already booked offshore trips for this year… Unless you have spoken with us about any special situations, if you have not yet paid your fare, you still have until March 15 to get your payment in before being scratched from the boarding list. If we don't receive payment by March 15, you will have to rebook your spot if one is still available.
Regarding the May 17 Blueline Tilefish and Sea Bass trip. Due to NJ State and Federal regulations, we may not be able to target some species on this trip. It is still not clear on the NJ Sea Bass regulations or the number of Blueline Tilefish we will be allowed to keep (see below). The trip will still be sailing as scheduled, but we may have to make it a 2-day Tilefish Trip if things don't go our way. If anyone wants to switch off of the trip because of these fisheries management issues, please let me know by April 1. If I don't hear from you, I will assume you are still "in".
Many people have read John Oswald's articles in the Asbury Park Press on the Blueline Tilefish issues that are currently going on. And a number of anglers have contacted me asking about our summer trips and what, if anything, does it mean to the VOYAGER. The long and short of it is as follows. We are most likely going to be fishing on a 7 fish per trip (not per day) bag limit for Blueline Tilefish. If the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council and their Science and Statistical Committee determine there is only one stock of Blueline Tilefish for the entire east coast, then they will propose an emergency action to regulate our area with a 1 fish per boat limit. Our personal guess from discussions with those "in the know" is that we will be fishing on the 7 fish per trip limit for the entire season. Again, this is just our guess from the discussions we've had with some folks. Despite this cutback, our trips will continue as scheduled and we will try to find new grounds with large Golden Tilefish and new hard bottom areas with Rosefish, Hake, and Grouper. We may also do some Sea Bass fishing on these trips when it is open. We plan to do everything we can to fill your coolers with plenty of tasty fish from the deep.
While a 7-fish bag limit seems harsh, it is a stepping stone to having the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council manage the Blueline Tilefish stock in our area. The Mid-Atlantic Council is generally more reasonable and easier to deal with than their southern counterpart. Hopefully, when and if a better stock assessment is done, they will see that the Blueline Tilefish stock is healthy in mid-Atlantic waters and regulations can be liberalized.
Below is a letter from Rick Robbins, the Chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to John Bullard, head of the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) Northeast Region. The letter is a great accounting of what went on and why, in regards to the Blueline issue. A number of folks asked about who they should write to about this issue. The answer is to write to:
Mr. John Bullard
55 Great Republic Drive
Gloucester, MA 01930
It is important to tell Mr. Bullard that you agree with the action taken by the Mid-Atlantic Council and that he should support the Emergency Action of 7 Blueline Tilefish per person that they requested.
March 10, 2015
Dear Mr. Bullard:
During a webinar meeting on Wednesday February 25, 2015, the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) voted to request that the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) implement emergency rules to restrict commercial and recreational landings of blueline tilefish in the Mid-Atlantic (http://www.mafmc.org/briefing/2015/february-2014-blueline-tilefish-webinar-meeting). The Council’s recommendations include a 300 pound (whole weight) commercial trip limit and a seven fish per-person recreational trip limit. These measures are intended to reduce the risk of depletion of the blueline tilefish stock on an interim basis while the Council develops long-term management measures. The full motion is as follows:
I move to request that the US Secretary of Commerce implement emergency or interim rules, as appropriate under 305 (c) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, to curtail the risk of depletion of the blueline tilefish stock within the jurisdictional boundaries of the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council while the Council develops long term management measures for the species through the normal rulemaking process. For the commercial blueline tilefish fishery, the Council requests emergency or interim rules including a 300 pound possession limit (whole weight) in the Council’s jurisdiction. For the recreational blueline tilefish fishery, the Council requests emergency or interim rules including a possession limit of 7 fish per person in the Council’s jurisdiction.
Commercial landings of blueline tilefish have unexpectedly and rapidly increased in the Mid-Atlantic primarily due to landings in New Jersey. Landings from Virginia and farther north increased from approximately an 11,000 pound average (2005-2013) to about 217,000 pounds in 2014. Most of these fish were caught in statistical areas off the coast of Delmarva. Also, Northeast vessel trip reports (VTRs) for party/charter vessels indicate a recent unexpected increase from an average of about 2,400 fish per year (2002-2011) to between 10,000-16,000 fish per year in 2012-2014. Party/charter increases in the last two years were mostly from statistical area 622, which is accessible from Delaware and New Jersey – two states currently without regulations.
In fact, there are no federal regulations for blueline tilefish north of North Carolina. Two states, Virginia and Maryland, have enacted tilefish regulations that apply to vessels landing in their states, with both implementing 300 pound incidental commercial trip limits and a 7-fish tilefish species recreational possession limit. These measures were designed to proactively prevent a large directed commercial fishery and constrain fishing mortality in the recreational fishery for blueline tilefish that emerged in the early to mid-2000s. The Council recently expressed concern to the other Mid-Atlantic and southern New England states that the unmanaged loophole fishery for blueline tilefish in the Mid-Atlantic poses a threat to the sustainability of this resource due to the recent unmanaged increases in landings.
Blueline tilefish are non-migratory and we believe that the request for emergency rulemaking should be considered in light of information specific to the Mid-Atlantic. From a fishery point of view, the number of fishery participants and history of fishing pressure is very different in the Mid-Atlantic compared to the South Atlantic. For example, while there are 1,020 snapper/grouper charter permits in the South-Atlantic, approximately 25 party/charter vessels reported any blueline tilefish on Northeast Region VTRs in 2014. As noted above, large-scale commercial catches are also a recent occurrence in the Mid-Atlantic.
Blueline tilefish likely have a high susceptibility to overfishing given their biology (long-lived and relatively sedentary) and have been characterized as a species facing high risk based on a 2009 productivity susceptibility analysis performed by MRAG. A recent report on the population dynamics of blueline tilefish and other deep-water species (Schmidtke et al. 2015, VMRC Grant F-132-R-2, available at https://mafmc.squarespace.com/s/F132-Tilefish-Final-Report.pdf) found that the growth rate of blueline tilefish off Virginia is "similar to that observed off the Carolinas during the 1970s, when the Atlantic stock was considered lightly exploited." Growth in these Mid-Atlantic fish is also different from growth rates seen recently in more heavily-exploited South Atlantic fish. Age and reproductive data from this study indicate a locally spawning, resident population of blueline tilefish off the coast of Virginia with fishing mortality rates that are uncertain but substantially lower than the SEDAR 32 findings for overall blueline tilefish mortality. While the Schmidtke et al. study suggests a better population status for blueline tilefish off the Mid-Atlantic, the study also notes that "the slow growth of this population could leave it ill-equipped to sustainably support a sizeable fishery."
We recognize that blueline tilefish is a data-limited stock and look forward to facilitating the advancement of the state of the science on this species (e.g., improved commercial and recreational catch information, and stock identification). We also question the applicability of SEDAR 32 to the Mid-Atlantic because several Mid-Atlantic data inputs were not used including catch per unit effort north of Cape Hatteras, NC and Northeast Region party/charter VTR data. There is also private vessel catch in the Mid-Atlantic that is not currently quantified due to the low occurrence of blueline tilefish in Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) dockside intercepts.
A continuation of a large scale, unmanaged fishery in 2015 likely poses both a biological risk to the resource and an economic risk for the existing, historical fisheries in the Mid-Atlantic. These include those fisheries that evolved under the proactive regulatory regimes of Virginia and Maryland. Given the uncertainty regarding the status and productivity of blueline tilefish in general and especially off the Mid-Atlantic, the Council determined that the actions proposed in the motion are the most reasonable while the Council develops long-term and regionally-appropriate management measures for the species through the normal rulemaking process.
Thank you for your consideration of this request. We look forward to working with you and our other management partners to achieve effective management of this fishery. Please call me or Chris Moore if you have any questions.
Richard B. Robins, Jr.
March 7, 2015
Hello everyone, we hope you all survived the brutal winter. The weather really slowed us down getting the new boat ready. We were two weeks late in getting to the shipyard and when we did arrive, the place was frozen solid. They had to break ice for us for 5 hours and even then, we had to be towed in for the last ¼ mile so we wouldn't break our shafts or props. Work is now underway at the shipyard and things should speed up a lot with the nice weather forecast for the coming week. If all goes well, we will start fishing April 1.
Just a reminder to those who have booked offshore trips for this year… If you have not yet paid, there is only a little more than a week until March 15 to get your payment in before being scratched from the boarding list.
If we do not receive payment by March 15, you will have to rebook your spot if one is still available.
Snap, Crackle and Ice Pop!
February 7, 2015
We have posted our 2015 OFFSHORE TRIP CALENDAR!
You can view the entire 2015 schedule on our Trip Calendar page and on our Special Trips page.
To book a trip or trips please e-mail us from the Voyager web site (not any other potentially old and obsolete email address you may have for us) or call our office at (732) 295-3019. An e-mail is best as they will be processed first. Let us know what trip(s) you want and that you are sending in a reservation form and payment. We will put your name on the boarding list in the order that you contact us and hold your spot until March 15, 2015. You will not receive boarding numbers until we receive a reservation form and payment.
We are very excited to announce that we have a newer, larger and much faster VOYAGER.
The new VOYAGER is 100' long and powered by three 825 HP Caterpillar engines making the boat's top speed about 26 knots. The additional speed will allow us to get you back and forth to the fishing grounds faster than before and its larger size will give you more fishing room on deck.
All sleeping accommodations are in the main cabin and the cabin is air conditioned and heated for your comfort. The boat also has a galley so don’t worry, we will still have our large selection of tasty goodies available from Maria.
Below are a few changes in our trip policies and some information about our 2015 trips.
VOYAGER TILEFISH TRIPS
Last year we had super trips throughout the year with a mix of GOLDEN and BLUELINE TILEFISH. Our largest Golden Tilefish was caught by Tyler Englesbe and weighed 54 pounds 12.5 ounces. Our largest Blueline Tilefish, caught by Cheol Min Park, is a pending new World Record at 23 pounds 1 ounce. We had success on 1, 1½, 2 and 2½-day trips. And due to demand, we have added more weekday and weekend trips to our schedule this season. In 2015, we will be fishing offshore for Tilefish every week from the middle of April through September. There are plenty of opportunities to join us and get on the trips you want.
This year we do have a few small changes, the first being the addition of more 2-day, fewer 2½-day and no 1-day TILEFISH trips (except for Reel Seat tackle shop charters - see below). Last year, the 2-day trips were very popular and fishing was generally very good to excellent. The 1½-day trips, where you fish from sunrise to sundown, were also a big hit last year and you will be seeing more of them pop up throughout the year.
Last year we did a few 'Manual Reels Only' TILEFISH trips and they were popular. This year, we have three manual reel trips in the schedule and two of them are World Record Hunts. For those of you using electric reels you have nothing to worry about since the expanded schedule also has 1½-day and 2-day trips where you can use them.
Last year we did a couple of 1½-Day TILEFISH and ROSEFISH combination trips. We caught plenty of Tilefish, but the weather slowed down the Rosefish catch somewhat. This year, we are offering a 2-day combination TILEFISH and ROSEFISH trip which should give us a shot at good drifting conditions for the ROSEFISH during some part of the trip. On this trip we will split the rail time trying for each species as long as conditions permit.
Last year, we did our first 2-day TILEFISH and COD combination trip. While it was not slaughter fishing, it was a nice change of pace and a trip that most people said they would do again. This year we have two of these trips scheduled, one in late May and one in early August.
We also have one CAPTAIN'S CHOICE trip in September which includes TWO nights of TUNA fishing. Make sure you understand that this trip will NOT be a strict TILEFISH-ONLY trip before you reserve a spot. We may not even fish for TILEFISH at all. We may fish for various species during the day depending on conditions and location. Last year we did some Mahi fishing and only a couple of Tilefish drifts. We spent most of the time TUNA fishing and we ended up with a nice catch of large YELLOWFIN. This year, the trip will be a bit different because we will be leaving at 5 PM and TUNA fishing the first night. During the days, we intend to deep drop for Tilefish for most of the day, but we may mix it up. The second night will be sundown to sunup TUNA FISHING. On the last morning, we may fish for a while depending where we are and the conditions we have. Please note that the CAPTAIN'S CHOICE trip has a mandatory rain date leaving on Monday night if Sunday night is no good.
Below are trip descriptions for each type of our offshore trips. Please read them carefully as some things have changed since last year. There is also a section on our booking and payment policy. As you can imagine this is VERY IMPORTANT to read. All anglers get bunks on these trips.
TILEFISH TRIP DESCRIPTIONS
"MANUAL REELS ONLY" – Electric reels are NOT permitted on trips labeled as manual reels only.
1-DAY BEGINNERS TILEFISH (Special Charters Only) – For those of you that may be on the fence about fishing for TILEFISH, Dave Arbeitman of the REEL SEAT tackle shop in Brielle, NJ has chartered the VOYAGER for two special BEGINNER'S TILEFISH trips. These trips will leave at 10:00 PM and return to the dock between 8:00-9:00 PM the following night. On these trips we will fish shallower spots from 300-500 feet for both Blueline and Golden Tilefish. The trips also include a special seminar given by Dave on the Sunday before the trip. Since this is a private charter, please contact Dave directly at (732) 223-5353 if you are interested in going.
2-DAY TILEFISH – These trips leave at 10:00 PM and arrive at the fishing grounds around 6:00 AM. We fish until sunset on the first day and from sunrise the second day until about 12:00 noon. We return between 6:00 - 7:00 PM on the second day. We fish depths ranging from 400-1,000 feet and the catch is a mix of Tilefish, Hake, Rosefish, Grouper and Barrelfish. Last year, these trips were almost exclusively 'Southern Canyon' trips, but this year we may fish anywhere from the Hudson Canyon to the 'Southern Canyons'. It is our intention to fish the areas we think should be the most productive for any given trip and not fish a specific area based on a trip description written months earlier.
2-DAY EXPLORATORY TILEFISH – This trip sails on the same schedule as the standard 2-DAY TILEFISH trip. On this trip we will try a number of the areas "I always wanted to try, but ran out of time". We are hoping to find the next 'Big Fish' or 'Hot Spot'. This trip will require patience as great new spots are hard to come by, but if you do find one, the payoff can be amazing! Last season we had some of our largest fish on this trip and our largest fish of the year was caught in an area we first found on this trip.
1½-DAY TILEFISH – This trip leaves at 10:00 PM and arrives at the fishing grounds around 6:00 AM. We fish from sunrise until sunset then head for home, returning between 4:30 and 5:30 AM. Depths may vary from 250-1,000 feet.
2-DAY TILEFISH/ROSEFISH – This trip leaves at 10:00 PM and arrives at the fishing grounds around 6:00 AM. We will target a combination of TILEFISH and ROSEFISH depending on conditions. We fish until sunset the first day and from sunrise until about 12:00 noon on the second day. We return between 6:00-7:00 PM on the second day. We fish depths ranging from 400-1,000 feet and the catch is a mix of Tilefish, Rosefish, Hake, Grouper and Barrelfish.
2-DAY TILEFISH/COD – These trips leave at 10:00 PM and arrive at the fishing grounds around 6:00 AM. On these trips we are planning to fish canyons from the Hudson out to the Northeast, but you never know. On the first day, we will be fishing some deep water wrecks as well as some traditional Tilefish areas. Along with Tilefish, we expect to see some Hake, Pollock and Barrelfish mixed in with the catch. On the second day, we plan to fish some traditional, shallower, COD spots before returning home around 6:00 PM.
2½-DAY WORLD RECORD TILEFISH HUNT – These trips leave at 8:00 PM and arrive at the fishing grounds the following morning. We fish until around sunset on both the first and second day. We leave for home around sunset on the second day and return at approximately 6:00 AM the following morning.
Three years ago, our World Record was broken by our friend Angelo Ruvio while fishing on a private boat. On this trip, we are looking to catch the next world record Golden Tilefish and retake the title. We will only fish with manual reels. Electric reels are NOT allowed on these trips since we don't want to jeopardize a potential world record.
Two years ago we caught many Tilefish from 35-50 pounds on this trip. We also caught a new New Jersey State record Blueline Tilefish. Unfortunately, we were blown out on last year's trip. This trip is only going to target big fish. In other words, we will not be looking to 'bail out' on a slow trip by fishing known small fish areas. It will require patience and the understanding that you may only catch a few fish, but hopefully they will be quality ones. If this does not fit your personality or desire, then you should book on one of our many other trips. While we hope it happens, we are not looking to fill coolers on this trip.
2-DAY CAPTAIN'S CHOICE – This 2-Day trip will depart at 5:00 PM Sunday September 20 returning Tuesday September 22 and there is a mandatory rain date of Monday September 21 - Wednesday September 23. This trip returns at the same time as the regular 2-day Tilefish Trips. We will fish for whatever we think we can catch the most of whether it's Tilefish, Rosefish, Mahi or whatever! On this trip we also intend to include two nights of TUNA CHUNKING in addition to the day fishing. The fishing location will vary depending on the Tuna bite at the time. Please note that this trip has an alternate bad weather date (rain date) that could push the trip back one day. DO NOT sign-up for this trip if you cannot make the rain date. This is our only 2-day trip with this policy.
VOYAGER TUNA TRIPS
This season we have changed our schedule around for the month of September. We will be doing mostly 30-hour Tuna/Mahi trips in September (we have one 5:00 PM 21-Hour trip leaving Sunday night September 27). The trips will still be departing at 7:00 AM and returning around 1:00 PM the following day. These trips will depart every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday morning unless otherwise indicated on our Trip Calendar page. In October we go back to our regular schedule of a Tuesday and Thursday morning 30-hour Tuna/Mahi followed by 21-hour trips departing at 5:00 PM every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening. For the extra hearty angler we have our Captain’s choice trip, described above, featuring two nights of Tuna fishing. All Tuna trips will be limited to 26 passengers. All anglers get bunks on these trips.
VOYAGER SEA BASS TRIPS
This season we will be fishing for Jumbo Sea Bass and Porgies leaving at 10:00 PM most Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights in November and December. We plan to start our trips in mid-November, heading out to the eastern wrecks to "meet" the fall Sea Bass migration. Please see our Trip Calendar page for specific dates. All anglers get bunks on these trips.
BOOKING AND PAYMENT
Last year we had problems with folks booking a number of trips and then asking to get off of the trips just days before sailing time. Unfortunately, this caused a problem because we were forced to either be a hard ass and take people's money when they couldn't show up or to refund/credit the money and sail short of a full boat and lose money. This was an unfair position for us and also unfair to other customers who wanted to get on a specific trip only to find out it was sold out months in advance. On top of that, potential customers often did not have time to change their schedules when a spot or two became available just a few hours before a trip.
Due to the high cost of fuel and our strict capacity limits, we cannot be responsible for changes in your plans. If you book a trip and cannot go, it is your responsibility to fill the spot. We will NOT be keeping a waiting list. You have to think of it like going to a Yankees game. If you buy a ticket and the game is played but you can't go, it is up to you to sell your ticket or give it away. You wouldn’t expect the Yankees to give you a refund or a credit ticket for next week's game, would you? In other words, if you buy it, you own it. So please make sure that you don't have any schedule conflicts BEFORE you book a trip.
To book a trip or trips please e-mail us from the Voyager web site (not any other potentially old and obsolete email address you may have for us) or call our office at (732) 295-3019. An e-mail is best as they will be processed first. Let us know what trip(s) you want and that you are sending in a reservation form and payment. I will put your name on the boarding list in the order that you contact us and hold your spot until March 15, 2015. You will not receive boarding numbers until we receive a reservation form and payment.
Please contact us even if you had previously mentioned that you wanted to be on a certain trip or trips. It was quite a while ago and we don't want to forget anyone.
Since our schedule is coming out early this year, we are doing the following...
We will hold your spot(s) until March 15 with no payment or obligation. If we do not receive payment by March 15, we will delete you from the boarding list and you will lose your boarding spot and will then need to re-book. Unfortunately, I am a one-man show in the office until August and between running trips and office work, I will not have time to make courtesy calls to remind you to pay. It is your responsibility to make your payment on time. It is also your responsibility to know what trips you are supposed to be on so the excuse of "I forgot I was on last Sunday's trip" will not fly. Please refer to our Policies page before sending in any payments.
While we always reserve the right to overbook each trip by two people, we try not to do it on Tilefish trips since space is always at a premium. Following the payment procedure above will allow us to stick to our passenger limits.
Lastly, if any 2 or 2½-day trip is significantly shortened due to adverse weather conditions, anglers will receive a credit ticket for a future trip for an amount determined by the Captain. There will be NO CASH REFUNDS.
We look forward to our 2015 OFFSHORE TRIPS and seeing you at the boat. Thank you for fishing aboard our new VOYAGER.
February 1, 2015
Our 2015 offshore trip schedule will be available Saturday evening February 7 and will include all of our Tilefish, Tuna, and Sea Bass trips.
January 1, 2015
A New Year is here and so is...
We are very excited to announce the arrival of our new boat! The new VOYAGER is a 100 x 25-foot aluminum GULF CRAFT supercruiser equipped with three 825 HP Caterpillar® turbocharged diesel engines making her fast, spacious and very comfortable for deep sea fishing. Cruising speed is about 18 knots and the top speed is 26 knots.
Amenities include a heated and air conditioned main cabin with booth seating, a full galley, heated handrails for cold weather fishing, and an upper sundeck with plenty of seating.
We are currently making some minor modifications for the upcoming season and expect to be fishing for Cod by the beginning of March. Our 2015 offshore trip schedule will appear around the end of January and will include all of our Tilefish, Tuna, and Sea Bass trips.
Best wishes for a Healthy and Happy New Year and we look forward to seeing you on the new VOYAGER. Welcome aboard!
Captain Jeff and Crew