2017 Season Wrap Up

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll be saying it forever, but it is amazing how fast the summer goes by. Years pass in the blink of an eye now and when life moves that fast, it can be difficult to keep up with the website, especially from the beach! I do apologize for the lack of reports this summer, but it was both the busiest, and most difficult season thus far. However, it has also been the most rewarding.

Let’s rewind.


We began early and the season was in full swing right away with both quantity AND quality. The shark fishing was so good that we were leaving 6 to 9 foot sharks biting (because they never stopped). It was the best Sand Tiger bite in recent history.

Chef Dan D’Alessio with our first shark of the 2017 season. His personal best Sand Tiger, at the time.
Ben Friedman of Barstool Sports with his first large Sand Tiger from the surf.
Joe Battipaglia sharing some quality time with his son Joey, and the sharks.











3-5 jumbo sharks per night was not uncommon, with some nights seeing as many as 11. It was the best it gets as far as fishing from the shore for sharks in New Jersey. A handful of baits were kayaked, but most fish were much closer and much more willing to take our casted offerings. This action continued for two to three weeks before tapering off.



With lingering remnants of the epic season starter, July was off to a decent start. Shark action was still good, various species of rays began filtering in, and even a few stray Blacktips found their way up to our northern coast.

Bob Elias with a massive Roughtail Stingray.
Mike Pontillo subdued this huge Butterfly ray in rough seas.
A rare catch from the New Jersey surf, a Blacktip shark.











Unfortunately this action dissipated as the month drew on. From that moment forward, we had to work hard for almost every fish. Several nights were spent in the pouring rain, sometimes even dodging thunderstorms. We dealt with rough surf and unfavorable weather conditions regularly. This made for some very tough fishing to say the least. Some nights, yakking a bait into huge seas was the only way. Other nights, despite valiant efforts, impossible.


A sigh of relief came over me as we approached the August moon. I was excited to see an end to the slow fishing we had been experiencing, and in years past, this was the time for excellent shark action. Well, the bait showed up right on schedule, but the sharks didn’t get the memo. We manged to pick at them, but often went several hours without a bite. Tons of fresh bait was required to make sure we could entice them. Don’t get me wrong, a few nights showed us the steady action we were seeking, but as a whole, it just wasn’t what it should have been. Towards the end of the month, the wind finally shifted and we had almost predictable double and triple headers for a week straight at a certain stage in the tide. The wind persisted, but the tide and time eventually stopped lining up, so that was that.

A late season triple header.
A sharkless night suddenly saved by a double header. Adrenaline rush to the max.









Moving on…

Monster Sandbar sharks:

Despite the tough season, there were some very exciting nights on the sand. Some of the largest Sandbar sharks we’ve ever seen in Jersey waters made their presence known at totally random and unsuspected times!


The largest Sandbar shark the Apex Anglers team has ever seen was 7’7 on the very first night of the season.
Greg Neer with a 7’4 Sandbar he caught in Mid July.
The Hedenburg family with a 6’10 Sandbar on the last guided trip of the season.










Tagging with Monmouth University:

Keith makes the incision to insert an acoustic tag into an adult Sand Tiger shark.

Over the winter (2016), Keith Dunton, a professor over at Monmouth University, approached me with an idea, one that I had been dying to be a part of since I began shark fishing. The objective was simple… Tag as many sharks as possible to assist in his scientific research. We were talking acoustic and PSAT style tags, with actual electronic tracking capabilities. Just the thought had me beyond excited, so to actually put it into action was a dream come true. Over the summer we tagged over 60 sharks with basic dart tags, at least two dozen with acoustic tags, and one with a PSAT tag. Last time I spoke with Keith, he had already begun to receive some ping data. This is excellent news as it begins to negate one of the most controversial topics within land based shark fishing; Post release mortality. I remain hopeful, and quite optimistic, that Keith’s research continues to support the idea that a properly handled fish can survive responsible catch and release fishing. We plan to continue our research with Keith next season, and hope to make more of you “scientists for a day”, as we unravel the mysteries that surround our coastal sharks.

How Many?

OK, OK. Here is the good stuff that you’ve been waiting for… Though the season was admittedly slower than anticipated, we still managed to put together a nice catch!

A large Bullnose ray tagged and ready for release.

         SHARKS                                                                 RAYS

Sandbar sharks:  96                                             Cownose rays: 1

Sand tiger sharks: 29                                           Roughtail rays: 4

Dusky sharks: 1                                                     Butterfly rays: 5

Blacktip sharks: 1                                                  Bullnose: 2

Spinner sharks: 3

Total sharks: 130                                                  Total rays: 12




Going Forward:

Just because the New Jersey season has ended doesn’t mean the fun has to! If you find yourself visiting south Florida between October and March, I will be running Blacktip guides along the Treasure Coast. Those who have fished with me this summer (June-August 2017) will enjoy 20% off as my appreciation for your continued business. Be sure to tune into the Facebook and Instagram pages for updates on the upcoming availability.

There are some very big things in store for Apex Anglers in the future, but for now, and as always, I promise to continue being the hardest working guide I can possibly be. The most important thing to me is the satisfaction and happiness of my clients. This is my passion and I am so grateful that I get to share it with all of you. I appreciate everyone who gives me a chance, and of course, those who come back for more!

Thank you,

AJ Rotondella

Special Thanks to…

Chef Dan

Madd Mantis Tackle Works

Monmouth University / Urban Coast Institute

Barstool Outdoors

Atlantic Bait & Tackle

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