<b>***Update, Friday, 4/12:***</b> Striped bass fishing is on, Capt. Frank from the <b>Vitamin Sea</b> wrote in a brief e-mail after a trip aboard Raritan Bay on Thursday. Thirty stripers were landed on the trip, and 12 were kept, a limit for the six anglers. “Clams (are) the bait,” he said, and outgoing tide seemed better for the fishing. Charters and open-boat trips are sailing, and telephone about the open trips. “Get your dose of Vitamin Sea!”
The season’s first striped bass were boated from Raritan Bay on Wednesday with <b>Papa’s Angels Charters</b>, Capt. Joe said. The trip, with him and the boat’s mate, Jeff, reeled in a 31-inch keeper and six throwbacks, fishing from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. A winter flounder was also bagged, and clams and bloodworms were fished. The bay was 51 degrees, compared with 45 during the weekend. Joe had predicted that the week’s warmer weather could warm the bay, starting striper catches. Open-boat trips for stripers are available daily when no charter is booked, and one of the open trips Sunday is full, unless someone cancels.
Striped bass fishing broke open on the back of Raritan Bay on Tuesday for <b>Fisher Price Charters</b>, Capt. Derek said. The bay reached 50 degrees, and six keepers to 32 inches and 18 throwbacks were clammed on the trip aboard that day. Charters are fishing, and space is available on open-boat trips for stripers Saturday and Sunday. Call to climb aboard or to be kept informed about the future open schedule. Winter flounder fishing was slow, Derek heard. He knew about anglers who gave up fishing for them. No bluefish were heard about yet this season. <b>***Update, Friday, 4/12:***</b> Another boat limit of stripers was pounded Thursday aboard, Derek said. Nine keepers to 15 pounds and 13 throwbacks were clammed from the back of the bay. Waters reached 52 degrees, and space is available on the open trip for stripers Saturday. Charters are available, and the next open trips will be slated for next week, when weather forecasts become more definite.
Striped bass suddenly began to be boated Tuesday from Raritan Bay, said Capt. Dave from <b>Raritan Bay Charters</b>. A trip aboard today is supposed to clam for them on the back of the bay, and he’ll try to give an update on the trip that’ll be posted here afterward if he does. His trips, charters and daily open-boat, when no charter is booked, will also carry chum and worms for winter flounder fishing. Dave fished the bay Saturday, and no stripers bit, and waters were 45 degrees. Waters became 52 degrees this week, and that probably got striper fishing going. Dave’s friend ran a trip on Shark River, farther south, that landed 52 flounder on Wednesday. <b>***Update, Thursday, 4/11:***</b> Four keeper stripers and eight throwbacks were pounded from the bay on Rob Rommel’s charter aboard today, Dave said. A couple were also lost “here and there,” he said. Clams were the bait, and waters were 51 degrees. A chum pot with a flounder rig was dropped to bottom, and one rod was set out for flounder, and none was hooked. But stripers were the target.
Fresh bait should be stocked starting the beginning of the week or early next week at <b>Twin Lights Marina</b>, Wayne said. Electric was being worked on to keep the bait refrigerated, and frozen clams are already stocked. Everything else, including the fuel dock, boat slips, and boat-rack storage, is up and running, after Hurricane Sandy. Customers just started to launch boats for the season to fish. Twin Lights includes the marina, the fuel dock, a bait and tackle shop and ship’s supplies.
From <b>Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters</b>, Capt. Pete hopes to begin fishing in the next week or two, he said. He expects to launch the boat by the weekend for the season. When trips, both charters and open-boat, start, they’ll probably mostly fish for striped bass. Stripers and herring were sighted at the Mudhole, but striper fishing is closed that far from shore. The fishing is open within 3 miles from shore, but the ocean was 45 degrees, too cold for stripers, near the coast. Current warmer weather could raise the temp soon, Pete hopes. Blackfish season is open this month, and the tautog are the other option to fish for. A few of the slipperies bit in the ocean. Nothing spectacular, Pete said.
The party boat <b>Golden Eagle</b> is in the water and will be ready to fish late next week, a report on the vessel’s Web site said. Trips will steam for striped bass daily on the ocean, and last Thursday, the report said the waters needed to warm 5 degrees for stripers to be caught. That could happen 10 days from then or so, it said. That would be Sunday or next week. The boat was recently returned from dry dock. New engines were installed that made the vessel much faster, and the new paint job looks great, the report said. Work was also done to make the boat more convenient for customers.
Another good day for winter flounder fishing on Shark River, Bob from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b> wrote about Wednesday in an e-mail. “Everyone getting fish,” he said. Both boaters and bank anglers caught them, but boaters totaled larger numbers, if they chummed. The river’s flounder fishing was above average for six days straight now. Amazing what a little warm water could do, Bob said. Pete Kowolek and two friends from Middletown, on one of the shop’s rental boats, crushed the black-backs from the river, keeping their limits of the flounder to 21 inches, releasing the rest. Bob wished he could say striped bass fishing was the same, and that’s all he wrote about striper fishing. In freshwater, trout fishing was great at Spring Lake. Nicholas Baba from Belmar weighed in an 8-pound 7-ounce rainbow trout from the lake.
Cold waters delayed the striped bass migration, but this week’s warmth should raise ocean temperatures, an e-mail from the party boat <b>Big Jamaica</b> said. Daily striper trips will sail 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. starting Saturday on the ocean. Buy two striper or bluefish trips for 2013 and get one free through today.
<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>
Bottom-fishing wasn’t so bad, was still slow like before, but was a little better, on Wednesday’s trip on the ocean on the party boat <b>Dauntless</b>, Capt. Butch said. Anglers averaged five to 15 fish, but a few more than before bagged 15. Trips lately caught mostly ling, a few cod, a few blackfish and a few pollock. Larger cod showed up on Tuesday’s trip, and an angler with an 18-pounder won the pool. That was the largest in some time. Good-sized pollock were decked on Saturday’s and Sunday’s trips. The boat this week fished in 120 to 200 feet, deeper than before. Wednesday’s trip tried fishing a little deeper, but dogfish were brutal. The sharks also bit shallower, but bit like mad deeper. Waters were cold or 43 to 44 degrees. Striped bass began to be seen swimming the water surface the last couple of trips for the first time this year. Butch saw three or four on Wednesday. The Dauntless is bottom-fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.
Weather reached 83 degrees at Point Pleasant Beach on Tuesday, Capt. Matt from the party boat <b>Norma-K III</b> said. What a great day to be on the waters, he said, and a few blackfish, about 10 keepers and some throwbacks, were swung aboard the first place fished on the day’s trip. Catches looked like they’d be productive, but were slow afterward. The boat was moved to different spots a lot, “but (we) could not find the ones that wanted to bite,” he said. An angler with an 8-pound blackfish won the pool. A few more days of this warmer weather, he said in the report that day, and blackfish should chew better. He planned to fish places a little deeper coming up. Wednesday’s weather was gorgeous, but no trip fished. “Nobody around to go out,” Matt said. Tuesday’s trip was the only to sail since Sunday’s trip, covered in the last report. Whether a trip fished today was unknown at press time. Striped bass trips are slated to begin Friday, fishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.
Everyone had been fishing at Oyster Creek, nowhere else, really, for striped bass and winter flounder, said Kyle from <b>Grizz’s Forked River Bait & Tackle</b>. Lots of stripers and good-sized flounder had been nailed from the creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant, from the Route 9 Bridge and the banks. Anglers had also waded the mouth of the creek to catch. But nothing was heard about the fishing in past days, despite warm weather. Whether few anglers fished or the fishing slowed was unknown. But Grizz from the shop drove past, and only two cars were parked. Previously no less than 10 cars were parked at a time. Fresh clams, bloodworms, sandworms and killies are stocked.
Striped bass fishing was stellar at Graveling Point, said Scott from <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b>. That’s the nearby shore-angling spot at the confluence of Great Bay and Mullica River. None of the fish was a keeper, and the stripers were 8 to 20 inches. But action was steady, lots of fun. On one day, the larger stripers seemed to inhale clams. On another, bloodworms seemed to catch better numbers. So anglers preferred to take both baits. No bluefish were seen, but Scott wouldn’t be surprised if someone walked in with a blue today. It’s time, and the store’s annual $100 gift certificate was up for grabs for the angler who checks in the first blue caught from Graveling Point from shore. Stripers also chomped up the rivers. Absolutely, Scott said. So places like Hay Road on Mullica River and Great Egg Harbor River were options. Scott finally netted live grass shrimp, a favorite white perch bait, to stock. Tides were right in evenings after work. But nobody perch fished on the rivers, now that stripers could be landed. Nothing was heard about blackfishing. Baits stocked also include fresh, shucked clams, bloodworms, minnows and, for freshwater, trout baits like baby nightcrawlers and meal worms.
Six throwback striped bass were beached from the surf Wednesday, said Capt. Andy from <b>Riptide Bait & Tackle</b>. Jeff Haines, owner of Team America Tackle, bloodwormed two of them, a 26-incher and a 24-incher, at the bottom of the tide, and Andy knew about four that other anglers pasted. “So that’s a good sign,” Andy said. Before then, the fishing was dead. Bloodworms are stocked, and fresh clams will arrive Friday. The shop’s bounty was up to $950 for the season’s first striper larger than 43 inches checked in from the island’s surf. It should reach $1,000 by the weekend. Entry is $5, and anglers must enter 24 hours before the catch to win.
Sizeable blackfish were smashed at the T-jetty on green crabs and clams, said Noel from <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b>. Striped bass were tied into on the back bay at Harrah’s Casino on clams and bloodworms. A commercial angler ran into lots of white perch on Great Egg Harbor River. Large, tiderunner weakfish and out-of-season summer flounder were found in his fyke nets. Fresh clams, bloodworms, green crabs and all baits are fully stocked.
Waters somewhat warmed, reaching 45 to 47 degrees, said Ed from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. “Depends,” he said. But that seemed to improve fishing a little, not a lot. “It’s better,” he said. More began to be heard about blackfish, not a lot, caught along bridges and jetties. Green crabs caught, but the tautog will jump on clams in colder waters, too. Once waters warm, making blackfish more active, they seem to prefer crabs. Herring, shad, alewives or some kind of baitfish began to school inlets like they do this time of year. That boded well for fishing. No striped bass came from the surf, and anglers waited to land them next, and that should happen soon. Stripers were sometimes snatched from the back bay on bloodworms or clams. Or they were plugged on soft-plastic lures in evenings or mornings. The bay’s fishing wasn’t great, but produced a few. A few white perch were flung in from Great Egg Harbor River. Throwback stripers were mixed in. Weather was rough and cold until the past several warmer days, so fishing hadn’t had a long time to pick up. But it did improve. This afternoon began to turn windy and cooler. Fresh clams, bloodworms and green crabs are stocked.
<b>Sea Isle City</b>
Blackfish were plucked from along the rock wall at Townsend’s Inlet on the Avalon side in past days, said Mike from <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. Maybe 1 in 5 was a keeper, but action was constant on ebb tide. Salted clams hooked them, and anglers fished green crabs, “(getting) not even a sniff,” he said. Throwback striped bass began to be yanked from the back bay in late afternoons on soft-plastic lures like Zooms, Bass Assassins or Fin-S Fish. Scattered stripers, not many, were beached from the surf with “no rhyme or reason,” Mike said. He’d dunk clams for bait. For boaters fishing the ocean 3 to 15 miles from shore, blackfishing was kind of slow. But others sailed 15 to 25 miles off, and one, for example, bailed the fish, including a couple of 10-pounders. The deep seemed good for the fishing. Fresh clams, bloodworms, green crabs and all frozen baits are stocked.
The boat was splashed for the season Tuesday, and Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b>, affiliated with <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>, ran a short, exploratory trip on the back bay with an angler that day, Joe said. He didn’t expect much from the fishing, but two striped bass and an out-of-season summer flounder were caught and released. So that was good, and Joe will keep fishing hard, and expects good striper catches from the bay this weekend. The fish on the trip were hooked on Bass Assassins on lead jigheads, fished slowly along bottom in cold waters. The bay was 47 to 58 degrees, depending on location and tide. The tide was far from perfect for the angling. The trip fished the end of outgoing tide and mostly on incoming, and incoming is coldest this time of year. If the trip had fished more of outgoing, warmest this time of season, more fish would’ve been caught, Joe dared to say. The catches were a good sign, considering less than ideal tide. Was good to see the fish “starting to move,” Joe said. The flounder was the first reported caught on this site this year. South Jersey’s shallow, relatively warm back bays are known for early season flounder fishing. Angling for them, catch and release, is usually excellent before the fluke season even opens in May. If anglers want to keep flounder, soon after the opening is a good time to bag them. Many, but not all, of the flatfish will move to the ocean in summer, seeking colder waters. Bluefish will invade the bay within two weeks, Joe said with no hesitation. His trips will go after them. Blues storm the bay each spring, migrating from the south. The population is thick a moment in the bay, for unknown reasons, until many of the blues move to the ocean for summer. Some can always be found in the bay through summer, once they arrive. Stripers hold in the bay year-round. Certain times of year, including spring, create great water temperatures for fishing for them. Later in spring and through summer, Joe specializes in popper-lure and -fly fishing for stripers on the bay, good sport. Waters are warmer then, so the bass become aggressive enough to smack poppers. Sometimes in summer, the bay can become so warm that striper fishing becomes best at night, because of lower temperatures. Then Joe fishes for them with subsurface lures and flies. Keep up with his fishing on <a href="http://captainjoehughes.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">Jersey Cape’s blog</a>.
The water surface was 58 degrees at the docks at <b>No Bones Bait & Tackle</b>, but that was only the surface, and the back bay was too cold for striped bass fishing to begin, Fred said. A week or two was probably left before the fishing becomes good. The bay, not just the surface, needs to reach the low 50s, and not just for a day or two. About five days of the temp is needed. Though this week was warmer, weather was freezing through last week. When the bite begins, anglers will fish for them with fresh clams. They’ll also fish for stripers in the surf with clams, and the surf was also too cold. The temp was 42 degrees off the jetties at Cape May Inlet. An angler tried for blackfish along jetties in the surf Wednesday, hooking one small one. He saw gannets filling the sky, diving on bait in the ocean, a seal coming up with herring, and dolphins swimming. Lots of herring and bunker were around along the ocean and Delaware Bay. A boater was heard about who supposedly sailed for blackfish 30 miles from the coast, only pulling in small ones from the cold waters. A buddy and his friends bottom-fished on a party boat from Brielle, farther north, only managing seven ling that felt ice cold to the touch. But, again, local striper fishing was probably only a week or two away from kicking in. Bait stocked includes pints and quarts of whole clams and large, bulk bags of frozen clam bellies. When fishing begins, fresh clams and bulk bags of fresh bellies will be carried. So will other baits like bloodworms.
Trips will fish this weekend, probably clamming for striped bass on Delaware Bay, on the <b>Heavy Hitter</b>, Capt. George said. Blackfishing is also an option. George fished for the stripers last weekend on a friend’s boat, covered in the last report. A few of the fish were eased in. Drum charters usually begin in May. Telephone if interested in any of this fishing.
Both generators became on the blink on the party boat <b>Porgy IV</b>, and whether they’d be fixed for blackfish trips to resume through this weekend couldn’t be known, Capt. Paul said. Telephone to find out, and a trip last sailed Thursday, before the generators broke down, and blackfish were picked. When trips resume, the Porgy IV is blackfishing at 8 a.m. daily. First one generator stopped working. As luck would have it, the second one conked out soon afterward. One part was suspected to malfunction, and the mechanic found nobody with the part in stock. So it had to be sent to the manufacture to be rebuilt. It was rebuilt and installed, then the part didn’t get the generators working. So the mechanic had to get back to work and get trips running. Portable generators could be used, but Paul didn’t wish to sail like that.
Catches of blackfish began to pick up at inlet jetties, said Nick from <b>Hands Too Bait & Tackle</b>. Green crabs were best bait, and a couple of anglers banked a few striped bass, throwbacks and a few keepers mixed in, from the surf at Poverty Beach on clams. Some caught them along the jetties on bloodworms and Bomber lures. Stripers were also dragged from the surf along Delaware Bay. Boaters on Delaware Bay scored okay on stripers along the flats toward Maurice River Cove. Nobody mentioned boating for blackfish on the ocean, but surely the tautog could be axed from wrecks. Fresh clams, bloodworms, green crabs, eels and frozen baits are stocked.