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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 4-12-18


Pier anglers landed throwback striped bass at Sewaren and Perth Amboy, said Tim from <b>Dockside Bait & Tackle</b>. He heard about no keepers there. A few keepers were reported from around Keyport and the Navy Pier or that area. The only attempt at blackfishing heard about was a boat from the creek that headed out for the tautog but turned back because of weather. Fresh bunker were stocked yesterday. Sandworms were stocked, and no bloodworms were available from the supplier yet. Green crabs and frozen baits are carried. Dockside, located on Smith Creek, a tributary of the Arthur Kill, is accessible from land and water at the fuel dock.


The year’s first two keeper striped bass were boated on a trip yesterday morning on the <b>Vitamin Sea</b> on Raritan Bay, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. A bunch of throwbacks were released, and bunker flooded the bay. Gannets dove on baitfish all over. While Frank was writing the email after his trip, anglers were texting him photos of sizable stripers. The fishing seemed to be heating up. This is what we’ve been waiting for, he said. Charters are fishing, and spaces are available for open-boat trips Friday morning and Saturday morning and afternoon. Telephone to reserve. Morning trips are full next week, and Frank will try to schedule additional trips from 2 to 8 p.m.

Capt. Greg from <b>Manicsportfishing</b> is shooting to begin fishing on May 1, he said. A new boat, a fully-customized 31-foot Steiger Craft, should be ready then. He was at the boat builder this week, and the vessel was pretty much finished. Greg just needs to give final approval, and then the vessel will be shipped, and electronics will be installed, and it’ll be ready. The fishing will kick off with striped bass fishing on Raritan Bay. Livelining bunker for them is the priority, and fishing for them in other ways is done if necessary. The catches are beginning, and some keepers were reported yesterday. Anglers who fished for the bass yesterday said lots of bunker schooled.

Fishing will be launched Friday with the <b>Down Deep Fleet</b> for the year, Capt. Mario said. He’s excited, weather looks good, and open-boat trips will begin to fish daily then for striped bass on Raritan Bay. Telephone to reserve. Charters are available for up to 15 passengers. Sign up for the Short Notice List on <a href="" target="_blank">Down Deep’s website</a> to be kept informed about special open trips. Look for the link underneath “Contact.”

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

The party boat <b>Atlantic Star</b> will begin fishing for the year with striped bass trips Saturday and Sunday, Capt. Tom said. Clams will be provided, and anglers can bring lures like rubber shads and jigs if they want to try fishing something different like that. No other trips are scheduled yet, and Tom will announce when trips will begin fishing daily. The crew will finish a little painting of the boat after the weekend’s trips. Those trips will sail 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m. both days. <b>***Update, Saturday, 4/14:***</b> A keeper striped bass, a throwback and some bites were scored on this morning’s trip, Capt. Tom said. This afternoon’s trip so far had no action, he said at 3 p.m. when he gave this update in a phone call aboard. Tomorrow’s trips might become weathered out because of forecasts for easterly gusts to 40 knots when he gave this update. Somewhat calmer wind was predicted previously. He’ll watch the forecasts and decide whether the trips will sail. <b>***Another Update, Saturday, 4/14:***</b> No trips will sail Sunday and Monday because of rough weather, Tom said in the final moments of this afternoon’s trip in a phone call aboard. The angling might resume Tuesday, and anglers can telephone the boat to confirm. Wind was already building when he gave this update, and striper fishing ended up no good on that outing.

Trips for striped bass Saturday and Sunday will kick off the year’s fishing on the <b>Fishermen</b>, Capt. Ron wrote in a report on the party boat’s website. Clams will probably be fished at first during the season. The water is cold at 44 degrees, so he wouldn’t expect a lot from the angling, but will give it heck. Reportedly, fish rolled the water surface and birds worked the water “from Ambrose out East 5 miles,” he wrote. Striper fishing is closed beyond 3 miles from shore, and he hopes they migrate in by the weekend.  The trips will sail 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. both days, and daily trips for stripers will begin on Friday, April 20.

Some of the party boats from Atlantic Highlands will begin fishing this weekend, for striped bass, said Tom from <b>Fisherman’s Den North</b>. A few stripers caught were reported from the bay like at Keyport from shore and boats. Lots were throwbacks, but a few were keepers. Baits stocked include fresh clams and green crabs. Trout bait for freshwater is even carried. The shop’s rental boats will probably be splashed in a week.

Striped bass catches began on Raritan Bay, said Ron from <b>Julian’s Bait & Tackle</b>. He and two buddies cranked them in from the Perth Amboy pier and the surf near the pier last evening to night. The fish included two 30-pounders and maybe a dozen that weighed in the teens. At first, they caught a few on pencil poppers from the pier in the evening. At night, they hooked the rest on Danny swimmers, the biggest Dannys, from the surf. Swimmers are difficult to fish from a pier. Lots of bunker, huge, like 13 inches, swam. Gannets were seen diving along the channel. They went back this morning and hooked no stripers. Striper fishing was the only news, pretty much. That’s not a bad thing. Lots of customers trout fished in freshwater. Fresh bunker, fresh clams, sandworms, bloodworms, meal worms, earthworms, trout worms and nightcrawlers are stocked. Ron was stocking the shop with new tackle when he gave this report. Julian’s has the biggest selection of Sebile lures, nearly all of them, he said.  


Thirteen striped bass, including three 28-inch keepers, were top-water plugged today on Raritan Bay with <b>Fin-Taz-Tic Sportfishing</b>, Capt. Pete wrote in an email. Nobody caught on clams, worms or bunker chunks or on the troll. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing.


Individual-reservation trips were added with <b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b>, Capt. Ralph wrote in an email. Some were already slated. The new ones are a trip for cod May 15, trips for striped bass May 20 and 29 and trips for sea bass May 27 and June 12 and 22. The trips previously scheduled are for: cod April 20 with only a few spots left; blackfish April 29 and 30 with spots available; and stripers May 12 with two spots left. Annual, weekly individual-reservation trips that fish every Tuesday will begin June 19. This year’s fluke season, May 25 through Sept. 22, was announced and will end later than it did last year. That’s good for Last Lady, because fluking was best aboard last year in the two weeks before fluke season was closed beginning Sept. 6. Sea bass season was announced but could change. If the sea bass regs hold that were announced, they’ll be good for Last Lady. The dates, bag limits and minimum sizes are: May 15 to June 22, 10-fish, 12 ½ inches; July through August, two fish, 12 1/2 inches; Oct. 8 to 31, 10-fish, 12 1/2 inches; and November through December, 15 fish, 13 inches.


On the party boat <b>Big Mohawk</b>, anglers picked blackfish, began to bag a few, Capt. Chris said. The ocean was cold, but there was activity. Not that it was anything special. But some customers limited out. Clams and crabs are provided, and clams caught better, but crabs grabbed some. Trips are blackfishing 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

The <b>Golden Eagle</b> will now fish for striped bass daily, a report said yesterday on the party boat’s website. Some began to be bagged, and bunker began to school all over Raritan Bay and the ocean front. Weather is warming in the next days, and that should help. Anglers should probably plan on fishing clams and, on a slow retrieve, small swim shads and Mojos. Bring jigs in case, but they probably won’t be so productive. Fresh clams will be carried aboard. The trips are sailing 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Make a reservation on the <a href="" target="_blank">boat’s website</a> and save 10 percent.

The year’s first fishing will sail for striped bass and bluefish on the <b>Miss Belmar Princess</b>, and a date for the start will be announced, an email said from the boat in March. An email yesterday said hurry, because this offer is almost over: Purchase two gift certificates for trips on the boat, and get one free, or purchase 10 and get five free. That’s big savings. The certificates include rod rental and are valid for any regularly scheduled trips, and never expire. The offer cannot be combined with any other offer, discount or promotion.

Fishing began to show signs of life, Bob from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b> wrote in an email Wednesday. On one of Belmar’s party boats Tuesday, 20 keeper blackfish and a few keeper cod were docked. Keeper blackfish were also hooked along Shark River Inlet. On Shark River, winter flounder fishing was poor. If the angling fails to pick up this week, “I don’t hold out much hope,” he said. Striped bass fishing began to improve on Raritan Bay for shore anglers, who caught on clams and worms, and boaters fishing the shallows near shore. Lots of bunker and herring schooled bays and the ocean. Bigger stripers are expected to move in on them soon. Bob was told that a few small stripers were eased from the ocean surf, and some bluefish showed up in rivers. Get the tackle dusted off like Bob is, “so you’re ready when they hit your favorite spot,” he said. Also, in freshwater, trout fishing was exceptional at Spring Lake. Trout season opened on Saturday, and the state stocks trout at the lake, and so do the Shark River Surf Anglers for an annual kids’ trout tournament on the opener each year. The trout that the club stocks include some monsters. Take the kids, have fun and maybe smash a trophy, he said.


On the ocean, blackfishing began to improve, and some cod held at wrecks at the Mudhole and elsewhere, said Dave from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. A party boat from Point Pleasant Beach sailed for tilefish offshore early this week for the first time this year, and caught okay. Spaces are available for an overnight tilefish trip that Dave, an avid, expert tilefisher, will host on the boat May 22 to 23. Telephone the shop to get aboard, and Dave hosts tile trips like this each year. Check out The Reel Seat’s tilefish rod that might be the first-ever off-the-shelf pole for tilefishing. Winter flounder fishing hasn’t seemed good. One or two would be heard about from Manasquan River, and a couple would be talked about from northern Barnegat Bay toward Mantoloking Bridge and Point Pleasant Canal. Then again, not many anglers tried for them, because few will lay out the bucks for bait like a box of expensive sandworms in the two-flounder bag limit. In the bay from that northern area to the Toms River, schoolie striped bass bit, mostly on small, 4-inch, white soft-plastic lures like shads or those from Kettle Creek. A striper like 20 inches was heard about that was caught from the surf every once in a while, but not many. Lots of big baitfish including herring are schooling the ocean near the shore. Dave heard about bunker there previously but not recently.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

<b>***Update, Saturday, 4/14:***</b>  A couple of trips blackfished on the <b>Gambler</b> this past week, the party boat’s Facebook page said. A few throwbacks and keepers and a couple of cod were swung in, and the blackfish seemed lethargic. Fishing for them was slow, but hopefully the tautog will become “voracious” as water warms. Too bad blackfish season is only open this month. Trips are blackfishing 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, and crabs and clams are provided. Trips will fish for striped bass and bluefish beginning May 1. Cod trips and tilefish trips had each been scheduled once a week this month but kept being weathered out. So they’ll no longer be scheduled.

Bottom-fishing was a little slow on the party boat <b>Dauntless</b>, Capt. Butch said. The ocean was 41 degrees or cold from tight to shore to 15 or 18 miles off, and not warming. A couple of cod and a couple of ling were bagged each trip. Probably eight or 10 throwback cod were hooked each outing. Trips fished deeper water, from 120-foot depths to 220, and a couple of blackfish bit there, but not keepers. More keepers reportedly bit closer to shore. Lots of bunker schooled close to shore. Whales and porpoises swam there. Butch couldn’t say that bluefish or striped bass chased the bunker yet. But the bait was in. For the ocean to warm, sunny days are needed. The next days are supposed to warm up, but that means wind will blow from south, and that cools the ocean close to shore, because of upwelling. Sunny skies would warm the water. Trips are bottom-fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.

Throwback and keeper blackfish were picked Tuesday on the <b>Norma-K III</b>, and the keepers were larger than before, a report said on the party boat’s website. Most weighed 3 to 7 pounds, and both bait and jigs caught. The fishing was improving on each trip, and once the water temp rises a few degrees, it’s really going to turn on, the report said. Trips are blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, and green crabs and clams are carried aboard.

<b>Point Pleasant</b>

The <b>Tin Knocker</b> will be splashed next week, Capt. John said. Charters will then be available for the fishing season. At first, bottom-fishing like for blackfish or cod will be available on the ocean. Striped bass fishing will begin in May on the ocean.

<b>Toms River</b>

Fishing was good for striped bass on the Toms River at Island Heights and throughout the local river, said Dennis from <b>Hook House Bait & Tackle</b>. Most were throwbacks, and the stripers hit bloodworms, rubber shads and small plugs like Rapala X-Raps in model XR10S, the shop’s Facebook page said. Mostly throwbacks could also be angled in Oyster Creek and in Barnegat Bay on the same things. “Starting to see a little surf action,” the page said, with throwback stripers on bait and small lures. See more news from the shop, including about winter flounder, in Monday’s report. Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & tackle</b> in Toms River.

<b>Forked River</b>

<b>***Update, Friday, 4/13:***</b> At <b>Grizz’s Bait & Tackle</b>, Mike saw photos of a few 10- to 15-pound bluefish tackled at Oyster Creek, he said. That’s the warm-water discharge from Forked River nuclear plant. Schoolie striped bass were played at the creek, but some good reports about keepers rolled in from there, too. Customers bought bloodworms, sandworms and clams to fish for the creek’s stripers. A weakfish, 22 inches, good-sized, was mugged at the creek. That’s the year’s first weak reported on this website, and Mike knew about another, also sizable, that was checked-in from the creek at another tackle shop. Customers also tugged up winter flounder from Barnegat Bay. Fresh, jumbo surf clams are stocked. Bloodworms, sandworms, green crabs and killies are carried. The crabs, of course, are blackfish bait, and customers seemed to just begin fishing for the tautog. Rough weather kept them from sailing for the slipperies. Forecasts for wind and seas also look rough for this weekend, but some plan to blackfish. A 5-foot swell is forecast for Saturday, but with a 9-second period, so they might fish.

<b>Barnegat Light</b>

<b>Bobbie’s Boat Rentals</b> will open beginning Saturday and Sunday, George said. When the shop will be open afterward will be determined. The store’s been closed for a break since winter, and not much happened with fishing yet. A couple of blackfish were reeled in here and there along Barnegat Inlet’s jetty and from the ocean. No striped bass were heard about, except George heard about one a couple of weeks ago from Graveling Point, a ways south, where Mullica Rivers meets Great Bay. Frozen baits will be stocked. Fresh baits will be carried soon. Bobbie’s features a complete bait and tackle shop, a fuel dock and, in season, boat and kayak rentals. The boats are used for fishing, crabbing, clamming and pleasure.

<b>Mystic Island</b>

Striped bass, pretty good numbers, were banked from shore at Graveling Point and Pebble Beach, but were small, none larger than 25 inches, said Brandon from <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b>. No keepers were reported since the year’s first was checked-in that was caught on March 30 at Pebble. The water currently was cold, 45 degrees. Last year it was 55 now, and the fishing was “rocking and rolling.” But the angling is expected to pick up soon, no matter the temp, because of the time of year. Bluefish were reported from farther north and south, but none was locally. The annual $100 gift certificate to the store remains up for grabs for the angler who checks-in the year’s first blue from the Graveling area. Blues usually arrive soon there. Puppy black drum are also in the mix during some years in this area. Graveling and Pebble are shore-angling spots at the confluence of Great Bay and Mullica River. Larry who works at the store is a diehard white perch angler and currently was hardly catching any on the Mullica. He was fishing many spots and hooking one or two, and none sizable. Little was heard about blackfishing. The last Brandon heard, a party boat fished in 100 feet of water and managed one keeper on an ocean trip. Bloodworms, live grass shrimp, green crabs and salted clams are stocked. 

<b>Absecon Bay</b>

Not a lot of anglers stirred around because of cold weather, said Capt. Dave from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>. But temperatures reaching the 60 degrees and not lower than the 50s are coming during daytimes, and he expects big things. The number of keeper striped bass was increasing. More was being heard about them from bays and Mullica River, upstream in the river. White perch fishing was good in brackish rivers. Anglers had to work for the perch, and the water was cold, but the fish were there. Dave saw no photos of bluefish, but some were definitely around. Lakes Bay off Route 40 was the first place reports came from about them this year at the store. Blackfishing was slow in the chilly water. A few, not many, were hooked along jetties. Ocean wrecks inshore began to give up a few. This might be the weekend when more are angled along jetties. The year’s first fresh bunker are being stocked. Bloodworms and eels are on hand. Dave hopes to stock fresh clams Friday, hopes boats get out and harvest them.


Baitfish schooled all over the ocean front, dolphins and whales swam the same place, and all the signs were there to catch striped bass or bluefish in the surf, said Capt. Andy from <b>Riptide Bait & Tackle</b>. Nobody really fished the surf because of weather, but weather was now warming and improving. The shop will be loaded with bait for the weekend, including fresh bunker, fresh clams in the shell and fresh, shucked clams. The bunker were arriving today. The annual Riptide Striper Derby is underway until May 20, awarding prizes for spring’s heaviest stripers and bluefish from the town’s surf. First through third places are awarded for each of the two categories. Entry includes a permit to drive the whole length of Brigantine’s surf, except the north end, when the entrant also has a Brigantine beach-buggy permit. Without the derby permit, not that whole length can be driven. New Jersey this year created a new, separate permit that anglers must buy to drive the north end. The Riptide/Alan Weidner Brigantine Realtor 43-Inch Striper Bounty was currently up to $130. Entry is $5, and the bounty will grow because all the cash will be awarded for spring’s first striper 43 inches or larger checked-in from Brigantine’s surf. A $50 gift card to the store apiece will be awarded to the year’s first angler who brings in a striper from the town’s surf and the year’s first boater to come in with a striper. Sign up at the store for the Brigantine 4x4 Assist that offers unlimited towing from Brigantine’s beach for the year for $75.

<b>Atlantic City</b>

This is prime time for fishing to break open locally, said Noel from <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b>. The migrations of bluefish and striped bass could arrive in the surf beside Absecon Inlet any moment, and blackfish could begin snapping along the jetty-lined inlet any time. Those migrations have piled into the water in mid-April, give or take some days, in past years. The water was cold for blackfish to bite, but seemed to be warming. The water was 44.6 degrees this morning and 47.1 at mid-day. A few of all of these fish were occasionally hooked already. Anglers have been waiting for the water to warm to make all of the fishing kick in. The blues that were around seemed both big and small, but the ones that anglers talked about were big. Fresh bunker were just stocked, and customers had been asking for the bait. They’re eager that it came. Fish the bunker for the blues and the bunker, fresh clams or bloodworms for the stripers. Fish green crabs for the blackfish. All of these baits and more, the full supply, are stocked, except no minnows are on hand.


Blackfish to 12 pounds were socked yesterday on the <b>Stray Cat</b>, and half of the seven anglers limited out, Capt. Mike said. Good fishing, he said, and a good number of the tautog weighed 6 pounds. Small blackfish, “chocolate chips,” he said, bit throughout most of the trip. For the angler with the 12-pounder, this was his first blackfishing. The first wreck fished slowly. But blackfish were there, and anglers would lift the rod and realize they had a bite. The fish were sluggish in cold water. Then the boat was sailed 6 ½ miles north, and catches took off. Open-boat trips are blackfishing on every day when weather’s fit, and blackfish season is only open through April 30. Mike will try to squeeze in trips Saturday and Sunday. If wind blows more westerly, he’ll definitely take a shot. He’s got anglers who want to go on trips, and weather’s just been tough. This was the year’s first open trip that had the weather to sail when anglers wanted to head out. 

<b>Ocean City</b>

Bluefish 5 and 6 pounds are pushing into the surf, though not many anglers are fishing for them, said Justin from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. Snapper blues schooled the back bay, though that “makes no sense,” he said. Snappers usually show up in summer. Lots of striped bass, small ones 12 to 18 inches, filled Great Egg Harbor River. Twenty-five- or 26-inchers were the biggest heard about. The river’s stripers were mostly bloodwormed or clammed. Sometimes they were caught on lures, especially in afternoons during outgoing tides, when the water was warmest. Lures like small Fin-S Fish or paddle tails in pink or white clocked them. Stripers were landed from 9th Street Bridge’s fishing piers, mostly during daytime on lures, sometimes at night on bait. White perch fishing picked up quite a bit in the river the past 1 ½ weeks. No customers mentioned blackfishing. Bloodworms, green crabs and frozen baits are stocked.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Both boats are in the water, ready to roll, said Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. He runs a flats boat for skinny water and a larger vessel for bigger seas. He’ll absolutely fish this weekend, targeting striped bass or bluefish on the bay, if blues are in. He wouldn’t be surprised if the fishing Mohawks the catches, and wouldn’t be surprised if the fishing’s slow. Water temperature’s been very low, and weather’s been cool. There’s a good chance that the fish are already there, he thinks. But they would need water to be warm enough to make them active. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on <a href="" target="_blank">Jersey Cape’s Blog</a>.

<b>Cape May</b>

The party boat <b>Porgy IV</b> blackfished Sunday and Wednesday, and one angler limited out on each trip, Capt. Paul said. The ocean was cold, and not many of the tautog, including not many keepers, bit. But some were caught, and Paul guesses the water will warm soon. On Sunday’s trip, wind blew, seas were rough and weather was cold, and Don Mark from Philly limited out. John Ricciardi from Williamstown won the pool, and pool-winning fish weren’t big on the trips. On Wednesday’s trip, Sung Hwong from South Jersey and H. Oj from southeastern Pennsylvania tied for the pool with about a 4-pounder apiece. An angler named Norman from Egg Harbor Township bagged two blackfish on the outing, and had been in the lead for the pool. The ocean surface was 41.5 degrees on Sunday’s trip and 44 on Wednesday’s. Trips are slated to blackfish at 8 a.m. daily.

The <b>Heavy Hitter</b> was sailed back to the slip at Cape May on Friday, after the vessel was in dry dock for a week along Maurice River, Capt. George said. Seasonal maintenance like painting was done in dry dock, and George has a couple of odds and ends he wants to finish up on maintenance on the boat and on tackle. Charters can blackfish aboard this month if they want. Drum charters will fish Delaware Bay in May. On the trip back to Cape May, birds, a few hitting the water, others just looking, were seen on the bay at the last cans out of the Maurice. Some piles of bait were marked there, but no fish were marked anywhere. Seas were calm at first but became rough beginning at Bug Light.

Abundant bait, mostly bunker but also herring and shad, schooled the ocean, Delaware Bay and the back bay, said Nick from <b>Hands Too Bait & Tackle</b>. Nothing was reported about fishing yet. Green crabs, fresh bunker and fresh clams should be stocked in the next days.  

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