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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 4-2-18


<b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> <b>Dockside Bait & Tackle</b> was opened yesterday for the fishing season, Tim said. He was yet to hear any fishing reports, and none of the boats were in the water at the marina yet. Frozen bait is stocked until demand for fresh picks up. When that happens, a full supply is carried. The shop will be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, Tim thought, until demand increases. Dockside, located on Smith Creek, a tributary of the Arthur Kill, is accessible from land and water at the fuel dock.


The <b>Vitamin Sea</b> was launched Thursday and is ready to fish, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. The year’s first open-boat trips will fish Saturday and Sunday for striped bass on Raritan Bay. Bait for anglers to fish for winter flounder at the same time will be carried aboard. Frank and crew took the boat for a shakedown cruise, and the water was mostly 42 degrees in the bay. Mostly throwback stripers but keepers mixed in are being reeled from the warm shallows. Cool weather and water has delayed the striper migration. Open trips will fish for stripers on every day when no charter is booked. Trips that depart in mornings will sail, but so will trips from 2 to 8 p.m. to accommodate as many anglers as possible. The afternoon trips fish just as well as the morning ones, and frequently better.  Keep up with the latest schedule on <a href="" target="_blank">Vitamin Sea’s Facebook page</a>, and see photos of trips there. Springtime’s here, and let’s go fishing! Frank said. A dose of Vitamin Sea can cure anything, he said. <b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> Saturday’s trip will be weathered out, but an open trip will fish Sunday for stripers and winter flounder, and spots are available, Frank wrote in an email. Telephone to reserve. A trip will also fish for them Friday that’s full. Weather’s been tough.

Open-boat trips for striped bass will kick off fishing beginning Saturday with the <b>Down Deep Fleet</b>, Capt. Mario said. The trips will probably fish warm water in the back of Raritan Bay with clams, bunker and maybe eels. Open trips sail daily, and charters are available. Down Deep’s two boats accommodate up to 15 passengers apiece. Trips for sea bass and fluke are being booked for later this year. 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.”


Capt. Joe from <b>Sour Kraut Sportfishing</b> hopes to splash the boat next week, he said. He’ll begin charters and open-boat trips, for striped bass on Raritan Bay, as soon as the striper fishing picks up. The year’s first gannets were seen diving on baitfish, probably herring, two Saturdays ago on the bay. The first bunker in the bay this year were seen weeks ago. 

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> The phone began to ring, anglers are chomping at the bit to get outdoors, and striped bass trips will start the year’s fishing on the <b>Fishermen</b>, Capt. Ron wrote in a report on the party boat’s website. That will probably be on Saturday, April 14. Smaller stripers began to bite in the back of Raritan Bay “with some activity along the beach as well,” he wrote. He hopes weather improves in the next week or so to raise water temperature a few degrees. The trips will sail 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily and fish with clams, bunker, jigs and rubber shads. Ron’s looking forward to fishing with everybody. Don’t wait for the hot reports. Be part of the reports when the fishing happens, he said.

<b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> <b>Fisherman’s Den North</b> opened daily today for the fishing season, for limited hours at first, Tom said. A couple of customers today said a few striped bass were dragged from shore from Raritan Bay at places like Keyport on clams and bloodworms. None of the party boats are sailing from Atlantic Highlands yet. Sandworms, bloodworms and fresh, shucked clams are stocked. Fresh clams in the shell were just ordered.

<b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> Small striped bass were plucked from Raritan or Sandy Hook bays here and there, like from Keansburg Pier, said Ron from <b>Julian’s Bait & Tackle</b>. He knew about one keeper, a 28-1/2-incher, reeled up from the pier. The fish was released, and a few winter flounder were also hung from the pier. Ron and friends banked stripers from Cliffwood Beach on Raritan Bay the other night. They were small, 12 inches, and an 18-incher was probably biggest. He hesitated to name the location, but everybody knows about catches like this at places like there, Keyport and Union Beach this time of year. A buddy knew about stripers including a few keepers, not many, about four, landed on Hudson River at a spot. Anglers clammed the fish there. Nothing was heard about stripers from the ocean surf. But Ron from one of the bridges saw gannets dive-bomb the ocean surf. First he saw five or six, then a couple more, so he pulled over to watch. The birds bombed the bait – bunker, he assumed – pretty hard. More flounder catches were actually reported than striper catches. Most stripers reported were from south, like from Oyster Creek and from Barnegat Bay behind Island Beach State Park. The creek is the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant. When weather and water warms a couple of degrees, news should pick up. A couple of customers yanked in winter flounder from Navesink River off Fair Haven, just downstream from Red Bank. Ron planned to fish for flounder today. Nothing was heard from boaters about fishing, including about blackfishing. Jumbo sandworms and bloodworms are stocked. So are fresh chowder clams. Sea clams are scarce, but frozen are ordered. No green crabs are carried yet for blackfishing. Customers kept gearing up for Saturday’s opening of trout season from the store’s freshwater section. The shop’s crew was busy re-vamping the store this winter, and check it out. A bunch of new tackle is in supply.


<b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> Fishing will begin Monday with <b>Fin-Taz-Tic Sportfishing</b> for the year, Capt. Pete wrote in an email. The trip will angle for striped bass and winter flounder in the back of Raritan Bay. When catches pick up, afternoon trips will fish aboard, in addition to morning trips that will already be sailing. Charters and open trips run on the boat. Follow daily reports on <a href="" target="_blank">Fin-Taz-Tic’s Facebook page</a>. The reports will eventually also be posted on  <a href="" target="_blank"> Fin-Taz-Tic’s website</a>.


<b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> Had some reports of striped bass and blues feeding on bait in the ocean to the south – won’t be long before they’re here, Capt. Ralph from <b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b> wrote in an email. The boat is in the water and ready to fish, and April is the month for blackfish and cod, he said. Individual-reservation trips will fish for cod April 20 and blackfish April 29 and 30. On the cod trip, pollock and ling should also be hooked. For the blackfish trip, Ralph secured a contract for crabs and clams, so they should be available. They were difficult to obtain last year.  An individual-reservation trip will fish for stripers May 12. If no stripers are biting, the trip will bottom-fish. Individual-reservation trips will be added for May and June for fluke and sea bass. New Jersey was yet to finalize the seasons and bag limits for those two fish and should soon. Annual individual-rez trips that fish every Tuesday will begin June 19, and kids under 12 sail free on those outings, limited to one per adult host.  Weekends and other preferred dates for charters are almost full through summer. Ralph suggests booking as soon as possible.


<b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> Trips should blackfish today and Sunday on the party boat <b>Big Mohawk</b> on the ocean, Capt. Chris said. The best weather was forecast for those days last night, when he said this. The trips are scheduled to sail 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, and were yet to run because of weather since blackfish season opened Sunday.  The annual <a href="" target="_blank">Shark River Surf Anglers Kids Trout Tournament</a> will take place Saturday, opening day of trout season, at Spring Lake, Chris noted. Be aware that the Mercer Avenue Bridge is closed that runs across the lake. The contest, open to kids 15 and under, is known for good catches including big trout. More than 500 trout, some heavier than 10 pounds, are stocked before the event. All kids receive a prize, and prizes are also awarded for the largest trout. Free hot chocolate, soda, juice, donuts, bagels, hot dogs, chips and ice cream are offered.

Anglers reported bagging six winter flounder from Shark River on Saturday, said Tom at <b>Fisherman’s Den</b>. Previously, no flounder bit, so the water probably warmed. Snow fell this morning, and rain fell afterward, when Tom gave this report at 11 a.m. Whether the snow was going to cool the water was going to be seen. Striped bass were tugged from Raritan Bay at Keyport from shore yesterday. That’s farther north, and those were the only stripers he heard about recently, except stripers hooked at Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River nuclear plant. That’s farther south. One of Belmar’s party boats yesterday totaled 25 throwback blackfish and four or five keepers from the ocean, he thought. That was opening day of blackfish season, and none of the port’s party boats sailed today because of weather. <b>Fisherman’s Den North</b> in Atlantic Highlands, the Belmar store’s sister shop, will open Thursday for the fishing season.

Forecasts look like the <b>Big Mohawk</b> will sail for blackfish at 7 a.m. Wednesday, the party boat’s Facebook page said. Forecasts looked too rough for today and tomorrow, Tuesday.

No mackerel were found on a trip Saturday on the <b>Golden Eagle</b> on the ocean, the party boat’s Facebook page said. A few throwback cod, a ling and some ocean perch were tied into. Trips aboard won’t give up on mackerel but will focus on wreck-fishing for catches like cod and ling. Once striped bass show up, trips will fish for stripers. Weather was about the best in March on the trip. That was the final day of March, and no trip was scheduled for yesterday, Easter. Trips today and tomorrow were expected to be weathered out. Beginning Wednesday, trips will start fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.


<b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> A handful of winter flounder were picked from Barnegat Bay near Mantoloking Bridge and Bay Avenue, said Eric from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. One or two small striped bass were heard about that were bloodwormed around the bridge. A few stripers were played along Route 37 Bridge on the bay. Striper fishing was good in the Toms River including at Island Heights. Small plugs, small, 4-inch rubber shads and bloodworms beat them in evenings into night but also during daytime there. Light-tackle was the way to fish for all these stripers, because the fish were 16 to 24 inches. Weather will need to warm a little for bigger stripers to move in anywhere. No boats were known to fish in rough weather this week. A few cod were boated last week, Eric guessed, and they were probably still around. But nothing was heard about boating for blackfish since blackfish season opened Sunday.

<b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> The <b>Jamaica II</b>’s summer schedule should be known in a couple of days, when the sea bass and fluke regs are finalized, the party boat’s Facebook page said yesterday. The schedule should be similar to last year’s, including full-day sea bass trips for a moment when sea bass season opens, then a half-day fluke trip in mornings and a half-day sea bass trip in afternoons every day, except one full-day combo fluke and sea bass trip every Monday, until sea bass season closes. The boat the past couple of weeks has been in the yard being spruced up for the fishing season. Fishing should resume soon aboard on the same schedule as before: bottom-fishing every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

<b>***Update, Friday, 4/6:***</b> The weekly cod trip and the weekly tilefish trip were weathered out this weekend on the <b>Gambler</b>, a report said on the party boat’s website. “Where is spring?” it asked. But the weekly blackfish trip will sail Sunday. The cod trips are running 2 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Friday in April, reservations required. The tilefish trips are steaming 1 a.m. to 8 p.m. every Saturday this month, reservations required. The blackfish trips, named the Lazy Man Taug Trips, no reservations required, are heading out 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday this month. Sleep in for those outings, the report said.

<b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> The boat was going to be splashed today after quick, routine maintenance in the yard, Capt. Alan from <b>Mushin Sportfishing</b> wrote in an email. The vessel is upgraded each winter. Trips for cod and tilefish are on the calendar for this month, and a couple of open-boats will be added for that angling. Watch <a href="" target="_blank">Mushin’s Facebook page</a> for availability. In May, fishing will sail for striped bass and sea bass aboard. From June through October, Mushin will mostly fish offshore canyons for tuna, sharks and a healthy dose of tilefish. Like in recent years, the boat will be moved to Cape May in June and July to take advantage of the southern canyons for that. Afterward, it’s returned to Point Pleasant Beach.

A half-day trip sailed for blackfish on Easter Sunday, opening day of blackfish season, on the <b>Norma-K III</b>, Capt. Matt wrote in a report on the party boat’s website. Fishing was slow, only pulling in one keeper blackfish, a few short blackfish and two small cod. But Matt was glad to try for blackfish, because the fishing looked like it should pick up in the next week. The blackfish caught looked healthy, “not washed out which gives (me) some hope that it’s gonna get good!” he wrote.  Beginning today, trips will sail for blackfish 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Blackfish season will be open throughout April and closed beginning May 1. Trips also fished for ling and cod Friday and Saturday aboard. The angling was slow, copping only a few short cod and plenty of dogfish and bergals. But Matt hopes that changes soon. Those two trips fished in 120 feet of water to 220, and all the depths produced the same.

<b>Toms River</b>

The Toms River tossed up striped bass at night, slower fishing than before, but still catching, said Dennis from <b>Hook House Bait & Tackle</b>. Most were bloodwormed, but sometimes rubber shads or small Rapala lures bonked one or two. Anglers tried fishing chunks of bunker for the bass, but that failed to work. Bunker chunks caught stripers in Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River nuclear plant. Bunker schooled there. Winter flounder began to bite Wednesday or Thursday in the Toms and in Barnegat Bay near Pelican Island Bridge and Mantoloking Bridge. The flounder had muddy bottoms, were just beginning to stir around, after cold water. The river was 45 degrees on Saturday. Nephews of Dennis limited out on two apiece on the Toms.  The river’s white perch fishing wasn’t hot and heavy but produced, even from docks. Dennis thinks bluefish will arrive in Barnegat Bay by the end of the week. They should also shoot into the river, and fishing for the blues has been good in the river and bay in recent springs. The blues were big slammers. Nothing was really heard about catches from the surf yet. A few small stripers were rumored beached from the surf farther north in New Jersey in recent weeks. The store’s name was just changed to Hook House Bait & Tackle from Murphy’s Hook House Bait & Tackle. The store, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River. 

<b>Forked River</b>

Fishing was hot for striped bass in Oyster Creek, said Mike from <b>Grizz’s Bait & Tackle</b>. That’s the warm-water discharge from Forked River nuclear plant, and a bunch of schoolies bit, but he saw reports about some keepers 28 to 33 inches. Mostly bloodworms, sometimes clams, were fished for the creek’s stripers. Good catches of winter flounder were boated on Barnegat Bay at the mouth of the creek. Anglers limited out. A few customers stopped in for green crabs to fish for blackfish yesterday, opening day of blackfish season. Bloodworms, killies and salted clams are also carried.

<b>Barnegat Light</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> The year’s first charter on the <b>Super Chic</b> was currently booked for May 12, Capt. Ted said. The trip is expected to sail for bluefish on the ocean, and he hopes blues are in by then. He and crew are working on seasonal maintenance on the boat, and the vessel will be hauled from the water next week for more of the maintenance. He hopes the vessel will be ready to fish by May 1. Ted won’t be surprised if striped bass begin to be caught on the ocean and in Barnegat Inlet in late April. Lots of herring and bunker schooled, he heard. Barnegat Bay’s striper fishing kept improving on each day when weather was warming. Weather’s mostly been rough. Ted hasn’t thought yet about whether open-boat trips for tilefish will sail offshore that often do in May aboard. He’s waiting to see what the sea bass regulations will be this year, and the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council might decide the regs to recommend today at a meeting. Click here to see the options. He’s hoping for an early start to sea bass season, and May 15 is the earliest of those options. If the season begins early, sea bass trips might take up much of the boat’s schedule in the second half of May, nixing the tile trips.

<b>Mystic Island</b>

The year’s first striped bass was checked-in at <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b>, Scott said. The 7.12-pound 28-1/2-incher was banked at Pebble Beach from shore at 8:45 p.m. Friday on incoming tide and brought to the store Saturday. The angler also reported catching throwbacks there on the trip. The water was 45 degrees, and the angler won the annual $100 gift certificate for the year’s first striper weighed-in from the Graveling Point area. That’s a shore-angling spot at the confluence of Great Bay and Mullica River that gives up some of the first stripers each year. Bluefish and drum could show up in that area anytime. No blues were heard about yet locally, but some were reported from farther south. An annual $100 gift certificate is awarded to the angler who stops in with the year’s first blue from Graveling from shore. The year’s first laughing gull was seen locally on Wednesday or Thursday. When gulls appear, bluefish usually arrive. Seeing the gull might’ve seemed unusual because no striper had been checked-in yet, when the gull was seen, and striper fishing usually takes off in this area before bluefishing does. The angler with the striper was the only who gave feedback to the store about the Graveling area. That seemed because weather’s often been rough, including a storm today. No snow fell in the storm, but rain did, when Scott gave this report this morning. A photo was seen of a number of blackfish in a cooler yesterday, opening day of blackfish season. The location of the catch was unknown, but seemed to be deep water in the ocean. Bloodworms ran out of stock, and Scott hopes to stock more on Tuesday. The store is closed every Tuesday. Fresh clams and green crabs ran out, and when the clams will be re-stocked was uncertain, because clam boats probably stayed in port in the storm, and might’ve stayed in port for Easter. Scott wasn’t asked when green crabs will be re-stocked. Grass shrimp have been scarce for Scott to net to stock, but he netted a limited supply that’s on hand. He saw minnows and spearing at a couple of spots where he minnowed. Some bait was around.


Bluefish 2 and 3 pounds, sometimes 5 pounds or larger, were reported from Lakes Bay, said Capt. Dave from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>. That seemed way early and surprising to him, and he saw none.  But he heard “well, what I consider confirmed reports,” he said, and customers bought cut bait like mullet to go fish for them. Some striped bass seemed mixed in. White perch fishing was pretty good in brackish rivers. Lots of throwback stripers but definitely some keepers swam all usual spots like in the brackish rivers. The keepers weren’t big “but just about what you’d figure,” he said. Healthy migrations of herring seemed to swim up the rivers, and large, migrating stripers should follow them up soon. All of these signs seemed to be coming together well for spring’s migrations of fish. Weather was often rough still, including stormy weather today along the coast. Snow was forecast for parts of New Jersey in the storm, but no snow, only rain, was falling at the shop this morning, when Dave gave this report. A few customers headed for blackfishing yesterday, opening day of blackfish season. Water seemed cold for the angling, according to reports that came back. But that fishing should get going soon, including along jetties and bridges.

<b>Atlantic City</b>

Check out this video of birds working the pocket at the T jetty in Atlantic City this morning that was posted on <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b>’s Facebook page.  Looks promising! Anglers are waiting for the migrations of bluefish and striped bass to slam that area soon. That’s happened in April’s second week in recent years.  Customers fish for them on foot from the T, and that’s located at the ocean end of Absecon Inlet. They also catch on foot from the nearby jetties in the surf, and along the jetty-lined inlet itself. Also see this photo of a blackfish from a customer who fished for the tautog at the inlet yesterday, opening day of blackfish season.  “… lots of action a couple of small fish landed …,” the photo caption said. Looks promising, it said. When the season opened last year, blackfishing soon became good along the inlet.


Trips fished the ocean Saturday and Sunday on the <b>Stray Cat</b>, Capt. Mike said. The angling was slow, picking a couple of blackfish throwbacks Sunday, and he’s going to give fishing a rest a few days. Rough weather rolled in today and should calm by Wednesday or Thursday. Open-boat trips will fish Friday through Sunday for blackfish or striped bass. If striped bass show up, he wants to stop on them. The water was 42 degrees, almost 43. The bottom was cold, he guessed. Weather was gorgeous, seas were calm and a southerly current ran, but not too strongly, no matter the full moon. The trips fished 16 miles from shore Saturday and 9 miles off Sunday. No bait including herring was seen, and neither were gannets or gulls. But life like that seems impending, and is usually already seen by now.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b> was trailering one of his boats to Sea Isle City from the Florida Keys this week, he said. He wrapped up annual traveling charters that he offers to the Keys every Christmas to Easter, and will now begin fishing from Sea Isle, starting on the back bay. If bluefish are yet to arrive in the bay, he’ll fish for striped bass there. Blues usually arrive by Tax Day, April 15. He hopes they’re as big this year as the past couple of years. They were 10- to 20-pound slammers during those years. They’re normally 2- to 3-pounders, and are still fun, tough fighters at that size. They wreak havoc, and fishing is some of the best of the year by mid-April on the bay. Blues, stripers, big, so-called tiderunner weakfish, and summer flounder can all chew in the bay then. Sometimes anglers can score all four species in a trip, named a Grand Slam. The flounder are out-of-season until May sometime and are released until then. The year’s flounder season is expected to be announced soon, maybe today. Joe fished with family in the Keys this week. Catches included lemon and bonnethead sharks sight-fished on the flats, jacks, snappers and a variety of other fish. Was good angling, and see the <a href="" target="_blank">traveling charters webpage</a> on Jersey Cape’s website. 

<b>Cape May</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> Daily blackfishing trips were going to begin last Monday on the party boat <b>Porgy IV</b>, but none got out, Capt. Paul said. Blackfish season opened on Easter Sunday, but no trip was scheduled for the holiday. The trips will begin as soon as wind calms. Currently, forecasts look like wind will be okay Saturday and Sunday, but anglers will see. The trips are slated for 8 a.m. daily.

<b>***Update, Thursday, 4/5:***</b> Blackfishing was yet to sail with <b>Fishin’ Fever Sportfishing</b> since the season opened Sunday for the tautog, and the trips will begin when weather calms, maybe this weekend, Capt. Tom said. He heard little about the angling, except about trips from Maryland. Nobody locally was known to fish for them yet. Bluefishing aboard will sail this month and into May on the ocean tight to shore, if blues school like they did in recent years. Big slammers swam abundant. Second-hand reports said a few smaller blues were already caught in back bays, and that’s early. Trips for drum on Delaware Bay will kick off on May 1 aboard. May is traditionally the month for the fishing, and Fishin’ Fever will begin immediately. Tilefishing will also steam offshore aboard in May. Charters and open-boat trips sail with Fishin’ Fever. Has Tom heard about striped bass, like in Delaware Bay or Delaware River? He heard about some landed from Raritan Bay farther north, and about none from Delaware Bay. Friends tried for stripers on Delaware River from shore in South Jersey a number of times in a row recently, and said only 12-inchers bit. 

Capt. George on Friday ran the <b>Heavy Hitter</b> from Cape May to be dry-docked along Maurice River for maintenance like painting to be readied for the fishing season, he said. He hopes to return the vessel to Cape May this weekend. If anglers want to sail for blackfish on the ocean this month, charters will sail for that. Blackfish season is open throughout April. Drum charters will fish in May on Delaware Bay. George heard about no striped bass that should migrate Delaware Bay to reach Delaware River for spawning anytime. He saw none and marked no bait on the trip from Cape May to the river, when he sailed including at 20-Foot Slough and the flats at Bug Light. Gannets were seen flying but not working bait.

<b>Hands Too Bait & Tackle</b> was opened back up Friday for the fishing season, Nick said. A few throwback striped bass seemed to begin biting for shore anglers from Cape May Point to Delaware Bay at the Cape May ferry jetty. The point is at the confluence of the bay and the ocean. Cast bloodworms or small soft-plastic lures like swim shads for the bass. Nothing was heard about large, migrating striped bass that boaters sometimes see in the bay’s shallows this time of year. The fish hug the shallows near shore, where the water’s warmest, headed to spawn in Delaware River. A few of the migrators, not many, seemed to begin being caught in the river. Anglers often fish for them from shore at places like Salem. Fishing for the stripers on the tidal river becomes closed beginning April 1 for spawning, but anglers catch and release them. Certain types of circle hooks are legally required for that angling, so check the regs. A couple of customers said they were going to fish for blackfish yesterday, opening day of blackfish season that remains open throughout this month. The store is now open daily, and always opens around April 1. Baits stocked include bloodworms and salted clams, and green crabs will be stocked for blackfishing soon.

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