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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 4-9-18

<b>Note, Monday, 4/9</b>: This report now resumes being fully updated twice a week, every Monday and Thursday, through autumn. Welcome to the fishing season! The report will grow as fishing picks up. In winter through early April, the report is fully updated every Monday, and a few individual reports are added every Thursday, sometimes on other days.


Fishing kicked off this weekend for the year on the <b>Vitamin Sea</b>, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. The angling sailed for striped bass on Raritan Bay, hooking only throwbacks. Not great fishing, but catches. A good number of gannets dove on baitfish, and when that happens, the migration of large stripers usually arrives soon. Cold water didn’t help, but that will change soon. Was great to be back on the water, “doing the thing I love to do most,” he said. He loves sharing that with anglers, too. The boat is launched early every year, ready to bring anglers some of the East Coast’s best fishing. Charters and open-boat trips sail, and the next open trips will fish for stripers Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Telephone to reserve. Send your email address to Vitamin Sea to receive emails twice weekly with the latest reports. “Give us a try this season and let us give you a ‘Dose of Vitamin Sea,’” he wrote!

Daily open-boat trips for striped bass will begin Friday with <b>Down Deep Fleet</b>, Capt. Mario said. The trips will fish Raritan Bay, and charters are also available. The angling was scheduled to begin last weekend but was nixed. Weather was rough, and the fishing wasn’t great, seeming to produce a few throwbacks. But he hopes the catches pick up now. The open trips depart in mornings, and open trips beginning Saturday will also sail for the stripers at 1 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Wednesday. Down Deep’s two boats accommodate up to 15 passengers apiece and feature large cockpits and amenities like heated cabins and Keurig coffee.  Both boats will fish for stripers until sea bass and fluke seasons begin. Then one will keep striper fishing, and the other will go after the other species. 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.”


Surf-fishing for striped bass seemed to be picking up on Raritan Bay, said Capt. Joe from <b>Sour Kraut Sportfishing</b>. Boating for the bass seemed not so productive, but should amp up soon. He’s shooting to launch his boat to begin the angling on April 21. Warmer water in the surf makes stripers active, and deeper water, where boats can fish, needs to warm a little. A friend who was fishing the bay’s surf nabbed lots of shorts but his third keeper of the season. Joe heard someone report seeing a bluefish caught at Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River nuclear plant, farther south. That was unconfirmed and the first bluefish Joe heard about this year. Blackfish seemed to begin biting to the south. Or some that were caught were heard about.   


Capt. Pete from <b>Fin-Taz-Tic Sportfishing</b> fished on a short crew trip yesterday on Raritan Bay, he wrote in an email. He and the other angler aboard reeled in six striped bass, including one keeper, and a couple of winter flounder at bird play off Keyport on clams and worms.  An open-boat trip will fish Thursday, and spaces are available. Another might sail Wednesday.

 A trip for cod was canceled because of weather last weekend with <b>Tuna-Tic Sportfishing</b>, Capt. Mike said. That was going to be the year’s first fishing aboard, but the boat is ready to fish for the year. Trips will begin striped bass fishing on Raritan Bay on April 21, and only three dates are left in April for striper charters. The boat will fish for stripers in this area until May 12. Afterward, it’ll be moved to Forked River to fish out of Barnegat Inlet the rest of the year, like it is annually. After May 12, the trips from Forked River will target stripers on the ocean a couple of weeks. Big, trophy stripers will have moved to the ocean after spawning in back waters.

Striped bass fishing began to light up in the backs of bays and in rivers, Bob from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b> wrote in an email. Those waters are warmest along the coast in spring. Catches of stripers and bluefish could begin in the ocean surf soon, and that water needs to warm a little. “… we already have plenty of bunker around,” he wrote. Shark River’s winter flounder fishing was slow. “… conditions have been the worst,” he wrote, and only a few were bagged. Blackfish, not a lot, were scooped from the ocean on party boats. Cod were sometimes picked on the boats, and sometimes fishing for cod was a bust on the vessels.

Blackfishing sailed Sunday on the <b>Big Mohawk</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. The trip tried a few spots, and some fished okay, and some did not, and that’s not unusual for the time of year, it said. Another trip was expected to fish for the tautog today aboard, and the boat is blackfishing 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

The <b>Golden Eagle</b> was expected to fish for striped bass daily beginning today, a report said on the party boat’s website. But if stripers seem unlikely to be caught, the trips, sailing 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., will fish for ling and cod at wrecks. The boat kept being weathered out previously.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

Been tough to get out because of rough weather, the party boat <b>Dauntless’s</b> Facebook page said Saturday. But a few trips managed to sail, and the angling, for cod, ling and blackfish, was slow. But once spring actually springs, the page said, it’ll pick up. Trips are slated for 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. 

On the <b>Norma-K III</b>, blackfishing kept improving this weekend, a report said on the party boat’s website. A trip fished Saturday and found better life, though water was cold, and 42.3 degrees was the highest temperature. “We had some short life this morning with a keeper or 2 in the mix,” it said. Nothing great, but better than on the previous weekend. On a trip Sunday, life was even better, and some spots “had decent short life with some keepers coming up and others were not so good,” it said. A 5-pound blackfish won the pool. The captain thinks weather that’s forecast for this week will make blackfish chew better. Trips are blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, and green crabs and clams are carried aboard.

<b>Toms River</b>

Striped bass fishing was still good on the Toms River at night, said Dennis from <b>Hook House Bait & Tackle</b>. The river’s white perch fishing slowed a little, maybe because of spawning, or maybe because water became colder. The river averaged 40 degrees, a lower temperature than before. One place was 39 on the river that he knew about. Back waters like this were colder than the ocean that was 42 degrees, and that’s unusual. Back waters are usually warmer than the ocean this time of year. Days of sunshine were needed to warm them, and the sky kept being cloudy. A bluefish or two were rumored caught at Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River nuclear plant. That was unconfirmed. Winter flounder seemed to just begin biting. Some were taken from Barnegat Bay near Mantoloking Bridge during the weekend. They had muddy bellies and seemed hunkered in the bottom, just beginning to stir around. Sunny days warming the water will probably make them active, and when that happens, fishing for them will probably erupt quickly, before the flatfish migrate away. A few customers were fishing the surf, buying bait for that. A couple of throwback stripers were rumored reeled from the surf at Barnegat Inlet’s pocket. A few were rumored hooked elsewhere in the surf. Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River. 

<b>Seaside Heights</b>

Small striped bass were spread throughout Barnegat Bay, John from <b>The Dock Outfitters</b> wrote in a report on the shop’s website Saturday. That was the year’s first report on the site. Behind Island Beach State Park, the mouth of the Toms River and along the bay’s bridges are good spots to fish for them in the early season. Bloodworms and small rubber lures on lead jigheads pasted them. Bunker schooled the bay near Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River nuclear plant. The baitfish were also seen at many other places in the bay. Catch blowout sales on rods and reels because room is being made at the shop for tackle for the new fishing season. Bloodworms are stocked, and the tackle shop is open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Hours will be expanded soon. The Dock Outfitters, located on Barnegat Bay, blocks from the ocean surf, features a bait and tackle shop, a café, a dock for fishing and crabbing, and, in season, boat and jet-ski rentals.


Fishing was weathered out this weekend and today on the <b>Stray Cat</b>, Capt. Mike said. Last night was supposed to be 29 degrees, and today was supposed to be chilly. No use beating ourselves up, he said. But he hopes this was the final cold front like this, and expects to fish Wednesday, when weather’s supposed to be warmer, and on every day that’s fit afterward. Long-range forecasts look warmer than before. Open-boat trips are sailing for blackfish and will stop on striped bass if stripers pop up. Charters are being booked. Bird plays have been working some kind of bait, maybe herring or bunker, just off the coast for about 10 days. It’s been unusual. Mike would think bluefish or striped bass are foraging on some of the bait. The water was 47 degrees at the marina. Twelve-hour charters for tuna and mahi mahi are beginning to book up for later this year.   

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Anglers fishing at places like under lights at docks and bridges pulled in striped bass, said Mike from <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. So the catches were mostly made at night, and a couple of really good reports were heard about them from behind Ocean City. Anglers who were tuned into things like the right tides and the right color of lures were catching. Birds kept working tons of baitfish up and down the South Jersey Coast. Most of the bait seemed to be herring, and some seemed to be bunker. Some seemed to be another fish, long and skinny, that was unidentified. Watch a video of one of the bird plays, a tremendous one, off Sea Isle. When the migrations of bluefish and stripers arrive, maybe fishing will be epic for them, because of all the baitfish that could attract them. The stripers at places like docks and bridges were younger, juvenile fish, yet to migrate. The local party boat is supposed to sail for blackfish but was yet to get the weather on days when anglers were willing to go, like on weekends. Crabs for blackfish are stocked. Bloodworms ran out but are usually stocked. Small and average-sized minnows and all frozen baits are on hand.

Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b>, affiliated with <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>, splashed his bigger boat, and his smaller boat is ready to be launched, he said. Trips will fish for striped bass on the back bay until the bluefish migration arrives. The blues usually slam the bay by April 15, Tax Day. Then trips can potentially land stripers, blues, weakfish and summer flounder on the bay. That’s some of the best angling of the year. The flounder are released until flounder season opens beginning May 25. Joe did a little fishing Sunday on the bigger boat, but that was mostly a shakedown cruise. He’s sure he could catch stripers on the bay, but weather needs to improve to be more inspiring to head out.


From <b>Fins and Feathers Outfitters</b>, Capt. Jim was trout fishing in Pennsylvania but will be in Avalon this weekend, he said. Pennsylvania’s trout season opened two Saturdays ago where he was fishing, and the angling was good. A buddy said he beached bluefish at Atlantic City from the surf, not hammering them, but tackling a couple. Another buddy fished the back bay along the Intracoastal Waterway but hooked nothing. Jim’s waiting for the bluefish migration to invade the bay. Then charters aboard will jump on them. Big blues to 17 pounds, lots of 10- to 14-pounders, tore up the bay in April’s final week and the beginning of May for his charters last year. Toward the end of that run, the fish weighed 5 to 7 pounds. Steelhead fishing’s probably peaking on Salmon River in upstate New York near Jim’s <a href="" target="_blank">lodge</a> in upstate New York. Guests visit for the angling, and a discount is available, but only on Airbnb.

<b>Cape May</b>

Capt. Tom from <b>Fishin’ Fever Sportfishing</b> hoped to sail for blackfish today, he said last evening. Weather prevented the trips previously, and he knew that the party boat Porgy IV from Cape May ran for the tautog yesterday, but was yet to hear results. He knew about no other boats that fished for them locally since the season for the tog was opened April 1. Trips will target bluefish with Fishin’ Fever from the back bay to the ocean with light tackle, once the bluefish migration arrives. That could happen any day. May is the month for drum fishing on Delaware Bay, and Fishin’ Fever will get after the drum beginning May 1. Tilefish trips will sail offshore beginning May 1 on short notice, during weather windows. Sea bass season is tentatively scheduled to open May 15, and Fishin’ Fever will also fish for them. Charters and open-boat trips sail for all of this fishing.  

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