The Heavy Hitter is in the water, and the year’s first charter is supposed to fish this weekend aboard, Capt. George said. That trip will probably bottom-fish on the ocean, and the Heavy Hitter will fish for striped bass on the bay or ocean if the angling takes off near Cape May later this season. Drum charters are being booked that will fish the bay, usually in May. One of the mates on the Heavy Hitter has been fishing for striped bass from shore at Elsinboro on Delaware River. He’d been catching good numbers of throwbacks, but now reeled in a 44-incher. Some big began to be caught there. On the Heavy Hitter, bottom-fish that could be targeted currently included blackfish or cod in the ocean. A friend who sometimes mates on the boat, a different angler than the one who fished Delaware River, fished on a trip that bagged nine cod and released plenty of shorts this weekend. That was 20 or 25 miles from shore, and the trip also stopped at Wildwood Reef, closer to shore, hooking a couple of throwback blackfish and one out-of-season sea bass that were released. George was surprised more sea bass didn’t bite, because sea bass usually swim inshore by now. The water was 48 degrees, both where the trip cod fished, and at the reef. Water was 50 or 51 degrees at the dock on the Heavy Hitter, though someone told George the water was warmer at the dock at that person’s boat in the marina. A friend read 54-degree water in Cape May Canal on a trip. George also knew about a Cape May charter boat that docked cod this weekend.
A few small striped bass began to be eased from the bay’s surf, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. They were resident fish, not ones that migrated to local waters, and none was a keeper, but a few anglers clammed some. Customer Brian landed a 17-incher, his first-ever striper, in North Cape May. Larger stripers than before, sometimes keepers, began to be reeled from Delaware River from shore. Back at Cape May, birds began to work bait along the ocean off the surf, and in Cape May Inlet. A few anglers tried blackfishing along jetties, since blackfish season was opened this month. But they caught none.