Report from Monday, 2/13:
***Update, Thursday, 2/16:*** The boat is getting a new engine and generator, and will be ready to fish in April, Capt. Ralph from Last Lady Fishing Charters wrote in an email. The same crew will run trips as last year, “and Bill will be available more, now that he’s settled in his new job,” he said. Ralph will adjust to whatever new fishing regulations might be announced. Individual-reservation trips will still fish every Tuesday for fluke, and ling, sea bass and cod will also be targeted on some of the dates. When regs are finalized, Ralph will announce individual-reservation trips for other species. Charters are filling fast on weekends. “Also, if you want a cod trip – I suggest you book ASAP,” he said.
***Update, Thursday, 2/16:*** The party boat Big Mohawk is finished fishing for the season and will resume in April, Capt. Chris said. Trips will blackfish daily beginning on April 1, and sailed for blackfish until now.
***Update, Thursday, 2/16:*** Catch Capt. Pete from Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters giving the seminar Faking Out Doormat Fluke at 5 p.m. Friday at the New Jersey Boat Sale & Expo at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, he said. He’ll talk about bucktailing for the big ones on the ocean, and will also be booking charters for the coming year. He’ll also be booking annual On the Water Seminars that teach the bucktailing for fluke aboard in a non-threatening environment. On those trips, newbies can learn the skill, and experienced anglers can hone the fishing. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Book an individual space on a charter who wants more anglers. Book preferred dates before they’re full. Parker Pete’s will probably begin fishing for the year in late April, depending on weather. Trips then would blackfish on the ocean. Striped bass trips, also on the ocean, begin in mid-May, unless the migration shows up sooner.
No boating was heard about in windy weather this past week, said Alex from The Reel Seat. So that included no blackfishing. A few catches of small, scattered striped bass were known about from the surf, in the days before Thursday’s snowstorm. The snow cooled the water to 36 or 38 degrees, and previously the surf was 41 or 42. The water could warm back up, and a few of the catches seemed able to be made when conditions were right. Stripers swam Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant. Striper fishing is closed in back waters like that until opening beginning March 1. The fish chased small lures like Daiwa SP Minnows and Fin-S Fish. The store is open Thursdays through Sundays.
***Update, Tuesday, 2/14:*** Wednesday looks like the only day with weather that’s good for a trip in the next days, the party boat Jamaica II’s Facebook page said. A trip is expected to sail 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day for ling, cod and blackfish aboard. ***Update, Thursday, 2/16:*** Weather looks good for trips Saturday through Monday on this Presidents’ Day weekend, the boat’s Facebook page said. The vessel is supposed to sail 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on those days for ling, cod and blackfish.
Point Pleasant Beach
Forecasts looked good for a trip to blackfish Saturday on the Norma-K III, a report said on the party boat’s website. “… but there was no one around (for the trip to sail),” it said. Forecasts weathered out one of the trips Sunday. But the trips are slated to sail this weekend aboard. Green crabs, white crabs and salted clams were going to be carried on last weekend’s trips.
***Update, Thursday, 2/16:*** The party boat Dauntless was splashed last Thursday, after being dry-docked for seasonal maintenance and an inspection, Capt. Butch said. The crew shaped up to fish every day since, but either weather or too few anglers showing up, because of weather, kept the fishing docked. Probably not more than four or five anglers showed up on any day, and that was too few to sail. Wind even blew 40 knots when Butch gave this report on Wednesday evening. Rough weather was supposed to continue today, but weather is supposed to be beautiful the next four or five days, and Butch hopes trips will run then. The boat is slated to bottom-fish 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, and is one of the few, if not the only, that fishes daily year-round, including throughout winter, from New Jersey. Trips currently will blackfish, until blackfish season is closed in March, and might also sail for ling and cod, and will surely do so after blackfish season. Butch is sure a little of all those species will bite. He couldn’t know whether a good number would, but will find out.
A few anglers began to poke around Mullica and Great Egg Harbor rivers, hooking white perch at both, said Capt. Dave from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center. Throwback striped bass to 20 inches were mixed in, and striper fishing is closed in rivers in bays until opening beginning March 1. Another store stocked bloodworms that customers began to buy, so Dave will stock his season’s first bloods on Tuesday. The store is open during no set hours, but Dave is usually there. Telephone ahead and confirm. This winter’s been warm, and that seemed to bode well for the striper opener. Absecon Bay Sportsman Center is always one of the year’s first stores where stripers are checked-in once the striper fishing is opened. That’s because of the shop’s annual contest that awards substantial prizes for the first checked-in from local waters. See last year’s prizes on the store’s website, and this year’s will probably be about the same. This was becoming time for Dave to begin thinking about what this year’s will be.
Wind kept open-boat trips from fishing for cod and pollock this weekend on the Stray Cat, Capt. Mike said. Those were going to be the season’s first of the trips, and he’ll try to run more of the trips this Saturday through Monday, Presidents’ Day. Telephone to climb aboard, and the trips fish wrecks in 200 to 240 feet of water on the ocean. ***Update, Thursday, 2/16:*** Sunday’s trip is full, but room is available for Saturday and Monday, Mike wrote on Stray Cat’s Facebook page. “Check the weather – I might be dreaming?” he wrote. Trips will wreck-fish for whatever bites. Bring 8-ounce weights and gold hooks, he said.
White perch could probably be hooked from Great Egg Harbor River, said Bill from Fin-Atics. No customers mentioned the angling. Once striped bass season is opened beginning on March 1 on rivers and bays, stripers are usually landed from the river, not so much from the bay. Rivers are warmer than bays in the early season. Bloodworms usually grab the bass in the early season, and the worms might be stocked when the season is opened, depending on weather and demand. No blackfishing was heard about from the ocean. None of the local party boats were known to be sailing for them, and wind probably prevented any boating on the ocean anyway this past week. Freshwater fishing, catching chain pickerel and largemouth bass, was the most fishing heard about. Pickerel thrive in cold water and can be angled year-round. Largemouths can become sluggish in low water temperatures, but can keep biting in a warm winter like this year’s. The store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
***Update, Thursday, 2/16:*** Blackfishing sailed Sunday on the party boat Porgy IV, Capt. Paul said. Forecasts called for calm weather, but strong wind blew in the morning, and not many blackfish bit. So the boat is finished fishing and will resume in April, probably sailing for blackfish. No striped bass will probably be around to consider targeting. Stripers could show up as early as mid-March, and one never knows, but the angling’s been slower and slower that time of year and in spring in recent years. Blackfish season will reopen beginning on April 1, after being closed in March. Paul now had no white crabs left for bait, though he still had green crabs. But customers want white crabs for blackfishing, and with not many of the tautog hitting, not having the whites was another reason to stop blackfishing.