Report from Monday, 1/19:
Outcast Charters is finished fishing for the season, Capt. Joe said. He and brother Capt. Rob thank anglers who fished aboard this past year, and trips will kick back off in late April, with striped bass fishing. Outcast fishes from both Staten Island, N.Y., and Sewaren, N.J.
***Update, Thursday, 1/22:*** It’s time. To talk about next season, right? The Vitamin Sea is being prepped for spring, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. Trips will be ready to fish by late March, and will first hunt striped bass and winter flounder, in the back of Raritan Bay. That’s where water’s warmest in the early season. “Last season we had some good catches of winter flounder mixing in with striped bass,” he said. Charters will fish, and an open-boat trip will sail for stripers and flounder on Saturday, April 4. “I’m sure everyone will have cabin fever by then,” he said, “so anyone interested, give me a call.” Rates are not being raised for 2015.
Watch this video of a mahi mahi or dorado from the Facebook page from the Dream Girl, the boat that Capt. Pete from the Hyper Striper is running in Costa Rica, like he does each winter. Also watch this video of sailfish from a trip that released 10 on the Dream Girl. Spring striped bass charters are being booked on the Hyper, and the dates do fill. Now’s the time to reserve.
Weather was cold at first, not bad later, once wind calmed and the sun beamed all day, on an individual-reservation trip Saturday with Last Lady Fishing Charters, Capt. Ralph wrote in an email. All anglers, a small crew, left the trip with a nice bag of blackfish and cod fillets. “Had (to) give them a lot of credit for staying with it all day,” he said. Only a few fish bit on the first two drops, and the fishing was pretty good on the last drop. Blackfishing isn’t over. “(This trip) proved it,” he said. Last Lady will fish all winter, weather permitting. Individual-reservation trips will fish this weekend, and charters are available daily. If you have a few anglers, contact Ralph, and he’ll put together a trip.
Fishing was wrapped up for the season on the party boat Golden Eagle, a report on the vessel’s website said. Trips had been fishing for mackerel, and apparently the migration now swam away. “Folks, I think it’s time to wrap up this mackerel season,” it said. The boat will resume fishing in mid-March, and was supposed to be hauled this week to the yard for painting and maintenance.
No trip fished Sunday on the party boat Big Mohawk, because of a big swell on the ocean and 30 m.p.h. wind, the vessel’s Facebook page said. But today’s trip was expected to sail, and the boat’s blackfishing was somewhat slow, but that might turn around, in better conditions. Blackfishing can change daily, especially this time of year, the page said. The Big Mohawk is blackfishing 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. ***Update, Thursday, 1/22:*** Blackfishing was good aboard the Mohawk on Tuesday, Capt. Chris said. The fish weighed up to 11 or 12 pounds, and he hopes the angling continues like that a moment longer. Get your last licks in, he said, because the trips will only sail so much longer, until the boat goes on a break for winter. “Tell them to come on down,” he said. Green crabs are provided, and white crabs are $6 per dozen, aboard.
Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters did no fishing, but trips are still available, if a group wants to fish, Capt. Pete said. Some really large blackfish swam deeper water that were heard about, and a few cod moved into the water.
Sounded like blackfishing picked away, and that the fish swam a little deeper than before, like at the Farms or 17 fathoms, said Eric from The Reel Seat. Winter weather or conditions were the most difficult thing to deal with. On trips Saturday, wind blew from one direction, a swell came from another, and current ran another. Bottom-fishing for ling and other catches, including a few cod, was fair at best, not great or spectacular. Nothing was heard about herring from Manasquan Inlet. The Reel Seat is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.
Point Pleasant Beach
***Update, Thursday, 1/22:*** Mostly blackfish were scooped aboard the party boat Dauntless, Capt. Butch said. The tautog were targeted, because fishing for other catches wasn’t that good. But occasional ling and cod were mixed in. Trips fished in 80 to 120 feet, and the ocean there was 39 to 42 degrees, relatively warm, for the time of year. Mackerel never showed up this season, though the boat mixes in mackerel fishing, bottom-fishing the rest of the day, during years when the mackerel migration swims within range of the bottom-fishing grounds. One mackerel was decked Saturday, and whenever mackerel were hooked this season aboard, the trips tried jigging for them. But hardly any were caught. Even the boats from Belmar and Sheepshead Bay that target mackerel stopped fishing for them, Butch thought. The Dauntless is fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.
Blackfishing was tough during the weekend on the party boat Norma-K III, Capt. Matt wrote in a report on the vessel’s website. That was difficult to believe, he said, because the angling was good on Thursday and Friday. The ocean held a huge swell on Sunday, and trips will resume Tuesday, giving the swell time to settle down. Matt expects to give deeper water a shot Tuesday. On Friday’s trip, blackfish were hungry, and some anglers limited out, and some bagged fewer, but all left with blackfish. Some of the tautog were good-sized, and Rob Rusnack won the pool with a blackfish heavier than 9 pounds. The angling was decent on Thursday, covered in the last report. The Norma-K III is blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. ***Update, Thursday, 1/22:*** “Another nice day on the water,” Matt wrote about Wednesday’s trip in a report on the boat’s website. The blackfishing ended up with a decent catch, and began with good catches, including sizable blackfish bagged, and a few big broken off. Afterward, the anglers picked a few blackfish at every spot. The high hook limited out, and most anglers bagged one to three of the fish. A few “had a tough day,” he said, and a 10-pound blackfish won the pool. Tuesday’s trip picked at blackfish, not great, but much better than during the weekend. No report was posted for Monday. Matt expected to sail today, in forecasts good for a trip.
***Update, Thursday, 1/22:*** The Stray Cat will probably begin fishing again on about February 14, Capt. Mike said. He recently traveled to Florida, trailering a boat for someone, and visiting friends. He had planned to resume fishing this Sunday, but will wait until winter weather breaks instead. Ice was forming, off and on, and that tears up the boat’s bottom. When trips kick off again, they’ll sail for cod and pollock at ocean wrecks. Blackfish refused to bite locally, and whether that was because of water temperature, angle of the sun or something else was unknown. But a few crabs will be carried aboard for blackfish, when trips resume.
Fin-Atics had been closed for two weeks, and was reopened this weekend, Ed said on Sunday in a phone call to the shop. But that was the first day he returned to the store, and he heard nothing about fishing. He assumed a few boats might’ve fished for blackfish on the ocean, though weather wasn’t so conducive lately. Crew from the shop were re-merchandising, including adding new products, and doing some maintenance to the store. That’s what they do this time of year, and crew from the store also just returned from a tackle show. Fin-Atics is open Mondays through Sundays through February. The store will be open daily starting in March. Striped bass season will be opened starting on March 1 in bays and rivers, and customers will fish for them in the bay near the shop and in nearby rivers, like the Great Egg Harbor River, then. “Absolutely,” Ed said. Striper fishing is open in the ocean year-round, but stripers in the ocean migrate south for winter. Younger stripers, yet to migrate, spend all year in bays and rivers. In spring, older, migrating stripers will arrive from the south, and swim up the rivers, from the ocean, to spawn. Then they’ll return to the ocean to swim farther north to spend summer, because of cooler water there.
Sea Isle City
***Update, Thursday, 1/22:*** Some of the traveling charters to the Florida Keys fished this weekend aboard, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service and Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. The anglers, Mike Spaeder and son, fished Saturday through Monday in a variety of locations, from the mainland back country near Flamingo to the bay near the Keys. Catches in the back country and the nearby bay included snook, speckled sea trout, redfish, black drum, jacks and ladyfish. In the bay near Islamorada, catches included jacks, including large jack crevalles to 13 pounds, blue runners, snappers and, while sight-fishing along the flats, lemon sharks and bonnethead sharks. One of the lemons weighed almost 100 pounds and was landed on 10-pound test. A tarpon was also missed on the flats while sight-fishing. Weather was fine, sometimes windy. One of the great things about the Keys is that there’s almost always someplace to fish, no matter the wind direction. The trips fish from Christmas to Easter each year, mostly on weekends and holidays. See Jersey Cape’s traveling charters Web page. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s blog.
***Update, Thursday, 1/22:*** The party boat Porgy IV blackfished Saturday, but the angling was lousy, Capt. Paul said. No keepers were hooked, and hardly any blackfish bit. So he wrapped up fishing for the season aboard, and the boat will resume fishing in spring, probably starting with blackfishing, when the tautog season is opened on April 1. The season will be closed in March. Paul guessed that the ocean became too cool for good blackfishing. Water deep enough to be warmer wasn’t close enough to shore for trips from Cape May. The ocean on the trip was 38 or 39 degrees, almost 40 at one spot. It was 43 degrees farther off, during a previous trip. But on that trip, only two or three blackfish bit at each spot fished. With snow falling now, the water will become colder. So Paul threw in the towel, and expects to resume trips with blackfishing in April, unless something changes, like if striped bass show up beforehand in Delaware Bay. The bass swam the bay in March a few years ago, but not in recent years.