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Cape May,

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Saltwater Fishing Report

Report from Monday, January 21.

| Keyport | Atlantic Highlands | Belmar | Brielle | Point Pleasant Beach | Toms River | Absecon | Ocean City | Sea Isle City | Avalon | Cape May | Last Week's Report |

Raritan Bay’s striped bass fishing isn’t far off, an email said from Down Deep Sportfishing. The angling usually begins in March aboard, and book charters or open-boat trips early. Prime dates are available for the stripers and all species for the coming fishing season, including sea bass, fluke and more. One call to Down Deep does it all, including answering questions, making recommendations and assisting with hotel accommodations only minutes from the dock. Trips carry up to 15 passengers. Newbies, experienced anglers, family trips and business trips are all catered to. We provide a top-shelf experience for all, the email said. The boat is currently being prepped for spring.

Atlantic Highlands
One head boat from the marina sailed Saturday, for blackfish, said Johnny O. from Fisherman’s Den North that morning, while the trip was still on the water. He expected to close the store at 12 noon that day and so know the results of the trip when he resumed business the next day. This coming Sunday will be the final day the store will be open until it’s reopened on about March 15, depending on weather. Green crabs and white crabs have been stocked. The shop is located at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina.

Anglers tied into good blackfishing Saturday on the Big Mohawk on the ocean, the party boat’s Facebook page said. The fishing was much better than on previous days, and the catches included limits Saturday. An 8-1/2-pound blackfish won the pool. Forecasts looked poor for a few days afterward, but the trips are fishing daily for the tautog when weather allows.

A few boats blackfished on the ocean, and most that had been blackfishing were hauled from the water for winter, said Alex from The Reel Seat. The tautog were still reeled in, though the fishing was slower than before. Anglers might’ve pick up one or two keepers, and high hooks landed three or limited out on four. Some anglers were catching no keepers on a trip. No real mackerel catches were heard about from boats. Few seemed to try for the fish. If the migration is going to swim within range, that would probably happen soon. But a mackerel run hasn’t been in range in some years. The season’s last couple of surf anglers Alex knew about fished maybe 1 ½ weeks ago. They caught striped bass, but “the end is near,” he said. The store is open Wednesdays through Sundays.

Point Pleasant Beach
Couple of nice days on the water, a report said Saturday on the party boat Norma-K III’s website. The blackfishing aboard was sluggish. A few keepers were rounded up “here and there,” it said, “some spots (had) decent short life,” and others had none. Still, there was life, it said. A 7-pounder was in the lead for the pool when the report was posted. Sunday’s and today’s trips were going to be weathered out. “We will keep you posted about Tuesday," it said. Trips are slated to sail for blackfish 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.

Toms River
A couple of customers sailed for blackfish on the ocean last week, picking away, said Dennis from Hook House Bait & Tackle. The catches had slowed somewhat, and the trips had begun running farther from shore to deeper water and farther south. One boat was rumored to pick a few mackerel. Whether that was going to develop into a fishery was unknown, and no real mackerel run showed up within range of New Jersey’s recreational fleet in years. A few are always picked around this time. One customer was going to travel to fish for cod near Block Island. Dennis didn’t know the boat the angler was supposed to fish aboard. The store is open for no set hours, but if Dennis’s truck is there, the doors are open. He was at the shop a few hours each day recently. Sometimes the hours and also sales were being posted on the shop’s Facebook page. Killies, nightcrawlers and garden worms were stocked. The Facebook page last Tuesday said bloodworms were going to be carried soon.

A couple of anglers bought bloodworms Saturday from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center to fish for white perch on Mullica River for dinners, Capt. Dave said. He waited to hear results, and one did report landing striped bass on the worms on the river. Striper fishing is closed in January and February on rivers and bays, so release them. Dave stocked a couple of flats of the bloods including to prepare for today’s cold snap that would keep diggers from harvesting the worms in Maine during the deep freeze. That would keep the bloods in supply at the store for the next days. Some anglers sailed for blackfish on the ocean on a couple of boats from Atlantic City. A couple of those trips ran last week, bringing back the tautog. Sounded like the trips fished deeper water farther from shore. Although air temperature dropped severely today, the cold snap looked short-lived. Looked like temperatures would mellow in the next days. The store is open for no announced hours this time of year. But Dave is usually there. Call ahead.

Ocean City
A few anglers fished for blackfish on boats on the ocean, said Bill from Fin-Atics. He heard no results, because he hadn’t been at the store a lot, and not a lot of customers came in at this time of year. That was about all the news. Nothing was heard about striped bass. But again, few customers were around. The store is open Thursdays through Saturdays.

Sea Isle City
Mike Spaeder and son Mike fished on traveling trips to the Florida Keys this weekend aboard, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service and Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. Joe runs traveling charters to the Keys each winter, and Saturday’s trip pumped in several lemon sharks and bonnethead sharks during sight-fishing. The trip released a medium-sized tarpon and reeled in snappers and jacks. On Sunday’s trip, wind blew 20 or 30 knots, and thunderstorms rolled through in the morning. That was all difficult for fishing, and Joe wondered if his was the only boat that fished that day locally. But the trip made it work, and bailed a good number of snappers and jacks, a lot of action. It was great, he said. That’s something about the Keys: Something can usually be fished for, no matter the weather. Another trip was going to fish today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, from the islands aboard. The trips mostly fish on weekends or holidays. They can be a mini-vacation. See the traveling charters webpage on Jersey Cape’s website. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s Blog.

Capt. Jim from Fins and Feathers Outfitters is guiding waterfowl hunting this time of year, he said. He does each winter, and is currently hunting ducks and geese through Sunday. Afterward, he’ll switch to guiding snow-goose hunts until April 15. That will be in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. After that, his fishing charters will resume, probably beginning with trips for drum on Delaware Bay and maybe striped bass. Anglers throughout winter to early spring fish for steelheads on upstate New York’s Salmon River from Jim’s nearby lodge. That is world-class angling, and Jim can refer guests to guides for the fishing, or guests can fish on their own, or he can show guests how to do the angling and then let the anglers fish on their own. Guests at the lodge also snowmobile and cross-country ski in winter, among other activities. Eighteen inches of snow fell yesterday there. The lodge was snowed in, not a bad thing. Many dates are booked through February at the lodge. Check availability on Airbnb.

Cape May
The season’s fishing was wrapped up Thursday with a trip for blackfish on the ocean with Fishin’ Fever Sportfishing, Capt. Tom said. Springtime fishing for drum, sea bass, summer flounder, tuna and tilefish is being booked. The blackfishing aboard was pretty good. The final trip cranked in 29 keepers to 15 pounds, and a trip the day before tugged up 22 keepers to 15 pounds. Tom discontinued the trips because of a transmission issue, and who knows what the severe cold that now arrived was going to do to the angling, he said. Cape May was forecast to be 15 degrees today.

Capt. George from the Heavy Hitter had no news, he said. News was quiet throughout last week about fishing. He might still fish on a friend’s boat for tilefish or sea bass, if sea bass season is opened in February. Some anglers thought sea bass season will be, but that’s unconfirmed. The Heavy Hitter is finished fishing for winter, but George might still fish on the boat of a friend who’d like to sail for tiles or sea bass.

Last Week's Report
Report from Monday, 1/14:


Fishing will kick back off in April on the Vitamin Sea, with striped bass trips on Raritan Bay, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. Charters and open-boat trips will sail, like they do each year, and the angling’s been great the past several springs. He’s spending much of winter getting the boat and gear ready. Charters, both morning and afternoon trips, are being booked for that fishing and for fluking that will sail afterward through summer aboard. Weekend dates fill first and do fill, so book early. The open-boat schedule is set each week once the fishing season begins. The boat isn’t the biggest or fastest on the bay. But Frank and crew are honest, hard-working and dedicated to giving you the best possible day on the water, he said. Customers have come to rely on the straight-shooting, he added. Anglers from experienced to newcomers are welcome. The crew will teach you. Trips aboard are also completely family and kid friendly. More personal-bests were caught aboard last year than during any other year. Get Your Dose of Vitamin Sea! Frank is always available for questions, so feel free to call.

Down Deep Sportfishing wrapped up fishing for the season, Capt. Mario said. The boat had been blackfishing, and he and crew thank customers for another great fishing season, and can’t wait for the coming one. Charters and open-boat trips are booking for spring striped bass, sea bass and fluke fishing.

Atlantic Highlands

Many anglers headed blackfishing Saturday, Jay from Julian’s Bait & Tackle said that morning. Sold some crabs for bait for them, he said. Can anglers still order white crabs from the shop? Yes, he said, we can get everything. That was about the only fishing. Not a soul seemed to fish the surf. Anglers seemed to quit the surf when weather became cold.

Maybe 30 anglers jumped on a party boat that ran for blackfish Saturday from the marina, said Johnny O. from Fisherman’s Den North while the trip was on the water. The shop is located at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina, and did a little business selling green crabs and white crabs for the fishing. Saturday was the first day any of the head boats fished in about a week from the marina because of weather, he thought. Nothing was heard about surf-fishing or nobody seemed to try that angling. The shop might be open this coming weekend and be closed afterward until reopening on March 15. That’s because all the boats might wrap up fishing after this weekend from the marina. The shop’s been open on weekends from 6 a.m. to 12 noon. The store’s’ sister shop, Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, stays open year-round.


The ocean temperature’s still good for blackfishing, Capt. Ralph from Last Lady Fishing Charters wrote in an email. Weather looks good toward mid-week and he hopes the weekend for the angling. Individual-reservation trips and charters are available aboard. A full boat sailed for the tautog Saturday with Last Lady. Some anglers landed two or three keepers, and others landed one. The hot hand limited out and caught more that were legal-sized, keeping no more than a quota. He also pulled in “a nice cod,” Ralph wrote. The blackfishing was very picky, and the trip made five drops. Two held no life, and the first and last spots made the day. The anglers worked hard for 19 keeper blackfish. If you have a few anglers, contact Ralph, and he’ll get other anglers and put together a trip. ***Update, Thursday, 1/17:*** Forecasts looked good “as of now” for an individual-reservation trip to sail for blackfish at 6:30 a.m. Saturday, Ralph wrote Tuesday in an email. ***Another Update, Thursday, 1/17:*** Ten-knot winds are forecast for Saturday morning, and the day is supposed to be 35 degrees, Ralph wrote in an email. “Could be (the) last day for black fishing for a while,” he wrote. Call or email him to reserve a spot on the trip for the tautog that day. All bait and tackle is included. White crabs and green crabs will be aboard.


***Update, Thursday, 1/17:*** Two party boats still sailed from the marina, for blackfish on the ocean, said Bob from Fisherman’s Den. The angling was alright, and will be short-lived if some storms affect the fishing. That was the only fishing now along the coast, pretty much. A couple of surf anglers still fished, and caught striped bass on a given day, Bob guessed. But most surf anglers quit for the season. The store is open at 5 a.m. daily until 12 noon or 2 or 4 p.m. It’s kept open the whole winter, though times might come when it’s open only briefly in mornings. Fisherman’s Den North in Atlantic Highlands might close after January 27 for a moment, Bob thought.

Trips are still available, for blackfish on the ocean, with Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters, Capt. Pete said. The angling’s kind of hit and miss, like blackfishing is. But the tautog are still biting. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Book an individual spot with a charter who wants more anglers. In other news, mackerel migrated in, Pete knew. One local boat was crushing them.


***Update, Thursday, 1/17:*** Weather and seas look good for an offshore wreck-fishing trip 3 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday on the Jamaica II for cod, ling and blackfish, the party boat’s website said.

Point Pleasant Beach

On the Norma-K III, blackfishing was a little sluggish Saturday and Sunday on the ocean, a report said on the party boat’s website. A handful of customers bagged some, and others only hooked throwbacks or no blackfish at all. But the water temperature remained good for the angling, so the hope was that those were only a couple of slow days, and that the catches will pick back up during the week. Pool-winning blackfish weighed about 7 pounds, and the trips are slated for 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Today’s trip was expected to be weathered out, but forecasts look good for Tuesday through the rest of the week. Green crabs and white crabs were currently carried aboard. ***Update, Friday, 1/18:*** Blackfishing was tough the past few days, a report said on the boat’s website. The ocean became cold, but the tautog seem to be acclimating. Not good fishing for them yesterday, “but we do see more keeper and shorts coming up!” it said. An 11-pounder was biggest on the trip and was released. High hooks are limiting out, a few anglers are bagging one or two, and a few are landing no keepers. “Keeper Cod as well!” the report said. Is good to still see life, it said. Today’s trip was expected to be a go in weather that looked fine. Don’t let forecasts scare you, it said.


A couple of anglers bought bloodworms Saturday from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center and reeled in white perch and striped bass from Mullica River on them, Capt. Dave said. Stripers are out-of-season in rivers and bays in January and February, so let them go. He’s ordering more of the worms to stock, and will probably try netting grass shrimp this week to carry, seeing if any can be netted. Then snow fell on Sunday, and no news was heard since about fishing. The store is open for no set hours, but Dave is usually there. Call ahead. Want to escape the cold and snow? Telephone Dave about a Guatemala fishing vacation. He’ll set you up.


Open-boat blackfishing will sail Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and maybe Sunday on the Stray Cat, depending on weather, Capt. Mike said. The ocean’s temperature, 45 degrees, is good for blackfish, and the tautog chewed when the boat last targeted them. He avoided the fishing in rougher weather last weekend. Mike’s got crabs for bait that can be scarce this time of year. ***Update, Thursday, 1/17:*** A trip blackfished yesterday aboard, and that was the final trip, Mike said. He’s wrapping up his fishing season and will resume on April 1. Blackfishing was good while it lasted this season on the boat. On yesterday’s trip, the bite was slow, and the water temperature had dropped to 40 degrees. A few throwbacks were hooked. So he’s calling it a season.

Ocean City

Small striped bass were rumored caught from the surf, but that was unconfirmed, said Ed from Fin-Atics. He’d probably fish soft-plastic lures for them, and small stripers might’ve also been willing to bite in the bay, but striper fishing is closed in bays, rivers and any back waters in January and February. A couple of charter boats still made runs for blackfishing on the ocean. Most boats were hauled from the water for winter. The store is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. The crew is beginning to re-stock tackle and straighten up the shop for the coming fishing season.

Sea Isle City

Trips aboard are probably finished striped bass fishing for winter, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service and Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. That was because of weather and because he simply might not have time. He runs traveling charters to the Florida Keys this time of year. But he had been running the striper trips on the ocean, and they had been catching. The last trip was two Sundays ago that whacked lots of the stripers to 20 pounds on jigs around birds including gannets working baitfish along the water, covered in the previous report here. The water then was 47 degrees, and on the previous trip was 43. Forty-three is about as low as stripers will bite in. The next of the Florida trips will fish next weekend. Joe offers those outings, mostly on weekends, from Christmas to Easter. See the traveling charters webpage on Jersey Cape’s website. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s Blog.

Cape May

***Update, Thursday, 1/17:*** Blackfishing sailed Saturday on the party boat Porgy IV on the ocean, Capt. Paul said. A good-sized crowd joined the trip, because some anticipated no trip fishing on Sunday in the snow. No trip did. But the angling on Saturday’s outing was slow, rounding up only 10 or 11 keepers. The fishing had been decent on a trip the week before, so Paul thought he’d find more of the slipperies. The trips were only slated for weekends, but the next trip was expected to fish today for blackfish. That was because earlier in the week, forecasts called for a possible storm this coming weekend, and better weather today. Twelve or 13 anglers were expected to show up for today’s trip. That trip will be the final before the boat is winterized. Fishing aboard will resume in spring. ***Update, Friday, 1/18:*** The trip yesterday took a long ride and caught some good-sized blackfish but no great numbers, the boat’s Facebook page said. A 12.7-pounder won the pool and was released. Another angler clocked a 10-3/4-pounder and released it, and three other keepers. Another angler limited out. Cold water, no crabs for bait, shutting down, the page said. Fishing aboard will resume in spring.

Capt. George from the Heavy Hitter might still do some fishing this season on a friend’s boat, he said. The Heavy Hitter is in the yard being prepped for the coming fishing season. The fishing on the friend’s vessel might bottom-fish offshore like for tilefish. Some said sea bass season might be opened in February, and that’s unconfirmed, but if that angling is, the fishing on the friend’s boat might do that, too. Everybody else George knows who has private boats has pulled the vessels from the water for the season. So he heard no fishing reports from the boats.