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Saltwater Fishing Report

Report from Monday, February 20.

| Belmar | Brielle | Point Pleasant Beach | Absecon | Brigantine | Longport | Ocean City | Sea Isle City | Last Week's Report |

One of the Belmar party boats docked a few blackfish from the ocean Sunday, said Tom from Fisherman’s Den. Not a lot of the fish were biting, but some were. A couple of small, throwback striped bass were beached from the surf. Weather was warm and calm during the weekend, so a few anglers fished.

Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters will exhibit at the Greater Philadelphia Outdoor Sportshow this weekend, Capt. Pete said. That will be from Thursday through Sunday at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pa. 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. When striper fishing slows, fluke trips begin, also on the ocean. Those include annual On the Water Seminars that teach bucktailing for big fluke. Charters and individual spaces with charters who want more anglers will be booked at the show. Reserve dates, because they fill.

Cod and blackfish were picked Saturday on the Jamaica II, the party boat’s Facebook page said. A 12-pound cod won the pool, and a few anglers limited out on blackfish. The angling was best in the morning, becoming slower in the afternoon. Trips are slated to sail 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. several days a week for cod, blackfish and ling.

Blackfish, decent catches, were boated from the ocean, said Eric from The Reel Seat. They bit in about 120 feet of water, and not a lot of anglers limited out, but trips scratched away and bagged some. Rumors, nothing first-hand, said a couple of striped bass were slid from the surf. The store is open Thursdays through Sundays.

Point Pleasant Beach
***Update, Tuesday, 2/21:*** Great to be on the water this Presidents’ Day weekend, a report said on the party boat Norma-K III’s website. Seas were calm, and the warmth felt great. A few blackfish were picked aboard, but the captain would’ve liked to have seen more, and the fishing was tough. Pool-winning blackfish weighed 5 to 7 pounds on the trips from Saturday to Monday. On Saturday’s trip, Andrew DiMatteo from Pennington limited out on the fish to 6 pounds. The fishing was best on Monday’s trip. “Saw life on all drops (that day) with keeper blackfish and a few cod!” the report said. The boat will fish one more weekend, sailing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, for blackfish and cod, before going to the boat yard for seasonal maintenance. Green crabs and clams will be provided, like this past weekend.

Great fishing for white perch was talked about from the Mullica and Great Egg Harbor rivers, said Capt. Dave from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center. He stocked the year’s first bloodworms for the fishing in past days, and they sold out. Anglers stirred around in the weekend’s fair weather. More of the worms are expected to be stocked Tuesday sometime. But Dave’s also been netting grass shrimp to stock, including catching them this morning. They’re on hand, and both baits will hook the perch. On the Mullica, the fish bit in good-sized areas from the Parkway Bridge upstream to Green Bank. Lower Bank was about the center. Plenty of throwback striped bass supposedly bit in the rivers. Striper fishing is closed in rivers and bays until opening there beginning March 1, and the stripers were released. A couple of stripers that topped the 28-inch minimum legal size were reported angled, especially from the Great Egg toward Gibson Creek. Stripers were also reported hooked sometimes in bays and released on lures. Some seemed to be moving around in bays. The mild weather looks promising for the striper opener. The store is always one of the year’s first where stripers are checked-in once the angling 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 should be similar. The store is open for no set hours, but Dave’s usually there now, because interest in fishing is picking up. Telephone ahead to confirm.

The city council approved Riptide Bait & Tackle’s annual Spring Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby to run March 1 to May 21, the store’s Facebook page said. Entry includes a permit to drive Brigantine’s entire front beach, when accompanied by a Brigantine beach buggy permit. Without the tournament permit, not all the beach can be driven. The contest, sponsored by TFO Rods, Penn and Tsunami, will award cash for the three heaviest stripers and the three heaviest blues from the town’s surf. ***Update, Monday, 2/20:*** Customers fished the surf, but no catches were reported yet, the shop’s Facebook page said today. This was the third day of great weather, and the store’s been open almost every day, but for no set hours. Telephone before traveling there. Frozen baits are stocked, and bloodworms will be carried beginning March 1, when the store opens full time.

The Stray Cat fished for cod during the weekend, Capt. Mike said. But lots of conger eels and dogfish, some bergals, a few small blackfish, a couple of out-of-season sea bass, a ling and no cod were reeled in. Lots of life, but not the right kind. Lots of whales swam. Weather was warm and calm, and anglers wanted to go. Another one of the trips was supposed to fish today. If no cod are cranked in, no trips will probably fish again until the boat blackfishes in April. Blackfish season will be closed in March, reopened in April and closed again afterward. The boat fished nine wrecks in 140 to 160 feet of water. The ocean there was 42 degrees. Inshore of 15 miles, the ocean was 38 to 39 degrees.

Ocean City
One angler was heard about who fished for white perch on a river, said Justin from Fin-Atics. Justin thought the angler fished the Mullica but was unsure, and was unsure how the angler fared. Closer to the store, the Great Egg Harbor River is usually popular for perch fishing this time of year. None of the local boats were known to be sailing for blackfish on the ocean, so nothing was heard about that angling. Justin fished freshwater, catching chain pickerel on minnows and pink Zooms. Only one or two warm days are needed for freshwater fishing to pick up in winter, and the angling is an alternative for coastal anglers locally this season. Lakes are abundant in the area. The store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and will be open full-time in early March. First the shop will exhibit at the Atlantic City Boat Show from March 1-5 and the Ocean City Intermediate School fishing flea market on March 4.

Sea Isle City
The warm weather had Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service and Sea Isle Bait & Tackle thinking about striped bass, he said. He’s always one of the first captains to catch stripers each year, and begins chasing them once the angling is opened in the bay beginning March 1. He hopes the fishing “gets off to a shotgun start,” he said, because of the weather. On the trips, he fishes soft-plastic lures on the bay, slowly along bottom, at places like creek mouths, usually on outgoing tides in afternoons. Outgoing tides flood warmer water into the bay, because creeks, and rivers, for that matter, are warmer than the bay that time of year. Afternoons can fish best, because the sun heats the water most by then. Bright days can help, because of the warmth. By April, his fishing will bust wide open. His trips then will angle the bass, bluefish, weakfish and summer flounder on the bay. That’s some of the best fishing of the year. Anglers might not think about fishing the coast that early, but should, in this area. The flounder are out-of-season in April and are released. Flounder fishing can be best in the early season in South Jersey’s shallow bays, because the skinny water warms before deeper bays in the state. Joe’s next traveling trips to the Florida Keys will fish this weekend. He runs the trips throughout each winter until Easter, and the fishing’s been good this year, including for tarpon and permit, covered in previous reports here. The trips, fishing mostly on weekends, can target a large variety of catches. See the traveling charters’ page on Jersey Cape’s website. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s Blog.

Last Week's Report
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.

Ocean City

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.

Cape May

***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.