Fishing is booked to begin late this month for the season with Outcast Charters, Capt. Joe said. Trips for striped bass will be the first to sail, and the crew likes to striper fish with live and chunked bunker. Stripers begin to feed on bunker when water is warmer than currently. Outcast offers trips both from Staten Island, N.Y., and Sewaren, N.J. Anglers can follow either of those state’s fishing regulations, depending on where the trip departs. Sea bass trips will begin when New Jersey’s sea bass season is opened. Sea bass regs are yet to be finalized in Jersey, but the state’s sea bass season is likely to begin in late May, and New York’s will begin on July 15. Trips aboard will be able to sea bass from New York this summer during times when Jersey’s sea bass season is either closed or limited to a drastically smaller number of fish for a bag limit.
Throwback striped bass, not many keepers, were angled on Raritan Bay on most boats during the weekend, Capt. Frank from the Vitamin Sea wrote in an email. Most captains read tons of bait and stripers on fish finders, but the bass were reluctant to bite. The water was 47 degrees, and warm weather this week will turn the fishing on, he believes. Bunker and herring, with gannets diving on them, filled the bay. Most of the stripers hooked were clammed, but trolling caught some. Trips on the Vitamin will fish with clams, until they begin to fish with bunker, when the bass begin to prefer bunker. Trips will troll when necessary, and trolling can be effective. The trips will do whatever’s necessary. There are no guarantees, “and we have no crystal ball for finding fish,” he said. His reports are accurate. “I don’t use creative words or candy-coat my reports,” he said. When fishing’s good, he says so, and when it’s bad, that’s what he reports, he said. “We will just work hard to find fish … and give you the best possible day on the water.” His trips don’t sail with big crowds, so there’s plenty of room. He’ll personally teach a novice, sharing his four decades of experience. He hopes you’ll jump aboard this season “for a dose of the Vitamin Sea!” An open-boat trip is full Wednesday, and space is available on open trips Thursday and Friday. The weekend is chartered. Some p.m. trips will fish, when striper fishing peaks, and telephone for info. Winter flounder “are beginning to emerge from the mud,” he said.
Weather is supposed to be warmer this week, so Capt. Joe from Papa’s Angels Charters hopes that will pick up striped bass fishing, he said. He’s fishing for the bass on Raritan Bay, and the angling improved in the third week of this month in recent years. Open-boat trips will be available daily when no charter is booked and enough anglers want to sail, and telephone to climb aboard.
Striped bass just began biting in Raritan Bay, said Capt. Mario from the Down Deep. Lots were throwbacks, and action with them could be good, and fishing for keepers wasn’t very good yet. But weather is warming, and water temperature is rising, and he expects good striper fishing by the end of the week. The next open-boat trips for stripers are set for Wednesday through Friday. Join the Short Notice List on Down Deep’s website to be kept informed about open trips. Also see the site’s open-boat page for dates and availability. Open trips will also include special ones for cod fishing.
One charter-boat trip landed 35 stripers, including three or four keepers, on Raritan Bay, and a trip on another charter boat landed all shorts from the bay, said Jimmy from Julian’s Bait & Tackle. The boaters clammed for the fish, and shore anglers also reeled in stripers from the bay, and a throwback was actually banked from the ocean surf, at Monmouth Beach. No keepers came from the ocean surf yet. The charter captain from the trip with 35 stripers declined to take a charter blackfishing on the ocean, because blackfish weren’t snapping in the cold water, and his trips were beginning to catch stripers. Nothing was heard about cod, and party boats farther south were the only vessels fishing for cod that were known about. Plenty of bunker began to migrate local waters. A customer bought a couple of dozen worms, and he fishes along Sea Bright Bridge. He must’ve known that stripers bit around the bridge for boaters. Plenty of stripers were hooked in Navesink River. That was on livelined bunker, Jimmy thought. Little was heard about winter flounder. Just a few caught were reported, and not a lot of anglers fished yet. Weather was supposed to be beautiful today, and no customers were around. Weather was cold on the water, even if temperatures looked warmer. But some fish are beginning to bite. All baits are stocked, including fresh bunker, fresh clams, bloodworms and sandworms.
The year’s first trip fished this weekend with Last Lady Fishing Charters, Capt. Ralph wrote in an email. Only one small cod was managed, and numerous drops were fished. “Not what I liked for the first trip, but it will get better,” he said. Individual-reservation trips will fish wrecks at 5 a.m. the next two Sundays, April 19 and 26. Charters are available daily. Striped bass are yet to arrive near Neptune, but bunker are moving in.
Shark River’s winter flounder were still M.I.A, Bob from Fishermen’s Den wrote in an email. “Should put one on a milk carton,” he said. “All kidding aside, we are at a loss as to the scarcity … .” Reports rolled in about flounder caught from other areas, but fewer numbers than usual. Boaters reported bunker schooling the ocean in large populations, as close to shore as a mile. “Can the (striped) bass be far behind?” he asked. “Get the gear ready – the fun starts soon.” Stripers were reported angled along Raritan Bay’s shore on clams and worms.
On the party boat Golden Eagle, fishing will begin Saturday for the year, a report on the vessel’s Facebook page said. The boat is out of the boat yard, it said, and is slated to begin striped bass fishing daily that day.
Bunker began migrating up the ocean beach and into bays, said Capt. Pete from Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters. So striped bass fishing should improve soon in Raritan Bay. Parker Pete’s is looking to begin livelining bunker to stripers in the ocean by May 15. If the angling begins sooner, the trips will start sooner. The boat is in the water, and touch-up work is being done to the vessel. Trips might fish for cod aboard, before the striper fishing begins. Cod fishing currently was picky, or was better on some days than others. The ocean was cold, but Pete hoped the angling kept improving, as the ocean warmed. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Contact Parker Pete’s anyway, about individual spaces available on charters. Jump on Parker Pete’s website to subscribe to the emailed newsletter to be kept informed about the spaces. Look for the place to sign up on the right side of the page.
Good winter flounder catches finally began on Barnegat Bay, near Mantoloking Bridge, said Alex from The Reel Seat. Bloodworms or sandworms seemed to catch best, and striped bass, small ones, were beached from the surf for the first time this year on Saturday. They were hooked on bait like bloods, sands or clams. Warmer weather seemed to pick up catches like these. Small stripers, a fair handful, were clammed or wormed in back waters like the Toms River at Island Heights and Barnegat Bay farther south. On the ocean, party boats claimed a fair handful of cod and ling, and some of the cod were pretty fair sized that were mixed in. Blackfishing sounded slow in the ocean, and maybe will improve in another week or so. The store’s next free seminar will be held 9 a.m. Sunday, April 26, on tying teasers with Jerry Fabiano, formerly from RV Lures.
Point Pleasant Beach
Cod fishing should be solid a couple of more weeks, Capt. Alan from Mushin Sportfishing wrote in an email. That’s because water temperatures are in the low- to mid-40 degrees, and a wide spread of the fish swam the ocean. A trip Sunday aboard hooked a fair pick of cod, including some keepers, while fishing several wrecks. A couple of new wrecks were also prospected, and throwback cod, 19- and 20-inchers, loads, were found. Twenty-one inches is the size limit. Lots of great signs for cod fishing for coming weeks, he said. Striped bass fishing will sail aboard in May and June. Sea bass trips will begin when sea bass season is opened. The boat will fish for sharks, and, at the canyons, tuna in June. Mushin means a relaxed state of readiness. The crew pride themselves on sharing the concept on outdoor adventures.
The ocean was 37.5 degrees during a trip Saturday on the party boat Norma-K III, Capt. Matt wrote in a report on the vessel’s website. That was especially cold for the time of year, but he wasn’t shocked, “after the winter we had,” he said. He didn’t give a reason for the cold water, but other reports said south wind cooled the ocean, after the water was warmer previously. The ocean was somewhat warmer on Sunday’s trip aboard, and a few more cod were decked that day than on Saturday’s trip. But it was nothing to write home about, he said. The fishing was slow, but the water can only become warmer. Saturday’s trip made two drops for blackfish, closer to shore, but the angling was dead. Matt hoped a warming trend will happen now, getting blackfish feeding. Weather looked great for today’s trip, and he planned to fish another area to see what happened. The weekend’s trips were the first to fish aboard, after the boat underwent seasonal maintenance. Was great to be back on the water, and the boat looked and ran great, he said. The Norma-K III is fishing for cod, blackfish and ling 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.
***Update, Tuesday, 4/14:*** Great to see some striped bass reeled from the surf and Barnegat Bay, John from The Dock Outfitters wrote in a report on the shop’s website Monday. That was the year’s first news about fishing posted on the site. Stripers recently were sometimes clammed from the surf, and wormed, mostly, from the bay, behind the store. The Dock Outfitters, located on Barnegat Bay, blocks from the ocean surf, features a bait and tackle shop, boat and jet ski rentals, a café and a dock for fishing and crabbing. The store is open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. “As far as set weekday hours right now, give us a call before you come,” he wrote.
***Update, Tuesday, 4/14:*** The year’s first striped bass was checked-in from Graveling Point! Scott’s Bait & Tackle’s website said. Jake Adair bagged the 28-1/4-incher, a 7-1/2-pounder, on Monday, winning the annual $100 gift certificate for the first. He released 20 throwbacks before the keeper that day. “So, plenty of shorts to go around,” the page said. The keeper engulfed fresh clam, and Jake’s throwbacks bit both bloodworms and the clams.
Just one cod, a keeper, was pumped in Sunday on the Stray Cat, Capt. Mike said. The trip tried for blackfish and cod, and fished three really good spots for blackfish, but the tautog just weren’t ready to bite. The anglers felt a couple of bumps. “You know, a couple of drive-bys,” he said. Bergals were reeled in. The water was 45 degrees along the surface at the 110-foot depths fished, so it wasn’t too cold for bites. A big pod of pilot whales swam past. The anglers fished crabs, clams and shrimp, and tried hard. White crabs and green crabs are carried aboard now, after the crabs were scarce this season. A couple of boats were seen fishing Wildwood Reef, and Mike didn’t ask how they fared. Water was 47 degrees there. The next open-boat trips will fish for cod and blackfish on Wednesday and on Friday through Sunday, and telephone to jump aboard. Looking ahead, a marathon trip will fish deep-water wrecks for summer flounder and sea bass on the Fourth of July, departing at 5 a.m., returning at 3 p.m., so anglers can be back for fireworks.
Lots of striped bass were hung from Great Egg Harbor River, said Bill from Fin-Atics. Things were beginning to happen, he said, and the catches included toward the mouth of the river, and some bunker also schooled there. A few of the stripers were keepers, and most were 26 or 27 inches, and were mostly caught on bloodworms. Some anglers landed 10 or 12 of the bass. Herring mostly schooled the head of the river, so stripers should start heading out of the river soon, he said. White perch schooled far up the river, and the reason was unknown, like maybe if that was because of water salinity. Bunker also schooled the surf, and no stripers were beached from the surf yet, though a few anglers tried. But the surf anglers hooked bunker, and Bill saw a photo. If anglers fished the river, fishing was good. Bloodworms, plenty, and frozen baits are stocked.
Sea Isle City
Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service and Sea Isle Bait & Tackle nailed his year’s first striped bass Sunday, he said. The fish bit in the back bay on a soft-plastic lure worked slowly along bottom on outgoing tide in the afternoon. He only fished an hour, so he’s optimistic that the angling will only become better. Lots of bait, including pretty good-sized bunker that flipped around, swam the water. The bunker were unusual in the bay, but a good sign. “It’s starting to happen,” he said. The water was 51 degrees, a temperature that would normally be reached two or three weeks ago. But winter was cold, and not many days were warm recently. If days weren’t chilly, they were cloudy, rainy or windy, even when air temperature looked high. Sunday was really the year’s first warmer day with sunshine and calm wind on the bay. By this time of year, a handful of days usually top 60 degrees and have sunshine and calm wind, but that didn’t happen this year. Weather and water temperature seem to be changing for the better, and bluefish and weakfish should migrate to the bay soon, too. Joe’s trips will fish for all three fish on the bay, sometimes landing a “slam” of all three, as it’s called. Summer flounder will migrate to the bay soon afterward, and then trips can land a “grand slam,” all four of the bay’s popular species to anglers. The fishing is some of the best of the year. Flounder season will be opened in late May, but the fish are released until then. South Jersey’s shallow back bays are warmer than many waters in the state, so the fishing begins earlier. Trips should be booked now for the second half of this month and May. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s blog.
From Fins and Feathers Outfitters, Capt. Jim saw a fly-rodder drag in a throwback striped bass at Cape May’s Sunset Beach on Sunday, he said. That’s along Delaware Bay, and anglers were fishing the surf there while he visited. He knew about another angler who clammed a throwback from shore at the Villas on the bay that day. Jim saw no boats on the water from Sunset while there. The bay was 48 degrees, he heard, but that was unconfirmed. Wind blew like crazy on Saturday. Wind also blew on Sunday, he thought, but from east, and Delaware Bay is protected from that wind direction, and seas were calm on the bay. Jim’s saltwater trips will begin as early as late this month. They’ll fish for striped bass, if stripers can be boated then, and will fish for drum on the bay in May. Jim is tentatively booked to fish for steelheads on upstate New York’s Salmon River from his lodge this coming week. April is the best month for the angling. Fins and Feathers offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including saltwater fishing from the ocean to Delaware Bay, duck and goose hunting on the bay and in nearby states, steelhead and salmon fishing from the lodge, and fly-fishing for trout on Pennsylvania’s streams like the Yellow Breeches.
Fins & Grins Sport Fishing will sail for striped bass on Delaware Bay now, Capt. Jim said. Stripers caught were heard about from the flats off Egg Island Point in the bay, and Jim worked on someone else’s boat this weekend that blackfished on the ocean. But blackfishing was slow in the chilly ocean, so Fins & Grins will home in on stripers, until blackfishing picks up. The striper trips will anchor and clam at places like edges and sloughs along the Egg Island flats, also looking for relatively warm water. Air temperatures are supposed to reach the 60 and 70 degrees this week, and that will warm the water at the flats, and should keep attracting the stripers. Whole surf clams are the best to fish for stripers in the bay this season. But if bird play pops up, the striper trips could troll plugs or cast bucktails. The trips will do whatever’s necessary to catch, and could even explore other places, like along Miah Maul in the bay. One never knows if stripers will be run into at other places. Southerly wind seemed to have cooled the ocean during the blackfishing trips. That wind direction cools the ocean near the coast, because of upwelling. Fins & Grins fishes daily, and telephone for availability.
The Heavy Hitter is in the water, and the year’s first charter is supposed to fish this weekend aboard, Capt. George said. A friend who sometimes mates on the boat fished on a trip that bagged nine cod and released plenty of shorts, 20 or 25 miles from shore, this weekend. 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 charter boat that docked cod this weekend. Another angler who 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. The Heavy Hitter will fish for stripers if the angling takes off near Cape May this spring. Drum charters are being booked that will fish Delaware Bay, usually in May.