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Saltwater Fishing Report

Report from Thursday, April 16.

| Keyport | Atlantic Highlands | Highlands | Neptune | Belmar | Toms River | Forked River | Barnegat Light | Surf City | Mystic Island | Absecon | Brigantine | Atlantic City | Sea Isle City | Avalon | Wildwood | Cape May | Last Monday's Report |
Raritan Bay’s striped bass fishing seemed to improve daily, Capt. Frank from the Vitamin Sea wrote in an email Wednesday. “Good bite today,” he said about the day’s trip aboard. Twenty-one stripers, including two keepers, were landed. The anglers had other bites, many, “but were unable to take advantage,” he said. The migration of larger stripers can’t be far, considering the abundant baitfish in the water. “The season is beginning to shape up nicely,” he said, and space is available on open-boat trips Friday and Tuesday. Charters are booked on every other day through two weekends from now, April 25 to 26. But evening trips will be available soon, and telephone for the schedule.

Shore anglers released lots of throwback striped bass and bagged a few keepers from Raritan Bay, like at Cliffwood Beach, said Joey from Joey’s Bait Shack. Clams were best bait, and bunker grabbed a few, and bunker schooled the bay. Boaters tied into stripers a couple of hundred yards off the beaches. Nothing was heard about winter flounder, and flounder weren’t mixed in with the stripers. Nobody really targeted flounder, because buying bait wasn’t worthwhile in the two-fish bag limit. Nothing was reported about blackfish. Bloodworms, sandworms, fresh clams and fresh bunker are stocked.

Atlantic Highlands
On the party boat Fishermen, fishing will be launched starting Friday for the year, with striped bass trips 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, Capt. Ron said. Clams will be fished, and once water becomes warmer, and bigger stripers move in, bunker will be fished. But trips will fish with jigs or whatever’s necessary. Beginning the next Friday, April 24, trips will also striper fish 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 3:30 to 9 p.m. Sundays. ***Update, Saturday, 4/18:*** The year’s first fishing sailed aboard Friday, picking at throwback stripers a while, and Tom Krako bagged a keeper, his first of the season, winning the pool, Ron wrote in a report on the boat’s website. The trip at first made a quick drop in deeper water. Gannets worked the water, and lots of bait schooled. The water was 49 degrees, and nothing bit. The trip moved to shallower water, finding a few marks, and the stripers were hooked, all on outgoing tide. The water was 51 to 52 degrees there. Sure felt good to be back at the helm and catch, Ron said, and weather looked great for today’s trip.

The party boat Atlantic Star will begin striped bass fishing on Friday on two trips daily from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m., Capt. Tom said. Clams will be the bait, and stripers that can be jigged are rarely seen for some time yet this season. The boat began fishing for the year with winter flounder trips last weekend. But the angling was no good. One of the trips fished Sunday morning, and only skates bit. A few anglers showed up to fish for a trip that afternoon, but Tom was honest about the fishing, and the anglers opted not to sail.

Striped bass fishing was a little slow on Raritan Bay during the week, but the fish were landed aboard with Fin-Taz-Tic Sportfishing, Capt. Pete said. Stripers were marked with Fin-Taz-Tic, and the water was loaded with bait, and gannets dove on bunker. When the water reaches a certain temperature, stripers will bite better. The bay was 47 degrees, and one trip aboard saw gannets feeding all over bunker. Stripers had to be underneath, anglers thought, and the trip fished clams at the birds. But no stripers hit, and no trip sailed yesterday, Wednesday. Pete wasn’t going to take anglers fishing if the chances of catching weren’t better, unless anglers wanted to go regardless. But the boat will fish every day, starting next week. Pete hopes the angling kicks in this week, because of warmer weather. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing for stripers. Few winter flounder bit, so Fin-Taz-Tic didn’t fish for them.

Boaters lit into throwback striped bass and a few keepers on Raritan Bay, said Wayne from Twin Lights Marina. The fishing was beginning to amp up, and the water should warm in warm weather this weekend, and that should help. The bass were lethargic in cold water. Pods of bunker schooled all over, and the stripers were clammed, and customers began to buy the shop’s fresh clams. Things were starting to happen, he said. Stripers didn’t really feed on bunker yet, because of low water temperature. Customers began to launch boats for the season. Twin Lights, located conveniently on Shrewsbury River near Raritan Bay and the ocean, with no bridges before them, includes a marina with boat slips and dry storage, a fuel dock, and a combined bait and tackle shop and ship’s store. The full supply of bait is stocked, including, when in demand, live bunker. The fuel dock is available 24 hours a day with a credit card.

Fishing was better on Wednesday for Last Lady Fishing Charters, Capt. Ralph wrote in an email. A charter bagged 13 cod, three pollock, a ling and a blackfish. Space is available for an individual-reservation trip that will wreck-fish Sunday.

Winter flounder were finally tied into from Shark River – “finally (got) up from a long winter nap,” Bob from Fisherman’s Den wrote in an email. Bulkhead anglers cranked in a fair number of the fish to 18 inches. “Get down, before they move out,” he said. Flounder should migrate to the ocean before long. Striped bass were beached from the surf north of Shark River Inlet, on clams and worms. A good number were also banked from Raritan Bay’s shore. Bunker schooled the ocean off Belmar, so large numbers of migrating stripers and blues couldn’t be far behind. On boats on the ocean, cod and pollock dominated catches. Sometimes blackfish snapped on the trips.

The party boat Golden Eagle will fish Saturday and Sunday for the first time this season, Capt. Rich said. The trips will try for striped bass, but if stripers fail to show, the fishing will sail for whatever can be decked, like ling or cod. The ocean was cold, and fishing was slower to begin this year. But lots of bait schooled, a good sign, he said. Striper fishing could take off in a moment. That could be within two weeks, or on Saturday. After the weekend, the boat will be docked to wrap up seasonal maintenance, and daily trips will fish beginning the following Saturday, April 25. The Golden Eagle sails 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 or 3 p.m.

Weather on Friday will keep the party boat Miss Belmar Princess docked, an email from the vessel said. But trips will fish for striped bass this weekend, and daily trips will fish for stripers beginning the following Friday, April 24. Many improvements were made to the boat this off-season, including new heating, air-conditioning, cushioned seating, lighting and paint. If you thought the boat looked good before, wait until you see it now, the email said.

Toms River
Fishing for small striped bass was great on the Toms River, on both the north and south sides, said Dennis from Murphy’s Hook House. Mostly bloodworms hooked them, but some were plugged after dark. Anglers heard the bass popping at night. White perch fishing improved a little in the river, giving up a few here and there. Winter flounder were nonexistent in the river, pretty much, and fishing for them never materialized in the river this year, really. Flounder fishing was good on Barnegat Bay near Mantoloking Bridge. Paul Enright led the shop’s free flounder tournament with a 2.56-pounder boated there. The tournament had 121 entrants, and Enright’s been bailing the flatfish there on sandworms while chumming. Farther south in the bay, the water was 55 degrees from Route 37 Bridge to Long Point, at the mouth of the Toms. Dennis read the temp when he splashed his boat for the season. The water was clear, and he could see 3 feet down. He trolled a half-hour, and had one bite at the bridge. But fishing, for striped bass, has been turning on later, at night, at the bridge, on plugs. Anglers heard fish popping there in the dark, whether that was stripers or bunker. Dennis saw no bunker during his trip, and the water was cold for bunker to school along the surface. Once the water reaches 60 degrees, the baitfish become active. Water was turning over at the bridge, and the season was early for that. But debris from bottom floated or suspended around. Ospreys were around, and an osprey was seen snatching up a bunker a few days ago. From the surf, a few throwback striped bass were beached during the weekend. Dennis knew about no keepers first-hand, but knew a few keepers came from the beach this season. He wouldn’t be surprised to see the year’s first bluefish in the bay within a week. Rumors, none confirmed, circulated about blues occasionally seen in the state.

Forked River
Oyster Creek turned out small striped bass, and winter flounder, like before, said Kyle from Grizz’s Forked River Bait & Tackle. Most anglers there fished bloodworms, and some used clams. No bluefish or weakfish were heard about yet. Bloodworms and salted clams are stocked. Grizz will decide whether to stock fresh clams this weekend. The shop has been moved to a new location at 103 Lacey Road in Forked River

Barnegat Light
Bluefishing will kick off the season on May 22 on the party boat
Miss Barnegat Light, Karen said. The boat is in the shipyard for
seasonal maintenance.

Surf City
A few throwback striped bass were reported from Long Beach Island’s surf, both from the north end and the south, said Sue from Surf City Bait & Tackle. Many telephoned, saying they’d fish the surf this weekend, so more reports should roll in. Scarce news was partly because of scarce anglers. Clams were fished for the bass, and nobody mentioned blackfishing in past days. Green crabs were unable to be obtained for blackfishing, because of cold. But anglers fish clams for blackfish, including when crabs are unavailable. Fresh clams will be stocked Friday, and bloodworms are on hand. Winter flounder were supposedly angled along Route 72 Bridge at Dutchman’s Brauhaus, but that was unconfirmed, and customers were yet to flounder fish.

Mystic Island
A 25-pound drum was dragged to shore at Graveling Point today, said Brian from Scott’s Bait & Tackle. That was the year’s first drum known about at the shop, and the first reported on this site this season. Lots of throwback striped bass were banked at Graveling and nearby Pebble Beach. Anglers today landed multiples apiece. The year’s first keeper striper from Graveling was weighed-in Monday, covered in the last report here. Stripers in the area began to bite clams better than before. They still bit bloodworms, and bloodworms are the favored bait early in the season. Stripers can digest the worms during slow metabolism in cold water. But clams become the better bait as water warms. Bloods still beat the stripers, but clams took the larger ones, and drum will bite clams. Small stripers were also caught up Mullica River. They also began to be reeled from West Creek, north of Tuckerton. So stripers spread to both Great Bay and the waters along the bay toward Tuckerton this week. Graveling and Pebble are at the confluence of Great Bay and the Mullica. White perch fishing was great along Mullica River. The perch were sizable, and no particular location was talked about. The perch were also nabbed in West Creek. Now was the time when the year’s first bluefish could arrive, and the annual $100 gift certificate to the store will be awarded to the angler who checks-in the year’s first blue from Graveling or Pebble. Anglers almost hoped blues wouldn’t arrive this coming weekend, because stripers can begin to depart from Graveling and Pebble, when blues arrive. But the bluefish migration should be impending. Bloodworms and live grass shrimp are stocked. Fresh clams, both shucked and in the shell, will be on hand. A rep from Tsunami will be at the shop 8 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday. The rep can be asked questions about the company’s tackle, and all Tsunami products will be discounted 10 percent during the event. Tsunami products can also be ordered for a 10-percent discount, if the product isn’t available at the shop at the time. A free gift will be awarded to anybody purchasing a Tsunami rod during that time.

Fishing kept improving a little, said Capt. Dave from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center. Fishing for small striped bass, and white perch, kept picking up on Mullica and Great Egg Harbor rivers, as water warmed. Water was still cold, though. The Mullica at Hay Road and Jeffers Landing Road were hot spots. A few keeper stripers were known about, and lots of shorts were played. If anglers fished with bloodworms, they practically couldn’t help but catch. Graveling Point, at the confluence of the Mullica and Great Bay, gave up the year’s first keeper striped bass, and lots of throwbacks, this week. Mostly shore anglers fished, and few boaters did, so far this year. Boaters seemed to wait for weather to warm, and maybe more will boat this weekend. If boaters would get out, reports would probably pick up, and good fishing is probably available to them. Not much was heard about blackfishing, mostly because green crabs were unavailable from suppliers in New York and New England, where most come from, because of cold. How blackfishing was, couldn’t be said. Bloodworms and fresh clams are stocked. Bunker schooled, but demand for the fresh baitfish wasn’t enough for many suppliers to pursue them. Dave knew he wouldn’t sell many, if the menhaden were stocked.

John Fox released a throwback striped bass from the surf at the south end jetty today, said Capt. Andy from Riptide Bait & Tackle. That was the only news about a surf catch, and other anglers headed to fish the beach today, so Andy hoped they’d run into fish. Good-looking bloodworms were stocked today, and fresh clams are carried. Fresh bunker will arrive Friday, “which is a good sign,” Andy said. The Riptide Striper Bounty was up to $1,465. Sponsored by Hess Plumbing, the bounty is awarded to the angler who checks-in the season’s first striper 43 inches or larger from Brigantine’s surf. The bounty wasn’t won during fall, so is being rolled over to spring. That happened last year, too, and the bounty was won that spring. The angler must be entered before the catch, and entry is $5. All entry fees are awarded, so the bounty will build. Two $50 gift certificates will be awarded, one to the angler who stops by with the year’s first keeper striper from Brigantine’s surf, and the other for the first boater who brings in the first. The Fish for Life Tournament, a Brigantine surf-fishing contest, from Tom LaPera’s real-estate team, is under way until May 21. Entry is $20, and proceeds are reportedly donated to the South Jersey Cancer Fund. Trophies are awarded for the three heaviest stripers, and none was entered yet. Entry, available at Riptide, includes a permit to drive Brigantine’s middle beach until the final day of the tournament, when accompanied by a Brigantine beach-buggy permit. Without the permit, driving the middle is prohibited. The tournament essentially enables entrants, with the Brigantine permit, to drive the island’s entire surf. ***Update, Thursday, 4/16:*** Another angler beached two stripers 24 to 26 inches in the surf today, Riptide’s Facebook page said. A photo of one of the fish was included in the post, and the post said the angler came back to pick up more clams for bait. “Will this be the breakout?” the page asked. ***Update, Saturday, 4/18:*** Stripers began to bite in the surf, Andy wrote on Riptide’s Facebook page. He posted photos of him and a friend, each with a throwback, and another friend with a 30-pound drum from the beach Friday on the page.

Atlantic City
Shore anglers tugged in striped bass, good-sized, but lots of smaller or 24- or 26-inchers, blues and blackfish from the surf and Absecon Inlet, said Noel from One Stop Bait & Tackle. Warmer water was just needed, and the fishing will pick up. Striper fishing has been some of the best anywhere for the anglers at the inlet in recent springs. Numerous stripers, and especially large ones, were drilled, and they seemed to pour out of the rivers, after spawning, and shoot through the inlet, migrating to the ocean. That should happen in the warmer water in the next month. Currently, fishing can be best on high tides in evenings, and those tides will coincide with that time in the next days. Bunker swam around, and birds worked the water all over. The anglers are fishing bloodworms and fresh clams and bunker. The jetty-lined inlet and the surf are located near the shop. Baits stocked include all of those mentioned, and the bloods are on sale for two dozen for $20 every Tuesday and Wednesday. Fresh bunker are $2 apiece or three for $5 daily. Noel is trying to obtain green crabs to stock Friday. The crabs are scarce.

Sea Isle City
Definitely seeing more life, said Mike from Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. Schools of bunker and herring swam the ocean. Big schools of bunker ran the back bay. Weather was warming. Things looked good. Striped bass were fought on the bay, mostly in evenings and at night, mostly on soft-plastic lures like Fin-S Fish or Bass Assassins, either along the sod banks or under lights, like at bridges. A few were caught on bait, but probably more will be soon. Stripers were scattered in the surf, and a couple caught were known about. Few anglers fished the surf, and more of the fish would probably be discovered, if more fished. Bluefish arriving in Townsend’s Inlet were reported a couple of times, and Mike knew blues did show up there. That is the year’s first confirmed bluefish report on this site this season. He also knew blues entered Manasquan Inlet, farther north, yesterday. No weakfish or summer flounder were reported to arrive locally, but Mike bets they will by next Thursday’s report. Bloodworms, fresh clams, eels and all the frozen bait is stocked. Fresh bunker’s been stocked on weekends, and Mike’s trying to stock them this weekend.

Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service and Sea Isle Bait & Tackle will fish for striped bass on the back bay this evening, he said. He landed his season’s first on Sunday, covered in the last report. Fishing was beginning to happen in the bay, and will unfold rapidly. Nothing might be caught on one tide, and on the next, catches might explode for the season. Stripers will bite, and the migrations of bluefish and weakfish will invade the bay any time now. Joe last year had hooked his season’s first weak by this time of month. Weekends are booking up, and if anglers have a date they prefer for a charter, especially on weekends, they should reserve sooner than later. This is also time for special after-work trips, from afternoons to evenings, because fish turn on during the warmer, latter part of the day in spring. Summer flounder will migrate to the bay soon, too. A grand slam, a catch of all four species popular to anglers in the bay, is not uncommon this season. This is some of the best angling of the year. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s blog.

Striped bass were heard about that began to be clutched from Raritan Bay, said Capt. Jim from Fins and Feathers Outfitters. But he’ll probably search for stripers on Delaware Bay this weekend. He knew about stripers slid from Delaware Bay’s shore, and he’ll probably boat the bay for stripers off the Villas and at Cape May Channel. If the bass bit for surf anglers, they might school the bay at those two areas. Charters aboard will fish for drum on the bay in May. A buddy said the stripers from Raritan Bay were boated from the back of that bay. Jim had tentatively been scheduled to fish for steelheads on upstate New York’s Salmon River from his lodge in the next days. But the river ran extremely high, because of snow melt. That will subside, and the year’s best steelheading is usually soon on the river. Fins and Feathers offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including saltwater fishing from the ocean to Delaware Bay and the back bays, duck and goose hunting on Delaware Bay and in nearby states, salmon and steelhead fishing on Salmon River from the lodge, and fly-fishing for trout on Pennsylvania’s trout streams, like the Yellow Breeches. When charters fish or hunt Delaware Bay, the boat is trailered to be launched at wherever’s nearest the angling or waterfowling.

The ocean warmed somewhat, reaching 50 degrees, so open-boat trips will sail for blackfish on the ocean 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday to Sunday with Fins & Grins Sport Fishing, Capt. Jim said. Reservations aren’t required but recommended, and telephone for availability. Warm weather is supposed to continue, and if a group, like with four anglers or more, wants to sail for striped bass on Delaware Bay instead, that’s possible. Open-boat rates would be charged, and Jim spoke with a couple of people who ran trips that caught a few stripers in the bay, and spoke with one who ran a trip and caught none. The stripers boated were in the upper bay, Jim said for this report. He mentioned stripers reported from the flats off Egg Island Point, in the previous report. Reports were heard about stripers caught from the bay’s surf, but he didn’t know whether that was true. Rumors begin to be heard this time of year.

Cape May
Trips blackfished Saturday through Monday on the party boat Porgy IV, Capt. Paul said. The ocean was cold, and some small blackfish bit, and not many keepers did. Three anglers bagged three blackfish apiece on Monday’s trip, and on Sunday’s trip, one angler limited out. But many anglers bagged none. One angler went 3 for 25 on keepers, had a lot of action. But others had not a lot. The angling was very slow at some places. Sounded like a few small cod could be boated farther from shore. But blackfish wouldn’t be angled, if there was fished. The Porgy IV will stick with blackfishing, sailing for the tautog at 8 a.m. daily. Blackfish season is only opened this month, and the trips are a chance for anglers to hook the tog and to fish, at least.

Beach anglers eased in a steady pick of striped bass, pretty good catches, from Delaware Bay in town, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. He saw no keepers, but keepers might’ve been bagged. Bloodworms and clams caught, and he fished that surf Wednesday in the rainstorm. We banked a couple, he said, on bloodworms. Stripers surely were landed on Delaware River, too. Nothing was heard about boaters striper fishing. A few blackfish were reported wrangled along surf jetties. They seemed to begin biting. No bluefish or weakfish were reported yet this season. Bunker schooled around, and spearing popped into the ocean surf. Nick saw the spearing. Fresh clams, both in the shell and shucked, and bloodworms are stocked. Nick’s working on carrying green crabs.

Last Monday's Report
Staten Island

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.

Atlantic Highlands

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.

Seaside Heights

***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.

Mystic Island

***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.

Ocean City

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.

Cape May

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.