Report from Monday, 2/1:
This winter’s been warmer than last winter, Capt. Frank from the Vitamin Sea wrote in an email. So spring striped bass fishing should begin earlier than last year. Open-boat trips for stripers will sail Saturday and Sunday, April 2 and 3, kicking off the vessel’s fishing season. Winter flounder bait and chum will also be carried aboard, making these trips combo ones for stripers and flounder. “Sounds like a good way to rid yourself of cabin fever,” he said, and telephone to reserve a spot. Space is booking fast for spring striper trips, including charters, and Frank’s not surprised. Book trips while preferred dates are available. Afternoon charters and open-boat trips will be offered this year, for the first time. They’ll sail in addition to morning trips, and the outings will include Working Man Special Open-Boat Trips from 4 to 9 p.m., during the peak of the spring striper run. Frank has wanted to offer trips during those hours for the working person. He’s hired Capt. T.J McNaly to run afternoon trips, and Frank had been looking for someone for that for some time. T.J.’s the right man for the job, a pro, he said. Frank looks forward to seeing anglers aboard.
***Update, Thursday, 2/4:*** Some blackfish were swung in from the ocean, an improvement in the angling on the last couple of trips, on the party boat Big Mohawk, Capt. Chris said. That was compared with last week, when the catches resumed slowly after the blizzard. Some of the angler’s limited out on Tuesday’s trip, and pool-winning blackfish recently weighed 6 to 10 pounds, mostly about 8 pounds. No trip fished Wednesday, because of weather, and today’s trip would probably be weathered out. But Friday’s through Sunday’s trips are expected to sail. The Big Mohawk is blackfishing 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, and green crabs are provided, and white leggers are available for sale aboard.
***Update, Tuesday, 2/2:*** The Miss Belmar Princess will be taken to the boat yard for annual maintenance and Coast Guard inspection, and will resume fishing in late March, an email from the party boat said. The crew had been keeping watch to sail for mackerel, if enough of the migrating fish showed up to fish for.
Some herring and just a few mackerel were pitched aboard the Golden Eagle on Sunday, and the fishing was slow, a report said on the party boat’s website. Check the Golden Eagle’s website or telephone the boat for when the boat will fish next, it said.
No trips fished since the blizzard with Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters, Capt. Pete said. The boat will blackfish on the ocean, if periods of calm weather develop. In the meantime, the crew will work on seasonal maintenance on the boat. The blackfishing sounded “pretty picky,” he said, and the ocean became colder, because of the snow. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Contact Parker Pete’s anyway, about individual spaces available on charters. Catch Parker Pete’s exhibits at the Greater Philadelphia Outdoor Sportshow from Feb. 25-28 at Oaks, Pa., and the Saltwater Fishing Expo from March 18-20 at Somerset, N.J.
***Update, Tuesday, 2/2:*** The party boat Jamaica II fished during the weekend, Capt. Ryan wrote in an email. Strong current and large ground swells, because of stormy weather during the week, hampered the angling. A few cod and ling were picked. Huge eels and dogfish were a nuisance, because the bottom was churned. Hector Costa from Perth Amboy won one of the pools with a 14-pound cod, and Steve Crane from Hazlet won the other with a 12-pound cod. “Looking for better conditions this weekend,” Ryan said, and trips will sail for cod and ling at 3 a.m. Saturday and 5 a.m. Sunday.
Blackfishing on the ocean sort of slowed, said John from The Reel Seat. That seemed because of the blizzard and cold-water runoff from melting afterward. Some boats sailed for cod and porgies on the ocean, but no results were heard. Nothing was heard about fishing at Manasquan Inlet. The shop previously reported lots of herring jigged at the inlet. Reports became scarcer after the blizzard. The Reel Seat is open Thursdays through Sundays.
Point Pleasant Beach
Some anglers limited out on blackfish Saturday on the Norma-K III, Capt. Matt wrote in a report on the party boat’s website. Some customers only landed throwbacks, but the trip produced “quite a nice catch,” he said. An 8-pound blackfish won the pool, and the angling was slower on Sunday’s trip, including because of an ocean swell, because of wind Saturday night. The catch wasn’t as great, but blackfish were sometimes bagged, and a 7-pounder won the pool. The Norma-K III is blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. ***Update, Thursday, 2/4:*** “Wow!” Matt wrote about Tuesday’s trip in a report on the boat’s website. “What a great day to be out in February! Better action for us today!” he said. This was after slow blackfishing Monday aboard. Tuesday’s trip hooked some keepers among lots of shorts. High hooks limited out, a few anglers bagged one to three, and some only hooked shorts. On Monday’s trip, a light crowd jumped aboard, so the boat fished “local.” The blackfishing was pretty slow most of the trip, and the final drop gave up some keepers and shorts. Tom Wicki won the pool with a 13-pound lunker. Tuesday’s trip fished a different area. No trips were expected to sail Wednesday and today, because of weather. Today’s weather didn’t look terrible, but the crew would wait to resume fishing Friday, letting the ocean settle, doing maintenance on the boat instead.
Mullica River was sometimes frozen, sometimes not, said Chris from Scott’s Bait & Tackle. Depended on the day, he said, and he drove past the river in the morning toward the end of the week, and the water looked frozen over. On the drive back that afternoon, it looked like slush. Anglers surely fished for white perch on the river recently, but none of the angling was reported, and the store is closed for a winter break, so not much would be heard. The shop is accepting rod and reel repairs, and telephone to confirm that someone will be there. The crew is working at the store, preparing for the coming fishing season. The shop will be reopened beginning March 2. Scott’s will hold a Fishing Season Kick Off Event on Saturday, April 2, featuring tackle reps from Avet, Berkley, Penn, S&S Bucktails, Tony Maja, St. Croix, Tsunami and more, sales, giveaways, food, drinks and more.
Party boats blackfished on the ocean to the north and south, like from Sea Isle City, said Bill from Fin-Atics. But no results were heard, and not much fishing was heard about since the blizzard. No boats fished from Ocean City that he knew about. Waters were relatively warm, though. The surf was 41 or 42 degrees, and the ocean a mile or 1 ½ miles from shore was 46, he thought. If this winter remains mild, striped bass will probably bite in back waters as soon as fishing for them is opened beginning March 1. Striper fishing is closed in rivers and bays in January and February. Once the fishing is opened, stripers are usually hooked in rivers first, and bays later. Rivers are warmer than bays that time of year. The store is open on Fridays and Saturdays and sometimes a few hours on other days. No regular hours are held on those other days.
***Update, Thursday, 2/4:*** Blackfishing sailed Saturday and Sunday on the party boat Porgy IV, Capt. Paul said. Anglers showed up for the trips. “We had some people,” he said. But hardly any of the fish bit. The water was dirty, and most spots fished gave up no hits, zero, and any blackfish that were caught mostly came from one place. Still, anglers are telephoning to sail for blackfish this weekend, saying things like maybe the water will have warmed. So trips will sail for blackfish at 8 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. “We’ll blame it on the water, snow and wind,” Paul said. Last weekend’s trips were after the blizzard. That angling wasn’t good, but if anglers want to try for blackfish, the boat is going to target them. Maybe the ocean will have warmed and cleared, compared with before.
Capt. George from the Heavy Hitter is finished chartering for the season, but might still blackfish on the ocean with friends, he said. A private boater he knows has been blackfishing on the ocean, saying the catches were pretty good. George was in Cape May on the Sunday after the blizzard in New Jersey on that Saturday two weekends ago. Cape May was flooded during the blizzard, but not much snow, maybe a half-inch, lay on the ground.