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Today's
High Tides
Great Kills Harbor
A.M.
P.M.
2:12
2:48
Atlantic Highlands
A.M.
P.M.
1:56
2:32
Sandy Hook,
Fort Hancock
A.M.
P.M.
2:06
2:42
Belmar,
Ocean
A.M.
P.M.
1:31
2:07
Manasquan Inlet,
USCG Station
A.M.
P.M.
1:54
2:30
Atlantic City
A.M.
P.M.
1:51
2:30
Cape May,
Ocean
A.M.
P.M.
2:25
3:04
East Point,
Delaware Bay
A.M.
P.M.
3:40
4:18

More Tides


New Jersey
Saltwater Fishing Report

Report from Monday, March 23.

| Hudson River | Keyport | Atlantic Highlands | Neptune | Belmar | Brielle | Point Pleasant Beach | Toms River | Mystic Island | Absecon | Brigantine | Atlantic City | Longport | Ocean City | Sea Isle City | Avalon | Cape May | Last Week's Report |
IN WINTER THROUGH MARCH,
THIS REPORT IS UPDATED EVERY MONDAY,
AND A FEW UPDATES ARE POSTED
ON OTHER DAYS, MOSTLY THURSDAYS

THE REPORT IS FULLY UPDATED
EVERY MONDAY AND THURSDAY
BEGINNING IN APRIL THROUGH FALL
Hudson River
Ice, lots, filled creeks, and much of Hudson River held ice, said Capt. Chuck from Angler Sportfishing Charters. The waters weren’t fishable, but trips aboard will hunt the river’s striped bass, the spring migration, usually from sometime in April until early June. The stripers are big, mature, breeding fish, giving up one of the best opportunities to land a trophy. Chuck’s been fishing the run many years. New York this past week took emergency measures to create regulations for striper fishing for the year. On the river upstream from George Washington Bridge, the season for the fishing will be opened starting April 1, and the bag limit will be one striper 18 to 28 inches or one 40 inches or larger per angler, per day. Angler Sportfishing will also fish from Staten Island on Angler’s other boat throughout the fishing season, including during the Hudson striper fishing.

Keyport
With Papa’s Angels Charters, the year’s first charter is slated for April 1, Capt. Joe said. Trips at first will fish for striped bass, but could go for winter flounder, too. Much of the seasonal maintenance was done on the boat, and painting just needed to be finished. Cold weather was tough for the painting. Joe was at the dock Sunday, and weather was cold and windy. Like every year, open-boat trips will be available daily when no charter is booked, and telephone to jump aboard. ***Update, Friday, 3/27:*** The boat is in the water and ready to fish, Joe wrote in an email. April and May have typically been good for striped bass fishing. To book fishing aboard, give him a call.

Fishing will probably be launched during the first week of April with Down Deep Sportfishing, Capt. Mario said. The angling will begin with striped bass trips, and not much happened with fishing yet. The crew worked on seasonal maintenance on the two boats. Book charters now, and join the Short Notice List on Down Deep’s website to be kept informed about open trips. A couple of open cod trips will also sail in the early season.

The Vitamin Sea will be splashed Tuesday, Capt. Frank said. Seasonal maintenance is finished, and he heard about small striped bass and winter flounder boated from the back of Raritan Bay. The water was cold but should begin to warm in the next week. The year’s first open-boat trip is slated for Saturday, April 4. The plan is to fish the shallow bottom with dark mud, where the bay temperature rises a few degrees each day, when the sun shines. The fish hunt for food at those spots early in the season, and Frank’s confident the first catches will be made there. Charters and open trips will fish for both species in the early season, and both swim the same areas, early in the year. Anglers interested in being added to the list of open trips can contact Frank by phone, email or text. He’ll send the schedule each week. Open striper trips will also fish in the p.m. in April and May, so anglers can fish who need to work earlier in the day. “Get your dose of Vitamin Sea!”

Atlantic Highlands
Customers fished, but nothing bit locally, said Joe from Julian’s Bait & Tackle. Warmer weather was needed, and a couple of days are supposed to be warmer this week. Locals will begin making catches like striped bass at Cliffwood Beach on Raritan Bay at first this season. Winter flounder will also begin to bite in areas like that, in shallows, where water warms, toward the back of the bay. Both boaters and shore anglers will catch. A good amount of worms were sold to anglers trying for flounder farther south. That seemed to indicate they caught, but that was unconfirmed. The only confirmed catches were cod and maybe some ling from the ocean on boats toward Brielle, farther south. Baits are fully stocked, including worms and fresh clams.

Neptune
Capt. Garrett from Judith Anne Fishing Charters stopped at the docks Sunday, but not much happened with fishing, he said. Nobody was seen fishing, even for winter flounder on Shark River, and no boats were in the water yet, really. “Soon enough, though,” he said. Fishing aboard will be kicked off in May, beginning with striped bass fishing on the ocean. The trips will search for bunker schools, looking to liveline and chunk the baitfish for the bass. Or the trips will troll spoons, and jigs will be stowed aboard, in case jigging can work. Charters are being booked, and open-boat trips will sail. The open trips are starting to be reserved, too, and see Judith Anne’s website for dates available.

Belmar
***Update, Thursday, 3/26:*** The beginning of the year’s fishing is near on the party boat Golden Eagle, a report on the vessel’s website said. The boat is scheduled to begin fishing first for striped bass. But the ocean will need to warm 6 to 8 degrees, before the angling begins, and that will take a few weeks. The boat is expected to begin fishing in mid-April, later than planned, because of the cold this year. The cold also delayed seasonal maintenance on the vessel, and the boat is still in the ship yard. The start of the trips will be announced on the boat’s site.

Hardly anybody fished, said Bob from Fisherman’s Den. One of the Belmar party boats sailed the ocean, carrying customers, and cod fishing was okay aboard. But hardly anybody even fished Shark River for winter flounder from the bulkheads. Every time a couple of days with better weather arrived, something happened like snow. Then the water became cold, because of runoff. The shop is open daily, and worms and salted clams are stocked. Keeping the worms was tough, when demand was down. Worms arrived once a week, and didn’t live forever. But some were usually on hand. The store’s rental boats are available to fish the river for flounder. Striped bass were yet to be landed locally this season. For freshwater anglers, trout season will be opened starting April 4. All the supplies for trout will be stocked next week, Bob figured.

Brielle
A couple of boats cod fished, picking away at the catches, said Dave from The Reel Seat. No much was heard about ling landed on the trips, but the vessels mostly fished open bottom, so ling were unlikely to be caught. A keeper striped bass was actually heard about that was plugged at Manasquan Inlet this past week. No reports were heard about stripers found near Mantoloking Bridge on northern Barnegat Bay. Alex from the shop in last week’s report said small stripers began to be picked at the bridge. Customers bought rigs for winter flounder fishing, and probably headed north to Shark River to try for the flatfish. Flounder usually begin to bite there before locally. Flounder fishing seemed yet to take off locally, at northern Barnegat Bay and Manasquan River. Alex fished for them on the bay near Point Pleasant Canal, hooking none. One of the store’s free seminars was held Sunday. The Shark River Surf Anglers, who produce the free, annual trout-fishing tournament at Spring Lake for kids on opening day of trout season, gave the seminar, on trout fishing for kids. Dates were yet to be set for the next seminars, but will include ones by Jerry Fabiano, formerly from RV Lures, on tying teasers and flies, Capt. Chris Hueth from the party boat Big Mohawk, Belmar, on jigging for fluke, and Joe Shute on trolling for big game and rigging ballyhoos for the fishing with his Joe Shute rigs. Catch a bunch of items on sale at the shop, including surf-fishing plugs.

Point Pleasant Beach
***Update, Thursday, 3/26:*** Maintenance, preparing the party boat Norma-K III for the fishing season, was moving right along, Capt. Matt wrote in a report on the vessel’s website. The boat looked great, he said, and he hopes the angling will begin in two weekends aboard. He’ll give an update once the maintenance is completed. The first trips are slated to fish ocean wrecks.

Toms River
Dennis from Murphy’s Hook House reported last week that the Toms River’s fishing would begin when sun shined three days in a row, he said. A few days became sunny in a row, and winter flounder and small striped bass began to bite in the river. Somebody on Facebook said the Forked River power plant was turned off, because of a mechanical issue. If that’s true, that could affect fishing on Oyster Creek, the plant’s warm-water discharge. Until now, stripers were reeled from the creek on Fin-S Fish and bucktails, sometimes on bloodworms, and flounder were plucked from the creek consistently. If the plant is turned off a couple of days, making the creek cold, stripers and any baitfish could depart the creek. Flounder will remain, though. If that happens, the Toms River could be the only place to be, for shore anglers. The Toms is a little warmer than other waters, so the river is an early fishery. Stripers and flounder just began biting in the Toms. Flounder always migrate to the river before other nearby waters in fall, and depart the Toms in spring before they do those other waters. All the catches heard about from the river came from the docks at Island Heights. The fish included Rick Chadwick’s 1.58-pound flounder and two throwback stripers, Henry Prior’s one flounder and a throwback striper, and John Huddler’s limit of two flounder 1.54 and 1.1 pounds. All the stripers were taken on bloodworms, and the bass seemed mostly to bite late in the day or at 3, 4 or 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Jared Goldy stopped in with a flounder 1.74 pounds from Oyster Creek. All flounder checked-in at the shop were spawned out, probably two weeks ago. The bait supply is in good shape and includes bloodworms, sandworms, fresh clams and chum. Murphy’s is open daily. Murphy’s also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River, and Go Fish is open Thursdays through Mondays. ***Update, Thursday, 3/26:*** More and more throwback stripers were landed from the Toms, Oyster Creek and the “back bay,” the shop’s Facebook page said. Winter flounder started to be more active than before, “so get out there if you can, before they are gone,” it said. A big push of bunker schooled through the Toms near Island Heights and the river’s mouth, “breaking water,” it said. A few birds were seen picking the water at Dillon’s Creek that empties into the mouth. The water was too choppy to see what the birds foraged on. Ospreys, a sign of spring, were seen at Good Luck Point, where the river meets Barnegat Bay.

Mystic Island
Good news! The year’s first several throwback striped bass were banked at Graveling Point, said Scott from Scott’s Bait & Tackle. The water was 38 degrees or cold, so the catches were surprising. But an 18-incher was landed last week on Sunday, a 22-incher was on Tuesday, and a 26-incher and a 26-1/2-incher were on Thursday. The fish usually don’t bite until the water reaches the 40 degrees, so this writer hadn’t even watched reports on the shop’s website last week to see whether any were caught. The catches were few and far between, and those four landed were probably the result of hundreds of hours of fishing. Lots of people fished the area, but catches were had. The annual $100 gift certificate to the store was still up for grabs for the first angler to weigh-in a keeper striper from the point or nearby Pebble Beach. Both are shore-angling spots located at the confluence of Great Bay and Mullica River. Bloodworms hooked all the bass that Scott knew about. The worms, easy for stripers to digest during cold, usually catch them best, early in the season. Clams will become the preferred bait afterward. Bluefish usually migrate to the area by May 10. An annual $100 certificate will also be awarded for the first angler to check-in a blue from Graveling or Pebble. Striper fishing also somewhat broke open farther up the Mullica. Eleven was the high hook, and all the stripers were 18-inch throwbacks, but fun to release. White perch were kind of scattered in the river, nabbed here and there. Both the stripers and the perch were found somewhat downstream from Hay Road, so between Lower Bank and Green Bank bridges, closer to the Lower Bank. Anglers like those who launched kayaks were into them. Bloodworms sold out but are expected to be re-stocked at mid-day Wednesday. Business was pretty good Saturday, so the bloods sold. Fresh, shucked clams are carried. Live grass shrimp are on hand, and Scott is netting them, but so is a retiree. The shrimp are expected to remain in stock. Green crabs will be carried soon, before blackfish season is opened for the month of April.

Absecon
***Update, Thursday, 3/26:*** White perch and small striped bass were clutched from Mullica River toward Hay Road, said Kurt from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center. Small stripers were also hung at Graveling, at the confluence of the Mullica and Great Bay. The catches at Hay Road were all reported on bloodworms. From Graveling, anglers talked about both bloods and clams hooking-up. White perch were also bloodwormed from Great Egg Harbor toward Somers Point at the water tower. Bloodworms and fresh clams are stocked.

Brigantine
***Update, Thursday, 3/26:*** A few tried surf fishing, driving the beach, said Fred from Riptide Bait & Tackle. But the water was cold, 40 degrees, according to the newspaper. Still, the temperature was creeping up. Bloodworms, salted clams and the variety of frozen baits are stocked. The Riptide Striper Bounty was up to $1,350. Sponsored by Hess Plumbing, the bounty is awarded to the angler who checks-in the season’s first striped bass 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. 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. 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. Customers stopped in to buy the bloods or pick up the permits.

Atlantic City
One Stop Bait & Tackle was opened for the fishing season, and striped bass, ling and winter flounder were reeled from Absecon Inlet and the bay, mostly the bay, Noel said. The stripers were occasional catches, but the flounder were good-sized, and the ling bit along the inlet or “out front,” he said. Frozen baits are stocked, and live and fresh bait will be carried beginning Tuesday and Wednesday.

Longport
The Stray Cat fished Sunday, Capt. Mike said. Dogfish after dogfish bit, but a few cod were slipped in, between the dogs. Cod were definitely there, and a good flurry gave up quite a few at once. But current ran a little strong, and kept pushing the boat off the wreck fished, the reason the dogs were horrendous. Double-headers of dogs bit. “Big ones, little ones, fat ones, skinny ones,” he said. The trip fished 35 miles from shore, and the ocean was 41.2 degrees at the warmest, and was mostly 40. “That’s good,” this writer said to Mike. “Yeah,” he said. Charters are available, and he’ll try to run the next open-boat trips for cod Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and telephone to reserve. The open trips sail 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. “Won’t be long, and we’ll be blackfishing and dogfishing!” he said. Ha. Blackfish season will be open in April.

Ocean City
A few white perch and small striped bass were claimed from Great Egg Harbor River and Tuckahoe River, said Bill from Fin-Atics. Not red hot, but not bad, at least something, he said. Bloodworms pasted both, and bloods and frozen baits are stocked. A few anglers tried catching stripers from the bay, and rumors were heard about success, but the rumors circulate this time of year.

Sea Isle City
A few anglers who cod fished were heard from, giving good reports, said Mike from Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. One couple of anglers who sailed for cod fished wrecks 30 miles from shore a little on Thursday, landing 38 cod, including eight keepers, a couple of ling and, Mike thought, a pollock or two. Not a bad catch, good numbers. Not much was heard about striped bass. A few anglers fished for white perch on Tuckahoe River. The angling didn’t sound like it loaded up on the fish, but did catch some. Fresh clams and the full selection of frozen baits were stocked. When weather improves a little, bloodworms and nightcrawlers will be carried. The store is open about 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays, and hours will be extended as the fishing season kicks in.

The boat was splashed this weekend, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service, affiliated with Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. He was on the boat on the back bay at 7 p.m. Sunday, when he gave this report in a phone call. Weather was cold, and the water, on incoming tide, was 43 degrees. He was unsure whether he’d fish this week or weekend, and would prefer air temperatures higher than 50 degrees. But when the temperature reaches higher than 50 a few days in a row, his striped bass fishing will be on, in the bay. Joe’s one of the first captains to fish for stripers each year, and South Jersey’s, shallow, warm back bays are some of the state’s first waters to give up stripers every year. Often, he’s already caught his first by this time of year. But weather’s been cold. By mid-April, bluefish and weakfish will migrate to the bay, and fishing should be gangbusters. All three species can be hooked then in the bay, some of the best angling of the year. Out-of-season summer flounder will begin to migrate to the bay by then, and will be landed and released. So all four species can be caught. Flounder season is yet to be decided but usually opens in late May. Jersey Cape catches all of these fish on soft-plastic lures in the early season, worked slowly along bottom in the cold water. The stripers are resident fish, younger, juvenile bass, yet to migrate. They’ll be the first to bite, and the trips fish for them at places like creek mouths that push warmer water into the bay on outgoing tides. Afternoons, when the bay’s had time to warm during the day, can fish best. The boat that Joe splashed was his larger vessel, a 24-foot Eastern center console. His 18-foot Scout flats boat is in the Florida Keys for Joe’s traveling charters that fish there each winter until Easter. He’ll trailer the flats boat back to Sea Isle afterward for spring to fall. Joe also runs a 35-foot Cabo Express for offshore, big-game fishing. He’s often one of the first captains to fish for tuna offshore each year, as early as May. Many anglers fish for tuna starting in summer. But trolling for bluefin tuna, a tuna species that’s more tolerant of cool water, in spring can be some of the best tuna fishing, among any time of year. The bluefins are migrating north in spring. Many anglers wait for yellowfin tuna to arrive later, during T-shirt weather. But the bluefin fishing is as good as tuna fishing gets. See Jersey Cape’s traveling charters Web page. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s blog.

Avalon
After hunting snow geese along Delaware Bay, Capt. Jim from Fins and Feathers Outfitters was now hunting them in Pennsylvania, he said. He’ll fish for striped bass and drum on the bay, usually starting in late April, kicking off his year’s saltwater angling. For now, he guided the goose trips. Most of the birds currently migrated farther north, away from New Jersey. He spent Sunday at Pennsylvania’s Wildlife Management Area, and 110,000 snow geese reportedly arrived there. During his most recent snow goose hunting in New Jersey, 18 of the geese were bagged. Grounds were hunted from Cape May Point to Ship John, along the bay. Jim will probably fish for steelheads on upstate New York’s Salmon River from his lodge at Easter. Fins offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including saltwater fishing on Delaware Bay and the ocean, duck and goose hunting on Delaware Bay and in surrounding states, salmon and steelhead fishing on the Salmon from the lodge, and fly-fishing for trout on Pennsylvania’s streams like the Yellow Breeches. For the saltwater fishing, a new engine was installed Thursday on the 23-foot center console’s port side. A new starboard engine was installed last year, so the vessel is re-powered.

Cape May
The Heavy Hitter was painted Saturday and Sunday, Capt. George said. The boat will be waxed next weekend, and splashed a week or so later. Charters are being booked for drum and blackfish. Drum fishing usually sails in May, and blackfish season is open in April. Trips can also be booked for striped bass, and will sail, if the fishing turns on this season. Not many people were seen at the docks this weekend. Even fewer were the previous weekend. Weather was fair, sweatshirt weather, this weekend, at Cape May. Activity will probably pick up in another couple of weeks or after Easter at the docks. George didn’t know the current water temperature first-hand, but local television news said the water was 38 degrees. George knew about nobody who fished from Cape May recently. A couple of friends were headed to bottom-fish from Hatteras, North Carolina. The friends were told that blackfin tuna were also around, near the port.

Last Week's Report
Report from Monday, 3/16:

Hudson River

The creek this weekend was solid ice where the boat becomes docked to fish Hudson River, said Capt. Chuck from Angler Sportfishing Charters. Fishing the river’s migration of stripers might begin late this year, if only because of access. The creek usually only holds ice along the edges this time of year. The Hudson also held ice, but authorities kept that ice broken up for navigation. Chuck’s trips will fish the river for the bass this spring like every year. The stripers are a chance to land some of the biggest anywhere, because the fish are large, mature ones returning to the river to spawn. He’s been fishing the run many years. Chuck fishes from Staten Island, on Raritan Bay to the ocean, the rest of the year.

Atlantic Highlands

A few winter flounder, not many, were reported from the back of the rivers, said Jimmy from Julian’s Bait & Tackle. Anglers were just getting boats ready to fish for the season. Those who trailered boats back home, to the north, still dealt with 18 inches of snow on the ground Friday. No striped bass were heard about. A few cod and ling bit at the Mudhole, and one of the local charter boats will begin fishing for them on Friday. All baits are stocked, including worms and fresh clams.

Highlands

One of the crew fished this weekend, Capt. Pete from Fin-Taz-Tic Sportfishing wrote in an email. “Capt. Mike was fishing the rivers … (and the) fishing was slow,” Pete wrote. “… there was some life,” but the water was cold. The boat will be splashed next week, and some of the year’s first trips will fish for striped bass. But if stripers are yet to bite in the early season, winter flounder can be targeted, from the rivers to Raritan Bay, and cod and ling can be fished for on the ocean. Charters will sail, and open-boat trips will fish daily, when no charter is booked, with a minimum of four anglers. That’s fewer than many boats that require six. Only a few weekend dates are available in April for charters and open trips. The angler with the year’s biggest striper aboard will win a free charter. Any angler who lands a striper heavier than 52 pounds aboard will win $1,000 from Fin-Taz-Tic. ***Update, Thursday, 3/19:*** A discount will be available for open trips for stripers and flounder throughout April, Pete wrote in an email. The trips will fish with clams, livelined bunker, chunked bunker, on the troll, “… whatever works …,” he said. Bait, tackle and soft drinks are included, and catches are filleted and packed in ice for your ride home. Charters will fish 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and, on twilight trips, 1 to 7 p.m.

Neptune

Last Lady Fishing Charters will probably begin fishing in a couple of weeks, Capt. Ralph said. He hopes to schedule an individual-reservation trip for cod for the end of the month.

Belmar

Wind, cold, clouds and rain seemed to keep water from warming much, Bob from Fisherman’s Den wrote in an email. That seemed to keep few winter flounder from biting in Shark River. Several anglers showed interest in the angling Sunday morning, but the cold quickly made them leave. Fishing for striped bass was no better. In fact, no customers attempted to fish for stripers. Sunny weather was needed to get fish “moving.” Weather was “still torturing us,” he said. “… Most of us say, enough is enough. We are ready for spring. Time to fish!”

Just working on the boat, said Capt. Pete from Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters. The year’s first trips are being booked for striped bass fishing in May. But he hopes to begin fishing in April, depending on weather. One of Belmar’s party boats occasionally sailed for cod, pollock and ling on the ocean. A few winter flounder stirred around Shark River. Catch Parker Pete’s exhibit at this weekend’s Saltwater Fishing Expo in Somerset, at booth 101. Stop by and say hello, and special prices are available for charters booked at the show. During the fishing season, Parker Pete’s also offers individual spaces available on charters, when the trips need anglers. 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.

Brielle

***Update, Saturday, 3/21:*** Weather was tough, but when weather was fair, trips fished aboard, still picking mostly cod and ling, Capt. Ryan from the party boat Jamaica II wrote in an email. A few pollock were decked on some trips. Many cod hooked were throwbacks on some outings. Recent catches included Hans Falkinhagen from Freehold’s three cod to 14 pounds and five ling, and Eric Swanson from Wayne’s four cod to 10 pounds and 10 ling. The boat is wreck-fishing 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and also on Good Friday, April 3.

Small striped bass began to be picked along the Mantoloking Bridge, said Alex from The Reel Seat. That’s on northern Barnegat Bay, and stripers were reeled from Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant, like before. Soft-plastic lures, bucktails and worms hooked the bass at both places. Nothing was heard about winter flounder, but Alex expects to hear about them this week, once air temperature reaches above 40 degrees a couple of more days. Flounder fishing should really turn on in the next couple of weeks, he expects, and locally, the flatfish usually bite in northern Barnegat Bay first, during the year. As the water warms, they migrate to Manasquan River and eventually the ocean. No fishing on boats was known about, but the weekend’s weather was rough. Local party boats are fishing for ling and cod on the ocean. The store is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

Point Pleasant Beach

***Update, Thursday, 3/19:*** Fishing sailed a few days this week on the party boat Dauntless, not on Wednesday, Capt. Butch said. He wasn’t asked the reason Wednesday’s trip was docked, but maybe that was because wind blew strongly. The angling wasn’t good, but bagged a few cod and just a few ling, and began to bag a few pollock. Quite a few cod bit, actually, and a few were keepers. Butch hopes more and more fish bite, as water warms. The ocean was 35 to 36 degrees. “It’s cold,” he said. The trips fished in 130- to 200-foot depths, and most bites came from 130 feet to 150. Hardly any fish, hardly even eels, and no dogfish, bit in the deep. An eel might be hooked on occasion in the deep. The Dauntless is bottom-fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.

Toms River

One winter flounder was heard about that was caught from the Toms River at Island Heights last week, said Dennis from Murphy’s Hook House. That was the season’s first reported from the river, and, the store’s Facebook page said, ice was just about gone from the river, currently. Dennis heard about no striped bass or white perch from the river yet, he said. Anglers reported a couple of bites from the water. A few anglers rounded up stripers, mostly throwbacks, but sometimes keepers, from Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant. Worms and bucktails, like with Fin-S Fish, hooked the fish. Jared Goldy weighed-in a 1.7-pound flounder, the season’s first entered in the shop’s contest, from Oyster Creek. The flounder tournament is free and runs until May 15, and a dozen anglers signed up, so far. The creek was the only place with decent fishing, because of the water warmth. But, with the ice melted from waters, this might be time to fish Barnegat Bay, behind Island Beach State Park, for stripers with bucktails, like with Fin-S or paddle-tails, or small swimming plugs, the Facebook page said. But nobody really had boats in the water yet, Dennis said. He began working on his, preparing for the fishing season, this weekend. Nearly all baits are stocked, including bloodworms, sandworms, fresh clams, and chum, and bait like that should be carried daily now. Shiners are stocked, and he hopes to carry killies by the end of the week. He couldn’t be sure whether killies would be available, because the baitfish don’t pot in the cold. Murphy’s is open daily, and also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle, on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River. Go Fish was opened this weekend, for the first time this year, and will probably be open Thursdays through Sundays for the next week or two, before being opened daily.

Forked River

***Update, Thursday, 3/19:*** Grizz’s Forked River Bait & Tackle is slated to be opened April 1 for the fishing season, Grizz said. So the shop hasn’t been opened, and reports from customers haven’t been heard. But white perch, striped bass and winter flounder were known about that were hooked at Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant. Though the shop will be opened in April, fishing busts open in May for the year, really. That’s when the shop reliably becomes busy.

Mystic Island

Anglers fished for striped bass at Graveling Point, supposedly feeling a few nibbles, but the bites couldn’t be confirmed, said Brian from Scott’s Bait & Tackle. Graveling is the nearby shore-angling spot, and the store’s annual $100 gift certificate will be awarded to the angler who weighs-in the year’s first keeper striper from Graveling. But the water was cold, only 36 degrees on Sunday. The bass begin to bite when the water reaches 40 to 42. They bite consistently when the water reaches 43 to 45. Decent-sized stripers chomp when the water reaches 46 to 52. The store’s staff is thinking that the first might be weighed-in by the end of March or beginning of April, but that was optimistic, he said. The anglers fished bloodworms and clams, and stripers usually prefer the worms in the early season. The worms are easier to digest, when the fish metabolism is low, in cold water. But some anglers will give both baits a try. As the water warms, clams will become the preferred bait. Graveling is located at the confluence of Mullica River and Great Bay, and is one of the state’s first places to give up stripers each year. That’s because the river’s warmth attracts stripers to the flats there, but also simply because the location is accessible. Throwback stripers were sometimes caught and released farther upstream in the Mullica. White perch didn’t bite well in the river, though anglers tried for them. Bloodworms, fresh, shucked clams and live grass shrimp are stocked.

Brigantine

***Update, Thursday, 3/19:*** A photo of an angler with a striped bass was shared on Riptide Bait & Tackle’s Facebook page this week. “Thanks for sending me to a nice spot,” the angler wrote in the post. “Had a great time with lots of shorts and a nice one. I’ll be down your way as soon as the water warms up.” Fred from the store didn’t know details about the photo, Fred said in a phone call for this report. But Fred thought the angler tugged in 10 or 11 throwback stripers, finding a place with warm water to fish for them, maybe at a power plant, but that was unknown. Andy from the store might’ve known details. “Thanks for the pics Yanni,” someone, apparently Andy, wrote on the page. “See you soon when the action starts to hit the surf.” The striper in the photo looked fair-sized, but size can be deceptive in photos. The year’s first catch was yet to be brought to the shop, and water was cold. But a few customers bought bloodworms and clams this morning to fish, Fred said. Three or four were headed to the surf, and weather was also cold, but was supposed to be nice otherwise, in calm wind. One of the customers was going to boat the ocean for cod or whatever fish were in season.

Absecon

More catches will start to be seen this week, Capt. Dave from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center thinks, he said. No catches were brought to the shop, since the year’s first three stripers were checked-in at the store, during the first week of March. They were clocked at Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant, covered in past reports. Striper season was opened on March 1 in bays and rivers, and the anglers won the store’s awards for the first three. Striper fishing is open in the ocean year-round. More prizes are up for grabs, and click here for details. No confirmed catches were known about, since those stripers. But rivers, like the brackish Mullica and Great Egg Harbor rivers, definitely began “to give up something,” he said. That’s where the year’s first stripers are caught, besides at warm water like the discharge. That’s because the rivers are relatively warm. No white perch, from rivers like that, were seen at the store, but some anglers reported nabbing them. The angling seemed to keep improving. Customers already telephoned and asked about surf fishing. But striper fishing in the surf, or any fishing in the surf, was probably a good amount of time from beginning. That’s unless ocean herring show up, and anglers can “play with them,” he said. Worms and fresh clams are stocked. Dave will probably drop the minnow pot in the water, trying to stock the baitfish for freshwater fishing.

Longport

The Stray Cat will begin fishing this weekend, Capt. Mike said. Open-boat trips will sail for cod 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and telephone the vessel to reserve. He had hoped to start fishing last weekend, but rain poured on Saturday, and wind blew on Sunday. Two feet of water filled the back yard. But recent weather raised the ocean temperature to 38 degrees, and a few cod began to be picked.

Ocean City

Two striped bass were reported reeled from the back bay Saturday, on clams, said Justin from Fin-Atics. Anglers were secretive about locations of any catches, but Justin guessed the bass came from Corson’s Inlet or along the 9th Street Bridge. That was because the anglers on the trip are customers who usually don’t venture far from the store. The bay reached 40 degrees that evening, and was back down to 36 on Sunday morning. The fish became active because of the warmer water, Justin would say. So, that was a start, he said, and was good news, was more than he’d expect to hear about, this time of year. Frozen baits are stocked, and bloodworms might be stocked Thursday, he thought.

Sea Isle City

***Update, Thursday, 3/19:*** The boat is ready to fish, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service, affiliated with Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. He’s one of the first captains to fish for striped bass each year, catching them in the back bay. But he’s waiting for the bay to warm a little. The bay must’ve been in the 30 degrees, and the fishing is running two weeks behind many years, because of this winter’s cold. Flowers are springing through the ground late. Joe has often landed his year’s first striper in the first week of March. Still, he was talking with a friend, Joe said, about how fish migrations, like weakfish, seem to arrive at the same time each year, no matter the weather. Bluefish and weakfish usually migrate to the bay by mid-April or tax day. The bay’s stripers, however, don’t migrate to the bay. The bass are already there, living in the water year-round. Water just needs to warm to make them active. The stripers are younger stripers, yet to migrate. Only two or three days in a row in the 50 degrees are needed, and Joe will catch the bass. His trips fish for them in the early season with soft-plastic lures, worked slowly along bottom, at places in the bay like at a creek mouth, on outgoing tides, pushing warm water into the bay. Afternoons, when the water has warmed during the day, fish best. When the blues and weaks migrate to the bay, that will be sudden. Joe usually lands lots of fish before many anglers begin fishing. Many miss out on some of the year’s best angling. The fish will still be there afterward, but the early season gives up some of the most action. All three species often bite that time of year in the bay. Summer flounder will also migrate to the bay around then. Flounder season is yet to be decided in New Jersey, but is usually opened in late May. But the fishing on the bay catches and releases them before the opener. This is a chance to reel in all four of fishing’s most popular species in the bay in one trip. That’s called a grand slam. South Jersey’s shallow, warmer back bays attract all of these fish before many of the state’s waters. The angling’s some of the year’s best.

The year’s first striped bass, a keeper, was actually reported from the surf, at mid-island, on salted clam, said Mike from Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. The catch was made on Wednesday, he was pretty sure, or on one of the better-weather days, at least, with sun beating on the water. Ice was almost melted on all waters. He saw a small patch on Ludlam Bay. The local party boat will begin fishing on April 1, he thought. Fresh clams and salted clams were stocked, and the store is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but open most days.

Avalon

Delaware Bay was 38 degrees, said Capt. Jim from Fins and Feathers Outfitters. He ran snow-goose hunting trips there the past several days, and though the water was cold currently, the bay last week was frozen solid across. Jim will fish for striped bass and drum on the bay, usually starting in late April. Stripers usually school tight to shore in the bay this time of year, migrating to Delaware River to spawn. But whether they did yet this year was questionable, because of the cold water. He saw no signs of the fish on the goose trips. Lots of commercial nets were set in the bay, close to shore, but Jim didn’t know what for. Floats were set maybe 200 to 250 feet apart. Commercial anglers used to gill-net for stripers and bunker this time of year, a buddy, an old commercial netter, said. Snow geese seemed to depart the bay, probably because of no feed, because of the freezing. Jim’s trip today was going to hunt the fields for the geese instead. He’s been hunting the geese five days in a row, and hunted fields in Pennsylvania nearly every weekend previously for the waterfowl. The geese currently seemed to depart the bay for the fields farther north. The goose season lasts until April 4, and Fins offers a variety of outdoor adventures. That includes saltwater fishing on the bay and ocean, duck and goose hunting on the bay and in surrounding states, wherever the migrations fly, salmon and steelhead fishing on upstate New York’s Salmon River, from Jim’s lodge, and fly-fishing for trout on Pennsylvania’s trout streams, like the Yellow Breeches. Jim will likely fish for steelheads on the Salmon, after the goose season is closed. Spring is the best time of year for that. The lodge hosted snowmobilers this winter, like every year. That business wasn’t as busy as some years, because everywhere held snow, not just upstate New York. That happens during years when snow falls like that. For the saltwater fishing, the 23-foot center console is being re-powered this weekend. To fish the bay, the boat is trailered to be launched wherever’s closest to the best fishing. Fins also fishes the back bay and ocean from Avalon, from a slip where the boat is docked for that.

Cape May

Capt. George from the Heavy Hitter visited the boat this weekend to begin seasonal maintenance, he said. The vessel’s bottom was being sanded, being prepped to paint it. Usually, the boat maintenance is finished by now. But weather was too rough this winter. Hardly anybody was around, during the visit, and Cape May was barren. People just began working on boats. On Sunday, the day he was there, wind blew strongly, and that was cold under a cloudy sky. The weather was warmer when the sun shined that day. No ice was in the harbor or local waters. George visited the Ocean City fishing flea market the previous weekend, and ice formed all over the back bay, and a ton of snow covered the ground. Ice even covered Tuckahoe River at Yank Marine then. Charters are being booked for drum and blackfish. Drum fishing usually sails in May, and blackfish season is open in April. Trips can also be booked for striped bass, and will sail, if the fishing turns on. Stripers used to begin to be boated locally in late March and early April in Delaware Bay. In recent years, the fishing was best farther north, toward Salem River, early in the year like that.