Report from Thursday, 1/9:
Despite snow, a trip sailed for blackfish Saturday with a big crowd aboard, an email said from the Down Deep Fleet. The anglers fished hard, “but the big fish didn’t want to chew,” it said. A few handfuls of keepers, none big, and too many throwbacks were cranked in. Previously, trips scored great on the tautog, when they could sail between weather. After the severe cold today and in past days, weather is supposed to warm. The next open-boat trips, sailing for blackfish, will run at 6 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The trips will sail, because “many anglers (are) waiting to get back to the great winter chew,” it said. “Book now … don’t miss out on good fishing.” All bait, tackle, ice and rods are supplied. So is bottled water and Keurig coffee. Down Deep runs two 40-foot boats, each accommodating up to 15 passengers. Springtime trips are booking for striped bass, sea bass, ling, cod and jumbo fluke, and some prime dates are available. ***Update, Thursday, 1/12:*** The blackfishing on Saturday aboard, in the snowstorm, written about above, was slower, Capt. Mario said. Otherwise, when trips had the weather to sail, blackfishing was good, not bad. Down Deep is now running one of its boats, not both, and the other is laid up for seasonal maintenance. The angling was good on a trip Friday aboard, and the trips scheduled for this week were weathered out. The next blackfishing, open-boat, is slated for Friday through Sunday. Charters are available.
Engine and hull maintenance began on the Vitamin Sea, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. Reels are being serviced and re-spooled, and new gear is being ordered. “The work required to keep the Vitamin Sea in top condition and (to keep its) status as a top charter boat on Raritan Bay is a never ending process,” and is his passion, he said. Everything will be ready to begin the new fishing season on April 1. “(The crew) will be ready to work hard for you like we have been doing for so many years,” he said. Many dates are already booked for the year. Weekends go fast, and booking early enables anglers to get the dates they want, instead of settling for what’s left. Morning and afternoon trips will fish, and so will Working Man Specials on Wednesdays, trips that fish later in the day than usual. “Get your dose of Vitamin Sea!”
***Update, Thursday, 1/12:*** One of the party boats from the marina was still blackfishing, said “Johnny O” from Fisherman’s Den North. The boat was fishing today when Johnny gave this report, and also had the weather to sail one day earlier this week, maybe Tuesday. The angling reportedly went well that day. No other fishing, including for striped bass, was heard about. Green crabs and white leggers are stocked. The shop is located at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina.
***Update, Thursday, 1/12:*** Capt. Steve from Lady M Charters hopes to blackfish this weekend, he said. None of the trips sailed this week in the weather. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing.
***Update, Saturday, 1/14:*** No mackerel trips, scheduled to fish daily, sailed this week on the Miss Belmar Princess, an email from the party boat said. That was because of weather and because none of the fish was around. “Unfortunately, there are no mackerel to catch right now,” it said. Fishing aboard might be docked until spring, but the crew will give an update if that changes. The boat last fished two Fridays ago on Jan. 6, covered here in a report that week. That was the season’s first mackerel trip on the vessel, and customers picked at small to medium, and some large were mixed in. “We had some nice long drifts and some patrons had a couple dozen at the end of the day,” it said. Trips afterward were weathered out in the next days.
***Update, Thursday, 1/12:*** Boaters fished for blackfish and mackerel on the ocean, weather permitting, Bob from Fisherman’s Den wrote in an email. Party boats and charter boats still sailed from Belmar. Anglers on shore landed herring and sundials at inlets. Many anglers expected to take advantage of fishing flea markets and outdoor shows getting underway.
***Update, Thursday, 1/12:*** Trips might get the weather to blackfish this weekend with Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters, Capt. Pete said. The fishing was weathered out this week so far, and blackfishing’s been typical for winter: some days fished better than others. The mackerel migration showed up fairly well, he knew. Trips are being booked for the coming fishing season, including dates for springtime striped bass trips that are beginning to fill up. Pete is supposed to give a seminar on bucktailing for big fluke at the New Jersey Boat Sale & Expo on Feb. 16-19 in Edison. Catch Parker Pete’s exhibit at the Greater Philadelphia Outdoor Sportshow on Feb. 23-26 in Oaks, Pa. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Contact Parker Pete’s anyway about individual spaces available on charters. Sign up for the email blast on Parker Pete’s website to be kept informed about the spaces.
Anglers picked at small to medium mackerel, some large mixed in, Friday on the Miss Belmar Princess on the season’s first trip for the fish aboard, an email from the party boat said. “We had some nice long drifts and some patrons had a couple dozen at the end of the day,” it said. Trips are scheduled to fish for mackerel 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. ***Update, Monday, 1/9:*** The boat Brooklyn caught large to medium mackerel within 10 miles of Belmar on Saturday, an email from the Miss Belmar Princess said. The trips on the Miss Belmar Princess will resume Tuesday after being weathered out, and weather looks great for the rest of the week.
Cold, snow and wind kept blackfishing docked throughout the weekend on the Big Mohawk, the party boat’s Facebook page said. The angling will resume Tuesday, and anglers already said they’re jumping aboard. Weather is supposed to be better that day – conditions look good, the page said. Weather is supposed to keep improving afterward in the next days. The boat last fished on Friday. On that trip, some good-sized blackfish came in, including the 11-1/2-pound pool-winner, though the angling “was not as good as I thought it would be,” the page said. It was a bit slow, it said. On the previous day, Thursday, the fishing was good aboard. Before then, the previous couple of trips were weathered out. The boat is blackfishing 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. ***Update, Thursday, 1/12:*** Great blackfishing was mugged Tuesday on the boat, Capt. Chris said. Some good-sized were tackled during the week aboard, and no trip sailed Wednesday in forecasts for rough weather. One of the trips was expected to sail today, and forecasts for today called for strong wind, but from southwest. In westerly wind, land can protect the ocean from becoming rough. So long as the wind today blew from southwest like forecast, not south, Chris expected to sail. Green crabs are provided, and white crabs are available for sale aboard.
Anglers who still boated the ocean docked blackfish, said Alex from The Reel Seat. “I don’t’ want to be the one to say it,” he said, but striped bass fishing was about finished for the season. If surf anglers were lucky, they beached a couple of small, 20-inch stripers in a trip. Freshwater anglers reeled in catches including panfish, occasional largemouth bass and some trout from lakes and streams. The store is open Thursdays through Sundays.
“Maybe next week,” a post said Friday on the party boat Jamaica II’s Facebook page. That meant trips would be weathered out this past weekend aboard. Fishing was also weathered out the rest of last week on the vessel. But the boat is slated to fish on 14-hour trips for ling, porgies and cod and on 12-hour trips for ling, blackfish and cod.
Point Pleasant Beach
Snow was cleaned off, and the Norma-K III was ready to resume blackfishing today, a report said on the party boat’s website. Weather looked good for a trip today, and the trips last sailed Wednesday through Friday. On Wednesday’s trip, blackfishing was great from start to finish, covered in the last report here. On Thursday’s, the angling was “sluggish,” and fairly strong current didn’t help. On Friday’s, blackfishing was slow. The trip fished quite a few places, finding a few of the catches at each, “but not enough to go around,” it said. A 6-pound blackfish won the pool. Saturday’s and Sunday’s trips were canceled because of wind. But trips are slated to blackfish 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Green crabs and white crabs have been carried aboard. ***Update, Thursday, 1/12:*** A trip blackfished Tuesday, a report said on the boat’s website, and just a few keepers were managed, and a good number shorts gave up action at most drops. A decent number of blackfish bit, but the captain hoped for more keepers “to go around,” it said.
No striped bass bit Friday on the Gambler, the most recent post said on the party boat’s website. But some mackerel were swung in, and a trip Saturday was supposed to fish for stripers until noon at new places. If no stripers showed up by then, the trip was expected to fish for mackerel. The boat was slated to fish for stripers several days a week. ***Update, Thursday, 1/12:*** Trips will fish wrecks for ling and cod on the ocean 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today through Sunday aboard, the boat’s Facebook page said.
No trips fished in the bitter cold in past days on the Stray Cat, Capt. Mike said. But weather is supposed to improve, and he’ll try to run open-boat trips for blackfish Wednesday through the weekend, fishing deeper wrecks in 90 to 100 feet. He knows wrecks just off the 90-foot edge that he likes to work. He’s got plenty of green crabs to bring aboard. ***Update, Thursday, 1/12:***Blackfishing was weathered out aboard this week, including today, Mike said. Forecasts for today called for 25-knot wind from southwest that would blow the boat off wrecks fished. But forecasts look better for the next days, and open-boat trips for blackfish are set for Friday through Sunday. Weather for Saturday looks cold but with calm wind that should be fine to fish. The trips will fish in 90-foot depths or “off”: 10 miles or farther from the coast. Blackfish closer to shore are unlikely to snap, because of cold water from snow and ice run-off around land. Weather looks good for the open trips to sail Monday through Wednesday, too, so those trips are planned. In February, trips will see if cod and pollock can be socked from deeper wrecks along the 30-line in the Cigar area. Winter’s shaping up to look like trips can do that.
***Update, Thursday, 1/12:*** Weather was brutal, but waterfowlers limited out on brant and sea ducks Friday and Saturday along the Intracoastal Waterway with Fins and Feathers Outfitters, Capt. Jim said. Fishing aboard ended for the season some time ago. Wind blew 15 or 20 knots Friday and 25 or 30 knots Saturday, and 5 inches of snow fell Saturday. But the hunting was successful on the trips and has been great aboard. Hunters from Louisiana are supposed to join him on Monday to Wednesday. They’re experienced, even have their own TV show, Jim thought, and are bringing their own dogs to target brant and black ducks that don’t exist in the South. Trips with Jim will hunt snow geese later this month and in February and are still hunting Canadian geese in Pennsylvania. Fins is finished fishing for the season, mentioned above, except for steelheads on upstate New York’s Salmon River from Jim’s nearby lodge. Guests at the lodge also snowmobile, cross-country ski and snowshoe, and a ton of snow is on the ground. Guests can combine steelheading with any of those sports in a visit, and Jim would imagine steelheads are biting. Room is available. Fins offers a variety of outdoor adventures, and will resume saltwater fishing in New Jersey with trips for striped bass and drum in spring. The drum fishing, on Delaware Bay, is usually underway in May. Striper fishing, on the ocean or the bay, can begin around then or earlier. Sometimes striper fishing happens on the bay earlier. Visit the company’s exhibit at booth 5129 at the Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pa., known as the Harrisburg show, from Feb. 4-12. This will be Jim’s fifth year of exhibiting there.
***Update, Thursday, 1/12:*** On the party boat Porgy IV, blackfishing was snowed out Saturday and blown out Sunday, Capt. Paul said. He’ll try to run the trips again this Saturday and Sunday, departing at 8 a.m. He’ll determine the future schedule after that.