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Saltwater Fishing Report

Report from Thursday, December 18.

| Keyport | Atlantic Highlands | Neptune | Belmar | Point Pleasant Beach | Toms River | Seaside Heights | Forked River | Surf City | Mystic Island | Absecon | Brigantine | Longport | Ocean City | Sea Isle City | Cape May | Last Monday's Report |
The boat limited out on blackfish Monday through Wednesday, Capt. Frank from the Vitamin Sea wrote in an email. The effects of last week’s storm on the fishing subsided “enough,” and the tautog weighed up to 12 pounds. Large ones were mixing in, and action was constant. “The time is now,” he said. The bag limit, six blackfish, will be dropped to four, starting on January 1. Trips are full Saturday and Sunday, but space is available Friday for an open-boat trip for blackfish. “Get your dose of Vitamin Sea!”

Atlantic Highlands
Small striped bass bit in the surf, said Jimmy from Julian’s Bait & Tackle. Some customers fished for them three times already this week, and the fish were mostly hooked on worms, sometimes clams. For boaters, blackfishing was good for some, fair for others. That was about all that anybody fished for. Not much was heard about winter flounder, but this is the time when flounder chew in the back of Raritan Bay. The flatfish should also hit in the rivers, though rivers were cold or 44 degrees, and will become colder. Nobody really boats for flounder in the two-fish bag limit. To boat for them, supplies like a bushel of mussels and half a flat of worms are needed. All baits are stocked, including bloodworms, sandworms, fresh clams and crabs.

The party boat Atlantic Star blackfished every day, Capt. Tom said. Sunday and Tuesday were the best days of the angling, not great, but catching some of the tautog, this week. Some good sized were hung lately. On Tuesday, none of the anglers limited out, but the fishing was good enough to stick with. On Wednesday’s trip, the angling picked away toward the bow, and caught some toward the stern, at the first drop. Afterward, the angling slowed, so the boat was moved to a couple of other places, and some of the fish were decked, but the fishing was never good again on the trip. At the first drop, while the angling produced, one angler landed six keepers, a limit, and never hooked another keeper the rest of the outing. Tom couldn’t know whether conditions changed or the reason the fish stopped feeding. The Atlantic Star is blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.

Angling is next slated for Saturday, and space is available, on an individual-reservation trip for blackfish, with Last Lady Fishing Charters, Capt. Ralph said. Forecasts are calling for 5- to 10-knot winds, and the weather should be good. The last trip for blackfish aboard, on Sunday, was the best of the year, covered in the last report. This Sunday is chartered, and beginning on Monday, individual-reservation trips will blackfish every day, through and including New Year’s Day, when no charter is booked, except no trip will fish on Christmas.

On the party boat Big Mohawk, blackfishing was fair on Wednesday, and good on the previous two days, Monday and Tuesday, Capt. Chris said. The pool-winning blackfish weighed 9-1/2 pounds or something on Wednesday, and up to 12 or 12 ½ on those previous trips. White leggers definitely caught best, and the bigger blackfish. But green crabs sometimes hooked blackfish. Green crabs are supplied, and the whites are available for $6 per dozen aboard. The Big Mohawk is blackfishing 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

Blackfishing came a couple shy of a limit aboard Sunday in 50 to 55 feet, said Capt. Scott from XTC Sportfishing. The fish weighed up to 7 pounds, and the angling wasn’t so good on a trip three days later, on Wednesday, with him and his brother. The trip fished in the same place, but the tautog just weren’t biting, for some reason, and the trip returned early, because seas started to become snotty. The ocean was 43 degrees, pretty cold. Frank’s seen no bluefin tuna that can show up close to shore this time of year. He was surprised, and was looking for them. There wasn’t much life to see, like no birds working the water.

With Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters, blackfishing was decent, Capt. Pete said. Experienced blackfishers caught well, and anglers new to the fishing learned to catch. The tautog inshore bit a little finicky. Farther off, when they bit, they were pretty aggressive, and water temperature probably made the difference, Pete thought. Up to 8- and 9-pounders were the biggest aboard recently, but some really large were still around. The angling the last few days was like, the blackfish bit, then the angling slowed, then it picked back up again, and so on. The blackfish bag limit will be lowered to four starting January 1, from the current limit of six. Parker Pete’s will keep sailing for blackfish, as long as they bite, and weather remains fishable. When the bag limit is lowered, trips will sail for blackfish and whatever hits, like ling. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Jump on Parker Pete’s website to subscribe to the emailed newsletter to be kept informed about last-minute, individual spaces available to fill in charters. Look for the place to sign up on the right side of the page. Several charters need a few anglers like that in the near future, one of the emails said. The dates include this Saturday and Sunday, Christmas Eve and December 28.

Point Pleasant Beach
Bottom-fishing sailed the past five or six days on the party boat Dauntless, and not much in last week’s weather, Capt. Butch said. The angling was a little tough, but fair, and dog sharks were the issue. Ling, blackfish, still a few sea bass, probably a dozen sizable per day, and a few cod were bagged. Some anglers totaled 12 to 15 fish, a variety of the species, on good days, and 6 to 10 on most days, if anglers could reel aboard the fish in one piece, before the dogs bit the catch in half. Trips fished in 100 to 200 feet, a spread of depths, feeling out where dogs could be avoided, as much as possible. The sharks swam all depths now. The ocean was 52 or 53 degrees on the fishing grounds. Forty-nine degrees was the coldest seen there. The Dauntless is bottom-fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.

Striped bass fishing was absolutely no good during the weekend on the ocean on the party boat Gambler, Capt. Bob said. No bait or anything was seen, so the boat will fish for sea bass offshore the rest of the month. He’s unsure about the schedule for January, but would like to keep fishing, if weather holds. Jumbo Sea Bass Trips, reservations required, will sail offshore 3 a.m. to 6 or 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and on December 26 through 28 and 30 and 31.

Blackfishing on Wednesday’s trip was slower than on the previous day’s, but picked away on the party boat Norma-K III, Capt. Matt wrote in a report on the vessel’s website. Some spots turned up better catching than others, on Wednesday’s trip, and Rob Rusnack from Point Pleasant won the pool with a 10-plus-pound blackfish, and was high hook, limiting out. Some anglers bagged one to three on the outing, and some couldn’t buy a bite. On the previous day’s, Tuesday’s, trip, blackfish were hungry. Many were nailed, and high hooks limited out, and all anglers left with fish, and were pleased, he said. A 10-pound blackfish won the pool, and a 12-pounder was released. The Norma-K III is blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, and green crabs and white crabs are carried aboard. Magic Hour Ling and Cod Trips are fishing 3 to 9 p.m. every Saturday.

Toms River
A few throwback striped bass were beached from the surf on Jetty Ghosts and teasers, said Dennis from Murphy’s Hook House. A couple of customers tried the fishing with bait, catching nothing. Stripers, no keepers were heard about, were landed from Oyster Creek on Gag’s Whip-Its and 3- and 4-inch Tsunami shads. That’s the warm-water outflow from the Forked River power plant, and one angler reported playing 10 of the fish 18 to 22 inches. That was in 3 hours, and he saw another angler catch even more, during the trip. Anglers at the creek found the fish at specific spots they knew. If anglers put in the time, they hooked up, but plenty of the fish swam the water. A few winter flounder were picked from the creek, but mostly stripers were landed there. Two flounder were heard about from the Toms River in past days, and fishing usually bangs away at the flatfish there this time of year. Fewer seemed to hold in the river currently, and Dennis thinks that a relatively warm ocean kept more from migrating to the river, earlier this season. The river was currently 38 degrees, and good flounder catches were heard about from Manasquan and Shark rivers. Flounder migrate farther, through Barnegat Bay, to reach the Toms, and the Manasquan and the Shark are right on the ocean. Still, a few token flounder scurried the Toms.

Seaside Heights
Surf anglers dragged in a few throwback striped bass here and there, said Kevin from The Dock Outfitters. Ava’s, Tsunami sand eels and any sand eel imitations, like those, caught the fish, mostly 2 hours after high tides. But not many of the fish were found. Boaters tugged in blackfish, good catches, from the ocean. The Dock Outfitters, located on Barnegat Bay, blocks from the ocean surf, features a bait and tackle shop, a café and, in season, boat and jet ski rentals and a dock for fishing and crabbing.

Forked River
Throwback striped bass were winged at Oyster Creek at the Route 9 Bridge on any soft-plastic lures like Fin-S Fish or rubber shads, said Kyle from Grizz’s Forked River Bait & Tackle. That’s the warm-water discharge from the Forked River power plant, and the color and type of lure seemed to change every day. One angler on the catches stopped in for pearl Fin-S Fish with a blue stripe yesterday.

Surf City
One angler bought the remainder of the green crabs, grabbing throwback blackfish along Barnegat Inlet’s rocks on them, said Sue from Surf City Bait & Tackle. That was unusual for blackfish to be landed there this late in the year. Live bait like that and fresh bait will no longer be stocked throughout winter, and only frozen bait will. No customers stopped in to fish the surf. The crew will be around at the shop, but no set hours will be held, as the season winds down, and during the off season. But supplies are available 24 hours a day, and before stopping by, it’s best to telephone to ensure somebody will be there to help. Call 609-713-8331.

Mystic Island
White perch fishing was surely good in brackish waters like Mullica River, said Scott from Scott’s Bait & Tackle. Nobody mentioned the angling in past days, but one angler sent a photo of a cooler full of the slabs on December 4. The exact location of the catch, like Nacote Creek, a tributary of the Mullica, or somewhere was unknown. Nothing else was heard about fishing. Wind blew so hard today, that Scott kept a bucket in front of the door, to keep it from blowing open. Weather was relentless this season. The store will be closed for a winter break after Christmas Eve Day. The doors will be opened back up on March 1, Scott said, but he’s opened earlier in past years, after planning that. Striped bass season is opened in bays and rivers on March 1, and nearby Graveling Point is always one of the state’s first places to give up the fish. That’s a shore-angling location at the confluence of Great Bay and Mullica River, and the fish seem to be caught there because of the relatively warm water at the shallow flats, and simply because the place is accessible. Scott’s annually awards a $100 gift certificate for the year’s first keeper striper checked-in from Graveling. Bloodworms ran out of stock, and a customer is supposed to buy the last of the green crabs tomorrow. Baits like that won’t be re-stocked this year, and only frozen will continue to be carried.

No catches were really heard about, said Capt. Dave from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center. A few people bought eels and frozen clams. Fresh clams, bloodworms and green crabs are no longer stocked. The crabs found a way to escape, ending up dead. The only blackfish really heard about were on party boats that fished far from shore. That angling was good, and none of the local boats fished on those trips. One customer sailed inshore for blackfish, cranking up two keepers and a few shorts. White perch were reeled from brackish rivers, Dave guessed, because anglers telephoned about supplies for them. The shop will be closed for a winter break after Tuesday, until sometime in late January. Dave will travel to his Guatemala charters business during the break, to work with the crew, and make things like accommodations even better. If anglers are interested in traveling to the fishing while he’s there, they can. He’ll post updates on the store’s Facebook page and website, including a local phone number where he can be reached.

Riptide Bait & Tackle will be opened through Christmas Eve Day, and closed afterward for two months, Capt. Andy said. But if anglers need anything then, they can telephone the shop, or send a message on Facebook. Plenty of stocking stuffers are carried, and 10 percent will be added to gift certificates. If you don’t know what your favorite angler wants, give a certificate. Brigantine “polar plunge” sweatshirts are on sale. If you can’t visit the store, you can telephone, and your order for anything will be mailed. Telephone to reserve the famous pound cakes from Philadelphia’s Stock’s Bakery for the holidays. Four more cases are arriving, and more will arrive Monday and Tuesday, but only cakes that will be sold are being ordered, because the store will be closed afterward. Watch a video about the pound cake, and read an article about the cake at the link. Karl Stock is a Riptide customer and a Brigantine angler.

For trips on the Stray Cat, blackfish bit pretty well on the ocean, Capt. Mike said. They weren’t large yet – big ones can show up this time of year – but quite a few were keepers. Anglers probably averaged four to a limit apiece. Charters are fishing, and the next open-boat trips are available on Friday and Sunday. The boat will be kept docked on Saturday, and wind isn’t forecast to blow strongly, but is forecast for northeast, and the tautog tend not to bite well then.

Ocean City
Small striped bass to 20 inches, no keepers, were played along the 9th Street Bridge, said Justin from Fin-Atics. Most were hooked on soft-plastic lures, and very few were on bait. They seemed to bite in no real pattern, or one or two would be landed, during 10 minutes of action, and hours would pass, until the bite happened again. Last week’s nor’easter dropped the bay’s temperature 7 degrees, into the 30s, but the water was back up to 43 or 44 now. Striped bass were reported seen in the ocean, but far beyond 3 miles from shore. Fishing for them is only open within 3 miles from the coast, and the slowing down of the angling in legal waters seemed usual for the time of year. No first-hand reports were heard about blackfish, but other reports sounded like the angling was good on the ocean. A few eels are stocked, but otherwise, only frozen bait is carried this time of year.

Sea Isle City
Some bait is still stocked for striped bass fishing, but nothing was reported about the angling, said Mike from Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. Most anglers switched to blackfishing, and boating for the tautog was good. He joined a trip with a friend and blackfished this week at Ocean City Reef a few hours. Probably 50 were landed, including five keepers, nice, fat fish. A couple of trips sailed offshore for sea bass, mugging the fish. But most boaters couldn’t sail that far, and scored well on blackfish, closer in. The local party boat fished for blackfish pretty much every day.

No trips fished during the week aboard, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service, affiliated with Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. But blackfishing was fantastic close to shore, and sea bass fishing was great farther out. Striped bass were surely around in the ocean, and he’d like to fish this weekend. Annual traveling charters to the Florida Keys are about to begin, fishing from Christmas to New Year’s, mostly on weekends. Joe can arrange flights and accommodations, and a large variety of fish can be targeted. That can include catches from speckled sea trout and redfish to tarpon and sailfish, from the Everglades to the bay to the ocean side. See Jersey Cape’s traveling charters Web page.

Cape May
Good sea bass fishing was heard about from the 40-fathom line, said Capt. George from the Heavy Hitter. A few friends scored dynamite on big jumbos. The Heavy Hitter is also blackfishing.

Fishing for striped bass seemed finished for the season, said Capt. Frank from Melanie Anne Sport Fishing Charters. The angling had been good on the ocean for some time this fall. A trip aboard bailed sea bass, a great catch, and some blackfish this week at the ocean wrecks. The anglers want to return next week and do it all over again.

Blackfishing was often weathered out last week on the party boat Porgy IV, and none of the trips sailed for days until Saturday, Capt. Paul said. The ocean was filthy that day, after the nor’easter, and the angling was slow aboard. But the fishing was decent on Sunday’s trip. On Monday’s, fewer of the tautog bit. On the trip Tuesday, a small crowd aboard picked a few blackfish, and one angler, Jim Murray from Warrington, Pa., limited out. The fishing wasn’t that great since the storm, and the ocean became colder. Wednesday was the week’s first day that sun shined, Paul thought. But a few blackfish were around to be caught, and he hopes the fishing picks up. The Porgy IV is blackfishing at 8 a.m. daily.

Last Monday's Report

Three trips were weathered out from blackfishing last week with Outcast Charters, Capt. Joe said. But the fishing was great on two trips Friday and Saturday, and slower on a trip Sunday. Friday’s trip limited out without difficulty, and the tautog were big, including a 13-pounder and a sprinkling of 8- and 9-pounders. On Saturday’s trip, the angling was also fast, he said, and the blackfish weighed up to 10 pounds, and included a few 8-pounders. On Sunday’s, the fish didn’t bite well, and the ones that did were smaller, up to 3 and 4 pounds, for unknown reasons. The trip moved around a lot, and sailed from Staten Island, N.Y., and Outcast fishes from both Sewaren, N.J., and Staten Island. New York’s blackfish season was closed starting today, so Outcast will keep blackfishing from Jersey. Friday’s and Saturday’s trips did, and all three trips, using green crabs and white leggers for bait, fished in 60 to 100 feet. No birds were seen working the water, though Outcast previously stopped on birds to fish for striped bass, on the way to and from the blackfish grounds, when anglers wanted. Striper fishing seemed about finished for the season locally. New York’s striper season will be closed starting Tuesday. New Jersey’s will remain open in the ocean year-round, but will be closed in bays and rivers starting on January 1 through February, like every year. The fishing in bays and rivers is opened back up starting on March 1.


A trip limited out on blackfish today on the Vitamin Sea, Capt. Frank wrote in an email before noon. The fishing was okay on the previous three days, not as good as before last week’s storm. Relentless wind added to the challenge, and some of the anglers limited out, but the entire boat didn’t limit, during those past days. Water was in the mid-40 degrees, and trips will fish until around Christmas, and Frank will call it a season afterward. Trips are being booked for spring, and many weekends are already reserved. If anglers are looking for a weekend to fish for striped bass in spring, now is the time to book. “Get your dose of Vitamin Sea!”

Blackfishing remained good on the Down Deep, Capt. Mario said. Most anglers landed more than a limit, and the fish weighed up to 10 pounds. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing to the end of January, and the boat goes on winter break afterward. This is the time to book springtime striped bass charters on Raritan Bay. Sign up for the Short Notice List on the Down Deep’s website to be kept informed about open-boat trips.

Atlantic Highlands

Weather was gorgeous on the blackfish trip today on the party boat Atlantic Star, Capt. Tom said at 10 a.m. in a phone call aboard. But the weather was a little too calm, and the boat flopped around on anchor, difficult to stay over top of the bottom he wanted to fish. A little wind against tide contributed to that, and some of the tautog were caught, but the conditions were difficult. Blackfishing was better, not great, but definitely better on Sunday’s trip, compared with Friday’s and Saturday’s trips. That was apparently because the water began to settle, after last week’s nor’easter. Friday’s and Saturday’s trips were the first to fish, after the storm. On Sunday’s trip, one angler limited out, and another bagged five, a blackfish short of a limit. Some anglers bagged two or three, and some landed no keepers. Only a small group fished on the trip, but the outing ended up with a fair catch. The trip fished one drop, shifting around on anchor some. “We opted to play the hand we had,” he said. Weather looked good for today and Tuesday, and Tom expected the trips to sail then. The Atlantic Star is blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.


Capt. Ralph from Last Lady Fishing Charters expected blackfishing to become much better on Sunday’s trip, after last week’s storm, he said in the last report, and the fishing did. The tautog fishing was the best of the season on Sunday’s trip, he said. Some anglers landed more than a limit, totaling 15 apiece, and blackfish bit throughout the angling. A trip blackfished on Friday, and was the first to fish aboard since the nor’easter. The tog hooked were good-sized on Friday, but the fishing was a slow pick. That’s when Ralph said he thought Sunday’s blackfishing would improve. Charters are available daily, and the next individual-reservation trip will blackfish on Saturday. Starting next Monday, individual-reservation trips will blackfish every day, through and including New Year’s Day, when no charter is booked, except no trip will fish on Christmas. ***Update, Monday, 12/15:*** Most anglers on Sunday’s trip landed more than a limit of blackfish, Ralph wrote in an email. “Lot of small fish,” he said, but the fishing was great, with non-stop action. The next individual-reservation trips for blackfish will sail on Saturday, daily from December 23 through 28 and on December 30 and 31 and January 1.


On the Katie H, not all anglers limited out on blackfish on Sunday, but the fishing was good, and all left with good-sized bags of the tautog, Capt. Mike said. The fish weighed up to 5 pounds, not huge, and the trip fished in 40 to 45 feet, still close to shore. Seas were a little choppy, but the 46-foot boat blocked the northwest wind in the cockpit on anchor, and the angling was comfortable. The cabin, with all the amenities, was toasty. Blackfishing slowed since last week’s storm, compared with a couple of weeks ago, and more throwbacks bit than previously. But lots of the tog were still around. Another trip might blackfish today.

For Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters, blackfishing was a little tough during the weekend, Capt. Pete said. The fish seemed beaten up after last week’s storm, and bites were scratchy. Some were caught, but not like previously. Pete did hear about better blackfishing in deeper water, farther from shore, but wind kept the boat from fishing there, where Pete wanted. The angling will improve, he thinks. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Jump on Parker Pete’s website to subscribe to the emailed newsletter to be kept informed about last-minute, individual spaces available to fill in charters. Look for the place to sign up on the right side of the page. Several charters need a few anglers like that in the near future, one of the emails said. The dates include this Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, and Christmas Eve and December 28. The trips sail approximately 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. All fish are shared, and all tackle is provided. Bring extra clothes for the fall and winter weather. Hot coffee is always aboard, and a microwave is on board to warm your soup or other food, it said, while you sit in the spacious cabin.

Most reported limiting out on blackfish, and some of the fish weighed 12 pounds and more, Bob from Fisherman’s Den wrote in an email. The tautog were the prime target for ocean boaters, and a few ling and sea bass were decked. So were dog sharks, of course, he said. Winter flounder fishing was good, and he didn’t mention where, but he’s been talking about the flounder fishing in Shark River in past reports. Worms were difficult to obtain for flounder bait, so clams were the preferred bait, when worms were unavailable. Striped bass fishing might be finished for the year, nearly. “Hate to admit,” Bob, a surf angler, said. Some small stripers, not many, were around, and usually more are, at this time of year. Anglers might need to fish Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from the Forked River power plant, if they want stripers. “I may have left myself open to criticism,” he said, if stripers show up again. “But that would be a good thing.”

Striped bass and bluefish seasons are officially finished, an email from the party boat Miss Belmar Princess said. The vessel had been fishing for them, and will resume sailing daily, for mackerel, when the mackerel migration arrives. The crew hopes that’s by the end of the month. T-shirts and a bunch of different gift certificates for trips are available for the boat and the Royal Miss Belmar for the holidays, and telephone or email the Miss Belmar.

Fishing for striped is probably over for the year on the party boat Golden Eagle, a report on the vessel’s website said. But wreck-fishing trips will sail for sea bass, porgies and cod, and trips will run for mackerel, when the mackerel migration shows up. That was covered in the last report here, and no news was posted on the boat’s site since. Take advantage of a holiday offer: Buy two gift certificates for trips on the boat, and get a third free. The certificates may only be used by the recipient, and only one freebie is available per recipient.


Wasn’t much to report after last week’s weather, said Eric from The Reel Seat. But blackfishing had been good on the ocean previously, and lots of anglers headed out on Sunday for the tautog, and planned to fish for them the next couple of days, in forecasts for better weather. The tog had been boated all the way from Sandy Hook Reef to Axel Carlson Reef, and 60-foot depths had seemed to fish well for the angling. Party boats got out for sea bass farther from shore, and that angling was good. Lots of limits were bagged, and sometimes the trips returned early, because enough fish were taken. Cod and pollock were mixed in. Boating for striped bass seemed pretty much finished for the year on the ocean. A few small stripers seemed around for the trips, and a few small stripers were fought from the surf, from Spring Lake to Island Beach State Park. Bucktails and small plugs hooked them, mostly in afternoons. Nobody reported about winter flounder fishing on Manasquan River, because of the weather. But surely the flounder swam the river. Reports about fishing will probably be more frequent this week, in better weather.

Point Pleasant Beach

Good blackfishing generally on both days of the weekend, on the party boat Norma-K III, Capt. Matt wrote in a report on the vessel’s website. On Saturday’s trip, bites were tough to feel along the starboard and port sides, because of wind. The small crowd aboard huddled along the stern to fish, with some limiting out, “and some with less,” he said. Some of the blackfish drilled were sizable, and an 11-pounder won the pool. On Sunday’s trip, anglers nailed bites all around the boat, and every place fished gave up pretty good life. Quite a few anglers limited out, and most bagged two to four. A few bagged one, “and a few had a though day,” he said. A few big ones were broken off, and a 9-pound blackfish won the pool. Saturday night’s ling and cod trip was tough, and Matt expected that, because of last week’s rough weather, but didn’t expect the fishing to be as difficult as it was. Ling were picked here and there, but silver eels, conger eels and dog sharks were a nuisance. The Norma-K III is blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Magic Hour Ling and Cod Trips are fishing 3 to 9 p.m. every Saturday.

Seaside Heights

Small striped bass smacked swimming plugs along Route 37 Bridge, John from The Dock Outfitters wrote in a report on the shop’s website. That was the word now, he said, and no news was doing from the surf. But milder weather in the next days might get anglers fishing the beach. The shop on Friday reported a few small stripers banked from the shore on Thursday. There’s still time to take advantage of the store’s holiday sale to give anglers what they really want, he said. The Dock Outfitters, located on Barnegat Bay, blocks from the ocean surf, features a bait and tackle shop, a café and, in season, boat and jet ski rentals and a dock for fishing and crabbing.


Fishing sailed the past two days on the Stray Cat, Capt. Mike said. Sunday’s trip put a blackfish catch together with “the Belmar boys.” The angling picked at the tautog the whole time, and none of the fish was super-sized, or none weighed more than 9 pounds. The fishing was: picking through small blackfish to bag keepers. The year’s biggest blackfish are usually boated during the two weeks surrounding Christmas, Mike said in a previous report. The run might be running late. The trip fished Ocean City Reef, and then wrecks in 80 feet. Jimmy won the $1,000 pool, and Willy Pete came in second. Belmar Mike won third, Mike thought. The water was 46.5 degrees, and a few striped bass were reported caught down the beach that day. Mike heard that stripers also remained farther north, and expects more to migrate down to the local area. Charters and individual-reservation trips are fishing for blackfish and stripers. The boat is full on Tuesday and Thursday, and the next open-boat spaces are available on Friday and Saturday. “Check the weather,” Mike said. Room is available on a special, open trip 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on New Year’s Eve Day, for only $29.95. The trip will most likely fish for blackfish and stripers, Mike thinks.

Sea Isle City

No trips fished aboard this weekend, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service and Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. But boating for stripers was apparently good on the ocean Friday. That was all the detail he knew, and Joe will fish locally through this weekend. Afterward, he’ll begin annual traveling charters to the Florida Keys that he offers from Christmas to Easter. The trips, fishing mostly on weekends, can target a large variety of species, from speckled sea trout and redfish to tarpon and sailfish. No matter the weather, someplace can always be fished, usually, ducking out from wind from any direction. That can be from the Everglades to the bay to the open water on the ocean side, or the water between the Gulf of Mexico and the ocean. See Jersey Cape’s traveling charters Web page.


Capt. Jim from Fins and Feathers Outfitters did no fishing, but visited his lodge in upstate New York to prepare for snowmobiling, he said. The lodge is now available for rent for that, and some openings remain in January and February, and a couple do in March. New York’s snowmobiling trails were officially opened on December 6 or 7, but are closed until 14 inches of snow covers them. The snow was a little less deep currently, but Jim and crew snowmobiled trails around the lodge’s property. Snowshoe hares, deer and more were seen. The lodge is also available for steelhead fishing on nearby Salmon River around Pulaski, N.Y. Steelheading lasts all winter, but the lodge hosts most guests in early spring for that. Still, the steelheading is world-class throughout winter and early spring. Anglers can fish on their own, or Fins can set up guides, if anglers want. Or the staff from Fins can show anglers how to fish for the steelheads, and anglers can fish on their own afterward, if anglers like. Jim will return to New Jersey this weekend to hunt waterfowl. He already did some of the hunting, successfully, this season, and Fins offers the guided duck and goose hunting along Delaware Bay, and in surrounding states. The bay’s striped bass fishing is finished for the season, really, but Fins offers a combo of striper fishing and duck hunting on the bay, over a series of days, when the fish are in, and duck seasons are opened. Charters simply for the stripers also sail, of course. Fins offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including: saltwater fishing from the bay to the ocean, in season; the waterfowl hunting; the snowmobiling and steelheading, and also salmon fishing, from the lodge; and fly-fishing for trout on Pennsylvania’s streams like the Yellow Breeches.

Cape May

Melanie Anne Sport Fishing Charters fished for striped bass on Saturday, but the angling was no good, Capt. Frank said. A trip will sea bass fish on Tuesday, and the boat will sail for sea bass and blackfish the rest of the year. Deep wrecks will be fished for both, in 150 to 200 feet.

Striped bass fishing was slow during the weekend, said Capt. George from the Heavy Hitter. Previously, the angling was good on the ocean on the troll aboard. Wind blew too strongly to fish from last weekend through about Thursday. That included during the nor’easter a few days. A trip was going to blackfish on Sunday, but was cancelled, because of forecasts for wind 15 to 30 knots. But at the dock that day, weather was calmer. Sea bass fishing on the ocean seemed the best angling currently, and was pretty good.