Raritan Bay’s striped bass fishing seemed to improve daily, Capt. Frank from the Vitamin Sea wrote in an email Wednesday. “Good bite today,” he said about the day’s trip aboard. Twenty-one stripers, including two keepers, were landed. The anglers had other bites, many, “but were unable to take advantage,” he said. The migration of larger stripers can’t be far, considering the abundant baitfish in the water. “The season is beginning to shape up nicely,” he said, and space is available on open-boat trips Friday and Tuesday. Charters are booked on every other day through two weekends from now, April 25 to 26. But evening trips will be available soon, and telephone for the schedule.
Shore anglers released lots of throwback striped bass and bagged a few keepers from Raritan Bay, like at Cliffwood Beach, said Joey from Joey’s Bait Shack. Clams were best bait, and bunker grabbed a few, and bunker schooled the bay. Boaters tied into stripers a couple of hundred yards off the beaches. Nothing was heard about winter flounder, and flounder weren’t mixed in with the stripers. Nobody really targeted flounder, because buying bait wasn’t worthwhile in the two-fish bag limit. Nothing was reported about blackfish. Bloodworms, sandworms, fresh clams and fresh bunker are stocked.
On the party boat Fishermen, fishing will be launched starting Friday for the year, with striped bass trips 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, Capt. Ron said. Clams will be fished, and once water becomes warmer, and bigger stripers move in, bunker will be fished. But trips will fish with jigs or whatever’s necessary. Beginning the next Friday, April 24, trips will also striper fish 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 3:30 to 9 p.m. Sundays. ***Update, Saturday, 4/18:*** The year’s first fishing sailed aboard Friday, picking at throwback stripers a while, and Tom Krako bagged a keeper, his first of the season, winning the pool, Ron wrote in a report on the boat’s website. The trip at first made a quick drop in deeper water. Gannets worked the water, and lots of bait schooled. The water was 49 degrees, and nothing bit. The trip moved to shallower water, finding a few marks, and the stripers were hooked, all on outgoing tide. The water was 51 to 52 degrees there. Sure felt good to be back at the helm and catch, Ron said, and weather looked great for today’s trip.
The party boat Atlantic Star will begin striped bass fishing on Friday on two trips daily from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m., Capt. Tom said. Clams will be the bait, and stripers that can be jigged are rarely seen for some time yet this season. The boat began fishing for the year with winter flounder trips last weekend. But the angling was no good. One of the trips fished Sunday morning, and only skates bit. A few anglers showed up to fish for a trip that afternoon, but Tom was honest about the fishing, and the anglers opted not to sail.
Striped bass fishing was a little slow on Raritan Bay during the week, but the fish were landed aboard with Fin-Taz-Tic Sportfishing, Capt. Pete said. Stripers were marked with Fin-Taz-Tic, and the water was loaded with bait, and gannets dove on bunker. When the water reaches a certain temperature, stripers will bite better. The bay was 47 degrees, and one trip aboard saw gannets feeding all over bunker. Stripers had to be underneath, anglers thought, and the trip fished clams at the birds. But no stripers hit, and no trip sailed yesterday, Wednesday. Pete wasn’t going to take anglers fishing if the chances of catching weren’t better, unless anglers wanted to go regardless. But the boat will fish every day, starting next week. Pete hopes the angling kicks in this week, because of warmer weather. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing for stripers. Few winter flounder bit, so Fin-Taz-Tic didn’t fish for them.
Boaters lit into throwback striped bass and a few keepers on Raritan Bay, said Wayne from Twin Lights Marina. The fishing was beginning to amp up, and the water should warm in warm weather this weekend, and that should help. The bass were lethargic in cold water. Pods of bunker schooled all over, and the stripers were clammed, and customers began to buy the shop’s fresh clams. Things were starting to happen, he said. Stripers didn’t really feed on bunker yet, because of low water temperature. Customers began to launch boats for the season. Twin Lights, located conveniently on Shrewsbury River near Raritan Bay and the ocean, with no bridges before them, includes a marina with boat slips and dry storage, a fuel dock, and a combined bait and tackle shop and ship’s store. The full supply of bait is stocked, including, when in demand, live bunker. The fuel dock is available 24 hours a day with a credit card.
Fishing was better on Wednesday for Last Lady Fishing Charters, Capt. Ralph wrote in an email. A charter bagged 13 cod, three pollock, a ling and a blackfish. Space is available for an individual-reservation trip that will wreck-fish Sunday.
Winter flounder were finally tied into from Shark River – “finally (got) up from a long winter nap,” Bob from Fisherman’s Den wrote in an email. Bulkhead anglers cranked in a fair number of the fish to 18 inches. “Get down, before they move out,” he said. Flounder should migrate to the ocean before long. Striped bass were beached from the surf north of Shark River Inlet, on clams and worms. A good number were also banked from Raritan Bay’s shore. Bunker schooled the ocean off Belmar, so large numbers of migrating stripers and blues couldn’t be far behind. On boats on the ocean, cod and pollock dominated catches. Sometimes blackfish snapped on the trips.
The party boat Golden Eagle will fish Saturday and Sunday for the first time this season, Capt. Rich said. The trips will try for striped bass, but if stripers fail to show, the fishing will sail for whatever can be decked, like ling or cod. The ocean was cold, and fishing was slower to begin this year. But lots of bait schooled, a good sign, he said. Striper fishing could take off in a moment. That could be within two weeks, or on Saturday. After the weekend, the boat will be docked to wrap up seasonal maintenance, and daily trips will fish beginning the following Saturday, April 25. The Golden Eagle sails 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 or 3 p.m.
Weather on Friday will keep the party boat Miss Belmar Princess docked, an email from the vessel said. But trips will fish for striped bass this weekend, and daily trips will fish for stripers beginning the following Friday, April 24. Many improvements were made to the boat this off-season, including new heating, air-conditioning, cushioned seating, lighting and paint. If you thought the boat looked good before, wait until you see it now, the email said.
Fishing for small striped bass was great on the Toms River, on both the north and south sides, said Dennis from Murphy’s Hook House. Mostly bloodworms hooked them, but some were plugged after dark. Anglers heard the bass popping at night. White perch fishing improved a little in the river, giving up a few here and there. Winter flounder were nonexistent in the river, pretty much, and fishing for them never materialized in the river this year, really. Flounder fishing was good on Barnegat Bay near Mantoloking Bridge. Paul Enright led the shop’s free flounder tournament with a 2.56-pounder boated there. The tournament had 121 entrants, and Enright’s been bailing the flatfish there on sandworms while chumming. Farther south in the bay, the water was 55 degrees from Route 37 Bridge to Long Point, at the mouth of the Toms. Dennis read the temp when he splashed his boat for the season. The water was clear, and he could see 3 feet down. He trolled a half-hour, and had one bite at the bridge. But fishing, for striped bass, has been turning on later, at night, at the bridge, on plugs. Anglers heard fish popping there in the dark, whether that was stripers or bunker. Dennis saw no bunker during his trip, and the water was cold for bunker to school along the surface. Once the water reaches 60 degrees, the baitfish become active. Water was turning over at the bridge, and the season was early for that. But debris from bottom floated or suspended around. Ospreys were around, and an osprey was seen snatching up a bunker a few days ago. From the surf, a few throwback striped bass were beached during the weekend. Dennis knew about no keepers first-hand, but knew a few keepers came from the beach this season. He wouldn’t be surprised to see the year’s first bluefish in the bay within a week. Rumors, none confirmed, circulated about blues occasionally seen in the state.
Oyster Creek turned out small striped bass, and winter flounder, like before, said Kyle from Grizz’s Forked River Bait & Tackle. Most anglers there fished bloodworms, and some used clams. No bluefish or weakfish were heard about yet. Bloodworms and salted clams are stocked. Grizz will decide whether to stock fresh clams this weekend. The shop has been moved to a new location at 103 Lacey Road in Forked River.
Bluefishing will kick off the season on May 22 on the party boat Miss Barnegat Light, Karen said. The boat is in the shipyard for seasonal maintenance.
A few throwback striped bass were reported from Long Beach Island’s surf, both from the north end and the south, said Sue from Surf City Bait & Tackle. Many telephoned, saying they’d fish the surf this weekend, so more reports should roll in. Scarce news was partly because of scarce anglers. Clams were fished for the bass, and nobody mentioned blackfishing in past days. Green crabs were unable to be obtained for blackfishing, because of cold. But anglers fish clams for blackfish, including when crabs are unavailable. Fresh clams will be stocked Friday, and bloodworms are on hand. Winter flounder were supposedly angled along Route 72 Bridge at Dutchman’s Brauhaus, but that was unconfirmed, and customers were yet to flounder fish.
A 25-pound drum was dragged to shore at Graveling Point today, said Brian from Scott’s Bait & Tackle. That was the year’s first drum known about at the shop, and the first reported on this site this season. Lots of throwback striped bass were banked at Graveling and nearby Pebble Beach. Anglers today landed multiples apiece. The year’s first keeper striper from Graveling was weighed-in Monday, covered in the last report here. Stripers in the area began to bite clams better than before. They still bit bloodworms, and bloodworms are the favored bait early in the season. Stripers can digest the worms during slow metabolism in cold water. But clams become the better bait as water warms. Bloods still beat the stripers, but clams took the larger ones, and drum will bite clams. Small stripers were also caught up Mullica River. They also began to be reeled from West Creek, north of Tuckerton. So stripers spread to both Great Bay and the waters along the bay toward Tuckerton this week. Graveling and Pebble are at the confluence of Great Bay and the Mullica. White perch fishing was great along Mullica River. The perch were sizable, and no particular location was talked about. The perch were also nabbed in West Creek. Now was the time when the year’s first bluefish could arrive, and the annual $100 gift certificate to the store will be awarded to the angler who checks-in the year’s first blue from Graveling or Pebble. Anglers almost hoped blues wouldn’t arrive this coming weekend, because stripers can begin to depart from Graveling and Pebble, when blues arrive. But the bluefish migration should be impending. Bloodworms and live grass shrimp are stocked. Fresh clams, both shucked and in the shell, will be on hand. A rep from Tsunami will be at the shop 8 a.m. to 12 noon Saturday. The rep can be asked questions about the company’s tackle, and all Tsunami products will be discounted 10 percent during the event. Tsunami products can also be ordered for a 10-percent discount, if the product isn’t available at the shop at the time. A free gift will be awarded to anybody purchasing a Tsunami rod during that time.
Fishing kept improving a little, said Capt. Dave from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center. Fishing for small striped bass, and white perch, kept picking up on Mullica and Great Egg Harbor rivers, as water warmed. Water was still cold, though. The Mullica at Hay Road and Jeffers Landing Road were hot spots. A few keeper stripers were known about, and lots of shorts were played. If anglers fished with bloodworms, they practically couldn’t help but catch. Graveling Point, at the confluence of the Mullica and Great Bay, gave up the year’s first keeper striped bass, and lots of throwbacks, this week. Mostly shore anglers fished, and few boaters did, so far this year. Boaters seemed to wait for weather to warm, and maybe more will boat this weekend. If boaters would get out, reports would probably pick up, and good fishing is probably available to them. Not much was heard about blackfishing, mostly because green crabs were unavailable from suppliers in New York and New England, where most come from, because of cold. How blackfishing was, couldn’t be said. Bloodworms and fresh clams are stocked. Bunker schooled, but demand for the fresh baitfish wasn’t enough for many suppliers to pursue them. Dave knew he wouldn’t sell many, if the menhaden were stocked.
John Fox released a throwback striped bass from the surf at the south end jetty today, said Capt. Andy from Riptide Bait & Tackle. That was the only news about a surf catch, and other anglers headed to fish the beach today, so Andy hoped they’d run into fish. Good-looking bloodworms were stocked today, and fresh clams are carried. Fresh bunker will arrive Friday, “which is a good sign,” Andy said. The Riptide Striper Bounty was up to $1,465. Sponsored by Hess Plumbing, the bounty is awarded to the angler who checks-in the season’s first striper 43 inches or larger from Brigantine’s surf. The bounty wasn’t won during fall, so is being rolled over to spring. That happened last year, too, and the bounty was won that spring. The angler must be entered before the catch, and entry is $5. All entry fees are awarded, so the bounty will build. Two $50 gift certificates will be awarded, one to the angler who stops by with the year’s first keeper striper from Brigantine’s surf, and the other for the first boater who brings in the first. The Fish for Life Tournament, a Brigantine surf-fishing contest, from Tom LaPera’s real-estate team, is under way until May 21. Entry is $20, and proceeds are reportedly donated to the South Jersey Cancer Fund. Trophies are awarded for the three heaviest stripers, and none was entered yet. Entry, available at Riptide, includes a permit to drive Brigantine’s middle beach until the final day of the tournament, when accompanied by a Brigantine beach-buggy permit. Without the permit, driving the middle is prohibited. The tournament essentially enables entrants, with the Brigantine permit, to drive the island’s entire surf. ***Update, Thursday, 4/16:*** Another angler beached two stripers 24 to 26 inches in the surf today, Riptide’s Facebook page said. A photo of one of the fish was included in the post, and the post said the angler came back to pick up more clams for bait. “Will this be the breakout?” the page asked. ***Update, Saturday, 4/18:*** Stripers began to bite in the surf, Andy wrote on Riptide’s Facebook page. He posted photos of him and a friend, each with a throwback, and another friend with a 30-pound drum from the beach Friday on the page.
Shore anglers tugged in striped bass, good-sized, but lots of smaller or 24- or 26-inchers, blues and blackfish from the surf and Absecon Inlet, said Noel from One Stop Bait & Tackle. Warmer water was just needed, and the fishing will pick up. Striper fishing has been some of the best anywhere for the anglers at the inlet in recent springs. Numerous stripers, and especially large ones, were drilled, and they seemed to pour out of the rivers, after spawning, and shoot through the inlet, migrating to the ocean. That should happen in the warmer water in the next month. Currently, fishing can be best on high tides in evenings, and those tides will coincide with that time in the next days. Bunker swam around, and birds worked the water all over. The anglers are fishing bloodworms and fresh clams and bunker. The jetty-lined inlet and the surf are located near the shop. Baits stocked include all of those mentioned, and the bloods are on sale for two dozen for $20 every Tuesday and Wednesday. Fresh bunker are $2 apiece or three for $5 daily. Noel is trying to obtain green crabs to stock Friday. The crabs are scarce.
Sea Isle City
Definitely seeing more life, said Mike from Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. Schools of bunker and herring swam the ocean. Big schools of bunker ran the back bay. Weather was warming. Things looked good. Striped bass were fought on the bay, mostly in evenings and at night, mostly on soft-plastic lures like Fin-S Fish or Bass Assassins, either along the sod banks or under lights, like at bridges. A few were caught on bait, but probably more will be soon. Stripers were scattered in the surf, and a couple caught were known about. Few anglers fished the surf, and more of the fish would probably be discovered, if more fished. Bluefish arriving in Townsend’s Inlet were reported a couple of times, and Mike knew blues did show up there. That is the year’s first confirmed bluefish report on this site this season. He also knew blues entered Manasquan Inlet, farther north, yesterday. No weakfish or summer flounder were reported to arrive locally, but Mike bets they will by next Thursday’s report. Bloodworms, fresh clams, eels and all the frozen bait is stocked. Fresh bunker’s been stocked on weekends, and Mike’s trying to stock them this weekend.
Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service and Sea Isle Bait & Tackle will fish for striped bass on the back bay this evening, he said. He landed his season’s first on Sunday, covered in the last report. Fishing was beginning to happen in the bay, and will unfold rapidly. Nothing might be caught on one tide, and on the next, catches might explode for the season. Stripers will bite, and the migrations of bluefish and weakfish will invade the bay any time now. Joe last year had hooked his season’s first weak by this time of month. Weekends are booking up, and if anglers have a date they prefer for a charter, especially on weekends, they should reserve sooner than later. This is also time for special after-work trips, from afternoons to evenings, because fish turn on during the warmer, latter part of the day in spring. Summer flounder will migrate to the bay soon, too. A grand slam, a catch of all four species popular to anglers in the bay, is not uncommon this season. This is some of the best angling of the year. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s blog.
Striped bass were heard about that began to be clutched from Raritan Bay, said Capt. Jim from Fins and Feathers Outfitters. But he’ll probably search for stripers on Delaware Bay this weekend. He knew about stripers slid from Delaware Bay’s shore, and he’ll probably boat the bay for stripers off the Villas and at Cape May Channel. If the bass bit for surf anglers, they might school the bay at those two areas. Charters aboard will fish for drum on the bay in May. A buddy said the stripers from Raritan Bay were boated from the back of that bay. Jim had tentatively been scheduled to fish for steelheads on upstate New York’s Salmon River from his lodge in the next days. But the river ran extremely high, because of snow melt. That will subside, and the year’s best steelheading is usually soon on the river. Fins and Feathers offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including saltwater fishing from the ocean to Delaware Bay and the back bays, duck and goose hunting on Delaware Bay and in nearby states, salmon and steelhead fishing on Salmon River from the lodge, and fly-fishing for trout on Pennsylvania’s trout streams, like the Yellow Breeches. When charters fish or hunt Delaware Bay, the boat is trailered to be launched at wherever’s nearest the angling or waterfowling.
The ocean warmed somewhat, reaching 50 degrees, so open-boat trips will sail for blackfish on the ocean 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday to Sunday with Fins & Grins Sport Fishing, Capt. Jim said. Reservations aren’t required but recommended, and telephone for availability. Warm weather is supposed to continue, and if a group, like with four anglers or more, wants to sail for striped bass on Delaware Bay instead, that’s possible. Open-boat rates would be charged, and Jim spoke with a couple of people who ran trips that caught a few stripers in the bay, and spoke with one who ran a trip and caught none. The stripers boated were in the upper bay, Jim said for this report. He mentioned stripers reported from the flats off Egg Island Point, in the previous report. Reports were heard about stripers caught from the bay’s surf, but he didn’t know whether that was true. Rumors begin to be heard this time of year.
Trips blackfished Saturday through Monday on the party boat Porgy IV, Capt. Paul said. The ocean was cold, and some small blackfish bit, and not many keepers did. Three anglers bagged three blackfish apiece on Monday’s trip, and on Sunday’s trip, one angler limited out. But many anglers bagged none. One angler went 3 for 25 on keepers, had a lot of action. But others had not a lot. The angling was very slow at some places. Sounded like a few small cod could be boated farther from shore. But blackfish wouldn’t be angled, if there was fished. The Porgy IV will stick with blackfishing, sailing for the tautog at 8 a.m. daily. Blackfish season is only opened this month, and the trips are a chance for anglers to hook the tog and to fish, at least.
Beach anglers eased in a steady pick of striped bass, pretty good catches, from Delaware Bay in town, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. He saw no keepers, but keepers might’ve been bagged. Bloodworms and clams caught, and he fished that surf Wednesday in the rainstorm. We banked a couple, he said, on bloodworms. Stripers surely were landed on Delaware River, too. Nothing was heard about boaters striper fishing. A few blackfish were reported wrangled along surf jetties. They seemed to begin biting. No bluefish or weakfish were reported yet this season. Bunker schooled around, and spearing popped into the ocean surf. Nick saw the spearing. Fresh clams, both in the shell and shucked, and bloodworms are stocked. Nick’s working on carrying green crabs.