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Saltwater Fishing Report

Report from Thursday, April 28.

| Keyport | Atlantic Highlands | Highlands | Neptune | Belmar | Point Pleasant Beach | Toms River | Seaside Heights | Forked River | Barnegat | Mystic Island | Absecon | Brigantine | Atlantic City | Egg Harbor Township | Ocean City | Sea Isle City | Wildwood | Cape May | Last Monday's Report |
Striped bass, good catches, were tackled from Raritan Bay on the
Vitamin Sea, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. More and more bluefish
mixed in, and morning trips and afternoon trips fished equally. The biggest stripers weighed about 30 pounds, so far this season. The bass averaged 15 to 20 pounds, “(and) I don’t think anyone can complain about (this) bass season thus far,” he wrote. The angling should last well into May. Charters are fishing, and the next open-boat trips with space available are 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday and 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, a Working Man’s Special. “Next Saturday 2-8 p.m. (also) has spots available,” he wrote. ***Update, Thursday, 4/28:*** Eight striped bass to 27 pounds were boated, and the anglers were already playing catch and release, by 9 o’clock on this morning’s trip, Frank wrote in an email aboard then.

Big, gator bluefish to 15 pounds shoved into Raritan Bay, said Capt. Mario from the Down Deep Fleet. The bay’s striped bass fishing was better on some days than others, but good, for the most part. Open-boat trips are sailing for stripers daily on the Down Deep Bull, one of the company’s two 40-foot boats. Morning and afternoon charters are available. Trips for cod and ling will begin on the Down Deep, the other vessel, and check the schedule for May on the fleet’s website for that. Also see the schedule for available dates for all fishing on the boats, and join the Short Notice List on the site to be kept informed about open trips.

Atlantic Highlands
Good-sized striped bass and blues schooled Raritan Bay, said Jimmy from Julian’s Bait & Tackle. The stripers held near the islands, and the blues were plentiful. Ocean surf anglers beached stripers up and down the coast on worms and clams. Lots of blues were fought from the surf, too. If Jimmy were going to fish the surf, he’d take a couple of dozen worms. You’re likely to catch the stripers, he said. Lots of stripers gathered in rivers. Blackfish were hooked along bridges on the rivers and along rocks elsewhere. A few more ling than before began to show up in the ocean. No crab catches were heard about yet, but crabs should be trapped soon. Water needed to warm a little. All baits are stocked.

On the party boat Atlantic Star, striped bass fishing was no good on Raritan Bay on Monday and Tuesday mornings’ trips, Capt. Tom said. Too few people showed up for the afternoon trips to sail, and on Wednesday morning’s trip, a few bluefish and no stripers were decked. On the afternoon’s trip, a few more blues and no bass were picked than in the morning. So bluefish showed up, providing some action, and he hopes the bluefishing continues to improve. If anglers want to keep some blues, the crew will fillet the fish right away. Stripers seemed to be trolled and livelined on bunker sometimes at certain areas of the bay. But they didn’t want to bite bait like clams that were fished aboard. Customers sometimes fished chunks of bunker with the same results. The blues weighed up to 15 and 16 pounds. One weighed 17 pounds Wednesday. Some weighed 5 and 6 pounds, too. The year’s first fluke was landed aboard that day. The out-of-season fish was released, and the boat will fluke fish once the season is opened beginning May 21. Most trips fished aboard, and trips dealt with weather sometimes this week, keeping anglers from showing up at the docks. Too few showed up in this morning’s weather for a trip to sail. The Atlantic Star is fishing for striped bass 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m. daily. ***Update, Saturday, 4/30:*** This morning’s trip sailed, Tom said in a phone call aboard the outing, and was the first trip that fished since Wednesday, because of weather or because forecasts kept anglers from showing up. Bluefish, not a lot, but some were swung in. The angling wasn’t great, but some action at least, and four throwback striped bass were released. The stripers were surprising, because he didn’t expect to catch stripers. Clams and bunker were fished, and clams are provided, and so are bunker, when bunker are available from the supplier.

Raritan Bay’s striped bass fishing remained good, but bluefish began to mix in, said Capt. Mike from Tuna-Tic Sportfishing. Plenty of big stripers remained, and were mostly trolled aboard. A few were hooked on livelined bunker, when anglers had enough trolling. Fishing with chunks of bunker attracted too many blues. Striper fishing might be running ahead of schedule. Mike telephoned charters who were booked for later in the season to ask if they wanted to fish earlier. The water was 8 degrees warmer than usual. The blues usually don’t arrive like this until May’s second week, and they already arrived full force. If anglers want big stripers, they’re here. Once the bay’s striper fishing diminishes, Tuna-Tic moves the boat to Forked River to fish for the migration of big stripers in the ocean out of Barnegat Inlet. That angling was phenomenal aboard last year. Shark trips begin in late May, fishing into June. But striper fishing will still happen then, like if trips see birds working the water. Trips will jump right on them.

***Update, Friday, 4/29:*** Sailing from Twin Lights Marina on Wednesday, Ed, Tony and Capt. Ken bagged three striped bass to 40 inches and released six of the fish to 40 inches trolled on Raritan Bay on Twin Lights Mojos on a trip, Marion wrote in an email. On Monday on the bay, Rich Scherer and crew trolled three stripers to a 43-incher, and Greg Hanna and Tim McWilliams on the Annie H trolled and chunked bluefish to 12 pounds. Last week, Roy Wurst limited out on stripers while trolling Swash Channel, and Maddy and Paul Hess on the Boudicca trolled two stripers 36 and 38 inches at Reach Channel. Two weeks ago, Ed DeMunno on the Hammerhead downriggered two stripers, including a 39-incher bagged, in the middle of the bay on soft-plastic lures, and another crew trolled two 36-inch stripers at the Reach. Twin Lights, located on Shrewsbury River near Raritan Bay and the ocean, with no bridges before them, includes a marina with boat slips, dry storage, a fuel dock, and a combined bait and tackle shop and ship’s store. The fuel dock is available 24 hours a day with a credit card. Fresh clams and live bunker are carried when in demand.

Space is available on individual-reservation trips for blackfish Saturday and for cod, pollock, winter flounder and ling Sunday with Last Lady Fishing Charters, Capt. Ralph said. White leggers will be included on the blackfish trip, and blackfish season will be closed the next day, Sunday. The only individual-rez trip for sea bass with openings is on June 8. Several more of the trips filled before then, and sea bass season will be less than a month, from May 23 through June 19. Individual reservation trips for cod will fish offshore at 2 a.m. July 13 and 27 and August 3, 17 and 31. Fish for cod in shorts! Those trips have been good with Last Lady. Annual individual-reservation trips for fluke every Tuesday will kick off on June 21. Kids under 12 sail free on those trips, limited to one per adult host. ***Update, Friday, 4/29:*** Weather looks good for Saturday’s blackfish trip, and a few spaces are available, Ralph wrote in an email. Sunday’s trip for cod and other bottom-catches is rescheduled for May 15, because of forecasts for rain and wind.

Bluefish were sometimes fought at Shark River Inlet, said John from Fisherman’s Den. Nothing bit in the local surf, really. Belmar’s party boats scored well on blackfish on the ocean. Blackfish season will be closed beginning Sunday, and some of the boats will probably switch to cod fishing. Or they’ll fish for stripers or blues on the ocean. Some will fish for fluke, when fluke season opens May 21, and sea bass, when sea bass season opens May 23. The shop’s rental boats are being readied for the fluke opener. Rental boaters fish Shark River for the flatfish, and plenty of fluke already swam the river. Anglers landed them by mistake and released them. A few of the boats were already in the water for winter flounder fishing this spring. The flounder fishing fizzled quickly this year. ***Update, Friday, 4/29:*** Blackfish season will end Sunday, and was great, and some impressive-sized were boated, Bob from the shop wrote in an email. Belmar’s party boats scored great on the fish this past week, including docking some that weighed in the double digits. A Belmar charter boat limited out on the fish and returned by 11 a.m. today. Beatriz Soto on the trip limited to a 13-pounder. Big bluefish crashed through Shark River and Manasquan inlets. Manasquan Inlet fished best for them. “Stripers in this area are predominantly small, hitting worms or clams,” Bob wrote. “Some are showing up on the night tides with SP Minnows or Bombers.” Big stripers were hooked in Raritan Bay, mostly boated, on the troll or on livelined bunker. Bob guesses larger stripers will show up locally this coming week. “Hope springs eternal,” he said.

Miss Belmar Princess on Wednesday was motored out, and the trip began jigging in bunker on the ocean just off Shark River Inlet, an email from the party boat said. Bluefish were jigged immediately. The angling just became better throughout the trip. “We held 1-2 fish on,” it said, and sometimes four to five, with an occasional lull. The 6- to 12-pounders nailed Ava 47 jigs and crocodiles. The trip marked scattered readings and made long drifts. The vessel was the only bluefish boat there that day, “and we are wrecking them!” it said. The angling was a huge improvement compared with before. “Looks like the fish are here and ready to bite!” it said. The Miss Belmar Princess is sailing for striped bass and blues 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Purchase three gift certificates for daily trips for stripers and blues, and get one free. Hurry, because the offer will only last until Saturday, it said. The certificates are valid any time and never expire. The discount can’t be combined with any other.

Six- to 12-pound blues “showed up today in force,” a report said Wednesday on the party boat Golden Eagle’s website. Time to come catch some. “See you in the morning,” it said. Previously, the crew gave fishing a break a few days, including to get past the full moon. The weekend was a couple of tough days of fishing for striped bass and blues aboard. Trips were resuming now, and the Golden Eagle is fishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.

Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters sailed for blackfish the other day on the ocean, rounding up good angling, Capt. Pete said. Trips are mostly waiting to fish the migration of striped bass in the ocean. Bluefish schooled the ocean off Shark River Inlet yesterday. “So it’s a start,” he said. “Things are moving.” Blues shot into Shark River and Manasquan inlets in mornings and evenings off and on. No stripers really swam the ocean yet. They reportedly began spawning in rivers, so the migration was coming along. They’ll retreat to the ocean afterward, then the fishing will kick off there. Livelining bunker for stripers is a main event on the boat in spring on the ocean. Pete this year will also run the livelining trips on the Belmar party boat Captain Cal every Tuesday, limited to 15 anglers, and every Thursday, limited to 20 anglers. Reservations are required, and book the dates to ensure the ones you want. The boat can accommodate 70 people. For Parker Pete’s, don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Book an individual space on a charter that needs anglers. Visit Parker Pete’s website to subscribe to the email blast to be kept informed about the spaces. Also see a trip calendar, where available dates are posted, on the site.

Point Pleasant Beach
Good blackfishing was creamed Wednesday on the ocean on the
Norma-K III, Capt. Matt wrote in a report on the party boat’s website. The angling began slowly but became productive for a decent catch, and an 11-pounder was the pool-winner. On today’s trip, shorts gave up good action, but the keeper ratio “was not there,” he said. A few keepers were bagged, and he hopes the tautog “open their mouths and chew” for the final two days of blackfish season that closes beginning Sunday. The Norma-K III will blackfish 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and will fish for cod and ling daily beginning Sunday during the same hours. Fluke trips will begin May 21, opening day of fluke season.

***Update, Friday, 4/29:*** No fishing sailed in past days on the Gambler because of weather, the party boat’s Facebook page said. “But we are looking forward to getting out there and finding the stripers and blues,” it said. The boat will fish on a trip benefitting the Recreational Fishing Alliance, mostly targeting cod, from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Daily striped bass trips are slated to begin Sunday, running 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. A trip will fish for striped bass and blues with reps from Accurate reel company 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, May 13. Tickets can be purchased, and Accurate will provide products to test and loaner gear. Bring your own gear, and test Accurate’s. Each angler will receive an Accurate T-shirt and sticker, and the angler with the biggest striper will win an Accurate FX-400GS reel, and the angler with the biggest blue will win an Accurate sweatshirt. Accurate will host a seminar at 7 o’clock the previous evening, May 12, at The Reel Seat in Brielle, providing pizza and beverages. Anglers on the fishing trip aren’t required to attend the seminar, but the Gambler crew encourages the anglers to attend the seminar and learn about the products before trying the gear on the trip. A 20-hour tilefish trip is set to fish offshore at 11 p.m. May 14.

Toms River
Fishing for big bluefish like 8 to 10 pounds slowed a little in the cold front, said Dennis from Murphy’s Hook House. The fish had packed the Toms River, and he fished there yesterday and got no bites. But anglers lit into the blues later in the day. One boater that day fished from the Toms River to Barnegat Bay near the BB or BI markers for 3 hours, catching no blues. But he beat the heck out of them on the way home. A kayaker checked in a 16.16-pound blue from the Toms. Anglers smashed the blues from the river to Barnegat Inlet before the cold. The blues had held almost up to freshwater in the Toms at Huddy Park. The 8- to 10-pounders were smaller than last year but still good-sized. Water yesterday was 56 to 59 degrees. The lagoon behind the house was 61. These were good temps for fishing. The water previously was 53 or 54 degrees, and a few of the blues were popper-plugged then. Anglers fishing the river from docks popper-plugged them. Otherwise, bunker was fished for the blues. Manasquan River and Manasquan Inlet were crammed with big blues. Whether the fish were departing Barnegat Bay or arriving from the ocean was unknown. Dennis thought they were probably arriving, including because blues like that schooled the nearby ocean among whales previously. The Toms River’s striped bass fishing had picked up a little, before the cold, and was good before then, too. The fish, from small to an occasional keeper, were hooked at night from Island Heights to Beachwood, on both sides of the river. The smaller bass, including lots of little from 12 to 18 inches, were wormed. The bigger were hooked on swimming lures and popping lures. Scattered weakfish were found in the bay off Berkeley Island Park. One angler landed a few in Silver Bay on the smallest Daiwa SP Minnow lure. In the surf, fishing was pretty good for blues and stripers Monday, Dennis said the next morning, when he gave a report about that. Most surf anglers caught, and the surf was 52 degrees, finally warmer than 50. Surf casters fished bunker chunks, sometimes mullet, for the blues. Not much boating for stripers happened in the ocean yet. Anglers fished for stripers in the bay and back waters mostly, where most of the fish swam for now. So anglers had no reason to fish the ocean for them. Crabbing was pretty good, though the season was early for that. Crabbers didn’t knock catches dead, but crabbers will catch, if they try. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

Seaside Heights
Some blues were beached up and down the surf, said Phil Dirt from
The Dock Outfitters. A couple of striped bass were mixed in, and the anglers dead-sticked chunked bunker, or many threw popper lures. Large blowfish, quite a number, were plucked from the surf at Lavallette, Ortley Beach and Seaside Heights on hooks like croaker hooks with clams. Back to the bluefish: the blues were big, up to 12 and 15 pounds, and the slammers also lit up Manasquan Inlet the past couple of days. Lures, poppers and chunk bait were tossed to them. The blues also swam Barnegat Bay and up the Toms River at Island Heights and Huddy Park. In the bay, they gathered only on the mainland, western side, toward the Toms and Oyster Creek, and were yet to show up on the eastern, island side near the shop. Crabbing was unexpectedly good from the dock. The season was early for that. The Dock Outfitters, located on Barnegat Bay, blocks from the ocean surf, features a bait and tackle shop, a café, a dock for fishing and crabbing and, in season, boat and jet-ski rentals.

Forked River
Blues to 14 pounds were talked about from Barnegat Bay, said Kyle from Grizz’s Forked River Bait & Tackle. Most anglers trolled them, pretty good catches, on ponytails, like between the BI and BB markers or off Forked River power plant. Anglers still fished for small striped bass in Oyster Creek. Not much was heard about stripers from the bay yet, like stripers caught toward the sod banks toward Barnegat Inlet. A few boated a few stripers on the bay, so far this season. Fresh clams are stocked, and Kyle hopes green crabs will be stocked Friday. Bloodworms will no longer be carried this season. Killies, nightcralwers and trout worms are in supply.

***Update, Saturday, 4/30:*** Trips will target the migration of big striped bass in the ocean aboard, once seas calm on the ocean, Capt. Dave DeGennaro from the Hi Flier wrote in an email. An open-boat trip was supposed target stripers on Barnegat Bay 12 noon to 5 p.m. today, after a trip that was booked to fish this morning. An open trip will target the bay’s bass 12 noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, too. “Put your big boy pants on,” he said, because of rain that’s forecast. Bring slickers, and this snotty weather could produce good fishing for the bass on the bay. An open trip is set for Monday with the same game plan. Trips are carrying a bushel of clams and a flat of sandworms to fish for the bay’s bass. But the trips also go on the hunt for big bluefish on the bay with top-water lures. He expected to fish the bay the next couple of days because of easterly wind forecast. Three people max. All fish are shared. ***Update, Sunday, 5/1:*** From an edited email from Dave: “Caught ’em! Stripers and Gators on the Inside. Wow. So much better than I expected. Our first clamming the bay effort. Got to the top of Oyster Creek (Saturday) morning early and caught the beginning of outgoing tide. Started chumming with fresh clam. Forty minutes of nothing, and then our first hook up … a big blue that bit us off. A little while later, we boated a 10-pound blue on the clam. Then a huge runoff on the 20-class conventional put a 23-pound bass in the boat. Then a 15- and a 17-pound striper, 3 for 3 on those, and another big blue that stayed on the hook. Really surprised by the size-class there right now. Back again (today) for more. Two things are certain for (this) morning: we’re going to get rained on, and we’re going to catch bass. Just got loaded up with a bushel and a half of fresh clam to fish today and Monday. Open boat. We’ll cast top-waters for the blues after our clamming effort.”

Mystic Island
Shore anglers smoked bluefish Wednesday in the Graveling Point and Pebble Beach area, said Brian from Scott’s Bait & Tackle. Many anglers landed five to 10 apiece, keeping however many, releasing the rest. A blue that weighed almost 20 pounds was checked-in from the fishing, and a 9-pounder was the smallest weighed-in. Many anglers broke off the blues or the blues bit off the lines, because the anglers weren’t prepared with wire leaders. Drum were caught heavily from the shore last week, and no drum were heard about this week yet. Now that blues moved into the area, stripers were moving out, like happens. Nothing was heard about Mullica River’s striper fishing, but Brian saw photos of stripers from the river that buddies posted, probably from around Lower Bank. One experienced white perch angler fished the river in a trip at multiple places, but didn’t catch many. Fresh clams in the shell and shucked are stocked. Fresh bunker are hoped to arrive tonight. Live grass shrimp and bloodworms are on hand.

Mullica River was fished for bigger striped bass, said Curt from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center. Some catches of decent-sized were heard about from far up the river, and the river was also fished for white perch. The stripers might’ve been spawning or close to spawning, and the perch seemed to be spawning. They swam pretty far up the river. Bluefish caught locally were heard about sporadically, like one here and there in the bay toward Atlantic City. More blues could be expected soon, in warming water. Sometimes drum were boated on Great Bay at Grassy Channel. Blackfishing was fairly productive at bridges and jetties, and blackfish season will be closed beginning Sunday. Baits stocked include fresh bunker, fresh clams, green crabs, eels and, for freshwater, big minnows. Some of the minnows are large that could be dunked for stripers.

Bluefish swam all over the surf, said Capt. Andy from Riptide Bait & Tackle. Rodney Work took the lead with a 16-pound blue in the bluefish category in the Riptide Spring Striper and Bluefish Derby, hooking the fish on a Riptide frozen mullet. The shop’s stocking beautiful mullet popular with anglers. Anthony Pitucci subdued a 12-pound blue. A couple of other anglers mugged several blues to 15 pounds on a trip. Jackie Bernardo drove the beach, saw something jump from the surf, stopped and found that it was a bunker chased onto shore. She cut up the baitfish, cast it on a hook, and caught two good-sized blues. Carl Polus this morning from his dock – his “office,” Andy said – cast one rod, went to cast the second, and the first bent over. He caught the blue, and the second also tied into a blue that spit the hook. That was on the bay, and a 19-pound striped bass was weighed from the surf Saturday, mentioned in the last report here. Someone today sent Andy a photo of a 29-inch striper reeled from Absecon Inlet. So fishing was picking up. Anglers waited for the impending migration of big striped bass in the surf. The Expert Fireplace Spring Riptide Striper Bounty was up to $570. The annual contest awards the cash to the angler who brings in the year’s first striper 43 inches or larger from Brigantine’s front-beach. The bounty will grow, because entry is $5, and all the money is awarded. The shop’s derby, mentioned above, underway until May 22, is for the three heaviest stripers and three heaviest blues from the town’s surf. Entry is $25 and includes a permit to beach-buggy the entire Brigantine front beach, when accompanied by a Brigantine beach-buggy permit. Without the tournament permit, not all the beach can be driven. New this year, Brigantine beach-buggy permits are free for veterans and active military. In addition to gorgeous frozen mullet that were mentioned above, the shop’s been stocking fresh bunker, fresh clams and bloodworms. Andy was trying to stock more bunker for Friday.

Atlantic City
Anglers on foot tied into striped bass, some bigger than before, but nothing photo worthy, said Noel from One Stop Bait & Tackle. He posts photos on the store’s Facebook page, and posted shots of big blues customers whacked. Torpedo blues were in, along the surf around the T-jetty and in the bay. All these fish were a bonus, he said, because the season is early. May is the month for the angling. Some anglers compared the current run of blues to last year. But last spring’s run was epic, and fishing probably won’t be that good for a long time. Last spring’s blues were huge and abundant, biting practically daily for a month. Still, the current fishing produced, and the season was early. The stripers were mostly hooked on bloodworms and fresh bunker. Some anglers tried to plug them, but the fish wanted bait. The blues were hooked on fresh bunker. Blackfish chomped along the T and the rest of jetty-lined Absecon Inlet on green crabs. The T is on the ocean end of the inlet. A 24-inch, out-of-season fluke was released from the surf near the T, a good sign that spring fishing was moving along, if the summer flounder are showing up. Flounder season will be opened beginning May 21. Fresh bunker are $2 apiece or three for $5. Bloodworms are on special on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for $20 for two dozen. Fresh clams and green crabs are on hand. So is a large supply of bait including shrimp, filleted mackerel, whole squid, scented squid, unscented squid, and spearing. Minnows will begin to be carried in the next days for the fishing season.

Egg Harbor Township
***Update, Thursday, 4/29:*** Big bluefish 8 to 10 pounds began to show up locally, including in the bay and at Atlantic City’s T-jetty, that previously arrived nearby, said John from 24-7 Bait & Tackle. Maybe they’ll give up a run like last spring, he thinks. They were abundant then, and throwback striped bass were sometimes nipped from Great Egg Harbor River. Larger stripers were landed on occasion, not often, on the river, and striper fishing was better on Mullica River. Fishing for white perch, big, to 1 pound or 1 ½ pounds, was good on the Great Egg. A few blackfish were boated on the ocean, and a few smaller were sacked along bridges, and blackfish season will be closed beginning Sunday. Blueclaw crabs began to be trapped, actually, he said. The season was early for them. Smaller ones, like No. 2s, scurried Patcong Creek, running past the shop, and bigger skittered toward the bay, where water was saltier. The store’s rental boats are docked on Patcong and are used for fishing and crabbing from the creek to the Great Egg to the bay. Patcong, a tributary of the Great Egg, meets the river near its confluence with the bay. Patcong is one of the best places to crab, when crabbing takes off for the season. The shop’s hours will be expanded beginning Sunday, the first of May, to 6 a.m. to 12 midnight Mondays through Thursdays and 24 hours a day from Fridays through Sundays. The full supply of fresh baits like clams and bunker are carried on weekends currently and are carried daily when demand picks up soon. The company also own 24-7 Bait & Tackle in Marmora.

Ocean City
Tons of small striped bass flooded the back bay, said Justin from Fin-Atics. The bay was inundated with them along 9th Street Bridge, where they were angled at night on soft-plastic lures like Fin-S Fish or paddle-tails in pink or white. Sometimes they were clammed or bloodwormed during daytime. Many small stripers and many white perch gathered in Great Egg Harbor River. Sometimes a straggler, big bluefish was hooked in the river, like a couple of 36- to 40-inchers heard about during the weekend. Corson’s Inlet’s fishing was day-to-day, sort of, for big blues and small stripers. The blues turned on Sunday and Monday. A 14-pounder was weighed Monday from there, and that seemed the average size. On Tuesday, the blues disappeared. But a customer reported a trip landing more than 50 behind Sea Isle City on Wednesday evening on soft-plastic lures. Corson’s seemed to give up blues or small stripers, one or the other, when turning out catches. A 16-pound drum was muscled from Great Egg Harbor Inlet the other night. Some good blackfishing was tamed along 9th Street Bridge and from Longport. Half seemed caught on clams, half on crabs. From the surf, literally six stripers were heard about, and the fish were tiny. Shucked clams are stocked, and the crew hopes to stock fresh bunker for the weekend. Bloodworms, green crabs, eels and all frozen baits are carried.

Sea Isle City
A father and son early in the week aboard ripped into bluefish 5 to 14 pounds and released an out-of-season summer flounder on the back bay, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service, affiliated with Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. That was on soft-plastic lures on lead jigheads on spinning rods, and the bluefishing’s been spectacular, really. Really special, he said. Light tackle. Jigs. Flies. Shallow water. Joe sometimes needed to switch to wire leaders from the 60-pound fluorocarbon leaders lately that he usually fishes for the blues, and only needed to do that a handful of times in his life. “The fish are just ridiculous,” he said. Some were 34 inches, and that’s a big blue, as long as a man’s leg. The blues might’ve weighed less than sometimes, because they’re thin in spring, when cold water prevents them from feeding as much as in warm water that makes them more active. Many of the slammers jumped and were acrobatic, too, for whatever reasons. On a trip later this week aboard, Jay VonCzoernig and son Luke fly-rodded big blues to 15 pounds on every cast, pretty much. Luke also fly-rodded a striped bass. The blues bit best sub-surface these days, so the jigs and sinking flies like Clousers were fished for them. Tides weren’t the best for the angling this week, but will be good this weekend. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s Blog.

Fishing for big blues seemed on during a morning, off in the afternoon, on during another time, off during another, and so on, at Corson’s Inlet and on the back bay, said Mike from Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. The angling was decent, and a couple of anglers yesterday fished Corson’s for them with bait at first, without much success. They switched to lures, and got into some 30-inch blues. The angling’s been pretty consistent at the inlet. Sometimes small striped bass, often 20-inchers, swiped lures meant for blues in the same areas. Sometimes small stripers hit small hunks of bunker or clam. A couple of stripers and blues were heard about from the surf, but few anglers fished the surf. Most concentrated on the inlet and bay. More anglers were needed to fish the surf to get more news from the beach. One customer fished the surf during the weekend, landing a bunch of skates and sharks and a couple of stripers to 14 inches, small. Blackfishing was good from land and from boats, and blackfish season will be closed beginning Sunday. Two weakfish caught, Mike thought, were heard about in the past week. The shop’s been stocking fresh clams, fresh bunker, green crabs, white crabs, spots, eels and minnows.

Weather was too rough to sail, said Capt. Jim from Fins & Grins Sport Fishing. But a few drum began to be boated on Delaware Bay, and the fishing usually kicks in by May’s second week. Trips will target them soon. Blackfish bit in the ocean, and blackfish season will be closed beginning Sunday. Though big bluefish swam at some places, none really held in the back bay at Wildwood yet. Blues filled the bay in past springs. Crabbing was excellent for the time of year, and a neighbor trapped them. Fins runs crabbing trips in summer, even. Relax aboard the bay and let the captain find the blueclaws. Fins is slated to fish every day, and reservations aren’t required but suggested. Telephone for availability.

Cape May
Lots of damp, cloudy weather for the moment, and no trip sailed in the weather in northeast wind Wednesday, said Capt. Paul from the party boat Porgy IV. No trip fished Tuesday either, in south wind to 25 or 30 knots. But a few blackfish, including a few limits, were batted aboard Monday. Bob Key from southeast Pennsylvania limited out and won the pool with a 13-1/2-pounder that he released that day. Anglers who limited on the trip also included Jerry Levine from South Jersey and John Riccardi from Williamstown. A few blackfish were scooped aboard Saturday, but not many were on Sunday. A big crowd fished Sunday aboard, and that can make blackfishing tough. The best places to fish can be limited then. If a small wreck is fished, only people on that part of the boat might catch. If a large wreck is fished, large wrecks are picked over by this late in blackfish season. The Porgy IV is blackfishing at 8 a.m. daily through Saturday, the final day of blackfish season. Afterward, trips will fish for drum on Delaware Bay from 2 to 10 p.m. Reservations are required for those trips, and when those outings will begin depends on when enough drum begin biting. They’ll at least begin by May 7. Drum boated on the bay began to be heard about occasionally. Drum were sometimes hauled from the surf, too. Striped bass were also angled in the surf. Drum and stripers showed up in nets on the Delaware side of the bay. Things were picking up.

A few boaters planned to fish for drum on Delaware Bay this weekend, said Capt. George from the Heavy Hitter. Strong wind blew most of the week, preventing much boating. A few drum that began to be decked from the bay last weekend was the most recent news. George mentioned the catches in the last report here. Heavy Hitter sails for drum in May, and telephone if interested. Charters aboard blackfished on the ocean last weekend, covered in the last report, and blackfish season will be closed beginning Sunday. George saw quite a few anglers fishing the Cape May ferry jetty on Delaware Bay when returning up Cape May Canal from the blackfishing. Once striped bass spawn in Delaware River and begin heading to the ocean, striper fishing is usually good in the area. Surf anglers often plug them. Stripers swim to the ocean then on the migration north to cooler water for summer.

Sounded like good striped bass fishing began to take off in the surf, mostly along Delaware Bay, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. Lures caught well, but clams and bunker also scored. Mostly stripers were angled from the shore, but a few big blues were socked there. Sometimes drum were clammed from the beach. Boaters had little opportunity to fish for drum on the bay in weather this week. But some were definitely boated, and they should be able to be caught. The back bay tossed up big blues and gave up stripers sometimes. Out-of-season summer flounder began to bite in the back bay, and the season will be opened beginning May 21. Good blackfishing was clutched along jetties and on the ocean at Cape May Reef, when boaters could reach the reef in the weather. Boaters hoped they’d get the weather before blackfish season is closed beginning Sunday. Fresh clams are stocked, and fresh bunker are expected this evening. Green crabs are carried.

Last Monday's Report
Staten Island

Outcast Charters began fishing for the year, limiting out early on striped bass on Raritan Bay on Sunday morning, Capt. Joe said. Seemed a morning bite, and a few more bit after the initial catches, and then the angling seemed to taper off. Weighing 15 to 20 pounds, the stripers were bagged on live and chunked herring. Both seemed to catch equally, and a few bluefish were also boated. Charters are available from both Staten Island, N.Y., and Sewaren, N.J. Trips from Jersey will sail for sea bass when Jersey’s sea bass season is opened May 23 through June 19.


Striped bass to 36 pounds, including many heavier than 25, were plowed from Raritan Bay with the Down Deep Fleet, very good fishing, Capt. Mario said. The bass were hooked on chunked and livelined bunker, and a few were trolled on Mojos. Open-boat trips are fishing for stripers daily on the Down Deep Bull, one of the company’s two boats, both 40 feet. Striper charters are available. The Down Deep, the other boat, will sail on the season’s final two open trips for blackfish on Wednesday and Thursday. Space is available, and blackfish season will be closed beginning Sunday. Blackfish charters are also available, and both boats can accommodate up to 15 passengers. Book fluke and sea bass trips for when those seasons will be opened beginning May 21 and 23, respectively. Join the Short Notice List on Down Deep’s website to be kept informed about open trips. See available dates on the calendar on the site. That includes dates for sea bass trips, and sea bass season will be open May 23 through June 19, less than a month.

Fishing for striped bass was on fire on Raritan Bay on the Vitamin Sea, except on Thursday, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. These were big stripers to 41 inches. On Thursday, the fish were marked, but wouldn’t bite, and the angling was no good. On Friday, the same fish bit their heads off. Saturday morning was the same, and Saturday afternoon “was just insane,” he said. Wind blew strongly Sunday morning, but that failed to bother stripers. The boat limited out before 8 a.m. More and more stripers will pour into the bay in the next weeks. “If you are waiting for a better bite, I don’t think you’ll find one,” he said. Anglers are fortunate for this fishery in the bay. More and bluefish are showing up in the bay. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing. Tuesday, May 3, and 2 to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 7, are available for charter or open-boat. A Working Man’s Special is available 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, May 4. Like Vitamin Sea’s Facebook page to keep up on daily reports and to see photos.

Atlantic Highlands

Striped bass fishing was tough, poor, on the party boat Atlantic Star, Capt. Tom said. But trips are trying for them twice daily, an opportunity to fish for stripers. Maybe the bite will turn around on a trip. The boat fished all different places on Raritan Bay, including Flynn’s Knoll and the back of the bay. Sometimes stripers were trolled on other boats that were heard about, but the bass weren’t taking bait fished on the Atlantic Star. A few bluefish began to be seen, and anglers can bring two rods, one for bait for stripers, and another for jigs or rubber shads for blues. A bluefish was decked on Sunday morning’s trip, and maybe blues will begin to fill a void. The Atlantic Star is fishing for striped bass 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m. daily.

One angler won Friday’s pool with a 16-pound striped bass and landed two more stripers on the trip on the Fishermen, Capt. Ron wrote in a report on the party boat’s website. That was the most recent report posted at press time, and another angler reeled in two on the outing, but most of the anglers caught none. Those fish boated came from the season’s first stripers seen feeding along the water surface this year aboard. That didn’t last long, because the tide was ending. Throwbacks were hooked at the end of the trip, but the angling still wasn’t good. “Soon!” Ron wrote. The Fishermen is sailing for striped bass 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 3:30 to 9:30 Sundays.


Tuna-Tic Sportfishing began fishing Friday for the year, for striped bass on Raritan Bay, limiting out on the trip, Capt. Mike said. Trips Saturday morning and afternoon and Sunday morning also limited, and a trip was fishing Sunday afternoon when he gave this report in a phone call aboard. Morning trips limited early, and afternoon trips had to work somewhat harder, but caught all big stripers 38 inches to 44 inches. Plenty of stripers to 44 inches filled the bay. The trips mostly trolled them, and that caught the biggest stripers. Some were hooked on livelined bunker, and clams landed smaller stripers. The fishing was good and should only become better. A couple of afternoons and some weekdays are available for charters. An open-boat trip will fish on Mother’s Day, if anglers express interest. The trip would depart early, like 5 a.m., and return early, like 12 noon, so anglers can spend time with mom.


Fishing will be launched this weekend for the year and space is available with Last Lady Fishing Charters, Capt. Ralph said. Individual-reservation trips will sail for blackfish Saturday, the final day of blackfish season, and for cod, pollock, ling and winter flounder Sunday. For the blackfishing, white leggers, fresh clams and shrimp will be aboard, and the crabs and clams have been scarce. An individual-reservation trip for sea bass has been added for June 8, because only two spots remain for one on May 27. Two of the trips are sold out May 23 and 24, and sea bass season will be open May 23 through June 19, less than a month.


A trip Saturday was postponed with Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters, because not a lot of striped bass arrived in the ocean yet, Capt. Pete said. The migration should fill the ocean any moment, and should really get going after the next full moon. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Book an individual space on a charter that needs anglers. Visit Parker Pete’s website to subscribe to the email blast to be kept informed about the spaces. Also see a trip calendar, where available dates are posted, on the site.

On the Golden Eagle, Saturday and Sunday were tough days of fishing for striped bass and blues, a report said on the party boat’s website. Fish were around, “but getting them to chew is another story,” it said. “I think once we get past this full moon, things should turn around,” it said. No trips were expected to sail today and Tuesday, because of forecasts for weather this afternoon to Tuesday. Trips for stripers and blues, slated for 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, are expected to resume Wednesday.


Ocean striped bass fishing slowed somewhat in past days, because south wind cooled the water, said Eric from The Reel Seat. The fish had begun to be boated a little, previously. Surf anglers picked a few schoolies from Island Beach State Park to Sandy Hook. Striper fishing was excellent on Raritan Bay on trolled Mojos, spoons and umbrella rigs. Chartreuse seemed to catch best, after white did previously. The bay’s boaters could land all the bluefish they wanted. Blues sometimes were run across in the ocean near the shop, and blues often shot through Manasquan Inlet in mornings and evenings. Blues were fought in Manasquan River off the old hospital on the tides. The river’s winter flounder fishing was a slow pick but nabbed some. The river’s flounder anglers hooked some big blowfish on clams. Blues and stripers were angled from Point Pleasant Canal, mostly on outgoing tides. Back on the ocean, blackfishing was good at local reefs and wrecks, and shallow water seemed to fish best for them, like 40 or 50 feet off Deal. Clams seemed to catch more than crabs did. Cod fishing was fair on the ocean, if boaters fished the right wreck.

Point Pleasant Beach

Angling picked some blackfish Wednesday on the Norma-K III, Capt. Matt wrote in a report on the party boat’s website. Some of the anglers scored well, “and others had a tough day,” he said. Life was found at each drop. “It seemed like you would catch them right away and that was it,” he said. “The life would not build up while sitting there a while.” The trip made quite a few drops, so a catch was put together. Blackfishing was slower on Thursday’s trip. Some were picked, but the life wasn’t as good. Wind blew up from the south pretty hard, and that didn’t help. An 8-pounder was the pool-winning blackfish. That was the most recent report posted at press time, and the Norma-K III is blackfishing 7:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. through Saturday, the final day of blackfish season.

Seaside Heights

Catches of keeper striped bass erupted in the surf Saturday morning on swimming plugs and bait, a report said on The Dock Outfitters website. “A decent bite,” it said, and shorts to keepers and medium-sized blues began to be beached Friday more than before. The reports rolled in from Seaside Park and Island Beach State Park that day, and lures, cut bunker and clams caught. In Barnegat Bay, bluefish, sometimes good catches, were honked on popper lures, swimmers and metal. Sometimes stripers were yanked from the bay. Keeper crabs were plucked from the dock, “no real blitz, but decent catches for this time of the year, for those willing to put in the time,” it said. The Dock Outfitters, located on Barnegat Bay, blocks from the ocean surf, features a bait and tackle shop, a café, a dock for fishing and crabbing and, in season, boat and jet-ski rentals.

Barnegat Light

The year’s first fishing is booked for May 21 on the Super Chic, Capt. Ted said. The first trips will probably sail mostly for sea bass and bluefish. Striped bass will be targeted if they’re in. Trips are being booked, and the boat’s in the yard, being readied to install new fuel tanks, and the maintenance will probably take that long to be finished. Currently, good-sized bluefish were fought on Barnegat Bay toward Waretown, Forked River or the Forked River power plant. They were hit on top-water lures in mornings and evenings, he guessed, and were trolled the rest of the day. Not many stripers were heard about from the ocean yet this year, and a few were caught in the bay. Two Fridays ago was the last time Ted heard about stripers boated on the ocean. Last week was relatively warm and sunny, and this week should be, too. That might warm water, amping up fishing.

The Miss Barnegat Light will begin fishing for the year on Memorial Day weekend, from that Friday to Monday, sailing for blues, the boat’s website said. The trips will also fish on the weekends of June 3 through 5 and 10 through 12. Half-day fluke trips will sail daily beginning June 17 through September 25, the final day of fluke season. Sea bass could be in the mix on those outings, when sea bass season is opened. Different seasons and regulations will be open for sea bass throughout the year. Evening cruises will be available in summer, and tuna trips will steam in fall. The tuna fishing had been on hiatus and resumed last fall and was a success.

Mystic Island

Graveling Point gave up a bluefish blitz Saturday morning, a report said on Scott’s Bait & Tackle’s website. Each angler banked a couple of the fish, it said, and boaters lit into blues at Grassy Channel then. Drum fishing held steady around Graveling. Incoming tides and evening and nights usually produce best. Grassy Channel can hold them this time of year, too. Striped bass fishing was sporadic, and sometimes stripers were plentiful someplace, and the spots kept changing. Side creeks and rivers off Mullica River were good places to try for them, namely Nacote, Ballanger and Oyster creeks and Bass and Wading rivers “… and up around the Mullica River bridge,” it said. Outgoing tides, flushing out bait, could fish best. Sand sharks and skates gathered at Little Egg Inlet.


Some big striped bass were plundered from Mullica River, said Capt. Dave from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center. Photos of some were posted on the shop’s Facebook page, and Dave’s nephew’s son also landed a couple. They were a 43-incher that was a spawned-out female and a 37-incher, and the nephew also lost a couple. The river’s stripers seemed to be reaching peak spawning, and they’re hungry after they spawn. Plenty of herring and bunker swam the river, and the fishery was looking good. Big, slammer bluefish seemed to swim back waters nearly everywhere, including from Great Egg Harbor Inlet to Absecon Inlet, and behind Absecon Inlet. The blues didn’t seem schooled much anywhere yet, but all who fished for them fought a couple. Anglers hope the fish will gang up more, and enough bait is around, like in the Mullica, to make the blues do that. The Landisville Gun Club’s white perch tournament, the big, annual tournament, was this weekend, and results were yet to be known. But perch fishing was improving, and the perch are holding far upstream in rivers for spawning. A couple of keeper blackfish are biting along Brigantine Bridge. Weather wasn’t so fit for blackfishing on the ocean. A few more green crabs will be stocked to get through this final week of blackfish season. Fresh clams and fresh bunker are stocked. Dave expects to net bunker from Mullica River to keep fresh. The Take It to the Limit Summer Flounder Tournament, benefitting the Save the Summer Flounder Fishery Fund, will be held at the shop on May 21, opening day of flounder season. The event features great prizes and major sponsors, and check it out.


Big bluefish were wrestled from the surf, including today, a report said on Riptide Bait & Tackle’s website. The lead changed a number of times in the bluefish category in the shop’s striped bass and bluefish derby in past days, and an angler today took over with a 12-pounder. Another angler today beached a 7-pounder. A 27-pound drum was hauled from the surf Thursday, covered in the last report here. A 19-pounder was checked-in from the surf Saturday. A couple of drum were heaved from the surf recently. Clams for bait are becoming substantially scarce, a trend in recent years. Fresh clams were available, but were small. The price kept increasing. Clams might need to be regulated tighter.

Atlantic City

Lots of schoolie striped bass were nabbed, torpedo blues showed up, blackfish were bagged and a 29-inch, out-of-season summer flounder was released, said Noel from One Stop Bait & Tackle. Fishing was on and cracking, he said, and the stripers were bloodwormed at the T-jetty and nearby jetties in the surf. The blues to 13 pounds showed up late last week in that area, and now were fought daily from there to the bay, on bunker. They had bitten in the bay previously. The blackfish, good-sized, were hung from the T to along Absecon Inlet. The T is on the ocean end of the jetty-lined inlet. The flounder was released from the T. Baits stocked, a large supply, include bloodworms, fresh bunker, fresh clams and green crabs. Bunker are $2 apiece or three for $5. Bloodworms are on special on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for $20 for two dozen.

Sea Isle City

Tim Adkins and buddy on Sunday fly-rodded bluefish 9 to 15 pounds, lots, and a striped bass on the back bay aboard, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service and Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. Very, very good, Joe said, and Joe Herter that afternoon, fishing with soft-plastic lures on jigheads on a spinning rod, smashed the big blues on every cast at times aboard. On Saturday morning, Rick Clark, his son and Rick’s buddy tackled the big blues to 14 pounds non-stop on spinning rods and jigs aboard. Some of these blues have been as long as a leg, like 34 inches. In the afternoon, John Mattiacci’s family whipped the blues to 14 pounds and a striper on jigs on the boat. The fishing, all on the bay, has been great, “bordering on world-class,” Joe said. He didn’t know if he wanted to say world-class, because people might not believe. But it’s been awesome. The blues have been abundant, and none have been small. The fish were sub-surface, not seen. Anglers wouldn’t know the blues were there, until hooking them. Joe hadn’t fished for them with popper lures or popper flies this weekend, because the fish were subsurface, and fishing under the water was better. The flies fished during the weekend were Clousers on intermediate lines or floating lines, for instance. That worked best for flies. But anglers aboard hooked the fish on poppers previously this season. The bay was in the mid-50 degrees and was beginning to warm. So the blues were spreading throughout the bay, and that was good, instead of holding at specific spots. None of the weekend’s trips hooked out-of-season summer flounder, and weren’t fishing in ways likely to do that. But trips aboard released flounder that bit in the bay previously this season, and Joe knew anglers who continued to land the flounder. The fluke season will be opened May 21, and fishing for the flounder is best in the early season in South Jersey’s shallow, warm bays. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s Blog.

Cape May

Blackfishing sailed Saturday and Sunday on the Heavy Hitter, Capt. George said. That was the year’s first fishing aboard, and blackfishing was weathered out the previous weekend on the boat. The angling was decent, didn’t limit out, but bagged decent numbers of keepers to 3 and 4 pounds, none huge. Plenty of throwbacks bit, and Saturday’s trip, Bill Brennan’s charter, scored non-stop bites and more keepers and better-sized blackfish than Sunday’s trip, Tom Ebbecke’s charter, did. Saturday’s weather was better, and northeast wind blew probably 15 to 20 knots on Sunday, and seas were bumpy then. The tautog preferred clams for bait, and hardly touched crabs. A couple were hooked on crabs Saturday. Clams have been scarce for bait. Telephone if interested in blackfishing, because the tog are biting, and the season for them will be closed beginning Sunday. Heavy Hitter will fish for drum on Delaware Bay in May, and a buddy’s trip cranked up two drum, including one sizeable or 70-some pounds, from the bay Saturday. Some drum were caught that day on the bay. George knew about another trip that headed for drum Sunday on the bay, but turned back, because of white caps. Though wind blew northeast on the ocean Sunday on the Heavy Hitter’s trip, wind blew northwest inland. Westerly wind can rough up Delaware Bay on the New Jersey side. The trip that turned back expected to return and fish for drum that night, Sunday night, on the bay.