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.
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.
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.
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.