Winds howled, but Capt. Frank from the Vitamin Sea and a friend on Monday ran a recon trip for striped bass and winter flounder, Frank wrote in an email. Four stripers and four flounder were managed in 3 hours of fishing in “kind of junky” conditions, he said. Stripers certainly migrated to the bay, and sea lice clutched onto more than before. The flounder caught were all large, up to 19 inches. Frank expected to run another recon trip this morning, and send an update aboard that will be posted here if he does. The boat’s next charters will fish Friday through the weekend. Space remains for fishing aboard Saturday afternoon, and winds are supposed to calm by then, and weather is supposed to be good. Like Vitamin Sea’s Facebook page for real-time reports and open-boat dates. “Get your dose of Vitamin Sea!” ***Update, Thursday, 4/17:*** “So far some shorts this morning,” Frank wrote in an email at 9 a.m. in the update he expected to send. He included a photo of one of the fish that’ll be posted on this site’s photo pages.
Striped bass, good catches, were boated last night on Raritan Bay close to shore, like at Keyport, said Jimmy from Julian’s Bait & Tackle. Boaters hoped the fish would bite during the day today on the bay. Maybe they’d need to wait for more time to pass since the full moon. Stripers were pasted in Navesink River on worms under bobbers, sometimes on plugs. Stripers were tugged form Shrewsbury River at the rip off the Wind and Sea Restaurant in Highlands. A few winter flounder were boated near Oceanic Bridge, but weather was tough. Winds also made surf fishing for stripers tough along the ocean. One trip on a charter boat tried for blackfish on the ocean. The trip first fished for stripers at the clam boats, and gannets dove into the waters. Then the outing blackfished, never scoring a bite. On the way home, stripers swirled the water surface in three areas, migrating north, but wouldn’t bite.
On the party boat Atlantic Star, striped bass fishing was docked since Monday, including today, because of weather, Capt. Tom said. He’ll try to sail again Friday, and the Atlantic Star is fishing for stripers on two trips daily from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m., and clams are provided for bait. Only the morning trip will sail this Easter Sunday. ***Update, Saturday, 4/19:*** Though the morning trip “kind of went the wrong way” on Friday, Tom said, a couple of keeper striped bass and some shorts were decked on the afternoon trip, Tom said. Boats with a few stripers were heard about during the morning trip elsewhere, so the Atlantic Star was sailed there on the afternoon trip. The angling was no great shakes, but at least some bass were boated, a nice improvement, he said. *** Another Update, Saturday, 4/19:*** The fishing gave up more action this morning than before, Tom said in a phone call aboard at 3 p.m. today. A few keepers and some shorts were landed, but quite a few fish were dropped, for some reason. One girl lost three fish, for instance. The angling wasn’t great, but people were seen catching, including on private boats, including on vessels that trolled. Anglers needed a little patience, waiting out the bass. An angler might get a hit, or miss one, then wait for another. The fishing wasn’t consistent yet, but the improvement was good news. Tom hoped that continues, and he reminded that only the morning trip will sail on Easter Sunday. Two trips daily will resume Monday.
From Twin Lights Marina, the charter boats Fisher Price and Hyper Striper sailed for striped bass, Marion said. One had a trip booked today, and two tomorrow, she knew. But whether today’s trip would get the weather to sail seemed questionable, because of winds. Marion was unsure where the boats fished, but both vessels, who contribute reports to this site, fished Raritan Bay lately, they reported recently. Customers started getting boats ready to fish. Twin Lights, conveniently located on Shrewsbury River near the bay, with no bridges before the bay and ocean, features a marina, boat storage, a tackle shop and ship’s store, and a fuel dock. Fresh clams were yet to become in demand, and maybe will be in a week. But the shop stocks fresh and live baits like that, including live bunker, when in demand. Baits carried during the season include the full selection from inshore to offshore baits, like the different flats of baitfish for offshore.
Some anglers withstood wind and cold to catch winter flounder and blackfish, Bob from Fisherman’s Den wrote in an email. In the previous report, he said the flounder bit in Shark and Manasquan rivers, and the blackfish chomped in Point Pleasant Canal. The store’s rental boats are available to fish for the flounder on the Shark. “Reliable reports,” he said, came in about small striped bass and bluefish that swam along Barnegat Bay’s sod banks. Those are the first bluefish mentioned on this site this season. Another trout was weighed in from Spring Lake at the store: Denis Newcombe from Wall’s 6-pound 14-ounce brown. A 9-pound rainbow was before, covered here previously. Bob, a surf angler, hopes to start fishing the beach for stripers in the next days. The fish “should be here soon,” he said.
Winds were forecast to blow to 20 or 25 knots through today, and Friday’s forecast remained questionable for boating, a report on the party boat Golden Eagle’s website said. But the good news was that forecasts looked good for this weekend and beyond. The Golden Eagle is fishing for striped bass at 7:30 a.m. daily.
The Katie H is in the water and ready to fish, Capt. Mike said. The season’s first charters will probably sail for striped bass on the ocean, and stripers usually start to be caught first on Raritan Bay. That angling seemed yet to start, but could break open any day. Sea bass fishing on the ocean could be the next angling on the boat, when sea bass season is opened May 19. The Katie H fishes inshore, but is also known as an offshore specialist. The trips for big game will begin with sharking, usually during the tournaments around Fathers’ Day around June 20. Next will be fishing for bluefin tuna relatively close to shore, 30 or 40 miles out. That sometimes begins in early June, depending on water temperature and bait. Sometimes the bluefins are footballs, and sometimes 40- and 50-pounders or 100-pounders. Mahi mahi are often boated on those trips. Trips for yellowfin tuna, all the way offshore at the canyons along the Continental Shelf, usually begin with daytime trolling aboard in July, when warm eddies usually begin to flow into those waters. Overnight fishing for yellowfins at the canyons usually starts on the boat in August, when the tuna begin to bite at night, and lasts as long as boatable weather lasts into autumn. The crew’s been busy on seasonal maintenance and upgrades to the boat. That even includes a new coffee machine and a crock pot, like for sausages and meatballs. A new website is being built for the vessel. The 46-foot Katie H features speed and all the amenities.
The party boat Jamaica II was sold, and a new boat will replace the vessel, Capt. Joe said. That was also covered in a previous report, and the new vessel will be named the Jamaica II. Trips are expected to resume on June 1, fishing for fluke and sea bass on the usual schedule: two half-day trips daily from Tuesdays through Sundays, and one full-day trip on Mondays.
Sunny days would help, but winter flounder were plucked from the Toms River and Oyster Creek, said Mario from Murphy’s Hook House. Small stripers were bloodwormed or plugged on swimming lures on the Toms at night. They were bloodwormed, swimming-plugged or clammed from the creek, and that’s the discharge from Forked River power plant. From the surf, a couple of customers said they clammed small stripers. That was pretty much the news in the cold these last two days. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, recently bought Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River, and is running both shops how.
Small striped bass were yanked from Oyster Creek, said Kyle from Grizz’s Forked River Bait & Tackle. No winter flounder were heard about from the creek, the Forked River power plant’s discharge. But one boater talked about landing flounder on Barnegat Bay off Good Luck Point. One weakfish was reported lifted from the creek, a week or two ago. No bluefish were known to be found so far this season. Sandworms, bloodworms, killies and nightcrawlers are stocked.
One angler who scored two taps in the surf was the only reported action this week in gusting winds and cold waters, said Sue from Surf City Bait & Tackle. A throwback striper was clammed in the surf at North Beach last week. Lots of throwback stripers had been talked about from the Mystic Island and Graveling Point area and Oyster Creek, the discharge from Forked River power plant. Winter flounder had been cranked from along the Causeway Bridge. That was all before this week’s weather. Anglers sometimes tried for blackfish along Barnegat Inlet’s rocks, but no results were reported. One of Barnegat Light’s party boats is supposed to begin wreck fishing this weekend on the ocean, and Sue thought another began that angling last weekend. Fresh clams, sandworms, bloodworms and green crabs are stocked.
The year’s first black drum was weighed in this week, said Chris from Scott’s Bait & Tackle. The 20-pounder was banked at Graveling Point, and lots of schoolie striped bass, averaging 22 to 25 inches, nipped for shore anglers at Graveling and nearby Pebble Beach. The annual $100 gift certificate to the store was still available for the season’s first shore angler to stop in with a keeper striper from Graveling or Pebble. In the shop’s past years, the first was always checked in during March, so the season was becoming late. Stripers migrating up the coast were heard about, so the large, mature ones were around, and stripers in local waters weren’t necessarily just younger, small fish yet to migrate. A boater weighed in a 29-inch keeper Saturday from off Graveling, but that wasn’t eligible for the certificate. Anglers now waited for the year’s bluefish, and another annual, $100 gift certificate to the store will be awarded to the season’s first angler who comes by with a blue from Graveling or Pebble. That could happen any time, and Graveling and Pebble, located toward the confluence of Mullica River and Great Bay, each year are some of the state’s first places to turn out stripers and blues. The relatively warmer river apparently attracts them at the confluence, and the locations are simply accessible to anglers. Lots of white perch swam the river. Bloodworms, fresh, shucked clams and green crabs are stocked. Grass shrimp are currently stocked, but telephone to confirm. Minnows should be on hand for the weekend.
The striped bass migration still eased into local waters, Capt. Dave from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center said. Weather was tough, and ice formed on the porch Tuesday morning. But striper fishing improved recently. Shore anglers clammed the fish at Lakes Bay off Route 40 and Absecon Bay off Route 30. Fishing sounded similar from shore at Graveling Point on Great Bay, giving up a “fast” bite. But no keepers were heard about from Graveling. A few keepers caught from bays were known about. More keepers should start to show up, since the full moon passed, whether that’s a matter of temperatures rising a couple of degrees or a couple of days passing. Blueclaw crabs were yet to be trapped, and even commercial crabbers potted almost none. This cold even delayed that this year. In brackish rivers, perch fishing was “holding,” Dave said. The cold might’ve delayed them from spawning, but fishing for them was already good, and will probably become very good. One angler reported bagging two blackfish at the jetty at Absecon Inlet in Atlantic City, and a few small blackfish hooked were heard about from other jetties there and along the Causeway Bridge to Ocean City. Plenty of fresh clams are stocked, and are currently the favorite bait, for stripers in the bays. Plenty of bloodworms are carried, and Dave wasn’t asked whether green crabs are. But the crabs were stocked the last time he was asked. Grass shrimp are the most difficult to keep on hand, but the shop is stocking them when possible, and has suppliers working on them. The $100 gift certificate to the store is still up for grabs for the angler who weighs in the season’s first 20-pound striper. So is another for the same amount for the first 30-pounder or larger. A rod and reel combo prize is still available for the first girl age 12 or younger to catch and check in a striper this year. The same prize for the first boy was already won. Now that summer flounder regulations were approved, the shop’s annual, free Grand Slam Customer Appreciation Tournament is set for Friday through Sunday, May 23 through 25, opening weekend of the flounder season. Prizes will be awarded for the largest summer flounder, weakfish, bluefish, striped bass and black drum. The shop’s tournament for the heaviest stringer of five white perch will start this weekend.
Surf anglers winged a few throwback striped bass last week, but weather was horrible this week, said Capt. Andy from Riptide Bait & Tackle. Clams hooked them, and the anglers fished bloodworms sometimes, but clams were the bait so far. A half-bushel of fresh clams remained at the store today, but would sell out soon, and weather that kept clam boats from sailing will keep more from being stocked Friday. Fresh bunker should be stocked, though, because the shop’s local supplier expects to net the menhaden. Bloodworms are on hand. The Riptide Striper Bounty is up to $1,535 that will be awarded to the angler who checks in the season’s first striper 43 inches or larger from Brigantine’s surf. The bounty was never won last fall, so the money will be awarded this spring. Entry is $5, and anglers must register at least 24 hours before entering a fish. The bounty last year was rolled over like that and reached $2,005, and was won on May 27, with a 46-incher that weighed 32 pounds. A $50 gift certificate to the store will be awarded to the angler who weighs in the year’s first keeper striper from the town’s surf. So will one for the first boated off Brigantine. The Fish for Life Tournament is under way until May 26. Entry allows beach buggy access along Brigantine’s entire front beach with a Brigantine beach-buggy permit, instead of limited access with a permit without entering. Anglers can sign up at Riptide.
Striped bass, small, but catches, were reeled from Lakes Bay, on bloodworms, clams and pink Zooms, said Noel from One Stop Bait & Tackle. That included toward the pumping station, Bayport One and behind Pleasantville High School. A few blackfish were nabbed along jetty rocks on clams and crabs. Customers often fish nearby, jetty-lined Absecon Inlet. When weather was better, more people fished. When a day was raw, not as many did. But fish were caught when they did. Baits stocked include fresh clams, bloodworms, green crabs and frozen baits. Minnows just began to be carried. Pretty much all baits are stocked except fresh bunker.
Before this week’s weather and snow, white perch gave up action more than before in practically any of the local rivers, said Justin from Fin-Atics. Striped bass, sometimes bigger ones, came from the rivers, and the fishing was spotty. Weakfish reportedly held toward Sea Isle City at Ludlam Bay and northern Corson’s Inlet. The only details about blackfish mentioned was that an angler bagged two at the Absecon Inlet jetty at Atlantic City on a trip. One customer said he saw another angler lose two sizeable blackfish along the Causeway Bridge. Another was heard talking about boating blackfish on the ocean, but the location wasn’t heard, and whether the trip even sailed from a local port was unknown. Justin wondered whether either of those two reports was worth mentioning. Bloodworms, fresh, shucked clams and green crabs are stocked.
Sea Isle City
No trips fished aboard in brutal weather in past days, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service and Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. He waited for that to pass, but his trips aboard landed his season’s first weakfish, summer flounder and striped bass on Saturday and Sunday, from the back bay, covered in the last report. The fish surely remained, and might’ve become somewhat sluggish in the cold. But the angling started, and is some of the year’s best. This was the time to get aboard. Bluefish should arrive in the bay any moment. Flounder season will be opened on May 23, and the fish were released. Anglers enjoy catching and releasing them until then. Joe this weekend will trailer his boat back to Sea Isle City that he sailed on annual traveling charters to the Florida Keys since winter. All his attention will be turned to Sea Isle. Joe runs several boats, and the others remained in Sea Isle. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s blog.
Was windy this week, but throwback striped bass had been beached from shore along Delaware Bay at the ferry jetty, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. Bloodworms on float rigs or clams fished along bottom grabbed them. Sometimes the bass were plugged along the ocean surf, the 2nd Avenue Cove or off the convent. Nothing was heard about boating for stripers on Delaware Bay, but the bunker supplier found a couple of 35-inch stripers in the nets. No blackfish were known to chew along the jetties. But waters were warming, and they could bite any day. Fresh clams, bloodworms, green crabs and sometimes fresh bunker are stocked.
The Heavy Hitter is supposed to blackfish Friday and Saturday, Capt. George said. No fishing on boats was heard about in the weather. But one of the Heavy Hitter’s mates kept fishing for striped bass from shore at Elsinboro on Delaware Bay. He bloodwormed lots of small stripers and sometimes 34- and 35-nchers. He usually catches on clams, bunker or bloods, but the ratio on bloods was higher this year. The Heavy Hitter is fishing for blackfish and stripers, if stripers can be boated. Drum trips will begin in May. The boat was splashed for the season this weekend, and the water was 52 degrees at the marina then. But Delaware Bay now might be in the high 40s, and, according to the online report, the ocean was 45.1 degrees at the Delaware Bay buoy this morning.
Weather kept blackfishing docked since Monday on the party boat Porgy IV, Capt. Paul said. But trips fished for the tautog Saturday and Sunday aboard. The angling was no good Saturday, during a big ground swell. On Sunday, catches improved, and no great numbers of the fish bit, but a couple of anglers bagged three. A bunch of throwbacks were released, and larger blackfish were sometimes heard about from trips that sailed farther offshore. The angling was yet to become good inshore, where the Porgy fishes, but at least a few of the fish went home with anglers, and Paul hopes more will be bagged when trips sail again. The fishing’s got to improve, as waters warm sometime. Since the weekend, winds blew, and weather turned cold, and snow was on the roof and windshields on Tuesday morning. Winds were expected to keep today’s trip docked, and whether Friday’s trip will get the weather to sail was unsure. Paul expected to resume fishing at least on Saturday. The Porgy IV is blackfishing at 8 a.m. daily, except no trip will sail this Easter Sunday.