Outcast Charters had been going to fish today for the first time this season, on a shakedown trip with the kids, Capt. Joe said. But forecasts for winds would probably cancel that. He had planned to fish for winter flounder, because striped bass fishing seemed yet to take off, and charters never want to sail for flounder in the two-flounder bag limit. Friends caught flounder, and the flatfish could be found. The season’s first striper trip aboard is currently booked for May 3, and several are booked for May. Joe expects to head out for stripers at least a few times before the beginning of May. But he likes to fish for stripers with bunker, waiting for the baitfish to migrate in. Trips will fish with clams for the bass if necessary. If bluefish migrate to the waters by then, trips will chase them. Trips are also available from Sewaren in New Jersey, including so anglers can follow Jersey’s regulations, including for sea bass. Jersey’s sea bass season will be opened May 19, and Outcast loves bottom-fishing like that.
Charters were rescheduled that were supposed to sail last Thursday through last weekend on the Vitamin Sea, because Raritan Bay’s striped bass fishing was still slow, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. But the angling was improving, for sure, he said. The next open-boat trip will fish 2 to 8 p.m. this coming Saturday, and a charter will sail that morning. More throwback stripers were hooked during the weekend than before. Winter flounder catches also improved, and all were good-sized, some of them 19 inches, and they bit sandworms. Like Vitamin Sea’s Facebook page for real-time reports and open-boat dates. “Get your dose of Vitamin Sea!”
The Down Deep started sailing for the season during the weekend, fishing for striped bass on Raritan Bay, Capt. Mario said. But the fishing was off to a slow start. The fish-finder read stripers loading the waters all over. But they refused to bite. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing. Sign up for the Short Notice List on the Down Deep’s website to be kept informed about open-boat dates, including special wreck-fishing trips and “marathon trips,” longer than the usual trip.
For Papa’s Angels Charters, the boat is supposed to be splashed Tuesday, Capt. Joe said. All maintenance was completed to launch the vessel for the season, and the storm that’s forecast might delay the launch. But if the vessel isn’t splashed Tuesday, it will be another day this week. The year’s first fishing aboard will clam for striped bass on Raritan Bay. Joe expects that the angling is slow, and the ocean will need to warm, and herring and other baitfish will need to school, for the catches to pick up. Open-boat trips will be available daily when no charter is booked. Telephone to reserve.
A trip Sunday morning was the only that fished on the party boat Atlantic Star this weekend, Capt. Tom said. The striped bass fishing, on Raritan Bay, was no good. None of the bass bit, and only a few skates were hooked. Tom had been ready to fish through the weekend, and this was the boat’s first fishing of the year. The trip fished three places on the bay, and Tom had figured the angling could be slow, and it turned out that way. The boat will fish again starting Thursday, giving the angling a chance to improve. Forecasts are calling for winds and rough weather in the next days anyway. Trips aboard started catching stripers from the bay around this time last year, and began fishing a week earlier. During the year before, the boat’s trips began catching the fish at the beginning of April. This past cold, snowy winter seemed to delay the bite. Starting Thursday, the Atlantic Star will resume striped bass fishing on two trips daily from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m. Clams are provided for bait.
Fisher Price Charters sailed for striped bass through the weekend on the back of Raritan Bay in the shallows, Capt. Derek said. The fishing improved on Saturday’s trip, and 14 throwbacks were landed, and more than 30 bites hit. Winds made the angling tough on Sunday’s trip, swinging the boat on anchor. A couple of throwbacks were landed, and fewer stripers bit than on the previous day. More bait than before was moving in, and so were more stripers. Bigger stripers were there, were even seen swimming along the surface, but just wouldn’t bite. Derek hopes the fishing just becomes better after the full moon. Reservations for charters are still being taken, and the next open-boat trips will sail Wednesday, Thursday and Friday afternoon. Telephone to climb aboard or to be kept informed about future open dates.
Only a few fish were boated Saturday and Sunday on the ocean with Last Lady Fishing Charters, so Capt. Ralph cancelled fishing aboard this week, he said. He expected to pull the boat today and do spring maintenance on the vessel, launching the boat next Monday to fish again. Only a couple of cod, one pollock and no blackfish were bagged in the two days of fishing. Winds made Sunday unfishable by 11:30 a.m.
Weather was great, and fishing was good on Saturday for customers from Fisherman’s Den, Bob wrote in an email. The year’s first striped bass was checked in from the surf, a 20-pounder that Chris Buchta from Toms River beached on fresh clam. Winter flounder fishing was the best of the season so far that day. Many of the flatfish, most of them keepers, were yanked from Shark and Manasquan rivers. The store’s rental boats are available to fish Shark River for them. Flounder fishing was good again on Sunday, and business was brisk, and angler enthusiasm was high. Worms and clams sold out, a good thing. One of Belmar’s party boat captains reported good fishing for ling Saturday. Bob also got a report about a keeper, 16-inch blackfish from Point Pleasant Canal that a customer reeled in. A freshwater angler, Dough Murray from Point Pleasant, stopped in with a 9-pound rainbow trout that he meal-wormed from Spring Lake. Bob hopes the sun keeps shining. Things started to come alive, he said, and he was glad to give positive news. “Seems like a long time coming,” he said.
Anglers wreck-fished Saturday on the Golden Eagle, a report on the party boat’s website said. They claimed a few keeper and throwback cod, some ling and a few throwback blackfish. The ocean held a swell at first, and once seas began to calm, fishing picked up. Weather was beautiful. No report about fishing was posted on Sunday. But a report that day said winds were expected to weather out trips today through Wednesday, and an update will be posted Tuesday on the vessel’s site. When the boat next fishes, it’ll sail for striped bass. The Golden Eagle is fishing at 7:30 a.m. daily.
Capt. Pete from Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters hopes to launch the boat by the end of the month, he said. The year’s first fishing aboard will paste striped bass on the ocean, and Pete hopes the fish start to arrive in the next weeks. They should, if the ocean temperature creeps up, if no conditions happen like southerly winds that chill the ocean near the coast. Boaters on the ocean currently picked a few cod, ling and blackfish. Shark River’s winter flounder anglers began to pick away at the flatfish better than before. 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 individual-spaces available on charters. Look for the place to sign up on the right side of the page.
Winter flounder fishing wasn’t bad, said Dave from The Reel Seat. The fish were socked from northern Barnegat Bay, and nobody who fished for them on Manasquan River was heard about. The fish seemed yet to move to the river to migrate toward the ocean. Small striped bass were sometimes mixed in with the flounder. Sometimes stripers to 20 pounds were heard about from Shrewsbury River. On the ocean, bottom-fishing was sort of slow, but boaters could scrape together a few ling, maybe a blackfish, and a cod or a pollock. In freshwater, trout fishing was good, including at Spring Lake, Shark River and Manasquan River. The shop began carrying bait and tackle for trout and panfish, in addition to saltwater supplies. The Reel Seat is now open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays through Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Point Pleasant Beach
After a quick trip to the boat yard for maintenance, the Mushin was steamed for cod on Thursday with three anglers, Capt. Alan wrote in an email. The trip crushed the fish: 55 cod to a 34-pound whopper, and four that weighed in the 20s. Plenty of throwback cod and a handful of ling and blackfish were pitched aboard. Sometimes multiple cod were hooked at once, the fish coming up left and right. The best was when three cod 34, 26 and 24 pounds were fought at once. Cod bit at all places fished, but much better at some spots than others. The best fishing was “where the dogfish were not,” he said. The cod were clocked on fresh clams, salted clams, diamond jigs and the new Black Dog jigs. Inshore and offshore charters are being booked. Mushin means a relaxed state of readiness. The crew pride themselves on sharing the concept on outdoor adventures.
A swell made anchoring a little tough on the ocean Saturday on the party boat Norma-K III, Capt. Matt wrote in a report on the vessel’s website. “But we managed,” he said, and a few cod were decked. But too few were taken “to go around the boat,” he said. Ling fishing was no good on the trip, and quite a few places were tried for them. Later, the trip pushed inshore to see if blackfish would bite. Matt nailed a keeper right away, and dropped one “that I wish I hooked!” he said. Then he planned to target them on Sunday’s trip, because there was life inshore. But the fishing was tough on Sunday’s trip, maybe because strong current ran, and the water was dirtier than on Saturday. A southerly wind chilled Sunday on the ocean. The trip swung in a few keeper blackfish, a few shorts, a few ling, and a few short cod. Matt hopes the ocean will keep warming, so more life will be seen inshore. Trips were expected to be weathered out today and Tuesday, and resume on Wednesday. The Norma-K III is fishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.
The annual $100 gift certificate to the store was still up for grabs for the angler who weighs in the first keeper striped bass from shore at Graveling Point or Pebble Beach, reports on Scott’s Bait & Tackle’s website said. But an 8-pound 29-inch keeper was checked in from a boat in the area on Saturday evening, “so it’s definitely time!” the report said. The shore in the area gave up plenty of throwbacks to 22 inches Wednesday and Thursday, a report said Thursday on the site. An angler on Friday at Graveling picked up a few throwbacks to 20 inches and a few eels on bloodworms in rough seas with white caps in winds, the angler posted on the site that day. The winds blew to 20 knots from the west, and the water was 48 degrees, “a bit cool,” he said. He thought the water would warm a little during the weekend, and by this week, “we should have a good run,” he said. Graveling and Pebble, shore-angling locations toward the confluence of Great Bay and Mullica River, turn out some of the state’s first stripers each year. The relatively warm river seems to attract the fish at the confluence, and the area is simply accessible to anglers. Sizeable white perch bit in the Mullica upstream from the Parkway Bridge on grass shrimp and bloods. Trout fishing was great at Tuckerton Lake.
Fresh bunker, the first of the season, 150 pounds, was stocked Friday at Riptide Bait & Tackle, a report on the shop’s website said. Fresh clams and bloodworms were also stocked. A couple of anglers said birds worked bait in the surf off the Seagull Motel that day, but no striped bass or bluefish seemed to chase the bait. The bunker supplier, who apparently netted the menhaden that day, said fairly stiff southeasterly winds blew, making the day chilly on the waters. On Saturday, the shop was busy with anglers, and no fish caught were reported. Customers Ken and Homer fished the surf early Saturday on Brigantine’s north end, saying the water was stained. The surf probably cleaned up on the tide change, and was probably clean in the middle of the island, away from the inlet. No news was posted after Saturday at press time. The $50 gift certificate remained available for the angler who weighs in the year’s first keeper striper from Brigantine’s surf. A $50 certificate was also available for the first boater with a keeper from off Brigantine. The Riptide Striper Bounty was up to $1,500 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. 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.
Fishing stayed docked this weekend on the Stray Cat, and apparently didn’t miss anything, Capt. Mike said. Not much seemed to be going on, he said. But special open-boat wreck-fishing trips will sail the ocean 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Friday on the Stray Cat. “Check out our super-low fares,” he said. A charter is booked Saturday, and no trips will fish this Easter Sunday. Open trips sail daily when no charter is booked, and fish with even one angler. Four baby blackfish and three baby sea bass showed up in Mike’s crab pots at the dock. That let him know that fish were around in the ocean, and angling’s been a matter of waters warming enough for them to bite. Plenty of crabs began to be potted in his traps. That included whites, greens, hermits, spiders and Asians. Looking ahead, mako shark charters will be launched at the beginning of May, fishing Mako Alley, Mike said, or places like Lempke Canyon and the 750 Square. Get your group together and sign up today, he said.
Sea Isle City
The year’s first summer flounder, weakfish and striped bass were cranked aboard this weekend, said Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service and Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. Summer flounder season will be opened May 23, and the fish were released. On a trip with his family Saturday, three flounder to 4 pounds and seven weaks to 7 or 8 pounds were beaten from the back bay. Strong winds created tough fishing Sunday on a trip with Mike Deckert on the bay, but four weaks to 6 pounds and a throwback striper were managed, during a shorter window of opportunity than on the previous trip. All the fish on the trips were landed on soft-plastic lures on lead jigheads, fished slowly along bottom. The bay was 52 to 56 degrees. Joe had thought that catches like these would start late after the cold winter, but the fishing was on schedule. Last year, his first flounder and striper came on April 9 and first weak on April 13. Joe’s first bluefish last year showed up on April 21. That was all on the bay. He ran across no blues yet this season, and heard about none. Fishing has started aboard, and should turn into some of the best of the year. Trips aboard usually whale all these species soon. Joe this weekend will spend one last moment fishing the Florida Keys this season, trailering the boat back to Sea Isle immediately afterward. That’s one of several boats he operates. He runs traveling charters to the Keys each year from Christmas to Easter. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on Jersey Cape’s blog.
On the Heavy Hitter, the season’s first trip is supposed to blackfish Friday, and the boat was splashed Saturday for the year, Capt. George said. The year’s first fishing aboard will also include charters for striped bass, clamming for them on Delaware Bay, if stripers are in. George so far heard about small stripers, sometimes better-sized mixed in, from the bay’s shore, at places like Elsinboro. Drum charters will fish the bay in May.