***Update, Thursday, 2/26:*** Water at the docks wasn’t really frozen, but the wintry weather made it difficult to get time to work on maintenance and upgrades to the boat, even, said Capt. Garrett Laws from Judith Anne Fishing Charters. Fishing aboard is launched during the first week of May, beginning with striped bass trips on the ocean. The trips will search for bunker to castnet the baitfish or snag them on snagging hooks and liveline the menhaden for bait. But if no bunker are schooling, the trips will jig or troll for the stripers. Gear aboard includes downriggers to troll lines deep, helping make room to fish multiple lines, instead of using wire lines that could crowd up. Work and upgrades to the boat include side-scanning sonar, a new heater, an inverter for the microwave and coffee maker, seat cushions for better comfort, paint, inspecting all safety equipment, and more.
Been a long winter, Bob from Fisherman’s Den wrote in an email. Boats were mostly docked, and the store is open “on a limited basis,” he said. Not much fishing happened. But he hopes “that will change when March arrives, and maybe some warmer weather,” he said. Winter flounder season will be opened starting Sunday, the first day of March. Striped bass season will also be opened that day in bays and rivers. Striper fishing is open year-round in the ocean. The openings were something for anglers to look forward to. Some of the shop’s rental boats will be available to fish for flounder on Shark River, once flounder season is opened. A new striper bag limit should be approved by the opener. Many anglers are unhappy about the option that’s likely to be approved: one striper 28 inches to less than 43 inches, and one 43 inches or larger, per day, per angler. That’s compared with the current limit of two stripers 28 inches or larger. “Most say (the new regs) will do nothing to protect the larger breeding fish,” Bob said. “I have to agree. We will have to work with what we are given, and hope for the best. Keep warm and safe … .”
For Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters, fishing will begin for the season whenever that becomes possible in weather, Capt. Pete said. A couple of party boats, larger vessels, fished from Belmar currently, now and then. If catches like blackfish or cod can be made in April, trips with Parker Pete’s will begin then. Pete’s pretty confident striped bass will arrive in the ocean in May, and angling aboard will start by then, if not sooner. The striper bag limit is yet to be decided for the year, but a limit of one striper 28 inches to less than 43, and one 43 inches or larger, is apparently going to be the limit. A meeting is supposed to be held March 5 about whether a bonus tag will be available to bag an extra striper. Fluke fishing will be a next angling to sail on the boat, after striper fishing. The fluke bag limit is apparently going to be the same as last year or five fish 18 inches or larger, but the likely dates for fluke season are yet to become apparent. Meet the crew at the Parker Pete’s booth at the Greater Philadelphia Outdoor Sports Show in Oaks, Pa., on Thursday through Sunday, and at the Saltwater Fishing Expo in Somerset, N.J., on March 20 through 22.