Mon., April 23, 2018
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Saltwater Fishing Report

Report from Monday, April 23.

| Keyport | Leonardo | Highlands | Neptune | Belmar | Brielle | Longport | Sea Isle City | Cape May | Last Thursday's Report |
THIS REPORT IS UPDATED CONTINUALLY TODAY
UNTIL ALL REPORTS ARE POSTED
AND IS EDITED AFTERWARD

THE REPORT IS UPDATED
EVERY MONDAY AND THURSDAY
AND EDITED EARLY THE NEXT MORNING
Last Thursday's Report
Sewaren

One of the crew from Dockside Bait & Tackle smashed a big striped bass from Sewaren Pier, Linda from the shop said. Stripers seemed to be slugged from the pier. Many anglers stopped in for fresh bunker who seemed to be headed there for the bass. Few boaters fished yet. Customers were just beginning to prep boats and splash them. The bunker and sandworms are socked. Bloodworms and fresh clams will arrive Friday, she thought. Dockside, located on Smith Creek, a tributary of the Arthur Kill, is accessible from land and water at the fuel dock.

Keyport

Every trip limited out on striped bass and released many additional on Raritan Bay on the Vitamin Sea, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. Great fishing, as good as it gets, and the keepers were 28 to 38 inches. “Quality fish for sure,” he said. The trips tackled them on bait and rubber shads and on the troll. Weather was tough, but the fish bit anyway. Brown water in the bay because of rain made no difference. “In fact the fish chewed their heads off,” he wrote. The next open-boat trips with spaces available will fish Wednesday and Thursday. Spaces are filling almost as soon as they’re announced. Great dates are still available for striper charters. Reservations are being accepted for fluke charters for later this spring and summer. “Get your dose of Vitamin Sea!”

Manicsportfishing’s new boat is supposed to arrive today, Capt. Greg said. Electronics will be installed on the fully-customized, 31-foot Steiger Craft with twin 300 h.p. Yamahas. Then fishing will begin on the vessel with trips for striped bass. The big engines are meant to enable trips to arrive early on the fishing grounds and leave late. That speed can also enable trips to fish farther away. Manic might charge a little more than some boats, and a quality experience is the goal.

Raritan Bay’s striped bass fishing was off to an excellent start with the Down Deep Fleet, Capt. Mario said. The fish to 42 inches, many bagged, many released, were hooked on clams and rubber shads and a little on the troll aboard. Open-boat trips are fishing for stripers daily, and charters are available for the bass. Both of Down Deep’s boats are sailing for them every day. Trips for sea bass and fluke are booking for later this season. Sign up for the Short Notice List on Down Deep’s website to be kept informed about special open trips. Look for the link underneath “Contact.”

Atlantic Highlands

***Update, Saturday, 4/21:*** Fishing resumed today on the party boat Atlantic Star, Capt. Tom said in a phone call at 11 a.m. aboard the morning’s trip. Few anglers showed up at the docks in rough weather in past days, keeping party boats docked. At the first place fished this morning, on Raritan Bay toward Keyport, throwback striped bass and a keeper were pumped in. Traffic from smaller boats that trolled picked up, so he moved the boat east. Throwbacks bit 10 minutes into that new location, when he gave this report. Was good to see that stripers also swam there, where the boat fished by itself. So stripers were around, and there was action for customers. He’d like to see more keepers, and he would see how the trip panned out. Trips are fishing for stripers 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m. daily.

***Update, Friday, 4/20:*** Raritan Bay was brown, Ron from Julian’s Bait & Tackle said. West wind seemed to shove dirty water into the bay from rivers. “Never thought I’d hide from west wind,” he said. In that wind direction, land usually prevents wind from roughing up seas near shore, usually helpful to anglers. But the stained water seemed to slow the bay’s striper fishing. Not many anglers fished in rough weather this week, too. “Weather’s got us,” he said. A few throwback stripers were angled from the Keansburg Pier on the bay. One angler braved the wind and banked a few throwbacks at Port Monmouth from shore on the bay. That’s the next town east of Keansburg. That was about all that was heard about fishing in past days. Nobody reported boating to fish. Nobody reported about winter flounder. Nothing was heard about bluefish farther south in New Jersey, except a few third-hand reports that were unconfirmed. Ron saw a report or reports about a few blues from Delaware. He also saw a report about big slammers from North Carolina. The bluefish migration seemed to remain farther south at places like those. The season was early for the migration to reach this far north in New Jersey. Surely the blues will arrive later this spring. Local anglers usually prefer the period before blues arrive, when they don’t have to fight through the more aggressive blues to catch stripers. More than going fishing in past days, customers were stopping by to gear up for the season’s angling, like one loaded up on supplies to build rigs. The shop carries all of that tackle. A good batch of sandworms and bloodworms, big, are stocked. Fresh sea clams and chowder clams are carried. Fresh bunker are in. So are baits like trout worms and meal worms for freshwater. The shop was stocked up on freshwater supplies, and a surprising number of freshwater anglers stopped in.

***Update, Friday, 4/20:*** Party boats began to fish for the season from Atlantic Highlands, but few anglers showed up to jump on the trips in the weather in past days, said Tom from Fisherman’s Den North. About three showed up today in fierce wind, so none of the boats sailed. The trips are fishing for striped bass on Raritan Bay. The store is located at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina, where party, charter and private boats are docked. Shore anglers beached stripers farther back on the bay, like around Keyport. They just began to land some closer to the store, farther out on the bay. Water can be warmer farther back in the bay, and that can harbor the most fish early in the year. The shore anglers mostly cast Daiwa SP Minnows. Some fished bait. All baits are stocked, including sandworms, bloodworms, fresh clams and fresh bunker.

Highlands

A 38-pound striper was heaved from Raritan Bay yesterday with Fin-Taz-Tic Sportfishing, Capt. Pete wrote in an email. The trip limited out by 9 a.m. and released more afterward, all on trolled Mojos. This weekend is booked, and open-boat spaces are available for late next week.

Sailing from Twin Lights Marina, Bob Dreyer on the Patty Ann boated 13 stripers including one keeper on the bay Friday – Friday the 13th, Marion wrote in an email. On Saturday, Frank Wagenhoffer and Johnny Cuozzo on the Fin Chaser limited out on stripers on the bay off Keyport. 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. Baits stocked include live bunker when in demand.

Tuna-Tic Sportfishing will begin striped bass fishing Saturday on Raritan Bay, Capt. Mike said. The fishing usually lasts a month after beginning aboard, and the boat afterward, in about mid-May, is returned to Forked River, home port. From Forked River, trips first will fish for stripers on the ocean. Big migrators will have poured into the ocean then, after spawning in back waters. Next, in June, trips will shark fish aboard. The legal minimum size for makos was raised to 83 inches from the previous 54. So the sharking will sail farther offshore to the canyons along the Continental Shelf, where bigger makos swim more abundant. Those trips will also fish for tuna and will deep-drop for tilefish. Electric reels were added to the boat for tilefishing.

Neptune

Gusts to 30 knots will cancel an individual-reservation trip for cod tomorrow with Last Lady Fishing Charters, Capt. Ralph wrote in an email. Three anglers are interested in rescheduling for Saturday, and weather looks okay. Contact Ralph if you can go. The next individual-reservation trip for cod is May 22. Individual-reservation trips will fish for sea bass June 12 and 22. Another one of those trips is full May 27, and more of the sea bass trips will be added. Individual-reservation trips will fish for striped bass May 12, 20 and 29. Only one spot is left for May 12, and if stripers are unavailable for any of these outings, the trips will bottom-fish for catches in season. If the striper trips limit out early, they’ll switch to bottom-fishing. Individual-reservation trips will sail every Tuesday beginning June 19 for fluke and sea bass. Kids under 12 sail free on those outings, limited to one per adult host. A few weekend dates remain for charters, and weekdays are filling up.

Belmar

Blackfishing tugged in the tautog, not great, but catching on the party boat Big Mohawk, Capt. Chris said. Some customers limited out, and the fishing was improving, and the ocean just needed to warm somewhat. Green crabs and clams both caught and are provided. Trips are blackfishing 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

The Miss Belmar Princess is back from the shipyard for annual maintenance, and is ready to fish! an email said from the party boat. Trips will kick off for the year, sailing for striped bass, 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Capt. Pete from Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters got word that seasonal maintenance is finished on the boat, he said. He’ll take it for a spin and check that the pitch is good on the prop. Striped bass were crushed in Raritan Bay, in the warm water in the shallows. Pete expects the migration of large stripers not to arrive until the beginning of May in the local ocean. The year’s first fishing aboard homes in on them. In about mid-May, Magic Hour Trips will fish for the bass in evenings, in addition to morning trips that will already be sailing for them. Some dates are still left for charters in May and June for stripers. Book them, because they fill. Plenty of dates remain for sea bass and fluke trips later in the fishing season. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Book an individual spot with a charter who wants more anglers. Sign up for the email blast on Parker Pete’s website to be kept informed about the spaces.

Maintenance on the Katie H should be finished in 1 ½ or two weeks, Capt. Mike said. He planned to be finished earlier, but cold and rain delayed that. Once the boat’s ready, he might run the vessel north to Raritan Bay to fish for striped bass. He’s done that in recent springs. Then he begins fishing for stripers on the ocean from Belmar, once the fish migrate to there in May.

Shark River’s winter flounder fishing never materialized this spring, Bob from Fisherman’s Den wrote in an email. Each day, he’s losing hope that it will. Good reports about surf fishing for stripers rolled in from Monmouth and Ocean counties. Scotty Pullen’s 19-pound 5-ouncer was the biggest weighed this week at the store. Boating for blackfish began to improve on the ocean. The fishing went well on Belmar boats, and many of the blackfish were keepers that were hooked. Keepers were sometimes nailed from Shark River Inlet, but anglers had to be patient, because the fish were “slow to chew the bait.” Blackfish season will be closed beginning May 1. Hope this weather breaks soon, Bob said.

Brielle

For striped bass anglers, Raritan Bay was the place to be, said Eric from The Reel Seat. Stripers from throwbacks to 35-pounders were bunker-chunked, clammed and trolled there. Near the shop, small stripers were plugged along Route 70 Bridge on Manasquan River. A fair pick of winter flounder was had on Barnegat Bay toward Bay Avenue and Mantoloking Bridge on worms. The worms also hooked small stripers there. On the ocean, blackfishing was improving when weather cooperated. Some good catches, including limits, were made. Clams hooked them a little better, but green crabs also worked. If clams were fished, cod could also be angled on the trips. No bluefish were heard about yet, but the bluefish migration could be expected any day. If anglers have the time and want to take a look at Manasquan Inlet, they might run into a bluefish blitz.

Point Pleasant Beach

Bottom-fishing picked a few of all the usual fish, a couple of cod, a couple of ling and a couple of blackfish, on the party boat Dauntless, Capt. Butch said. The angling was slow like it’s been, and the ocean was cold, only 42 ½ to 43 degrees, on the fishing grounds. That was at 120-foot depths to 150. The water is normally 51 or 52 degrees this time of year. A few more cod seemed to bite than before, but not a lot were keepers. Two to eight or 10 ling a day were sacked. A few keeper blackfish were hung, but the boat fished deeper than where most legal-sized swam. Did Butch see baitfish that can migrate this time of season? Not on the fishing grounds, but he saw baitfish, mostly bunker, probably a few herring, close to shore. He saw no migrating striped bass, but knew that gillnetters ran into stripers sometimes 5 or 6 miles from shore. One released a 50-pounder gorged with bunker. The Dauntless is bottom-fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.

Decent blackfishing was scooped from the ocean yesterday on the Norma-K III, a report said on the party boat’s website. They chewed, and some anglers limited out. A few bagged two or three, and some bagged one or only hooked shorts. A 6-pounder won the pool, and most of the tautog bit green crabs. The crabs and clams are carried aboard. Trips were weathered out the previous two days, Monday and Tuesday. Trips fished during the weekend aboard, covered in the previous report here. The boat is blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.

Toms River

A few throwback striped bass were beached from the surf yesterday on clams and bunker chunks, Hook House Bait & Tackle’s Facebook page said. The Toms River gave up stripers. One angler bloodwormed a keeper on the river at Island Heights yesterday morning. The family of Virginia Murphy who works at the shop hit throwbacks in the river last night. See more about fishing in Hook House’s report here last Monday. Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns Go Fish Bait & Tackle on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

Forked River

Striped bass and bluefish were rustled up from Oyster Creek, said Mike from Grizz’s Bait & Tackle. Some keeper striped bass began to be sacked on the creek and in Barnegat Bay, and details about where the stripers came from in the bay were unknown. The creek is the warm-water discharge from Forked River nuclear plant. Reports about winter flounder seemed to slow down a little. But the reports came from shore anglers along the creek. More boaters will probably begin to fish soon. If more were already fishing, more might’ve been heard about flounder from the bay. Bloodworms, fresh clams, fresh bunker, green crabs and killies are stocked.

Barnegat Light

Boating for blackfish seemed pretty good at ocean wrecks yesterday, said Vince from Bobbie’s Boat Rentals. Anglers on foot hooked a few small along Barnegat Inlet’s jetty near the shop. No striped bass were talked about yet locally. Green crabs and frozen baits are stocked. Bobbie’s features a complete bait and tackle shop, a fuel dock and, in season, boat and kayak rentals. The boats are used for fishing, crabbing, clamming and pleasure, and will become available around May 1, probably. The shop is open daily, weather permitting.

Fishing will be launched May 26 for the year on the party boat Miss Barnegat Light, Karen wrote in an email. Trips will sail for fluke and sea bass 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends starting then. The boat’s website said those trips will run Fridays through Sundays. Daily trips will kick off June 15. The Miss Barnegat Light’s website is revamped. Check it out, including to see about tuna trips, bluefishing, striper fishing, cruises and more.

Mystic Island

Shore anglers lit into plenty of throwback striped bass at Graveling Point and Pebble Beach, said Brandon from Scott’s Bait & Tackle. A keeper was bagged last night, and bloodworms whipped most of the stripers. But the keeper was clammed, so baits like that might start to work. Bloodworms catch best in the early season, because they’re easy for the stripers to digest during slow metabolism in cold water. As water warms, baits like clams and bunker begin to catch better. The season’s first black drum that Brandon knew about showed up at that area two nights ago. An inexperienced angler hooked and broke off the drum five times. But friends of Brandon beached quite a number last night. Graveling and Pebble are shore-angling spots at the confluence of Great Bay and Mullica River. One bluefish was hooked and seen but lost at Graveling. The annual $100 gift certificate to the store remains up for grabs for the year’s first angler to stop in with a blue from Graveling or Pebble. The water seemed to be getting close to warm enough for blues to invade. One customer said the water was 48 degrees, but that was unconfirmed. Little was heard about white perch from Mullica River, but lots of live grass shrimp were sold for the angling. Anglers seemed to catch the perch, and Brandon would think that the river at Wading River Bridge and Middle Creek were places the perch schooled. The shrimp, bloodworms, fresh clams, green crabs and minnows are stocked.

Absecon Bay

The year’s first black drum from Great Bay was reported, said Capt. Dave from Absecon Bay Sportsman Center. The fish weighed 18 pounds, he thought. A weird pattern of rough weather continued, but fishing was improving. Striped bass fishing was getting better everywhere. Male stripers were on spawning grounds in rivers, and a couple of big females were heard about, but anglers kept quiet about them. A few stripers began to show up in the surf and inlets. Lots of baitfish schooled. Dave saw no bluefish, but heard about a few reportedly caught. Migrating fish are “oozing” in. Weather needs to improve. A couple of warm days and no wind, and fishing’s going to bust open. Very few blackfish were reeled up along jetties, and none was heard about from Brigantine Bridge. The water was cold. But few anglers fished because of weather. Dave is ready to take charters striped bass fishing, and the rate is discounted in April. The full rate kicks in beginning in May. Anglers might’ve been unwilling to fish in the cold. But he’s ready to get after stripers. All baits are stocked for spring fishing, including fresh bunker and plenty of bloodworms.

Brigantine

A striped bass, the year’s first, was finally reported from Brigantine’s surf, said Capt. Andy from Riptide Bait & Tackle. The 26-inch throwback was bunker-chunked yesterday off the Brigantine Hotel and released. Andy also just got a call today from an angler who reeled a 20-incher from his dock on the back bay. These were the season’s first signs of any action, and Andy hoped that boded well. Fresh bunker, fresh clams, bloodworms and all baits are stocked.

Atlantic City

Water temperature kept fluctuating, said Noel from One Stop Bait & Tackle. It was 50 degrees Saturday, 45 yesterday and 47 today, for instance. Weather needs to break, and spring fishing will take off along the surf adjacent to Absecon Inlet and in the inlet itself. Customers fish both places on foot. Fishing erupts at both spots for striped bass and bluefish in spring. Blackfish also get taken along jetties that line the inlet. This time last year, fishing for all those species was already hopping. The water was colder this year and needs to become warmer and stabilize. That could happen shortly. A few schoolie stripers were beaten now and then. Small blackfish were sometimes dialed up, like three throwbacks that a customer let go. All baits, a large supply, are stocked.

Longport

Good blackfishing was plumbed from the ocean yesterday on the Stray Cat, Capt. Mike said. The anglers fished through a bushel of crabs, and the tautog chewed, chewed, chewed, he said. The trip fished in 70 feet of water that was 46 degrees. A hard southwest wind kept the boat tight on anchor at a wreck. The season’s first sea bass, a 14-incher, was hooked aboard, and the out-of-season catch was released. No dogfish showed up in the past two weeks. See any striped bass? Mike was asked. No, he said, and birds were seen crashing bunker, and porpoises fed on the baitfish, but no fish were marked there. Saturday is sold out, and open-boat trips will blackfish Friday and every day next week when weather’s fit.

Ocean City

Catches were talked about from the weekend, said Bill from Fin-Atics. Not a lot was doing in rough weather during the week. But Saturday was better weather, and lots of small striped bass were axed at Corson’s Inlet, the back bay, off Beesley’s Point and along 9th Street Bridge. Mostly bloodworms and soft-plastic lures winged them. Not many bluefish, but a few, were caught. Bluefishing will probably turn on soon at areas like this, as soon as weather becomes warmer. A few blackfish, not a lot, were cracked along bridges and structure like that. On Great Egg Harbor River, white perch and a few stripers were reported plucked. Not many anglers seemed to fish there. Bloodworms, fresh bunker and green crabs are stocked.

Sea Isle City

Like happened when catches began last year, tons of small striped bass swarmed Corson’s Inlet, said Mike from Sea Isle Bait & Tackle. Anglers reported nabbing 10 to 15 of the 12- to 25-inchers in a trip. Fly-fishing with Clouser Minnows caught best. But small paddle-tails like from Bass Assassin or small plastics like 4-inch Fin-S Fish worked. Small bluefish, not many, were heard about from the 8th Street Jetty. Maybe bluefishing was beginning late. Or maybe blues were already here but water was too cold for them to bite. No blackfish catches were heard about from land yet in the cold water. But the local party boat’s most recent trip reportedly fished well for the tautog on the ocean. That was maybe a week ago, and weather kept scrubbing the trips.

Capt. Joe Hughes from Jersey Cape Guide Service, affiliated with Sea Isle Bait & Tackle, did no fishing in past days, he said. Weather was cold and windy. Striped bass were reported banked from shore. A few definitely bit in the back bay for boaters. No bluefish were heard about. But they will be soon, he said. Or he hopes so. Surely some already arrived, but the 48-degree water was just too cold for them to bite. Joe this time of year boats for stripers on the bay, casting Bass Assassin paddle-tails in Electric Chicken on lead jigheads worked slowly along bottom in the cold water. That’s at places including creek mouths that dump warmer water into the bay on outgoing tides. Sunny, warm afternoons can fish best. He turns attention to bluefish when blues begin to bite. Bluefishing traditionally erupts in the bay by Tax Day, April 15. Joe almost wondered if the late start to bluefishing this year means the blues will stick around later in spring. But the majority of the blues disappear from the bay when summer flounder season opens and lots of boats flood the water. Flounder season will open May 25 this year, the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. He liked the fact that the season will open on a Friday instead of a Saturday, because fewer boats will head for the flatfish on a Friday than a Saturday.

Avalon

Anglers began to lock into big bluefish on the back bay in April’s final week last year with Fins and Feathers Outfitters, Capt. Jim said. They smoked the fish, and he hopes slammers like that return this year. The blues aren’t always that big, but were in recent years. That should be the year’s first charters aboard. Buddies banked 5- to 7-pound blues, not many, a couple, from the surf at Atlantic City recently. The migration might be arriving late, and other migrations seemed late. More brant remained locally than usual this time of year. They were yet to migrate north. A friend found snow geese at the Finger Lakes in New York that usually already migrated north. Fins and Feathers will fish for black drum in May on Delaware Bay. Jim had been trout fishing in Pennsylvania. Two inches of rain blew out the streams Monday. Jim will turkey hunt in Pennsylvania when the season opens in two Saturdays. A youth season opens this Saturday. Jim participates in lots of outdoor sports, and guides for many, from saltwater fishing to trout angling and hunting for waterfowl and more.

Cape May

On the party boat Porgy IV on the ocean, blackfishing was catching a few, wasn’t that great yet, Capt. Paul said. The water was cold, only reaching 45 degrees yesterday afternoon where the boat fished, “and here we are 18 days into April!” he said that day. A couple of anglers limited out on the trip. Some also caught none or no keepers. Bob Key from Lancaster won the pool with a 5-1/2-pounder. Haige Panossian from Havertown, Pa., won the pool Saturday with a 5-pounder. The angling seemed to be picking up late in the season because of cold. But a few of a tautog are snapping, the season for the fish will be closed beginning May 1, and the trips are a chance to land some. The boat is blackfishing at 8 a.m. daily. Telephone ahead to confirm a trip has the weather to sail. Weather was often rough.

A couple of keeper striped bass were seen from the surf, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. A 28-pound 41-incher that was weighed-in Saturday was one. That was the year’s first catch brought to the store, and was mentioned in the last report here, but no location was named. The fish was landed from Delaware Bay’s shore, Nick said for today’s report. The striper was bunker-chunked, and lots of throwback stripers were eased from shore, mostly from Delaware Bay, but a few from the ocean and Cape May Point, at the confluence of the bay and ocean in Cape May. The year’s first stripers from the surf locally usually come from the bay, because the bay is usually warmer than the ocean in spring. Nick wondered whether the bay was warmer this year, though, and waters were cold everywhere. The throwbacks were bloodwormed but also pasted on small soft-plastic lures or small hard lures. No bluefish were reported, but blues were due any day. The water needs to warm just a couple of degrees, he thinks. No blackfish were mentioned caught along local jetties. But a few began to be picked at jetties in North Wildwood. Boaters caught blackfish on the ocean. Bloodworms, fresh clams, fresh bunker and green crabs are stocked.