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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 12-22-16


<b>Keyport</b>

On the <b>Vitamin Sea</b>, the boat limited out on blackfish Tuesday and came two short of a limit Wednesday, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. Very good fishing, he wrote. “Nice roasters,” he said, and Skip Lerman from Lake Hopatcong released a 15.8-pounder, his personal best. Watch a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/vitaminseafishing/videos/1276180899118621/" target="_blank">video of the fish</a> on the boat’s Facebook page, and also see photos from the trips on the page. Sharp anglers landed twice their limits, keeping no more than the legal number. The fish bit pretty much throughout the trips, and weather was perfect. “White crabs were the ticket,” Frank said. He’ll try to run a couple of open-boat trips before the end of the year, weather permitting. Happy Holidays, he said. <b>***Update, Monday, 12/26:***</b> Frank put together a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lo864-B7Jg&feature=youtu.be" target="_blank">collage of this year’s fishing aboard</a> in photos and video, from spring striped bass fishing to summer fluking to fall striper and blackfishing. He thanks anglers, and couldn’t have had such a great year without you, he says. He’s looking forward to 2017, and book those trips now. Happy Holidays again, he says.

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

A handful of anglers jumped aboard today for blackfishing, and one bagged three of  the fish so far, said Capt. Tom from the party boat <b>Atlantic Star</b> at 10 a.m. in a phone call on the trip. Two bagged two apiece, some bagged one each, and some only landed throwbacks so far. Seas were a little bumpy in a southerly breeze that wasn’t forecast. But the trip was catching, and the boat is blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, including on Christmas Eve. No trip will fish on Christmas Day, but afterward the fishing will continue daily aboard through New Year’s Day, the final trip this season aboard. <b>***Update, Monday, 12/26:***</b> Today’s trip was out, and seas and weather were rough, but a couple of keepers and some shorts were landed so far, Tom said at 9 a.m. on the trip in a phone call. He’d see what happens with the fishing, and the rough conditions were expected to continue for the trip. No trip was scheduled to sail on Christmas, but the trip on Christmas Eve’s fishing began well for a couple of hours. One angler limited out, and an 8-pound blackfish was bagged, if he remembered. All anglers caught the tog, but two only reeled in throwbacks. Tom had been planning for Sunday, New Year’s Day, to be the final trip, mentioned above. But he since realized that the next day, Monday, is a holiday, so he’s going to see whether a trip that day can be the final. He has to check with the boat yard, because the boat was supposed to go to dry dock.  <b>***Update, Wednesday, 12/28:***</b> Weather was windy but seas weren’t rough on today’s trip, Tom said. Just cold, he said, and blackfish, a few keepers, mostly shorts, were hooked at every spot fished. The fishing hasn’t been bad. Just not enough keepers, he said. Thursday’s and Friday’s trips are expected to be weathered out in forecasts for a gale up to 35 knots. He expects the trips to resume Saturday, and Monday will be the final trip of the season. He previously planned for Sunday, New Year’s Day, to be the final trip. But Monday is also a holiday, so the final trip will sail that day, weather permitting.  

Blackfish were boated, said Jay from <b>Julian’s Bait & Tackle</b>. Nothing was heard about striped bass, and nobody seemed to try for stripers in the surf. Fresh, shucked crabs and frozen baits are stocked. Crabs for blackfishing are no longer carried this season.

Some days blackfished better than others, but the fish, including some good catches, were boated, said Tom from <b>Fisherman’s Den North</b>. White crabs tackled them well, and jigs that were popular hooked them. White and green crabs are stocked, and so are the jigs. All the bait is still in usual supply. A few small striped bass, throwbacks, no keepers, but not many, were eased from the surf. The shop, new this year, the sister store to Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, is located at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina, near the party, charter and private boats. 

<b>Highlands</b>

A charter for blackfish hit three drops Monday and all gave up life with <b>Lady M Charters</b>, Lady M’s Facebook page said. The anglers picked and plucked keepers and lots of shorts the whole time, totaling 23 keepers. Many of the shorts were just undersized, “real heartbreakers,” it said. Depths 50 to 75 feet were fished, and the shallower fished best. Some of the blackfish were off color, and whether that was because of a blow the day before or dropping water temperature or both was unknown. Stiff wind and cold made the morning’s weather somewhat rough, but weather was good by the end. This was the season’s first trip that made ice. Charters and open-boat trips are blackfishing, and see space available on open trips on <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/ladymcharters/" target="_blank">Lady M’s Facebook page</a> in a recent posting.

<b>Neptune</b>

The boat was chartered every day, and blackfishing was fair on the trips, said Capt. Ralph from <b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b>. The angling will continue as long as weather remains fishable aboard.

<b>Belmar</b>

Anglers on the party boat <b>Big Mohawk</b> cranked up blackfish at every spot fished, Capt. Chris said. The fishing was okay, not great. “It just still doesn’t seem like it’s right,” he said. But the tautog were bagged. “Some nice fish,” he said, and some days fished better than others. The boat is blackfishing 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. However, Friday’s trip will depart at 6 a.m., and Saturday’s, on Christmas Eve, will sail from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. No trip will fish on Christmas. Green crabs are provided, and white crabs are for sale aboard.

“Picky blackfishing for us,” said Capt. Pete from <b>Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters</b>. Fluctuating water temperatures seemed a reason. Yesterday’s angling was weird. Not much of a bite kicked in, kind of scratchy, no real commitment by the fish, until the afternoon on the boat. Then the fishing became picky at best. But blackfish are in, and the boat will keep after them. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Pete said. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Contact Parker Pete’s anyway about individual spaces available on charters. Sign up for the email blast on <a href=" http://www.parkerpetefishing.com/" target="_blank">Parker Pete’s website</a> to be kept informed about the spaces.

Fishing was still good, Bob from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b> wrote in an email. Mild weather kept water warmer, and striped bass were still banked from the surf in Monmouth and Ocean counties. The fish were mostly small, so smaller plugs caught them well. Boating for blackfish scored the best angling. That was in 70 to 90 feet of water, and white crabs hooked them best. Good fishing for medium bluefin tuna was reported from the Mudhole. Anglers locked into them on popping plugs on heavy spinning rods. In Shark River, winter flounder bit well on incoming tides, when water was somewhat warmer. In Shark River Inlet, sundials and herring bit in healthy numbers. Most of the buzz was about drastic cuts in the fluke bag limit proposed for this coming year. Go to the fluke meeting at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 5 at the Galloway Township Library to voice your opinion. Support organizations fighting for anglers, including the Recreational Fishing Alliance and the Jersey Coast Anglers Association. (Editor’s note: also consider supporting the Save the Summer Flounder Fishery Fund.) Merry Christmas, have a great holiday and thank you for your support, Bob said.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

Bottom-fishing began to slow on the party boat <b>Dauntless</b>, Capt. Butch said. The fishing wasn’t poor, but trips previously landed so many catches. The season now began to affect fish, including chasing porgies away from the fishing grounds. But anglers averaged 10 to 15 fish apiece, and high hooks landed 20 apiece, the past couple of days. Not great, but some catches, including sea bass and a few blackfish and cod. A few ling began to be hooked on yesterday’s trip. That trip fished in 150 feet of water to 180, a little deeper than the boat fished before. Loads of bluefin tuna, giant schools, were seen on the fishing grounds, and the tuna weren’t giants but weren’t small. They were 100 to 200 pounds, and always seemed to swim just beyond casting range for customers. If hooked, the tuna would’ve burned the line right off the bottom-fishing reels anyway. The boat is bottom-fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. Christmas is the only day no trip is scheduled each year. A trip runs on New Year’s Day, and the vessel is one of the state’s only, if not the only, that fishes daily year-round.  

After the season’s first of the trips were weathered out this past week, a trip for sea bass sailed offshore Tuesday to Wednesday on the <b>Gambler</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. Fishing 70 miles out, the trip whipped a good, steady pick of sea bass and porgies and a handful of ling. The sea bass were jumbos to 5 pounds, and the porgies were mixed sizes to 3 pounds. “Dog fish were not bad at all,” it said. The sea bassing wasn’t hot until sunrise, “but overall a great trip,” it said. Seas were bumpy at first, but the day ended up beautiful. Room is available on more of the trips, before sea bass season is closed beginning Jan. 1, and the number of passengers is limited. Reservations are required, and see <a href=" http://www.gamblerfishing.net/offshore-sea-bass.php" target="_blank">the boat’s website</a> for info.

Great day on the water again Wednesday during blackfishing on the <b>Norma-K III</b>, a report said on the party boat’s website. “We picked at some fish …,” it said, and the angling was a little slower than on Tuesday, but stronger current Wednesday might’ve been the reason. John Munjer from Pine Brook walloped an 11-pound 1-ouncer, and high hooks limited out. White crabs caught best, and white and green crabs are carried aboard. On Tuesday’s trip, anglers who cast around and worked got the bites. High hooks landed more than their limits, keeping no more than their quotas, and an 11-pounder won the pool. Monday’s trip was the first to resume blackfishing, after weather including last Thursday and Friday’s severe cold. The captain thought the angling would’ve been better, but it was only a pick. A swell was leftover from strong wind Sunday. But a few were caught, and a 7-pounder won the pool. The Norma-K III is blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Christmas Eve’s trip will fish 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The report mentioned nothing about Christmas Day. <b>***Update, Monday, 12/26:***</b> Blackfishing was tough the past few days aboard, “for some reason,” a report said Saturday on the boat’s website. That was the most recent report at press time, and the trips picked the fish at most drops, “but the only problem was it was only in certain parts of the boat,” it said. Seven- to 9-pound blackfish won pools on each trip, and the angling can only become better, it said. Late December into January is usually a good time for the fishing in the boat’s area.

<b>Toms River</b>

The surf turned out slow fishing for throwback striped bass, but gave up some, for those willing to move around, said Mario from <b>Murphy’s Hook House</b>. Small swimming plugs and metal like Jetty Ghosts, both definitely with a teaser, grabbed the fish. But if he were going to fish, he’d boat for small stripers that bit in Barnegat Bay near Oyster Creek, the discharge from Forked River power plant. That angling was best, on small swimmers and jigs with pink or white Fin-S Fish. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

<b>Seaside Heights</b>

Blackfish boated were the only catches heard about, a report said on <b>The Dock Outfitters</b>’ website. The tautog fishing seemed good this year. Plenty of great buys are on hand for holiday gifts, including deep discounts on rods, reels and lures. Purchase a gift card worth 20 percent extra. The Dock Outfitters, located on Barnegat Bay, blocks from the ocean surf, features a bait and tackle shop, a café and, in season, a dock for fishing and crabbing, boat rentals and jet-ski rentals.

<b>Mystic Island</b>

A few boaters sailed for blackfish, and the angling seemed slow close to shore, at least, said Brandon from <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b>. They fished distances like 5 or 6 miles from the coast, and nobody mentioned trying farther out. The striped bass migration seemed to have moved far south, mostly. A customer returning from blackfishing, a slow trip for the angling, ran into stripers blitzing bait in the ocean near shore, bagging a 31-incher. He also said the blitz was schooling south quickly. A few anglers asked about white perch fishing in Mullica River, just for something to do, apparently. But no feedback was heard about the angling. The store will be closed after Christmas Eve, and usually opens back up around March 1. Scott’s is up for sale, but the crew still expects the doors to be opened then. 

<b>Absecon</b>

An angler who was pulling his boat for the season knew about a trip early in the week that tried for striped bass on the ocean out of Cape May but boated none, said Capt. Dave from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>. Dave saw photos of blackfish boated. Someone was going to buy the shop’s last green crabs for blackfishing. Eels are stocked, and Dave hopes to stock them when striper season opens back up in bays and rivers beginning March 1. Striper fishing is closed in bays and rivers from Jan. 1 until that date, and is open on the ocean year-round within 3 miles from shore. The angling is closed beyond 3 all year. The store is open the next couple of days, especially for holiday shoppers. Afterward, Dave will usually be there, but telephone ahead to confirm. 

<b>Brigantine</b>

Surf fishing gave up no striped bass catches or any catches that were reported, said Capt. Andy from <b>Riptide Bait & Tackle</b>. No striper catches were reported boated from the ocean either. Stripers supposedly schooled beyond 3 miles from shore, where fishing for them is closed.  Riptide’s Fall Fishing Derby, a surf contest for stripers and blues landed from Brigantine, will conclude on Saturday, Christmas Eve, and leaders will probably remain the same as currently. Current leaders for stripers are: 1st place, Paul Lavigna, 42-pound 14-ouncer, $500 prize; Brad Strong, 39-pound 3-ouncer, $300; and Mark Young, 29-pounder, $150. Current leaders for blues are: Steve Gat, 1 pound, $300; Marc Denino, 15.6-ouncer, $200; and Nick Farrer, 15-ouncer, $100. Those were big prizes for small blues. Even the small were worth entering. The $25 entry fee included, like every year, a permit to beach-buggy Brigantine’s entire front beach, when accompanied by a Brigantine beach-buggy permit. The town recently approved the derby permit to be valid for that until March 1, longer than previously. Without the derby permit, not the entire front beach can be driven. The shop will be open daily until 2 p.m. Christmas Eve. Afterward, the doors will be closed for a winter break. All kinds of gear is on sale for holiday gifts for a minimum of 30 to 80 percent off. Buy a gift card worth 10 percent extra. Pick up a <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/CaptAndy911/videos/10153846649886627/
" target="_blank">Stock’s pound cake</a> from Philadelphia’s Stock’s Bakery that are carried at Riptide.

<b>Longport</b>

Sailing for blackfish swung aboard good catches the past couple of days from 70-foot depths on the <b>Stray Cat</b>, Capt. Mike said.  Some nice fish, he said, and the next open-boat trips for the tautog are set for Friday and Monday. Open trips are fishing for them on every day when weather’s fit. The ocean was 45 degrees and a little cloudy on the fishing grounds. But a considerable number of the tog bit. “Lot of swinging,” he said. “We’re pulling lots of fish.” He expects the open trips to sail throughout next week, because forecasts look relatively warm. Mike plans to attend the summer flounder meeting at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 5 at the Galloway Township Library, immediately after the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council Meeting at 4 p.m. there. The flounder meeting is intended to let anglers voice opinion about the federal government’s proposals to severely reduce the bag limit on the flatfish this coming year. The proposals range from two of the fluke at 19 inches to three at 18, with seasons ranging from 81 days to 107. Many sources feel that would essentially be a closure of flounder fishing, because few anglers would spend the money or time to target the fish then. This is a chance to voice an opinion, and the fishing industry would like to see anglers pack the meeting.

<b>Ocean City</b>

No striped bass catches were heard about from legal waters on the ocean, said Justin from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. The fish reportedly schooled 6 to 10 miles from shore, but striper fishing is closed beyond 3 miles. Nothing was reported about the surf and the back bay, but that didn’t mean no fish swam those waters. Just nobody mentioned fishing there. After Christmas, the store will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Many private boaters stopped fishing the ocean because officials kept boarding the vessels, checking for striped bass, said Mike from <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. Officials were trying to prevent anglers from fishing for stripers beyond 3 miles from shore, where striper fishing is closed. Some boaters were boarded multiple times in a day. So nothing was heard about stripers. One customer fished on a party boat trip sailing for sea bass and tilefish, saying the angling went well. The store will be open the next couple of days and afterward will be open for no set schedule. Then it’ll be open on days like a Saturday when weather’s decent and anglers are likely to fish. Green crabs, spots, eels and all frozen baits are stocked.

Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b>, affiliated with <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>, spoke with someone who fished for striped bass on the ocean yesterday and boated none, Joe said. But that didn’t mean no stripers were around. Annual traveling charters to the Florida Keys will begin this weekend with Joe, fishing until Easter. The trips, mostly fishing on weekends, fish from the back country in the mainland to the bay to the ocean side. Joe loves the back-country fishing, in the Everglades, including for snook. Last year that fishing was affected by water being drained to the east and west, because officials had been worried that abundant rain threatened to flood the back country. But the water diversion ended up leaving too little water in the Everglades. That will probably be different this year. Every year is different, and that’s part of the fun. Joe also loves sight-fishing on the bay’s flats and along the bridges, including for sharks, permit and tarpon. Though anglers can think spring is the time for tarpon, Joe’s been dialed into the big fish in recent winters. His trips scored well on the permit last year, too. Good-sized redfish might stalk the flats when he arrives there this weekend. Sometimes the trips motor out to the reefs on the ocean side, including for sailfish and blackfins. On the Keys trips, there’s always something to fish for, no matter the weather or wind direction. If rough weather blows wind too strongly at one place, trips fish on the leeward side. A large variety of fish can be targeted, from redfish, speckled sea trout and snook to tarpon, permit, sailfish and blackfin tuna. See the <a href=" http://www.captainjoehughes.com/page3.html" target="_blank">traveling charters’ page</a> on Jersey Cape’s website.  Keep up with Joe’s fishing on <a href="http://captainjoehughes.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">Jersey Cape’s Blog</a>.

<b>Wildwood</b>

Some good weather happened for striped bass fishing on the ocean this week, said Capt. Jim from <b>Fins & Grins Sport Fishing</b>. But anglers became scarce around the holiday. The fish have got to remain in the area, and he’s available to fish for them every day. He’ll even fish on Christmas, if anglers want. Reservations aren’t required but suggested, and telephone for availability. Trips can also blackfish, and Fins will keep fishing as long as weather makes that possible.

<b>Cape May</b>

A friend’s trip yesterday limited out on sea bass by 11:30 a.m. at the Triple Wrecks in 120 feet of water, said Capt. George from the <b>Heavy Hitter</b>. George already dry-docked the Heavy Hitter for the season, but might still fish on friends’ boats, especially for sea bass. He heard nothing about striped bass fishing.

<b>Caveman Sportfishing</b> is trying to put together open-boat trips for sea bass before sea bass season is closed beginning Jan. 1, Capt. John said. He’s probably finished striped bass fishing for the season and was away from the boat for the holiday, though his other captain runs the vessel then.

Blackfishing sailed the past couple of days and was docked a few days previously in weather on the party boat <b>Porgy IV</b>, Capt. Paul said. The ocean became considerably colder since the weather, but some of the tautog were slapped aboard. None of the fish was big, or pool-winners weighed 5 or 6 pounds, but some anglers limited out. Alex Levantovsky from Philly limited on Tuesday. On Wednesday, Sam Oh from Broomall, Bob Key from Lancaster and John Ricciardi from Williamstown limited. Greg Williams from Forest Hills, Md., won Tuesday’s pool with a 6-pounder. He bagged three, and Carl Keehfus from Villas won Wednesday’s pool, bagging two. The trips picked at the tautog and are sailing at 8 a.m. daily, returning whenever the fishing wraps up. However, Christmas Eve’s trip will sail 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., and no trip will run on Christmas. Trips will run through Jan. 2, and then Paul will take stock of the angling, the number of anglers and the weather and decide the future schedule.

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