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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 12-29-16


<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

Weather was windy but seas weren’t rough during blackfishing yesterday on the party boat <b>Atlantic Star</b>, Capt. Tom said. The tautog, a few keepers, mostly shorts, were hooked at every spot fished. He expected the trips to be weathered out today and Friday and for the fishing to resume Saturday aboard. The daily trips, including on New Year’s Day, are slated through Monday. That’s supposed to be the final fishing aboard this season. He previously planned to run the final trip on New Year’s. But Monday is also a holiday, so the fishing is planned through that day, and the boat will go on winter break afterward. The trips will sail 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.  <b>***Update, Sunday, 1/1:***</b> Today’s trip fished about the same as recent trips, picking at the tautog, not a lot of keepers, but picking away, Tom said. Monday’s trip will be the final, before the boat goes on winter break. Tom wishes everybody a Happy and Safe New Year, and thanks anglers for fishing aboard this past year. Fishing will kick back off around April aboard.

Private boaters mostly pulled vessels for the season, said Jay from <b>Julian’s Bait & Tackle</b>. Now only party boats fished, mostly. A few of those sailed for blackfish. Not much was heard about striped bass fishing. Gannets, lots, dove on baitfish, probably herring, off the beach the other day. Something must’ve been underneath, he figured. One angler, Ray Stokes, kept trying for stripers in the surf but only beached rays and dogfish. The shop is open daily, because the crew needs to be there for Julian’s ice business.

Boats fished for blackfish, catching decent on some days, said Tom from <b>Fisherman’s Den North</b>. The angling was decent yesterday, and the fishing’s been hit and miss, typical for blackfishing. Sometimes experienced blackfishers cleaned up on the catches, and that’s typical, too. Weather can keep boats docked more frequently this season, and none of the boats sailed in today’s blow. A couple of striped bass were landed at Sandy Hook that foraged on herring recently. Tom mostly spoke with surf anglers who reported that, and not many private boaters sailed this time of year. But the fish were also boated. The store will be open probably until mid-January or longer, depending on how long party boats keep fishing. Baits stocked include green crabs and white crabs for blackfishing. Blackfish jigs, popular this year, are also carried. They really caught, he said. 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>

At first on a blackfish charter today, a few shorts, a keeper and dogfish were hooked aboard, <b>Lady M Charters</b>’ Facebook page said. Then a friend called, saying striped bass were biting with birds going crazy above. The anchor was pulled, and the trip steamed over and got into stripers right away. The anglers landed about 15, keeping a few. In the final hour, the trip anchored for blackfish at a wreck again, pulling in a few more keepers and some shorts. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing.

<b>Belmar</b>

On the party boat <b>Big Mohawk</b>, blackfishing was picky yesterday on the ocean, Capt. Chris said. Maybe that was because of strong wind the previous day. But the reason couldn’t be known, and the angling wasn’t so good. Kind of strange, he said, and the fishing was better previously aboard. Trips are blackfishing 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, including on New Year’s Day. Sometimes trips have been slated to leave earlier, and confirm with the boat. Green crabs are provided, and white crabs are for sale aboard.

<b>Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters</b> attempted to sail for blackfish Monday on the ocean, but strong northeast wind forced the trip to return to port, Capt. Pete said. Weather was often rough this week, and the angling would probably be canceled today and tomorrow because of that, too. But fishing for the tautog will probably remain decent into January. Some big bit, like they do this time of year, and a few cod also came in. Sometimes blackfish were found closer to shore, and sometimes farther out. When weather nixed trips like the next couple of days, the next trip needed to begin over and find where the bite was. Space is available for the angling, including on weekends for charters and individual spaces on charters. 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. Pete wishes everybody Happy New Year, and thanks anglers for an awesome 2016 of fishing aboard. Many personal bests were cranked in, and 30 or 40 trips are already booked for spring. Book early, if you want striped bass in spring.

Trips for mackerel will begin at 7:30 a.m. Friday through Sunday, Jan. 6-8, on the <b>Golden Eagle</b>, the party boat’s website said. Gift certificates for three trips are available for the price of two, $125, through Jan. 31.

Mackerel fishing will sail on the <b>Miss Belmar Princess</b> as soon as the migration arrives, an email from the party boat said. The crew hopes that will be soon, and trips for striped bass and blues are finished for the season aboard. Take advantage of gift certificates: buy one certificate for $60 and get a $10 certificate free; buy two for $110 and get a $20 one free; buy five for $250 and get one free for a savings of $110; or buy 10 for $500 and get three free for a savings of $280. The certificates, available through Jan. 31, are valid for any fishing trips aboard and never expire. They can’t be combined with any other discount, promotion or offer.

An edited email from Bob from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b>: “Happy New Year to all, and thanks for a good year. Fishing this year had highs and lows. The fluke keeper ratio was down by our observations, and some areas might’ve seen different results. Bluefishing was off for a third year in a row, and giant, 20-plus-pounders were here in spring and fall. But summer bluefishing was slow, with mostly small fish. Winter flounder fishing was good in both spring and fall in Shark River. Limits of big flounder were common. Blackfishing gained in popularity greatly over the last decade, and this year was no exception. We saw blackfish up to 20 pounds and larger. Jigging for them was a fishery that boomed, and the jigs have been around a few years, but this year they really caught on. We had trouble keeping them in stock. Sea bass and porgies were abundant, though the sea bass limit was quite restrictive. Now we talk about my fish: striped bass. For me, and I'm pretty old, this was one of the better years of striper fishing in the last 20. I’m sure many would disagree, but for me, large numbers of bunker brought in large numbers of stripers. The number of keepers that surf casters released was one thing I noticed. This is a younger generation thing rubbing off on us old timers. Have a Happy and Healthy New Year.” <b>***Update, Friday, 12/30***</b> Plenty of small stripers and occasional keepers were dragged from the surf, and boaters hit the bass to 15 pounds on the ocean, Bob wrote in an email. Sundials and herring could be plucked from inlets, for those who wanted light-tackle fun. Blackfishing’s been great on the ocean, and the bag limit will become four beginning Sunday, from the current limit of six. Winter flounder season will close beginning Sunday, and fair numbers were tugged from Shark River. Anglers who still had boats in the water spin-rodded bluefin tuna to 150 pounds 9 to 11 miles from shore on plugs. The shop will be open 6 to 11 a.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekends, weather permitting, throughout winter. “Thank you for another year of serving our customers,” he said. The store’s been in a trailer while the building was being renovated, and should be back in the building by late spring.

<b>Belmar</b>

Most customers boated for blackfish on the ocean, said Bob from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b>. But quite a few small striped bass were beached from the surf. The fish came from Mantoloking and Bay Head, but a friend fly-rodded them today at Sea Girt. So the bass seemed spread up and down the coast, not just at particular towns. Small plugs hooked them, like small Mambo Minnows, Bombers and Daiwa SP Minnows. The small Yo-Zuri Mag Darters caught well, and so did flies. The stripers were around, and the fishing was just a matter of whether anglers wanted to fish in the weather. Many anglers took advantage of sundials and herring that bit in Shark River. Winter flounder season closed beginning Sunday, and the flatfish were bagged from the river previously. Some of Belmar’s party boats were going to begin mackerel fishing today, but canceled because of weather. Anglers hope for a good mackerel migration. The shop is open 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. on weekdays and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends, weather permitting.

<b>Brielle</b>

A few boaters fished, and weather was difficult for getting a day to sail, said John from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. Blackfishing was good, when boats could run, and he was weathered out Monday for a trip for them. Sea bass fishing was great farther from shore sometimes, and other times wasn’t. Whether that was affected by water temperatures or something else was unknown, and sea bass season will be closed beginning Sunday. Porgies were still boated at Shark River Reef, about 12 miles from shore, last week. That was close to shore for the time of year. Usually they’re only hooked like 60 miles from shore now. Bluefin tuna 60 to 100 pounds were fought from Shark River Reef, 12 to 15 miles from shore, to farther out, mostly on cast popper lures, sliders or RonZ-types of lures. Surf anglers still banked small striped bass. Nothing was heard about boating for stripers on the ocean, but surely some could be boated. Whether boaters just didn’t try for them or John just heard about none of the trips was unknown. The store is open daily through this week. Afterward, the shop will be open Thursdays through Sundays. However, the doors will be closed Friday, Jan. 6, because the crew is going fishing.   

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

<b>***Update, Friday, 12/30***</b> A couple of offshore sea bass trips were weathered out with <b>Mushin Sportfishing</b>, Capt. Alan wrote in an email. “(We) do not like to push the envelope when it comes to winter weather and winds!” he wrote. “Safety first.” Forecasts look like none of the trips can sail through Saturday, the final day of sea bass season. Trips might fish for cod mid-range, before the boat’s fishing goes on break from Jan.15-March 15. The crew looks forward to next year’s fishing, and many dates are already full. Book as soon as possible for choice dates.

The <b>Gambler</b> will resume striped bass fishing on Jan. 5, sailing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every Thursday through Sunday, the party boat’s Facebook page said. The vessel fished for stripers until recently, and currently fished for sea bass on overnight trips. Sea bass season will be closed beginning Sunday. “We will be using lures and bait – when we can catch it,” the page said about the striper fishing. “… the captain and crew are really looking forward to the hunt …,” it said. Everything needed for the angling will be available aboard. Hot food and beverages will be available in the heated galley.

Catches of blackfish were slow Tuesday and Wednesday on the <b>Norma-K III</b>, the party boat’s website said. On Tuesday, a big ground swell from south didn’t help, and the anglers did pick the fish, but the captain would’ve liked to have seen more. On Wednesday, weather was beautiful, inspiring more anglers to jump aboard, but the fishing was slow. Anglers who worked and cast around did connect with some of the tautog, “but it wasn’t enough to go around,” it said. The high hook limited out, and some anglers bagged one to three, but most struggled. Trips are blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Green crabs and white crabs are carried aboard, after the whites were unavailable a moment.

<b>Absecon</b>

White perch seemed to bite in Mullica River, and customers stopped in this morning to gear up for the angling, said Capt. Dave from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>. The river at Hay Road held big perch and a load of throwback striped bass. Stripers seemed to return to the area, and Dave hopes they and bigger ones are there in March. Striper fishing will be closed beginning Sunday in bays and rivers, reopening on March 1. Striper fishing year-round is open on the ocean, within 3 miles from shore, and closed beyond 3. Nothing was heard about stripers in the ocean recently, not in legal waters, at least. Or nothing good enough was heard for customers to say they’d try for the new year’s first stripers. The last of the shop’s green crabs for the season were sold for blackfishing. The tautog seemed to still bite in the ocean, though they’ll stop hitting as the water becomes colder soon. No bloodworms are carried for the perch fishing, and Dave was yet to try netting the bait. He might try if customers keep asking. The store is open for no set hours. Telephone to confirm, and Dave will answer and let you know. He looks forward to a good March 1, the traditional kick off to the new fishing season, because of the striper opener that day.

<b>Longport</b>

Blackfishing was a slow pick Wednesday, landing a few keepers on the <b>Stray Cat</b>, Capt. Mike said. It was a struggle, but the angling was decent Monday aboard, even if lots of small had to be picked through. The ocean’s been 45 degrees, and the trips fished in 60 feet of water. Wind blew in the morning on Wednesday, so the trip sailed no farther from shore. Mike will push farther out to fish pieces he knows in 80 and 90 feet the first chance weather allows. He just got a load of green crabs for bait. The boat would be weathered out today and Friday. But open-boat trips will sail for the tautog Saturday and Sunday, New Year’s Day. Mike usually takes off for New Year’s, but weather looks too good, with light winds, and trips need to sail when possible this time of year. Open trips will blackfish every day when weather’s fit until the season’s weather closes in. The trip Saturday, the final day of sea bass season, won’t run for sea bass, because forecasts look questionable that far from shore. Boaters still picked away at striped bass close to shore. Someone reported boating one off Townsend’s Inlet yesterday. Lots of bait schooled the ocean off Atlantic City the past two days. Lots of gannets worked the bait lately, and stripers were marked.  A trip will hunt sea ducks in late January aboard. The migration currently was spotty but should be solid then.

<b>Ocean City</b>

Striped bass sometimes were reportedly still trolled near the 3-mile line on the ocean, said Bill from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. Striper fishing is closed beyond 3 miles from shore, and he wondered whether the fish actually swam there, not inshore of 3. Stripers were occasionally hooked in bays and rivers, and striper fishing will be closed in the back waters beginning Sunday, reopening on March 1. Striper fishing is open on the ocean year-round within 3 miles. A few trips sailed for blackfish on the ocean, not setting the world on fire, but catching okay, like at Atlantic City Reef. The fish still bit. News was scarce, but that seemed because fewer anglers fished this time of season, not because of lack of fish. Fish were around. The store’s been open daily and next week will be open Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, until the hours are expanded in March.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Annual traveling charters to the Florida Keys began aboard, said Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. The trips fish each Christmas to Easter, and Rich Duffy and son Shane nailed great fishing yesterday on one of the outings. Shane smashed a grand slam: a bonefish, a tarpon and a permit. Joe’s wife was also aboard, reeling in a 15-pound permit. The trip also jumped two tarpon and landed bonnethead sharks and lemon sharks while sight-fishing on the flats. It also caught fish including mutton snappers, cero mackerel, jacks, groupers, ladyfish, speckled sea trout and black drum. More than a dozen species were tackled. Joe and wife on the previous day fought bonnetheads and lemons while sight-fishing on the flats and had seven tarpon bites, releasing one and jumping four. Weather was windy but warm on the trips. The trips mostly fish weekends and can be a mini-vacation. Anglers can arrive on a Friday, fish all day Saturday and part of Sunday, depart that day and be back to work on Monday. Or they can do a different schedule. 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>Avalon</b>

<b>Fins and Feathers Outfitters</b> hunted waterfowl in New Jersey yesterday and on a few trips in Maryland and Pennsylvania this past week, Capt. Jim said. Fishing is finished aboard for the year, but the waterfowling, mostly for brant and sea ducks currently, was best in Jersey for now. Birds bagged included the brant, buffleheads, hooded mergansers, red breasted mergansers, black ducks and a couple of mallards and gadwalls. Green winged teal had been in the mix, but they migrated away. Fins offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including saltwater fishing and duck and goose hunting. In New Jersey, the waterfowling hunts from the ocean to Delaware Bay, but also in fields, into February. The waterfowling also hunts in nearby states, following the migrations. A trip was maybe going to hunt deer in Maryland today.

<b>Wildwood</b>

Capt. Jim from <b>Fins & Grins Sport Fishing</b> wrapped up fishing for the year aboard, he said. His anglers can’t sail at the last moment when weather windows open, like can be necessary this season. He wishes everybody Happy New Year, and trips will kick off again in March sometime. Bottom-fishing could sail then. If the striped bass migration arrives in Delaware Bay in late March and April, trips could jump on them. Drum trips on the bay are booking for late April and May. Shark trips will fish in May and June.

<b>Cape May</b>

Capt. George from the <b>Heavy Hitter</b> was supposed to sail for sea bass today on the ocean but was weathered out, he said. Weather didn’t look good for tomorrow, Friday, either, and might not be fishable on Saturday, the final day of sea bass season. He’ll fish for them Saturday if possible. The Heavy Hitter finished fishing weeks ago for the year, but George is still fishing on friends’ boats.

<b>Caveman Sportfishing</b> is finished fishing for the year, Capt. John said. Trips had been striped bass fishing on the ocean until recently on the boat. The only angling he heard about was for 60- to 100-pound bluefin tuna 30 to 40 miles from shore, not closer, toward Manasquan Inlet. Caveman’s fishing resumes in spring with trips for drum on Delaware Bay. Next, offshore trips for tuna begin in early June.

A bunch of blackfish were slipped aboard Wednesday from the ocean on the party boat <b>Porgy IV</b>, Capt. Paul said. The angling was also good Saturday on the boat, but the tautog “did not bite” on Monday’s trip. That was because of conditions, Paul thought, but the reason couldn’t be known. On Saturday’s trip, Kevin and Ed Oldbrich from Pittsgrove and Don Mark from Philadelphia limited out. On Wednesday’s, Alex Levantovsky and Gabe Howard, both from Philly, limited. Matt Lamelza from Ocean City decked three keepers to a 7-pounder on one of the trips. Jim Murray from Reeds Beach hung a 5- or 6-pounder on one. Trips are slated to blackfish daily through Monday, including on New Year’s Day. But today’s and Friday’s trips were expected to be weathered out. After Monday, the trips might fish only on weekends.

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