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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 1-30-17

<b>Keyport</b>

The boats were pulled from the water for the season, an email said from the <b>Down Deep Fleet</b>. Seasonal maintenance will be done on both 40-foot vessels, the Down Deep and the Down Deep Bull, before fishing resumes in April aboard. The angling begins with striped bass trips. The fish school Raritan Bay minutes from the docks in the early season, and the crew expects another excellent season of striper fishing. More than a dozen customers won a free open-boat trip for this year, valued at $125 apiece. The crew will notify the anglers shortly. When fishing aboard, ask the crew for a ticket to be entered in the annual drawing. Charters and daily open-boat trips sail. Each boat can accommodate up to 15 passengers. Anglers can enjoy large cockpits, cruising speeds up to 20 knots and faster, and heat and air-conditioning. Watch <a href=" http://downdeepsportfishing.com/open-boat-availability/" target="_blank">Down Deep’s calendar</a> for the fishing schedule. The crew thanks everybody who fished aboard this past year.

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

No boats fished in last week’s weather, Tom from <b>Fisherman’s Den North</b> said on Saturday, except he thought that one boat from Belmar blackfished that day on the ocean. Blackfishing could still catch, and green crabs and white leggers are stocked for bait.  The store’s been open 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. on weekdays and 3 p.m. on weekends, depending on weather and demand. Tom will decide February’s schedule, depending on the fishing schedule for party boats. The store, the sister shop to Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, is located at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina.

<b>Belmar</b>

The <b>Big Mohawk</b> blackfished Sunday, the first trip after the storm early last week, and the angling was “dull,” the party boat’s Facebook page said. A couple of boats sailed for the tautog Saturday, catching nothing, it said, and the Big Mohawk’s crew had decided to wait until Sunday, letting the water settle. The big storm caused plenty of rain and wind through Tuesday, “which really took its toll,” the page said. None of the fleet fished Wednesday through Friday. The Mohawk was expected to fish today, and trips are blackfishing 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. <b>***Update, Thursday, 2/2:***</b> The boat blackfished a couple of days this week, catching a couple of nice, Capt. Chris said in a phone call. But the angling was slow and winding down. The trips fished Sunday and Monday, the vessel’s Facebook page said. Monday’s angling remained very picky, like Sunday’s, it said. “I’m not going to color it,” the page said. But Monday’s catches were improved. No trip would sail today. But trips will blackfish Friday through Sunday. Green crabs are provided, and white leggers are available for sale aboard. White leggers are on hand, Chris confirmed.

<b>Brielle</b>

<b>***Update, Wednesday, 2/1:***</b> Just one trip fished last week on the party boat <b>Jamaica II</b>, because of wind, Capt. Ryan wrote in an email. Blackfish and schoolie cod were cranked in, “while the 200-plus-foot wrecks were loaded with giant silver eels,” he wrote. Greg Majoram from Philadelphia limited out on blackfish to 9 pounds and bagged three cod and a pollock. Ernest Grossman from Lavallette bagged a limit of blackfish to 7 ½ pounds, three cod, four ling and a dozen silver eels to 20 pounds. Twelve-hour trips, departing at 5 a.m., will fish ocean wrecks today, Saturday and Sunday.

A decent number of blackfish were boated from the ocean sometimes, said Alex from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. None was big, but keepers were claimed, and the fishing was probably at 60- to 80-foot depths. Cod and pollock were picked from the ocean. Nothing was heard about other fishing, including from Manasquan Inlet and the surf. Nobody mentioned surf fishing in a couple of weeks. Diehards could probably find a small, 20-inch striped bass in the surf occasionally. The fishing is uncommon by this time in winter.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

Blackfishing was tough throughout the weekend on the <b>Norma-K III</b>, a report said on the party boat’s website. A few were bagged, more on Sunday than on Saturday, but the captain had hoped for much better catches. “Fish are still here, just not chewing like they should be,” the report said. An 8-pounder won the pool Saturday, and a 10-pounder won Sunday. Trips will now sail for blackfish 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, and the trips were scheduled to fish daily previously. If any special trips will sail for cod or blackfish, “we will keep you posted,” it said.

<b>***Update, Thursday, 2/2:***</b> The party boat <b>Dauntless</b> was in dry dock this week for maintenance and probably will be until resuming fishing Wednesday, Capt. Butch said. But the boat was inspected and is being painted, and will be ready. Bottom-fishing was a little slow last week and the week before aboard. A couple of blackfish and a couple of cod came in. Some of the fish were good-sized, but not a lot were hooked. The trips last fished in 120 to 150 feet of water, and the ocean surface there was 46 to 47 degrees during the angling. When the trips resume, they bottom-fish 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. The boat is one of the few, if not the only, that fishes on daily trips year-round from New Jersey. Christmas is the only day the boat’s not scheduled to fish each year. 

<b>Absecon</b>

At <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>, Capt. Dave heard about no fishing, he said. He guessed he was now waiting for striped bass season to open beginning March 1 in bays and rivers. The shop holds an <a href=" http://www.abseconbay.com/fishingtournaments.html" target="_blank">annual striper contest</a> that awards substantial gift certificates to the store for the season’s first stripers checked-in from local waters, once the season is opened. That always makes the shop one of the first to report the catches each year. Dave had netted grass shrimp the other week to stock live for white perch fishing on brackish rivers like the Mullica. Those were almost sold out currently, and he was yet to catch more. The store is open for no set hours, but Dave is usually there. Call ahead to confirm before stopping by.

<b>Ocean City</b>

Nothing was heard about blackfishing on the ocean, except that anglers could find no green crabs for bait for the fish, said Justin from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. He strongly doubted that anything would bite in the surf. The back bay was 44 degrees, and he wouldn’t be surprised if the bay and rivers held life. But nobody reported fishing the waters. Striped bass could stir around in the bay and rivers, but striper fishing is closed in back waters like that until opening beginning March 1. Anglers fish for white perch on brackish rivers year-round. The store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

<b>Avalon</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 2/2:***</b> Capt. Jim from <b>Fins and Feathers Outfitter</b> yesterday set up a booth to exhibit at the Great America Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Pa., that begins Saturday, he said. Known as the “Harrisburg show,” the event will last through Sunday, Feb. 12.  Fins’s saltwater fishing ended for the season some time ago, and Jim guides waterfowling this time of year. The last one of the hunts shot brant and ducks for several days with hunters from Louisiana, covered in the previous report here. Once Jim finishes the show, he’ll guide hunts for snow geese. He’s been scouting for the geese, and found them in the marsh Saturday. He’d scouted the previous Wednesday, and none had arrived then. Fins offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including steelhead fishing in winter and spring on upstate New York’s Salmon River from Jim’s nearby lodge. The lodge’s guests also snowmobile, cross-country ski and snowshoe, and the area is being pounded with lake-effect snow from Lake Ontario. A couple of more feet were forecast currently. Fins also guides fly-fishing on Pennsylvania’s trout streams like the Yellow Breeches, and a club stocked the Yellow Breeches this week. Jim knew about anglers banking the trout on minnows, and a friend sent photos of rainbow trout reeled from the river. Saltwater fishing will resume with Fins in April or May, beginning with trips for striped bass on Delaware Bay or the ocean and drum on the bay. Stop by Jim’s booth at the Harrisburg show and say hello.

<b>Cape May</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 2/2:***</b> Daily, open-boat trips for blackfish ended for the season two weekends ago on the party boat <b>Porgy IV</b>, covered in a previous report here. But anglers telephoned and wanted to sail Sunday, so a trip headed out, Capt. Paul said. He’d said previously that trips could continue to blackfish if anybody wanted to charter the boat or enough customers wanted to head out. Fishing 30 miles from shore, farther than open trips usually run, the trip Sunday pulled in not a lot of the tautog, but the catch included a couple of big to 13 pounds. Gabe Howard from Philly axed that one, and Dave London from Cherry Hill also whipped one that weighed in the teens. Both anglers had never before socked a blackfish in the teens, and the trip’s anglers had wanted to catch sizable, and that’s what they did. If anglers want to sail for blackfish farther from shore, for a little more money, telephone the boat. Paul will try to run one of the trips Sunday, so telephone if interested. The trip will be back in time for anglers to watch the Super Bowl.  

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