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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 12-18-17

<b>Keyport</b>

Striped bass fishing was excellent on the ocean near Sandy Hook aboard, said Capt. Mario from the <b>Down Deep Fleet</b>. Many of the fish were throwbacks, but plenty were keepers and slots. They were hooked on rubber shads and jigs, and open-boat trips are fishing for them daily. On Down Deep’s other boat, blackfishing was picky, better on some days than others. But the tautog to 7 pounds were reeled in, and open trips are sailing for them daily on that boat. Charters are available for either fishing for up to 15 passengers. Both boats feature heated cabins and galleys.  Sign up for the Short Notice List on <a href="http://downdeepsportfishing.com" target="_blank">Down Deep’s website</a> to be kept informed about special open trips.

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

Weather was almost too nice Sunday, said Capt. Tom from the party boat <b>Atlantic Star</b>. No wind blew, so the two anchors wouldn’t hold well. Some keepers, no limits, and mostly throwback blackfish were hooked. Lots of blackfish have been a half-inch or inch undersized. Tom didn’t try to run a trip Saturday because of rough weather. Today and tomorrow’s weather looks good, and trips are blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 or 3 p.m. daily.

<b>Neptune</b>

Spaces are available for an individual-reservation trip for blackfish Tuesday with <b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b>, Capt. Ralph wrote in an email. Weather might hit 60 degrees, and the weekend might also be warm. Spaces are available for more of the blackfishing Friday and Sunday and for an individual-reservation trip for offshore wreck-fishing Saturday. The wreck-fishing is for cod, pollock, big sea bass, large porgies and red and white hake. Ralph did no fishing last weekend because he was attending a wrestling tournament he watched.

<b>Belmar</b>

The following report was posted as an update Saturday and is being re-posted in case anybody missed it. An email from Bob from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b>: “The snow (striped) bass are here and feeding like it’s their last meal, putting on some fat for the winter. The reports we get … point to a coast-wide invasion of small fish. When you hit a pocket of fish, the numbers you can catch are extremely high. One angler … had more than 10 double-headers (and) many singles. The surf and inlet areas have produced big numbers (and) occasional 30+inch fish. These fish can be caught on an assortment of lures, but keep it small with single hooks to avoid damage to the fish and you. A hook in the hand is no fun. Winter flounder are still biting, but (the season for the fish closes beginning Jan. 1), so don’t wait … .” Merry Christmas, he wrote.

<b>Brielle</b>

Boating for striped bass on the ocean was “kind of finishing up,” said Alex from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. But 20- to 30-inchers were jigged on Tsunami shads. Surf-fishing for the same size of stripers seemed phenomenal on lures like Tsunami sand eels, small rubber shads or small plugs. Anglers landed up to 20 in a trip, and customers winged the fish from Sea Girt and Manasquan to Point Pleasant Beach. The whole area seemed hot, and Manasquan Inlet also tossed up the bass. Boating for blackfish on the ocean picked slower fishing than usual for this time of year, but caught. Anglers expect fishing to improve for the tautog as the water becomes colder. Some anglers scratched together limits. Blackfish were still hooked in Point Pleasant Canal, fewer than earlier this season, but catching.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

An open-boat trip for jumbo sea bass only made one drop yesterday with <b>Mushin Sportfishing</b>, and the fish bit from start to finish, Capt. Alan wrote in an email. The trip limited out easily, and the size of the sea bass was incredible. Almost all weighed more than 4 pounds, “with many in the honest 5 to 6 pound bracket!” he wrote. Porgies, bluefish and even a weakfish were also swung in.

A few keeper striped bass and some slots and throwbacks were axed yesterday from the ocean on the <b>Gambler</b>, a report said on the party boat’s website. Weather looks good for the fishing today and tomorrow. Trips are fishing for stripers 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. However, no striper trips will sail Friday and Saturday this week, because the boat will steam for sea bass offshore then. Spots are available for <a href=" http://www.gamblerfishing.net/offshore-sea-bass.php" target="_blank">jumbo sea bass trips offshore</a>.  Book soon by telephoning the boat or purchasing tickets online, the report said.

On the party boat <b>Norma-K III</b>, blackfish were picked during the weekend on the ocean, a report said on the party boat’s website. Anglers who cast around and worked for them caught. White and green crabs both drew bites, and some of the tautog were jigged. Trips are blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.

<b>Mystic Island</b>

Striped bass were boated on the ocean right outside Little Egg Inlet, said Brandon from <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b>. If anglers trolled just inshore of 3 miles with Mojos, they could smoke the fish, including good-sized. Striper fishing is closed beyond 3 miles from the coast. He heard about the catches from Ship Bottom to Atlantic City. Blackfishing seemed good at local reefs. He saw an online photo of a box full of the tautog from a trip in the area. Brandon would imagine that white perch are biting in Collins Cove on Mullica River, he said. Customers were buying bloodworms for perch fishing from the store. Scott’s will be open through Christmas Eve day, closed afterward for a winter break and reopened beginning March 1. But the crew will be at the shop during the break for work like doing inventory and shipping mail-ordered parts from PennParts.com, the shop’s online business for Penn Reels parts and other items.

<b>Longport</b>

“We’re just beating up on stripers,” Capt. Mike from the <b>Stray Cat</b> said. The fishing was great on the ocean the last four or five days. The fish were trolled but also jigged and plugged aboard. A trip yesterday popper-plugged them on the boat. Snagging bunker to liveline for bait wasn’t really working. But every other way caught. “Tearing it up,” he said. Birds worked the water, and the water temperature plummeted to 45 degrees, from 50 or 51 previously. That was because of cold and snow this past week. The fish, a large variety of sizes from 2 pounds to 30 pounds, were “on the move.” He never saw the migration move through this heavily before. The run began late but now was blasting through. Open-boat trips will striper fish the next couple of days, and charters are available for the angling. Open trips will blackfish later in the week. Charters are available for that, too. A few spots remain for an open trip for blackfish for the first half of the day on New Year’s Eve. Mike expects to fish until Jan. 17 before taking a winter break.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Seas were sporty, but 12 to 15 striped bass to 40 pounds were drilled Saturday on the ocean on jigs with one angler aboard, said Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea Isle Bait &I Tackle</b>. Joe for this report wasn’t asked whether any were kept, but obviously any more than a limit were released. The fishing was great, and on the next day, Sunday, a trip with two anglers aboard trolled five stripers to 20 pounds on the ocean. Seas were glass-calm that day, probably why fewer of the bass bit that day. That was the year’s final striper trip with Joe, because he’ll launch annual traveling charters to the Florida Keys this coming weekend. Those trips fish every Christmas to Easter, and see the <a href=" http://www.captainjoehughes.com/page3.html" target="_blank">traveling charters webpage</a> on Jersey Cape’s website. Looking ahead: Anglers should be thinking about reserving dates for trips for stripers and bluefish in April on the back bay aboard. That angling is some of the best of the year. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on <a href="http://captainjoehughes.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">Jersey Cape’s Blog</a>.

<b>Avalon</b>

Capt. Jim from <b>Fins and Feathers Outfitters</b> wrapped up his season’s saltwater fishing some time ago. He’s been guiding waterfowling, he said, and last week’s snow and cold triggered large migrations of birds. Delaware Bay was loaded with snow geese and Canada geese. Trips with him this past week bagged them and brant, buffleheads and mergansers. He ran some good hunts. The hunts also waterfowled along the Intracoastal Waterway a couple of days. On calmer days, he saw lots of boats on the Intracoastal that were headed for striped bass fishing on the ocean. Four hunts are supposed to waterfowl with him this week. Jim’s offering a discount available on Airbnb for his <a href="http://www.sjlodge.com/" target="_blank">lodge</a> in upstate New York. He could make the discount unavailable at any moment, but he’ll honor the discount into February for those who book now. Anglers fish for steelheads at nearby Salmon River from the lodge. The fishing is world-class in winter until early spring. Guests also snowmobile and do other winter sports from the lodge.

<b>Cape May</b>

<b>***Update, Tuesday, 12/19:***</b> Striped bass fishing was pretty good on the ocean aboard, Capt. Steve from the <b>Prime Time II</b> said. Smaller stripers were mixed in now, or not all were in the 40 inches like before. Currently, lots were 32 to 36 inches, and they were plentiful. They held not far from Cape May. Yesterday’s trip sailed 9 miles from port to catch.

Fishing slugged striped bass, sometimes five or six at once, on the ocean Saturday off Ocean City on the <b>Heavy Hitter</b> on the troll at bird play, Capt. George said. The anglers limited out on unders and bagged one 45-inch over. The water was 46 degrees, and forecasts had called for gusts to 30 knots, but weather wasn’t so bad. Forecasts kept many boats from fishing that day. The angling was canceled Sunday aboard because of a mechanical problem. George is fixing that and will keep after the stripers. Telephone if interested in the fishing.

Ocean boaters seemed to catch striped bass well from Ocean City to Townsend’s Inlet, said Nick from <b>Hands Too Bait & Tackle</b>. A few trips seemed to score from Hereford’s Inlet to the Cape May Rips. Most of the bass were trolled, but live eels can also catch at the rips. The rips are at the confluence of the ocean and Delaware Bay.  When bait schooled abundantly, the stripers could be jigged or hooked on lures or bunker snagged and then livelined for bait. Abundant bait can attract enough stripers to one place to create decent odds of catching on the jigs, lures or bunker. Otherwise, trips should troll to cover ground. Some good blackfishing, including for good-sized, was had within 10 miles from the coast. Fishing for jumbo sea bass sounded good 50 miles from shore or farther out. Nick was supposed to sail for them today, and sea bass season will be closed beginning Jan. 1. Eels and green crabs are stocked. The store is open for no set hours, but is pretty much open a couple of hours in mornings on days when enough anglers are likely to fish.

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