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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 2-20-17


<b>***Update, Thursday, 2/23:***</b> Capt. Frank from the <b>Vitamin Sea</b> is going to try kicking off the boat’s fishing before April, he wrote in an email. Winter’s been warm, and he’s fairly sure striped bass and winter flounder will bite along the flats of Raritan Bay. An open-boat trip is slated to fish Wednesday, March 29, for stripers and flounder, and he’ll announce more open trips when he gives a report next. Depending on how many anglers telephone and whether charters book, open trips will fish Saturday and Sunday, April 1 and 2, for either blackfish or stripers and flounder. Blackfish season will be opened beginning April 1, after closing in March, and he’s pretty sure the tautog will be active. Working Man’s Special Trips, sailing 4 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays, will begin on April 5. Capt. T.J. will run most of those trips and most p.m. charters or open trips. Fishing is just as good during that time, and often better, because of less boat traffic. Many anglers already booked spring striper trips. Booking ahead can make sense, because you get the dates you want, instead of settling for dates that are left. The boat’s engine had considerable maintenance this winter, and now produces an additional 40 h.p. That speeds up cruising well. The heat-exchanger and after-cooler were serviced, new injectors were installed and the valves were adjusted. The air system was cleaned, and all fluids were changed. The hull was washed and waxed and the bottom sanded and painted. The interior will now be cleaned, and the deck will be newly painted with anti-skid. The port and starboard windshields were sent out, because they began to leak badly. The boat will be splashed in the next week or so, if all goes well. Frank will be at the Penn booth on Saturday, March 18, at the Saltwater Fishing Expo in Somerset. Stop by and say hello. He looks forward to another great season, he said. “Get your dose of Vitamin Sea!”


One of the Belmar party boats docked a few blackfish from the ocean Sunday, said Tom from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b>.  Not a lot of the fish were biting, but some were. A couple of small, throwback striped bass were beached from the surf. Weather was warm and calm during the weekend, so a few anglers fished.

<b>Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters</b> will exhibit at the Greater Philadelphia Outdoor Sportshow this weekend, Capt. Pete said. That will be from Thursday through Sunday at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks, Pa. Parker Pete’s will probably begin fishing for the year in late April, depending on weather. Trips then would blackfish on the ocean. Striped bass trips, also on the ocean, begin in mid-May, unless the migration shows up sooner.  When striper fishing slows, fluke trips begin, also on the ocean. Those include annual On the Water Seminars that teach bucktailing for big fluke. Charters and individual spaces with charters who want more anglers will be booked at the show. Reserve dates, because they fill. <b>***Update, Thursday, 2/23:***</b> Get $75 off a charter if you book at the weekend’s show with a <a href="
" target="_blank">coupon</a>.


Cod and blackfish were picked Saturday on the <b>Jamaica II</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. A 12-pound cod won the pool, and a few anglers limited out on blackfish. The angling was best in the morning, becoming slower in the afternoon. Trips are slated to sail 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. several days a week for cod, blackfish and ling.

Blackfish, decent catches, were boated from the ocean, said Eric from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. They bit in about 120 feet of water, and not a lot of anglers limited out, but trips scratched away and bagged some. Rumors, nothing first-hand, said a couple of striped bass were slid from the surf. The store is open Thursdays through Sundays.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 2/23:***</b> Bottom-fishing slowed on the party boat <b>Dauntless</b>, catching a little of everything, not a lot of anything, Capt. Butch said. A couple of cod were bagged per day. A few blackfish were axed. A few mackerel and herring turned up. Two or three ling were managed per trip – four was the most. Bergals were also brought in. Pretty slow, but the boat is one of the only, if not the only, from New Jersey that fishes daily during this time in winter, and year-round. Trips fished in depths from 130 feet to 200. Butch now expects to avoid water 190 feet or deeper, after trying those waters, because loads of dogfish were a nuisance there. The ocean on the fishing grounds was 38 to 41 degrees, coldest in the shallows, warmest in the deep. That was the surface temperature, and the bottom was probably about the same or 40 degrees this time of season, Butch thinks. Interestingly, a buddy said fishing bailed mackerel, 20 or 30 per angler, from Rudee Inlet in Virginia Beach, Va., yesterday. That was closer to shore than in years, and maybe the mackerel migration will swim that close to shore off New Jersey this spring. The Dauntless mixes in mackerel fishing with bottom-fishing when mackerel are in range, though that hasn’t happened in a long time. Trips are bottom-fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.

<b>***Update, Tuesday, 2/21:***</b> Great to be on the water this Presidents’ Day weekend, a report said on the party boat <b>Norma-K III</b>’s website. Seas were calm, and the warmth felt great. A few blackfish were picked aboard, but the captain would’ve liked to have seen more, and the fishing was tough. Pool-winning blackfish weighed 5 to 7 pounds on the trips from Saturday to Monday.  On Saturday’s trip, Andrew DiMatteo from Pennington limited out on the fish to 6 pounds. The fishing was best on Monday’s trip. “Saw life on all drops (that day) with keeper blackfish and a few cod!” the report said.  The boat will fish one more weekend, sailing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday, for blackfish and cod, before going to the boat yard for seasonal maintenance. Green crabs and clams will be provided, like this past weekend.

<b>Toms River</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 2/23:***</b> Striped bass season will be opened beginning Wednesday in rivers and bays, and the Toms River was already loaded with small stripers that bit, said Dennis from <b>Murphy’s Hook House</b>. Winter flounder season will also be opened that day, and anglers will see whether the flatfish remain in the river or already migrated out. Winter’s been warm, and flounder depart for Barnegat Bay quickly, once the water warms. Still, anglers will just fish for flounder on the bay then.  A group fished the river for white perch Monday evening with bloodworms on perch rigs. The perch fishing’s been slow, giving up one or two on occasion. But the group landed and released 10 stripers 10 to 14 inches in the hour and a half of fishing on the perch rigs. That was mostly on the worms, but they also dunked a few clams, and some of the stripers hit them. Dennis will try to stock fresh clams Saturday, and frozen, salted clams were currently in supply. Bloodworms were supposed to be re-stocked this week. Sandworms will be carried beginning Tuesday. Freshwater baits including shiners, killies, nightcrawlers and garden worms are on hand. The store is open for no set hours, but Dennis has been there almost every day, from about 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on weekdays, and last weekend from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. Regular hours will begin next week. Lots of customers stopped in and headed fishing last weekend, because of the weather. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River. 


Great fishing for white perch was talked about from the Mullica and Great Egg Harbor rivers, said Capt. Dave from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>. He stocked the year’s first bloodworms for the fishing in past days, and they sold out. Anglers stirred around in the weekend’s fair weather. More of the worms are expected to be stocked Tuesday sometime. But Dave’s also been netting grass shrimp to stock, including catching them this morning. They’re on hand, and both baits will hook the perch. On the Mullica, the fish bit in good-sized areas from the Parkway Bridge upstream to Green Bank. Lower Bank was about the center. Plenty of throwback striped bass supposedly bit in the rivers. Striper fishing is closed in rivers and bays until opening there beginning March 1, and the stripers were released. A couple of stripers that topped the 28-inch minimum legal size were reported angled, especially from the Great Egg toward Gibson Creek. Stripers were also reported hooked sometimes in bays and released on lures. Some seemed to be moving around in bays. The mild weather looks promising for the striper opener.  The store is always one of the year’s first where stripers are checked-in once the angling is opened. That’s because of the shop’s annual contest that awards substantial prizes for the first checked-in from local waters. <a href="" target="_blank">See last year’s prizes</a> on the store’s website, and this year’s should be similar. The store is open for no set hours, but Dave’s usually there now, because interest in fishing is picking up. Telephone ahead to confirm.


The city council approved <b>Riptide Bait & Tackle</b>’s annual Spring Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby to run March 1 to May 21, the store’s Facebook page said. Entry includes a permit to drive Brigantine’s entire front beach, when accompanied by a Brigantine beach buggy permit. Without the tournament permit, not all the beach can be driven. The contest, sponsored by TFO Rods, Penn and Tsunami, will award cash for the three heaviest stripers and the three heaviest blues from the town’s surf. <b>***Update, Monday, 2/20:***</b> Customers fished the surf, but no catches were reported yet, the shop’s Facebook page said today. This was the third day of great weather, and the store’s been open almost every day, but for no set hours. Telephone before traveling there. Frozen baits are stocked, and bloodworms will be carried beginning March 1, when the store opens full time.


The <b>Stray Cat</b> fished for cod during the weekend, Capt. Mike said. But lots of conger eels and dogfish, some bergals, a few small blackfish, a couple of out-of-season sea bass, a ling and no cod were reeled in. Lots of life, but not the right kind. Lots of whales swam. Weather was warm and calm, and anglers wanted to go. Another one of the trips was supposed to fish today. If no cod are cranked in, no trips will probably fish again until the boat blackfishes in April. Blackfish season will be closed in March, reopened in April and closed again afterward. The boat fished nine wrecks in 140 to 160 feet of water. The ocean there was 42 degrees. Inshore of 15 miles, the ocean was 38 to 39 degrees.

<b>Ocean City</b>

One angler was heard about who fished for white perch on a river, said Justin from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. Justin thought the angler fished the Mullica but was unsure, and was unsure how the angler fared. Closer to the store, the Great Egg Harbor River is usually popular for perch fishing this time of year. None of the local boats were known to be sailing for blackfish on the ocean, so nothing was heard about that angling. Justin fished freshwater, catching chain pickerel on minnows and pink Zooms. Only one or two warm days are needed for freshwater fishing to pick up in winter, and the angling is an alternative for coastal anglers locally this season. Lakes are abundant in the area. The store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and will be open full-time in early March. First the shop will exhibit at the Atlantic City Boat Show from March 1-5 and the Ocean City Intermediate School fishing flea market on March 4.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

The warm weather had Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b> thinking about striped bass, he said. He’s always one of the first captains to catch stripers each year, and begins chasing them once the angling is opened in the bay beginning March 1. He hopes the fishing “gets off to a shotgun start,” he said, because of the weather. On the trips, he fishes soft-plastic lures on the bay, slowly along bottom, at places like creek mouths, usually on outgoing tides in afternoons. Outgoing tides flood warmer water into the bay, because creeks, and rivers, for that matter, are warmer than the bay that time of year. Afternoons can fish best, because the sun heats the water most by then. Bright days can help, because of the warmth. By April, his fishing will bust wide open. His trips then will angle the bass, bluefish, weakfish and summer flounder on the bay. That’s some of the best fishing of the year. Anglers might not think about fishing the coast that early, but should, in this area. The flounder are out-of-season in April and are released. Flounder fishing can be best in the early season in South Jersey’s shallow bays, because the skinny water warms before deeper bays in the state. Joe’s next traveling trips to the Florida Keys will fish this weekend. He runs the trips throughout each winter until Easter, and the fishing’s been good this year, including for tarpon and permit, covered in previous reports here. The trips, fishing mostly on weekends, can target a large variety of catches. See the <a href="" target="_blank">traveling charters’ page</a> on Jersey Cape’s website.  Keep up with Joe’s fishing on <a href="" target="_blank">Jersey Cape’s Blog</a>.

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