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Trout Fishing

New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 2-27-17


<b>Belmar</b>

<b>Fisherman’s Den</b> is being readied for Wednesday’s opening of winter flounder season, Bob from the store wrote in an email. A few of the rental boats will be in the water on Shark River for the fishing, and all the bait will be stocked. Action is expected because of the warm winter. The mild weather made winter feel short, and anglers fished practically the whole season. Surf casters actually reported banking striped bass from the surf the last few weeks. Reports currently rolled in about small stripers and a few keepers from Deal to Manasquan. The water was 43 degrees, and plugs, rubber shads, bucktails and flies connected. But a few were wormed and clammed. Blackfish season will be closed for March beginning Wednesday, the first day of the month, reopening in April. Take a last shot at the fish on a favorite party boat. “Maybe win a pool,” he said.  Cod and “less desirable fish” sometimes also bit on the trips. <b>***Update, Thursday, 3/2:***</b> Customers pitched-in winter flounder from Shark River yesterday, opening day of flounder season, Tom from the store said. The angling seemed not super but decent. The water seemed warm, so anglers hope that will keep the fish biting. Strong wind today kept customers from gearing up for the angling and heading out. A few striped bass seemed to be dragged from the surf still. See more details about that above. One of Belmar’s party boats is still fishing. No trip sailed since blackfish season was closed beginning yesterday, including because of today’s weather. The vessel had been blackfishing and will now fish for cod and whatever else bites. Chum, bloodworms, sandworms and fresh clams are stocked. The store’s sister shop, Fisherman’s Den North in Atlantic Highlands, is closed for some weeks, until more anglers begin fishing from there, including on party and charter boats. Party boats there are on a winter break. Tom heard nothing about flounder fishing near that store. Flounder in that area probably bit in rivers, like in Navesink River at Red Bank, far upstream, where the water was probably warmest. The flounder will eventually migrate to Raritan Bay, near the store, and then the ocean this spring. <b>***Update, Friday, 3/3:***</b> Shark River’s winter flounder are in, Bob from the shop wrote in an email. On opening day of flounder season Wednesday, cloudy weather slowed the angling, but some anglers bagged a limit of two apiece. On Tuesday, before the opener, anglers caught and released many from the wall. Their flounder were up to 17 inches, and the best angling for the flounder is halfway through outgoing tides when some sun is shining, because the water’s warmest then. The fish are biting clams and either bloodworms or sandworms.

<b>Brielle</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/2:***</b> Wind canceled fishing Wednesday on the <b>Jamaica II</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. But forecasts look like trips will head out Saturday and Sunday. The boat is running for cod and ling 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday on the ocean.

Throwback striped bass to 24 or 25 inches actually bit in the surf at Deal, Spring Lake and Sea Girt, said John from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. Small plugs, small rubber shads and small rubber sand eels hooked them, and Alex from the store released 16 of the fish at Deal Saturday morning. For boaters, blackfishing was picky at best, also landing an occasional cod or an occasional ling. The fishing wasn’t great, and John was unsure about the depths fished, but guessed 80 to 100 feet. Blackfish season will be closed in March and reopened in April. The Reel Seat is open Thursdays through Sundays. Catch the shop’s exhibit at Berkeley Striper Club’s fishing flea market Saturday at Toms River Intermediate School North.

<b>Toms River</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/2:***</b> A few winter flounder were known about that were tugged from the Toms River from shore at Island Heights yesterday, opening day of flounder season, said Dennis from <b>Murphy’s Hook House</b>. A photo of one was posted on the store’s Facebook page, and Dennis knew about another keeper and a throwback that other anglers yanked from the river. The fish were spawned out and had clean bottoms. Clean bottoms suggest that the fish were out and about or active because of warm water, not hunkered in the mud and inactive because of cold. The water was 50 to 52 degrees yesterday. Warm water could draw flounder to migrate out of the river and into Barnegat Bay any moment, if the fish haven’t already. But anglers will just fish for them on the bay then. Another photo was posted on the Facebook page of a 1.92-pound flounder that a shore angler caught from Barnegat Bay at Mantoloking Bridge. The angler saw several other flounder taken there. He saw one boat fishing the area, the anglers also decking flounder. All the flounder there were spawned out and had clean bottoms, too. Dennis even knew about flounder plucked from Manasquan River near the hospital yesterday. That seemed to suggest flounder certainly were migrating. The fish in that area bite in the bay at first in the year. Then they migrate through Point Pleasant Canal to the Manasquan, and eventually to the ocean. The season was early for the migration, but winter’s been warm. Back on the Toms, small stripers have been biting well. Striper season was opened yesterday in bays and rivers, but anglers hooked and released them previously, like when targeting white perch. One group angled the bass on bloodworms but also a few on clams. Not many of the perch hit, only one or two on occasion. In the dark after 6 p.m. was the time to catch the stripers. Anglers tried in mornings without much success. The striper fishing was a little slow last night, probably because of the front that was arriving. The water’s mostly 3 to 5 feet deep and can be affected by weather like that. Strong wind blew today, but the bass fishing will pick back up. The few kayakers and boaters who fished nearby Barnegat Bay along Route 37 Bridge also played stripers, on 4- or 5-inch lures like Rapala X-Raps and plugs from Guides Choice. Stripers including a few keepers bit at Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant. How anglers fared on them yesterday was unknown, but the fish were released before the opener. Customers kept buying Gag’s Whip-It Fish for the creek’s stripers, fishing the soft-plastic lures on ¾-ounce jigheads. Some flounder hit in Oyster Creek, too, like for anglers fishing Route 9 Bridge. Chum, bloodworms, sandworms and fresh clams are stocked. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River. 

<b>Absecon</b>

Surprisingly good fishing was tied into for February, said Capt. Dave from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>. Something must’ve turned on white perch, because the best angling for them in several years was talked about from Mullica and Great Egg Harbor rivers. The perch were pretty much scattered up and down the rivers, and anglers had to find them. But how active small stripers were in the rivers was most surprising. They swam thick in those waters, and a couple of larger stripers were reported from there, including a confirmed 30-incher released this weekend. Striper fishing is closed in rivers and bays until opening beginning Wednesday. The store’s annual contest will be held for the year’s first stripers weighed-in from local waters. The tournament will award a $200 gift certificate for the first striper brought in, a $100 certificate for the second, a $50 certificate for the third, a $100 certificate for the first heavier than 20 pounds, and a $100 one for the first over 30. Other prizes will also be up for grabs, including an additional $100 certificate for the first angler who checks-in a striper and is registered as Going to the tournament listed under Events on <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/events/1914064902158664/
" target="_blank">the shop’s Facebook page</a>. Click the link to see all prizes and details about the tournament. Dave also expected to post a write-up about the contest on the store’s website probably today. During some winters, Oyster Creek is the only place likely to give up stripers when the season first opens. That’s because the creek is the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant. But the creek might not be a factor for the tournament this year, because Mullica and Great Egg Harbor rivers seem to hold stripers willing to bite, because of warm weather. If stripers are checked-in from the Oyster Creek area for the tournament, they’re only worth half the prize amount, and the next stripers entered from local waters will get the other half. Plenty of bloodworms are stocked, though the worm diggers, from New England, are somewhat having difficulty finding quality worms, because of snow. The store’s supply of grass shrimp is in good shape, because Dave’s been able to net plenty. Both baits are fished for the perch. Bloodworms are also a favorite for stripers in the early season. The bass can favor the worms while metabolism is slow because of cool water. The store was doing surprising business for February. <b>***Update, Thursday, 3/2:***</b> The year’s first striped bass was checked-in yesterday at the shop, the store’s Facebook page said. That took until 1 p.m., but Donovan Vasquez brought in the fish, a 9.4-pound 30-incher, that he bloodwormed on Mullica River. He didn’t know how many throwbacks he culled to catch the keeper, he told the shop. Action was constant, he said, and “he did pick up a few White Perch between the aggressive short Stripers,” the page said. Donovan won the $200 certificate for the first, and the $100 certificate for registering as Going to the tournament on the Event listing on the Facebook page. He used the certificates for a Tsunami Classic Rod with a Penn Clash 4000 Reel with a spool of 30-pound PowerPro. The rest of the prizes were still up for grabs. In other news, jumbo bloodworms were stocked at the store Monday. Smaller bloods were already on hand, written about above.

<b>Ocean City</b>

White perch, a good number, schooled Great Egg Harbor River and nearby Tuckahoe and Middle rivers, said Ed from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. Striped bass fishing is closed in rivers and bays until opening beginning Wednesday. But stripers were heard about from the rivers. A customer on Saturday morning released one that would’ve been a keeper on the Great Egg. Similar reports about perch and stripers came from Mullica River, farther north. Even farther north, Oyster Creek reportedly held stripers. That’s the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant. More is expected to be reported about stripers once the fishing opens. Ed hoped the bass would also be found in the bay, closer to the store, once it opens. Nothing was reported about fishing on the ocean. The store has been open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and will be open full-time soon. First the shop will exhibit at the Atlantic City Boat Show from Wednesday through Sunday and the Ocean City Intermediate School fishing flea market Saturday. Ed was unsure what the store’s hours would be during those events.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/2:***</b> Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b> heard about no striped bass fishing since striper season was opened yesterday in bays and rivers, he said. He wouldn’t be surprised if stripers bit in the bay already, because of the warm season. He’ll probably fish for them in two weekends, after traveling this weekend. He’s always one of this website’s first captains to hook stripers each year. He fishes for them in the bay in the early season, with jigs or Clouser flies along bottom, worked slowly. That’s often at creek mouths that dump warm water into the bay on outgoing tides. Afternoons, when the sun’s had time to warm the water, can fish best. Clear skies therefore help. He usually picks away at the bass in March. In April, he picks and picks at the stripers, until the bay’s fishing busts open. That usually happens in one day, when the bluefish migration arrives. Blues arrive in one big shot in the bay, usually within a day or two of tax day, April 15. Once they’re in, they’re in, in a big way, usually. Then his trips usually smash lots of blues, and stripers can be mixed in, if stripers can beat the aggressive blues to the hook. Weakfish and out-of-season summer flounder can also be mixed in. The weaks are big, so-called tiderunners that enter the bay a moment to spawn in spring. The flounder are released until flounder season is opened, usually sometime in May. Flounder season is yet to be announced.  A grand slam – the four main fish anglers target in the bay – can be caught that time of year. This is some of the best fishing of the year, and many anglers don’t realize fishing is even possible in the area that time of season. That is a time to go. Joe is still running annual traveling charters to the Florida Keys that he begins each Christmas and wraps up at Easter. This past weekend, he took his family to the Keys. On Saturday, they jumped three tarpon, caught lemon sharks while sight-fishing and landed other fish including jacks, snappers and pompano. On Sunday, they jumped two tarpon, reeled in four lemon sharks to 70 or 80 pounds and caught other fish including jacks, mangrove snappers, mutton snappers, lookdowns and pompano. Quite a variety, he said, and fishing’s been good in the Keys this year. The angling’s different every year, and this year has been best in the bay near the islands. That’s where the weekend’s trips fished. The angling in the Everglades hasn’t been as happening this winter. The tarpon fishing’s been great. Permit fishing’s also been good on the bay, though last weekend’s trips did no permit fishing. In tarpon fishing, anglers count “jumping” a fish, or having one on that got off. They’re difficult to land, but his trips have been landing them, covered in previous reports here. The trips, mostly fishing on weekends, can be a mini-vacation. Joe can help book flights and accommodations for anglers, if they want.  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>***Update, Thursday, 3/2:***</b> From <b>Fins and Feathers Outfitters</b>, Capt. Jim might poke around for striped bass on the bay near Avalon this weekend, he said. Cold, windy weather might prevent that, but if not, the warm winter might have the bass biting earlier than during some years. He’ll at least begin fishing by the end of the month, either for stripers or, in upstate New York, for steelheads on Salmon River. Anglers fish for steelheads from his nearby lodge. More on that in a moment. From Avalon, drum fishing on Delaware Bay in May will also be some of his year’s first fishing. May is usually peak time for that. On Salmon River, snow recently had shut down steelheading. Five feet of snow covered the ground at the lodge, and when snow’s that thick, reaching the river is difficult. Weather became warmer now, and the snow is often melting. The river was likely high and cold from the melt currently. But that should improve, and the fish winter in the river, spawn there in spring and return to Lake Ontario for summer. Late March into April can be some of the best angling for them. Jim until recently was guiding snow goose hunts. But that’s finished for the year, because the warmth pulled most of the goose migration north. Many of the birds seemed to be at New York’s Finger Lakes. Jim probably saw 1,000 snow geese in South Jersey near Delaware River and Delaware Bay when he scoped them out early this week. But that was too few for guiding trips. He usually guides the trips throughout March, and the goose season lasts into April. Fins offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including saltwater fishing, hunting for ducks, geese and deer, the steelheading, and fly-fishing for trout on Pennsylvania’s streams like the Yellow Breeches.

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