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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 3-20-17


<b>Keyport</b>

Fishing will begin with open-boat striped bass trips Saturday and Sunday, April 1 and 2, on the <b>Vitamin Sea</b>, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. Some space remains, and anglers should also bring a winter flounder rod to mix in fishing for them. Last year on April 1 and 2 aboard, “we had good bass fishing and we never got the chance to flounder pound,” he wrote. Flounder should still be in the bay this year, because of snow that fell late this winter, keeping water cool. Good dates are still available for charters for stripers, blackfish and fluke. Two charters will be available daily during the heart of striper season. Open-boat striper trips will fish when no charter is booked and will be announced in emails and on <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/vitaminseafishing/" target="_blank">Vitamin Sea’s Facebook page</a> during the previous week. Like the page, including to see photos during the fishing season. Shots will also be posted on this website, Frank noted. He thanks those who stopped and saw him at the Penn booth at the Saltwater Fishing Expo on Friday. He was supposed to be there Saturday, too, but became scheduled to shoot a TV show on the Vitamin Sea that day, though that ended up weathered out. He looks forward to the fishing season and seeing anglers. “Get your dose of Vitamin Sea!”

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

A couple of anglers had beached small, rat striped bass, not many, from the bay at Keyport before the recent cold, said Jay from <b>Julian’s Bait & Tackle</b>. That made fishing look like it would begin to produce, until the cold and snow arrived, though weather was somewhat warmer now. Nobody reported fishing for winter flounder. Sandworms and bloodworms will be stocked Friday. The shop had begun to carry the worms because of warmer weather, then cold began. Fresh clams will be carried next when the supplier makes them available.

<b>Fisherman’s Den North</b> will open for the season on April 1, Tom said. The shop wasn’t open currently, because nothing really happened with fishing locally. No striped bass were even banked from shore on Raritan Bay, really. That’s some of the year’s first angling that will take off. Nobody mentioned winter flounder fishing in the area. Flounder were pulled from Shark River, mentioned in the report below from the store’s sister shop, Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, farther south. Fishing from Atlantic Highlands beginning April 1 will include blackfishing from the port’s party boats. Blackfish season will open throughout that month and be closed afterward. 

<b>Belmar</b>

Not a lot was doing, said Tom from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b>. Winter flounder were eased from Shark River. All bait and supplies are stocked, and the store’s rental boats are in the water for the fishing. A few throwback striped bass were slid from the surf. Customers anticipated the opening of blackfish season beginning on April 1, two Saturdays away. Party boats from Belmar will sail for the tautog on the ocean.

<b>Brielle</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/23:***</b> Gusts to 40 knots were expected to weather out yesterday’s trip on the <b>Jamaica II</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. But weather looks good for the weekend, and trips are expected to sail for cod and ling 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The trips are slated for Wednesdays and both days of weekends.

Winter flounder had been scooped from Barnegat Bay, said Alex from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. But little was mentioned about the fishing since the cold last week, though weather became somewhat warmer in past days. Sometimes weather this week is supposed to reach the 50 degrees, and the 60s on Saturday. Maybe more anglers will fish. Surely flounder swam the bay. Customers fish the northern bay toward Mantoloking Bridge and Point Pleasant Canal for flounder. Small striped bass had been hooked from the surf when weather was warmer. Alex landed 15 in a trip in late February. The Reel Seat is open Thursdays through Sundays and will probably be open daily beginning in the first or second week of April.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/23:***</b> The <b>Norma-K III</b> is back at the dock and will fish this weekend, a report said on the party boat’s website. The trips will run for cod, pollock and ling 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and fresh clams will be supplied. The vessel had been in dry dock for painting. Trips will blackfish daily beginning April 1.

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/23:***</b> Fishing sailed Saturday and Tuesday on the party boat <b>Dauntless</b>, Capt. Butch said. A handful of cod, pollock and ling, not many, were bagged. A couple of throwback blackfish were released, and lots of dogfish bit. The angling was slow, but the boat might’ve been the only that fished from New Jersey during the stretch of days. Dauntless is always slated to fish daily year-round, maybe the only boat that is in the state. Christmas is the only day no trip is scheduled. The trips this past week only sailed on days when weather was perfect, because that’s when enough anglers showed up. The boat was readied to run yesterday, a windy day, for instance, but only three anglers showed up. More anglers might’ve showed if other boats were slated to fish. But the Dauntless was the only being lighted up in the mornings. More are supposed to begin fishing this weekend, though. The trips fished in 130 feet of water to 140. Saturday’s trip tried deeper, but getting bait past dogfish was impossible there. The boat’s water-temperature gauge was out of service, but Butch knew that the ocean along shore was 42 degrees, and had been 39. The temperature was yet to rise for the season and was the same for some time. No mackerel were heard about, but the boat mixes in mackerel fishing, along with bottom-fishing, when the spring mackerel migration swims within range. The Dauntless is bottom-fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.  

Fishing will kick off on April 1 with trips for cod, ling and blackfish on the <b>Gambler</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. Trips will switch to striped bass fishing as soon as the bass migrate the ocean. Capt. Bob and crew thank everyone who visited the boat’s booth at the Saltwater Fishing Expo this weekend.

<b>Toms River</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/23:***</b> Small striped bass, sometimes a keeper, a few white perch and a couple of winter flounder were lifted from the Toms River at Island Heights, said Jeff from <b>Murphy’s Hook House</b>. Anglers fished for them from land, mostly with bloodworms. But the stripers seemed to begin hitting small plugs at moments. Jeff wasn’t asked about the time of day the stripers were caught, but the store previously reported that nighttime was the time. Stripers, some of them decent-sized, and winter flounder were flung from Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant. Anglers fished for stripers there with paddletails, sometimes rubber shads. Occasionally they dunked bloods for the fish. A few flounder were reported from Barnegat Bay near Mantoloking Bridge and Manasquan River near Point Pleasant Canal. A few small stripers, no keepers, were heard about from the surf. Bloodworms were also cast for them. Some surf anglers fished clams, and a couple worked plugs. Only 1 ½ dozen bloodworms were stocked yesterday, but the worms are supposed to be restocked Friday. Sandworms and fresh clams were stocked. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

<b>Forked River</b>

Small striped bass were reeled from Oyster Creek on tackle like a ¾-ounce Spro or other jighead with a soft-plastic lure like a Bass Assassin or a rubber shad, said Dane from <b>Grizz’s Forked River Bait & Tackle</b>. Someone said a few bigger – 28- to 30-inchers – were caught early Saturday morning. Winter flounder might’ve bitten in the creek, but this weekend was Dane’s first back at the shop for the season, and he heard about no flounder yet. The creek is the warm-water discharge from the Forked River power plant. Bloodworms, nightcrawlers and chum is stocked. The store is trying to keep killies stocked.

<b>Barnegat Light</b>

Capt. Ted from the <b>Super Chic</b> hopes to begin fishing by May 1, he said. He’ll certainly be ready before sea bass season is opened. The season is yet to be announced and last year began on May 23. He’d like to fish for ling and cod before then, a little far from shore. Open-boat tilefish trips might also fish in May and June. The boat is in the water – usually is, year-round – and is undergoing maintenance like new windows and painting. Ted knew about no boaters fishing recently. Boaters from Barnegat Light saw mackerel three or four weeks ago. Gillnetters caught the Bostons. That was when weather was warmer, and whether the mackerel departed since was unknown. When weather becomes a little warmer, a few boaters will surely poke out again. Small striped bass landed at Oyster Creek were the only catches known about. That’s the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant. Ted heard nothing about winter flounder from the creek. Cold weather might’ve kept anglers scarcer than before. He visited the Saltwater Fishing Expo at 11 a.m. Saturday, and the event was mobbed.

<b>Mystic Island</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/23:***</b> Some white perch and small striped bass were hung upstream on Mullica River, said Brandon from <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b>. But striper fishing slowed everywhere because water cooled in chillier weather. The angling at Graveling Point went from anglers nailing a mess of stripers to maybe an angler would land one currently. The water there was 40 degrees on Monday, and could be colder now. Fifty-degrees is good for striper fishing there. So the temp’s got a ways to go. Forecasts look warmer for the weekend. “Hopefully, that’s spring trying to break through,” he said. “But we’ll see.” Graveling is a shore-angling spot at the confluence of the Mullica and Great Bay, known for early-season striper catches. The river pouring onto relatively warm flats there seems to attract them. Rivers are warmer than bays and the ocean in spring. Plus, Graveling is just a place that’s accessible, part of the reason for the spot’s popularity. The annual $100 gift certificate to the store remains up for grabs for the angler who checks-in the year’s first keeper striper from Graveling. Many throwback stripers were played there when striper season opened March 1 in bays and rivers, covered in previous reports here. Weather was warm in February, then became colder. So the water became colder. Customers who currently caught stripers and perch upstream on the Mullica were tight-lipped about locations. There isn’t a huge stretch of the river that can be fished for them, so the anglers didn’t reveal that. A few customers headed north and fished for stripers at Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant. That fishing seemed slower than before because of the weather, too, according to them.    

<b>Absecon</b>

Wasn’t a lot of interest in fishing during the weekend, said Capt. Dave from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>. Today’s weather was the first that was better since the cold. An angler this morning already tugged in a striped bass who previously won the weekly prize of a T-shirt for the fish photo that gets the most Likes on the store’s Facebook page. Stripers and white perch likely remained in the same areas in rivers like the Mullica where they were angled before the cold. That’s because weather was cold, but nothing worse. Water temperature might’ve needed to rise a couple of degrees to make stripers as active as before. Interest seemed to be just building back up. Conditions should be in order for the catches to resume. Dave’s ready to begin his striper charters on the Mullica this week, if anglers want to go. Rumors circulated that stripers might’ve begun to arrive in waters near Cape May that migrated from south, but Dave considered them only rumors. Bloodworms, live grass shrimp, minnows and fresh clams are stocked. 

<b>Atlantic City</b>

Weather was rough and cold, dropping water to 40 degrees, said Noel from <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b>. But today was better, and was the first day of spring. Last week’s severe cold was the last of the fishing season, he hopes. Ling and a few striped bass bit in Absecon Inlet before the water was rough. That should kick back in, and cast cut bait like mullet and clams for the ling, and bloodworms for the stripers. All of that bait, including extra-large bloods, and more, a full supply, is stocked. Customers fish the jetty-lined inlet on foot near the shop. Lots of stripers were angled from rivers before the cold. The migration of stripers and bluefish will invade the inlet and adjacent surf this spring. That’s all one of the best places for the fishing in New Jersey that season. Noel was supposed to be on the radio with Atlantic City’s mayor last weekend on the Shep on Fishing show, but that’s been postponed to this coming weekend. The mayor is supposed to talk about fishing access to the inlet since the boardwalk is being rebuilt along those waters. Anglers are concerned whether plenty of access will remain and would like reassurance. In addition to fishing, crabbing becomes available in the Atlantic City area when weather becomes warmer. Noel recently posted a video of a good crabbing spot on the shop’s Facebook page.

<b>Egg Harbor Township</b>

As many striped bass could be played as anglers wanted on Great Egg Harbor and Mullica rivers, said John from <b>24-7 Bait & Tackle</b>. Most of the fish were throwbacks, and good-sized white perch 12 and 13 inches came from the rivers. Both catches were bloodwormed, and the worms are stocked. <b>The company also owns 24-7 Bait & Tackle in Marmora</b>. The company is also opening a store named Tight Lines Bait & Tackle in Somers Point.

<b>Longport</b>

No trips fished in 9-foot seas this weekend on the <b>Stray Cat</b>, Capt. Mike said. Open-boat trips will sail this weekend for cod, ling, mackerel or whatever will bite, if weather is fishable, in 20 fathoms. Those trips were going to begin this past weekend, and trips will blackfish on the ocean beginning the following weekend, the first weekend of April. Blackfish season will be opened throughout that month and closed afterward. 

<b>Ocean City</b>

Water became cold because of cold weather, slowing striped bass fishing on rivers, said Ed from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. A few hardy anglers plucked a few white perch from Great Egg and Mullica rivers. Stripers were active there before the water chilled. That angling looked ahead of schedule during a warm spell previously. The bay then was 52 degrees, and on Friday was 38. Even the ocean cooled to 41 degrees from 45 or 46 previously. Bloodworms for the striper and perch fishing were out of stock this weekend and weren’t restocked because of the weather. But they’ll be restocked this week. The shop is open daily.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Surely anglers nabbed a few striped bass from the back bay, said Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. But weather’s been tough, even for painting the boat’s bottom. He can’t paint on 40-degree days. His season’s first trips from Sea Isle will jump on the bass. By mid-April, the bay’s fishing will explode. The migration of bluefish will arrive, the stripers will still bite, and weakfish and out-of-season summer flounder will be mixed in. That’s all in the bay and some of the best fishing of the year. Anglers should take advantage. In the meantime, Joe’s running annual traveling charters to the Florida Keys. That fishing was fantastic this weekend, with Darrel Cooper and two buddies aboard. On Friday they boated three permit, jumped three tarpon and hung a variety of other fish, including lemon sharks, bonnethead sharks, snappers and jacks, catching all day. On Saturday, Darrel beat a bonefish that was his first-ever, and the trip whipped a variety of other catches, including lemons, bonnetheads, mangrove snappers, mutton snappers and groupers. On Sunday they whaled catches including barracudas, yellow jacks, other jacks, muttons, mangroves and more. At least 20 different species were landed on the trips, phenomenal fishing, pretty much non-stop catches. The trips fished the bay near Islamorada. Earlier in winter, fishing wasn’t as good in the Everglades. Whether that changed was unknown, and Joe had no reason to leave the water near Islamorada currently, because that angling caught. Weather was a little breezy at times, and more of the trips will fish next weekend. The trips, fishing mostly on weekends, sail every Christmas to Easter.  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>Cape May</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/23:***</b> Weather looks good, so the party boat <b>Porgy IV</b> will sail for mackerel this weekend, Capt. Paul said in a voicemail. Some were caught off Ocean City, Md., a couple of weeks ago. The Porgy IV’s been on break from fishing since blackfish season closed this month. Trips will blackfish again in April. The season for the tautog will be open that month and closed afterward. The boat departs at 8 a.m.

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