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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 3-27-17


The <b>Down Deep Fleet</b> had been going to begin striped bass fishing already on Raritan Bay, but weather changed those plans, Capt. Mario said. Still, fishing aboard will be kicked off Saturday for the fishing season. Daily, open-boat trips for stripers will begin then on the bay. Morning and afternoon charters are also available. Down Deep runs two 40-foot boats, accommodating up to 15 passengers per trip. The striper fishing had been planned to begin in March, after weather was warm in February. Then weather became colder. Bunker seemed to school the bay again, after seeming to depart in cold weather. The crew saw bunker flipping along the water surface while working on boat maintenance at the marina. Join the <a href="" target="_blank">Short Notice List</a> on Down Deep’s website to be kept informed about special open trips. 

No doubt the last snowstorm slowed striped bass fishing from beginning on Raritan Bay, after the fishing seemed it would begin early, Capt. Frank from the <b>Vitamin Sea</b> wrote in an email. Weather was unusually warm and became colder. A crew trip fished the bay Thursday but “found no life.” The crew wasn’t surprised. They were happy with the way the boat ran. Work on the engine this winter sped the boat up 5 knots, a big boost for a downeast hull. All systems were checked, and fishing’s ready to roll aboard. Open-boat trips will sail Saturday and Sunday, and space is available. The crew will fish Wednesday, scoping out stripers and winter flounder. New York’s flounder season will be open beginning Saturday, and New Jersey’s is already open. So both the New York and Jersey parts of the bay will be able to be fished for flounder. Dates are available for charters, and open trips will sail on days when no charter is booked. Jump aboard and see what “getting a dose of Vitamin Sea” means. Feel free to telephone Frank about trips. Follow <a href="" target="_blank">Vitamin Sea’s Facebook page</a>, and send your email address to him to be added to the weekly mailing list. <b>***Update, Thursday, 3/30:***</b> The crew trip on Wednesday found some striped bass, Frank wrote in an email. The fishing wasn’t great but hooked stripers on clams and while slow-trolling. Stripers were marked that were unwilling to “chase.” Water temperature increasing a degree or two will change that, for sure. The fishing will be game on. Plenty of bait was read, “and gannets are high flying,” he wrote. Stripers are in, and weather looks good for Saturday. A few spaces remain for fishing aboard, and telephone to reserve. See photos and a video from Wednesday on the boat’s Facebook page.

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

An angler was bailing striped bass at South Amboy from a dock on Raritan Bay, said Joe from <b>Julian’s Bait & Tackle</b>. The angler, catching on worms and bunker, telephoned and reported that this morning. “Nothing down here yet,” Joe said. Bunker schooled the bay locally, though. South Amboy is in the back of the bay, at the confluence with Raritan Bay. The back of the bay is a usual place for fish to bite first in the year, because the water’s warmest there. Rivers are warmer than bays in winter and spring. Nobody mentioned winter flounder fishing. Flounder surely swam somewhere in the area, but anglers rarely fish for them in the two-flounder bag limit. That was a hopping fishery before the drastic cut in the limit years ago. Was a wonder why the government never increased the limit now. None of the local party boats fished yet this year, but they might soon. Worms and fresh clams are stocked, and a supplier might bring fresh bunker today. Happy birthday to Joe! He turned 91 on March 17.

The <b>Fishermen</b> should be back in the slip this weekend, and Capt. Ron hopes to begin fishing the following weekend, the second weekend of April, he wrote in a report on the party boat’s website. Striped bass trips kick off the boat’s angling each year. The boat’s been getting prepared for the season and looks great.


<b>***Update, Friday, 3/31:***</b> The boat is splashed, Capt. Ralph from <b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b> wrote in an email. Docked behind Sunset’s Restaurant, the boat has a new engine and a new generator that were installed this past season. Charters will begin toward the end of April. Individual-reservation trips have been slated for sea bass May 31 and cod June 21. Sea bass season, yet to be announced, should be open May 23 through June 19, and weekends are full during that time, but some weekdays remain. “Please try to book early,” he said, because weekends are filling for the year. Individual-reservation trips will fish when no charter is booked, and Ralph will schedule more soon. “Looking forward to a great 2017,” he wrote. 


<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/30:***</b> A trip Saturday, launching fishing for the year on the <b>Golden Eagle</b>, searched for mackerel, but “we did not catch very much,” a report said on the party boat’s website. The ocean was cold, “and the fish readings were there but the fish did not want to cooperate,” it said. Wind weathered out a trip Sunday, and daily trips will begin this coming Sunday. Weather forecasts are too rough to sail Saturday. The first couple of trips will look for mackerel.

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/30:***</b> Trips will resume Saturday with blackfishing daily on the party boat <b>Big Mohawk</b>, Capt. Chris said. Green crabs and clams will be provided, and white crabs will be for sale aboard. The boat sails 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/30:***</b> The <b>Miss Belmar Princess</b> will sail 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday for striped bass and blues “to see if the fish are here yet,” an email said from the party boat. That will kick off the year’s fishing aboard, and daily trips will run when weather becomes milder. The boat’s been undergoing seasonal maintenance like painting and re-doing the bathrooms entirely, “and the sun deck is ready to go,” it said. New rods and reels, conventional and spinning, are aboard.

Winter flounder finally began to be eased from Shark River, said Tom from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b>. Limits began to be made, and the angling was fairly decent off the boat launch and the tennis courts. A couple of the shop’s rental boats were rented for the angling, and two anglers apiece on the vessels limited out. That’s only four flounder per boat, but anglers are catching. Nothing was heard about surf fishing for striped bass, and anglers weren’t really doing that. Party boats will begin blackfishing on Saturday from Belmar. The season for the tautog will be open throughout April.

Capt. Pete from <b>Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters</b> hopes to begin fishing by mid-April for the year, he said. Trips will blackfish then, and he’d also like to sail for cod this spring. He hopes to start striped bass fishing in early to mid-May, on the ocean with livelined bunker. Pete and crew have been getting the boat ready for the year, doing seasonal maintenance that’s still underway.  Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Contact Parker Pete’s anyway about individual spaces available on charters. Sign up for the email blast on <a href="" target="_blank">Parker Pete’s website</a> to be kept informed about the spaces. 


Some cod and pollock, nothing great, were bagged Saturday on the <b>Jamaica II</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. The wrecks fished held lots of life: tons of bergals, throwback, out-of-season blackfish, throwback cod and pollock, and a few ling. Justin Murphy was high hook, bagging three cod, a pollock and a couple of ling, throwing back eight undersized cod. Dave Bryant from East Orange won the pool with a 9-pound cod. Sam Chan-oh from New Brunswick wasn’t in the pool but decked a 12-pound pollock. Trips are sailing 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday. One of the trips will also run on Good Friday, April 14. Blackfish season will be open throughout April.

Quite a few winter flounder were tugged from Barnegat Bay near Mantoloking Bridge and Bay Avenue near Point Pleasant Canal, said Eric from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. Limits were caught, and some of the flounder were 22 or 23 inches. Schoolie striped bass sometimes grabbed the worms meant for flounder. Schoolie bass were sometimes slid from the surf, on days with better weather, on sandworms and clams. An angler reported hooking some on Ava jigs Saturday. Clamming for stripers was picking up on Raritan Bay for shore anglers. Not much was heard about boaters fishing, but more boaters will probably begin to fish this weekend. The Reel Seat is open Thursdays through Sundays and will probably be open daily in two weeks or so.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/30:***</b> Fishing for cod, pollock, ling and blackfish will steam 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Sunday on the <b>Gambler</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. That will be the year’s first fishing aboard, and Sunday looks like the better weather during the weekend. Trips will switch to striped bass fishing when stripers move in. The crew will keep a close eye on the migration.

An 8-pound cod won the pool Saturday on the <b>Norma-K III</b>, a report said on the party boat’s website. No trip fished Sunday because of weather forecasts. On Saturday’s trip, fishing was slow, and the ocean held somewhat of a swell, but wind was calm. Out-of-season blackfish gave up some life, and the crew hopes they’ll chew when the boat begins blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily on Saturday. The season for the fish opens that day for the month. Saturday is the first of April. Green crabs and clams will be provided. Trips will be docked through Friday, and the crew will wrap up seasonal maintenance then on the vessel.

<b>Toms River</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/30:***</b> The Toms River was 50 degrees, slowly warming from 48 a couple of weeks ago, said Dennis from <b>Murphy’s Hook House</b>. Striped bass, mostly throwbacks, a few keepers, gave up very consistent catching on the river. White perch fishing slowed on the river when the water dipped below 50. A few winter flounder were picked from the river, nobody targeting them but instead hooking the flounder while fishing for the other catches. Most of the stripers were hooked from 6:30 to 8 p.m., during low light and dark. Sometimes fishing for them was good on cloudy days. Almost all the bass were bloodwormed. A few were clammed, and a few began to be plugged. Dennis plugged two on Saturday night while fishing X-Raps and Baker lures. He also missed some, and the small stripers will sometimes whack a lure without being hooked. On Monday night he landed none but two banged his lure while he fished 1 ½ hours. The fishing seemed slower for everybody that night, including for anglers fishing bloodworms. The fishing will probably become more consistent when weather does. A few small stripers were dragged from the surf during the weekend, mostly on bloods, some on clams. Good flounder fishing was pounded on Barnegat Bay near Mantoloking Bridge from boats and the shore. A few stripers and flounder came from farther south on the bay at Pelican Island. Fishing was pretty good generally. The bluefish migration usually arrives from April 12 to 15. The blues invade waters including Barnegat Bay and the Toms, remaining in back waters like that for some time before departing for the ocean. Dennis thought blues would arrive in March, when weather was unseasonably warm in February. Then weather became colder.  Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

<b>Mystic Island</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/30:***</b> An experienced angler reported losing an estimated 30-inch striped bass at Graveling Point, said Brandon from <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b>. Mussels or something cut the line in two, and the year’s first keeper striper was yet to be weighed-in from Graveling, but some decent-sized throwbacks were angled. The annual $100 gift certificate for the first remained up for grabs. Striper fishing was picking up there and farther upstream on Mullica River. Graveling, known for early-season stripers, is a shore-angling spot at the confluence of the Mullica and Great Bay. The water was warming, and Brandon boated the river yesterday around the Parkway Bridge. He saw water temperatures 45 to 49 degrees. White perch and a couple of throwback stripers were reeled in on the trip. The warming water was apparently the reason striper fishing was amping up. Brandon saw reports saying the migration of large stripers reached as far north as Delaware Bay. At Graveling, bloodworms were best bait during daytime. But clams began to take the fish at dusk. The worms are always best bait while the water is cool, because worms are easier for the stripers to digest during slow metabolism because of low water temperature. The fish begin to favor bait like clams when water warms at Graveling. The year’s first bluefish usually show up in mid to late April at Graveling. An annual $100 gift certificate to the store is also available for the year’s first angler to bring in a blue from the Point. Bloodworms, fresh, shucked clams, fresh clams in the shell and grass shrimp are stocked.


Rivers gave up loads of throwback striped bass since the cold, said Capt. Dave from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>. Weather was sometimes warmer now, and nobody reported landing a keeper first-hand recently, but second-hand reports were heard about keepers. Part of the reason the store runs a tournament with prizes for the first keepers each year is so anglers can see that keepers can be had. Anglers who nail keepers afterward can be quiet about that. Reports about the throwback stripers mostly rolled in from Mullica River. But that’s because that’s where most customers fish for the bass, and the angling seemed about the same on Great Egg Harbor River. Plus, white perch fishing very much turned on in the Mullica since the cold. That was turning into a heck of a fishery, and was probably the same on the Great Egg. The awards were already claimed for the first through third keeper stripers, covered in previous reports here. But <a href="" target="_blank">gift certificates remain</a> for the first heavier than 20 and 30 pounds and the first that a woman, a boy and a girl bring in. All baits are stocked, including bloodworms, live grass shrimp and fresh clams. Green crabs will be carried for the opening of blackfish season Saturday.

<b>Atlantic City</b>

Ling and a few small striped bass were nabbed from Absecon Inlet, said Noel from <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b>. Otherwise, most fishing was in brackish rivers for white perch and small stripers. Bluefish first showed up in the inlet and the adjacent surf in March last year. One report said blues were seen a while back this month already. Once the blues arrive in force, fishing really amps up. Striper fishing will also kick in at the inlet this season. Customers fish the nearby, jetty-lined inlet on foot. Fishing for the bass and blues at the inlet is some of the best in the state in spring. The jetties also harbor blackfish, and blackfish season will be open throughout April. Green crabs are stocked for them. For the ling currently, mullet and clams were fished. For the stripers at the inlet currently, bloodworms were dunked. All those baits and more, the full supply, are stocked.


The <b>Stray Cat</b> searched for mackerel Saturday at a couple of places on the ocean, but none turned up, Capt. Mike said. Lots of small dogfish bit, and whales were seen. The water was 40 and 41 degrees, and seas were beautiful. He’ll try mackerel fishing again this week, but open-boat trips for blackfish will sail at 8 a.m. daily beginning Saturday. Blackfish season will be open throughout April. Looking ahead, a couple of open trips for tuna will fish the Massey’s Canyon area in late May and early June. Telephone to sign up. <b>***Update, Friday, 3/31:***</b> Saturday’s blackfishing will be weathered out, Mike said. But open-boat trips will sail Sunday and Monday for the tautog and whatever else bites. Open trips will run daily throughout April, and telephone to confirm dates.

<b>Ocean City</b>

Anglers talked about lots of action with white perch and striped bass on Great Egg Harbor River and Tuckahoe River, said Justin from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. On one day, the stripers were decent-sized, and on another, they were 12 inches. “So they’re moving around,” he said. Bloodworms and grass shrimp were fished for the catches. But stripers hooked on lures were also reported. Stripers also began to be heard about from along bridges on the bay. Not a lot of the fish were, but the fishing seemed to begin, mostly on lures. A few were clammed. Bloodworms ran out of supply but will be restocked, and frozen clams are carried.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

A few anglers reportedly saw a few bluefish at inlets, said Cameron from <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. Maybe a small striped bass could be hooked at inlets now and then. That was all unconfirmed or second-hand, and not much was heard about fishing. Second-hand reports also talked about stripers and white perch in rivers like the Great Egg. Bloodworms, fresh bunker and frozen clams were stocked. The store was open this weekend and will probably be open every day now, except during rough weather when anglers are unlikely to fish.

Mike and Dick Lackman this weekend fished on traveling charters to the Florida Keys aboard, said Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b>, affiliated with <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. Joe annually offers the trips from Christmas to Easter, but does think striped bass could currently be landed from the back bay near Sea Isle City. More on that in a moment. First, the Florida fishing. That angling was slower this weekend than on the previous weekend, for no apparent reason. Nevertheless, on Saturday the anglers reeled in jacks, snappers including muttons, a hogfish, bonnethead sharks and barracudas, and jumped a tarpon. The fishing was slower on Sunday, though weather was better, tying into barracudas, mangrove snappers, some mutton snappers, and a few jacks, and they jumped a baby tarpon. Many tarpon were seen along the flats that day, and the day’s catch would’ve been different if the fishing had capitalized. But the trip zigged when it should’ve zagged, Joe said. Saturday was windy, making fishing a little tough.  See the <a href="" target="_blank">traveling charters’ page</a> on Jersey Cape’s website.  Back in Sea Isle, Joe will begin fishing for the bay’s stripers soon. Bluefish usually invade the bay by tax day, April 15. Then the bay’s fishing goes nuts.  Stripers can still be mixed in, and weakfish and out-of-season summer flounder can be, too. The weaks are big, so-called tiderunners that enter the bay to spawn for a moment in spring. The flounder are released until flounder season is opened, and the dates for the season should be announced in mid-April. That all is some of the best fishing of the year from Sea Isle. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on <a href="" target="_blank">Jersey Cape’s Blog</a>.


Capt. Jim from <b>Fins and Feathers Outfitters</b> installed a steering cable on the boat this weekend, he said. Now he’s just waiting for coastal waters to warm to begin fishing. He might try for striped bass on upper Delaware Bay, like around Ship John, this coming weekend. Drum charters will sail in May on the bay. Anglers were seen fishing jetties along the ocean surf this weekend with tackle like Fin-S Fish for stripers. But none seemed to catch. A group of anglers are slated to fish for steelheads on upstate New York’s Salmon River from Jim’s nearby lodge on the weekend of April 15. He’ll probably scope out the fishing on the previous weekend. Fins offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including saltwater fishing, duck and goose hunting, steelhead and salmon fishing on the Salmon, and fly-fishing for trout on Pennsylvania’s streams like the Yellow Breeches.

<b>Cape May</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/30:***</b> Blackfishing will sail daily beginning Saturday on the party boat <b>Porgy IV</b>, Capt. Paul said. He attempted to run for mackerel last Saturday aboard, but too few anglers showed up for a trip to sail. Then anglers telephoned in the evening to see how the fishing fared. On the blackfish trips, he’ll keep a lookout for mackerel, mixing in fishing for them if the Bostons are stumbled upon. Mackerel had been around, then a snowstorm hit, and the fish seemed to move off. Maybe they’ll pop in again.

The <b>Heavy Hitter</b> will probably be splashed in mid-April, Capt. George said. Then trips will sail for blackfish on the ocean. Trips for drum will fish in May on Delaware Bay. George worked on seasonal maintenance on the boat, in dry dock near Maurice River, this weekend. He also visited Cape May this weekend, and practically none of the charter fleet was in the water yet. The season was early for Cape May. Trips are booking, though, including a drum trip booked yesterday on the Heavy Hitter.

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