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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 3-6-17


Capt. Mario and crew from the <b>Down Deep Fleet</b> will try to kick off the year’s fishing aboard with open-boat trips for striped bass March 17 through 19 on Raritan Bay, he said. Plenty of bunker schooled the bay already, and striper fishing might begin early, because of the warm winter. The first trips usually fish with clams, but might also fish with chunks of bunker. Open-boat trips will run daily, and charters are available. Down Deep runs two 40-foot boats that have been undergoing winter maintenance. The Down Deep will probably be splashed in a week, and the Down Deep Bull will probably be dunked in a couple of weeks. Join the <a href="" target="_blank">Short Notice List</a> on Down Deep’s website to be kept informed about special open trips. 

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/9:***</b> A few small striped bass were banked from the bay at Keyport from shore this week on chunks of bunker, said Joe from <b>Julian’s Bait & Tackle</b>. Bunker schooled in the bay off Great Kills. No winter flounder were heard about locally. One angler talked about yanking two from Shark River farther south. Weather is supposed to become cold and include snow in the next days. Sandworms and bloodworms are stocked, and the store is working on stocking fresh clams and fresh bunker. 


<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/9:***</b> Striped bass fishing on Raritan Bay will launch the year’s charters on the <b>Tuna-Tic</b>, Capt. Mike said. The angling usually begins with clamming the fish in April. But when the trips began last April, livelined bunker already clobbered the fish, near the Statue of Liberty and the Arthur Kill. The trips didn’t even clam, jumping right into livelining. Bunker currently schooled the bay, and lots of schoolie stripers swam the back of the bay. When stripers depart the bay each spring, the boat is moved to Forked River to fish for stripers on the ocean from Barnegat Inlet. That angling was phenomenal last year aboard, and is for trophy bass. Livelined bunker catch at first light, and trolling catches afterward. By early June, shark fishing will kick in on the boat. Striper fishing can often be mixed in on the way back for a time that month. Later in the year, the boat is all about tuna fishing.


<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/9:***</b> The boat should be splashed in a couple of weeks, said Capt. Ralph from <b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b>. A new engine and a new generator were installed, and blackfishing in April will kick off the year’s fishing aboard. Blackfish season, currently closed, will be open that month, and closed again beginning in May. Cod fishing and wreck fishing will be launched in May. Sea bass season is yet to be announced, but the dates might be the same as last year, and customers are booking trips for the fish for then: May 23 through June 19. The season was open for a couple of other periods last year, too. If the dates are changed this year, and customers book dates that end up closed, the trips will fish for ling and cod or striped bass instead. Striper fishing will sail in May and June. Sharking will fish in June and early July. Bluefish trips will run whenever blues are in. Lots of customers are booking trips early. Ralph in April will schedule individual-reservation trips for cod, wreck-fishing – both inshore and mid-range –  and sea bass.


A gale weathered out fishing Saturday on the <b>Jamaica II</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. But a trip was expected to fish Sunday for ling and cod in forecasts for light wind. No results were posted at press time, and the boat is sailing for ling and cod 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday on the ocean.

Not much was heard about coastal fishing, said John from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. Many boats were pulled from the water for winter maintenance. Striped bass had been angled from the surf, covered in last week’s report here from the store. But that news dried up, maybe because colder weather kept most anglers from fishing this past week. Blackfish season closed beginning Wednesday. Boats had been sailing for them, and some still fished for cod and ling on the ocean, and that angling seemed slow.  The Reel Seat is open Thursdays through Sundays. The store will exhibit at the Asbury Park Fishing Club’s fishing flea market Sunday at Asbury Park Convention Hall.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/9:***</b> Bottom-fishing sailed a couple of days – Sunday and Monday – between rough weather on the party boat <b>Dauntless</b> on the ocean, Capt. Butch said. Fishing was slow, cranking up a couple of cod, a couple of pollock and a ling or two. Plenty of bergals bit at some places, and some anglers kept them. Lots of dogfish chomped, and the fishing gave up plenty of action because of them. The trips tried fishing in 130 feet of water to 230, and ended up fishing no deeper than 150. Bait couldn’t be gotten past the dogs beyond there. The dogs also bit in the shallower depths fished, but were less abundant there. The water’s been 38 to 42 degrees. So the angling was slow, but the boat is one of the only, if not the only, that’s scheduled to fish daily this time of year. Butch hopes the fishing picks up, and hopes the weather enables more trips to sail. The trips bottom-fish 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

<b>Toms River</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/9:***</b> The Toms River dropped to 48 degrees in colder weather, said Dennis from <b>Murphy’s Hook House</b>. The water was 50 to 52 degrees previously, warm for the time of year. He still thinks the bluefish migration will arrive on March 18, because of the warm winter. That’s early, but he predicted last year’s arrival almost to the day, if not the day, in mid-April. White perch fishing became slower in the river because of the cold, but fishing for small striped bass was on in the river. He knew about two keepers, and in last week’s report here said that in the dark after 6 p.m. was the time to catch the river’s stripers. Anglers fish for them from bulkheads with bloodworms, and the bulkhead anglers swung in a few winter flounder. A 2.47-pound 21-incher was biggest seen at the shop. Baits stocked for flounder include the bloods and sandworms. Dennis wasn’t asked whether fresh clams were carried for the angling, but talked about the clams being stocked in last week’s report. Flounder fishing produced in Barnegat Bay near Mantoloking Bridge. Manasquan River also gave them up. A few flounder were beaned from the bay farther south at Pelican Island Bridge. A few anglers fishing from the banks at the bridge clutched a few stripers. Stripers and a few flounder were rustled from Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant. Customers kept buying Gag’s Whip-It Fish for the creek’s stripers, fishing the soft-plastic lures on Gag’s jigheads. 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, 3/9:***</b> Throwback striped bass were bloodwormed at Graveling Point, said Brandon from <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b>. That’s a shore-angling spot at the confluence of Mullica River and Great Bay, known for early-season stripers. No big numbers of the fish were hooked currently, but about a hundred were on March 1, opening day of striper season in bays and rivers. The annual $100 gift certificate to the store is yet to be claimed for the first angler to check-in a keeper from Graveling at the shop. Weather was warm for maybe a week previously, up to the 70 degrees. That seemed to make the fish active. Then weather became colder and snow fell toward the end of last week, slowing the angling. But the past couple of days were warmer, and some of the fish bit again. Weather is going to be cold for days after today, and snow might fall. On Mullica River, lots of throwback stripers and occasionally keepers 29 or 30 inches were angled. Weather had warmed the river to 51 degrees, making the fish active. Then the cold and snow dropped the water to 39 degrees. But the water warmed since. Plenty of white perch could also be found in the river, at places like Lower Bank and around Wading River. Anglers had a great time bloodworming stripers and perch on the river. Live grass shrimp could also be fished for the perch. Shore anglers, bridge anglers, boaters and kayakers took advantage of the bass and perch. The bloods and shrimp are stocked, and fresh clams will arrive tomorrow. At Graveling, the worms were also the bait to dunk. The stripers, with low metabolism in chilly water, can digest them. Later in the season, when the water warms, baits including clams and bunker will fish better at the point. The bluefish migration will invade the water at Graveling, usually sometime in April. A $100 certificate is also up for grabs for the first angler who comes by with a blue from there at Scott’s. Once the blues arrive, that pretty much ends the striper fishing. The bass can’t compete with the aggressive blues, and the stripers depart. Puppy black drum are mixed in with the stripers during some years, and have been in recent years. That happens a little later in the year than now. Mostly clams hook them, as a by-catch when striper anglers fish clams. Brandon gave a heads up that <a href="" target="_blank">navigational buoys at Little Egg Inlet are temporarily discontinued</a>, and boaters will sail the inlet at their own risk. That’s because shoaling made the buoys be in shallow water perilous for boaters. Whether the buoys would be replaced was yet to be determined. The article says the Coast Guard would first need to determine whether shoaling was even stable enough for permanent buoys to be accurate. <b>***Another Update, Thursday, 3/9:***</b> <a href="" target="_blank">The DEP plans to dredge the inlet</a>.


After the year’s first striped bass was checked-in Wednesday at <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>, weather chilled, mostly shutting down fishing, Capt. Dave said. The angler with the first bass, a 9-pounder from Mullica River, won the $200 gift certificate to the store for the first, covered in an update to last week’s report here. He also won a $100 certificate for being the first angler to stop in with a striper who followed the tournament on the store’s Facebook page. <a href="" target="_blank">The rest of the prizes</a>, awarded annually, remained up for grabs since. The prizes include those for the year’s first and second stripers, the first heavier than 20 and 30 pounds and the first that a woman and children bring in. Dave was surprised more of the prizes were never claimed last week. The fishing should pick up this week in high tides in afternoons and sunny skies at rivers including the Mullica and Great Egg. Fishing for white perch seemed to slow on the rivers, probably because abundant schoolie stripers chased them away, Dave thinks. Anglers probably needed to find where the perch relocated. Small ling were reported plucked from along Atlantic City’s jetties. A couple of throwback stripers might’ve also been played there. Bloodworms, live grass shrimp, fresh clams, minnows and a few eels are stocked, and the store is open daily. <b>***Update, Thursday, 3/9:***</b> The year’s second and third stripers were weighed-in Monday, the store’s Facebook page said. The second was an 8-3/4-pound 29-incher from Mullica River, and the third was a 29-incher from Great Egg Harbor River. The anglers won the $100 gift certificate and $50 certificate for the second and third, respectively. Prizes remained for the first stripers over 20 and 30 pounds and the first stripers that a woman, boy and girl bring in. A photo was also posted on the page of a double-header of two throwback stripers that were among loads of throwbacks to 27 ½ inches that an angler was kayaking on the Mullica, yet to hook a keeper. Another was posted of a 29-inch keeper that an angler beat on the Mullica at Lower Bank.


<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/9:***</b> <b>Riptide Bait & Tackle</b> is open full-time, Capt. Andy said. Bloodworms are stocked, and he was going to stock fresh clams, but the weekend is going to be a blow out. Lots of throwback striped bass and lots of white perch chewed in brackish rivers. The worms are bait for them. The Riptide Spring Fishing Derby began March 1 and will last until May 21. Cash will be awarded for the heaviest stripers and bluefish. Entry is $25 and includes a permit to drive Brigantine’s entire front beach, when accompanied by a Brigantine beach-buggy permit. Without the derby permit, not the entire beach can be driven. Riptide’s Yuki Hani 43-Inch Striper Bounty is up to $170. The bounty is awarded to the entrant who stops in with the year’s first striper 43 inches or larger from Brigantine’s surf. Entry is $5, and the bounty will grow, because all the cash is awarded. More than $1,000 was awarded each year since the store began the event some years ago. <a href="" target="_blank">Stock’s pound cakes</a> that the store carries are in! Now it’s a season.

<b>Atlantic City</b>

<b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b> is reopened daily for the fishing season, Noel said. Anglers landed striped bass but all small. He saw no keepers, and the fish came from Mullica River but a few were hooked locally. White perch were also nabbed from the river. Customers fished locally from jetty-lined Absecon Inlet, blocks from the store, to the bay. They also yanked ling from the inlet and winter flounder from the bay. Mostly bloodworms or grass shrimp were fished for all those catches. The worms are stocked, and Noel is trying to stock the shrimp. A supplier was supposed to provide them Saturday but never showed up. Minnows and all frozen baits are also carried. Noel’s been watching construction of the new boardwalk along the inlet. Access to fish the inlet is currently easy, by ducking under the railing and stepping onto a jetty parallel to the boardwalk. The inlet is lined with jetties perpendicular to the jetty that’s parallel to the boardwalk, and all of that attracts fish. No actual access points were included in the construction, disappointing for anglers. Anglers would hope access would be included, like the beautiful access included at a number of places along Ocean City’s 9th Street Bridge. Anglers hope signs won’t be posted prohibiting access to fishing the inlet and need to fight the town to make sure about that.

<b>Egg Harbor Township</b>

Great Egg Harbor River could probably be fished for white perch and striped bass, but Austin from <b>24-7 Bait & Tackle</b> heard from nobody who did, he said. Bloodworms are stocked that can be fished for them, and perch angled from Absecon Inlet were the only catches he heard about. A $100 gift card is available for the angler who checks in the year’s first striper at the shop, the store’s Facebook page said. The shop is open for no set hours or is open when anglers are likely to fish, and will be open full-time when more people begin to fish. <b>The company also owns 24-7 Bait & Tackle in Marmora</b>. The company is also opening a tackle store named Tight Lines at Somers Point Marine & Supply, the Facebook page said.

<b>Ocean City</b>

White perch and small striped bass bit in Great Egg, Tuckahoe and Mullica rivers, said Will from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. Bloodworms or grass shrimp could hook them, and the worms were expected to be stocked soon. An order was placed. Small, throwback stripers also hit along bridges on the bay. Bucktails with soft-plastic lures like Fin-S Fish could grab them. So could bloods. The store’s been open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and the hours would probably be expanded soon. That would probably be known after Fin-Atics exhibited at the Atlantic City Boat Show and the Ocean City fishing flea market last weekend. Those events were underway when Will gave this report Saturday.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/9:***</b> Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea isle Bait & Tackle</b> had been excited to begin striped bass fishing, until forecasts began to call for 18-degree lows, he said. The next few nights are predicted to be that, and the days are supposed to be in the 30s. He’d planned to begin his year’s striper fishing this weekend on the bay, and that’s been nixed. But he usually catches his year’s first stripers in March in the bay. He casts soft-plastic lures on jigheads, working them slowly along bottom, while the fish are sluggish in cold water. Creek mouths on outgoing tides are places to look, because that pours warmer water into the bay. Afternoons, when the water has warmed, on sunny days are best. By April, the fishing will pick up in warming water. By mid-April, all heck breaks loose with his fishing on the bay. The bluefish migration arrives, the stripers still bite, and so do summer flounder and large weakfish. The flounder are out-of-season until later in the year and are released. But the early season can fish best for flounder in South Jersey’s back bays, shallower than bays in most of the state. Warmer water, because it’s shallower, attracts them. The weakfish are big, mature ones that enter the bay in spring to spawn. Anglers can land a grand-slam, all four of the bay’s fish that anglers mainly target, in April. That’s some of the best fishing of the year, though many anglers don’t know. Many don’t even consider fishing the coast that early, but they should in these waters. Joe is still running traveling charters to the Florida Keys that he does each Christmas to Easter, mostly on weekends. This has been a good year for the angling. Winter was mild, and many fish bit, including tarpon and permits. Been a good season for those two catches and others. 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>.


<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/9:***</b> Capt. Jim from <b>Fins and Feathers Outfitters</b> had been going to fish for striped bass on the bay Saturday, he said. He was going to do that after boat maintenance that day, but the maintenance took longer than expected, and no time was left. Weather was windy and cold that day, but no matter. He was going to fish. Nothing was heard about striper fishing on the bay yet, and he saw no boaters fishing the water that day. Jim’s been guiding waterfowl hunting throughout winter. He’d usually guide snow goose hunting until the season closes in early April. But he’s already finished, because most waterfowl migrated north. That was early because of the warm winter. He scouted waterfowl Friday, seeing a few buffleheads. Brant even flew north. Jim will probably fish for stripers on the bay before long. That won’t happen in the next days, because of cold and snow. The cold won’t turn back the birds, btw. Drum fishing on Delaware Bay will sail in May aboard. Steelhead fishing on upstate New York’s Salmon River usually peaks in late March into April from Jim’s nearby lodge. The river must be running very high, because of snow that melts this time of year. Plenty of snow fell in the area this winter, and was needed because of a long drought previously. Fins offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including saltwater fishing, waterfowling, steelhead and salmon fishing from the lodge, and fly-fishing for trout on Pennsylvania’s streams like the Yellow Breeches.  

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