Sat., March 23, 2019
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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 4-17-17


Raritan Bay’s striped bass fishing turned on during Saturday morning’s trip on the <b>Vitamin Sea</b>, after becoming tough Thursday and Friday aboard, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. Saturday morning’s trip limited out and also released many keepers. Many of the fish weighed in the 20 pounds. Those were the same fish marked on the previous two days, when only a few throwbacks bit and were reeled in. On Saturday afternoon’s trip, the angling became tough again. Keepers but not the boat’s limit were boxed. Then on Sunday morning’s trip, the fishing was some of the best of the season. The anglers limited in less than 2 hours, and released some big in the next 3. Stripers to 27 pounds were landed, and many large females were let go. So, the bite could be very good at times and difficult at others. “The effects of the moon are finishing,” he wrote, so the fish seem to be getting in a feeding mood. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing, and morning trips are full this week. Afternoon trips are full Wednesday and this weekend. Three spots are available for an open trip 2 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. Telephone to reserve as soon as possible. Spaces are available for open morning trips April 25, 27 and 28 and open afternoon trips April 25 and 26. The angling’s really heating up. See photos on <a href="" target="_blank">Vitamin Sea’s Facebook page</a>.

With the <b>Down Deep Fleet</b>, Raritan Bay’s striped bass fishing was a little slow at the beginning of last week, and became pretty good by the end of the week, Capt. Mario said. Bigger stripers are showing up. “Time to come down now,” he said. The trips fished with bunker chunks and clams, and open-boat trips are fishing for stripers daily on Down Deep’s two boats, both 40 feet, each accommodating up to 15 passengers. Morning and afternoon trips are fishing. Look for special afternoon trips on <a href="" target="_blank">Down Deep’s website</a>.

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

The party boat <b>Atlantic Star</b> began fishing for the year, sailing for striped bass on Raritan Bay on Friday and Saturday, Capt. Tom said. None of the twice-daily trips fished on Easter. The angling was slow, and smaller boats that trolled were seen catching. But the bass seemed reluctant to take bait fished on the Atlantic Star. Tom hopes that changes, and also hopes bluefish migrate to the waters that customers have fun catching. A few blues reportedly began to be fought on Raritan and Jamaica bays. Trips are fishing for stripers 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m. daily. <b>***Update, Tuesday, 4/18:***</b> Striper fishing seemed to begin improving aboard, Tom said. The angling wasn’t good, but a couple of keepers and some throwbacks were reeled in yesterday on the boat. A few throwbacks started to be pumped in when he gave this report today on the phone aboard. Plenty of bunker schooled the bay the last two days, after the baitfish were scarce during the weekend’s trips.

Not much of a striped bass bite happened on Raritan Bay on the year’s first fishing last week on the <b>Fishermen</b>, Capt. Ron wrote in a report Saturday on the party boat’s website. That was the most recent report at press time on the site, and he thinks the fishing should turn on soon. The water was 47 to 48 degrees and needed to warm a bit. New York’s striper season opened Saturday, after New Jersey’s was already open. The New York opener gives the boat much more area to fish. A few stripers were managed on daytime trips, and a few were belted on nighttime trips. The boat is fishing for stripers 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily and 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.


The boat will be moved to Highlands today to begin fishing for striped bass on Raritan Bay, said Capt. Mike from <b>Tuna-Tic Sportfishing</b>. The angling seemed pretty good in past days, including catching fairly good-sized. “It’s starting,” he said, and this is a good time for the trips to begin. Catches were heard about on bunker and while trolling. Whether the bunker was chunks or livelined was unknown. The boat is moved to the bay each spring for this fishing. When the migration of large stripers moves to the ocean, the boat is relocated to Forked River to fish for them from Barnegat Inlet. By June, Tuna-Tic begins shark fishing on the ocean from there. Sometimes those trips mix-in striper fishing on the way back.


Several keeper striped bass to 25 pounds and some throwbacks were decked Sunday on the <b>Golden Eagle</b>, a report said on the party boat’s website. The vessel was still fishing when the report was posted, and several customers had landed multiple stripers. The stripers swam the ocean near Shark River Inlet along the surface, and “today (Sunday) it seems like the striper fishing has really started to develop,” it said. Trips are fishing for stripers 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

Striped bass, not many but a shot, decent-sized, were jigged on crocodiles on the ocean near Belmar on Sunday, and <b>Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters</b> will begin fishing this weekend, Capt. Pete said. The angling should gradually improve each day. Farther north, Raritan Bay’s striper fishing was improving on most days. But Pete was glad some began to appear in the local ocean. Trips aboard are all about striper fishing on the ocean in spring. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Contact Parker Pete’s anyway about individual spaces 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. 


Striped bass began to be hooked nearly everywhere, said Eric from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. Boaters trolled quite a few to the mid-20 pounds on the ocean off Long Branch the other day on Stretch 25 Lures and Mojos. Chartreuse was the color to drag, and surf anglers played small stripers, maybe to 24 or 25 inches, but good numbers. Late afternoons to just before dark seemed the time, and small, 4- and 5-inch rubber shads, small, white bucktails and small plugs like the small Daiwa SP Minnows caught. The same shads, bucktails and lures fought mostly small stripers, under 20 inches, but a good handful on Manasquan River. Good striper fishing came from Raritan Bay toward Keyport and Cliffwood Beach on the flats in 15 or 20 feet of water on the troll, on cast surface lures and on clams and bunker chunks. Winter flounder were pulled from Barnegat Bay toward Point Pleasant Canal and Bay Avenue. They were also yanked from the Manasquan near the canal and seemed to begin migrating to the river through the canal. Flounder fishing was so good that a customer pasted them on garden worms. Blackfishing was pretty good on the ocean, mostly in 60 to 80 feet of water. Many limits were made, and a cod or two were mixed in. The store was closed on Easter Sunday and would be closed today but will be open daily beginning Tuesday for the fishing season. The hours will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays.  

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

A charter opted to sail for tilefish at a local offshore canyon instead of cod at wrecks Saturday with <b>Mushin Sportfishing</b>, Capt. Alan wrote in an email. “The guys were all smiles with a pick of golden tiles going on,” he wrote. One tile doubled over the rod, and the boat was fired up to chase the fish. But after a chase, a tuna bit off the tile! That was a surprise, “but that’s what we’ve learned to expect in any canyon adventure!” he wrote. Mushin will fish for striped bass in May on the ocean. Afterward, the boat will sail from Cape May for tuna fishing that’s been lighting up from there in late spring and early summer in recent years.

<b>Toms River</b>

“Bluefish in Barnegat Inlet,” <b>Murphy’s Hook House</b>’s Facebook page said Friday. The blues were yet to reach Good Luck Point, the page said this morning. That’s where the Toms River meets the bay, north of the inlet. The water was 57 degrees at Good Luck Point this morning. More striped bass began to be beached from the surf than before. They were mostly throwbacks, but the angling was improving. Short stripers kept being played in the Toms, at Oyster Creek and in the bay along Route 37 Bridge, like before. Good winter flounder fishing continued in the bay near Mantoloking Bridge. <b>***Update, Tuesday, 4/18:***</b> Water was up to 62 degrees yesterday at Good Luck Point when Dennis from the shop boated the bay there to Route 37 Bridge, he wrote in an email. A worm hatch was underway in the water, and he hooked but lost two bluefish on trolled lures.


This photo of big bluefish on Easter was posted on <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>’s Facebook page. The fish, the year’s first blues checked-in at the shop, were nailed from the bay behind Atlantic City from shore. Another photo on the page showed an angler holding two keeper striped bass landed from the bay behind Atlantic City that day from shore on clams from the shop.

<b>Atlantic City</b>

“They’re here, man!” Noel from <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b> said. Big bluefish invaded the water along the T-jetty and nearby surf beginning in past days. This is when they usually arrive, and they did. Striped bass, mostly throwbacks but a keeper once in a while, kept biting in the same waters like before. Blackfish kept giving up good catches along Absecon Inlet like before. All fish were in. “I can’t express enough how good it is,” he said. For the blues, mostly fresh bunker were fished. Sometimes mullet, mackerel and herring were used. For the blackfish, green crabs and clams were tossed. All these baits and more, the fully supply, are stocked. The T is located at the ocean end of the inlet. Customers fish the nearby, jetty-lined inlet on foot.


Black drum began to be heaved from Brigantine’s surf, a report said on <b>Riptide Bait & Tackle</b>’s website. Two 18-pounders were checked-in Thursday, and a 17-pounder was weighed-in Saturday. A 20-pounder was released Sunday in the surf, shown in a photo on the shop’s Facebook page. A photo of a 19-pounder was posted on the page that was hooked from Absecon Inlet’s south jetty in Brigantine. Throwback striped bass were reported from the surf, and so were bluefish. The water was about to hit 50 degrees, and surf fishing should break loose. <b>***Update, Monday, 4/17:***</b> A 28-1/4-inch, 9-pound, 6-ounce striper was weighed from Brigantine’s Absecon Inlet jetty today, Capt. Andy from the shop wrote in an email. The angler, Jack Dobbs, won the $50 gift card to the store for the season’s first, and banked the fish on a Riptide Rotter, a clam from the shop. Plenty of throwback stripers are swimming the surf now. And big seemed to be moving in. Let the games begin! Andy wrote. A good school of drum are running the surf, too, inhaling Riptide Rotters, he added. Blues to 30 inches are also coming from the surf, he wrote.


Blackfishing was good on the <b>Stray Cat</b> on the ocean, Capt. Mike said. The fish were slowly picked, but some good-quality were cranked in. On a trip Sunday the fish were axed in the morning and shut off in the afternoon. The water was 50 degrees, and weather was gorgeous. Wind never blew stronger than 14 knots, though forecasts called for worse. Not many dogfish, only a few, have been a nuisance. Open-boat trips are blackfishing daily when weather allows and enough anglers want to go. The next are expected to fish Tuesday through Friday. Green crabs and a few whites and hermits have been carried aboard. In other news, big bluefish were tackled from the bay and surf. Also, Mike is buying an additional boat, a 50-footer from Ocean Yachts. That vessel will do some fishing, including offshore and some inshore trolling and bottom-fishing, but will especially run tours like evening cruises, corporate events and cocktail parties. It should be ready to run beginning May 1. 

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Here’s another bluefish photo, this one from <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. The angler smashed a bunch from the back bay this morning.

Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b>, affiliated with <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>, was trailering his boat back to Sea Isle this weekend that he uses for annual traveling charters to the Florida Keys from Christmas to Easter, he said. He’ll now focus on fishing from Sea Isle the rest of the fishing season, and expects to run into big bluefish on the back bay this week. Reports circulated about the blues in South Jersey the past few days, and they always show up around tax day. That’s some of the best fishing of the year, and striped bass, large weakfish and out-of-season summer flounder can be mixed in. The flounder are released, and this time of year is the best chance to score a back-bay grand-slam, all four of the main species that anglers target in the bay. In Florida, Joe fished with his wife Friday and Saturday. On Friday they fought lemon and bonnethead sharks while sight-fishing on the flats, including some on flies. They jumped two or three tarpon. On Saturday, they jumped three tarpon they fought quite a while. In tarpon fishing, sometimes the fish are landed, and sometimes they’re hooked and jump but get off. Anglers count jumping them. Sometimes a trip lands every one hooked, sometimes none. Joe’s been dialed into the tarpon and permit this year and in recent years. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on <a href="" target="_blank">Jersey Cape’s Blog</a>.


<b>Fins and Feathers Outfitters</b> might work the back bay for striped bass and, if they’re in, bluefish this weekend, Capt. Jim said. The season’s first charter was currently set for May 6, and the anglers want to fish for stripers. They could end up more interested in black drum fishing on Delaware Bay. Jim would welcome charters before that date, and the boat’s now ready to roll for the fishing season. His lodge in upstate New York hosted anglers fishing for steelheads on nearby Salmon River in past days. The river ran high at 1,800 cubic feet per second, cold and cloudy, and flowed at almost 2,000 farther downstream. Anglers needed to work for the catches in those conditions. The water was clearer on Friday than on Wednesday, though. Water that high is dangerous for wading, and anglers are better off drift-boating. Snow was melted in open spaces in the area, and melting snow and rainfall was the reason for the high water. Fourteen to 18 inches of snow still lay in the woods under trees. High water is common in spring, and this is the time of year for the steelheading. Late summer and part of fall is the time for salmon fishing on the river. Jim’s offering a discount on the <a href="" target="_blank">lodge</a> in summertime, but only on Airbnb. No discount is offered in winter, when snowmobiling is popular at the lodge. In summer, people drive quadrunners. Currently, they Snirt or drive them in snow and dirt.

<b>Cape May</b>

<b>Fishin’ Fever Sportfishing</b> sailed for blackfish Friday and Saturday on the ocean, Capt. Tom said. The trips limited out, probably released another limit apiece and let go plenty of throwbacks. Very good fishing, and the tautog weighed up to 9 pounds. Charters and open-boat trips are blackfishing. Trips for striped bass will begin May 1, chunking bunker for them on Delaware Bay. Trips for drum on the bay will start May 10. New Jersey decided sea bass regs Thursday, and the federal government needs to approve them, but probably will. Sea bass season should begin May 26, and trips will get after them.

The <b>Heavy Hitter</b> was splashed Friday, Capt. George said. Trips will now begin fishing, beginning with blackfishing this weekend on the ocean. Drum trips will fish Delaware Bay in May, and sea bass trips will fish the ocean beginning May 26. That’s apparently going to be opening day of sea bass season. Only a couple of other boats were in the marina’s slips when the boat was launched Friday. Another dozen were splashed Saturday, and nobody was at the marina on Sunday, Easter, really. Weather was windy and chilly Saturday and windy but warmer Sunday. Heavy Hitter had been in dry dock along Maurice River for seasonal maintenance. On the trip to Cape May on Friday, the river was 60 degrees, and the beginning of Cape May Canal was 54. 

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