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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 4-20-17

<b>Keyport</b>

Raritan Bay’s striped bass fishing was pretty good for the <b>Down Deep Fleet</b>, Capt. Mario said. Big moved in, and up to 30-pounders were decked. Anglers fished bunker chunks and rubber shads aboard, and open-boat trips are fishing daily. Charters are available, and Down Deep runs two 40-foot boats, accommodating up to 15 passengers each. See <a href="http://downdeepsportfishing.com/open-boat-availability/" target="_blank">Down Deep’s calendar</a> online for available dates. Join the Short Notice List on the site to be kept informed about special open trips.

“On fire,” Capt. Frank from the <b>Vitamin Sea</b> wrote about striped bass fishing so far this week on Raritan Bay aboard in an email. “Much bigger fish are migrating through,” he said. Stripers heavier than 30 pounds were not uncommon aboard. Every trip limited out and released additional keepers, including many big. “Plain and simple,” he said, “it’s great fishing. Now is the time to go. Period.” Two spaces are available for a trip Friday, because the anglers dropped out. Telephone if interested. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing, and spaces are available on open trips next Wednesday and Thursday. Afternoon and morning charters and open trips are sailing, and afternoons are fishing just as well as mornings. Capt. T.J. was running an afternoon trip aboard when Frank sent the email yesterday. The anglers had already limited out and were releasing additional big stripers. See daily photos on <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/vitaminseafishing/" target="_blank">Vitamin Sea’s Facebook page</a>. Send Frank your email address, and he’ll add you to his emails. “Get your dose of Vitamin Sea!”

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

A little better action began to be seen during striped bass fishing on Raritan Bay on the <b>Fishermen</b>, a report said Wednesday on the party boat’s website.  “Had some fish on top and on jigs (Tuesday) morning,” it said. But when the anglers switched to bait, the fishing didn’t go so well. 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.

Striped bass fishing improved a little on Raritan Bay on recent trips on the party boat <b>Atlantic Star</b>, Capt. Tom said. Two trips on Monday and Tuesday angled throwbacks and a few keepers. Not a lot of anglers show up at the docks this time of year, and no trips fished Wednesday aboard, because only a few anglers did. Trips are slated to fish for stripers 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m. daily. <b>***Update, Saturday, 4/22:***</b> The trip this morning gave up some of the best striper fishing so far this season, Tom said. Some keepers were sacked, and some throwbacks were let go. The fishing was a big improvement, and this afternoon’s trip brought in two keepers and released three or four throwbacks already, he said 20 minutes into the fishing, when he gave this update in a phone call aboard. All the bass were clammed, and he hopes the improvement keeps up.  Drizzle fell, but wind was calm. <b>***Update, Sunday, 4/23:***</b> Forecasts could change, but Monday looks like the best weather to jump aboard in the next days, Tom said. Tuesday is supposed to be windy, and Wednesday is questionable.

Rat striped bass were beaten from shore at Belford, Port Monmouth and Keansburg on clams and bunker, said Jay from <b>Julian’s Bait & Tackle</b>. Bluefish 8 to 10 pounds raced all around there. Big striped bass larger than 40 inches were trolled near the 7S buoy on Mojos. Winter flounder lay along the bay off Leonardo, though few fished for them. Blackfish bit far from shore. All baits are stocked including bloodworms, sandworms, fresh clams, fresh bunker and green crabs. Plugs including Northbars and Daiwa SP Minnows were popular sellers.

Boaters trolled good-sized striped bass on Raritan Bay on Mojos, Stretch lures and umbrella rigs, said Tom from <b>Fisherman’s Den North</b>. Shore anglers also landed stripers on the bay, including at Union Beach and Highlands. Shore anglers he spoke with said lots of throwbacks bit. But keepers began to be more abundant. Stripers were also angled from the ocean surf sometimes, including at Sandy Hook.  Keepers were beached at Asbury Park that were heard about. Stripers sometimes came from the surf at Belmar. Bluefish 7 to 10 pounds were boated behind Sandy Hook. A couple of trips reported boating winter flounder from the bay. More was heard about flounder from Shark River at Belmar. Blackfishing was good on local boats. Shorts bit, but more keepers did than before. The angling picked up. All bait is stocked including worms, fresh clams and fresh bunker. The shop’s rental boats will become available this weekend.  The store, located at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina, is the sister shop to Fisherman’s Den in Belmar.

<b>Highlands</b>

<b>Tuna-Tic Sportfishing</b> began fishing for striped bass on Raritan Bay, and things look good, Capt. Mike said. A crew trip launched the fishing Tuesday to scout, and the angling, only a few hours, went really well. The trip caught stripers on clams, bunker chunks and on the troll. A charter on Wednesday limited out aboard, but the fishing was tougher in south wind. The bass could only be trolled on the trip. Catches took work, but the south wind seemed the culprit, often making fish reluctant to bite. Many stripers were marked, and plenty of the fish are filling the bay, and bunker are schooling from Barnegat to Sandy Hook. Tuna-Tic begins the fishing around this time each year. Later this season, the boat is moved to Forked River to fish for stripers on the ocean from Barnegat Inlet. That’s when big, breeder stripers finish spawning in rivers and bays and move to the ocean to migrate north for summer. That angling was phenomenal last year on the boat. In June, Tuna-Tic begins shark fishing on the ocean. Those trips sometimes mix in striper fishing on the way back.

Sailing from <b>Twin Lights Marina</b>, Anthony Pennimede’s party boated nine striped bass on Raritan Bay off Keyport last week, Marian wrote in an email. The fish included six keepers, three of them heavier than 25 pounds apiece. Twin Lights, located on Shrewsbury River near Raritan Bay and the ocean, with no bridges before them, includes a marina with boat slips, dry storage, a fuel dock, and a combined bait and tackle shop and ship’s store. The fuel dock is available 24 hours a day with a credit card. Baits stocked include fresh clams and live bunker when in demand.

<b>Neptune</b>

The year’s first fishing is booked for May 13 with <b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b>, Capt. Ralph said. A couple of spots are available for an individual-reservation trip for sea bass June 6. Another will be scheduled once that fills. Only a few dates remain for sea bass charters.

<b>Belmar</b>

Pretty good winter flounder fishing continued on Shark River, said Bob from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b>. Small striped bass swam the river and surf. Even a couple of out-of-season fluke showed up in the river. In the surf, most of the stripers seemed hooked on plugs or sometimes Fin-S Fish in the dark or early morning. Bait anglers mostly dunked clams, sometimes bunker in the surf. One of Belmar’s party boats caught 12 stripers on a blackfish trip on the ocean yesterday. Blackfish were angled from Shark River Inlet and Point Pleasant Canal. Big bluefish stormed into Manasquan River and the canal the other day. Blues were yet to hit Shark River but should any day. Farther north, boating for stripers was good on Raritan Bay. Shore anglers also caught there. A buddy landed 20-some including keepers from shore on a trip there. Some fish are around.

The <b>Miss Belmar Princess</b> on Friday will begin fishing for striped bass 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, an email said from the party boat. Take advantage: Buy three gift certificates for the striper trips and get one free. The offer is only available through April and cannot be combined with other discounts.

After Sunday’s trip produced striped bass catches including several limits and several 30- to 40-pounders, Monday’s trip read the fish in the same area, a report said on the party boat <b>Golden Eagle</b>’s website. But the fish wouldn’t bite that day, and the trip also fished several other spots, with the same results. Tuesday’s trip met loads of bunker within 5 minutes of breaking the inlet, and the bunker stretched several miles beyond. A few pods of stripers were seeing rolling in the bait, but none would bite. Anglers fished for them with livelined bunker, jigs, crocs, swim baits and more. Later in the trip, stripers were found rolling where birds crashed the water, but fishing for the bass produced the same. Tomorrow’s another day, the report said. The Golden Eagle is fishing for stripers 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

The <b>Gambler</b> is fishing for striped bass and bluefish daily, the party boat’s Facebook page said yesterday. Previously, the boat sailed for a mix of bottom-fishing and stripers on weekends.

On the <b>Norma-K III</b>, blackfish were picked at every drop during the weekend, a report said on the party boat’s website. “Short action keeps you busy with some keepers coming up as well,” it said. Anglers with 6- to 9-pound blackfish won pools on the past few trips around this time. Green crabs and clams caught, and customers tried fishing white crabs, “but they are not getting the right bite,” it said.  “Overall, it has been slow but we will keep giving it our best!” it said. Trips are blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.

<b>Toms River</b>

Large bluefish swam Barnegat Bay locally off Good Luck Point and along Route 37 Bridge, said Dennis from <b>Murphy’s Hook House</b>. But they always take a moment to begin biting well, apparently needing to adjust to the water after migrating from the ocean. They were sluggish, and Dennis hooked but lost two on the troll Monday. Probably eight boats tried for blues off Good Luck Point that day. A worm hatch was underway there, but no fish were on them. Anglers fishing bunker chunks for the blues there seemed to have a better chance at catching. Five or six boats and a kayaker fished for striped bass along the 37 Bridge that day. The fish are there. On Wednesday Dennis had one bite that got off on the troll on the bay. Bluefishing’s been a little better farther south on the bay off Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River. Warmer water seemed the reason. On Dennis’s trips the bay was 62 degrees Monday and 57 to 58 Wednesday toward Good Luck Point and the bridge. Winter flounder fishing was good on the bay toward Mantoloking Bridge, even farther north. But most of those flounder now migrated to Manasquan River. Virginia who works at the shop and a crew limited out on flounder on the Toms River on a boating trip this week.  In the surf, a few of the big blues were beached near Barnegat Inlet at Island Beach State Park. But most of the blues schooled the inlet. A bluefish was banked here and there throughout the park. Surf anglers who fished for striped bass plugged away at the catches if they put in time. Water temperature seemed the biggest issue. The surf hovered around 50 degrees, sometimes colder, sometimes a little warmer. The water needs to reach 50 for stripers to bite better. It needs to reach 55 for blues to be more active. Crabbing was actually decent or pretty good on the Toms River. Dennis in a pot trapped three dozen including a dozen keepers. Another crabber trapped a dozen big on the river at Island Heights. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

<b>Seaside Heights</b>

The number of slammer blues was increasing in Barnegat Bay and the ocean, a report said on <b>The Dock Outfitters</b>’ website. Throwback to keeper striped bass were mixed in. Keeper crabs began to be trapped from the dock the past few days. No blitz but a good start, it said. The Dock Outfitters, located on Barnegat Bay, blocks from the ocean surf, features a bait and tackle shop, a café, a dock for fishing and crabbing, and, in season, boat and jet-ski rentals. 

<b>Forked River</b>

Large blues schooled Barnegat Bay locally and even in the Toms River at Island Heights, said Grizz from <b>Grizz’s Forked River Bait & Tackle</b>. They arrived about 2 p.m. Friday in Barnegat Inlet. Throwback striped bass could still be reeled from Oyster Creek. Winter flounder skittered along the bay. One angler’s trip boated eight in the bay off Oyster Creek in 9 feet of water. White perch fishing was picking up in brackish waters.  Bait stocked includes fresh clams, bloodworms, green crabs, trout worms, meal worms and nightcrawlers.

<b>Barnegat Light</b>

Barnegat Inlet tossed up big bluefish, said Vince Sr. from <b>Bobbie’s Boat Rentals</b>. Striped bass catches were sometimes reported from Barnegat Bay. He heard about weakfish that one angler reported nabbing from the bay but saw no weaks yet. Lots of blackfish were boated from the ocean. Fresh clams, fresh bunker and green crabs are stocked. The rental boats will be available beginning in May. Bobbie’s features a complete bait and tackle shop, a fuel dock and, in season, boat and kayak rentals. The boats are used for fishing, crabbing, clamming and pleasure. 

<b>Barnegat</b>

<b>***Update, Friday, 4/21:***</b> From an edited email from Capt. Dave DeGennaro from the <b>Hi Flier</b>: “The boat just went in the water, and we’re ready to fish. The first trip we’ll offer will be on Monday. I ordered a bushel of clams to go on the anchor and try chumming stripers (on Barnegat Bay). Before and after that, we’ll hunt the big gator blues that are starting to show. Open-boat or charter, whichever happens first, 6 a.m. to 12 noon. Four people max. All fish are shared. Also available for afternoon departure on the same day, though that will be strictly a bluefish hunt, as I only like the outgoing for clamming the bass. That's not to say you can't catch them on the incoming. I just can't! We’ll also be sailing afternoons open-boat or charter Wednesday through Friday from noon to 6 p.m. for bass and blues. The tide’s ideal for afternoon clamming efforts this coming week, and I’ll be loaded with fresh bait. The clamming can be anywhere from 2 to 3 hours of our trip, and the rest of the time, we’ll hunt the blues with top-water lures. Looking forward to seeing everybody on board. <a href=" https://imgwonders.com/user/hifliersportfishing/3436809298/" target="_blank">Follow us on Instagram</a>.”

<b>Mystic Island</b>

Big blues, said Scott from <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b>. Bluefish to 14 pounds were banked at Graveling Point, and fishing there was definitely switching to blues from striped bass. Lots of fresh bunker were sold for the blues. But stripers 8 to 26 inches were sometimes mixed in. They came in spurts. Anglers definitely wanted to bring fresh clams for stripers. The stripers also bit bloodworms, and yesterday only wanted the worms, not clams or bunker. Black drum to 20 pounds, no jumbos yet, also bit at the Point. Graveling is a shore-angling spot at the confluence of Mullica River and Great Bay. A few customers bought eels to eel for stripers on the river. But they had no chance to get the eels past the blues. Nothing was heard about blackfishing along local sod banks in the bay. A few were taken along Barnegat Inlet’s rocks. So they began to bite in back waters, and blackfish season will be closed beginning in May. All baits are stocked including bloodworms, fresh clams in the shell, fresh, shucked clams and fresh bunker. Only a few live grass shrimp are carried, but white perch that bite the shrimp were winged from the Mullica at Lower Bank and lagoons in Beach Haven. 

<b>Absecon</b>

Big bluefish 10 pounds were fought here and there in back waters, said Curt from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>. He wouldn’t say they swam thick, but they were around. They were sometimes landed on Lakes Bay, for instance. Black drum were heaved from Lakes Bay, located off Route 40, and the mouth of Mullica River. Lakes Bay holds only a couple of deep holes, and that’s where the fish gathered. Striped bass, probably not lots of keepers, were around in back waters. Some good catches of keepers were made on Great Egg Harbor River. Mullica River harbored smaller stripers but usually produces bigger after the Great Egg. Stripers and white perch provided lots of life in the rivers. Blackfish were claimed at bridges, jetties and other back-water structure. All baits are stocked including fresh clams and green crabs. Fresh bunker are carried when available.

<b>Brigantine</b>

Got a good report, said Capt. Andy from <b>Riptide Bait & Tackle</b>. All different fish were showing up. A mess of striped bass 6 to 25 inches swam the surf, and the year’s first keeper was weighed-in. Jack Dobbs banked the 9-pound, 6-ounce, 28-1/4-incher from the surf while fishing from the South Jetty, winning the $50 gift card to the store for the first. Monster bluefish moved in, swarming the back bay, not so much the surf. Good catches of black drum were made from the surf this past week. The year’s first weakfish, blowfish and kingfish, one of each, were seen. A buddy today released out-of-season summer flounder 20 to 22 inches on the back bay. So all different species were showing up. The Riptide Spring Fishing Derby is underway until May 21, awarding cash for the heaviest stripers and blues. 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 was up to $220, when Andy was asked a week ago. He wasn’t asked what the bounty was up to now.  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 bounty began. The <a href="http://www.fishingreportsnow.com/Product.Reviews.2017/TFO.GIS.SP.1102-2.cfm" target="_blank"><b><i>new TFO surf-plugging rod, the GIS SP 1102-2</b></i></a>, was stocked Friday. That’s an 11-footer that’s made for light, ½-ounce to 2-ounce lures, unusually.

<b>Atlantic City</b>

The blitz is on, especially bluefish, said Noel from <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b>. He saw 25 to 30 big blues a day brought from local waters. Customers whacked them from the T-jetty and nearby surf, but also back waters. Videos of the catches from the back off Erie Avenue were posted on the shop’s Facebook page. Schoolie stripers still bit along the T and nearby surf, like before, and a 26.5-pound striper was checked-in today. The angler pumped in 30 schoolies along with the big bass. Blackfish chomped along Absecon Inlet, like before. Customers fish all these places on foot, including the nearby, jetty-lined inlet. The T is at the ocean end of the inlet. They fished fresh bunker, fresh clams, bloodworms and green crabs. All those baits and more, the full supply, are stocked. See lots of photos and videos on <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/OneStopBaitAC/" target="_blank">One Stop’s Facebook page</a>.

<b>Egg Harbor Township</b>

Huge bluefish 10 to 15 pounds, plenty, showed up locally about three days ago, said John from <b>24-7 Bait & Tackle</b>. They swam everywhere from the bay to Great Egg Harbor River. Customers nailed them at the power plant. The blues also held in the ocean, like a bunch that a friend plastered at Atlantic City. Striped bass mostly 10 to 24 inches, occasionally a keeper, held in the river. White perch schooled the river, but getting a hook past the blues and stripers was difficult. Blackfishing was decent. Reports about them were heard from back waters at Longport and Margate, not Somers Point. Baits stocked include green crabs, fresh clams, fresh bunker and all frozen. <b>The company also owns 24-7 Bait & Tackle in Marmora</b>. The company also just opened a store Tight Lines Bait & Tackle in Somers Point.

<b>Longport</b>

Blackfish chewed their heads off Tuesday on the <b>Stray Cat</b> on the ocean, non-stop, Capt. Mike said. The water was 51.8 degrees, and the trip first fished in 50 feet of water. Then it moved to 70 feet, and the angling took off. No trip fished in Wednesday’s weather, and the boat was expected to resume the fishing today. Mike expected to head back to the same area and a couple of pieces nearby. These are open-boat trips, and the trips are also expected to sail Friday through Sunday, and every day when weather’s fit. Blackfish season will be closed beginning May 1.

<b>Ocean City</b>

Lots of small striped bass, a few bigger, schooled inlets and the back bay, said Will from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. Fewer ran the surf, but some were dragged from the surf. Clams, bunker, Fin-S Fish and other soft-plastic lures were fished for them in all these locations. Stripers bit along bridges on the same things. But at night, mostly the soft-plastics. Big bluefish began to show up more than before in the bay and surf. Good white perch fishing was reported from Great Egg Harbor River. Throwback stripers were played on the river, and no bluefish were heard about from there. Good blackfishing was reported mostly from ocean boaters, but some were hooked from back waters.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b>, affiliated with <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>, expects to fight big bluefish on the back bay shortly, he said. He was yet to make much effort at the fishing, but that’s about to change. The blues are a main fishery for him each spring. Striped bass, weakfish and out-of-season summer flounder can be mixed in. He took a brief trip Tuesday, releasing flounder and his year’s first weakfish, not big, on the bay. The timing wasn’t right for blues, and he fished when he could. He also might’ve “zigged when the blues zagged.” Blues in the early season can especially bite during certain parts of tides. Joe last weekend trailered one of his boats back to Sea Isle from annual traveling charters in the Florida Keys he runs each winter. He’ll concentrate on Jersey fishing now. Keep up with his fishing on <a href="http://captainjoehughes.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">Jersey Cape’s Blog</a>.

Bluefish, not a huge number, but a good amount surrounded the island, from the back bay to inlets to the surf, said Mike from <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. Definitely some fun fishing, he said, and the blues weren’t huge but good-sized, from 5 to 10 pounds. Small striped bass 12 inches totally invaded the surf, inlets and bay. Small jigs with soft-plastics like Bass Assassin Sea Shad paddle-tails hooked them best. Some anglers cut the plastics shorter, and one angler fished a Bass Assassin with two teasers and hooked three of the bass at once. Fly-rodders had a ball catching them. Blackfishing kicked butt along the rocks at Townsend’s Inlet and any structure like that, and customers bought many crabs for bait for them. The angling usually isn’t as good this time of year, but is this year. The tautog bit all usual baits. One angler would catch on green crabs. Another would on whites. Another on clams. Green crabs are stocked, and whites are when available. Baits stocked also include fresh clams and bunker.

<b>Cape May</b>

Blackfishing last sailed Friday and Saturday on the ocean on the party boat <b>Porgy IV</b> and was weathered out since, Capt. Paul said. Strong, easterly wind often blew. On those trips, the angling improved somewhat. A few more keepers were hooked than before, and some anglers limited out. Anglers who limited on Friday included Biff Pein from East Brunswick, Jim Murray from Reeds Beach and Michael Burget from Folsom, Pa. Ken Minett from Mays landing on the trip bagged three blackfish including a 6-1/2-pounder, winning the pool with the fish. On Saturday, Mike Youcis from Bridgeton, Kevin Moran from Cinnaminson and a couple of other anglers limited. Trips are blackfishing at 8 a.m. daily, and telephone the day before to confirm. Blackfishing season will close beginning in May, and the boat will probably begin fishing for drum on Delaware Bay that month sometime.

The year’s first charter is supposed to blackfish Sunday on the <b>Heavy Hitter</b>, Capt. George said. Black drum fishing usually kicks in during mid-May on Delaware Bay on charters aboard. Sea bass charters will begin May 26, opening day of sea bass season. Someone told George big bluefish roamed Delaware Bay. That was unconfirmed.

Big bluefish were sometimes pounded from the surf along Delaware Bay in town, said Nick from <b>Hands Too Bait & Tackle</b>. No particular place held them consistently, but the blues chased bunker schools in the area. Anglers concentrated on fishing along jetties. An angler tackled a 36-inch blue from the area yesterday. Swimming lures or chunks of bunker could be fished for the blues. A couple of boats were known to get into the blues on the bay. When birds worked the water, and baitfish schooled, the blues could be on them and easy to find. Not a lot of boaters fished yet this season. Local marinas just opened last week. Nothing was heard about boaters trying for striped bass on the bay yet. Tons of small stripers, not many keepers, swam the bay. Surf casters lit into them on bloodworms under a float and soft-plastic lures. Big stripers still migrated Delaware River for spawning. They’ll probably drop back to Delaware Bay in 1 ½ weeks, and reach the ocean surf in three weeks, after spawning. Blackfishing was good on the ocean, including at Cape May Reef, and along jetties. Fresh bunker, fresh clams, bloodworms and green crabs are stocked.

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