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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 4-3-17


<b>Keyport</b>

Striped bass fishing “took a bit of an upswing” on Raritan Bay recently, Capt. Frank from the <b>Vitamin Sea</b> wrote in an email. But the water became dirty after rain throughout Friday and part of Saturday. No trip fished aboard until Sunday, because of the rain. The fishing was tough in the morning on the trip. But when the water warmed, the trip began to pick away. The anglers landed about 14 throwback stripers, no keepers, and missed a bunch. The angling will improve as the water temperature rises and weather becomes more stable. Then it’ll really pop. Nobody can know when it’ll break open, but the fishing’s been improving on every trip aboard. “The bait is here the gannets are here the fish cannot be far away,” he wrote.  Good dates remain for striper fishing on the boat, so book them while they’re available. Both a.m. and p.m. trips will run, like last year, to make the boat as available as possible. See photos of the trip on <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/vitaminseafishing/" target="_blank">Vitamin Sea’s Facebook page</a>, and Like the page to keep up with the latest. <b>***Update, Tuesday, 4/4:***</b> The next open-boat trips will fish Wednesday and Sunday, and telephone to reserve.

The year’s first fishing sailed Sunday on Raritan Bay with the <b>Down Deep Fleet</b>, Capt. Mario said. All the anglers reeled in a couple of throwback striped bass apiece, and one big winter flounder came in. They had a good time, not bad for the first trip, instead of scoring no catches that could’ve happened, he said. Some days with sun are needed, and the striper fishing will amp up. The bay is loaded with bait including bunker and, Mario thinks, herring. Down Deep will give the fishing a few days off and will begin fishing daily on Friday. Open-boat trips will fish daily, and charters are available. Join the <a href=" http://downdeepsportfishing.com/short-notice-list/" target="_blank">Short Notice List</a> on Down Deep’s website to be kept informed about special open trips. 

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

<b>Fisherman’s Den North</b> will be opened Saturday for the fishing season, Tom said. One of the marina’s party boats, at least, will begin fishing for blackfish then, he thought. The rental boats will be available, and all bait will be stocked. Not a lot was heard about fishing locally. A few striped bass, mostly throwbacks but sometimes a keeper, were banked from Raritan Bay from shore. The store, located at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina, was new last year and is the sister shop to Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, farther south.

<b>Highlands</b>

Fishing will begin in mid-April with <b>Tuna-Tic Sportfishing</b>, Capt. Mike said. Trips then will sail for striped bass on Raritan Bay. The fish reportedly began to be picked, and the catches should break open in the next couple of weeks. More should begin to be heard after a week or so. The first trips aboard usually clam for the bass. But last year’s trips livelined bunker and trolled for the stripers right away, never clamming. The trips are beginning to fill, and the boat will sail from Sandy Hook Bay Marina this year, after fishing from Bahr’s Landing the past couple of years. The boat is moved to Forked River and fishes from Barnegat Inlet once striper fishing becomes best on the ocean. That usually happens toward the end of May, when the striper migration pours into the ocean from bays and rivers. The angling was phenomenal last year on the vessel. By June, Tuna-Tic shark fishes. Sometimes the shark trips mix in striper fishing on the way home in evenings.

<b>Neptune</b>

The following report was posted Friday as an update and is being re-posted in case anybody missed it: 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, Monday, 4/3:***</b> The individual-reservation sea bass trip is full on May 31, and another has been added for June 6. Contact Last Lady to reserve.

<b>Belmar</b>

“We had some short life at most spots during the day,” the party boat <b>Big Mohawk</b>’s Facebook page said about blackfishing Sunday aboard. As the day went on, wind and the ocean’s swell calmed, and the angling “picked up,” it said. The boat was slated to begin blackfishing Saturday, opening day of blackfish season, but rough weather kept a trip from sailing that day. The season for the fish is open throughout April and will be closed afterward. Forecasts looked good for the boat to blackfish today. “I do believe that (today) has potential (for the angling),” the page said. Trips are blackfishing 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily, and today might be the best weather among the next few days.

Shark River tossed up winter flounder, said Tom from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b>. The store’s rental boats are available for the angling. On one of Belmar’s party boat’s yesterday, mostly throwback blackfish, a few keepers and a couple of cod were cranked from the ocean. Blackfish season opened Saturday for April and will be closed afterward. Sailing for the fish was weathered out on the opener. Small striped bass were sometimes dragged from the surf, mostly on worms and clams. A couple were plugged.

A couple of boats blackfished Sunday on the ocean, Capt. Pete from <b>Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters</b> said. A few of the tautog were caught, but he didn’t know how great the angling was. A few striped bass were angled on Raritan Bay, and fishing was just getting started. Pete’s shooting to begin fishing aboard in the third week of April. Trips then would blackfish and maybe fish for cod and ling. Striped bass fishing should begin in mid-May on the boat, on the ocean. The migration should swim the water then. Trips will fish for the bass including with livelined bunker, a main event on the vessel 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=" http://www.parkerpetefishing.com/" target="_blank">Parker Pete’s website</a> to be kept informed about the spaces. 

<b>Brielle</b>

Winter flounder were scooped from Barnegat Bay, like near Mantoloking Bridge and Dale’s Point, said Alex from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. They seemed yet to migrate much to Manasquan River. Striped bass were picked behind Island Beach State Park, farther south in the bay, on worms and clams. No best time of day was mentioned, but fishing around high tides was necessary. Sometimes stripers were managed from the surf on plugs and bait, and the angling seemed slow. Anglers hope the angling begins to pick up as the season warms in the next week. Blackfish season opened this weekend, and weather kept boats from fishing for them Saturday on the ocean. Some sailed for them Sunday, and the crew from the store waited to hear results. The Reel Seat is open Thursdays through Sundays and will be open daily after next week.

A few better-sized cod and pollock were picked at a couple of places Sunday on the <b>Jamaica II</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. Nothing special, it said, but some anglers bagged two to four fish, and some bagged none. Some of the fish weighed 12 to 15 pounds. “First sign of some decent sized fish so far this season,” it said. Saturday’s trip was weathered out, and the trips are slated for 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

Fishing will kick off Saturday for the year with <b>Mushin Sportfishing</b>, Capt. Alan wrote in an email. A trip will fish mid-range for cod and pollock that day aboard. Mushin will concentrate on cod and pollock and do some tilefishing when conditions permit through early May. By mid-May, striped bass fishing will probably be in full gear on the boat. Sea bass fishing will also sail when sea bass season opens, probably sometime in May. Sea bass season is yet to be announced, and was opened on May 23 last year. In June and July, Mushin will sail from Cape May for sharks, tuna and tilefish. Those trips will fish the southern canyons from the Lindenkohl to the Norfolk and inshore spots like Massey’s Canyon and the Hot Dog. The fishing usually hits the wall by June, and telephone Alan if interested.

On the <b>Norma-K III</b>, blackfishing was weathered out Saturday, opening day of blackfish season, Capt. Matt wrote in a report on the party boat’s website. But a trip Sunday picked some of the tautog aboard, slow fishing in strong current and a swell from the storm Friday. None of that helped, but a few anglers managed a keeper or two and some throwbacks apiece, “and some had a tough day,” he said. “The good news is that there is some life in our area which is nice to see,” he wrote. Once the current and swell calm, “we will see more life,” he thinks. Weather looked great for today’s trip, and the boat is blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. 
<b>Atlantic City</b>

It’s on fire, said Noel from <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b>. Hot and heavy, he said. Blackfish season opened Saturday for the month, and customers pasted good-sized – 14- to 20-inchers – along Absecon Inlet’s jetties. Anglers could limit out on four on crabs and fresh clams. See photos on <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/OneStopBaitAC/" target="_blank">One Stop’s Facebook page</a>. Striped bass, small but lots, were creamed from the inlet on bloodworms. One angler probably landed 30 from the T-jetty, on the ocean end of the inlet, in a trip. Another angler tried fly-rodding and nailed a keeper striper in the marsh near Harrah’s from shore. Customers fish the jetty-lined inlet, blocks from the store, on foot. The bluefish migration will tear into the waters any time. All the baits mentioned and more, the full supply, are stocked. 

<b>Longport</b>

Open-boat blackfishing was supposed to fish today on the <b>Stray Cat</b> on the ocean, Capt. Mike said. No trips fished in rough seas and weather on this opening day of blackfish season aboard. But Mike took a ride on the ocean Sunday, and the water was 44 to 45 degrees. The fish should bite. The next open trip is slated for Wednesday for blackfish, and more of the trips will sail Friday through Sunday, if weather cooperates. Open trips will blackfish daily when weather’s fit. Plenty of green crabs and clams and a few white leggers and hermit crabs are aboard.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Not only were the year’s first striped bass reeled aboard this weekend, but so was the first summer flounder, said Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. On a trip Sunday with Doug Gillespie and Joe’s son aboard, three stripers – two small and one 28-incher, keeper-sized – were pulled from the bay. That was on jigs on a slow, hopping retrieve along bottom. Joe went back out in the afternoon with his wife and two boys, and the flounder, out-of-season, was released. This was Joe’s first fishing of the year locally, and he was happy with the production. The bay was cold or 44 to 48 degrees, depending on location. Wind blew quite strongly sometimes and was calm sometimes during different parts of the day, but weather was mostly pleasant. Joe heard no confirmed reports about bluefish, but the migration of blues usually slams the bay by tax day, April 15. That kicks off some of the year’s best fishing. The blues are fought, stripers can be mixed in, and so can weakfish and out-of-season flounder, all in the bay. The weaks are large, so-called tiderunners that enter the bay a moment in spring. Many anglers don’t know the angling exists this early in the year, but anglers should take advantage. Joe’s been running annual traveling charters to the Florida Keys that fish from Christmas to Easter. He’ll run more of those trips and then trailer the boat back from there on Easter weekend that he uses for the angling.  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>Avalon</b>

The year’s first anglers are slated to fish saltwater toward the end of April with <b>Fins and Feathers Outfitters</b>, Capt. Jim said. Catches on the trips then could include striped bass and bluefish on the back bay. Jim might fish for stripers soon on the bay. That water is warm enough, but the ocean is too cold for stripers to bite much. The bluefish migration should arrive soon. He had lunch at Townsend’s Inlet on Sunday, and sat on the jetty a while. Anglers there hooked dogfish, and commented that the water seemed too cold for stripers. Wind probably blew 10 to 15 knots from southeast across the tide, and the inlet’s seas were stacked up pretty well. Jim saw no boats fishing the bay during the weekend. He spent time on boat maintenance, and put the rest of his waterfowl decoys away for the season. He saw black scoters and loons that remained. Brant seemed to migrate away for now. Snow goose season is open until early this month, but most migrated north already, because of the warm winter. Jim wrapped up his guided waterfowling trips weeks ago for the season, doing that early, because of that. He’ll also spend time at his lodge in upstate New York currently, where anglers are booked to fish for steelheads on nearby Salmon River. This can be prime season for that angling. Fins offers a variety of outdoor adventures including saltwater fishing, steelhead and salmon fishing, trout fishing and duck and goose hunting.

<b>Cape May</b>

Capt. George from the <b>Heavy Hitter</b> got a text saying massive bird plays worked Delaware Bay, he said. A tow-boat captain where the Heavy Hitter is dry docked also talked about bird plays on the bay at places like Maurice River cove. Some people said striped bass were on the baitfish that the birds worked, but none seemed to know for a fact. Fish aren’t always on bait that birds work. George has often seen that happen. The Heavy Hitter will probably be splashed around Good Friday. Trips this month will blackfish on the ocean. Drum charters will fish in May on the bay. Charters in May will also sea bass fish on the ocean. Sea bass season should be opened beginning in May, and the dates are yet to be announced. The season began on May 23 last year. George worked on seasonal maintenance on the boat this weekend, like painting the bottom. 

Anglers sometimes fished for throwback striped bass along surf jetties with bloodworms, said Nick from <b>Hands Too Bait & Tackle</b>. Not much was heard about fishing, but that will change soon. Boaters sometimes headed to upper Delaware Bay, like at Ship John, to fish for stripers. Plenty of baitfish schooled the bay, according to the bait supplier. Fresh bunker were stocked this weekend. So were bloodworms and green crabs, and fresh clams should be carried sometime this week. A few big stripers just began to be landed from Delaware River. Those were mature fish migrating to the river to spawn, after spending winter to the south. A couple of customers bought bait yesterday morning to fish the river, saying they knew about someone who fished the river, scoring a big runoff right away that was lost, getting no other bites afterward on the trip. Anglers waited for the bluefish migration to arrive in New Jersey. Second-hand reports, none confirmed, circulated about blues seen at places like inlets in South Jersey. Blackfish season opened this weekend, and the party boat Porgy IV from Cape May was weathered out Saturday from fishing for them, Nick knew. But the boat probably sailed Sunday for the tautog, he thought. 

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