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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 5-1-17


Raritan Bay’s striped bass fishing was a grind the past few days on the <b>Vitamin Sea</b>, Capt. Frank wrote in an email. The bass and bait were marked on the fish finder, but few stripers bit. Bluefish arrived in the bay, not a ton, but hooks were bitten off, after a brief fight, and rubber shads were chomped in half. That made anglers know blues appeared. The striper fishing slows every spring a moment, when the fish begin to spawn. Nobody could know how long that would last, but the Vitamin Sea is keeping after the fish daily. Space is available on open-boat trips 2 to 8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday and in the morning on Sunday, May 14. Telephone to reserve.

Striped bass fishing improved Sunday, was okay, on Raritan Bay with the <b>Down Deep Fleet</b>, Capt. Mario said. The fish up to 20 pounds were hooked on chunks of bunker, and the angling was tough the previous few days. The water began to be clearer Sunday after dirty water from rain. Open-boat trips are fishing daily, and charters are available on Down Deep’s two 40-foot boats, each accommodating up to 15 passengers. The vessels feature galleys, large cockpits and more for comfort. See <a href="" target="_blank">Down Deep’s calendar</a> online for available dates. Join the Short Notice List on the site – look for the link underneath the Contact link – to be kept informed about special open trips. Fluke and sea bass trips are booking up for later this season.

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

Sailing Raritan Bay, striped bass fishing was tough on the party boat <b>Atlantic Star</b> on Friday to Sunday, Capt. Tom said. Saturday afternoon’s and Sunday morning’s trips reeled in four keepers apiece. Otherwise, a keeper came in once in a while, and throwbacks were let go. But the trips are fishing for them every day, and Tom hopes the angling picks up. A bluefish bit off a line on Sunday afternoon’s trip. That was the first sign of blues this season aboard. If a bunch show up, they can be fun on trips. Not everybody likes to eat blues, but some do, and the crew will fillet them up. Trips are fishing for stripers on two trips daily from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m. <b>***Update, Monday, 5/1:***</b> Striper fishing improved on today’s trips, Tom said. Weather was also better than yesterday – foggy sometimes, but calmer. This morning’s trip cracked some keepers and a couple of shorts. This afternoon’s put up even more keepers and some shorts. No bluefish showed up today, but some might’ve been marked on the way home. Tom will see what happens with them.

Beautiful day on the water catching striped bass, a report said about Friday on the <b>Fishermen</b> on the party boat’s website. That was the most recent report at press time, and lots of smaller stripers and a couple of keepers were angled at first on the trip. After a couple of spots were fished in deeper water with plenty of readings but no bites, the trip began fishing shallows. A much better bite took off in the afternoon. The high hook cranked in five stripers, and a couple of anglers pulled in three to four apiece. Some reeled in none, and a 16-pound striper won the pool. The boat is fishing for stripers 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, 6:30 to 11:30 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 3:30 to 9 p.m. Sundays.


<b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b> will begin fishing on May 13 for the year, Capt. Ralph said. A few dates remain for sea bass charters, and weekends are filling quickly, so Ralph suggests anglers contact him if they want to book. A couple of spaces are available for an individual-reservation trip for sea bass June 6.


Big bluefish to 16 pounds invaded Shark and Manasquan rivers this past week, Bob from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b> wrote in an email. Different metal and lures hooked them, and Shark River’s winter flounder fishing slowed. Summertime species began to arrive in the water, including out-of-season fluke. Anglers released fluke to 21 inches that were sometimes hooked in the river, and waited for New Jersey’s fluke regs to be decided. Blackfish season ended today, and Bob watched ocean boaters clean the tautog averaging 6 to 8 pounds and many 9- to 11-pounders in past days. The fishing ended on a high note. Anglers fishing Shark River Inlet on foot enjoyed some good blackfishing. The fish were smaller there, but Bob saw a 7-pounder from the inlet. Inlet anglers preferred crabs and sandworms for bait for them. Belmar’s party boats that blackfished will now need to sail for striped bass and blues or bottom-fishing for cod and ling. Stripers should migrate the local ocean any time, maybe beginning this week. Fisherman’s Den this week will be moved to the new building at the marina where the Marina Grille is also located. Stop by and see. 

A couple of striped bass to 28 ½ pounds were bagged from Raritan Bay on Saturday on the <b>Katie H</b>, Capt. Mike said in a voicemail. The trip was supposed to depart at 6 a.m. but was delayed a couple of hours, because of lightning and a torrential downpour. Then weather became beautiful. Stripers bit until 11 a.m., when the new-moon, flood tide peaked. Plenty were marked but wouldn’t bite then. The boat is docked along the bay and is fishing the striper run. The vessel will be moved back to Belmar when the migration moves to the ocean to fish for the bass there. The 46-foot Katie H features all the amenities and speed.

<b>Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters</b> decked a few striped bass and missed a bunch on Raritan Bay to the north Saturday, Capt. Pete said. The angling wasn’t great, but it was nice to see a few stripers. Pete’s mostly waiting for big stripers on the ocean. The fish will depart rivers and bays after spawning, and arrive in the ocean to migrate north for summer. He expects that angling to break open by the next full moon. Bunker migrating the ocean from south were heard about, and that was a good sign. Livelining bunker for the bass on the ocean is a main event for Pete’s trips each spring. Dates are booking for the fishing. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Contact Parker Pete’s 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.

Bunker, lots, were seen along the water surface, and piles of striped bass were marked underneath on Sunday’s trip on the <b>Golden Eagle</b>, a report said on the party boat’s website. But they wouldn’t bite. The fishing, on the ocean, has been slow, but is expected to kick in any time, because water’s warming. Stripers and blues are biting in Raritan Bay. No trips was expected to sail today because of wind, but trips are slated to fish for stripers and blues 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. The year’s first bluefish aboard was beaten Saturday.

Fishing for striped bass and bluefish was tough Saturday on the <b>Miss Belmar Princess</b>, an email from the party boat said. A handful of mackerel were bagged on a few drifts. Sunday’s trip fished at a different area, and sailed tight to shore. Lots of bunker were marked, and a couple of bluefish and a few mackerel were pitched aboard. Bunker schooled the water surface toward the end of the trip, “with a few fish splashing in them but they didn’t want to bite,” the email said. Trips are fishing for stripers and blues 7:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. No trip was expected to sail today because of weather.


Bluefish 6 to 10 pounds piled into Manasquan Inlet fairly consistently 2 hours before and after slack tides, said Eric from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. That was no matter whether during mid-day, and the angling was slow on slack. Boaters fought the blues on Manasquan River from Treasure Island to Route 70 Bridge. The blues also schooled Barnegat Bay near Mantoloking Bridge, and Daiwa SP Minnow lures seemed to hook them best at all these places. Top-water lures grabbed them now and then but not consistently. Bluefish a little larger, 8 to 15 pounds, swam Raritan Bay, hitting bunker chunks and SP’s. Striped bass from 16 inches to just keeper-sized swam Manasquan Inlet, Point Pleasant Canal and the bay near Mantoloking Bridge, swiping SP’s, rubber shads and bucktails. The same-sized stripers ran the surf, and no tide seemed to produce them best. Anglers seemed to stumble on them, and if they did, the fishing could be good. Boaters were rumored to troll stripers off Barnegat Inlet on the ocean Saturday, but no details were heard, and most boaters struck out when trying for stripers on the ocean. Stripers were boated on Raritan Bay on trolled Maja spoons, mostly in chartreuse, and, at night, on bunker chunks.  Winter flounder fishing seemed mostly finished for the season. Flounder seemed mostly to migrate out of Manasquan River and into the ocean, though one angler reportedly landed six. Eric wasn’t asked where, but apparently meant in the river. Blackfish were boated on the ocean, but blackfish season closed today.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

On the <b>Norma-K III</b>, blackfishing was tough the past few days, a report said on the party boat’s website. A few keepers and some shorts bit at each spot fished, but the crew would’ve liked more to be caught. Six- to 8-pounders won pools, and blackfish season closed today. The boat will resume blackfishing in November. Trips today were going to begin fishing for striped bass and blues 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.

The <b>Gambler</b>, currently fishing for striped bass and blues 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, tried for the fish down the ocean beach Friday, the party boat’s Facebook page said. The trip looked as far south as Island Beach State Park, but “didn’t see much,” it said. Nothing bit, and the trip finally pushed a few miles from shore and “had a few quick flurries of mackerel,” it said. That was the most recent post on the Facebook page at press time, and the boat was expected to fish this past weekend. Accurate Reels will host two trips 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. this Wednesday and on Tuesday, May 23, aboard for anglers to test the company’s gear. Stripers and blues will be targeted.

<b>Seaside Heights</b>

“Some nice blues” were battled from the dock at mid-day Saturday, a report said on <b>The Dock Outfitters</b>’ website. A couple of anglers tied into them on cut bait, and the fish had a school of bunker pushed into the water. Barnegat Bay usually gave up blues in early evenings lately. The blues showed up in Barnegat Inlet “at the right times.” In the surf, the number of stripers – keepers and throwbacks – caught was increasing. Bait and plugs hooked them. Crabbing produced a few keepers from the dock. 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, boat rentals and, in season, jet-ski rentals. 

<b>Barnegat Light</b>

The party boat <b>Miss Barnegat Light</b> will begin fishing for the year on bluefish trips on the Friday to Monday of Memorial Day weekend, May 26 to 29, Karen said. The bluefish trips will also fish Friday through Sunday on the three weekends afterward. Trips will switch to fluke fishing daily on June 23.

<b>Mystic Island</b>

A trip whipped bluefish to 11 pounds non-stop on Great Bay on Friday, an angler from the outing wrote in a report posted on <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b>’s website. The trip fished bunker a half-hour, and began catching when Bomber plugs started to be fished along the surface. A trip Thursday on the bay trolled a good catch of blues that bit continually on Pet Spoons and Bombers, an angler from that trip wrote in a report on the site.

<b>Atlantic City</b>

“It’s smashing!” said Noel from <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b>. Atlantic City is a fish trap, he said! Bluefish were smaller than before that were landed from the surf near Absecon Inlet to the back bay. Blues might’ve been beginning to depart. But a good number continued to be angled, and Noel thinks big striped bass will arrive within the next days. A customer took five casts of a Daiwa SP Minnow from the T-jetty today and whacked an 18-1/2-pound striper. Click the link to watch a video of the fish on the store’s Facebook page, and see lots of other photos and videos on the page. Every model of SP is stocked, and the T is located at the ocean end of the inlet. That’s all near the store, and big stripers begin to swim the surf there when they spawn and then depart rivers. That should be about to bust loose. Other customers bought bait from the bait machine, located outside the store, at night, and drilled four bluefish. The machine holds live and frozen bait including bunker, mackerel, mullet, spearing, bloodworms, green crabs, clams, nightcrawlers and green worms, and is always well-stocked. When you get that itch from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., you can scratch it, Noel said! All baits, a full supply, are also stocked at the store during business hours.  


East wind blew strongly and current screamed, but great blackfishing was axed yesterday, the final day of blackfish season, on the <b>Stray Cat</b> on the ocean, Capt. Mike said. A 12-pounder won the pool, and seas weren’t bad on the 53-foot boat. The boat was moved a couple of times, and had to be re-anchored sometimes in the conditions. Then it got on a piece that produced. The anglers picked the rest of the trip, some limiting out, some landing double a limit, keeping no more than their quota. Open-boat trips and charters will now wreck fish on the ocean for whatever bites and can be kept. Big, out-of-season sea bass were released on the trip. Tuna trips are beginning to book that fish inshore spots like Massey’s Canyon beginning in late May and early June for yellowfins and bluefins. Weekends are filling, so anglers better telephone.  

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Bluefishing is world-class on the back bay aboard, said Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. Mike Roth and son fly- and spin-rodded 15 of the slammers to a legit 19-pounder, maybe heavier, Sunday afternoon. The blue was one of the three biggest Joe’s ever seen. “That’s a lot of bluefish,” he said. In the morning, John Mattiaci’s family tackled 12 or 15 of the fish to 13 pounds on spinning rods. On Saturday morning, Bob Wilson’s crew beat blues to 12 or 13 pounds on spinning tackle. Joe also fished with his son Brady that day, nailing blues to 14 pounds. On Friday evening, Doug Gillespie and friends whaled many, many blues to 15 pounds and released an out-of-season summer flounder on spinning gear. The trips have been fishing the spinning rods with jigheads with Bass Assassins, though many different lures could be used. The trips fished knot-able wire leaders and wire leaders. Joe prefers fishing 60-pound fluorocarbon for blues, but the fish bit through wire leader sometimes. The bay’s been 55 to 64 degrees, depending on location and the day. That’s a wide range but typical in spring. The bluefishing only lasts so long, so jump on them. 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> took a run to Delaware Bay off Pierces Point and Bidwell Creek on Saturday, clamming one striped bass, he said. A buddy landed two puppy black drum 20 or 25 pounds and a striper from the bay farther north this weekend. The bay’s striper fishing improved, and drum began to appear there. A charter aboard this weekend will probably fish for either. Most stripers hooked from the bay were taken on bunker, though fresh bunker was scarce when Jim looked Saturday. So he just fished with clams. Bidwell Creek’s mouth was 66 degrees that day, and Jim didn’t look at the bay’s temperature. He figured the bay was 60 to 65, cooler than the creek. The bay might’ve been slightly cool for the best striper fishing, and the water temperature seemed about right for drum to begin turning on. Weather was rough in strong easterly wind that day, but the bay near shore protects seas from easterlies. Jim stuck close to shore. Still, the conditions swung the boat widely back and forth on anchor. Double-anchoring could’ve helped. Boats were seen fishing farther from shore toward 20-Foot Slough, probably for drum. They probably dealt with wind and seas. Jim was planning to fish the bay again today, but forecasts were worse, and the trip was nixed. Anglers at his camp in Avalon said surf anglers reeled in stripers, drum and big blues to 17 pounds around Townsend’s Inlet. Jim was at his <a href="" target="_blank">lodge</a> near Salmon River in upstate New York on Tuesday and Wednesday. He didn’t check the river’s steelhead fishing, but the stream behind the lodge ran clear and low. That feeds the reservoir that feeds Salmon River. He imagined the Salmon also ran low. Two anglers he knows said the steelheading was slim pickings. This was toward the end of the run. Anglers rent the lodge for steelheading in fall to spring and salmon fishing in fall.  Jim’s offering a discount on the lodge in summertime, but only on Airbnb. No discount is offered in winter, when snowmobiling is popular at the lodge. In summer, people drive quadrunners. Recently, they Snirted or drove them in snow and dirt.

<b>Cape May</b>

The <b>Heavy Hitter</b> blackfished the past two days, Capt. George said. Sunday’s trip actually striped bass fished at first on Delaware Bay in the morning, because stripers were supposedly picked from the bay from the Villas to farther north. None bit, and the trip then blackfished. George knew someone whose trip boated a few stripers on the bay that day, but not until 2 p.m. The blackfishing on the Heavy Hitter Saturday and Sunday produced the tog to a 7- or 8-pounder, including keepers, and lots a half-inch to an inch undersized. The angling was alright. Heavy Hitter will also fish for black drum on the bay soon. Some began to be picked, a good sign, it seemed. A boater from across the dock’s trip came up with two 15- to 20-pounders Saturday night.

<b>Fishin’ Fever Sportfishing</b> will begin striped bass fishing today, on Delaware Bay with bunker chunks, and fishing for black drum on the bay as soon as possible, Capt. Tom said. That’s because stripers, big, 40 to 48 inches, arrived in the bay, and so did drum. The stripers are mature breeders that spawned in Delaware River and are returning to the ocean. They’ll migrate north for summer. The drum began to arrive from wherever they do each spring. Tom heard about 20- to 65-pounders boated. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing. Fishin’ Fever fished for blackfish on the ocean until blackfish season closed today. The angling was alright, a little tougher the past few days. But good catches of the tautog to 13 ½ pounds were swung aboard this past week.

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