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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 5-25-17

<b>Keyport</b>

A million bluefish and a few striped bass mixed in, Capt. Mario from the <b>Down Deep Fleet</b> said. Trips targeted stripers on Raritan Bay and the ocean. That was with bunker chunks, and no trolling was done. Open-boat trips are fishing for stripers daily, and charters are available. Open trips will sail for fluke daily beginning Monday. Open trips will also run for sea bass daily beginning that day. Fluke season opened today, and sea bass season opens Friday. Charters are available for fluke or sea bass, too. Telephone to reserve all trips, and 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 – look for the link underneath the Contact link – to be kept informed about special open trips.

Raritan Bay’s striped bass fishing continued to be okay, Capt. Frank from the <b>Vitamin Sea</b> wrote in an email. The bass to 40 pounds were cranked aboard, and bluefish tore up “everything in sight,” he wrote. Bunker began to appear, “and there have been fish underneath the schools.” Striper fishing is far from finished, and trips will sail for them when anglers want. But trips now focus on fluke. Fluke season opened today, and the Vitamin Sea is a dedicated fluke boat from now through summer. Fluking was excellent last year aboard, and Frank and crew know where to find the jumbos. Charters are fishing, and now’s the time to book fluke charters, and good dates remain. Open-boat trips will fluke whenever no charter is booked. That includes open trips 2 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday when no charter is scheduled. One space remains for an open fluke trip Tuesday. Spaces are available for the trips next Thursday and Saturday and Sunday, June 3 and 4. Telephone to reserve. For fluking, bait is provided, and bring your own bucktails and Gulp. Bucktails and Gulp are available for sale aboard.

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

Fluke fishing on Raritan Bay was supposed to kick off today, opening day of fluke season, on the party boat <b>Atlantic Star</b>, Capt. Tom said. But none of the fleet sailed because of rain and wind. He expects to give an update on the angling tomorrow aboard that will be posted here if he does. Trips will fish for fluke 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m. daily. <b>***Update, Friday, 5/26:***</b> Three or four keeper fluke and quite a few shorts were landed so far on this morning’s trip on the bay, Tom said partway through the outing in a phone call aboard. Some anglers hooked none, and some hooked one or two, and the trip found the fish in two areas, looked in a few, and was still looking around. He sounded upbeat. Nothing great, but some action, and fluke to be caught, he said.

Fishing for fluke was going to be washed out today, opening day of fluke season, on the <b>Fishermen</b>, Capt. Ron wrote in a report on the party boat’s website. Strong east wind and rain was forecast, but he hopes for better weather tomorrow. Yesterday’s trip crushed big bluefish on several drifts. Bait was the “ticket,” and one angler cast top-water lures a while. Plenty of blues chased the lures, but none was hooked.  Trips now will fish for fluke 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily and for fluke, blues and whatever bites 3:30 to 9 p.m. every Tuesday through Sunday. Trips now will fish for stripers 3:30 to 9 p.m. every Monday.

None of the party boats fished today from the marina in the storm, said Johnny O. from <b>Fisherman’s Den North</b>. Some were supposed to begin fluking on this opening day of fluke season. Some of the store’s rental boats were reserved for the angling today, but that was canceled because of the weather. Striped bass fishing seemed slow on the head boats yesterday, but the trips caught bluefish. Private boaters landed stripers while trolling. Sea bass season opens tomorrow. Nothing was heard about surf fishing. The shop, the sister store to Fisherman’s Den in Belmar, is located at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina.

Like three customers stopped in for fluke supplies on opening morning of fluke season today because of the weather, said Ron from <b>Julian’s Bait & Tackle</b>. Good-sized killies, plenty, were stocked this morning for fluking. A couple of anglers caught and released fluke before the opener to see where the fish were located. One trip released five keepers and 10 shorts on the river. Bluefish were actually more abundant in the past few days or week than before. They schooled thick everywhere from rivers and creeks to Raritan Bay, all over. Sandy Hook Bay was 58 degrees last night, despite a couple of nights in the 50 degrees. Boaters tried to figure whether to fish the bay or ocean for stripers to escape blues. They trolled lots of blues at both places on bunker spoons and Mojos. One boater who’d been trolling the bay stopped, because blue after blue was hooked. Surf fishing picked up a little, and two of Ron’s friends banked a keeper striper apiece, a 31-incher and a 32, on yellow darters that were the trick that evening. That was just before dark and just after the new moon this week. In addition to the killies, baits stocked include fresh bunker and clams daily and huge sandworms.

<b>Highlands</b>

Greg Hanna on the Annie H mugged many bluefish, 5- to 15-pounders, on Sandy Hook Bay on Sunday, Marion from <b>Twin Lights Marina</b> wrote in an email. Rich and Jack Blarr on the Sara Ann boated blues up the river last week on a trip. 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 and fresh bunker when in demand.

<b>Belmar</b>

The party boat <b>Big Mohawk</b> was supposed to fish for fluke today, opening day of fluke season, but the trip would be weathered out, Capt. Chris said. Trips will fish for sea bass beginning Friday, opening day of sea bass season, through Sunday. Those trips are sold out, and the boat will fluke again Monday, Memorial Day. Beginning Tuesday, trips will sail for sea bass daily, if sea bass bite on the weekend’s trips. Otherwise, the boat will fluke daily. Trips sail 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Striped bass still bit in the ocean decent, said Capt. Pete from <b>Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters</b>. The angling was picky on some days more than others, and a trip yesterday evening was trolling them, all good-sized, when he gave this report aboard in a phone call. Trips hooked them on livelined bunker when bunker swam the water. Bluefish, plenty, were hooked during the angling on some days. They were scarce on others, and fishing was expected to be weathered out today on the boat. Fishing aboard includes Magic Hour Trips for stripers 3:30 to 9 p.m. every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, limited to six anglers, reservations required. Plenty of those trips are available in June, and spaces might be available this coming Tuesday, Pete thought. Charters are filling quickly. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Contact Parker Pete’s about individual spaces available with charters who want more anglers. 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.

A 35-pound striped bass spiced up the catch Wednesday on the <b>Miss Belmar Princess</b>, an email from the party boat said. Eight- to 14-pound bluefish turned out a decent pick on the trip at times in the afternoon to the north, close to shore. That was after the boat got a report about the fish. Previously, in the morning on the outing, a few small blues were angled among bunker. The previous day’s trip on Tuesday picked small blues in shots at times, mostly close to shore. The trip looked farther from shore for blues, after the fish were found there some days before, but none showed up. On Monday’s trip, fishing was tough in rough, wet weather.

On the <b>Golden Eagle</b> Wednesday, bigger bluefish seemed to return, a report said on the party boat’s website. They bit well on jigs, not bait yet, it said. Striped bass currently hit more often than before, and were big. Look for a trip that will liveline bunker for stripers that will be scheduled for next week for an afternoon. On Tuesday, blues 2 to 5 pounds were angled pretty well the first hour. Some customers pitched aboard six to nine apiece on the first drift alone. The blues were just picked the rest of the trip. Lots of bunker schooled, and stripers rolled in them, but wouldn’t bite. On Monday’s trip, fishing was tough, maybe because of rough weather. Saturday was a nor’easter, and bad weather lingered through Monday. Trips are fishing for stripers and blues 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

<b>Toms River</b>

Small blues 2 and 3 pounds, occasionally 5 pounds, swam the Toms River, said Dennis from <b>Murphy’s Hook House</b>. They arrived in the past week or so, and he quickly trolled a couple of the aggressive fish on a trip. Bunker schooled all over the river. Bluefish schooled Barnegat and Manasquan inlets fairly consistently. Those were somewhat smaller than blues that did previously. A couple of customers played small striped bass along Route 37 Bridge on Barnegat Bay yesterday. The bay was 64 degrees, and the mouth of the river was 65 ½. Few anglers were likely to fluke fish today, opening day of fluke season, because of the storm. A few bought bait for the angling this morning. The bay near the BI and BB markers will hold most fluke. Dennis has boated them as far north as the 40. A few weakfish could be located in the bay off Oyster and Cedar creeks, traditional spots. In the surf, striped bass fishing was improving, and more blues than stripers bit in the water. But stripers were bunker-chunked. When boaters had the weather to reach the ocean, they trolled big stripers on bunker spoons and Stretch plugs. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

<b>Seaside Heights</b>

Another good day of surf fishing, a report said about yesterday on <b>The Dock Outfitters</b>’ website. Blues, all different sizes, and sometimes keeper striped bass are cruising the local surf, “taking cut bunker, clams and (an) assortment of artificial lures,” it said. Poppers, swimmers, bucktails and metal were lures that worked well. Crabbing was very slow. 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 jet-ski rentals. 

<b>Forked River</b>

Customers usually boat fluke from the BI to BB markers and at Double Creek Channel on Barnegat Bay this time of year, said Kyle from <b>Grizz’s Forked River Bait & Tackle</b>. An angler reported landing them well at Double Creek a couple of days ago, releasing the fish before today’s opening of fluke season. Bluefish to 8 pounds, smaller than blues before, swam the bay. No weakfish caught were heard about recently, but previously they were nabbed off Oyster Creek in the bay on pink Fin-S Fish. On the ocean, striped bass were trolled on bunker spoons and Mojos and were hooked on bunker snagged for bait and livelined. Sometimes crabs began to be trapped in back waters. Killies, frozen local spearing, frozen Canadian spearing and all the fluke bait is stocked. So is fresh bunker and clams and freshwater bait including nightcrawlers and trout worms.

<b>Barnegat Light</b>

Sea bass fishing on the ocean will launch the year’s angling Friday on the <b>Super Chic</b>, Capt. Ted said. That’s opening day of sea bass season. Trips are booked for either sea bass or bluefish in the next week. A bluefish trip is set for Saturday. Striped bass fishing sounded slow on the ocean the past two days on trips he knew about.

Fishing will get going for the year with bluefishing 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday through Monday, Memorial Day, on the <b>Miss Barnegat Light</b>, the party boat’s website said. Afterward, the trips will run Fridays through Sundays through June 18. Daily trips for fluke will begin June 23.

Anglers tackled blues in Barnegat Bay, Barnegat Inlet an the ocean and striped bass mostly from the ocean, said Vince Sr. from <b>Bobbie’s Boat Rentals</b>. Minnows were going to be stocked for today’s opening of fluke season. Bobbie’s features a complete bait and tackle shop, a fuel dock and boat and kayak rentals. The boats are used for fishing, crabbing, clamming and pleasure.

Bluefish were slammed at Barnegat Inlet and all around the inlet, said Rob from <b>Van’s Boat Rentals</b>. A bunch of throwback striped bass schooled the bay near Oyster Creek and along the bridge to Long Beach Island. Fluke might be swimming the bay near the shop at usual popular spots for the angling. Fluke season opened today, but news was scarce in rough weather. Boat rentals, bait and tackle each year become available on Memorial Day weekend at the shop. But the rentals will be unavailable this weekend because of weather forecasts. Still, the store will be opened either Friday or Saturday for the fishing season, depending on weather. Previously, boat slips and the fuel dock were already open. Van’s rents boats from 9 h.p. to 50 h.p. for fishing, crabbing and pleasure, in-season. Kayaks are rented in-season, and facilities include a bait and tackle shop and a marina with slips, gas and full boat servicing.

<b>Barnegat</b>

“Big Stripers, Snag or Troll,” Capt. Dave DeGennaro from the <b>Hi Flier</b> wrote in an email. “The big bass are here. The fish are on the bunker pods for the early-morning bite, and then the mid-day troll gets them out in the deep. We bring it all, and change up techniques as conditions dictate. The fish are all big: 25 to 40-plus pounds. These are the biggest stripers of the season, and the bite is in full-swing. The bluefish are still in the inlet and bay to complement the action. They’re anywhere from 2 to 16 pounds, and are blasting our top-water lures. Sailing open-boat or charter 12 noon to 6 p.m. Friday, 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 to 7 p.m. Monday, Memorial Day. Four people max, all fish are shared. Everything’s provided. You can call right up until ‘go time’ to see if there’s room. Call to reserve.”

<b>Mystic Island</b>

Although this opening day of summer flounder season was a bust, “pre-gamers” reported good action with the fish in the bay, said Scott from <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b>. He was busy at the shop and couldn’t give a detailed report, but expected catches when the weather calms. Big bluefish schooled the bay. When ocean boaters get a break from weather, they’ll sail for sea bass once sea bass season opens tomorrow.

<b>Absecon</b>

Capt. Dave from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b> had hoped to give a summer flounder report, he said this morning. But weather was rough in the rainstorm. All other fishing was good. Bluefish were “hanging in,” especially in the surf and inlets. A few smaller blues appeared in bays. Striped bass fishing was definitely improving. Eeling for them was pretty good in Mullica River. Stripers could also be eeled at bridges at night. Fishing for big weakfish 5 to 8 pounds was exceptional and the best in a long time at inlets and jetties. They began to hold in holes in the river. Crabs that began to shed seemed to draw them in. Crabs were the No. 1 bait for nearly all fish because of the shed. Shedder crabs are stocked, and a few soft-shells for eating are on hand for this Memorial Day weekend. The store raises them, and keep up on the supply on <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/SoftshellCrabs/" target="_blank">Absecon Bay Sportsman’s Soft Shell Crabs Facebook Page</a>. Not much was heard about black drum locally, but drum usually bite in the surf well this time of year. They’ll probably appear after this week’s new moon. Tides were high because of the moon, and flooding made catching minnows a little tough. But Dave stocked up on minnows, a favorite bait for flounder, for the weekend. Baits carried also include eels, fresh bunker when in demand, and fresh clams. Speaking of the bunker, good-sized stripers turned out improved angling in the surf on the bait.

<b>Brigantine</b>

<a href=" https://www.facebook.com/CaptAndy911/photos/pb.63681841626.-2207520000.1495752693./10154328379716627/?type=3&theater" target="_blank"><b>Here's a limit of summer flounder today</b></a>. Before the photo was posted on <b>Riptide Bait & Tackle</b>'s Facebook page, Capt. Andy from the shop in a phone call said no reports tumbled in about the angling yet on this opening day of flounder season, because of the weather. Anglers on foot fought bluefish along the South Jetty, Absecon Inlet’s jetty in Brigantine. An angler smashed a 46-pound striped bass there Tuesday. No stripers were known about since, and stripers were around in the surf, but here and there. Stripers gave up a bite off the Brigantine Hotel the other day in the surf, and a black drum was also reeled from the angling. The Spring Riptide Fishing Derby ended Sunday, and Paul Lavigna won the striper division with a 25-pounder. George Florence won the bluefish division with a 13-pound 9-ouncer. The store will be loaded with bait for Memorial Day weekend. Big minnows are in, and so are Gulps, frozen mackerel and all flounder bait. Fresh clams were coming today, and fresh bunker will arrive tonight.

<b>Atlantic City</b>

Customers plowed bluefish, striped bass and sizable weakfish on foot at Absecon Inlet at Madison and Melrose avenues and the surf near the inlet, said Noel from <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b>. Fishing was great, and Noel could almost guarantee an angler would catch. Kingfish were also hooked from the T-jetty again today, after they were previously this season. The T is on the ocean end of the inlet. For the blues and stripers, cut bait and lures were fished, including Daiwa SP Minnows, Daddy Mac jointed eels and mullet that are stocked, pink Zooms and Hogie soft-plastics. The weaks pounded bloodworms, soft-plastics and even SP’s. Summer flounder were sometimes dragged in and released from the same waters before this opening day of flounder season. They should be there. All baits, the full supply, including minnows and everything for flounder, are stocked. So are SP’s in every color. Enter your striper in One Stop’s free tournament that lasts until June 3. Prizes are $250, $150 and $100 for the three heaviest stripers from Atlantic City. Fourth through sixth win Tsunami rod-and-reel combos. First through third also win custom T-shirts.

<b>Margate</b>

Twice-daily trips for summer flounder were set to begin today, opening day of flounder season, on the party boat <b>Keeper</b>, Capt. John said. The boat exclusively fishes for flounder each year, throughout flounder season, on the back bay. Preliminary trips fished last weekend on the bay, pasting a half-dozen bluefish Saturday and three or four Sunday. Trips will now fish for flounder 8 a.m. to 12 noon and 1 to 5 p.m. daily. The rate is only $30 for adults, $25 for seniors and $20 for kids, because the fishing is near port, and the pontoon boat is economical on fuel. Plus, rental rods are free.

</b>Longport</b>

Open-boat trips for sea bass on the ocean are sold out Friday through the holiday weekend on the <b>Stray Cat</b>, Capt. Mike said. The next openings for the trips are next Thursday. The trips will probably also fish that Friday, Monday and Tuesday. Dates are filling for charters.

<b>Ocean City</b>

Lot happening, said Ed from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. Bluefish, smaller than blues previously, currently some of them 3 or 4 pounds, but some big, were scattered all around. Inlets and the back bay harbored most. Many were heard about from around Corson’s Inlet. But the Great Egg Harbor Inlet area also gave up some, including from the Longport fishing pier. The bay along 9th Street Bridge attracted blues. A few striped bass were claimed from the bay at night. Getting past blues was difficult during daytime. Not a lot of fish bit in the surf, except a couple of blues. The opening of summer flounder season was tough today, because of weather. Weather was nasty this morning. A few flounder were reported caught, and one was weighed in, not big, 3 ½ or 4 pounds. Sea bass season will open Friday, and reports from the ocean should roll in, once boaters get the weather to sail for the fish, after today.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

<b>***Update, Friday, 5/26:***</b> Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b>, affiliated with <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>, will probably fish for summer flounder this evening on the back bay, he said. He’ll also fish for them tomorrow, and he poked around for the fish a little, not much, before flounder season opened yesterday. But weather was terrible, and the bay was dirty, so he never fished much in past days. New moon tides were also high, and that’s not great for flounder. Currents run strong, and water becomes dirty. That clears up quickly, though. He’ll also fish for striped bass on the bay now. He stalks them on the shallow flats, poling his flats boat, while his anglers sight-cast to the fish when possible, including throwing popper lures and flies. The popper fishing is a specialty aboard, drawing explosive, visual attacks, and the water’s becoming warm enough for the bass to attack poppers. The bay’s bluefishing slowed, and usually does this time of season. Some remained, but the size and numbers were down. Fishing aboard might also sail for sea bass on the ocean on this opening weekend of sea bass season. Joe’s inshore sharking usually becomes good by mid-June. That’s catch-and-release fishing, usually within 10 miles from shore, with conventional and fly rods. It’s a chance to fight a big catch without the long trek offshore. Keep up with Joe’s fishing on <a href="http://captainjoehughes.blogspot.com/" target="_blank">Jersey Cape’s Blog</a>.

Fishing was similar to before, except maybe slightly fewer bluefish were around, said Mike from <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. But blues were beaten from the back bay and surf. On the bay, soft-plastic lures grabbed them like Bass Assassins and Fin-S Fish. In the surf, fresh bunker and frozen mullet hooked the fish. A better number of striped bass did seem caught than before in the surf and bay. In the surf, they were clammed and were sometimes clocked on bunker meant for blues. In the bay, the bass were socked on swimming lures along sod banks and on soft-plastics at night under lights. Summer flounder season opened today, but few customers were around in the storm. Only five or six anglers reported fishing for flounder, releasing them, before the opener on the bay. That was too few to judge how the angling was, but one angler reported landing a limit with no problem, and others complained the bite was slow. Sounded like if an angler was experienced, the angler caught well, and others struggled. More should fish tomorrow in better weather, and Mike should get a better read on how the fishing is. Customers were pumped up about the opening of sea bass season tomorrow. Crabbing trapped lots of big females but was pretty good.

<b>Cape May</b>

Nine black drum were bagged from Delaware Bay so far last evening on the party boat <b>Porgy IV</b>, when Capt. Paul gave this report in a phone call on the trip. The fish were biting, and only one drum was decked on Sunday’s trip. The boat will fish for sea bass on the ocean at 8 a.m. daily beginning Friday, opening day of sea bass season. If a few summer flounder bite in the ocean, the trips will switch to flounder fishing.

Delaware Bay’s black drum fishing amped up in past days for <b>Fishin’ Fever Sportfishing</b>, Capt. Tom said. The fishing became good, and the drum to 60 pounds were heaved aboard Tuesday night. Sea bass trips are slated to fish the ocean this weekend, once sea bass season is opened Friday. Charters are booking for sea bass, and the boat will shark fish soon. Tom for the first time this season heard about a mako shark caught. He also heard about a thresher shark landed for the first time this year. That was all on a trip from Atlantic City.

The <b>Prime Time II</b> will black drum fish on Delaware Bay this weekend, Capt. Steve said. The angling was weathered out this week aboard. Steve might try shark fishing this weekend, depending on weather, for the first time this season. The boat does lots of sharking.

A trip is supposed to fish for sea bass on the <b>Heavy Hitter</b> tomorrow, opening day of sea bass season, on the ocean, but weather looks questionable, Capt. George said. Forecasts called for 4- to 6-foot seas. Black drum trips are slated for Saturday to Monday on Delaware Bay. Shark trips will sail next month. One mako shark caught was heard about from Poorman’s Canyon so far this season. Water warms offshore like there, attracting sharks, before it warms closer to the coast.

Fishing wasn’t bad, not on fire, but decent, said Joe from <b>Hands Too Bait & Tackle</b>. Big bluefish stormed waters including the surf about three weeks this season but mostly departed now, probably migrating north. A few might still be around. The number of striped bass boated on Delaware Bay had been surprising. Sometimes they were still banked from the surf currently. Friends 10 or 11 days ago boated eight black drum on the bay on a trip. They returned, but other anglers were fishing their spot. So the trip pushed close to shore off Coxhall Creek, and whaled nine big stripers, all like 40 inches. The bay’s drum fishing’s been hit and miss, typical for the angling. A boat would hit the fish one day and not on another. In past days, Joe knew about one trip that boated one and a couple of trips that boated four apiece a night or two before. A buddy drum fished on a party boat maybe eight days ago, and the trip, with 10 anglers, landed 13. So the fishing was okay. Many trips were headed for drum tonight. More should be known about the fishing afterward. Nothing was heard about summer flounder on this opening day of flounder season in rough weather. Minnows and all flounder bait is stocked, like tube squid, frozen squid strips, strips in shedder oil, unscented strips, frozen mullet and plenty more. Baits carried also include fresh clams in the shell and shucked, and fresh bunker.

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