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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 1-4-18

<b>Keyport</b>

<b>***Update, Monday, 1/8:***</b> Happy New Year, Capt. Frank from the <b>Vitamin Sea</b> wrote in an email. Currently, water was completely frozen over at the marina, and Frank hauled the boat from the slip in late December. He hesitated to end the season’s fishing aboard then, but now he’s glad he did. Weather was severely, unusually cold from just after Christmas through now. Frank posted this video of the Vitamin Sea’s fishing season on the boat’s Facebook page. Was another great year on the boat, he wrote in the email. He feels fortunate to have met many new customers aboard and enjoy fishing with regular customers who come back year after year. Frank’s accepting bookings for charters for spring striped bass and summer fluke. If you know a date you want, book early or the date will fill. Open-boat trips, including for spring stripers, will also sail, and are announced on the Facebook page and in weekly emails.

<b>Neptune</b>

<b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b> will resume fishing when the cold snap ends, Capt. Ralph said in a phone call. He hopes that’s within a week. The boat will fish all winter for blackfish, cod and ling. Contact Ralph if you have fewer anglers than a full charter, and he’ll put together a trip. <b>***Update, Monday, 1/8:***</b> A break in the weather, including temperatures as high as the 50 degrees, is forecast for this week, Ralph wrote in an email. Individual-reservation trips or charters will blackfish Friday through Sunday. Cod fishing is also available with Last Lady. Contact Ralph for special, winter rates for all trips.   <b>***Update, Wednesday, 1/10:***</b> Friday is supposed to reach 56 degrees, and enough anglers are already signed up that day for an individual-reservation trip for blackfish, Ralph wrote in an email. Contact him to lock in a spot. Green crabs, white crabs, shrimp and clams will be carried aboard.

<b>Belmar</b>

No details were posted, but a trip blackfished yesterday on the <b>Big Mohawk</b>, the vessel’s Facebook page said. Photos including these were posted. Visit the main page to see more. <b>***Update, Saturday, 1/6:***</b> Freezing weather, chunks of ice in the water at the marina and strong winds failed to make favorable conditions for fishing aboard, a post on the boat’s Facebook page said yesterday.  “We will let you know when we see our next window of opportunity (to fish),” it said. High temperatures at Belmar are forecast to be 16 degrees today and 20 tomorrow.  But warmer weather, the first since this brutal, record-setting, two-week cold snap is forecast for afterward.  <b>***Update, Monday, 1/8:***</b> Here’s a video that shows ice in Shark River where the boat is docked. “Don’t rush down,” the video’s caption says. But weather is supposed to become warmer this week.

<b>***Update, Monday, 1/8:***</b> None of Belmar’s boats fished in five or six days because of the cold, Tom from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b> said. Party boats from the port were not frozen in. They’re docked on Shark River closer to the inlet. More ice formed farther back in the river. The store is still open, and Tom will see whether <b>Fisherman’s Den North</b>, the shop’s sister store farther north in Atlantic Highlands, will be open. One of the party boats from there, the Prowler, had said the vessel would blackfish on weekends. If so, that shop will probably be open when the vessel sails.

<b>Brielle</b>

<b>***Update, Monday, 1/8:***</b> Not much fishing was possible along the coast, said Alex from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. Party boats are blackfishing on the ocean, but none probably sailed in the cold in past days. Manasquan River and Barnegat Bay were iced over. Temperatures are supposed to reach higher than freezing tomorrow for the first time in about two weeks. The store is open 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

Trips for blackfish were weathered out Monday and Tuesday but sailed Wednesday and throughout the weekend aboard, Capt. Matt from the <b>Norma-K III</b> wrote in a report on the party boat’s website. Was a beautiful day on the ocean on Wednesday’s trip, in flat-clam seas. The trip’s blackfishing was a little better than during the weekend. “We had some life with some big fish coming up!” he wrote.  A blackfish a little heavier than 12 pounds won the pool. Four- to 7-pounders were also cranked in. “We could have used a lot more … but after this cold weather, I was happy …,” he said. On the trips Saturday and Sunday, anglers braved the cold. They bagged a few of the tautog, but the fish were sluggish, and “there was room for improvement,” he wrote. The water’s been in the 40 degrees, so blackfish should bite, and January’s usually a good month for the angling aboard. Matt looks forward.  He’s not concerned about today’s snowstorm, and thinks the weather will improve the angling. He hopes the fishing only keeps becoming better. Trips are slated to sail for blackfish 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. No trips will fish today and Friday because of weather. <b>***Update, Monday, 1/8:***</b> Snow was cleaned off the boat from Thursday’s storm, and the crew was ready to resume fishing Sunday aboard, a report said on the vessel’s website. But 3 to 4 inches of ice covered the water surrounding the boat, so no trip sailed. The tide was also especially low, and that could be hazardous in the ice, even if the vessel could break out from the slip. Was rare for ice to be that thick at the docks. The crew hopes to resume the trips Tuesday, when a thaw is supposed to begin. Plenty of green crabs are available for bait aboard, but white crabs are running low. Buy whites and bring them if you want to fish with whites. 

Weather would keep the <b>Gambler</b> docked the next few days, the party boat’s Facebook page said yesterday. But the crew looks forward to fishing once the weather breaks, it said. The post on Facebook didn’t say what fish the boat will target. Trips had been sailing for striped bass, and a schedule that’s posted on the vessel’s website year-round said trips sail for cod, pollock and ling in January.

Fishing sailed once on the party boat <b>Dauntless</b> in the past week, Capt. Butch thought, he said. Angling was a little slow on the trip, scooping up between a dozen and two dozen ling, a couple of keeper cod and four or five throwbacks, and only one keeper blackfish, he thought, among throwbacks. Deeper water was full of silver eels, lots and lots, he said, and quite a few dogfish. So the trip pulled inshore to escape them. The outing fished in 120 feet of water to 220. The shallow water in those depths was 47 to 48 degrees, and the deeper was 49 to 50. After the snow today and high temperatures in the teens afterward, the water will become colder. No mackerel or herring were seen on the fishing grounds, and Butch waited to hear whether Long Island boats caught mackerel. But those boats were frozen in port, couldn’t sail. If the mackerel migration schools within range, the Dauntless mixes in fishing for them along with bottom-fishing this time of year. Trips are bottom-fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.
<b>Mystic Island</b>

The following report was posted in this website’s Freshwater Fishing Report yesterday, and is also being posted here, with some changes, in case any readers never saw that coverage. The report is about brackish water, a mix of salt and fresh. Here’s the report: Nobody mentioned ice-fishing for white perch on Collins Cove on Mullica River, said Scott from <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b> in Mystic Island. The store is closed for a winter break, but usually anglers telephone and ask about the ice conditions, and he hears news. But nobody did. Scott would think the fishing was possible currently. The perch gather in the cove, located just upriver from Garden State Parkway, in winter to escape the cold current from the main river. The brackish water hasn’t always frozen enough to be fished in winters lately. But this was some period of cold.  See a <a href=" http://www.scottsbt.com/mapchart/collins.htm" target="_blank">Collins Cove map</a> and other info about the location on the shop’s website. The store will be reopened on March 1. <a href="http://www.PennParts.com" target="_blank">PennParts.com</a> is still open. That’s Scott’s online store featuring parts for Penn Reels and other supplies. That date is opening day of striped bass season in rivers and bays. Customers will fish for stripers at Graveling Point, the shore angling spot at the confluence of the Mullica and Great Bay, once the season opens. Some of the year’s first stripers from back waters are angled there each year. Warm water from the river, flowing onto the flats of the bay, seems to attract the fish. Another reason the first are hooked there is simply that the location is accessible. Scott’s will award an annual $100 gift certificate to the store to the angler who checks-in the year’s first striper from Graveling. Bloodworms are the bait to fish for them at first in the year. That’s apparently because the worms are easy for the stripers to digest when cold water makes the fish sluggish. Weeks later, bait including clams and bunker can hook them, when the water warms. Bait like that sometimes catches better once the water warms. Puppy black drum can be mixed with the stripers. They show up during some springs, and a good population did in recent years. The stripers are much more abundant, but occasional drum, a bonus, can be bagged. Bluefish show up at Graveling next, when the water becomes somewhat warmer. Scott’s also awards a gift certificate for the same amount for the first blue from Graveling. When blues arrive, stripers begin to depart. They seem to dislike the more aggressive blues.

<b>Absecon</b>

Like the above report from Mystic Island, the following report was posted in this website’s Freshwater Fishing Report this week, and is also being posted here for reasons explained under Mystic Island. At Collins Cove on the brackish Mullica River, ice was too thin and slushy on top Monday for ice-fishing for white perch, someone wrote on <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b> from Absecon’s Facebook page. The person wrote that in a comment on a post from Capt. Dave, the store’s owner. In Dave’s post, he asked readers to comment if they knew the conditions. Weather seemed cold enough, Dave wrote, and he expected anglers to make exploratory trips. He scoped out catching grass shrimp to stock for bait for the fishing. Good numbers of the shrimp seemed around, and he netted three half-pints. If anglers show interest, he’ll catch more. When he caught the shrimp, on Tuesday, weather was too cold, and too much ice had formed, for him to grab more. Another comment on the post asked Dave how he catches the shrimp. He uses a dip net along bottom, he answered. Bloodworms are also stocked that can be fished for the perch. The shrimp and worms can also be fished for the perch when brackish rivers like this become open water. The shop is open for no set hours this time of year, but Dave is usually there during business hours. Telephone to confirm. <b>***Update, Monday, 1/8:***</b> Nobody reported fishing the ice at Collins Cove, Dave said in a phone call. The cove was surely iced over, but snow was surely piled up along the dirt road to access the water. At Port Republic, near the cove, the snow was 8 ½ inches, according to an article on NJ.com. Absecon had 13 inches, the article said.

<b>Longport</b>

Open-boat trips for tautog will sail daily from Tuesday through the following Tuesday on the <b>Stray Cat</b>, Capt. Mike wrote in an email. The trips will fish in 120 feet of water. “Plenty of crab in the barrel,” he wrote. <b>***Update, Tuesday, 1/9:***</b> Ice broke up in the basin, and the boat now has a weather window to sail for tog, Mike wrote in an email. Open-boat trips will fish for them at 7 a.m. on every day when weather’s fit. Dress warm and pack a lunch, he said. 

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

<b>***Update, Monday, 1/8:***</b> The slip and Intracoastal Waterway were entirely frozen over, said Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. The inlet was almost frozen across, and he’d never seen local waters this frozen before. Plenty of snow, 9 to 15 inches, fell along South Jersey’s coast in Thursday’s storm. The amount that fell in Sea Isle City was difficult for Joe to tell, because 3 to 4 feet covered the ground at some places, and none did at others, because of strong wind that drifted the snow. Joe wrapped up his New Jersey fishing before Christmas for winter and is running traveling charters to the Florida Keys that he does every year during this season. Those trips will next fish this coming weekend. See the <a href=" http://www.captainjoehughes.com/page3.html" target="_blank">traveling charters webpage</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>

<b>***Update, Monday, 1/8:***</b> Capt. Jim from <b>Fins and Feathers Outfitters</b> is guiding waterfowl hunting this time of year, he said. He wrapped up his fishing charters for winter. The cold even forced him to cancel waterfowling last weekend. But he’ll resume the trips at mid-week with a group from Ohio. They’ll hunt along the Intracoastal Waterway, somewhere between Tuckerton and Sea Isle City, a couple of days. Trips are currently hunting ducks and brant, and waterfowling’s been great this season with Jim, he said. The trips will hunt snow geese later this season. He guides waterfowling throughout South Jersey, including on the ocean and Delaware Bay, and in surrounding states, following the migrations. When lakes and ponds freeze like lately, the birds head to saltwater. Seven feet of snow covered the ground at Jim’s <a href="http://www.sjlodge.com/" target="_blank">lodge</a> in upstate New York. Guests snowmobile and cross-country ski from the lodge and fish the winter run of steelheads at nearby Salmon River. The steelheading is world-class, and a discount is available for the lodge this season on Airbnb. Fins offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including saltwater fishing from New Jersey, duck and goose hunting, salmon and steelhead fishing from the lodge, and fly-fishing for trout on Pennsylvania’s streams like the Yellow Breeches.

<b>Cape May</b>

Eight striped bass were bagged and probably 12 were released on the <b>Heavy Hitter</b> on Saturday on the ocean, Capt. George said. The fish were trolled on Mojos. Were birds working the water? “Oh yeah,” he said, and some bait was around, including bunker seen floating that stripers apparently attacked. The water was 42 degrees. Sunday was freezing-cold and windy, and George decided to winterize the boat that day. He thanks all who fished aboard this year, and wishes everybody a Happy New Year. Charters will resume in spring, beginning with blackfishing, if anglers want to sail for them. Fishing for drum on Delaware Bay takes place in May on the boat. Trips used to fish for stripers in spring, but that angling hasn’t been great during that season in recent years from Cape May.

The party boat <b>Porgy IV</b> last fished on Saturday, for blackfish on the ocean, Capt. Paul said. Cold and wind kept trips in port since. Anchoring conditions were tough on the trip, and weather was cold, so Paul chose to fish the reef, closer to shore. He thought a few of the tautog would be hung there, but not many were. The small crowd aboard landed only about 10 keepers. He should’ve sailed farther off, he figured. None of the trips will sail this weekend because of weather. Forecast are calling for high temperatures of 18 degrees on Saturday and 20 on Sunday at Cape May. He’ll decide whether trips will fish the following weekend, Jan. 13 and 14. If the weather breaks, he’ll fish. If high temperatures remain below freezing, he probably won’t. Only a few customers will show up to fish in weather like that, and he doesn’t want to sail as far as necessary to catch without more anglers.

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