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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 12-27-18

<b>Keyport</b>

<b>***Update, Monday, 12/31:***</b> High hooks pumped in five and six keeper blackfish apiece on the past few trips with <b>Down Deep Sportfishing</b>, Capt. Mario said.  They kept no more than a limit of five apiece, and open-boat trips are fishing for the tog at 6 a.m. daily. The bag limit will drop to four beginning on New Year’s Day. Enjoy the heated cabin and full galley, and plenty of fishing room, he said.

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

Blackfishing on the party boat <b>Atlantic Star</b> shoveled aboard better catches than Capt. Tom expected yesterday, he said. The angling was weathered out previously, and was poised to sail again today. Friday’s weather might be too rough. The trip only made two drops, picking up more keepers than previously, and good action with throwbacks. Both drops fished well, and the trips are slated for 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily through Jan. 6. Afterward the boat will go on break for winter. <b>***Update, Monday, 12/31:***</b> Catches of blackfish were good, some of the better this season, Thursday aboard, Tom said. More keepers were hung than before, and shorts gave up good action. Rain and wind kept Friday’s trip docked. The fishing on Saturday’s trip was no good in somewhat of a ground swell and dirty water. The trip bounced around and fished different locations. On Sunday’s trip, the ocean was clearer, and blackfishing was no great shakes but definitely better. Tom expected today’s trip to sail, and would see whether the trip tomorrow, on New Year’s Day, got the weather to fish. Reminder: Sunday’s trip will be the final before the boat goes on winter break. <b>***Another Update, Monday, 12/31:***</b> The fishing was off to a good start on today’s trip, Tom said early in the outing in a phone call aboard. He was unsure whether Tuesday’s trip will sail, because of a gale warning, and will look at the forecast tonight and Tuesday morning. Weather looks okay in the ensuing days this week.

We’re gearing up for spring, said Ron from <b>Julian’s Bait & Tackle</b>. Was now too early?! Gear like bunker-spoon rods were being stocked. But some fishing happened. Small striped bass bit in the surf from Sea Bright to Island Beach State Park. A buddy released 26 yesterday on a diamond jig with a black tail. Diamond jigs were what to fish. Most anglers boated for blackfish or, farther from shore, sea bass. A friend slammed a 13-1/2-pound blackfish, releasing it, and a 10-pounder on a Belmar party boat. He limited out, and another friend scored sea bass okay on a Point Pleasant Beach party boat. Green crabs are stocked, and white crabs can be ordered from the store.

On the party boats, anglers picked blackfish yesterday, said Johnny O. from <b>Fisherman’s Den North</b>. The fishing seemed a little better than before, and the vessels today were still on the water when he gave this report. The shop, at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina, is located down the dock from party, charter and private boats. Nothing was heard about striped bass, including from the surf. But not a lot of anglers were around. The shop was busy this morning with anglers going blackfishing, including those buying crabs for bait. Green and white crabs are stocked. The store will be closed Jan. 15-March 15, because the boats are removed from slips then.

<b>Long Branch</b>

The fishing was slow, but small striped bass were tugged from the surf, said Nick from <b>TAK Waterman Surf n Fish</b>. A couple of friends dragged them in well on Christmas Eve. Sand eel imitations with teasers were the tackle to toss. Savage sand eels worked well. Tsunami sand eels were another. TAK Waterman is a shop for fishing, especially surf-fishing, surfing and paddle-boarding. The store produces the TAK Waterman line of clothing for watersports including these and beach-going. The name is from Lake Takanasee.

<b>Neptune</b>

An individual-reservation trip for blackfish was supposed to sail today with <b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b>, Capt. Ralph wrote in an email before the outing. White crabs, green crabs and tackle were included in the price. Friday’s trip is weathered out, and a sea bass trip offshore is full Saturday but a go because of good weather forecasts. <b>***Update, Friday, 12/28:***</b> Quite a few anglers limited out on blackfish and landed additional keepers on the individual-reservation trip yesterday, Ralph wrote in an email. The customers kept no more than their limits, and Saturday’s individual-reservation trip for sea bass is rescheduled for Monday. Spaces are available, and that will be the last chance to fish for sea bass, cod, pollock and ling aboard, because that’s the final day of sea bass season. Sea bass offshore, where the trip will fish, are usually big. <b>***Update, Saturday, 12/29:***</b> Individual-reservation trips for blackfish will sail Sunday and Monday, and spaces are available. <b>***Update, Monday, 12/31:***</b> Fishing for blackfish was slow yesterday on a trip, Ralph wrote in an email. Fewer bites than the trips had been scoring. The anglers worked hard, totaling 17 keepers, including a couple of healthy-sized. Individual-reservation trips will fish for the slipperies today and tomorrow, New Year’s Day. Spaces are available, and Ralph yesterday after the trip obtained white leggers for bait. We have bait, he said. Bait and tackle are included.

<b>Belmar</b>

Several 10- to 12-pound blackfish were brought in this week, Bob from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b> wrote in an email. Several of Belmar’s party boats are blackfishing, and the shop is stocking green crabs and white crabs for bait for the tautog. Some small striped bass were still winged from the surf, though surf anglers were scarce. Plentiful sand eels kept the bass around, surf-casters said.

<b>Brielle</b>

Weather looked good, and trips for sea bass, ling and cod were expected to fish yesterday and today on the <b>Jamaica II</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said the day before.

On the ocean, blackfishing was good, and sea bass fishing offshore was kind of hit or miss, said Dave from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. Sea bass season will close beginning Tuesday. A few fished the surf today for striped bass, hooking none to the north and a handful, not many, at Island Beach State Park to the south. That was on metal with teasers.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

A sea bass trip steamed offshore Sunday on the <b>Gambler</b>, barreling up a good catch, the party boat’s Facebook page said. Mostly big sea bass were socked, and most customers limited out. A few porgies and dogfish were in the mix, but the number of dogs wasn’t too bad. Bud Brown won the pool with an 8-pound purple hake, and limited on big sea bass to heavier than 5 pounds. The next of the trips was supposed to depart at 11 p.m. yesterday and return at 5 p.m. today. Three more of the trips are slated for Friday through Monday, the final day of sea bass season. <a href=" http://www.gamblerfishing.net/offshore-sea-bass.php
" target="_blank">See the schedule</a> online.

Fishing picked away at blackfish Sunday and Monday on the ocean on the <b>Norma-K III</b>, a report said Monday, Christmas Eve, on the party boat’s website. The catch included keepers at every spot, “but (we could have) used a lot more of them,” it said. The pool-winning blackfish were whoppers, weighing a little more than 10 pounds each day. Some anglers limited out, and some couldn’t get a bite. “It’s almost January and we have been fortunate with the weather so hopefully they keep on chewing!” it said. Trips are blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, and green crabs and white crabs are carried aboard. <b>***Update, Monday, 12/31:***</b> A 12-pound blackfish and some 6- to-9-pounders were heaved aboard Saturday’s trip, a report said on the boat’s website. Lots of sizable were mugged, and the angling was good from start to finish. Both green and white crabs caught, and weather looked good for Sunday’s and today’s trips.

<b>Toms River</b>

Throwback striped bass, quite a few, milled around the surf, actually, said Virginia from <b>Hook House Bait & Tackle</b>. Few fished for them around Christmas, but you could go today and catch on an Ava or Deadly Dick jig or a needlefish lure, all with a teaser. Lures, not bait, were what to fish in the surf this year in fall and now winter. Boating for blackfish was good on the ocean. Sea bass were boated farther from shore, and sea bass season will close beginning Tuesday. Then boaters will pretty much have blackfish, ling and cod to fish for. Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

<b>Longport</b>

Good blackfishing was smashed yesterday on the <b>Stray Cat</b>, Capt. Mike said. The fish, sizable, bit the whole time and included ones weighing 6, 8 and 10 pounds. That was in 90 feet of water, compared with the 70-foot depths the boat fished previously. That was the best day of the angling in some time, and Mike will shoot for running open-boat trips for the fishing Sunday and Monday, New Year’s Eve Day, if weather is fishable. He’s probably got to head north to buy crabs for bait, because the supply was scarce in South Jersey. Seas were flat calm on the gorgeous day.  <b>***Update, Monday, 12/31:***</b> Blackfishing sailed yesterday aboard, and wind and current created difficult conditions, Mike said. He probably re-anchored 15 times, but a 10-pound blackfish won the pool. Some anglers landed three or four keepers apiece, and catching depended on whether anglers had a line in the water when the tautog decided to bite. The ocean was 46 degrees, plenty warm for blackfish. The next open-boat trips will probably fish Friday and Saturday for the tog.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

At <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>, Cameron heard little about fishing last weekend, he said Sunday morning. Rain fell and wind blew on Friday, and strong wind honked Saturday. The local party boat was supposed to head for blackfish Sunday on the ocean, but only a couple of anglers showed up. The trip was nixed. Nobody reported boating for striped bass anymore this year. The store will probably be open this weekend before being closed for a winter break. The shop’s EBay store will continue to be open.

Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b>, affiliated with <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>, began annual trips to the Florida Keys that he guides from Christmas to Easter, he said. Wind made fishing difficult on one of the trips yesterday. But something can always be caught from the Keys, and the fishing angled jacks and snappers. Weather was somewhat better the previous day, Christmas, and his trip that day fought lemon sharks while sight-fishing on the flats, redfish, a baby tarpon, jacks and snappers. Most of the trips fish on weekends or holidays. Anglers can arrive on a Friday, fish all day Saturday and part of Sunday, and return Sunday evening. Or they can fish on a different schedule. The trips can be a mini-vacation, and Joe can arrange flights and hotels. 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>Fins and Feathers Outfitters</b> is finished fishing for the season and is guiding waterfowling, Capt. Jim said. He’s guiding hunts for ducks and brant. The brant trips will continue through late January, and he’ll guide hunting for snow geese afterward. He heard nothing recently about steelhead fishing on upstate New York’s Salmon River near his <a href="http://www.sjlodge.com/" target="_blank">lodge</a>. But guests fish for the steelheads in winter. Guests also snowmobile from the lodge this season. A warm spell melted much of the snow. But that will probably change. The melt was no good for snowmobiling but might’ve helped steelheading, creating easier access to the river through the snow. A discount is available for the lodge, but only on Airbnb.

<b>Cape May</b>

Capt. George from the <b>Heavy Hitter</b> was supposed to fish for sea bass today on somebody else’s boat, he said before the trip. He heard about good catches of the fish farther from shore, and Monday will be the final day of sea bass season. The Heavy Hitter is finished charters for the season, but George might keep fishing on friends’ boats.

Not a lot of the blackfish trips, scheduled to run daily on the ocean, had the weather to sail on the party boat <b>Porgy IV</b>, Capt. Paul said. One of the trips fished yesterday, and a few healthy-sized blackfish came in, but not a lot. Some customers bagged a few, and many landed no keepers. Alex Levantovsky bagged three including the 6-pound pool-winner. Several other anglers came close to winning the pool. One of the trips also sailed Sunday, copping a few decent-sized. Forecasts look like no trip will sail Friday, but the trips are slated to fish for blackfish at 8 a.m. daily, including on New Year’s Day. After that day, the trips will fish the following Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 5 and 6. Then Paul will see how the angling’s going and decide the future schedule.

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