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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 3-12-18

<b>Keyport</b>

Striped bass fishing will launch the year’s trips during April’s first week with the <b>Down Deep Fleet</b>, Capt. Mario said. The charters and open-boat trips will first fish the shallows in the back of Raritan Bay, where locally the year’s first stripers are boated because of warmer water. Clams and chunks of bunker usually catch them in the early season. Bunker have been seen in the bay. Watch <a href="http://downdeepsportfishing.com/" target="_blank">Down Deep’s website</a> and <a href=""https://www.facebook.com/downdeepsportfishing/ target="_blank"> Facebook page</a> for dates.

Stop and say hello to Capt. Frank from the <b>Vitamin Sea</b> at the Penn booth Saturday at the Saltwater Fishing Expo, he wrote in an email. The show will take place at the New Jersey Convention & Expo Center in Edison from Friday through Sunday. He hopes to splash the boat next week, and noted that Tuesday of that week will be the first day of spring. “It’s almost time!” he wrote. Preferred dates like on weekends are still available for spring striped bass fishing aboard. Book them now to ensure the dates you want. The schedule does fill. Charters and open-boat trips sail. “Get your dose of Vitamin Sea!” Frank’s been working on the boat. The first coat of bottom paint is completed. The steering piston is almost finished being installed. The prop arrived back from the shop.  

<b>Leonardo</b>

Capt. Joe from <b>Sour Kraut Sportfishing</b> is doing minor work on the boat and hopes to splash in early April or maybe more likely the second week of that month, he said. That depends on weather. Striped bass trips will begin the year’s fishing aboard. He heard about a few small stripers banked from shore in the back of Raritan Bay and small beached from the ocean surf at Asbury Park. He knew about no keepers. The fish at Asbury Park were winged on small soft-plastic lures. Bunker with no stripers on them were reported schooling the bay before last week’s nor’easter.

<b>Highlands</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/15:***</b> The boat will be splashed this weekend, and trips will fish aboard when weather allows “to see if we can locate any life at all,” Capt. Pete from <b>Fin-Taz-Tic Sportfishing</b> wrote in an email. Crew trips will search for striped bass on Raritan Bay, and as soon as that angling gives up enough of them, charters and open-boat trips will fish for the bass aboard. Reservations are being accepted. At first, the crew trips will target winter flounder that might bite first. That angling is likely to run into stripers when the bass are ready to chew. Early in the fishing season, trips fish the shallows and mud flats in the back of the bay that warm the water and attract the fish. For the stripers, clams and worms will be fished, until warming water makes the bass bite other baits. Can’t figure out the weather, and not going to try, Pete said. The hope is that sunnier skies and rising air temperatures warm the water soon. 

<b>Belmar</b>

<b>Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters</b> will exhibit at the Saltwater Fishing Expo from Friday through Sunday at the New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center in Edison at booth 701 near the pickle guy, Capt. Pete said. Lots of charters are booking up for the year aboard. Mention Fishing Reports Now and get a discount if you book at the show. Fishing aboard will probably begin in early May or the second week of that month with trips for striped bass. Livelining bunker for the fish is the goal, and the trips will troll if necessary. If blackfish bite when blackfish season is open in April, trips might sail for them. The crew’s been doing maintenance on the boat, and the vessel will be in top-top shape. The maintenance has included having a new engine installed.  

Winter flounder fishing was dead in Shark River, Bob from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b> wrote in an email. Most fishing was slow because of cold water, and few anglers fished because of weather including snow and wind. Some, the most anglers in a while, scouted around yesterday because of calm wind. Three customers that day were headed to fish north. They caught a 19-pound striped bass last week “on a chunk,” Bob wrote, but he didn’t say where. He heard “a few reports of bass in spots other (than) the power plant,” he wrote. Those stripers were small and angled at local inlets and “back bay waters.” The Forked River nuclear power plant’s outflow, Oyster Creek, is warm and can attract stripers. On the party boat Ocean Explorer from Belmar on the ocean Saturday, five keeper cod and several ocean perch were landed. Several out-of-season blackfish were also released on the trip. That doesn’t sound like many fish, but the catch was better than previously. Keep the faith, better times are coming, Bob said. Spring begins next week on Tuesday.  

<b>Brielle</b>

A couple of cod were picked at most drops on a trip Sunday on the <b>Jamaica II</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. A couple of anglers totaled three keepers apiece. “Also had a couple pollack,” it said. Weather began a little chilly but turned out gorgeous in flat-calm seas. Trips are slated to fish 12 hours every Sunday and Wednesday and 14 hours every Saturday. <b>***Update, Thursday, 3/15:***</b> Saturday’s and Sunday’s trips will sail, the boat’s Facebook page said today. The trips, for cod, pollock and ling, run for 14 hours at 3 a.m. Saturday and 12 hours at 5 a.m. Sunday.

A few cod were bagged on a party boat from Belmar on Saturday, said Amanda from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. Fishing for winter flounder on northern Barnegat Bay near the store was “a little sporadic,” she said. Water was probably cold. Small striped bass also hit there, mostly on worms or small rubber shads. Nothing was heard about fishing in the surf.  Stop by the store’s booth at the Saltwater Fishing Expo from Friday through Sunday at the New Jersey Convention & Exposition Center in Edison.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

A few trips sailed between rough weather on the <b>Dauntless</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. Fishing was slow but scooped up cod – some good-sized keepers and some throwbacks – and ling, decent-sized. A trip yesterday fished better in beautiful weather, cranking in 15 keeper cod, 20 throwbacks and seven ling. The fishing should pick up as spring weather rolls in, and trips are bottom-fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. The boat is one of the few, if not the only, that’s scheduled to fish daily from New Jersey this time of year.

<b>Toms River</b>

Probably 80 percent of catches were striped bass in the Toms River, and 20 percent were white perch, said Virginia from <b>Murphy’s Hook House</b>. They bit all along the brackish river, like at Pine Beach, mostly on bloodworms. The striper fishing was better at night, and small swim baits and small popper lures also grabbed a few. Sometimes salted clams tied into a striper in the river. Winter flounder fishing was tough on the river, and she only saw one flounder from the Toms this season. Yesterday’s weather was better than lately, so maybe more flounder were going to bite that day. Flounder fishing seemed a little better in Barnegat Bay near Mantoloking Bridge and in Shark River. Nothing was heard about any catches from the surf yet. Big bluefish will probably arrive in the bay and river during April’s second week. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

<b>Forked River</b>

Anglers picked away at striped bass, mostly schoolies, and winter flounder at Oyster Creek, said Mike from <b>Grizz’s Bait & Tackle</b>. He heard about a few anglers catching them, not phenomenal, but catching, and most bought bloodworms for the fishing from the shop. Occasionally they bought salted clams. Some customers intended to fish for white perch in the creek, but Mike heard about no perch reeled in there. The creek is the warm-water discharge from Forked River nuclear power plant. The store is open Wednesdays through Mondays.

An open-boat trip will fish wrecks offshore on April 7 or 8, whatever day has better weather, on the <b>Tuna-Tic</b>, the boat’s Facebook page said last Thursday. Three spots were left, the page said later that day. Later in the month, the boat is moved to Highlands farther north to fish for striped bass on Raritan Bay. After the striper fishing on the bay, the boat is returned to Forked River to fish for stripers on the ocean and, in June, sharks. In summer, trips tuna fish from Forked River. <b>***Update, Thursday, 3/15:***</b> In April, wreck-fishing trips and blackfish trips will fish from Forked River, until the boat is moved north to fish for stripers on Raritan Bay, Capt. Mike wrote in an email. The striper trips will fish from April 21 to May 12, and the boat will be returned to Forked River to sail for stripers on the ocean next. By then, in mid-May, big, trophy stripers pour out of rivers and bays after spawning to swim the ocean. Those trips will fish from May 13 to 31, until the bass migrate north to cooler water. In June, the boat will fish for sharks. The minimum legal size for mako sharks was raised to 83 inches, from the previous limit of 54 inches. So trips will be offered that sail farther offshore, to the canyons along the Continental Shelf, where bigger makos are more common than closer to shore. Those trips will also fish for tuna and deep-drop for tilefish. Electric reels have been added to the boat “to make the deep dropping more productive,” he wrote.  In July and August, trips will fish for fluke at inshore reefs, and three-day trips will run for tuna, tiles, mahi mahi, wahoos, marlin and swordfish at the offshore canyons. In September and October, overnight trips will fish for the same big game at the canyons. Sea bass fishing might sail during that time, depending on the dates of sea bass season that will be announced. In November, striper trips will fish. In January through March of next year, the boat will fish from Florida and the Bahamas.

<b>Mystic Island</b>

Anything to report? Scott from <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b> was asked. Snow shovels on the sidewalk? he said! He and crew from the store waited for the nor’easter and potential snow forecast for tonight. Weather’s been terrible, and few anglers fished. The few who did traveled north to Oyster Creek, where striped bass were tugged in. That’s the warm-water discharge from Forked River nuclear power plant. Otherwise, it’s winter. With few anglers showing up at the shop, there was no news about fishing, including none about striped bass fishing at Graveling Point and white perch fishing on Mullica River. Northeast wind kept flooding Graveling, making the area difficult to fish. Graveling is a nearby, shore-angling spot that gives up some of the year’s first stripers. An annual $100 gift certificate to the store is awarded to the angler who checks-in the year’s first keeper striper from there. But nothing was heard about stripers from the point yet. Stripers were heard about from the Mullica when striper season became open beginning March 1 in bays and river. But weather kept most anglers from fishing since. Bloodworms are the bait to fish for stripers in the early season, and they ran out but will be re-stocked tomorrow. Scott spent a few hours yesterday netting grass shrimp to stock live, but only caught half of a pint. They were scarce in chilly weather. 

<b>Absecon Bay</b>

Wasn’t much activity during the weekend, said Capt. Dave from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>. But he heard about striped bass and white perch lately from all different back waters that hold them. The fish are out there. Weather might be better by this coming weekend, so more news might roll in. Plenty of bloodworms including jumbos are stocked. Grass shrimp are scarce, and customers are running around looking for them to buy. Chances are that the shrimp might be out of stock whenever you show up at the store. Dave will begin his spring striped bass charters on Mullica River as soon as that angling’s ready, not long from now.  

<b>Atlantic City</b>

An angler sent this photo of a 45-inch striped bass that was posted on <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b>’s Facebook page last week.  That’s the biggest striper reported on this website so far this year. The column Shep on Fishing in the Atlantic City Press said the angler nailed the fish on foot from one of the fishing piers along the Route 52 Bridge on the bay between Somers Point and Ocean City. That was on a pink Zoom, One Stop’s page said.  On Sunday, this photo of a 31-inch striper, caught on bloodworm, was posted on the shop’s Facebook page.  No location of the catch was posted.

<b>Longport</b>

Weather’s looking good for the weekend currently, said Capt. Mike from the <b>Stray Cat</b>. He’ll run open-boat trips Saturday and Sunday if the forecasts hold. The fishing will search for striped bass on the ocean, or maybe mackerel will be around. Or maybe the angling will fish deep-water wrecks for ling and cod.

<b>Ocean City</b>

A few white perch were heard about from Great Egg Harbor River, said Ed from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. Small striped bass were rumored to be played on the river, but not many. Weather was usually rough lately, and the weather dropped water temperatures to 40 degrees. Water was in the mid-40s a couple of weeks ago. Bloodworms should be stocked this week. They were scarce in past days, because snow and cold weather prevented digging the worms in New England.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b> will try to fish for striped bass on the back bay, he said. That’s if weather calms, and weather’s been rough. The third nor’easter in 10 days is forecast for tonight. Unconfirmed reports said stripers were hooked in the bay behind Ocean City. Small stripers were reportedly tied into in rivers. That was all unconfirmed, and weather might seem cold for stripers to bite much. But he’s caught them when most anglers have said the catches seemed unlikely. He fishes for the bass in local bays at places like creek mouths with soft-plastic lures or Clouser flies worked slowly along bottom early in the year. Creeks during outgoing tides dump warm water into the bay that can attract stripers. That’s the time to fish, and afternoons on sunny days, when the water’s warmest, also fish best. Although weather’s currently chilly, Joe’s fishing on charters completely kicks in by the middle of April. That’s one of the best times of year for local fishing. Bluefish usually invade the bay by tax day, April 15. They’ve been huge and abundant in recent years. Trips during that time of year can crank in the blues, stripers, weakfish and out-of-season summer flounder from the bay, sometimes all in one outing. The angling can be epic, and the flounder are released until flounder season opens, usually in late May. Flounder season is yet to be announced. Joe is still offering traveling charters to the Florida Keys that he runs from Christmas to Easter each year. See the <a href=" http://www.captainjoehughes.com/page3.html" target="_blank">traveling charters webpage</a> on Jersey Cape’s website. 

<b>Avalon</b>

Capt. Jim from <b>Fins and Feathers Outfitters</b> is guiding hunting for snow geese in New York State until April 1, he said. His year’s first fishing from Avalon will probably be for bluefish on the back bay. The blues usually arrive by mid-April, and fishing for them was phenomenal last year. The blues were big slammers, and trips might also bunker-chunk for striped bass on Delaware Bay this spring, if that fishery develops. In May, trips will sail for drum on the bay. The goose hunting this past week was near the Finger Lakes, including at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. The birds migrated north to there, and the trips included a good hunt yesterday. The hunting is going well. Guests stayed at Jim’s <a href="http://www.sjlodge.com/" target="_blank">lodge</a> in upstate New York for snowmobiling this past week. Eighteen or 20 inches of snow fell at the lodge in last week’s storm. Guests also fish for steelheads on nearby Salmon River this month until early April. A discount is available for the lodge on Airbnb. Fins offers a variety of outdoor adventures including all of these and fly-fishing for trout on Pennsylvania’s streams like the Yellow Breeches. Trout fishing was good on the Yellow Breeches with one of Jim’s guides recently.

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