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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 3-19-18

<b>Leonardo</b>

The first couple of boats were splashed at the marina, said Capt. Joe from <b>Sour Kraut Sportfishing</b>. He’ll probably launch the boat during April’s second week, and then begin the year’s fishing on trips for striped bass on Raritan Bay. Trips might bottom-fish on the ocean when ling pull closer to shore. If anglers want to sail for blackfish when blackfish season is opened for the month of April, he’ll sail for them. He tends to do more blackfishing in autumn. Not much was heard about fishing in the past week. Weather was chilly. A few winter flounder were reported angled from Shark River.

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

No fishing was reported, a source said from <b>Julian’s Bait & Tackle</b>. Striped bass might’ve been winged from the back of Raritan Bay, but nobody confirmed. Locally, the year’s first stripers are usually reeled from the shallow flats in the back, where the water is warmest this time of year. But the store is open daily, and baits stocked include sandworms and bloodworms.

<b>Highlands</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/22:***</b> The boat will be splashed next week, for sure, Capt. Pete from <b>Fin-Taz-Tic Sportfishing</b> wrote in an email. He planned to launch the vessel earlier but decided to hold off because of this week’s storm. At first, the crew will scope out fishing for striped bass and winter flounder on Raritan Bay. When enough of the stripers are biting, charters and open-boat trips will fish for them aboard. Pete hopes for warm spells and sunny days in the next weeks. He took advantage of the lay-up to get the boat’s Coast Guard inspection completed and further organize the vessel.

<b>Neptune</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/22:***</b> Time to begin fishing, as soon as this crazy weather settles, Capt. Ralph from <b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b> wrote in an email yesterday, during the fourth nor’easter in three weeks. Individual-reservation trips will fish for cod April 20 and blackfish April 29 and 30. The cod trip will fish up to 40 miles from shore. The blackfish trips will be on the final two days of blackfish season that will be open throughout April. Ralph hopes striped bass show up in early May, he wrote. Dates for sea bass season are yet to be announced but will probably be similar to last year’s dates of May 26 to June 18. Many charters are already booked during that time. Some remain, and Ralph suggests you book them ASAP. Dates for fluke season are also yet to be announced. Annual individual-reservation trips for fluke that fish every Tuesday will begin June 19. Kids under 12 sail free, limited to one per adult host, on those outings. The boat is ready to fish. <b>***Another Update, Thursday, 3/22:***</b> Ralph added nother individual-reservation trip that will fish May 12 for either stripers or, if stripers are yet to arrive, ling, cod and winter flounder.

<b>Neptune</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/29:***</b> <b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b> is about to begin fishing for the year, Capt. Ralph wrote in an email. The angling will include individual-reservation trips for cod April 20 and blackfish April 29 and 30, the final two days of blackfish season that will be open throughout April. Ralph hopes striped bass show up in early May in the ocean for trips to target. An individual-reservation trip May 12 will fish either for stripers or, if stripers are yet to arrive, ling, cod and winter flounder. Dates for sea bass season are yet to be announced but will probably be similar to last year’s dates of May 26 to June 18. Many charters are already booked during that time. Some remain, and Ralph suggests you book them ASAP. Dates for fluke season are also yet to be announced. Annual individual-reservation trips for fluke that fish every Tuesday will begin June 19. Kids under 12 sail free, limited to one per adult host, on those outings.

<b>Belmar</b>

The <b>Golden Eagle</b> was going to begin fishing for the year last Saturday and Sunday, a report said Wednesday on the party boat’s website. The two trips were going to sail for mackerel and herring on the ocean if weather allowed. Saturday’s trip was weathered out, an update said Friday in the report. Forecasts looked better for Sunday at that time, but at press time, nothing was posted about whether that trip sailed. A 10-percent discount was available for those who purchased fare online for the outings. Trips will see how mackerel and herring fishing goes, and will sail for striped bass on the ocean as soon as stripers show up there. The boat recently returned from the boat yard from seasonal maintenance and had an annual Coast Guard inspection, the report said. Was a long, cold winter, but the boat is ready to fish, it said.

Capt. Mike from <b>Celtic Stoirm Charters</b> was doing maintenance on the boat, waiting for the weather to break, he said. The year’s first trips will probably fish for striped bass on the ocean aboard. Maybe some will show up in April’s third week, he hopes. The water’s cold, and another nor’easter and snow is forecast for this week. Mike saw anglers fishing for winter flounder on Shark River but knew no results.

A few winter flounder were tugged from Shark River, said Tom from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b>. Not setting the world on fire, he said, but catching a few. A couple of small striped bass that were hooked were heard about. One angler, for example, fished for stripers at Shark River Inlet, landing all throwbacks, but a few fish. Only a few anglers fished. Party-boat trips fished the ocean from Belmar, docking cod and pollock, not many but a few. <b>Fisherman’s Den North</b> in Atlantic Highlands, the Belmar store’s sister shop, will open beginning on April 1. No anglers were really around for that store to be opened sooner. None of the party boats were sailing from the marina there yet.

<b>Brielle</b>

A few cod and pollock were decked on the party boats Jamaica II from Brielle and Ocean Explorer from Belmar this weekend, said Bob from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. A few small striped bass were played from Barnegat Bay behind Island Beach State Park. A couple of small stripers were bucktailed from the surf to the north.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/22:***</b> The <b>Norma-K III</b> is back in the water after being in dry dock to be spruced up for spring fishing, a report said on the party boat’s website. Trips will fish for cod and ling 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Blackfish season will open on Easter Sunday, April 1, and the boat will sail for the tautog 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. that day and 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily afterward. “We are ready to get back out there and get the spring started!” the report said.

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/22:***</b> Bottom-fishing sailed Friday through Monday on the party boat <b>Dauntless</b>, Capt. Butch said. Trips since then were weathered out, including because of the nor’easter Tuesday to Wednesday. The angling wasn’t good in the cold ocean but copped a few cod and ling, probably two to 10 keeper cod per trip. A bunch of cod, probably 30, but mostly 15-inch throwbacks were hooked on one of the days. Ling catches were like seven on one day, five on another. The water was 38 to 39 degrees on the fishing grounds, and some dogfish hit already. That was surprising in the cold water. The trips fished in depths 120 feet to 220, and most bites came from 120 to 150. The deep water gave up no fish. Not much snow fell yesterday morning in the nor’easter locally, and only sleet and rain did. But lots of snow was falling when Butch gave this report last evening. The amount of snow that fell that day varied in different parts of New Jersey, and considerably more fell in some areas. The boat is bottom-fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily and is one of the only, if not the only, that’s slated to fish daily this time of year from Jersey.

<b>Toms River</b>

The Toms River’s striped bass fishing was somewhat slower than before but still good, said Dennis from <b>Murphy’s Hook House</b>. The store’s Facebook page said the bass were throwbacks. The action was somewhat better when the water was warmer earlier this season. The river was 40 degrees or cold on Sunday.  Bloodworms lit into the bass at night, and a few anglers caught on Kettle Creek and Zoom rubber shads at night. The river’s white perch fishing became somewhat slower. Dennis heard about two more winter flounder, he said, that were tied into from the river. In the previous reports from him here this month, he only mentioned one that he knew about. Probably six anglers stopped in for flounder supplies during the weekend, and all but one planned to fish at Island Heights on the river. The other left to fish Barnegat Bay near Mantoloking Bridge, and Dennis heard no results from flounder fishing there. Fishing for throwback stripers was good on Oyster Creek at night. Dennis heard about no winter flounder from the creek, but that didn’t mean none was there. A customer ran into loads of bunker off the mouth of the creek in Barnegat Bay. Fifty-degree water, warmer than the surroundings, attracted the baitfish, and no fish were on them. That temperature is normal for the time of year, and the creek is the warm-water discharge from Forked River nuclear plant. Murphy’s, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

<b>Forked River</b>

Schoolie striped bass were nabbed from Oyster Creek like crazy, said Mike from <b>Grizz’s Bait & Tackle</b>. That was on bloodworms or paddle-tail lures. A couple of customers picked up winter flounder from the creek on bloods. The creek is the warm-water discharge from the Forked River nuclear plant. Customers began gearing up to fish for white perch more than before, heading to the creek and the Toms River. Lots of supplies were sold this weekend for that, and the anglers were yet to report results. Bloodworms and killies were stocked.

<b>Mystic Island</b>

Strong westerly wind blew, and almost nobody fished, said Scott from <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b>. “I can’t even make things up,” he said. Any customers who fished headed north to Oyster Creek for striped bass that bit. That’s the warm-water discharge from Forked River nuclear plant. The wind prevented fishing locally at <a href=" http://www.scottsbt.com/fishing/stripers/springrun.htm" target="_blank">Graveling Point</a> for stripers. Fishing rods would’ve whipped back and worth, and no bites would’ve been felt. But Graveling, the shore-angling spot at the confluence of Great Bay and Mullica River, is one of the first places to give up stripers in New Jersey each year. An annual $100 gift certificate to the store will be awarded to the angler who checks-in the year’s first striper from the point. The most interesting thing, he said, was that the west wind shoved low tides extremely low, and bottom could be seen at Graveling that anglers never saw before.

<b>Absecon Bay</b>

Maybe weather will “flatten out” after tomorrow’s storm, said Capt. Dave from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>. Weather was beginning to look better. Previously, the conditions seemed to keep more people from fishing than fish from biting. He heard about white perch and striped bass that were active just about at all usual places, like Mullica River. He had no specific places to report fishing for them, because too few fished. Plenty of bloodworms are stocked. Grass shrimp became too scarce for him to net to stock live. All of March seemed colder than the second half of February.

<b>Brigantine</b>

Lots of white perch and lots of small striped bass were pasted in Egg Harbor Township, said Capt. Andy from <b>Riptide Bait & Tackle</b>. “That’s all I’m going to say,” he said about the location. But the stripers included keepers “up there,” he said. Bloodworms grabbed the fish, and only a piece, not a whole worm, was needed to hook up. Nothing bit in the local surf yet. The annual Riptide Striper Derby is underway until May 20, awarding prizes for the spring’s heaviest stripers and bluefish from the town’s surf. First through third places are awarded for each of the two categories. Entry includes a permit to drive the whole length of Brigantine’s surf, except the north end, when the entrant also has a Brigantine beach-buggy permit. Without the derby permit, not that whole length can be driven. New Jersey this year created a new, separate permit that anglers must buy to drive the north end. The Riptide/AlanBrigantineHomes.com 43-Inch Striper Bounty was currently up to $85 or $90. Entry is $5, and the bounty will grow because all the cash will be awarded for spring’s first striper 43 inches or larger checked-in from Brigantine’s surf. A $50 gift card to the store apiece will be awarded to the year’s first angler who brings in a striper from the town’s surf and the year’s first boater to come in with a striper. Sign up at the store for the Brigantine 4x4 Assist that offers unlimited towing from Brigantine’s beach for the year for $75. Baits stocked include bloodworms and salted clams. A large supply of bait was just stocked.

<b>Atlantic City</b>

Striped bass and a few winter flounder were scooped from Absecon Inlet and the back bay, said Noel from <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b> in a phone call today. Stripers, a few winter flounder and lots of white perch were beaned from the bay. The bay turned out catches near Harrah’s and in Absecon Bay, “back in the corner.” The shop’s Facebook page yesterday showed photos of a couple of throwback stripers banked from the bay somewhere. The post said lots of anglers picked off lots of throwback stripers and three throwback flounder there that day. The post didn’t say whether those were winter flounder or summer flounder. Anglers hooked all of these catches on bloodworms and clams. All baits including the bloods and fresh clams are stocked. Once birds begin working baitfish along the water, fishing will take off, Noel said. One Stop’s Facebook page also posted the year’s blackfish regulations that will likely be approved. Those are almost the same as last year and include a bag limit of four of the tautog 15 inches or larger throughout April. Blackfish were bailed along the jetties that line the inlet when the season opened last year. The year’s summer flounder regs will be announced once a meeting takes place about them on April 5 in Manahawkin that Noel plans to attend.

<b>Longport</b>

No trips fished on the <b>Stray Cat</b>, and wind kept blowing either in mornings or afternoons, Capt. Mike said. But open-boat trips will definitely fish Saturday and Sunday for striped bass on the ocean. Mike took the boat on a run on the ocean during a moment of calm weather last week, and conditions looked good. The water was 46 degrees 4 ½ miles from shore, and plenty of life was marked at 1 ½ and 3 miles from shore. No birds or gannets were seen working bait yet. Looks like blackfish regulations will remain the same as last year when blackfish season is opened for the month of April. A few offshore trips are beginning to book for bluefin tuna fishing in June and July. Open trips will fish every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday this summer. Anglers on foot are bloodworming stripers, including a few keepers, at places like Jeffrey’s Landing on Great Egg Harbor River. A mate from the boat fished there. 

<b>Ocean City</b>

Not much was doing, said Ed from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. Few fished, and water was cold. A few white perch and tiny striped bass were reported from Great Egg Harbor River. Another nor’easter is forecast, the fourth in a short period of time. But the hope is that the weather will break soon. The shop is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays, and the hours will be expanded soon. Bloodworms are stocked.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b> did no fishing, and heard about none, he said. Weather was rough, and not even a warm day happened when he could take advantage of sun heating the back bay in afternoons to fish for striped bass. He’s sure that catching stripers is possible there, but weather is no fun currently. He’ll guide fishing in the Florida Keys this weekend, and runs charters there every Christmas to Easter. See the <a href=" http://www.captainjoehughes.com/page3.html" target="_blank">traveling charters webpage</a> on Jersey Cape’s website. 

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