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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 3-5-18

<b>Highlands</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/8:***</b> Capt. Pete from <b>Fin-Taz-Tic Charters</b> was “down by the water (yesterday) and it’s a mess,” he wrote in an email. That was during the nor’easter. Water will take a while to warm after the snow. But he expects to splash the boat next week. “After that who knows,” he wrote. He and a mate from the boat will fish for striped bass on Raritan Bay and see whether the fish will hit. When he knows that stripers can be boated, he’ll begin taking charters and open-boat trips for the fishing. We don’t want to take people out for nothing, he said.

<b>Belmar</b>

Plenty of anglers fished Shark River for winter flounder on Thursday, opening day of flounder season, said Bob from <b>Fisherman’s Den</b>. But he heard about only a couple of small hooked that day, and weather’s been tough since. Snow and rain fell, wind blew and tides were high because of the full moon. The nor’easter barreled into the coast Friday, and then wind continued, including gusting to 30 knots today. The weather also kept the one party boat from fishing that’s sailing from Belmar, the Ocean Explorer. That vessel probably last fished on Wednesday. Trips are bottom-fishing on the ocean.  

<b>Brielle</b>

<b>***Update, Friday, 3/9:***</b> Wind gusting to 30 knots will cancel fishing Saturday on the <b>Jamaica II</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. But weather looks good for Sunday’s trip. Cod and pollock! the page said. Fishing is slated for every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday aboard.

John from <b>The Reel Seat</b> did hear about a winter flounder or two landed since flounder season opened Thursday, he said. He believed they were pasted on Barnegat Bay near Mantoloking Bridge. Afterward, the nor’easter, a strong one, hit Friday, and weather was windy and chilly since, and nothing else was heard about the angling. Before the blow, a few small striped bass were slid from the surf at Deal on lures like small, 3-inch rubber shads. Bottom-fishing on the ocean was usually weathered out. When the trips sailed, the fishing was slow. The shop will exhibit at Asbury Park Fishing Club’s fishing flea market Sunday at Convention Hall and the Saltwater Fishing Expo March 16 to 18 in Edison at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/8:***</b> The party boat <b>Dauntless</b>’s bottom-fishing on the ocean stayed in port in past days in weather, Capt. Butch said. The weather included yesterday’s nor’easter and snow. But forecasts look better for Friday through Sunday, before the next nor’easter predicted for Monday. Fishing’s been slow, managing a few cod and ling. Trips aboard last sailed last week on Monday and Wednesday. Quite a few cod but mostly 10- or 12-inch throwbacks, only a couple of keepers, bit on Wednesday. Only a few ling nibbled on Monday. Trips are slated to bottom-fish 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily, and the crew shapes up every day, prepared to sail. The boat is one of the few if not the only that’s scheduled to fish daily in New Jersey throughout winter. Though the fishing’s slow, maybe anglers are tired of being indoors and want to make the trip.      

Fishing was weathered out during the weekend on the <b>Norma-K III</b>, a report said on the party boat’s website. Trips had been running for blackfish, cod and ling on weekends, and the vessel will be in the boat yard this week to be spruced up for spring. “We will keep you posted on our upcoming schedule,” it said. Blackfish season became closed this month and will reopen in April.

<b>Toms River</b>

Striped bass fishing was fabulous in the Toms River, said Dennis from <b>Murphy’s Hook House</b>. Was difficult not to catch them, and most were throwbacks. A photo of Virginia who works at the store with a striper from the river was posted on the shop’s Facebook page this weekend, and that fish looked like it might’ve been a keeper, Dennis noted. He was yet to confirm the size from her. The river’s stripers were mostly bloodwormed, but a few were winged on rubber shads. The water was only 3 or 4 feet deep where the stripers gathered, and fishing a shad could be difficult there. The fish were mostly hung at night and in evenings. The angling was okay in early mornings. Dennis was telling anglers to fish for them after dinner and into the night, like from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The stripers swam all over the river, on both sides, not in any one place. The river’s white perch fishing wasn’t great but decent, the best in some years, also on bloods. A couple of anglers kayaked a few stripers on Barnegat Bay along Route 37 Bridge. Practically nobody had boats in the water yet this year. When Dennis gave this report yesterday, he was yet to hear about winter flounder from the river. But a photo of a keeper from the river was posted on the Facebook page afterward that day. Few customers, maybe four during the weekend, headed to fish for flounder. That made hearing results difficult. Flounder were heard about from Barnegat Bay near Mantoloking Bridge, and Dennis saw somebody boating them there.  Oyster Creek was on fire for striper fishing, including for big ones, 30-inchers. That’s the warm-water discharge from the Forked River nuclear power plant. A couple of anglers bailed the big ones on large, wooden popper lures. Dennis thought that was on Thursday evening, just before Friday’s nor’easter. Big bluefish were sometimes seen in the creek. Dennis heard about none landed, but heard anglers say the blues were seen, like when chasing a popper, or were apparently around, because fishing lines were bitten off. Blues often spend winter in the creek because of the warm water. Baits stocked included bloodworms, sandworms, salted clams, chum for flounder, nightcrawlers, killies and shiners. Dennis could’ve stocked fresh clams but was probably going to wait a 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>

Striped bass 18 to 28 inches, great catches, were pounded in Oyster Creek and on Barnegat Bay, said Mike from <b>Grizz’s Bait & Tackle</b>. That was on bloodworms, paddletails and top-water lures like poppers. Winter flounder, white perch and bluefish also bit in the creek. The creek is the warm-water discharge from the Forked River nuclear power plant. In the bay, the stripers were found in 3 to 5 feet of water. Baits stocked include bloodworms and killies.

<b>Barnegat Light</b>

 The <b>Miss Barnegat Light</b>’s <a href=" http://missbarnegatlight.com/" target="_blank">website</a> has been revamped, the party boat’s Facebook page said. Check it out.  The year’s trips usually begin with bluefishing on Memorial Day weekend aboard.

<b>Mystic Island</b>

Anglers tried for striped bass Thursday at Graveling Point but scored none, said Scott from <b>Scott’s Bait & Tackle</b>. That was opening day of striper season in bays and rivers. Afterward, weather was rough, and tides were high because of the full moon, and few anglers were around. Higher tides than usual can make access difficult at Graveling. A few stripers were heard about, like a couple brought to Absecon Bay Sportsman Center, and some pulled in along the Route 72 Bridge and the Mullica River Bridge. Striper catches begin at Graveling when the water is 44 to 45 degrees. Scott didn’t know the current water temperature there, but knew water was cold. He felt water while netting grass shrimp. Baits are well-stocked including the live shrimp, bloodworms, nightcrawlers and large and small minnows. Graveling is a shore-angling spot at the confluence of the Mullica and Great Bay. Located near the store, that’s one of the first places to give up stripers each year after the opener. Bloodworms are the bait to soak for them early in the season, when the fish are sluggish in cold water and can digest the worms better than other baits. The annual $100 gift certificate to the shop is up for grabs for the angler who stops in with the year’s first keeper striper from the Point. In past years, the first came in anytime from the beginning of March to sometime in April. Sometimes throwbacks are caught before a keeper is.

<b>Absecon</b>

After the year’s first striped bass was checked in Thursday, the second was brought in later that day to <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>, Capt. Dave said. That was opening day of striper season in bays and rivers. The first, a 29-inch 8-1/2-pounder, was covered in the last report here and was bagged near the 9th Street Bridge to Ocean City. The second, not covered here until now, was an 18-pounder that measured 35 inches. That fish was sacked in the bay near Long Beach Island, but not near Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River power plant that can attract stripers. Both these fish came from “natural” waters not affected by anything like that. The anglers won <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/140066560143158/" target="_blank">annual gift certificates</a> to the store for the first and second, and more prizes remain up for grabs, including certificates for the third striper, the first that weighs more than 20 pounds, the first heavier than 30, and more. Click the link for details. After Thursday, the nor’easter slammed New Jersey, and weather was windy and chilly since, pretty much a blowout for fishing. But prospects look good for striper fishing. Baitfish were around, and small stripers were active. The angler with the first striper also reeled in more than 20 stripers 18 to 25 inches somewhere near the bridge before nailing the keeper. Both anglers took the fish at night, and night seemed to fish best. Someone else during the weekend reported easing in stripers including a 29-incher and a 31-incher at night. Plenty of white perch seemed to bite in brackish rivers like the Mullica. Small stripers also chomped there. Bloodworms are tying into all of these fish, and the supply of the worms was good at the shop.  The nor’easter might’ve dumped snow in Maine and made digging the worms difficult.

<b>Atlantic City</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 3/8:***</b> <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b> has been opened daily for the fishing season, weather permitting, Noel said. That began on March 1, and plenty of white perch and schoolie striped bass are biting in Great Egg Harbor and Mullica rivers on bloodworms. The worms, fresh clams, green crabs and all baits are stocked, a large supply, except no minnows are on hand yet. Customers are anticipating fishing for bluefish and stripers that slam the surf alongside Absecon Inlet and slam the water in the inlet itself in early spring. Both locations are blocks from the store, and customers fish both on foot. Customers also anticipate blackfishing along the jetty-lined inlet when blackfish season opens for the month of April. The blues and stripers gave up some of the best and most reliable catches from the surf during every spring in New Jersey recently. The bluefish in recent years were slammers, the biggest kind, weighing into the teens. The stripers were mostly throwbacks but also a healthy number of keepers. Anglers had to work or put in time for the keeper stripers, but the fish were there. Last year One Stop began reporting great catches in the first several days in April. “It’s on fire,” a report from the store said on April 3 of last year on this website. “Hot and heavy,” it said. “… blackfish season opened … and customers pasted good-sized – 14- to 20-inchers – along (the inlet’s) jetties,” the report said. “Anglers could limit out on four on crabs and fresh clams … (and) striped bass, small but lots, were creamed from the inlet on bloodworms. One angler probably landed 30 from the T-jetty, on the ocean end of the inlet, in a trip,” that report said. “Another angler tried fly-rodding and nailed a keeper striper in the marsh near Harrah’s from shore,” it said. On April 10 of last year, the shop reported a crazy number of blackfish from the inlet, stripers 12 to 26 inches from the T and nearby surf and three black drum 30 to 40 inches, including an 18-pounder, from the surf. Those were the year’s first drum reported on this website. On April 13, the store reported that bigger stripers seemed to begin showing up. On April 17, the shop said the bluefish tore into the waters. “They’re here, man!” Noel said in that report. All the species were on a tear then. “I can’t express enough how good it is,” he said in that report. It’s an exciting time of year.

<b>Longport</b>

Weather was too rough to sail during the weekend, Capt. Mike from the <b>Stray Cat</b> said. Wind blew strongly, roughing up seas, since Friday’s nor’easter. Another nor’easter is forecast for the middle of this week. He hopes the weather straightens out for the weekend, and if it does, open-boat trips will fish for striped bass on the ocean during the weekend aboard. The trips will jig for them with metal or swim shads somewhere from Cape May to Brigantine. As soon as gannets are seen working the ocean, anglers will know stripers are there, foraging on baitfish like herring. The only stripers reported in past days were from places like Jeffrey’s Landing on Great Egg Harbor River and the back bay near Absecon. Trips aboard will do no bottom-fishing, like for cod, for the moment, because the fish are too far from shore, and the angling’s not good. Not worth the run.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b> heard second-hand about a few striped bass winged from the back bay, he said. He heard no details, but the news seemed credible. He’s often one of the first charter captains to catch stripers each year, fishing for them at places like creek mouths on the bay on outgoing tides. Creeks dump warmer water into the bay this time of year, and sunny days in afternoons, when the water’s had time to warm, fish best. He casts soft-plastic lures, fishing them slowly along bottom. Joe’s currently running traveling charters to the Florida Keys that he offers from Christmas to Easter each year. He took a fun trip to the Keys this weekend with his wife and parents. They banged out lots of snappers, jacks, Spanish mackerel, cero mackerel, hogfish and a big variety of catches. They released a 60-pound tarpon and jumped a baby tarpon. They had a couple of shots at sharks while sight-casting along shallow flats, but windy weather sometimes prevented that angling. Wind ripples water and can eliminate seeing the fish. See the <a href=" http://www.captainjoehughes.com/page3.html" target="_blank">traveling charters webpage</a> on Jersey Cape’s website. 

<b>Avalon</b>

Reservations are booking for bluefishing on the back bay in April and May with <b>Fins and Feathers Outfitters</b>, Capt. Jim said. That’s the first fishing aboard each year, and was incredible last year. Big bluefish, like this 17-pound 10-ouncer, tore up the water about a month. Trips might bunker-chunk for striped bass on Delaware Bay that time of year, if stripers give up a fishery. In May, charters fish for drum on the bay. In June, trips begin fishing for summer flounder, and also start to fight and release inshore species of sharks 10 to 15 miles from the coast. Currently, Jim is guiding hunting for snow geese. A couple of trips hunted them in Pennsylvania this past week. The geese were pressured by other hunters there. Lot of educated birds, he said. He’ll guide the hunting near New York’s Finger Lakes now and throughout this month. Guests are still booking Jim’s <a href="http://www.sjlodge.com/" target="_blank">lodge</a> in upstate New York, including for snowmobiling. A discount is available on Airbnb. He was yet to check how much snow fell in this past week’s storm, but knew that 10 or 12 inches fell to the south in New York. Guests fish for steelheads on nearby Salmon River this month until early April. Guests already began to book visits in July to September. Activities then include kayaking, canoeing, hiking, cross-country bicycling and visits to an annual woodsman festival. Salmon fishing on Salmon River is popular for guests in September and October.

<b>Cape May</b>

George Poveromo’s World of Saltwater Fishing this morning was supposed to air an episode featuring striped bass fishing from Atlantic City last fall with Capt. Tom Daffin from <b>Fishin’ Fever Sportfishing</b>, Tom wrote on Fishin’ Fever’s Facebook page. That was going to be on the World Fishing Network on Comcast 727 in South Jersey. The episode will also air during a number of other times including on NBC Sports Outdoors on March 27.  <a href=" http://www.georgepoveromo.com/tv_schedule.php" target="_blank"> Click here</a> for the schedule. Fishin’ Fever fishes from Atlantic City in fall for stripers and from Cape May the rest of the year. The year’s charters and open-boat trips from Cape May will kick off with blackfishing in April, written about in the last report here. Only a few spaces were left for those trips. See <a href="http://fishinfeversportfishing.com/availabilityschedule.html" target="_blank">Fishin’ Fever’s schedule</a> on the boat’s website. Trips will battle big bluefish on the back bay and along the ocean front in early spring, too. In May, the boat will fish for drum on Delaware Bay, sea bass on the ocean and tilefish farther offshore.

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