Fri., June 22, 2018
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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 5-24-18

<b>Sewaren</b>

A couple of 40-pound striped bass were weighed at <b>Dockside Bait & Tackle</b>, Rich said. Stripers were boated at Old Orchard Shoal and Chapel Hill Channel on Raritan Bay, and began to be boated on the ocean. A 45-pounder was docked at the shop yesterday from the ocean just off Sandy Hook. Mojos and bunker-chunks caught stripers. Bluefish began to show up in the bay and were boated. How big? Some were decent-sized, he said, and a customer pasted an 11-pound blue. Small stripers were sandwormed from piers including Sewaren, Carteret and Woodbridge. Some anglers still banked stripers from the surf at Laurence Harbor. The store will be loaded with bait for fluke for Friday’s opening of fluke season. Baits stocked also include fresh bunker, salted clams and sandworms.  Dockside, located on Smith Creek, a tributary of the Arthur Kill, is accessible from land and water at the fuel dock. The fuel dock is open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.

<b>Keyport</b>

Good striped bass fishing continued aboard Raritan Bay, and the stripers began to bite bunker chunks, said Capt. Mario from the <b>Down Deep Fleet</b>. Sea bass fishing broke wide open on the ocean aboard. First, the striper fishing. The bass bit the chunks in addition to cast rubber shads and trolling that previously caught and still did. The Down Deep Bull, one of the company’s two boats, is fishing for stripers on open-boat trips at 6 a.m. daily. Watch <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/downdeepsportfishing/" target="_blank">Down Deep’s Facebook page</a> for dates of fluke trips that will begin once fluke season is opened Friday. Trips for fluke will include open trips for stripers and fluke at 1 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The sea bass fishing, on the Down Deep, the company’s other boat, smoked the fish to 5 ½ pounds, with big ling and keeper cod mixed in. The high hook the past few days landed 30 keeper sea bass, keeping no more than a limit. Open trips are fishing for sea bass and other bottom fish daily. Charters are available, and each boat accommodates up to 15 passengers, and features amenities including a full galley and large cockpit. Sign up for the Short Notice List on <a href="http://downdeepsportfishing.com" target="_blank">Down Deep’s website</a> for special trips and the weekly schedule of spaces available on open trips. Look for the link underneath “Contact.”

Jumbo striped bass moved in, Capt. Frank from the <b>Vitamin Sea</b> wrote in an email. The fishing was a little tough Monday, when a trip landed three stripers aboard. A trip Tuesday moved to a different area, finding much bigger stripers including a couple in the 40 pounds. On a trip Wednesday morning, stripers were found but wouldn’t bite much. Three were reeled in. On a trip that afternoon, the bass did bite. The trip limited out on unders, released additional and also bagged an over, a jumbo. This has been one incredible spring run of stripers, Frank said, and the fishing shows no signs of letting up. Only a few bluefish are roaming the bay, so the striper catches should continue. Fluke season will open Friday, and fluke trips will begin aboard now, while striper trips continue. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing. Visit <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/vitaminseafishing/" target="_blank">Vitamin Sea’s Facebook page</a> for daily reports and photos.

The name was put on the new boat, and a little work on the radio was finished yesterday, and the vessel will now begin fishing, said Capt. Greg from <b>Manicsportfishing</b>. Four trips are booked in the next three days, and all will target striped bass. If boat traffic becomes too much for the striper fishing during this holiday weekend, the anglers will be offered to fish for sea bass, too, if conditions are favorable. Clams and squid will be carried aboard for that. The new boat is 31-foot, fully customized Steiger Craft with twin 300-horsepower Yamahas. Those big engines enable speed and distance on trips, including to shoot to the ocean for fish like stripers and fluke, when fishing’s better there than closer to port on the bay. Some boats don’t have the range to do that. Charters fish on weekends, and open-boat trips fish on weekdays, unless a charter is booked.

<b>Leonardo</b>

Fishing limited out on striped bass to 40 pounds and released additional last evening on Raritan Bay with <b>Sour Kraut Sportfishing</b>, Capt. Joe said. Some beautiful fish on the trip, he said, and the angling turned on in the afternoon well. The fish were trolled on bunker spoons and Mojos, and every trip’s been limiting on stripers aboard. The year’s first bluefish, a 13- or 15-pounder, was hooked on the boat on the outing.

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

The ocean’s striped bass fishing is lighting up, said Ron from <b>Julian’s Bait & Tackle</b>. Big that were boated were reported from off Monmouth Beach, Long Branch and Asbury Park on trolled bunker spoons and Mojos. They were pounded including this morning and yesterday morning. A 36-pounder was weighed-in from a small, tin boat that trolled spoons off Sandy Hook Point. Other customers reported that a 48-pounder, a 46-pounder and two 36-pounders were trolled on a trip. That was second-hand and unconfirmed.  Stripers were still boated on Raritan Bay. Abundant bunker, forage for stripers, kept schooling. Big, fresh bunker, like 13 inches, were stocked. Surf-fishing for stripers became slower on the bay for Ron and friends. Maybe that was because the tide was late in the night, too late to fish. Or maybe the water was warming, slowing the angling. The bass they caught were smaller than before, not keepers. They nailed big earlier this season, covered in previous reports here. Ron and friends were probably going to move to the ocean surf for the angling, maybe tonight, throwing bunker-chunks. Boaters, not surf-casters, were hooking all the stripers at least for the moment. Bluefish to 15 or 18 pounds moved into the river. Locals call the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers “the river,” and Ron wasn’t asked specifically where the blues showed up. The blues seemed not aggressive, like they have this season to Ron. They wouldn’t attack pencil-poppers like crazy like normally this time of year, and were mostly chunked on bunker. Ron doesn’t want to fish chunks for blues. He wants to throw single-hooked pencil-poppers. Killies and all the bait and tackle is stocked for tomorrow’s opening of fluke season. The bait includes practically every type of Gulp.

<b>***Update, Friday, 5/25:***</b> Fluke fishing was good on this opening day of fluke season, said Chris from <b>Fisherman’s Den North</b>. Not crazy, but some anglers in private boats limited out. Party boats scored okay. Some trips fished for the summer flounder on the shop’s rental boats. One returned with four keepers, and the anglers released a bunch of throwbacks. The rivers seemed to fish better than Raritan Bay for fluke currently. Fluke was the word today, but customers are also catching striped bass, including off Sandy Hook Point, and they’re starting to catch the bass on the ocean. All fluke baits are stocked, like killies and spearing. 

The <b>Fishermen</b> will start fishing for fluke 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily tomorrow, opening day of fluke season. The trips were fishing for striped bass through today, and no report about that fishing was posted on the vessel’s website at press time, since a report Sunday that was covered in the last report here. The boat’s reports here usually come from the vessel’s site.

Fluke fishing will begin tomorrow, opening day of fluke season, on the party boat <b>Atlantic Star</b>, Capt. Tom said. The trips will sail 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 to 6 p.m. daily, and spearing will be provided. Striped bass trips have been sailing during those hours through today. Yesterday morning’s trip fished well for the bass, and the afternoon’s trip was no good. Some dogfish seemed to move in. Stripers showed up along the water surface at one point during that trip, but refused to bite lures like rubber shads that can catch then. A few shorts were hooked on bait on the trip. <b>***Update, Friday, 5/25:***</b> Fishing was picking away at fluke aboard on this opening day of the season for the fish, Tom said in a phone call on this morning’s trip. Mostly throwbacks bit, like usual, but keepers were already bagged. Some of the keepers were the 18-inch minimum size, and some were a little larger. Some fluke hooked were just under. The boat was drifting well for the fishing at the moment, and as always, when conditions are good for that, fluking’s better.

<b>Highlands</b>

Forty-pound striped bass and limits of stripers were pummeled daily with <b>Fin-Taz-Tic Sportfishing</b>, Capt. Pete wrote in an email. The fishing was excellent in the bays and ocean. The fish even roamed the rivers. A trip yesterday morning limited by 8 a.m. Some space is available for striper trips and also trips for sea bass and fluke. All bait and tackle is included. Sea bass season opened last week on Tuesday, and fluke season will open tomorrow.

<b>Neptune</b>

Three big striped bass and some bluefish were belted on a short trip Wednesday evening with John Sabol’s party aboard, Capt. Ralph from <b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b> wrote in an email. On a trip Tuesday aboard, fishing limited out on sea bass again, he said. Individual-reservation trips for stripers and sea bass will fish Friday through Sunday and Tuesday. Contact Ralph to jump aboard. Dates are available for charters.

<b>Belmar</b>

For anglers on the party boat <b>Big Mohawk</b>, sea bass fishing was pretty good this week, Capt. Chris said. It was everything it’s supposed to be, he said. A good number of healthy-sized were clocked, and he hopes the fishing holds up. Trips are fishing for sea bass 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Sometimes the trips leave earlier. Trips for striped bass will also fish sometimes next week. Watch <a href=" https://www.bigmohawk.com/fishing-report.html" target="_blank">the boats’ website</a> for those dates. Fluke season will open Friday, but the Big Mohawk will keeper after sea bass for now. Chris isn’t going to miss that angling. Eventually, the trips will switch to fluke, and the boat is big on fluke.

The trip today on the <b>Golden Eagle</b> put in extra time and bagged a couple of really good-sized striped bass, some small bluefish and a couple of sea bass, a report said on the party boat’s website. Weather was gorgeous, and trips are fishing for stripers and blues 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Fishing and sunset cruises will begin this weekend that sail 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday. This Saturday is sold out, but room remains for this Sunday.

Excellent striped bass fishing was socked on the ocean the past few days with <b>Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters</b>, Capt. Pete said. Evenings fished a little better than mornings, and the trips hooked the bass on livelined bunker and on the troll, depending on conditions and whether bunker appeared. Plenty of weekdays are available for trips in June. The fishing aboard currently includes Magic Hour Trips for stripers from 3 p.m. until dark. Don’t have enough anglers for a charter? Book an individual spot with a charter who wants more anglers. Sign up for the email blast on <a href=" http://www.parkerpetefishing.com/" target="_blank">Parker Pete’s website</a> to be kept informed about the spaces.

The rental boats and all bait, including killies, and tackle is ready at <b>Fisherman’s Den</b> for the opening of fluke season tomorrow, Bob said. The boats are used to fish for the summer flounder on Shark River, running past the shop. Fluke are in the river, and a group of anglers on one of the rental boats today would’ve limited out on the fish, and released them instead. Big striped bass hit in the ocean surf. A 58-pounder was hammered from the ocean surf across from the river yesterday. Bob expects to give a more detailed report soon after fluke season opens, including results of the opener. If he does, that’ll be posted here in an update.  <b>***Update, Saturday, 5/26:***</b>An edited email from Bob: “Fluke fishing was off to a good start, but keepers were scarce. Maybe the early catch-and-release fishing spooked some keepers away. Striper fishing (on the ocean was great on trolled) Mojos and bunker spoons. Chris DisTefano Jr., Shark River Hills, had a 53-pounder on a bunker spoon. There were also fish to 58 pounds on Mojos, mostly off Asbury Park. Surf fishing was getting better with lots of short bass and blues. Scotty Lex had a 31-pound bass from south jersey beach. Good luck, come down and get in on the action.”

<b>Brielle</b>

Catches of sea bass were slower yesterday than previously on the <b>Jamaica II</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. Still, the fishing was steady, and about half the boat limited out. Lots more sea bass were marked than caught at each drop. A few cod and ling were also swung in. Sea bass catches were similar on today’s trip. On both trips, the angling was slow in the morning and picked up for sure in the afternoon. A couple of anglers also nabbed ling on today’s trip. The boat is fishing for sea bass 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily through June 1. Afterward, two half-day trips will fish daily for fluke 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and sea bass 2 to 6:30 p.m.

Boating for striped bass whipped pretty good catches on the ocean, said John from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. That was anywhere from near the beach to the 3-mile line, and to the north seemed best, like off Sea Girt, Spring Lake, Asbury Park and Long Branch. The fish were trolled on Mojos and bunker spoons, and Mojos seemed to catch best. The stripers were also hooked on livelined bunker snagged for bait on the trips, when bunker could be found. Nothing was heard about jigging the bass, but some could probably be jigged. Bluefish were mixed in here and there. Surf anglers picked stripers on plugs, rubber shads, clams and bunker chunks. But staying in one place and waiting was not the way to go. Sometimes blues were in the mix. Bluefishing was spotty in Manasquan River, or blues sometimes popped up there. Bluefishing was off the charts Sunday from Manasquan Inlet to Route 70 Bridge on the river. John fished the inlet Monday, seeing one blue and one striper caught, and losing a throwback-sized fluke. Both Manasquan and Shark rivers seemed to harbor plenty of fluke, and fluke season will open tomorrow.  He knew fluke were in Manasquan Inlet, too. Back on the ocean, sea bass fishing was great, including catching some big on slow-pitched jigs. The shop is carrying the jigs, rods, reels and line for slow-pitching that’s becoming popular. The tackle had only been available in Japan previously. Slow-pitched jigs will fish horizontally, not just vertically like other jigs. The technique is simple, but the whole system of a rod, reel, the right line and the jig needs to be fished. The rod needs to be matched to the size of jig. The store’s like the one-stop shop for all of that tackle. Dave, the store’s owner, just returned from tilefishing offshore on a local party boat. The angling was good, and he’s an aficionado of the sport and hosts party boat trips for tiles that anglers can join by calling the shop and reserving throughout the season. Check out The Reel Seat’s tilefish rod that might be the first available off-the-shelf. John knew that anglers began trying for tuna offshore, but was yet to hear results.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

Big striped bass began to appear in the local ocean, Capt. Alan from <b>Mushin Sportfishing</b> wrote in an email. Trips aboard previously traveled north and trolled stripers on Raritan Bay and off Sandy Hook. The boat can now fish locally instead. Stripers aboard to the north included 35- and 40-pounders. A recent trip limited out on overs and hooked no unders. Mushin is also fishing for sea bass on the ocean. A sea bass trip yesterday limited out with no problem. The sea bass were sizable, and deeper water seems to hold the better-sized. The trip was able to come back early and look for bunker to catch stripers at on the ocean. A 40-pounder was smashed in bunker that were found. Mushin annually moves the boat to fish from Cape May in June and July for tuna, mako sharks and tilefish. Warm water is filtering into those southern waters, so the fishing should happen soon! Charters and a limited number of open-boat dates are available for that fishing. Telephone Alan for details.

Bottom-fishing began to improve aboard, said Capt. Butch from the party boat <b>Dauntless</b>. “Happy days are here again,” he said! Sea bass catches began slowly when sea bass season opened early last week. But fishing became pretty good the past three days for them aboard. Lots of throwbacks hit, but most customers bagged six to a limit apiece. A few ling and small cod were in the mix. Trips fished shallow in 60 to 90 feet of water. The ocean was 54 to 57 degrees, depending on the day, on the fishing grounds.  Trips are bottom-fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. Nighttime bluefish trips might begin in mid-June, when schools let out for summer.

Fluke fishing will launch tomorrow, opening day of fluke season, on the <b>Gambler</b>, a report said on the party boat’s website. The trips will sail 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 6:30 p.m. daily, except none of the trips will fish this coming Tuesday, and the report mentioned no reason. The ocean’s finally warming, and the crew hopes for the best. They also hope to pick up sea bass during the angling. The customer who catches the year’s first keeper fluke aboard will win a free trip.  Trips for striped bass and maybe bluefish will sail 7:30 p.m. to 12:30 .m. Friday and Saturday. Beginning next week, those trips will run every Thursday through Saturday.  All of the regular crew is back aboard this year. “Hope to see you aboard,” the report said.

Most of the small crowd aboard Sunday limited out on sea bass on the <b>Norma-K III</b>, a report said on the party boat’s website. Weather forecasts were rough that day. The angling was decent on Monday’s trips, with most anglers limiting, a few catching fewer. Tuesday’s trips served up another good day of sea bassing. That was the most recent report at press time, and trips are sailing for sea bass 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 2 to 6:30 p.m. through today. Beginning tomorrow, opening day of fluke season, the trips will fish for fluke. Nighttime bluefish trips will kick off this weekend, running 7:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. every Friday through Sunday.

<b>Point Pleasant</b>

A bunch of 3- and 4-pound bluefish were tackled on Manasquan River on Monday afternoon on the <b>Tin Knocker</b>, Capt. John said. Striped bass fishing on the ocean was weathered out last weekend aboard. The striper fishing is supposed to sail Friday and Saturday.

<b>Toms River</b>

Bluefish were fought from the Toms River from both the Island Heights and Ocean Gate sides, said Mario from <b>Hook House Bait & Tackle</b>. They were smaller or 3 to 5 pounds last evening and were hooked on bunker-chunks. He knew that bigger were taken two evenings ago from the Ocean Gate side on the chunks and popper lures. Bluefish were also beaten from Barnegat Bay’s docks and piers lately. Striped bass were bloodwormed from the Toms at dawn and dusk and at night. Kayakers eeled a few stripers on the bay at night behind Island Beach State Park. Boaters on the ocean trolled sizable stripers south of Barnegat Inlet yesterday morning on Mojos. Throwback stripers and some blues chomped in the surf. If anglers “waited and baited,” they had to be in the right place at the right time. Keeping moving and throwing lures increased the odds. Lures included metal including Jetty Ghosts, Kettle Creek rubber shads, swimmers and poppers. Fluke season will open tomorrow, and fluke seemed to swim the bay. Surf anglers dragged in fluke, decent-sized, too. If the flatfish roamed the surf, they should be in the bay. Crabbing seemed slow and should pick up any day. Then again, nobody really reported crabbing. Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

<b>Seaside Heights</b>

Surf anglers kept pulling in striped bass and blues, a report said on <b>The Dock Outfitters</b>’s website. The fish jumped on bait and lures equally. Fishing was improving for boaters on Barnegat Bay and the ocean. On the bay, smaller stripers and big bluefish were hooked. Slammers blues were waxed from the dock and were boated just off the dock, around the channel, in the bay. From the dock, bait tied into them. Boaters popper-plugged the blues. Ocean boaters began to troll stripers. One boater trolled stripers to 40 pounds, big ones, on bunker spoons on a trip. Not all anglers were catching fish, but a good percentage were. Some keeper crabs began to be trapped in overnight pots, a good sign. The Dock Outfitters, located on Barnegat Bay, blocks from the ocean surf, features a bait and tackle shop, a café, a dock for fishing and crabbing, and boat and jet-ski rentals.

<b>Forked River</b>

The season’s first trip for the ocean’s big striped bass ran Monday with <b>Tuna-Tic Sportfishing</b>, nailing a few trophies to 45 pounds, Tuna-Tic’s Facebook page said. The boat fished on Raritan Bay for stripers until now this season. It’s moved back to home port around this time each year to intercept the big breeders that migrate to the ocean after spawning in back waters. This is a best time of year to lock into the big ones. The fishing will only last so long aboard, and trips for sharks will be launched in June. Sometimes shark trips fish for stripers on the way back at first during that month.

Striped bass began to show up in the ocean, said Mike from <b>Grizz’s Bait & Tackle</b>. The catches were reported from off Island Beach State Park to Seaside on trolled Mojos and Tony Maja bunker spoons. Mike wasn’t asked whether that was Seaside Park or Heights. Some bluefish began to appear in Barnegat Bay the other day, and the ones heard about weighed 2 to 5 pounds. A couple of big came from the surf, mostly on Long Beach Island. The store is loaded with bait and tackle for the opening of fluke season tomorrow. The bait runs the gamut from local and Canadian spearing to the different frozen squids. Fresh clams, both fresh and in the shell, fresh bunker and all bait is stocked. The season is early for crabbing, and crabs are just coming out of the mud and aren’t meaty yet. But some are being trapped.

<b>Barnegat Light</b>

A striped bass charter on the ocean was weathered out Saturday on the <b>Super Chic</b>, Capt. Ted said. The next fishing aboard is supposed to head for sea bass Saturday on the ocean. Striper fishing picked away at catches on the ocean locally when weather was fair. Some days produced better than others, but the bass were caught. Ted heard about not many bluefish. He knew about a few from Barnegat Bay, but nothing solid. Some anglers maybe caught on one day and not the next. 

Trips for fluke and sea bass will kick off the year’s fishing 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday through Monday on the <b>Miss Barnegat Light</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. Spearing and squid will be provided, and bring bucktails and Gulps. The trips will also fish the following two weekends and will sail daily beginning June 15. Sunset cruises will sail every Saturday and Sunday beginning this weekend and daily beginning June 15.

Bluefish began to be lit into in Barnegat Inlet and all over, said Vince from <b>Bobbie’s Boat Rentals</b>. Striped bass were boated on the ocean and in the inlet. On the ocean, they were trolled on the bunker spoons the store sells and the Mojos the shop carries. Small stripers were played on Barnegat Bay. Sea bass were bailed, mugged on the ocean. Fishing was good and picking up. Minnows will be stocked for fluke tomorrow, opening day of fluke season. Bobbie’s features a complete bait and tackle shop, a fuel dock and boat and kayak rentals.

<b>Barnegat</b>

An edited email from Capt. Dave DeGennaro from the <b>Hi Flier</b>: “Finally!” he wrote.  “The big bass have finally come our way. We had a 42-pounder (yesterday) that crushed a big white Mojo. We were trolling off of Island Beach State Park in 63 feet of water (in the) afternoon.
<a href="https://youtu.be/1nJMnukli-8" target="_blank"> Here’s the YouTube clip</a> of the end game. Lots of bunker pods around. Something was giving them a push at the surface. I almost reeled in the trolling gear and switched to snagging. But I wanted to see if I could put another in the cooler first. Sometimes you should stay with what just worked instead of switching gears, but I'm still not sure if I made the right call. After a while, the bunker went down, and we never got another bite. We still read big balls of bunker on the machine and a nice steady stream of big single marks right in the kill zone, but they eat when they are ready, not when we are. Sailing open-boat or charter 12 noon to 7 p.m. today and Friday and 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday through Monday. Four people max. Weather looks pretty good. There are also blues in the bay if we feel like casting for an hour or two after the bass effort.”

<b>Absecon</b>

Seems the weather and fish are here, said Capt. Dave from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b>. The best striped bass fishing was around Absecon Inlet and the jetties, and nighttime was the right time. Good catches were made. Boaters played lots of small stripers on the back bay. No big invasion of bluefish was in. Most blues seemed to be lots of 3-pounders, tailors, around inlets. They weren’t the giants like the past couple of years, but fought well and were good-eating-sized. Looks like blues will swim into bays with this good weather. All reports about summer flounder in the back bay, before flounder season opens tomorrow, sound good. Everybody’s excited. Minnows, a favorite flounder bait, are scarce. The shop’s got a load coming from south, and the store’s local suppliers are working at catching the baitfish, and Dave’s got pots out, too. He expects to be in good shape for the opener with the minnow supply, and hopes to carry them throughout this Memorial Day weekend. Customers headed south to Cape May to sail for black drum on Delaware Bay, having a good time. Fresh clams, the favorite bait for the drum, are in short supply. The clams should be stocked, and the questions were how many and how long. The shop’s annual <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/events/978999958940104/" target="_blank"> Grand Slam Customer Appreciation Tournament</a>, held on opening weekend of flounder season each year, will take place 6 a.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Saturday. The contest is free and features prizes for the heaviest flounder, stripers, blues, weakfish and black drum. Click the link and check it out. New this year, a prize will also be awarded for the heaviest sea robin. Dave caught a humungous, 3-pound sea robin this season, and noticed that a magazine’s contest included a category for the junk fish. So the new category is being included for kicks. The year’s first soft-shell crabs for eating will probably be available next week at the store. The shop raises them, and keep up with the supply on <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/SoftshellCrabs/" target="_blank"> Absecon Bay Sportsman’s soft-shell  crabs Facebook Page</a>. Dave will be busy this holiday weekend, but his charters afterward will continue fishing for stripers, and now also flounder, whichever’s best, on the back bay.

<b>Brigantine</b>

Anglers kept telephoning, asking what’s biting, and Capt. Andy from <b>Riptide Bait & Tackle</b> wanted to say, just fish. He didn’t, of course, but striped bass, bluefish and black drum were angled from Brigantine’s surf, he said. Nighttime seemed to fish well for the stripers. Fish “meat,” he said, bunker or Daiwa SP Minnows for them. Matt McDaniels checked-in a 19-pound striper today. The blues and drum were landed in daytime. A couple of 50-pound drum were eased in from Absecon Inlet’s jetty in Brigantine. Ten gallons of minnows were stocked today that should last for tomorrow’s opening of summer flounder season. All flounder baits like mackerel and squid strips are carried. Fresh bunker just arrived, and fresh clams are supposed to come in tomorrow. The whole world’s looking for the clams, he said. Fresh clams are scarce. Captain Ron’s bug spray is in supply! Bugs are around. Stock’s famous pound cake, from Stock’s Bakery in Philly, are in.

<b>Atlantic City</b>

Fishing is to the next-level crazy! said Noel from <b>One Stop Bait & Tackle</b>. He never saw so many big striped bass over 40 inches. Forty, 45, 47, 48 inches. “Big fish in AC!” he said. Whaling them. Bluefish were also hooked, and he was about to post a couple of photos of some on the shop’s Facebook page from today. All of these catches were from the surf beside Absecon Inlet in town. Fresh clams and fresh bunker are catching and are stocked. Summer flounder or fluke baits are stocked for tomorrow’s opening of fluke season, including minnows, spearing, sand eels and more. You name the bait, and it’s stocked, he said. If you can’t catch now, hang it up, he said! Even those who don’t usually catch are hooking up. Join the store’s free Family Fluke Candy Tournament from tomorrow until June 2. Bring the family, and prizes for the heaviest fluke for adults are $125, $75 and $50 for first, second and third places, respectively. Prizes for kids 15 and younger are the same. Sign up at the store. Entrants receive a free Fluke Candy Rig. 

<b>Margate</b>

Plenty of summer flounder seemed to swim the back bay, said Capt. John from the party boat <b>Keeper</b>. Trips aboard will begin sailing for them Friday, opening day of flounder season. The angling should be good, he thinks. The fishing kicks off the boat’s trips every year, and the vessel only fishes for flounder each year, throughout flounder season. He wishes the season opened earlier, because flounder begin to hold in South Jersey’s back bays earlier. Instead, the season is open until later in the year, through Sept. 22. Some remain after Labor Day, but business drops off after the holiday. Beginning Friday, trips will sail for summer flounder 8 a.m.-12 noon and 1 p.m.-5 p.m. daily. The rate is only $30 for adults, $25 for seniors and $20 for kids, because the fishing is near port, and the pontoon boat is economical on fuel. Plus, rental rods are free.

<b>Longport</b>

“Yeah, man!” Capt. Mike from the <b>Stray Cat</b> said. “We whacked them … .” A trip yesterday aboard limited out on sea bass by 11:45 a.m., and was back in port an hour early. Nice fish, he said, and a bluebird day. Trips for sea bass are sold out in the next days. Open-boat trips and charters are running. After summer flounder season opens tomorrow, the trips will fish for a mix of sea bass and flounder when the ocean is warm enough for flounder to chew. After sea bass season is closed, trips will home in on flounder, among other fishing, including for tuna.

<b>Ocean City</b>

A good number of striped bass, including some better-sized than usual, some keepers, were beached from the surf, said Bill from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. Bunker and clams were dunked for them, and some anglers tossed plugs to connect. Sometimes black drum bit the clams and were reeled in. Striper fishing was pretty good on the back bay at night along bridges and sod banks. Mostly lures like pink or white soft-plastic Z-Mans or Zooms were fished for them. But some began to be reported on eels. Eels are stocked. Random bluefish popped up from the surf to the bay, too few to say any spot fished best for them. Boating for sea bass was pretty good on the ocean. Few people crabbed yet. Not a lot of crabs, only some, seemed to be trapped so far this year. Summer flounder season will open tomorrow, and the bay seemed to harbor them, anglers kept saying. The flounder seemed to gather in 6- or 8-foot shallows. Minnows are already stocked for flounder bait. Fresh bunker are carried, and Bill hopes to stock fresh clams and bloodworms.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Lots of striped bass milled around the surf, said Mike from <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. Most were throwbacks – probably 1 in 10 or 12 was a keeper – but some were keepers, and good numbers were banked. Wasn’t uncommon for angler to land four to six in a trip. Big sand sharks and some skates and rays moved in. Quite a few summer flounder seemed to hover in the back bay, and anglers hope for a good opening of flounder season Friday. Some bluefish ran the bay, and nothing was heard about weakfish from the bay. Weaks were reported earlier this season from there. When sea bass trips had the weather to sail, they caught well. Twenty miles from shore and farther seemed key, like the fishing was excellent at the Deep Water Reef. A few held inshore. Mike wouldn’t say crabbing was good, but crabs were trapped. The shop’s annual flounder tournament will be held 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, June 2. Entry is $20 per angler, and first place wins 70 percent. Second wins 30 percent, and third wins prizes from the store. Calcuttas will be $10 apiece for the heaviest weakfish and bluefish, and the winners take all. A limited supply of minnows, a favorite flounder bait, is stocked. The baitfish are scarce.

<b>Wildwood</b>

<b>Canal Side Boat Rentals</b> will be opened this weekend for the first time this year, Mike said. He’s unsure whether the boats will be available, but bait and tackle will be. Most of the boats should be in the water, but whether any will be ready to fish or crab is uncertain. He’ll try, and rough weather delayed getting the boats ready. It delayed opening the shop, and he wanted to open during this month’s first or second weekend. The severe cold spell that damaged docks this winter delayed the opening, too. More docks than usual had to be repaired. Customers fish from the boats on the back bay including for summer flounder. Flounder season will be opened tomorrow. Nobody locally fished much yet this season, so Mike couldn’t say how flounder fishing might be.  Friends told Mike they fished for sea bass on the party boat Porgy IV from Cape May last weekend on a trip on the ocean and put together a good catch. Weather was wet and windy and seas were 5 feet, settling to 3 feet. They bagged beautiful sea bass to 17 inches. Locals didn’t really crab yet either. But the supplier who provides crabs that the store sells for eating has not been heard from, and that suggests crabbing is yet to pick up. Mike heard that crabbing was still slow in Delaware, where water is somewhat warmer and can make crabbing begin earlier than in New Jersey. If crabs from New Jersey remain scarce, Mike begins to stock crabs from Maryland, but those are priced higher, and he doesn’t like to carry the more expensive. The minnow supplier is supposed to provide the baitfish, a bait for flounder, to stock tomorrow. Minnows are scarce like happens for a moment this time of year for some reason sometimes. A lot of the minnows that the supplier has are from the south, and those are pricier.  Canal Side rents boats for fishing, crabbing and pleasure and kayaks. <b>***<i>Get a $5 discount</i>***</b> on a rental boat if you mention Fishing Reports Now. A large supply of bait is stocked during the season. So is fishing and crabbing tackle and gear. Live crabs for eating are sold, once they become available. Customers enjoy the food at tented picnic tables on the water at the store, or enjoy them at their own location. Wine from Natali Vineyards in Cape May Court House is sold at the store. The state approved that last fishing season.

<b>Cape May</b>

Not a lot of sea bass were around for trips aboard, said Capt. Paul from the party boat <b>Porgy IV</b>. Maybe things were different on other boats, but a party boat needs a substantial number of the fish. A good catch of sea bass was made Monday with a small crowd aboard. A good-sized crowed climbed aboard yesterday, and that made results tougher. Sea bass were hooked around the boat on the outing, and nobody limited out on the trip. Some bagged seven to nine. One spot gave up sizable sea bass, and that piece apparently hadn’t been fished recently. When a spot has been fished, things are different. Maybe more sea bass will filter in as water warms, and the ocean was cool, in the 50 degrees. Trips are fishing for sea bass at 8 a.m. daily. No summer flounder were hooked aboard yet, and Paul heard about none from the ocean where the boat fishes. The trips will fish for flounder when that picks up.

Three black drum were boxed and two were lost so far on Delaware Bay board, when Capt. George from the <b>Heavy Hitter</b> gave this report in a phone call last evening on the trip. More trips for drum on the bay are slated for today and the weekend. Sea bass fishing is also available on the ocean. The last trip for sea bass limited out, and the fish were surprisingly quality-sized, covered in a previous report here.

Black drum fishing was as good as it gets with <b>Fishin’ Fever Sportfishing</b>, Capt. Tom said. The trips fished Delaware Bay, of course, and sea bass fishing was excellent on the ocean aboard, drop-and-reel. Some real jumbos like 4 ½ and 5 pounds were pitched aboard. Charters and open-boat trips are fishing, and spaces are available for both types of fishing. Charters for mako sharks and thresher sharks will probably begin after next week, Tom said in case anglers are interested. And tuna fishing won’t be far behind.

Good-sized striped bass kept being beached from Delaware Bay’s surf, said Nick from <b>Hands Too Bait & Tackle</b>. The keepers were all bigger, and a few were smaller, like a 28-incher one customer had. Anglers might have to work for them, but the fishing is good, and bunker chunks and lures caught. Bluefish occasionally bit during the angling. Blues hit along the ocean surf’s jetties on bucktails. Pretty good catches of weakfish began to be heard about from along jetties on bloodworms on floats. Bubblegum-colored soft-plastic lures worked well along Delaware Bay’s jetties on the trout. Boating for black drum was off the hook on Delaware Bay. Evenings during hard-moving tides fished best, and the drum came from usual places like the shallows close to shore off Coxhall Creek. But the fish began to bite along hard bottom farther from shore. Fishing for summer flounder seemed promising for the opening of flounder season tomorrow. Everybody who knew said the population looked good in the back bay. But the store’s bunker netter found a few flounder in the nets in Delaware Bay, and that seemed reason for optimism on that bay. Flounder hadn’t been heard about from Delaware Bay this early in recent years, though they used to be a common catch this early there. On the ocean, sea bass fishing seemed to be picking up. Anglers on smaller boats could swing aboard pretty good catches of sea bass if they found places where the fish weren’t picked over. Three anglers on a trip limited out in a couple of hours. 

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