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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 1-21-19

<b>Keyport</b>

Raritan Bay’s striped bass fishing isn’t far off, an email said from <b>Down Deep Sportfishing</b>. The angling usually begins in March aboard, and book charters or open-boat trips early. Prime dates are available for the stripers and all species for the coming fishing season, including sea bass, fluke and more. One call to Down Deep does it all, including answering questions, making recommendations and assisting with hotel accommodations only minutes from the dock. Trips carry up to 15 passengers. Newbies, experienced anglers, family trips and business trips are all catered to. We provide a top-shelf experience for all, the email said. The boat is currently being prepped for spring.

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

One head boat from the marina sailed Saturday, for blackfish, said Johnny O. from <b>Fisherman’s Den North</b> that morning, while the trip was still on the water. He expected to close the store at 12 noon that day and so know the results of the trip when he resumed business the next day. This coming Sunday will be the final day the store will be open until it’s reopened on about March 15, depending on weather. Green crabs and white crabs have been stocked. The shop is located at Atlantic Highlands Municipal Marina.

<b>Belmar</b>

Anglers tied into good blackfishing Saturday on the <b>Big Mohawk</b> on the ocean, the party boat’s Facebook page said. The fishing was much better than on previous days, and the catches included limits Saturday. An 8-1/2-pound blackfish won the pool. Forecasts looked poor for a few days afterward, but the trips are fishing daily for the tautog when weather allows. <b>***Update, Friday, 1/25:***</b> Forecasts look good, and the boat will sail for blackfish at 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, the vessel’s Facebook page said. Take advantage while you can, it said. The fish will stop biting and the trips will end sometime probably not long from now this winter.

<b>Brielle</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 1/24:***</b> Weather looks super for trips to fish this weekend on the <b>Jamaica II</b>, the party boat’s Facebook page said. Trips will run 3 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for cod, ling and blackfish. <a href="https://www.jamaicaii.com/" target="_blank">Look for a coupon</a> to be posted on the boat’s website.

A few boats blackfished on the ocean, and most that had been blackfishing were hauled from the water for winter, said Alex from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. The tautog were still reeled in, though the fishing was slower than before. Anglers might’ve pick up one or two keepers, and high hooks landed three or limited out on four. Some anglers were catching no keepers on a trip. No real mackerel catches were heard about from boats. Few seemed to try for the fish. If the migration is going to swim within range, that would probably happen soon. But a mackerel run hasn’t been in range in some years. The season’s last couple of surf anglers Alex knew about fished maybe 1 ½ weeks ago. They caught striped bass, but “the end is near,” he said. The store is open Wednesdays through Sundays.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 1/24:***</b> The party boat <b>Dauntless</b> last fished on Saturday, Capt. Butch said. Fishing hasn’t been a bail aboard, but has been picking away, mostly at blackfish. A few cod came in, and a stray ling sometimes turned up. The keeper cod were just legal-sized. A couple of mackerel were landed, but never any numbers. On Saturday’s trip, a couple of anglers limited out on blackfish. Maxing out seemed easier now, since four blackfish became the bag limit beginning Jan. 1, from the previous limit of five. Most anglers are totaling one or two keeper blackfish and six or eight throwbacks apiece. The blackfish were hooked in shallows 60 to 90 feet. A few cod were taken there, and sometimes the boat tried fishing deeper, but fishing was no better there. In the deep, ling were yet to show substantially. A few blackfish still bit in the deeper water. So did a couple of cod. The ocean was 39 to 44 degrees, depending on location and wind. The boat is slated to bottom-fish 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily.

Couple of nice days on the water, a report said Saturday on the party boat <b>Norma-K III</b>’s website. The blackfishing aboard was sluggish. A few keepers were rounded up “here and there,” it said, “some spots (had) decent short life,” and others had none. Still, there was life, it said. A 7-pounder was in the lead for the pool when the report was posted. Sunday’s and today’s trips were going to be weathered out. “We will keep you posted about Tuesday,” it said. Trips are slated to sail for blackfish 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily. Beginning Saturday, the trips will only fish on Saturdays and Sundays during those times. <b>***Update, Thursday, 1/24:***</b> The trip Saturday is expected to be the next to fish aboard, a report said on the boat’s website. The angling’s been weathered out all week.

<b>Toms River</b>

A couple of customers sailed for blackfish on the ocean last week, picking away, said Dennis from <b>Hook House Bait & Tackle</b>. The catches had slowed somewhat, and the trips had begun running farther from shore to deeper water and farther south. One boat was rumored to pick a few mackerel. Whether that was going to develop into a fishery was unknown, and no real mackerel run showed up within range of New Jersey’s recreational fleet in years. A few are always picked around this time. One customer was going to travel to fish for cod near Block Island. Dennis didn’t know the boat the angler was supposed to fish aboard. The store is open for no set hours, but if Dennis’s truck is there, the doors are open. He was at the shop a few hours each day recently. Sometimes the hours and also sales were being posted on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/hookhouse/" target="_blank">the shop’s Facebook page</a>. Killies, nightcrawlers and garden worms were stocked. The Facebook page last Tuesday said bloodworms were going to be carried soon.

<b>Absecon</b>

A couple of anglers bought bloodworms Saturday from <b>Absecon Bay Sportsman Center</b> to fish for white perch on Mullica River for dinners, Capt. Dave said. He waited to hear results, and one did report landing striped bass on the worms on the river. Striper fishing is closed in January and February on rivers and bays, so release them. Dave stocked a couple of flats of the bloods including to prepare for today’s cold snap that would keep diggers from harvesting the worms in Maine during the deep freeze. That would keep the bloods in supply at the store for the next days. Some anglers sailed for blackfish on the ocean on a couple of boats from Atlantic City. A couple of those trips ran last week, bringing back the tautog. Sounded like the trips fished deeper water farther from shore. Although air temperature dropped severely today, the cold snap looked short-lived. Looked like temperatures would mellow in the next days. The store is open for no announced hours this time of year. But Dave is usually there. Call ahead.  

<b>Ocean City</b>

A few anglers fished for blackfish on boats on the ocean, said Bill from <b>Fin-Atics</b>. He heard no results, because he hadn’t been at the store a lot, and not a lot of customers came in at this time of year. That was about all the news. Nothing was heard about striped bass. But again, few customers were around. The store is open Thursdays through Saturdays.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

Mike Spaeder and son Mike fished on traveling trips to the Florida Keys this weekend aboard, said Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b> and <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. Joe runs traveling charters to the Keys each winter, and Saturday’s trip pumped in several lemon sharks and bonnethead sharks during sight-fishing. The trip released a medium-sized tarpon and reeled in snappers and jacks. On Sunday’s trip, wind blew 20 or 30 knots, and thunderstorms rolled through in the morning. That was all difficult for fishing, and Joe wondered if his was the only boat that fished that day locally. But the trip made it work, and bailed a good number of snappers and jacks, a lot of action. It was great, he said. That’s something about the Keys: Something can usually be fished for, no matter the weather. Another trip was going to fish today, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, from the islands aboard. The trips mostly fish on weekends or holidays. They can be a mini-vacation. 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>

Capt. Jim from <b>Fins and Feathers Outfitters</b> is guiding waterfowl hunting this time of year, he said. He does each winter, and is currently hunting ducks and geese through Sunday. Afterward, he’ll switch to guiding snow-goose hunts until April 15. That will be in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York. After that, his fishing charters will resume, probably beginning with trips for drum on Delaware Bay and maybe striped bass. Anglers throughout winter to early spring fish for steelheads on upstate New York’s Salmon River from Jim’s nearby <a href="http://www.sjlodge.com/" target="_blank">lodge</a>. That is world-class angling, and Jim can refer guests to guides for the fishing, or guests can fish on their own, or he can show guests how to do the angling and then let the anglers fish on their own. Guests at the lodge also snowmobile and cross-country ski in winter, among other activities. Eighteen inches of snow fell yesterday there. The lodge was snowed in, not a bad thing. Many dates are booked through February at the lodge. Check availability on Airbnb.

<b>Cape May</b>

<b>***Update, Thursday, 1/24:***</b> The season’s final trip, for blackfish, last Thursday sailed farther from shore to fish deeper water on the ocean on the party boat <b>Porgy IV</b>, Capt. Paul said. The trip was covered in the last report here, based on a report posted on Facebook. But Paul talked a little further about the outing in a phone call last evening. Some anglers limited out on the fish, and some landed none. A 12.7-pounder and a 10-1/2-pounder were caught and were big females. The anglers decided to tag and release those two. The water was cold, and Paul probably would’ve had to sail even farther off to reach warmer water if he was going to continue the trips. But because of that, and because he had few crabs left for bait, he decided to wrap up the vessel’s fishing until early spring.  

The season’s fishing was wrapped up Thursday with a trip for blackfish on the ocean with <b>Fishin’ Fever Sportfishing</b>, Capt. Tom said. Springtime fishing for drum, sea bass, summer flounder, tuna and tilefish is being booked. The blackfishing aboard was pretty good. The final trip cranked in 29 keepers to 15 pounds, and a trip the day before tugged up 22 keepers to 15 pounds. Tom discontinued the trips because of a transmission issue, and who knows what the severe cold that now arrived was going to do to the angling, he said. Cape May was forecast to be 15 degrees today.

Capt. George from the <b>Heavy Hitter</b> had no news, he said. News was quiet throughout last week about fishing. He might still fish on a friend’s boat for tilefish or sea bass, if sea bass season is opened in February. Some anglers thought sea bass season will be, but that’s unconfirmed. The Heavy Hitter is finished fishing for winter, but George might still fish on the boat of a friend who’d like to sail for tiles or sea bass.

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