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New Jersey Inshore Saltwater Fishing Report 1-3-18

<b>Keyport</b>

The last couple of trips fished okay for blackfish aboard, said Capt. Mario from <b>Down Deep Sportfishing</b>. The tautog weighed up to 8 pounds, and high hooks landed five keepers apiece. Five was the bag limit until four became the limit beginning on New Year’s Day, Tuesday. Mario wasn’t asked whether five was the high hook before or after then. But if that was after, the anglers kept no more than a limit, of course. Open-boat trips are blackfishing at 6 a.m. daily. That schedule will continue as long as the season’s weather remains fishable. The boat includes a heated cabin, full galley and plenty of fishing room.

<b>Atlantic Highlands</b>

The <b>Atlantic Star</b> fished for blackfish yesterday, was the only party boat that did from the marina, Capt. Tom said. Too few anglers showed up for more of the boats to sail, and weather was better than expected on the water, was pleasant. Some keepers and a decent number of shorts were angled. A couple of anglers totaled three keepers apiece, and some pulled in no keepers. But all caught at least throwbacks. On days when the ocean’s not churned, the fishing’s not bad, is alright. The angling is a matter of catching keepers among shorts. Trips are supposed to fish for blackfish 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily through Sunday. Afterward, the boat will go on winter break.

A few boats still blackfished, said Joe Sr. from <b>Julian’s Bait & Tackle</b>. Some anglers surf-fished for striped bass, but none caught was heard about. Baits stocked include green crabs, and white crabs can be ordered from the shop.

Blackfish were still boated, said Tom from <b>Fisherman’s Den North</b>. The angling was actually good yesterday, both from Atlantic Highlands and farther south at Belmar. This north shop is the sister store to Fisherman’s Den in Belmar. The boats were back out for the tautog today when he gave this report. A few throwback striped bass, not many, but some, were plucked from the surf. Surf-casters who reported that to Tom were from the Belmar store. But a few of the bass, not many, probably bit in the Sandy Hook area, too, he thought. Winter flounder fishing had been good, had been improving. But flounder season closed starting on New Year’s. Baits stocked include green crabs and white crabs.

<b>Long Branch</b>

Surf-fishing for striped bass slowed a little but still  tossed up small ones, schoolies, said Nick from <b>TAK Waterman Surf n Fish</b>. That was according to a few surf-casters who stopped in, and lures like Tsunami sand eels caught. Those and other lures like that, like a variety from Savage, are stocked. TAK Waterman is a store for fishing, especially surf-fishing, surfing and paddle-boarding. The store also produces the TAK Waterman line of clothing for watersports including these and beach-going. The name is from Lake Takanasee.

<b>Neptune</b>

Just a few anglers climbed aboard an individual-reservation trip for blackfish on New Year’s Eve Day with <b>Last Lady Fishing Charters</b>, Capt. Ralph wrote in an email. The angling was completely picky that day, but there was no better way to end the year than with fishing. Ralph got to fish and cranked up four keepers and plenty of throwbacks, giving the keepers to customers. Individual-reservation trips will fish for blackfish on weekends until the tog stop biting. If you have a few anglers, contact Ralph, and he’ll get more anglers and put a trip together.

<b>Belmar</b>

On the party boat <b>Big Mohawk</b>, blackfishing was good the past few days, Capt. Chris said. Wind kept Tuesday’s trip from sailing, but Wednesday’s trip fished great for the tautog. The fish weighed up to 9 and 10 pounds on trips, and jigs caught best. But when wind kept jigs from being fished, rigs hooked quite a few. Blackfish trips are slated to sail daily aboard, and green crabs are provided. White crabs are available for sale on the boat.

Mackerel are being boated off Long Island, “(and) a couple of boats … are going to go out for them Friday,” an email said from the party boat <b>Miss Belmar Princess</b>. If mackerel are in range, the boat will start sailing for them 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily.

<b>Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters</b> did no fishing in past days, but blackfish bit well yesterday, Capt. Pete said. Trips aboard are fishing for them until mid-January.

<b>Brielle</b>

Blackfishing on the ocean was so-so or good on some days, okay on others, said John from <b>The Reel Seat</b>. Both jigs and bait hooked them, and sea bass season closed on the first of the year. Boats that had been fishing for them switched to porgies, ling, cod and pollock. John heard about no mackerel. Small striped bass, a few, were still picked from the surf. Any keepers were 29 inches, an inch longer than the legal minimum size. Squeaker keepers, he called them. Metal with teasers tied into them, but sometimes herring schooled the surf. Sometimes anglers caught and livelined the herring to beach the stripers, and sometimes that grabbed the bigger ones.

<b>Point Pleasant Beach</b>

The year’s final two sea bass trips produced some beauties for all anglers on the <b>Gambler</b>, a report said on the party boat’s website on New Year’s Day. Sea bass season closed beginning that day, Tuesday, and some customers also boxed porgies and ling for a good variety. Trips will now sail for ling, cod, mackerel and blackfish every Wednesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. So those trips are named the Lazy Man’s Special. Yesterday’s trip was weathered out, but today’s was expected to sail. Clams are provided, the galley is open and the cabin is heated.

Bottom-fishing was a little slow but picked away at blackfish on the party boat <b>Dauntless</b>, Capt. Butch said. When five was the bag limit, some customers limited out. Now that four became the limit on the first of the year, more limits might be hung. A stray cod was bagged now and then. Butch hopes ling and more cod move in, so trips can get after them. The trips fished shallow in 60 to 90 feet of water. He tried fishing deeper, but too many sharks and eels bit. A few mackerel were decked aboard, when trips weren’t trying for them. When trips tried for mackerel, none showed up. But Butch saw mackerel at the co-op beginning two or three days ago. If mackerel school within range, the trips aboard mix in fishing for them. Trips are bottom-fishing 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. daily. The ocean was 44 to 46 degrees, perfect for the fish the trips fish for.

Anglers on the <b>Norma-K III</b> tapped into blackfish as soon as yesterday’s trip began fishing, a report said on the party boat’s website. That was Nov. 2 and a good way to begin the year, it said. Plus, one of the tog heavier than 11 pounds won the pool. Some customers limited out, and some bagged a few less. Both green crabs and white crabs caught, and whites now ran out aboard. Both had been carried on the boat, and the crew hopes to carry whites again. In the meantime, bring your own if you want them. The fishing was weathered out on New Year’s Day, and trips are blackfishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.

<b>Toms River</b>

A couple of customers fished the surf for striped bass Saturday, said Dennis from <b>Hook House Bait & Tackle</b>. None came back and reported results. A fair number of customers left to sail for blackfish Sunday. Hook House, located on Route 37, also owns <b>Go Fish Bait & Tackle</b> on Fischer Boulevard in Toms River.

<b>Longport</b>

Open-boat trips for blackfish will next fish Friday and Saturday on the <b>Stray Cat</b>, Capt. Mike said. Weather looks good, and plenty of crabs are aboard for bait. No open trip will fish Sunday because the Eagles will be in the playoffs, probably causing too few anglers to show up.

<b>Sea Isle City</b>

A couple of dozen striped bass were jigged from the ocean on a trip with John Martin and another angler aboard, said Capt. Joe Hughes from <b>Jersey Cape Guide Service</b>, affiliated with <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b>. They were throwbacks 23 to 27 inches that were released, but this is a report about stripers surprisingly late in the fishing season. This is the latest report about stripers on this website so far this past year, but Joe might report the angling even later, because he expects to fish for them again this weekend. The water on the trip was 43 degrees, and stripers usually won’t bite in water much colder. Joe forgot what day the trip was on, but it was around New Year’s, and took place after he ran traveling trips to the Florida Keys during the holidays. Those trips did lots of sight-fishing for bonnethead and lemon sharks on the flats of the bay and also reeled in redfish, snook, bonefish, tarpon, goliath groupers, snappers and jacks, good fishing. Not a lot of the tarpon were landed, but a bunch were hooked, were jumped and got off. In tarpon fishing, anglers consider “jumping” the fish to be notable, because tarpon, with a hard mouth, are difficult to keep hooked. The Keys charters fish each year from Christmas to Easter, and 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>.

Quite a few anglers, not a capacity crowd, but a load jumped on the local party boat Sunday for blackfishing, said Mike from <b>Sea Isle Bait & Tackle</b> that morning. Probably two or three charter boats and half a dozen private boats also headed out that morning, most of them for blackfish, and a couple for sea bass. Blackfishing sounded fairly good inshore, and weather often kept trips docked, but by Sunday, boaters had the weather to fish probably three days in a row. The blackfish bag limit dropped to four beginning on New Year’s from the previous limit of five. But that probably didn’t matter, and the trips weren’t sailing far. Sea bass season closed beginning on New Year’s, but fishing for them sounded unbelievable in the deep far from shore until then. Some anglers almost complained they’d limit out in a half-hour then have to make the long run home. Mike spoke with a couple of anglers who fished mid-range, 25 to 35 miles from shore, tackling a handful of sea bass and some blackfish. One of those anglers also reported catching ling the best he could remember. That’s one of Mike’s favorite fish to eat, and hopefully trips will be able to catch ling. The store is open for no set hours this time of year but open on days like when the party boat is going to sail. If you need supplies, the best way to reach Mike is to message him on <a href=" https://www.facebook.com/seaislebait/" target="_blank">Sea Isle Bait & Tackle’s Facebook page</a>.

<b>Cape May</b>

<b>Fishin’ Fever Sportfishing</b> did some blackfishing, Capt. Tom said. The angling was alright, landing 12 to 30 keepers to 10 or 11 pounds per trip. The fishing was a bit of a grind, was a grind. On some days, the tautog bit well, and on some, “they take the day off.” Fishin’ Fever is actively booking trips for this coming fishing season for catches from drum, summer flounder and sea bass to tuna, sharks and everything between. Dates do fill, so reserve them.

The <b>Heavy Hitter</b>’s fishing season is wrapped up, but Capt. George is fishing on friends’ boats, he said. One of those trips tried for striped bass on the ocean last week but found none. Stripers are still around but are schooling beyond 3 miles from shore, where fishing for them is closed. He jumped on another friend’s boat to fish for sea bass farther from shore, but the boat had mechanical trouble and had to be sailed back to port. Sea bass season closed since, beginning on the first of the year. George might still fish for blackfish on friends’ boats.

Weather kept trips from blackfishing on Monday and Tuesday, New Year’s Eve Day and New Year’s Day, on the party boat <b>Porgy IV</b>,. Capt. Paul said. But a good-sized crowd jumped aboard Sunday in fair weather, and a few sizable blackfish were clocked, no great shakes. Doug Taylor from Millville’s 8-3/4-pounder was biggest, but he never joined the pool. Another angler won the pool with a 7-1/2-pounder. Trips are scheduled to fish for blackfish at 8 a.m. this Saturday and Sunday and probably the following Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 12-13. Paul will see how that fishing goes and then decide the future schedule. If enough blackfish are angled on those trips, he’ll probably continue the fishing aboard.

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