While the weather hasn’t improved much since last week, the fishing certainly has. For one thing, more keeper bass are showing up and they’re hitting more than just bait.
Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said that when anglers can get out, the fishing has been very good. High winds have been making for some nasty conditions, but bigger bass in greater numbers are showing in Raritan Bay. Up until last week, most fish were taken from shore, but now the boats are getting in on the action.
Scott Kailin from Parlin landed a 27 pounder trolling Mojo rigs in the back bay. Sciortino said umbrella rigs and Stretch lures are also hooking stripers.
Don Derrick of Chester got the biggest fish to be weighed in so far this year at the Tackle Box, a 31-bass caught from a bay beach on a bunker chunk on April 2.
Jimmy Morenz at Julian’s Bait and Tackle in Atlantic Highlands said guys were catching a load of bass in the bay and not a lot of folks have been fishing due to the weather. The Fisher Price out of Highlands limited out early on Wednesday with fish up to 27 ½ pounds. More than 75 stripers were caught and most of them keepers. The bass were hitting rubber shads.
Morenz also said anglers were picking up bass on worms in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers. He expects to see a lot more participation as the weather warms toward the middle of next week.
Mel Martens at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said he’s had customers catching bass at Pebble Beach on the Raritan Bay with good fishing reported over the weekend. He said there are rumors of bass being caught in the Sea Bright surf, but no fish have come in. He suspects the stripers are there and all it would take to confirm his suspicions would be for a few folks to give it a try with some clams.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar reported that the blackfish were ready and waiting when the season reopened on April 1. The party boats sailing out of the marina reported some nice catches.
The Big Mohawk landed a 10 pounder and a bunch of 3- and 4-pound fish last Saturday along with some cod and winter flounder.
The Ocean Explorer sailed on Wednesday and found the tog chewing with a 7 pounder taking the pool and one angler getting his limit of four fish.
Capt. Peter Sykes of Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters out of Belmar expects to have his boat in the water by April 13 sailing for blackfish.
Matthews also reported that some small stripers were taken in the Shark River on worms intended for winter flounder. He heard of bass being caught in the surf to the south but no one has been trying the local beaches. He, too, believes anglers will be rewarded with fish if they just give it a try. The Den, he said, is fully stocked for the opening of trout season this Saturday, April 9.
Capt. Rich Falcone on the Golden Eagle out of Belmar chased the mackerel on Wednesday but came up empty. He’s decided to target stripers starting Friday.
Farther west, Jeff at Harry’s Adventure Outfitters in Robbinsville said the shad run on the Delaware has been good with some nice size fish being caught. He’s also received reports from customers of bass in the Lavallette surf.
Eric Bunz at the Reel Seat in Brielle offered a smorgasbord of activity. He said the blackfish bite has been pretty good in about 40 to 50 feet of water in the Red Church area off Long Branch.
He also said there is life on the beach. There were a load of short bass in the surf in the Manasquan area last week hitting plugs and bucktails. The fish were small, he said, but there were a lot of them. The bass are also hitting clams in the surf in the same area and farther to the south.
Boat guys are also catching bass out front trolling white umbrella and Mojo rigs and Stretch lures.
Plugs and 4-inch white shads are catching stripers near the Mantoloking Bridge and Route 37 Bridge. Bunz added that you can also scratch together a catch of winter flounder at the Mantoloking Bridge on the falling tide using worms.
Finally, way out front, on the 40- to 60-mile wrecks, Benz said there are cod to be caught.
The Reel Seat is fully loaded with bait and tackle for the Saturday’s trout opener.
The Jamaica II out of Bogan’s Basin will be heading to those offshore wrecks this weekend. Capt. Joe Bogan said there was plenty of life on them on his last trip out, including cod and blackfish. The cod were mostly schoolies, he said, with the biggest running about 12 pounds.
The Big Jamaica found the spring mackerel last weekend and but will sailing to the offshore wrecks on Friday and Saturday. Capt. Howard Bogan is scheduled to make his first striper trip of the year on Sunday at 7:30 a.m.
He’s likely to find some. Brielle Bait and Tackle has had reports of stripers hitting jigs on the ocean side out of the inlet. John Bogan also reported stripers at the Mantoloking Bridge along with some blackfish. The tog are hitting sandworms and clams.
Fishing Forecast for Northern New Jersey
Looks like it’s time for spring stripers. The weather doesn’t look all that great, but the fish are around, especially in Raritan Bay. Trolling and jigging are catching fish, along with bunker chunks and clams. It’s also worth giving the ocean beaches a try with clams and bunker chunks.
Saturday is also the opening day of trout season and the Annual Trout Contest for Kids at Spring Lake, sponsored by the Shark River Surf Anglers. The contest is open to youngsters up to 15 years of age and awards prizes in four age categories. The club has stocked the lake with more than 500 brook, brown, golden and rainbow trout and fish are ready to bite. The contest starts at 8 a.m. and it’s a great way to introduce your kids to the lifetime sport of fishing.