Northern New Jersey Fishing Report – April 19, 2018

Alex Kondas, left, and Capt. Jay Monteverdi got this striper trolling in Raritan Bay aboard the Meshing Around.

If it’s stripers you’re after, head to Raritan Bay.

Despite the cold water and decidedly unspring-like weather, the bass are in the bay in big numbers.

Boat and shore anglers are all catching fish with some reaching 30 pounds. Stretch lures and Mojos are doing it for the boats, while the beach guys are getting them on clams, worms, bunker chunks, metal-lipped swimmers and 4-inch shads.

Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said last week that the bass fishing was on the verge of breaking open and he was right.

Sciortino said the stripers all over the bay, from shorts to 30 pounders. He said fish were even caught during the miserable weather on Sunday and Monday.

Everything seems to be working, from bait to plugs and rubber shads. Not many stripers have come to his shop as he said many guys are releasing their fish. The big spring bluefish have yet to join the party.

Capt. Rob Semkewyc on the Sea Hunter out of Atlantic Highlands found some stripers on Saturday’s trip, but he said there were a lot more around when he got back out on Wednesday.

Conditions were less than ideal with a hard wind and fast tide, but the bass were all around the boat. The catch was mostly shorts, but there was an occasional keeper and rods were bent most of the day.

Semkewyc said there is plenty of bait in the bay and that should keep the fish around for a while.

Mel Martens at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said his customers have been into the Raritan Bay bass and they’ve been taking some big fish. He reported the fish he’s seen are fine looking specimens, very clean and free of sea lice.

He’s a little surprised the fishing is so good with the water still on the cold side. Bone-colored SP Minnows and yellow and chartreuse metal-lipped swimmers have all been catching fish.

Martens also mentioned there’s a lot of bait in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers but he hasn’t heard much in the way of reports. Not a lot of people are fishing those spots yet due to the crummy weather.

Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said that most of the striper action remains in Raritan Bay with the boats having a good day on Wednesday using stretches, Mojos and shads.

The fish appear to be spreading out from the shallows where the bait and plug guys were having most of the fun. Matthews did say those spots were getting a bit crowded, so be prepared for some company.

He’s heard of a few small stripers in the Belmar surf and the bunker have moved into the back of the Shark River.

Ron McClelland, Middletown, caught this 23.6 pound tog fishing out of Ocean City, Md. on Wednesday.

But it’s not all about the bass.

Blackfishing, while not outstanding, has picked up substantially with a lot more keepers coming over the rails.

The biggest obstacle to better fishing has been the weather, as wind and rain has reduced the number of trips.

The Ocean Explorer out of Belmar sailed for blackfish last Friday in a huge groundswell but it didn’t hurt the fishing too much.

The boat found good life and some anglers had three keepers along with a load of shorts. There were a few keeper codfish as well. The Ocean Explorer will be sailing this weekend for tog.

There was one notable blackfish catch this week. Ron McClelland, a self-confessed togaholic from Middletown, landed a 23.6-pound monster aboard Fish Bound out of Ocean City, Maryland.

McClelland caught the big pig on a custom-made Kevin Bogan tog rod using a white legger crab.

Back to Belmar, the blackfish bite picked up at the Shark River Inlet with several anglers getting multiple keepers earlier this week. Just a reminder, tog season closes April 30.

Also, out of Belmar, the Golden Eagle is now targeting stripers.

Capt. Rich Falcone said last Saturday’s trip produced shorts on clams and shads. He said the smaller boats trolling stretches and Mojos were doing very well with stripers and there was plenty of bait around, which bodes well for this weekend.

Capt. Pete Sykes on Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar said the engine upgrade on the boat is nearly complete and he expects to be back in the water shortly. He has available dates for spring striper trips.

Greg Bogan at Brielle Bait and Tackle said there’s plenty of fish around, just not enough people fishing for them.

He said the winter flounder were biting at the Mantoloking Bridge and the bay end of the Point Pleasant Canal. Some of the fish have been up to 16 inches.

Bogan added small stripers are biting in the canal and at the train bridge in the Manasquan River. The fish are up to 26 inches and hitting clams and worms along with 4-inch Tsunami shads.

Dave Arbeitman at the Reel Seat in Brielle also reported small bass biting in the Manasquan River and they’ve been joined by a few bluefish at the bay end of the Point Pleasant Canal.

The blackfishing has been pretty good for the boats sailing out of the Manasquan Inlet. The only element holding the fishing back, said Arbeitman, has been the continuing bad weather. The Reel Seat is now open seven days a week.

The striper anglers aren’t the only ones catching fish.

Since the trout season opened, the freshwater reports have been solid with good rainbow catches in the stocked streams, lakes and ponds.

Rich at Jigging World in Rochelle Park said anglers have been doing very well with trout in the Ramapo, Pequannock and Wanaque rivers. The water is still pretty cold and running high, he said, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting the fishing.

He also mentioned that some of his customers are among the striper anglers in Raritan Bay and they’ve been catching bass on the troll with stretches and Mojos.

Ron at Fins and Furs in Newfoundland said that the Rockaway River along with the Pequannock, has been producing some nice rainbows.

Black and olive wooly buggers have been a good choice for the fish along with traditional trout baits such as grubs and wax worms.

Ryan at Tackle and Field said it’s all about the trout right now with his customers fishing the Ramapo and Wanaque rivers. Most of the action has been on bait with salmon eggs, meal worms and Power Bait catching fish.

Larry at the Newark Sinker Company in Pine Brook said the word he’s been getting is about guys picking trout in the pools of the Rockaway River. The water is high, he said, but the fish are holding in certain areas and you just have to find the right one.

Dino at Garden State Bow And Reel in Stockholm also said the trout fishing has been very good in local rivers, but it’s the crappie fishing that’s been outstanding.

The fishing has been phenomenal in the state lakes and reservoirs and equal to last year’s fishing, which he called some of the best he’s ever seen.
He also said the shad fishing has been very good in the Delaware, with the fish moving up the river earlier than usual.

Fishing Forecast for Northern New Jersey

The Raritan Bay striper bite anglers have been waiting for is here. The night bite looks to have the upper hand from the shore with bait, plugs and shads, but guys are getting fish at all different times.

Boats trolling Mojos, stretches and shads are also getting into the action. The bass are spreading out so there may be some ocean fish to be had.

The blackfishing has been pretty good and the forecast looks clear for the weekend, if not especially balmy.

And there are lots of trout being caught in the stocked rivers, lakes and ponds. Take the kids and give it a shot.

5 on “Northern New Jersey Fishing Report – April 19, 2018

  1. Matthew Henry

    I sure hope they stick around a few weeks so I can get out there! I missed the Fall Run recovering from shoulder surgery, Fluking was tough so Dr Orders No Fall Striper fishing…

  2. Dominick Ciminello

    Please include me in any future publications regarding “northern NJ fishing report”
    Thank you

  3. Dominick Ciminello

    Please include me in any future publications regarding “northern NJ fishing report”
    Thank you

  4. GlennSr.

    There are fish of all sizes in the R. Bay. For large numbers of fish use smaller hooks like stretches because most fish can’t swallow a 9″ mojo. Don’t get me wrong there are big ones out there too but of course they are harder to find. Good luck

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