Southern New Jersey Fishing Report – May 21, 2020

Fisherman's Headquarters striped bass

Pictured above: Fisherman’s Headquarters reported big bass off Long Beach Island this week

We have stripers, sea bass, and the greenlight for party boats, head-boats, and charters, so all is back well in the fishing world.  The state has set up times for doling out the Striped Bass Bonus Permits from the Nacote Creek office, so check the Fish and Wildlife website for information.  Although it’s been a tough week with the winds, anglers made it out over the weekend to boast about 35- to 50-pound striped bass on the troll and quick limits of sea bass from the wrecks.  The winds didn’t stop everybody as some anglers worked bloodworms in some of South Jersey’s backwaters to catch weakfish to 6 pounds.  We should get a reprieve from the winds for this upcoming weekend as the year’s first tropical system heads to Greenland.  And many anglers our thankful, as our long-awaited Fluke season opens tomorrow.

Southern New Jersey Fishing Report

Creekside Outfitters in Waretown reported a decent bite on blowfish for anglers working the 4- to 6-foot depths from the 42 to the Long Beach Island bridges.  There has been some decent White Perch caught along the back creeks in Barnegat.  Big bass have showed up and reports were positive from Seaside Pipe to Lavalette on the troll.  Sea bass made for easy limits this past week from the Barnegat Light and Garden State South reefs.

Reel Reaction Sportfishing out of Waretown / Barnegat Light was sea bass fishing with family over the weekend and reported 3-man limits in an hour.  The skipper had a charter before the week’s wind for back-bay action on bluefish and catch-release fluke.  They were looking for bass in the back, but the water was heavy on snot-grass.  With the green light, the crew is running trips 7 days a week.

The Super Chic out of Barnegat Light continues to book trips for May sea bass and striped bass. The skipper prefers to keep small groups anglers as compared to open boat trips due to COVID concerns.

Fisherman’s Headquarters on Long Beach Island reported a good wave of big Striped Bass move into the waters this past week.  Most of the fish were in the 30- to 50-pound class and the majority were caught on the troll.  A few have been landed on live-bunker drifted along the 3-mile line.  Sea bass action was best in the 50- to 60-foot depths for anglers looking to wreck fish.  Bay action has been very good on blowfish around the mid-Island areas and chumming heavily with clam is doing the job.

Absecon Bay Sportsman in Absecon had nice reports of slot Striped Bass and Weakfish falling for plugs during the night bite.  The backwaters of Brigantine and behind Atlantic City have lots of Fluke, so these should be the first stops for the season opener.  The shop has a variety of Gulp baits and live minnows for the opener.

Offshore Bait & Tackle in Atlantic City reported consistent weakfish action over the past few nights and pink soft plastics coated with shedder oil have been the ticket.  The north-end jetties in Atlantic City are producing weakfish, striped bass, and fluke.  The shop has lots of quality baits for the start of fluke season.

Fin-Atics in Ocean City reported good action on striped bass and some weakfish from the Corson’s Inlet area as this continues to be the best spot, especially during the evening.  Sea Bass fishing was very good when anglers could make it out and wrecks in the 55- to 75-foot range have been producing the best.  The shop has plenty of back bay baits for the fluke season opener and they are open everyday for curbside pickup.

Badfish Charters in Ocean City scored on some back-bay striped bass on light tackle prior to the charter green light.  The skipper reported good action on small soft plastics at some of his choice spots and is currently booking & running trips.

Sea Isle Bait & Tackle in Sea Isle reported a few weakfish in the 4- to 6-pound range being caught on bloodworms and pink-colored soft plastics.  Striped bass action remains productive from the inlet areas during the early morning or evening tides.  Sea bass fishing was very good for anglers working the wrecks over the weekend as the 50- to 75-foot depths were producing.  The backwaters have lots of fluke as some anglers have been playing catch-n-release, but that all changes tomorrow with the season opener.

Avalon Hodge Podge in Avalon reported a good share of Striped Bass to 30 inches and some bigger Bluefish feeding on both bait and artificials.  Clam baits or small swimming plugs for the bass and frozen mullet or metals for the Bluefish.  Anglers reported some nice-sized fluke being caught in the backwaters and it should be “game on” for tomorrow’s opener.  The shop is fully open, so stop in and load up.

Jersey Bait & Tackle in North Wildwood explained that the shop will be open as of May 26 for call-ahead orders, so it’s best to call and leave a message.  They did say there has been decent fishing along the back of Wildwood for small Striped Bass, but the bigger ones have been on the troll from Sea Isle to Wildwood near the 3-mile line.

Peace Token Fishing Tackle in Cape May Court House received great reports of Sea Bass from some of the deeper wrecks and several Stripers caught on the troll along the 3 mile line off Wildwood.  There is still a decent Drum bite going on in the Delaware Bay and some of these boomers have been in the 50- to 70-pound range.  Anglers working the Cape May and Delaware Bay jetties reported weakfish on bloodworms.  The shop is fully stocked for Fluke gear as they are excited about tomorrow’s opener.

Jim’s Bait & Tackle in Cape May had reports of Drum and Striped Bass off the beaches on clam and the boat bite slowed down dramatically due to the moon phase.  Sea Bass fishing was very good in the 100- to 120-foot depths, but only a few could get out due to the week of heavy winds.  The shop recommends for anglers to look for the warmest bay waters if they are hunting Summer Flounder.

Greenhorn Outdoors in Bridgeton reported some Drum fish being caught, but the fish are further east towards the Cape May area of Delaware Bay.  The White Perch bite has started along the river and anglers are still catching short Striped Bass with an occasional keeper.  The shop is stocked with fresh bunker and is open 7 days a week.

South Jersey Fishing Forecast

The best bet for this weekend will be to hit the wrecks for Sea Bass as there is a narrow window with the winds and waves for Saturday.  Most of the wrecks are producing as they have literally been un-tapped with the Covid closures and this means quick limits.  Our back-bays are in play for land-based, kayak, and boaters as the Fluke season officially opens.  The shallows are the place to be as these Fluke will be feeding on a variety of grass shrimp, sand shrimp, and small fish — look for the warmer water.  Anglers still looking to hunt trophy sized striped bass should be getting out early looking for bunker or getting on the troll.  Most of the reports that I have received have been on anglers working the bunker spoons or Mojo rigs.  Anglers looking to pick up drum should be targeting some of our deeper South Jersey areas as these fish are in and awaiting the soaked clam.   A weekend full of options, so Good Luck, Be Safe, and Tight Lines!

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