What was left of Hurricane Delta blew us a goodbye kiss at the beginning of the week and made fishing impossible. Gale force winds out of the east turned the ocean into a boil and kept the boats at the dock and folks off the beaches.
But the howling wind finally died and the ocean cleaned up quickly on Wednesday. The boats were back out chasing sea bass, tog and porgies.
The striped bass continue to play coy with beach and boat anglers but there have been a few signs that things will take a turn for the better.
But before we talk fishing, the Jersey Shore fishing community lost a treasured presence this week with the passing of Joe Julian Sr., founder and owner of Julian’s Bait and Tackle in Atlantic Highlands.
Julian opened his first bait and tackle business in Highlands in 1936 and his shop on Route 36 became a landmark and favorite stop for anglers from all over the state on their way to fish the Jersey Shore. A true original, he will be sorely missed by his many friends and customers and our condolences to his family. He was 94.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said things were a bit quiet due to the weather. Before the storm, however, he heard of some nice bass caught by boats trolling live eels in Raritan Bay. The porgy and sea bass fishing was also good before the weather turned.
Hebert went after some of the newly stocked trout on Wednesday morning and got six but said that, for whatever reason, the fish didn’t seem to have much pep.
A quick reminder, this Saturday is a Free Fishing Day in New Jersey. No license or trout stamp is required to fish the state’s freshwaters.
With 40 streams and rivers holding freshly stocked trout, it’s a perfect opportunity to go fishing for free or introduce someone else to the sport. More details are available at the NJ Div. of Fish and Wildlife’s webpage.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said the boats did well on sea bass, porgies and blackfish prior to the blow and most sailed again on Wednesday out of Atlantic Highlands.
Stripers continue to bite in the Hudson River, he said, and there is bait all over the bay. All that’s missing are the bass.
Steve at Julian’s Bait and Tackle in Atlantic Highlands said guys eeling in the bay are getting some bass and the bigger blues are in the mix as well.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said small bunker and rainfish were thick before the storm and started to reappear on Wednesday. There aren’t a whole lot of stripers off the beach, he said, but the bass bite is better in the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers on plugs and shads.
He had a report of albies about a mile off the beach this week and is still holding out hope that beach anglers will get a shot at them.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch said the weather disrupted the surf fishing for a few days but some stripers were being caught off the sand before the blow. Shads and plugs did the trick. Bluefish are in the mix as well.
The blackfish bite cooled off a bit for the boats out front, Gleason said, and he hadn’t heard anything on the tuna bite since Delta departed.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the sea bass fishing has been excellent despite the weather interruption. The porgy bite is good as well for boats heading north of the Shark River Inlet.
The Shark River, he said, has plenty of life with kingfish, winter flounder, porgies and blowfish. There are also stripers and blues biting at night.
Matthews reported slow surf fishing but thinks it will improve now that the weather has cleared and there’s loads of bait around.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar reported an outstanding day of sea bass fishing aboard the Park Pete Express on Wednesday.
He said there was a full-boat limit of big sea bass along with some porgies and winter flounder. Sykes added that there’s a big body of bass to the east and it should be heading this way. He’s currently booking fall striper trips.
Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters out of Belmar also reported good sea bass fishing over the weekend and is planning on heading to the tuna grounds this weekend. He’s booking inshore and offshore trips and can be contacted though his website.
Max Kristiansen at the Reel Seat in Brielle said the yellowfin bite at the Triple Wrecks was slowing up before the storm hit and he hasn’t had a report since. He did hear of some small bluefin caught closer inshore.
The sea bass fishing has been decent and Kristiansen said he’s been doing well with blackfish in the Point Pleasant Canal on jigs and green crabs. Tog are also biting at the Manasquan Inlet.
Vinny at Fisherman’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said the bad weather put a crimp in the fishing but he had reports of bluefin in the canyons before the nasty stuff started.
He, too, reported good blackfishing at the canal and Manasquan Inlet. The Voyager, he added, has open spots on upcoming tuna trips. Check the calendar on the Voyager’s website for dates and availability.
Gary at Capt. Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach said it’s been mostly sea bass with good fishing reported at the Klondike and Shrewsbury Rocks.
He also said the Point Pleasant Canal was giving up keeper bass at night on eels and shads.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach reported a good day of black sea bass fishing on Wednesday with porgies and winter flounder getting into the mix.
He’ll be running open boat bottom fishing trips for sea bass, winter flounder, blackfish and ling this Friday and next Wednesday. Tuna trips will be ending by the end of the month then Capt. Kenny will be running more open boat bottom fishing trips.
Capt. Matt Sosnowski on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant reported a good day of sea bass fishing last Sunday catching some porgies along the way. Most of the fish were caught on bait as jigs were attracting too much attention from big bluefish.
The Norma K III continues to sail for blues on Friday and Saturday nights and reservations are required.
Frank at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick said the fishing hasn’t changed much since last week with blues in the surf on mullet, metals and epoxy jigs.
The canal has blackfish during the day on green crabs and sand fleas and bass and blues at night on eels and plastics.
The Manasquan River continues to produce bass at night around the bridges on SP Minnows and Kettle Creeks.
Pete at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle Normandy beach said things have been a little slow with the bad weather and a shortage of stripers. There have been a few bass caught, but it’s mostly bluefish, kingfish and blowfish in the surf.
At the inlets, most of the action has been with tog and triggerfish.
Phil at Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights had one of the few positive reports on stripers with news about a bass blitz in Lavallette last Saturday.
The fish were on small bunker, about six inches, and snagging was the way to go. The bass had the bait pinned to the beach and Phil landed two fish of 15 and 24 pounds.
He said there were about three people fishing.
Then a pod of dolphin crashed the party and sent the bait and bass scattering. By the time the cell phones had done their work and the crowd arrived, it was all over.
Frankie Z. at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the surf was calming down nicely on Wednesday and he expected the good sea bass and porgy fishing to pick up where it left off. The porgies, he added, have been the big dinner-plate size.
There are lots of small blues around and the bass have been biting in the bay at night on hard structure.
Francine at Betty and Nick’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said more bass are being caught in the early morning surf on epoxy jigs and Deadly Dicks.
Blues continue to bite off the beach as well on metal and mullet and the blackfishing has been good on the jetties at the Barnegat Inlet.
Fishing Forecast for Northern New Jersey
If you want to put some fish on the table, go sea bass fishing. Party boats have been doing very well since the reopening and there are porgies, winter flounder and blackfish to go along with the sea bass.
As for the stripers, big bodies of fish have been reported nearby and everyone has their fingers cross the bite will start soon. There’s plenty of bait around and the water is finally starting to cool off.