“Farewell and adieu to 2020” and all of it’s issues—I hope 2021 will welcome in better health and good fishing. Most anglers have been hanging up the gear for 2020, but some hardy souls continue to ply the beaches for striped bass and the headboats for wreck species. My son and I ended 2020 with an awesome trip aboard the Gambler for offshore sea bass. We landed a bunch of humpheads to 5 pounds along with dinner-plate porgies. Closer to home fishing has had some good sized tog with last week’s Chris Sullivan of Lacey catching a pending state record whitechin weighing over 25 pounds. The fish was caught off of Cape May aboard Fishin’ Fever Sportfishing.
Here is this week’s rundown:
Creekside Outfitters in Waretown reduced its store hours for the off-season, but the owner is looking to stay open on Saturdays and possibly Sundays. Long Beach Island has had some schoolie striped bass along Barnegat Light south to North Beach. Tog fishing has been fair at best from the inshore wrecks as the water has been dirty.
Bobbies Boats in Barnegat Light is closed for season and the owner sent out a special thank you to all who patronage them during a rough 2020. He did say some anglers are still hitting the north jetty for small schoolie striped bass, but most have begun to prep for next season.
Reel Reaction Sportfishing out of Waretown / Barnegat Light pulled their main boat over the past week, not before eeking out one last quick tog trip with the skipper’s mate and son Luke. The captain is running winter perch trips on the skiff throughout the winter and their last trip had over 40 perch being caught.
The Super Chic out of Barnegat Light finished out the season for striped bass and tog. The boat will be back at it April.
Fisherman’s Headquarters on Long Beach Island reported some beach activity for anglers working small soft plastics and plug during the morning hours. Most of the striped bass are on the small size ranging from 12 to 18 inches. Tog fishing has been very tough and anglers are having to work hard to find a few keepers. The issue has been the clarity of the inshore water as some days it has been like chocolate milk. The shop is open throughout the winter and will be re-stocking and will have some special deals on last year’s merchandise, so stop in.
Absecon Bay Sportsman in Absecon reported good perch fishing when you can find them as some days have been spotty. Grass shrimp seems to be working better than blood worms, but anglers have reported striped bass to 26 inches on bloodworms. The shop will be open on a limited basis throughout the winter, and Dave recommends calling ahead.
Offshore Bait & Tackle in Atlantic City reported some tog being landed from the wrecks off of Atlantic City, but better action south of Wildwood. The main bite has been on white leggers with some nicer fish coming over the rail. The back bay action on striped bass has slowed dramatically, but better catching has been reported up the rivers.
Fin-Atics in Ocean City had slower reports this week with beach action coming to a stop. The shop will remain open Thursdays through Sundays for the winter (weather permitting).
Badfish Charters in Ocean City wanted to thank all of his 2020 clients for a great season and the skipper will be launching again between March and April 2021.
Sea Isle Bait & Tackle in Sea Isle City reported good togging from the deeper wrecks in the 80- to 100-foot depths off of Sea Isle and Wildwood. Anglers willing to run to the Cape May reef and further are finding better number of keepers. The shop has white crabs in stock, but it’s best to call ahead to reserve your quantity.
Avalon Hodge Podge in Avalon is closed for the season and will re-open sometime in March. The owners did say that tautog fishing has been decent off the wrecks out of Wildwood and Cape May.
Peace Token Fishing Tackle in Cape May Court House had good reports from the Cape May reef sites for blackfish and anglers fishing the deepwater rocks are finding limits of sea bass. The shop is open on a limited basis, so call before stopping in.
Jim’s Bait & Tackle in Cape May reported good tog fishing off the cape’s reefs and wrecks. A pending NJ state record tautog was caught last week by angler Chris Sullivan and the beast weighed 25.8 pounds. The tog was caught in roughly 100 feet of water and was approximately 20 miles off the coast.
Greenhorn Outdoors in Bridgeton received another fresh shipment of bloodworms for anglers to use to target white perch. Anglers working the creeks have been finding perch and bass along some of the mouths. The shop is open on reduced hours from Thursday through Sundays for the remainder of the winter.
South Jersey Fishing Forecast
I always end with the best bet for the weekend, but since it’s my last column until the start of next season (March 2021) I figured it’s really the best bet for the winter. Winter in coastal south jersey can offer lots of water activities depending how adventurous you aware, maybe “brave” or “crazy” are better adjectives. A limited number headboats will be operating on a part-time basis through the winter offering 12-hour blackfish trips throughout January. These are great opportunities to jump on and enjoy some time out on the water. Most have heated cabins to reduce winter’s bite and the some nice tautog are caught during these months. Beach angling pretty much shuts down as species have migrated south for the winter, but the bay still offers opportunities. Winter flounder will be making their way inside and offer angling opportunities during the dead of winter. Additionally, any south jersey bays with a inputs of freshwater will find schools of white perch usually willing to devour grass shrimp from land, kayak, or boat. Just a reminder that striped bass fishing in the inlets and bays is closed until March 1, but it’s still legal to target stripers in the surf.
If you’re very “brave,” then donning on a wetsuit and hitting up some quahogs for the wintertime blues may be the ticket. I wish all of our readers and anglers a happy, more importantly healthy 2021. Good Luck, Be Safe, and Tight Lines!