By all accounts, tog fishing remains a bit of a slog.
There are days when the weather and blackfish cooperate and anglers who put in the time and effort are rewarded. Unfortunately, there haven’t been a whole lot of those days.
The majority of the blackfishing is a pick and there isn’t much else to fish for right now. Offshore cod, ling and porgy trips have been hampered by bad weather and finicky fish.
Freshwater anglers are finding some bass and crappie in local ponds and lakes but even that has slowed down. There is a promise of ice in the next week that has hardwater folks excited.
But that’s about it right now.
Rich Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said his last tog trip fell victim to the weather so he has no first-hand knowledge of the bite. But, from what he’s hearing, blackfishing has been a tough go.
On the freshwater side, he fished a local river earlier in the week and landed a native brown but hasn’t heard much else in the way of trout either. Skim ice has been covering local lakes and ponds, he said, but nothing on the safe side. Hopefully that will change soon.
He said the shop has been getting new inventory daily so if there’s something you need for the spring, offshore or inshore, now is a good to come in and stock up.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said it’s been quiet there. Some white perch are being caught in the bay along Cliffwood Beach and Union Beach. The blackfishing has been hit or miss for the boats out of Highlands and Atlantic Highlands. The shop is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch said things are pretty slow on all fronts. Togging is tough and the freshwater bite has fallen off as well. He said they’ve been busy restocking the shop as shipments are starting to come in on a more regular basis.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar reported that there isn’t much going on for shore-bound anglers with the exception of small bass and white perch in the Toms and Mullica rivers. He said trout and panfish are being taken in the local streams and ponds.
The tog boats out of the marina are sailing whenever the weather permits and finding a mixed bag of action.
Last Friday was a good day on the Ocean Explorer with a number of limits and some quality fish. There was also an 11-pounder landed on Sunday.
The Big Mohawk has been getting out most days as well with Capt. Mike Ardolino at the helm.
Matthews said the shop remains open with green and white legger crabs available.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing said the Express will be sailing this weekend for blackfish. The bite has been inconsistent but they are finding a few nice tog on most trips.
Capt. Steve Spinelli of the Skylarker out of Belmar said he has called it a season and will be back out there in April for blackfish.
Eric Bunz at the Reel Seat in Brielle said it’s been a frustrating time for toggers with the up-and-down bite. It’s mostly a pick now, he said, with similar results for cod, porgies and ling offshore.
There are some trout in the Manasquan River, he said, and the local ponds are giving up bass and crappie.
New products are arriving daily, Bunz added, and now is a good time to restock your surf bag or tackle box before the spring rush.
The Big Jamaica out of Brielle is sailing offshore this weekend for cod, ling and porgies while the Jamaica II continues to sail for blackfish.
Kyle at Fisherman’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said he hasn’t heard much in the way of blackfish lately but the freshwater action has been fair, especially on trout.
He said it’s been good up north in the Pequest River but there have been fish caught in the Manasquan River, too. He’s been using gold and brown Trout Magnets but said they’re hitting on the fly as well. White perch fishing, he added, has been pretty good farther south in the bays and rivers.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi Vi out of Point Pleasant Beach continues to sail every day for blackfish with varying degrees of success. He’s been putting in the miles and while there are those who manage to get their limit, others are having a tough time putting one in the box. The Mimi VI will be staying with blackfish until the end of January.
Capt. Matt Sosnowski on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach has been working hard for blackfish as well. Every day brings a mix of keepers and shorts but the fishing in general has been a challenge. The Norma K III will be sailing daily through Jan. 24 then switching to weekends only after that.
Ray Kerico at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said that it’s been a few weeks since they got any reports of bass on the beach. There may be a few small fish hanging around, but nobody is making the effort. Blackfishing is a struggle, he said, but the white perch bite has been good in the rivers.
The shop is getting ready for its big winter sale Jan. 29, 30 and 31. Kerico said new inventory is coming all the time and there will be discounts of up to 50 percent on select merchandise.
Capt. Dave Showell at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center said there’s been steady fishing for white perch in the Mullica River and Absecon Creek. There’s isn’t any access for land-based anglers but the folks in the boats and kayaks are doing very well, he said. Bloodworms have been the bait of choice.
With favorable weather, he expects the fishing to hold up through the end of the month.
Fishing Forecast for New Jersey
Blackfishing remains tough but it’s still the best game in town. Most of the tog boats are planning to sail this weekend as long as the weather holds.
Freshwater anglers can also try their luck for trout in the streams and rivers and bass and crappie in the ponds and lakes. It’s supposed to turn colder by Saturday so there’s a chance for ice farther north in the next few days.