This is certainly a winter of discontent.
Blackfishing has been slow and there’s little to indicate it will improve. Recent episodes of nasty, chilly weather haven’t made things any easier. Most boats have called it a season and are heading for the shipyard to get ready for the spring.
There just hasn’t been a lot to get excited about lately.
But, hey, it’s winter, anglers are supposed to be less than cheerful this time of year. Now is a good time to get gear in order and stock up for better weather.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said the one bright spot on the horizon is that there is a good chance of ice on area lakes and ponds this weekend.
The forecast is calling for frigid weather over the next few days and he thinks places like Mocksville Reservoir, Budd Lake, Greenwood Lake and Lake Hopatcong should be good to go very soon. Just double check it’s safe before you step on the ice.
He hasn’t received any encouraging reports on the tog front.
The shop is busy servicing reels and Hebert suggested get them in sooner rather than later.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch is longing for spring. Until it arrives, the folks at the shop are busy rebuilding inventory.
As far as the fishing goes, it’s slow. He hasn’t heard anything on blackfish and with the exception of a few largemouth and crappie, the freshwater bite has gone quiet as well.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said things are deep into the winter slowdown with just one party boat, the Ocean Explorer, still sailing out of the marina. It will continue to sail throughout the winter for tog, cod and ling. Matthews said the blackfish continue to chew but the bite is far from red hot.
Land-based anglers, he said, have pretty much given up except for a handful targeting white perch. Local lakes and ponds are also getting some attention for panfish and largemouth. Fisherman’s Den is open from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week and is getting in new inventory daily.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar said they are still sailing for blackfish and picking away at them on every trip. Check his website or Facebook page for availability.
Jeff Nuel at the Reel Seat in Brielle said the quality of the blackfishing depends on the day with some outings offering pretty good fishing and others a bust.
He said there are still small stripers being caught in the surf by die-hards looking for something to do. Sand-eel imitations are working.
Nuel said the shop is extremely busy servicing reels and other repairs and will be closed all next week for store inventory.
Kyle at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said he, too, heard of a few, very small bass being taken in the surf. Reports on blackfishing, he added, have been scarce.
Trout and crappie fishing is providing better action.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach reported some tough tog fishing. He said the fish were there on Wednesday, but the bite was sluggish.
The crew had to sit a long time to get them started. Then, after several fish were caught, they’d stop. He’s been fishing in 65 to 85 feet of water.
The Mimi VI will be sailing for blackfish through February as long as the weather holds.
Capt. Matt Sosnowski of the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach said the togging showed improvement last Friday with decent short life and a couple of limits caught. Everyone, he said, went home with something for the table. The rest of the weekend fell victim to foul weather.
The Norma K III is now on its weekend schedule through Feb. 15 then will head to the boat yard. Call ahead to secure your spot.
Frankie Z. at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the fishing is very slow, but they are very busy getting ready for this weekend’s three-day Winter Sale.
Frankie said there will something for everybody with up to 50 percent off on some items. Store hours are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Capt. Dave Showell at Absecon Bay Sportsmen Center in Absecon said the white perch bite has been excellent in local rivers and tributaries.
There are lots of small stripers around as well. Not that any of the bass are keepers, but it’s worth mentioning that striper season in rivers and bays doesn’t open until March 15.
Blood worms and grass shrimp are doing the trick for the perch.
Jeff at Hands Too Bait and Tackle said that now that the Porgy IV has stopped sailing for the season, he hasn’t received much in the way of blackfish reports. He’s sure private boats are still heading out, but little has come his way in terms of information. Like many of us, he’s counting the days until spring.
Fishing Forecast for Northern New Jersey
Hardwater anglers may be in for some action as chilly weather on the way may make for safe ice by the weekend, especially in the northern and western parts of the state.
If you’re interested in learning more about ice fishing, the NJ Div. of Fish and Wildlife is holding an ice fishing webinar on Friday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. Check the division’s website for full details.
A few tog boats are still sailing, like the Norma K III and Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach, if you want to give blackfishing a shot.