Winter is upon us and, as can be expected, fishing has slowed down.
Blackfish are currently the main target for offshore anglers along with cod, pollock and porgies. Small stripers continue to be caught in the surf but there aren’t a whole lot of fish, nor fishermen for that matter.
Before I get to the report, the New Jersey fishing community suffered a great loss at the close of 2020 with the sudden passing of Capt. Chris Hueth of the Big Mohawk out of Belmar.
Capt. Hueth was a fierce fisherman who worked tirelessly to become one of the most respected and successful party boat captains in New Jersey. With his larger-than-life personality, Capt. Hueth had a devoted following of anglers, and his ability to put them on all kinds of fish was legendary. His absence will leave a void in the local fishing scene that will be impossible to fill. Our deepest condolences to his family and many, many friends.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said the blackfishing has been inconsistent at best with a good day followed by two or three slow ones. The lousy weather, he said, hasn’t been helping things.
The freshwater fishing, he added, has been good with a solid walleye bite at Lake Hopatcong.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch said there were a few short bass taken in the Long Branch surf last week, but nothing to report of late. Blackfishing from what he’s been hearing is up and down.
Local ponds and lakes are offering more action with a good bite on largemouth and crappie.
Tak Waterman is now closed on Tuesdays but open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday and 10 to 4 on Sundays.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said it’s officially winter fishing now. Backwater striper fishing, black sea bass and winter flounder are all closed. There are still small bass in the surf, he said, on sand eel imitations. He suggests downsizing the size of the lure and slowing up on the retrieve. Ocean water temperatures are still in the 40s so Matthews thinks the fish will continue to bite.
Tog are biting at the inlets, but it’s far from a hot bite and patience is required. The party boats are seeing some blackfish limits but it depends on the day. Matthews said he’s been getting good reports on the freshwater fishing as well in local ponds and streams.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar has been searching for blackfish with mixed results. Some days its easy to get dialed in and others the fish are hard to find. An early report on Thursday’s trip said Capt. Chris Dossantos found the blackfish right away.He’ll be sailing for tog through the weekend and can be contacted for openings through his website.
Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar said Covid 19 has really put a damper on his charters and lately he has been at the helm of the Ocean Explorer. They’ve been picking away at blackfish and he’s hoping to put some cod in the coolers as well.
John Vafiadis at the Reel Seat in Brielle said it’s been quiet with blackfishing really all that’s going on and that has been up and down. The better fishing has been farther south on deeper spots, he said.
Dylan at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach had the same report on the inconsistent tog fishing. Some days are just better than others, with most boats fishing in about 100 feet of water. He said that small bass are still being plucked from the surf but not a lot of people are fishing for them.
Capt. Matt Sosnowski of the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant reported that Wednesday’s blackfish trip saw good life right from the start and the action continued throughout the day. There were a few limits, some with a couple of keepers while there were those who struggled to land a fish. The pool winner went 8 pounds.
Capt. Sosnowski said the water temperature was 47 degrees and he forecasts decent fishing until the end of the month.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach has been togging every day the weather allows and experiencing the same up and down fishing. Some anglers are getting their limits while others come up empty. He’ll be at it every day through the end of the month.
John at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said that a few small stripers are being taken from the surf there on sand eel imitations. He said folks are trying for white perch in the rivers but he hasn’t heard of much in the way of results.
Capt. Dave at Absecon Bay Sportsman in Absecon said the white perch bite has been good in the rivers and tributaries in the area on blood worms and grass shrimp.
He said the tog fishermen have been finding decent action in about 100 feet of water on the offshore pieces.
Capt. Dave said he will be at the shop most days but it’s best to call ahead just to make sure he’s there.
Chris Baliban at Tight Lines Bait and Tackle in Somers Point said the blackfishing has been pretty good but you have to travel to get them. Deepwater Reef has been a good spot, he said.
The white perch fishing has been decent in the rivers, he added. Winter hours are weekends only from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Nick Dutton at Hands Too Bait and Tackle in Cape May said things have slowed down with the arrival of winter but the tog are biting if you’re willing to travel.
The shop is normally open, he said, depending on the weather. Still, it’s a good idea to call ahead.
Fishing Forecast for New Jersey
Blackfishing, despite its inconsistency, is still the best saltwater game in town. Some nice fish have been coming over the rails and the fishing does appear to be improving.
There are also good reports on freshwater fishing, especially with crappie and largemouth. The forecast looks relatively mild for January, so it might be worth it to check out your local lakes, ponds and streams.