It was another good week for stripers in Raritan Bay as fish up to 20 pounds were caught on just about everything, including shads, metal-lipped swimmers, spooks, worms, bunker chunks and on the troll.
Stripers are also starting to show up in the surf with short fish caught in Deal and at Island Beach State Park. It’s far from hot, but they’re there hitting clams, worms and small plastics.
At the same time, winter flounder fishing improved with better catches reported in the Shark River and Barnegat Bay.
Blackfishing has picked up as well and the trout fishing in local rivers and streams has been very good. In short, spring fishing is coming together.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said Raritan Bay is full of bass and they’re being caught as far back as the Driscoll Bridge. The bigger fish have become a bit scarce but there are keepers around.
SP Minnows have been a favorite plug along with Yo-Zuri swimmers.
Hebert said the trout fishing has been very good since opening day.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said the charter boats are doing very well on bass in the bay with fish in the 15- to 20-pound range and anglers are getting their limits in a hurry.
Folks on the Bayshore beaches are getting stripers on plugs, clams and worms.
Sciortino said there are bunker everywhere but, unfortunately, some of them are dead. A bacterial infection is the prime suspect and it seems to be affecting just the menhaden.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said the night bite in the bay has been very good for kayakers fishing swimmers and glide baits.
He added that a few bass have been taken at night in the Navesink River. The water temp has been fluctuating and he thinks when it gets a little warmer the river bite will improve.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch said people fishing along the Bayshore have been doing well on bass with Mag Darters, metal-lipped swimmers and gliders.
Boat anglers are catching the bass on Nichols Spoons and Doc Spook lures. He also heard of short bass in the Shrewsbury River.
The trout bite has been good but added that it’s been hit or miss with other freshwater targets like largemouth and crappie.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the kayakers are doing better in the Shark River for winter flounder with worms and heavy chum. He also said there were some stripers in the river being caught at night.
There are bass in the surf as well, reporting that a shop regular got four from the beach in Deal on artificials. The biggest was 26 inches.
Matthews said the party boats out of the marina are finding fair blackfishing. The Ocean Explorer came back to the dock with a 14-pounder on Saturday. The Capt. Cal II and Big Mohawk are getting their share as well. There have been cod and ling in the mix.
Tog are at the Shark River Inlet, he said, just not a lot of keepers.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar is currently booking spring striper trips and has already begun scheduling fluke trips that will begin in May.
Capt. Steve Spinelli of the Skylarker out of Belmar is booking charters for blackfish, cod and ling and will be sailing for them this weekend.
Max Kristiansen at the Reel Seat in Brielle said the majority of the customers are buying striper gear and heading up to Raritan Bay. He said they’re catching bass on spooks, Yo-Zuri swimming plugs, and metal-lipped swimmers fished deep.
He said some stripers have been taken in the Manasquan River on small plastics and plugs but he hasn’t heard anything yet on a beach bite.
Capt. Ken Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach reported an awesome day of blackfishing on Wednesday with the highlight a 12-pound, 3-ounce tog caught and released by Vinnie B. from Mahwah.
Last Saturday’s trip with the Keyport Fishing Club was also a success with cod and ling to go along with a good catch of blackfish.
The Mimi VI is sailing open boat for blackfish most weekdays through April with a 15-man limit. Call ahead for reservations.
Capt. Matt Sosnowski on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach reported a good trip on Wednesday after a few days off. There were some decent size fish coming over the rail with the pool winner going about 5 pounds.
The crew had to work for their bites by casting around but there was life on every drop. The spots, he said, seem to get better every day. High hook had a limit catch.
The Norma K will be sailing every day for blackfish from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. except on Mondays when it’s all-day togging from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Reservations are required.
Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick reported that freshwater anglers hitting the local lakes and streams are doing very well with trout.
He said the winter flounder fishing in Barnegat Bay has been decent with nice size flatties up to 18 inches.
Striper fishing in the bay remains good, he said, on blood or sandworms and bass are also being caught at night and early morning in the Point Pleasant Canal and at the Mantoloking Bridge on shads and plugs.
Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said short and keeper bass in Barnegat Bay are hitting small spooks and SP Minnows. Kettle Creeks and other small rubber baits are also working along with blood and sandworms.
Kupper said the winter flounder fishing in the bay has been pretty good with fish up to 19 inches. Chumming is a must. And, he added, blue claw crabs are starting to come out of the mud.
Frankie Z at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said a good number of bass are being caught in the IBSP surf on clams and worms. One shop regular caught and released seven.
He, too, said the bass fishing in the bay has been good and there are rumors of Some bluefish in there as well.
He’s also had reports of better winter flounder fishing in Barnegat Bay, especially in the upper part, with fish to 19½ inches.
The Berkeley Striper Club, he added, will be holding it annual Fishermen’s Flea Market outdoors at the Seaside Park Marina on Saturday, May 1, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Fishing Forecast for Northern New Jersey
Raritan Bay remains the hot spot for spring stripers. Anglers fishing from the Bayshore beaches are getting bass on plugs and bait while the boaters are having luck with Nichols Spoons, metal-lipped swimmers, spooks and other topwater plugs.
The bass are just starting to show on the beaches so it may be time to try dunking some clams or worms.
Freshwater is also worth a try as the trout fishing in rivers, streams and lakes has been good since the season opened.