The Raritan Bay spring striper bite broke open a week ago and it’s still going strong.
There have been some lulls in the action but fish up to 30 pounds continue to be caught from the boats and Bayshore beaches on worms, plugs and shads.
Stripers are also being caught in Barnegat Bay, the local rivers and a few fish have even showed up in the surf.
At the same time, freshwater fishing has been good with catch-and-release trout largemouth bass and panfish.
Now if the blackfish would just cooperate a little more enthusiastically, everybody would be happy.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said stripers are being caught all along the Raritan Bay beaches from South Amboy down to Belford. SP Minnows have been the hot plug, he said, but they’re getting a little hard to come by. Shads and metal-lipped swimmers are also working.
From what he’s hearing, the blackfish bite has been slow.
On the other hand, Hebert said the catch-and-release trout fishing has been very good in the local streams and lakes. The season officially opens this Saturday at 8 a.m.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said there are bass all over Raritan Bay and anglers on the beaches and the boats are catching them. There’s a range of sizes, but fish in the 20- to 30-pound range are in the mix.
Plugs and worms are both working with metal-lipped swimmers, big shads, X-Raps and SP Minnows all catching fish. Some have been picked up on the troll as well.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said the bass fishing has been very good in Raritan Bay. SP Minnows, Mag Darters, small swimmers and shads are all working.
Pinto also had reports of a few bass caught from the beach on Sandy Hook on clams.
As for winter flounder, Pinto said he hasn’t heard a thing.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch reported fish up to 42 inches caught in Raritan Bay. He said the 9-inch and 6½-inch Tsunami shads are working well as are metal-lipped swimmers fished below the surface.
Gleason said there are some schoolie bass in the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers but he hasn’t heard of anything on the beaches as yet.
He added that the catch-and-release trout fishing has been good and there’s plenty of pre-spawn largemouth bass action.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the Raritan Bay bass bite has got everybody’s attention with a lot of his regulars heading north to fish.
One of Bob’s colleagues at the shop gave the Belmar surf a try with shads and picked up a couple of very short bass. There have also been a few caught at the Shark River Inlet. Early morning has been best and bloodworms are working along with the plugs.
He reported a better winter flounder bite in the Shark River on Wednesday at the L Street Pier with sandworms working best. Matthews said the rental boats have been doing well with the flatties using lots of chum.
The blackfish bite at the inlet is improving but there’s not a lot of keepers.
Matthews reported the bottom fishing for blackfish, cod and ling has been fair for the party boats out of the marina.
He, too, said the pre-season trout fishing has been good in the local lakes. Remember, a freshwater license and trout stamp are required when the season opens on Saturday.
Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters out of Belmar has temporarily moved his boat to Lockwood Boat Works in South Amboy to be closer to the Raritan Bay action. The striper fishing, he said, has been outstanding and he’ll be sailing every day through the weekend.
He’s currently booking striper trips for the rest of the spring.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters out of Belmar is also currently booking spring striper trips. Until the bass hit the ocean, Parker Pete’s will be sailing for tog and he can be contacted through his website.
Max Kristiansen at the Reel Seat in Brielle fished Raritan Bay earlier this week and said the striper action was very good on top water plugs. He also said the 9-inch Tsunami Shads were a good bet.
He hadn’t heard anything on the beach bite as yet, but added that freshwater fishing has been good for trout and crappie.
Vinny at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said the red-hot bass fishing in Raritan Bay has grabbed all the headlines. Closer to home, the action is a little slower. He has yet to hear of any bass on the beach.
There have been a few reports of winter flounder at the top of Barnegat Bay, but in general it’s still slow.
Capt. Matt Sosnowski of the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach said Monday’s trip saw blackfish chewing right off the bat with a mix of keepers and shorts coming aboard. The biggest tog was around 6 pounds.
As the day went on, the current picked up and the action slowed. All in all, he said, it was a beautiful day on the water.
Capt. Sosnowski says the fishing should improve as the month goes on. Reservations are required on all trips.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach had a good day blackfishing on Tuesday with a number of limits caught and plenty of action.
Monday’s trip was a success as well with some cod and ling to go along with a couple limits of blackfish.
He’ll be sailing for tog through the month and will then switch to open boat striper trips
Frank Giacolone at Gabriel Bait and Tackle in Brick said the striper and winter flounder bite in Barnegat Bay remains very good on blood worms, sand worms, and even salted clams.
He also reported that the Point Pleasant Canal is producing a few stripers at night and in the early morning. Shads and Kettle Creeks were working for them. There were a few blackfish reported caught as well.
Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said small stripers are all over Barnegat Bay hitting blood worms and small plugs and shads. Most of the fish are in the 22- to 24-inch range and the bite is best at dusk and dawn.
He hasn’t heard anything yet on bass out front.
The winter flounder fishing has been finicky, he said, with heavy chum on the flats producing the best results. He also reported a big snapper, bordering on a cocktail blue, caught in the bay. Hopefully, its bigger brethren are close behind.
Ray Kerico at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the bass fishing in Barnegat Bay has been pretty good as the fish have spread out. It’s been especially good, he said, in the southern part of the bay.
He also had his first reports of stripers out front on the beach hitting clams. Nothing big as yet, but they are there.
Fishing Forecast for Northern New Jersey
The striper bite in Raritan Bay is the best thing going right now. They’re biting on bait, plugs, shads and just started on bunker chunks. Beach and boat anglers are all getting in on the action.
Trout season also opens at 8 a.m. on Saturday morning. The forecast doesn’t look great but fish don’t mind a little rain.