The turn in weather has pumped up the fishing over the past weekend with the Raritan Bay bite being on fire, but the bite closer to our area is producing also. So, don’t be too quick to head up the parkway. Our backbays are teeming with schoolie-sized bass, some approaching 30-plus inches. Most of the bites have been on soft plastic paddle tails and jerk baits.
Our tog opener was tough for areas around Barnegat, but the best bite occurred for anglers running to the Atlantic City and southern reef sites for fish to 10 pounds. Some of the anglers fishing the AC reef also reported a few keeper cod in the mix. The tog bite should only get better as the ocean temperatures begin to warm. White perch are being landed in some of the common areas around Beach Haven West and west of the parkway. There were some big striped bass caught in parts of the Delaware River over the past week, so these fish should begin making there way to our parts over the next few weeks.
Here is this week’s rundown:
Lacey Marine in Forked River had solid reports of striped bass and winter flounder being landed around and south of the Route 37 bridge. Bloodworms are catching both species. White and pink are the best color jigs, with ½-ounce to ⅜-ounce jigheads working best.
Creekside Outfitters in Waretown had a few customers stop in and relay information on the Barnegat Bay striper bite. There have been good numbers of schoolie bass working the lagoons from Forked River to Barnegat. There have been some good numbers of winter flounder landed, but make sure that you are following the rules as the NJ Fish and Game have been patrolling and ticketing anglers keeping past their limit. Tog fishing has been slow from the local reefs, but there have been some fish up to 8 pounds taken from the inlet jetties.
Reel Reaction Sportfishing out of Waretown/Barnegat Light took some time to work the backwaters of Barnegat to find a few cooperative schoolie bass on Berkley Gulp. The skipper added that they recently received an AED which will be on-board for all charters.
The Super Chic out of Barnegat Light has been busy booking trips for the opening of Sea Bass in May. The skipper will be hunting tautog for the remainder of April, but they are still awaiting required inspections by the Coast Guard.
Tony’s Bait & Tackle in Manahawkin had anglers boasting of solid white perch action in the backside of Beach Haven West on fresh grass shrimp. Striped bass are picking up baits around the bridges on the warmer tides and the storm shads have been the ticket. The dusk to late night has been the best time to find cooperative fish. Tog fishing has been getting better along the south jetty of Barnegat Inlet with both clam and crab working.
One Stop Bait & Tackle in Atlantic City said the jetties have been BANGIN for tog on the jig or traditional rigs. Anglers have stopped by the shop with 4 to 5 pound tog landed on the jetties and jumbo perch landed along the rivers. There are stripers around, but anglers have to put in the time to land them.
Tackle Direct in Egg Harbor Township continued through the holiday weekend with anglers landing white perch from the rivers on grass shrimp and striped bass to 29 inches on bloodworms. The shop has some deals April and May, so check out the website.
Tight Lines Bait & Tackle in Somers Point received reports of tog along the bridges for shore-based anglers, and white perch slurping up bloodworms up the rivers. Boat anglers had good success off the reef sites from Atlantic City to Ocean City for the season.
Sterling Harbor in Wildwood reported good tog action off the wrecks and reef sites from Wildwood to Cape May. The jetties and bridges also have been productive for early season tog as soft baits tipped on jigs have been working. Drum fishing should begin in the next couple of weeks as the Delaware Bay begins to warm.
Cape May Bait & Tackle in Cape May has a full compliment of fresh baits for anglers targeting tog or striped bass. The upper Delaware Bay has good numbers of bigger bass if anglers want to make the run. Blackfish or tog have been picking up clam and some crab baits off the jetties and bridges in Cape May and some of the fish have been in the 4 to 5 pound range.
South Jersey Fishing Forecast
The best bet for this weekend will to grab green crabs and try hitting our coastal reef sites as the bites have increased over the past week. As the water temperature begins to warm, the tog bite should become more consistent. The jetties are another great place to try for tog and the fish will start to begin to transition to green crab. Fresh clam or live greenies should do the trick. Striped bass action is getting better in the bay, so fishing the warmer tides with bloodworm or fresh clams will be the most productive. I suggest working the exit points of lagoons, tidal creeks, and rivers to find feeding bass.