Fishing is good and it’s bound to get better.
The sea bass season got off to a great start with plenty of individual and boat limits, the offshore striper bite picked up nicely and, come Saturday, fluke season opens.
At the same time, there have been ling and cod caught along with the sea bass, a steady backwater bass and bluefish bite, more stripers in the surf and solid freshwater action.
Mark Fuduli at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said chartreuse umbrella rigs are accounting for a lot of big bass in Raritan Bay. He also reported getting into bass near the Verrazzano Bridge earlier this week. The stripers were hitting popping plugs at night.
Trout fishing, he said, remains very good and there is plenty of smallmouth bass action in local lakes.
Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet reported that there are still some big stripers around. He heard of several fish in the 50-pound range hitting Mojos and shad umbrella rigs in Raritan Bay. He also reported more fish caught on chunks and livelining.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said the rivers are red hot, especially the Navesink. It’s a mix of bass and blues, with stripers dominating the action. Z-Man shads, SP Minnows and other small plugs are all working.
He also reported stripers on top water plugs at the tip of Sandy Hook. The beach bite is improving, but still on the slow side. Shop regular, Jon I., however, did land a 45-pounder from the sand earlier this week on a pencil popper.
A late report from Pinto said big bass were hitting top water plugs about a mile off the beach on Tuesday afternoon.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch said clams were producing more stripers in the surf there. It’s not a red-hot bite by any means, but the bass are there. Small shads are working, too.
Top water plugs and spoons are producing bass in the rivers, he said, with a good day bite.
The jig bite for sea bass has been very good since the season opened, he added. Gleason has been busy stocking the shop with Gulp and bucktails for the fluke opener.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said things are heating up on all fronts.
The party boats out of Shark River have been limiting out on sea bass with little effort, he said, and the cod and ling fishing has been very good as well.
The Den had a couple of notable weigh-ins this week with Ben Green of Ocean Township landing a 25-pound cod fishing out of Point Pleasant Beach and Kenneth Rittman caught a 75-pound black drum from the Convention Hall Jetty in Asbury Park.
Matthews said numerous small bass have been caught in the surf in Monmouth and Ocean counties and the blues are still giving it their all in the Shark and Manasquan rivers.
Fisherman’s Den is all set for the start of fluke season with a wide assortment of bucktails and Gulp.
Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar reported an excellent opener on sea bass with some ling and winter flounder in the mix as well. There was a boat limit on Saturday’s trip.
In addition to a good catch of sea bass on Wednesday’s trip, Capt. Spinelli said his charter put a bunch of bluefish in the boat up to 4 pounds.
Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters out of Belmar said the sea bass fishing has been lights out since the opener. He’s also picking up big ocean stripers on bunker spoons and Mojos.
Capt. Jay is currently booking tuna trips for the season and can be contacted through his website.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Fishing Charters said the sea bass fishing has been excellent with lots of limits and some real jumbos coming over the rail. He still has a few openings on upcoming trips.
The ocean striper fishing picked up over the weekend as well on the troll. He expects he’ll be livelining stripers before too long.
Max Kristiansen at the Reel Seat in Brielle reported good bluefishing in the Manasquan River. The bass are in there as well, mostly at night, on shads and small plugs. There are small bass on the beach, too, but not a whole lot of them as yet.
Kristiansen said anglers fishing the river with bucktails are picking up early fluke and there have been some nice ones caught and released.
Jason Szabo at Fisherman’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach reported big striped bass, up to 46 inches, out front hitting poppers, live bunker and shads. There’s been a lot of life off Lavallette, he said, with bunker spoons catching stripers.
Sea bass fishing is off to an excellent start, he said, with lots of limits. Jigs and teasers have been working well and the Shark River Reef has been a good spot.
Night fishing for stripers has been good in the Manasquan River and Szabo said there have been some nice fluke pulled out of the river already. He believes the fluke season will get off to a good start as well.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant said it was an excellent week of sea bass fishing with many limits on the boat. There were ling and winter flounder as well.
He said Wednesday’s trip saw 220 sea bass, 200 ling and a couple of cod and whiting come over the rail.
Capt. Matt Sosnowski of the Norma K III reported very good sea bass fishing Tuesday and Wednesday. A lot of anglers got their limits and there were ling and bluefish, up to 3 pounds, in the mix.
He said the better sea bass bite was on bait, but that can change in a hurry. The Norma K III will be sticking with sea bass for the next couple of weeks. Reservations are required for all trips.
Tom Murphy at Capt. Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach said the hot sea bass bite has everyone’s attention and all of the local wrecks have been giving up fish.
Striper fishing is good in the Manasquan River as well.
Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick reported blues and bass in Barnegat Bay and the Point Pleasant Canal. The Mantaloking Bridge has been a good spot at night or early in the morning.
More bass are showing up in the local surf and there’s a few more keepers mixed in with the shorts. If you’re heading out of the Manasquan Inlet to troll for stripers, Giacalone suggests heading south.
Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said most of the bass being caught off the beach there are on clams. There are miles of bunker off the beach, he said, but not a whole lot of stripers in them yet.
The bass continue to bite in Barnegat Bay on small plugs and Kettle Creeks, mostly in low light.
Kupper added that the crabbing in the bay is showing a lot of improvement as plenty of big males are showing up in the traps.
Frankie Z. at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the bass are on the beach hitting artificials and bait. Super Strike Poppers and SP Minnows are working, with first and last light the best times.
Sea bass fishing is good on the local reefs and Frankie said he got his share earlier this week, catching a couple of whiting along with the sea bass.
Frankie also mentioned the crabbing in the bay has been getting better practically on a daily basis.
Fishing Forecast for Northern New Jersey
With the red-hot sea bass bite, the opening of fluke season on Saturday and the improving striper action on the beach, there’s plenty to fish for this weekend. Expectations are high for a good fluke opener as the rivers and bays have already given up some nice fish.
The stripers continue to bite in the rivers and bays as well and the surf action picked up this past week with the warming water. Clams, worms and artificials will all work.
Finally, the annual Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament is this Sunday at Island Beach State Park. Check the NJ Div. of Fish and Wildlife website for details.