Thanksgiving is a great time of year as we celebrate the holidays with family, friends, and fish. In coastal New Jersey, this usually marks the peak of our fall bass run and this year hasn’t disappointed as we still have lots of fish in the Sandy Hook area. The colder temperatures and strong winds should get them to move further south after this week and hopefully will setup our Ocean City to Cape May areas for migrational striped bass.
Tautog fishing has been excellent just about everywhere in the state, but our southern counties are doing better in terms of size and quantity. Green crabs are working just as well as white leggers, but it should become a white legger and hermit bite in the coming weeks. Last, if the winds and seas are not cooperative over the weekend, support your local tackle shops as many of them have great deals for their annual Black Friday and Thanksgiving sales.
South Jersey Fishing Report
Lacey Marine in Forked River reported a decent bite on the incoming tide of Barnegat Inlet for striped bass. Most of the action has been on live spot and eel with repeated drifts in the main channels. Tog fishing was good off the north and south jetties on green crab.
Reel Reaction Sportfishing out of Waretown / Barnegat Light was busy on the water running 2 trips per day. Most of the trips have been filling bonus striped bass tags along with putting keeper tog in the boat. One of the straight tog charters had clients boxing 28 keepers in 5hrs and the crew released over 120 shorts. The boat does have a few spots open for the rest of December.
The Super Chic out of Barnegat Light has been working areas along the beach, bay, and the inlet to put keeper striped bass in the boat. The skipper has been filling their bonus permits on slot fish and a good portion have come on live spot.
Creekside Outfitters in Waretown continued to receive quality reports of tautog coming off the reef sites, but better keepers out of the wrecks off the Little Egg inlet. Green crab has been the ticket, but the store will be ordering white leggers. Striped bass have been picked up off the troll, but most were in the over 38” range. There has been better action on keepable fish from the inlets, beaches, and jetties.
Tony’s Bait & Tackle in Manahawkin had good reports of tog fishing at our local reef sites with some of the southern sites giving up good numbers of fish to 8 pounds. Striped bass action continued for anglers trolling umbrellas and mojos, but the better bites have been in the inlets and south along Long Beach Island. Surf anglers are still doing better near the Barnegat Inlet and jetty hoppers are catching solid numbers of tog, both short and keepers.
One Stop Bait & Tackle in Atlantic City reported some nicer bass moving down and quality catches reported off the Brigantine and AC beaches. The rock walls and jetties continue to hold good numbers of tog and green crabs have been on fire, especially on the jig. The shop is loaded with Magictail tog jigs, so stop in and gear up!
Tackle Direct in Egg Harbor City had some reports of small schoolies and white perch in the upper rivers of the Mullica and Tuckahoe. Meanwhile, keeper striped bass have been landed with more regularity during the night tides as anglers have been eeling some of the channels. The inlets have offered some action and some bigger fish are starting to move down from Island Beach State Park. The colder weather this weekend should get them moving.
Badfish Charters out of Ocean City has a few openings for the remaining week in November and a few weeks in December. The skipper has been running striped bass trips along the backwaters and some of the main channels to put fish to 28 inches on the hook. Soft plastics and some live bait has been working.
Sterling Harbor in Wildwood had some striped bass coming from the beaches of Cape May and Wildwood. Anglers working the inshore wrecks have done exceptional on tog up to 8 pounds and most have been hitting on green crabs. A few bigger fish have been trickling into the areas, and the shop expects more to come down this week.
Cape May Bait & Tackle in Cape May reported good numbers of tautog at the Wildwood reef on green and white crabs. There are still some good sea bass on the reefs, but most are found in deeper waters. Charters and headboats are finding sea bass to 5 pounds and some bluefish at the deeper wrecks. The Delaware Bay has some striped bass in the rips for the few boats that have targeted them with live eel and spot.
Tight Lines Bait & Tackle in Somers Point reported good fishing off the wrecks for tautog and some anglers brought tog in to 20+ inches. The shop is loaded with green and white leggers, but they are only selling white crabs by the dozen. There were a few striped bass caught off the beaches on cut bunker to 31 inches. Anglers working the backwaters and bridges are still finding quality numbers of shorts on soft plastics.
South Jersey Fishing Forecast
This weekend weather looks brutal as a post-Thanksgiving blow are predicted to bring winds to 30 knots and seas to 6 feet. I’m still hoping the severity is much less as it could give shots for anglers to hook up with inlet striped bass and tautog. I would expect we should see a big push of striped bass begin to move southward over the following week and it looks like more of these fish will be landed on swim shads, umbrella rigs, and soft plastics. Anglers working live bait have been hampered by spiny dogfish, so if you plan on drifting the inlets work both tides and move around if you are catching doggies. Good Luck, Be Safe, and Tight Lines!