With black sea bass on back on the menu, anglers have another species to target in what has already been an excellent spring season.
Opening day on Tuesday saw a lot of nice sea bass come over the rail with party and charter boats reporting plenty of limits on jumbo fish.
Stripers continue to bite in the rivers and bays and there’s been a definite improvement in the surf bite. Some very big fish have been hitting clams on the beaches, especially to the south.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said the stripers are still biting
in Raritan Bay and anglers are getting them casting 2- and 3-ounce Mojos. Plugs, shads and flutters spoons are working as well.
There are plenty of trout to be caught in the streams and rivers, he said, but not a lot of people are out fishing for them.
Freshwater anglers are also pulling some nice largemouth off their beds at Lake Hopatcong and other local ponds and lakes.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said that the striper fishing remains very good in both the Shrewsbury and Navesink Rivers. Bucktails and shads, especially Savage Shads, are all working.
He said fluke are biting in the rivers as well but the fishing is still a little spotty.
More bass are showing on the beaches, he added, hitting clams, worms and paddle tails.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch said there are still a lot of bass in Raritan Bay and the rivers but they’re a little more scattered.
He’s also seeing a lot of bunker around which should keep the bass and bluefish interested. Fluke, he added, are plentiful in the bay and rivers.
The foggy, wet weather put a damper on planned tuna trips but Gleason expects to be hearing more on that front soon.
The shop is loaded with sea bass jigs as the season gets underway.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the opening of sea bass season, good fluke fishing in the Shark River and the improving striper bite in local waters has the Belmar Marina bustling.
Early reports from Tuesday’s opener from the Big Mohawk out of the marina indicated terrific sea bass fishing with loads of keepers coming over the rail.
He said the fluking for boat anglers in the river has been excellent with many limits reported.
He also reported more stripers showing up in the local surf with clams, worms and bunker chunks all catching fish.
Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters spent opening day of sea bass fishing filling his coolers. The fishing was excellent, he reported, and he will continue to sail for them having moved back to Belmar from his spring location in South Amboy.
He is currently booking sea bass, ocean striper and tuna trips.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar also fished opening day and reported limit catches on jumbo sea bass.
He added that there were pollock, cod and ling mixed in with the sea bass.
He’ll be sailing open boat for sea bass and other bottom species every day there isn’t a charter.
Paul Puccini at the Reel Seat in Brielle said fishing is in full swing with good reports on Raritan Bay stripers and a big improvement on the beach bite for bass.
Opening day sea bass fishing was very productive, he said, and the fluke are biting in Barnegat Bay and the Manasquan River.
Jason Szabo at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said the Manasquan River is giving up easy limits of fluke. Light jig heads tipped with Gulp and a squid strip is the way to go.
Bass are in the river as well at the Route 35 and 70 bridges and in the Point Pleasant Canal. There are a few rouge weakfish in there, too, along with some bluefish.
He said the sea bass fishing on opening day was just incredible with fish stacked up on rocks and reefs.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI of had a good day of sea bassing on opening day and he will be sticking with bottom fishing for the foreseeable future.
Chris Parlow from Capt. Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach said the fishing picked up when the weather finally cooperated.
He said there have been decent catches of fluke, blues, stripers and even some weakfish in the Manasquan River from the railroad bridge back to the Point Pleasant Canal.
Bluefin tuna are being caught at the Hudson Canyon, he added, when the weather gives anglers a chance to sail.
Capt. Danny Gregory on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach followed up an excellent opening day of sea bass fishing with another good outing on Wednesday. He’ll be sailing every day for sea bass.
Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle in Brick said the sea bass opener was a big success for anglers heading out on Tuesday.
He also said fluking in Barnegat Bay and the Manasquan River has been good. Among the catches was a 30-inch, 9-pound, 7-ounce fluke landed on the bay side of the Point Pleasant Canal by Mark Strittmatter. The fish hit a bucktail tipped with spearing,
The striper fishing remains strong at the Mantoloking Bridge and there are a few weakfish among the bass.
Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach had good reports from the surf over the weekend with stripers taken on fresh clams, SP Minnows and metal-lipped swimmers.
The back bay is still holding plenty of bass with the evening into the night offering the best time to fish. An occasional weakfish is turning up as well with shads and small plugs doing the job.
Getting your limit of fluke in the bay or Manasquan River is not a problem, he said.
Ray Kerico at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the beach fishing for striped bass is outstanding with big fish being caught almost entirely on clams. He said anglers are having a little difficulty finding a slot fish as many of the bass are over 40 inches.
Fluking has been very good in Barnegat Bay and bluefish, in the 10-pound range, have showed up there as well.
Fishing Forecast for Northern New Jersey
Take your pick. Fluking has been good in the rivers and bays and the new regulations make it easier to get some fish home for dinner.
The sea bass fishing opened with a bang and many of the party boats will be targeting them this weekend.
Striper fishing is holding up well in the rivers and bays and has been especially good on the beaches to the south with fresh clams producing some big stripers, specifically at Island Beach State Park.