New Jersey Fishing Report- March 2, 2023

Tautog season is closed until April, but striped bass are already biting well in the back bays and rivers, and freshwater fishing has also been hot.

Hallelujah, the wait is over. 

The season is now open for striped bass in New Jersey’s rivers and bays and catches have already been reported in Raritan and Barnegat bays and the Toms River.  
Winter flounder season is now open as well but that fishery just doesn’t seem to generate the same amount of excitement. Bloodworms, small plugs and soft plastics are the best bets for early spring bass. Clams fished on the flats of Raritan Bay have also been a productive strategy in the past. 

Mark at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said there are bass in the back of Raritan Bay and the Hackensack River and have been there for a while. He said the shop has got bloodworms and everything else for spring stripers and winter flounder. As far as freshwater goes, all he’s heard about are lake trout at Round Valley Reservoir. Vertical jigging is the way to catch them. 

Capt. Phil Sciortino Jr. at the Tackle Box in Hazlet is expecting a good opening in Raritan Bay with relatively warm water helping to get the fishing off to a quick start. He reported that Jeff C. got the first confirmed bass of the year with a back bay striper caught at 4 a.m. on Wednesday on a wormball. Sciortino reported that bunker have been spotted in Raritan Bay and the shop is fully stocked with sand and bloodworms, striper lures, winter flounder tackle and rods and reels. The Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers are traditionally good places to catch early spring bass and Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said the shop will be open full-time starting Friday. He’ll have bloodworms in stock and Pinto said the shop is fully loaded to start the season. 

Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said the bait is in place with bunker in the rivers and herring out front. He hadn’t received any catch reports on Wednesday but he’s sure the bass are in the rivers and Raritan Bay and that the striper fishing should pick up steadily in the next couple of weeks. He said the shop is fully stocked and added that new orders of Super Strike and Northbar lures had just arrived. Gleason said the good freshwater fishing isn’t about to stop with plenty of action around. It was an especially good winter for largemouth. What they lacked in size, he said, they made up in quantity. 

Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said they’re ready for winter flounder and stripers with bait, tackle and rental boats. Everything points to an early season for the bass and flounder, he said, with  water temperatures above normal and reports of bunker to the north. He’s just hoping the weather holds out and a late season storm doesn’t interfere with the fishing. Matthews also mentioned how good the freshwater bite has been with perch, crappie and catfish in the local ponds and lakes. The Den has worms, shiners and killies, which he added have been particularly productive. 

Greg Hueth of the Big Mohawk out of Belmar said they will be sailing again on April 1 for blackfish. 

Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters is currently booking Raritan Bay striper trips and will be sailing out of Lockwood Boat Works in South Amboy to be closer to the action. He can be reached through his website. 

Jimbo at The Reel Seat in Brielle said they just finished a big renovation to the shop adding a lot of new space and are fully loaded for stripers with small spooks, NLBN shads and SP Minnows. There were no early reports of stripers on Wednesday but later that day the Reel Seat posted a photo of a customer with a 40-inch bass taken on an SP Minnow.

The Reel Seat in Brielle shared this opening day photo of a 40-inch bass taken by an angler identified only as Richy on an SP Minnnow.

Kyle Tanger at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said the stripers are in the Manasquan River and back in Barnegat Bay. He recommends fishing the flats during the day and structure at night. The Railroad and Route 35 bridges on the Manasquan River and the Mantoloking Bridges are all good spots for spring bass fishing, he said. Small X-Raps and soft plastics will do the trick as will bloodworms. Freshwater fishing is still very good locally and Tanger said he did well trout fishing in rivers to the north. Fishermen’s Supply is all set for the season and currently has specials on waders, jackets and last season’s gear.  

Chris Parlow at Captain Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach said they will be back open for business on April 1. 

Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach said it was a disappointing finale to the blackfish season last Saturday with mostly shorts coming over the rail. The Mimi VI will be back out for tog on April 1. 

Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said they are open for business and fully stocked for spring. He said bass and perch are in the Toms River and he had reports of stripers by Mystic Island. 

Dennis Palmatier at the Hook House in Toms River got his first report of a winter flounder caught at the Mantoloking Bridge on Wednesday. He also heard of a few bass caught on small X-Raps. Palmatier said conditions weren’t great in the Toms River on opening day with an east wind blowing straight up the river, which was running high. The bass are definitely in there, he said, and the fishing will improve with better weather. 

Ray Kerico at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said John from Scabelly Plugs got out of the gate in a hurry with a striper in the back bay on one of his own lures. Kerico also heard of a few folks trying out front but with no success. Grumpy’s will be holding a big Spring has Sprung sales event on Saturday, March 25 with special sales and seminars. Check out their Facebook page for more information. 

Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park posted this photo of Harper Grace and the early spring striper she caught with her uncle on Wednesday night.

Dan at Lacey Marine in Forked River said he expects a good spring with stripers, white perch and winter flounder. The store has chum logs, clams, blood worms plus a variety of plugs and soft plastics. He said the perch fishing has been pretty good near Huddy Park and in Cedar Creek. 

Mike at Fishermen’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom said the stripers have been around for weeks in the Mullica River and near Beach Haven West.  White perch fishing has also been good back in the creeks and lagoons. They’ve got bloodworms for the bass and perch along with small plugs and soft plastics for stripers.

Best Bets for the Weekend

Hopefully, Mother Nature cooperates and allows anglers a chance to chase their favorite fish. Bloodworms, small plugs and shads will all work for stripers. 

Sand and bloodworms will also catch winter flounder but it might take a few more warm days to get that fishery going. 

Then there is always the freshwater option. It’s been a great winter for largemouth, crappie, catfish and other species and that should continue. 

2 on “New Jersey Fishing Report- March 2, 2023

  1. Brad Sattan

    Great post, very excited, near the Navesink river going out on a skiff this weekend by the 35 bridge over red bank, using shads and yo zuri, thanks for the report!

  2. hbh

    oh shut up buddy. I know you caught nothing- your dear friend brendan

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