Northern New Jersey Fishing Report- March 23, 2023

Striper fishing has been rather slow, but anglers are finding success with slowly-retrieved swim shads or bloodworms in the rivers and back bays.

Better weather brought a slight improvement to the striped bass fishing over the past week but lingering cool water continues to hamper the action as the fish remain on the lethargic side. 

Bass are being caught in all the usual spring spots, the back of Raritan Bay, in tidal rivers and throughout Barnegat Bay. Bloodworms are catching most of the fish, especially during the day, while small plugs and paddle tails are working at night. 

There was one big surprise this week when a nice school of slot-sized stripers erupted on bunker about two miles off Asbury Park.  

With show season coming to a close, it’s time to go fishing. It did end on a high note with excellent turnouts at the Saltwater Expo and the Asbury Park Fishing Show. 

Mark Faduli at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said bloodworms and white paddle tails are working for stripers in the Hackensack River and the back of Raritan Bay. Freshwater bass are also biting in Highland Lake at Garret Mountain Reservation while the pike fishing has been good in the Passaic River. Fuduli said be sure any freshwater spots you’re heading to are open as some lakes and streams are closed ahead of trout stocking. 

Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet reported bass up to 40 inches in the back of Raritan Bay. Mag Darters, NLBN shads and bloodworms are all working along the Bayshore beaches. Flutter spoons have taken a few fish out in deeper water. He reported there’s loads of bait around and gannets have been divebombing all over the bay. 

Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said it’s been relatively quiet there with not much change since last week. Kayakers fishing the rivers are doing the best with bass.  A few warmer days, he said, will turn up the action. Pinto has yet to hear of any winter flounder caught locally. 

Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright shared this photo of a nice Raritan Bay striper caught at the beginning of the week.

Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch also said the fishing has been slow but it’s just a matter of time, days maybe, before things improve. This week’s new moon should help matters. There are some bass in the rivers, he said, and there’s bait everywhere.  

Bob Matthews at Fishermen’s Den in Belmar had the best news of the week with several winter flounder caught in the Shark River and stripers showing up a couple of miles off Asbury Park. It’s definitely a good sign to have ocean stripers this early. The Ocean Explorer was heading out for cod on Wednesday when it came upon the bass breaking on bait about two miles off the beach. The small group of anglers aboard quickly got a boat limit on shads with fish in the 30-inch range. The boat had marked big schools of bait the day before and Capt. Bobby Quinn reported that it was just a matter of time before the bass were on it. The Ocean Explorer will continue to fish for cod but anglers are advised to bring striper gear as well. Matthews said Mike Glidden was the angler who brought in the first winter flounder of the year, a 15-incher caught on bloodworms on Tuesday. 

The Ocean Explorer out of Belmar posted this photo of a striper caught on Wednesday’s trip.
This 15-inch winter flounder, caught by Mike Glidden in the Shark River, was the first of the year recorded by Fisherman’s Den in Belmar.

Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar will be sailing for blackfish on April 1 as will Capt. Steve Spinelli of the Skylarker and Capt. Payton Gepp of the Big Mohawk, both also out of Belmar.  

Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters will be sailing out of Lockwood Boat Works in South Amboy for spring stripers in Raritan Bay before returning to Belmar for the rest of the season. Capt. Sykes will also be running his smaller boat out of Lockwood Boat Works for spring stripers. 

Kyle Tanger of Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said there are signs of life everywhere but the bite has yet to really get going. The water, he said, is still on the chilly side and the temperature needs to climb some before the bass become more active. Shads and small plugs are picking bass by the bridges in Barnegat Bay and he’s had reports of fish up north in the back of Raritan Bay. He’s heard nothing in the way of winter flounder and doubts many people are even trying for them. 

Capt. Danny Gregory on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach will be sailing for blackfish starting April 1. The Mimi VI, also out of Point Pleasant Beach, will be starting its tog season on the same day. 

Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick reported pretty good bass fishing in the back of Barnegat Bay. Blood and sandworms are working well while SP Minnows, Rapalas, Yo-Zuri plugs along with any soft plastics are also producing. 

Dennis Palmatier at the Hook House in Toms River said the bass fishing was pretty good over the past few days with bloodworms working the best. The Toms River, the bay in back of Island Beach State Park and docks by Seaside Heights have been good spots, he said. Palmatier said there is plenty of bait in the bay with lots of large spearing showing up lately. The white perch bite, he added, has pretty much come to a halt and he points to spawning as the reason. 

Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle said striper fishing was a little better this week. Kayakers fishing the bridges and anglers wading in the sedges are finding fish. The bass, he said, are still a bit sluggish due to the cool water. There have been a few winter flounder, he said, but the folks catching them have had to work for them. Gannets have been diving off the beaches there on what he suspects are herring. 

Ray Kerico at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the bass fishing started to heat up last Saturday with paddle tails catching fish all over Barnegat Bay. Kerico and his staff are getting the shop ready for its Spring has Sprung Sales Event this Saturday, March 25. Scabelly Lures and Big Rock Plugs will be on site and there will special sales and discounts throughout the store. There will also be a plenty of giveaways handed out all day. Doors open at 7 a.m. 

Tom at Creekside Outfitters in Waretown said Crowley’s Landing has been a good spot for white perch and stripers on bloodworms.  

Jared Grady at Fishermen’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom said the fishing picked up last week with most of the action taking place at night on artificials. The sod banks were productive, he said, but bass were caught all over the bay. Kettle Creeks, NLBN shads or any paddle tail was effective, he said 

Chris at Tight Lines Bait and Tackle in Somers Point said there are a lot of little bass being caught in the area on bloodworms and artificials. There have been keepers in the mix as well with fish up to 31-inches reported. 

Tight Lines Bait and Tackle in Somers Point shared this photo of a keeper bass caught earlier this week.

Best Bets for the Weekend

It doesn’t look like the weather will be cooperating until Sunday but that never stopped a determined angler. 

The stripers are biting in all the usual spring spots on bloodworms and artificials, especially paddle tails. The back of Raritan Bay and the bridges and sod banks of Barnegat Bay have been producing. The Shark River is also starting to give up some winter flounder. 

1 thought on “Northern New Jersey Fishing Report- March 23, 2023

  1. Wu

    what do you mean by back of Raritan bay? Can you tell me where it might be? thanks!

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