Northern New Jersey Fishing Report- May 25, 2023

Forty pound stripers follow bunker schools out front, fluke fishing continues to improve in the bays and rivers, and sea bass fishing has been fantastic.

Black sea bass is the hot bite right now and it shows no signs of cooling off. Since last week’s opener, boat limits have been the norm for anglers fishing the reefs, rockpiles, humps and lumps on jigs and bait. 

At the same time, stripers can be found in the rivers, bays, surf and offshore with bass in excess of 50 pounds reported this week. Live bunker, eels, clams, spoons and plugs are all scoring. 

Fluke fishing continues to improve as the water warms in the rivers and bays. The surf remains a bigger challenge for them with water temps hovering around 60 degrees. 

Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park continues to get good reports on striper fishing in Raritan Bay and off Sandy Hook. Hebert said livelining bunker appears to be the most effective method for big bass at the moment. He said trout fishing has been very good in the streams and rivers as stocking winds down. 

Tackle World in Rochelle Park provided this photo of Stephen Jasper, 5, and the rainbow he caught at the Sussex County Trout Derby over the weekend.

Danny Stolba at Fish Tail Bait and Tackle in Carteret said it was a bit slow at the pier in Carteret this past week but a 35-inch bluefish was landed on Wednesday. Better fishing took place closer to Perth Amboy with bass, fluke and blues reported. 

Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said the bass action is still going strong in Raritan Bay, around the tip of Sandy Hook and out front. He reported Chuck Tyman Manny had multiple bass over 50 pounds trolling live eels on planer boards out in the ocean. Big fish are also hitting live bunker, metal-lipped swimmers and spooks in the bay and out front. Fluke are being caught back in the rivers and he’s heard nothing but good reports on the sea bass fishing. 

 Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said there are still stripers in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers but they are mostly schoolie size. There are also big blues, up to 18 pounds, in there Folks are also getting stripers on the beach, mainly on clams but some have been taken on poppers and other plugs. Fluking is hit or miss on the beach as the water is still on the chilly side. 

Giglio’s Bait and Tackle regular Wyatt got this bass to hit his metal-lipped swimmer on Sandy Hook.

Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said fishing is good with lots of bass in a range of sizes, from schoolies to jumbos, around. Stripers are up in the bay, in the rivers and in the surf. Boaters are doing well with flutter spoons, live bunker, spooks and plugs. Beach anglers are getting them on bait and artificials. Tuna are around, he said, but the bite hasn’t been very consistent. A few giants have been caught but the smaller bluefin have been scarce. There are stripers in the surf in Asbury Park through Bradley Beach eating clams and sand bugs. 

TAK Waterman in Long Branch posted this photo of Jack Burke and his big spring striper caught this past week.

Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the fishing is good with sea bass leading the charge and fluking close behind. The fluke bite has been consistent in the Shark River with keepers caught from the floating dock and L Street Pier. Cocktail blues have been showing up intermittently at the pier and bigger ones are out at the inlet. He also reported bass on the beach hitting bait. Matthews added he’s had reports of a few giant tuna taken. 

Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters out of Belmar said the excellent sea bass action has been keeping him busy, but he’s had some time to catch stripers off Asbury Park and at the Shrewsbury Rocks. He’ll be heading out to the tuna grounds in the next few weeks. The fish are here, he said, but he’s going to wait until the bite becomes more consistent. He’s got some open dates and can be contacted through his website. 

Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar said the sea bass action has been excellent. He had a party of 17 anglers out earlier this week and hooked about 200 fish. There have been ling, cod and fluke mixed in with the sea bass. 

Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar said the sea bass fishing has been tremendous since opening day aboard the Express with limit catches every day. There is room on Sunday’s open boat sea bass trip. The smaller boat has been targeting stripers and sea bass depending on the charter’s preference. The stripers, he said, have all been jumbos. 

This beauty of a sea bass was caught aboard Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar on Wednesday.

Matt Haeger at The Reel Seat in Brielle said it’s been a continuation of last week’s stellar fishing with blues, bass and fluke in the Manasquan River. Haeger said he pulled a 22-inch fluke out of there on Monday night. Out front, there are bass and blues on the beach and the shop is stocked with eels and planer boards for boats targeting ocean stripers. Sea bass fishing is red hot, he added, and more giant tuna are being caught in relatively close. 

Kyle Tanger at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said he’s looking forward to all the east wind in the forecast since it usually brings better fishing off the beach and back in the Manasquan River. Frothy water is better, he said. The river is holding bass, blues, weakfish and fluke. Tanger said the hot fluke bait right now is the Z-Man Salty Ned Shrimpz. Gulp and soft plastics are also working for weakfish. The blues are at the Manasquan Inlet as well as in the river and they’ll hit poppers, metal and pretty much everything else. Tanger said the sea bass fishing is off the charts with jigs and bait both catching fish.  He’s hearing of more tuna hook-ups, especially by boats trolling horse ballyhoo. 

Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach said the sea bass fishing has been spectacular since opening day. The boat has been limiting out nearly every day. The Mimi VI has some open boat bottom fishing dates set for the end of June. Check the website for details. 

Capt. Danny Gregory on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach has been enjoying the same great sea bass action and is sailing daily. 

This catch of black sea bass aboard the Norma K III earlier this week is just one example of this red hot fishery.

Chris Parlow from Captain Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach reported that he was out twice this past week for sea bass and both trips produced great fishing. The first to the Axel Carlson Reef resulted in big numbers of sea bass. The second trip to some offshore humps and rough spots on Tuesday yielded bigger fish if not as many. Fluking in the Manasquan River and upper Barnegat Bay was also good over the past weekend, Parlow reported, and the inshore bluefin bite has also picked up. 

Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said the surf fishing has been good with bass and blues in the mix. Bass have been caught mostly on clams with fish up to 40 inches. Fluking is a bit slow out front but it’s picking up around the Mantoloking Bridge. Kupper reported a 28-incher caught over the weekend. Bass are biting on soft plastics at night in the bay as well. There are also some big blues back there up to 20 pounds. 

Scott Thomas at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the good striper bite continues off the beaches there with fish on clams and bunker. Fluking he said is a little spotty back in the bay but getting better. There are a lot of blowfish, he added, to be caught around the Mantoloking Bridge. Sea bassing has been good on the rough spots and he’s getting more reports of giant tuna just 5 to 10 miles offshore. 

Best Bets for the Weekend

There are plenty of choices for this holiday weekend but the best bet by far is black sea bass. Anglers have been filling their coolers since opening day. Party and charter boats out of the local marinas are all doing well.  

If the beach is your destination for the unofficial start of summer, bring your surf rod and some clams or bunker. The striper action has been good from the sand from Sandy Hook down to Island Beach State Park. 

For fluke, stick to the rivers and bays. The Shark and Manasquan rivers have been the most productive. 

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