Northern New Jersey Fishing Report – March 28, 2024

Stripers take bloodworms, swim shads, minnow plugs and trollers in the bays, ocean fish begin to trickle in, and shops prepare for blackfish season.

Northern New Jersey Fishing Report

Capt. Andrew Meli of Breakwater Charters put his friend, Zach Pillar, on big ocean bass last Friday using paddletail shads.

Last Saturday’s deluge knocked the striper fishing down a notch with colder, dirtier water throwing the bass off their feed. The action was improving steadily before the blow with bass in the rivers and bays. There was even a report of ocean fish. 

It’s taken a few days but the action is picking up again in the usual spots. Bloodworms have been leading the charge but more fish are being taken on artificials. There are also reports of white perch back in the rivers but the winter flounder action has been negligible. Freshwater anglers are doing well with pickerel and panfish. 

There’s also a lot of excitement over the blackfish opener next Monday, April 1.

Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said the torrential rain turned the water to chocolate milk in the back of Raritan Bay. Anglers have returned to the Raritan and Hackensack rivers in the past couple of days and caught some fish on bloodworms. The folks fishing at night around South Amboy are catching bass on soft plastics. 

Danny Stolba at Fish Tail Bait and Tackle in Carteret said the storm chased everyone from the pier on the Arthur Kill over the weekend but the fish were back biting on frozen and fresh bunker at the beginning of the week.  

Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet also used the chocolate milk analogy for the Raritan Bay water. It’s clearing up, he said, and there are stripers all around the bay and in the local rivers. There have been more reports of bunker moving into the area as well. 

Joe Julian Jr. at Julian’s Bait and Tackle in Atlantic Highlands said it was a slow weekend with the weather but he’s getting reports of stripers at the Oceanic Bridge on the Navesink River and up by South Amboy on plugs and soft plastics. 

Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said the weekend weather was a setback but just a temporary one. Bass fishing in the rivers has been good at night on shads and on the bay side of Sandy Hook on bloodworms.  The fishing will explode in April, he said. The shop, he added, just got a new shipment of Salty C’s Lures. 

Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said the bite is running hot and cold with the bad weather a factor. He said it’s just delaying the spring bite a bit but there are fish to be had. He reported bass in the 8- to 12-pound range in local waters on small plugs and plastics. Gleason said there are still loads of gannets diving on bait off the beach and inside Sandy Hook. TAK Waterman is among the sponsors for the Long Branch PBA Youth Fishing Derby taking place on April 6 at Lake Takanassee. Registration opens at 9 a.m. and the Derby runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Prizes will be awarded in three age groups. 

Tim Rizzuto at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said he’s been catching small bass in the Navesink River on SP Minnows at night with a very slow retrieve.  Most of the fish have been under 25 inches. He said the shop is all set for the blackfish opener and trout season. The party boats out of the Belmar Marina are set for blackfish as well with the Big Mohawk and Capt. Cal II sailing open boat starting on April 1. 

Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar said the boat is ready to go and is currently booking charters for the 2024 season. 

Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar said he’ll be starting his 2024 campaign closer to the middle of April aboard the new Parker Pete Express. He’ll be sailing open boat for blackfish and is booking charters for the rest of the year. 

Jimbo at The Reel Seat in Brielle said there are stripers in the Manasquan River now and he’s had good reports from Raritan Bay. He said they just received a new shipment of NLBN shads and they’ve got loads of S&S Bucktails for tog anglers. 

Kyle Tanger at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said from what he’s hearing the storm and accompanying cold snap pretty much shut things down. Prior to that, reports were good. Tanger heard that Capt. Andrew Meli of Breakwater Charters out of Point Pleasant, who was moving his boat up to Raritan Bay for spring stripers, got into big bass in the ocean off Sandy Hook. The fish were up to 30 pounds and hitting shads. Since then, it’s been a pick in the usual spots. There’s not a lot of people fishing, he added. He expects the fishing will improve quickly once better weather arrives. Freshwater is another option, he said, as local ponds and lakes are giving up pickerel and panfish. The shop, he added, is fully stocked for the blackfish and trout openers. 

The Norma K III and Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach will be sailing for blackfish on April 1. The Norma K is open boat and the Mimi VI is taking reservations. 

Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick reported that while the weather may not be cooperating, the fishing is pretty good. Barnegat Bay is producing bass on bloodworms and small swim shads. He’s also had reports of winter flounder at the Mantoloking Bridge and the southern end of the Point Pleasant Canal. 

Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said the stripers are spreading out in Barnegat Bay with more fish in the lagoons, by the bridges and along the Seaside docks. Bloodworms are getting most of the fish and small plugs are working at night. There just isn’t a lot of participation right now, he said, with the fickle weather. 

Ray Kerico at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said Barnegat Bay is starting to light up after the storm. The bass are all around the bay hitting X-Raps, Mag Darters and shads. Bloodworms are also catching stripers. There are a few winter flounder being caught, he added, along with some white perch. Kerico also mentioned that Grumpy’s will be holding its annual Spring Stock Up Sales Event on April 13 and 14 with special offers and discounts throughout the store.  

Best Bets for the Weekend

It looks like better weather is in store for the weekend giving anglers a shot at spring stripers. The back of Raritan Bay is a current hot spot and the fish have been spreading out as more bunker arrives. The Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers are also holding fish. 

The same is true of Barnegat Bay where the stripers are moving around and being caught in the lagoons and close to the docks in the eastern part of the bay.  

Or you can take the kids to Spring Lake on Saturday morning and help the Shark River Surf Anglers stock around 700 trout, some up to 10 pounds, ahead of the annual Trout Contest for Kids set for April 6. Stocking starts at around 9:30 and it’s a great time for the youngsters and their parents. Happy Easter.  

1 thought on “Northern New Jersey Fishing Report – March 28, 2024

  1. Pam Wilson

    No way that fish held out of the water in the picture survived
    It’s a shame that non keeper sized fish are held in bare hands out of the water long enough to get a photo. Survivability is only 50% even when properly handled. .

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