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new jersey fishing
New Jersey Fishing Report for December 2016

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Mike Naipawer won Wednesday’s pool aboard the Elaine B II with this 13-pound tog.Arctic cold followed by snow and rain made for a lousy weekend. But it didn’t bring an end to the season. The tog boats sailed as soon as they could out at the beginning of the week and the blackfish were waiting.

Actually, that fishery seems to be getting better as we move toward the end of the year with captains reporting lots of limit catches and double-digit fish.

Unfortunately, the striper fishing is headed in the other direction, which is to be expected this time of year. The bass remain on the beach, although they’ve diminished in size. Keepers are scarce. Guys trolling Mojos and shad rigs were catching the bigger fish down to the south.

Phil Sciortino Sr. at the Tackle  Box in Hazlet said the surf had gone quiet up at Sandy Hook but the blackfish boats out of the marinas along Raritan Bay were still catching plenty of fish.

Capt. Hal Hagaman on the Sea Tiger II out of Atlantic Highlands reported a good turnout on Tuesday with nice weather and a solid bite.

His fares picked away at shorts and keepers with one limit catch and a number of folks with three to five keepers.  As long as the weather cooperates, Capt Hagaman said he’ll be sailing a Christmas Day trip leaving the dock at 7:30 and returning by 1 p.m.

Capt. George Bachert on the Angler out of Atlantic Highlands got back out on Wednesday and fished both inshore and offshore and found a big spread of fish.

He reported a load of shorts and some keeper tog along with a cod taken in the shallow water. The move farther offshore produced bigger blackfish and the first ling of the year.

Capt. Stan Zagleski on the Elaine B II out of Highlands called Tuesday’s tog fishing excellent. He said the fish bit all around the boat and everyone ended up with early limits.

Nelson Mendoza of Kinnelon got a keeper cod to go along with his limit of tog and Todd Kitaguchi of Fort Lee, had his limit and the pool fish.

Capt. Zagleski said Wednesday’s bite wasn’t as hot as Tuesday’s but they still ended up with a couple of limit catches while others landed four or five keepers each.

He also reported the first mackerel of the year biting on bare hooks. Mike Naipawer of Bloomingdale took the pool with a 13-pound tog.

Ernie Giglio at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said it’s gone quiet in terms of anglers in the last week, but the fish are still around. The bass in the suds are hitting paddletail swim baits, Mag Darters and SP Minnows.

With the Christmas lights behind me, I fished on Wednesday evening in Ocean Grove and brought numerous short stripers to my lure, a small Cyclone swimming plug, although only a few struck.  They were all about 20 inches or less.


Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the flounder fishing is still good in the Shark River and the stripers continue to bite in the surf, although all he’s hearing about is small fish.

The best fishing, Matthews said, is for blackfish. There have been a lot of nice fish landed aboard the Big Mohawk and Capt. Cal II, and the Ocean Explorer landed a 14 pounder earlier this week.

Matthews added that the Shark River Inlet is loaded with herring and sundials and guys are taking them home by the bucketful.

He also said the shop has received good reports of medium-sized bluefin tuna hitting poppers at the Mud Hole on heavy spinning tackle.

Eric Bunz at the Reel Seat in Brielle said this bluefin bite has been one of the best in memory. The fish have ranged from 40 pounds to just shy of 100 and have been found from five miles out to Monster’s Ledge. It’s a lot of casting, he said, but guys are getting bites. Bunz said the Williamson SubSurface Pro has been the lure of choice.

Bunz added that the offshore sea bass bite finally picked up and the tog fishing is holding steady. Some days are just better than others.

Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing said the weather washed him out for the weekend but he got out on Wednesday. Overall, it was one of those tough days and didn’t find a good bite until later in the day.  He was planning on fishing the rest of the week and will be booking trips as long as the weather allows.

The Big Jamaica out of Bogan’s Basin in Brielle sailed offshore for sea bass on Wednesday and Capt. Howard Bogan reported that everyone got their limit of giant sea bass, along with porgies and some bluefish.

Jason Szabo at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant said it’s been a bit quiet around there with most of the action centering on the blackfish bite. The boats out of the Manasquan Inlet are picking up double-digit fish on jigs and green crabs and white leggers on the Sea Girt and Axel Carlson reefs.

The bass are on the local beaches, hitting soft plastics and plugs, but most are pretty small, he said.

John Bushell at Betty and Nick’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said it’s been pretty quiet there as well with hardly anyone hitting the beach. He did say D.J. Muller caught a number of bass on shads and bucktails over the last couple of days.

Liza at Creekside Outfitters in Waretown said it’s been pretty quiet there, too, but the stripers are still biting on Island Beach State Park and Long Beach Island. Pearl paddletails, she said, have been the popular choice. She also said the tog anglers have been doing well on the Garden State North Reef.

Creekside will be closing after next week and will reopen in March.

Matt at Tony’s Bait and Tackle in Manahawkin said the cold has kept folks away but there are fish around. You just have to be there to catch them.

Andy Grossman at Riptide Bait and Tackle in Brigantine reported that the stripers in the surf disappeared in late November, but the guys trolling Mojos and shad rigs are still getting some big bass.

He reported stripers up to 45 pounds caught by boats trolling 2 miles out of the Absecon Inlet.

Justin at Fin-atics in Ocean City said the surf fishing for bass went quiet there as well but the guys trolling for bass were catching some nice fish. The problem, he said, was they were doing it a little too far offshore.

The Coast Guard came down hard on boats trolling well outside the 3-mile line last week and busted more than a few fishermen. Justin indicated there are fish to be caught within the legal line so there’s no need to incur the wrath of the authorities.

The tog, he said, continue to bite well, but they’re beginning to move farther offshore.

Fishing Forecast for New Jersey

The beaches in the northern part of the state are still holding stripers and with the weather forecast relatively mild for the Christmas weekend, there’s bass to be caught. Even though the fish are pretty small, it’s still a lot of fun. Paddletail shads small swimming plugs and bucktails should catch you some fish.

The blackfish boats are all catching nice fish. The six-fish limit ends on Dec. 31, then it’s down to four. Boats heading offshore for jumbo sea bass and porgies are also doing well, so you might want to consider that for the holiday week. Call ahead as the boats can be sold out.


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