NJ’s Opening Weekend Fishing Report

With March here the brutal conditions of winter are hopefully behind us. While we aren’t out of winter yet, it sure felt like it before Friday’s snow. At the time of this report it’s somewhat mild but looking out things are going to be chilly Tuesday and Wednesday with lows in the teens. Snow showers in the forecast next weekend will have most waiting it out. BUT, the end is near!

Soon we’ll have the best early season live bait… bloodworms. Due to the poor weather forecast and no emails or calls requesting/asking we decided to put it off. Right now we might even push it back another week. That is, unless we get requests. If you are looking for live bloodworms let us know and we will be sure to get them if enough ask. Until then for anglers who want to try an effective alternative to live bait…. Check out DynaBait Freeze Dried Bloodworms. These have proven effective for a number of years now and best of all they are convenient and affordable at only $5.99 a pack.

What & Where To Fish

Looking to get out and fish? Winter flounder, white perch and striped bass are the name of the game. We have heard about catches from anglers on all three of these species however all of the sharpies demand to remain anonymous and will not share their locations. Go figure!

Put in the work and you’ll find them. Just like every year it’s the same general areas. Look to rivers and tidal creeks as well as shallow back bay spots where the water warms first on sunny days. 2019 will however prove to be a little bit more difficult on those still stuck in the rut. Read on…

Get Out Of The Rut To Succeed This Early Season

Over the years lots of anglers from all over (near and far) took advantage of the early season epicenter, Oyster Creek. It was literally stupid fishing for so many years. With the closing of the Plant (late summer/early fall) putting an end to the warm water outflow and we believe most all of the fish moved out as fall progressed and the water temperature naturally cooled. A number of anglers we talked to who tried to fish over the winter all reported zilch. Even though that does not mean no fish, we can only assume any stragglers struggled to survive because this was the first year the Creek froze over. Yes striped bass can live in some very cold conditions but they must adapt to these. Case and point is the striped bass population which live in the rivers of Connecticut and far North East. Anglers ice fishing all winter long catch healthy striped bass.

This spring anglers will need to look outside the box in order to find fish early season.

Here’s a report and some guidance from store staffer Willie Davis…

Already some stripers were caught. It has been scattered but it’s starting none the less. A key factor early season you must pay close attention to the water temperature. With very cold ocean temperatures areas furthest away will be warmest and offer your best opportunity. Also outgoing tide is the classic go to for more active feeds. The incoming tide will push in cold water and turn off a bite like a switch.

On my first few trips this year (catch and release fishing before season opened) I found resident fish with no sea lice but recently lice on fish are hinting at new fish are trickling in. Look towards sod banks and mud flats as well as structure like bridges. This early in the year you will not find big fish but if you work hard and dial in a bite, it can be a lot of fun on light tackle.

Soon poppers will be effective but right now the fish are on the lazy, lethargic side. So fish slow. Softbaits rigged on light jig heads (1/8, 1/4, 3/8 oz) as well as small Magictail Teardrop Bucktails and swimming plug in the 3-4″ range will get looked at and bit. I prefer the Yo Zuri Mag Darter in the 4 ⅛” Size this time of year fished with a slow retrieve. Add a gentle twitch here and there. When fishing a bank be sure to fish the entire retrieve right to your feet! Bites commonly right in tight to the bank.

Holgate’s Wooden Jetty Beach Construction Project

Today was my first time to take a look at the finished construction project. I was shocked at how little was done. I expected a large, much longer structure. For those unaware, there was a project done to fortify the Wooden Jetty. What the goal was is still sort of unknown. At first there was concern and talk about protecting beach front homes. I’m no expert in construction nor coastal engineering but there is nothing that tells me this money spent will protect any homes.

The project used metal sheeting very similar to what was used to construct the groins at the Buxton Lighthouse in the OBX, NC. These sheets were driven deep down parallel to the Wooden Jetty on its north side. The height is much higher than the old Jetty and from the photo you can see some sand building up on its north facing side. The dunes of Beach One are still badly beaten. What is this new groin going to solve is really unknown to me. Anyone with knowledge on this topic please share! I would like to know what they expect it to do.

While on the topic of beach construction. Did you hear about…

The Back Bay Coastal Storm Risk Management Study? From what I reviewed there are some serious flood-mitigation strategies being dreamt up. From floodwalls, levees, breakwalls and living shore lines to FLOOD GATES!!! The photos below is actually an idea they are talking about. This is no joke! A flood gate at Barnegat Inlet, Manasquan Inlet and Shark River Inlet are actually being discussed and studied. With how successful their beach replenishment projects are/were I sure hope this is really done in a much better way. This is going to be a interesting hot topic to follow. Here is a link to a press release. The public is invited to provide comments on the interim report by April 1. I for sure will be sending in my comments as an LBI resident and waterman.

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