First and foremost Happy New Year! Thank you to everyone for a great 2022. It was a fishy fun filled year! We wish you tight lines in 2023. May your many trophy fish dreams come true. Let us at Fish Heads meet and beat your expectations this new year.
This week was much more mild compared to last week’s cold snap. Most anglers getting out are targeting blackfish. Some went deep for sea bass and a few are still catching striped bass too! For a look at the current Barnegat Inlet temperatures take a look at the end/bottom of the post.
On the black fishing front, the rock solid bite that went strong most of December hit the brakes with last week’s cold snap. The inshore wrecks and reefs were very good but the Artic weather took over and sunk to slow the action. Most anglers reported slow to sporadic fishing with better reports coming from the deeper water areas where the bottom temps held up better. It seemed that white crabs were doing best. As the temperatures creep back up we expect the bite to too. Dante from Magictails is fishing as hard as always getting out every weather. He has tagged and released a lot of big monster tog this year. On Wednesday he couldn’t get this one to swim away. It weighed on the shop scale at 18.35#, a true monster!!!
We get asked many times a day… “Are there still tog biting in Barnegat inlet?” We can’t say there is a bite but it’s possible you might find a fish or two. This seal was caught eating some tog in the inlet on Monday by Eric Tell.
Striped bass, Yup they are still around! Few to no reports off the surf but if the temperatures stay mild there will be schoolies in the suds all of January. As far as striped bass in the ocean we had two recent reports. Captain Mark aboard the Waterproof reported finding striped bass on top during their ride to go tog fishing (inside 3 miles). He said catching them was quick and easy. Another report came in on Friday (12/30) from Captain Mike Greene aboard the Luckey Stripes. He said tog fishing wasn’t good, alot of small fish, but striped bass fishing was. “28-34″ bass on bunker. They were all hanging on the surface slow motion rolling only a couple miles from Barnegat Inlet.”
Deep water sea bass fishing was on tap with anglers getting out and catching. A recent report came in from Zach P, a Fish Head’s team employee home from college for the holidays. He was out fishing aboard the Voyager out of Point Pleasant and caught a bunch of black sea bass and a couple weakfish. We received more positive deep water bottom fishing reports from other local anglers getting out there. Unfortunately this fishery is closed Jan 1, 2023.
Reminder, today 12/31/22 is the last day of the 2022 Striped Bass Bonus Program. 2022 Permits/tags are NOT valid in 2023. Be sure to submit logbooks before January 15, in order to be eligible for 2023. All harvests were to be reported at time of event but if not done, get it in now. 2023 Applications usually start up in the early springtime.
Another reminder 2022 Fishing Regulations and Limits remain in effect until official updates are published by the state. Stay tuned to the winter meetings to see how things play out.
Below are two screen shots from the Barnegat Inlet tide and temperature gauge. Before looking know that the location of the gauge is USCG Station Barnegat Light which means that it is in the bay, just inside the inlet. The gauge records bay waters on the outgoing tide/current and ocean waters on the incoming tide/current. The one month chart/graphs show a steep temperature drop on the evening of 12/23. December 24th LBI was frigid, icy flooding, hard west winds. There was a morning windchill of -12º and a wild sea smoke sunrise. The cold stuck around for a few days but since Christmas the temperatures has slowly trended warmer and just got back to the 40º mark.