Fishing LBI Report April 3, 2023

And just like that April is here and “Spring Has Sprung!” The mainland areas have serious bloom-age and the island’s buds are popping. All signs are pointing to fun fishing. The April Full Moon is Wednesday night. The return of the laughing gulls to the area mean any day, usually 7-14 days later, the arrival of migrating striped bass and bluefish. Saw some of the season’s first gnats and that means the black drum will be here soon, most likely on this moon. The drum could be here now!

The radical weather and wild temperature swings are a challenging part of the spring transition. Anglers closely monitoring and riding the storms like salty cowboys get rewarded. This time of year more than any other, picking and choosing location and time/tide is of the utmost importance. Fish smart!

Fish Smart – Pick & Choose Wisely

Fishing after a cold blast chill isn’t the best way to find an active bite. Fishing after a heavy rain usually isn’t a good option either. Fishing in the early mornings after a cold night will more than likely be slow.

The keys to spring fishing this area are fishing the sunny days and fishing the afternoons when the waters are at their warmest. Warmest water is when the fish will be most aggressive and active. Fish the outgoing tide, all the way out and even a portion of the turn. These sections will be the warmest. Get back. Way way back and you’ll find them in the back bays, river mouths, sod banks, tributaries and rivers.

Welcome Back To NJ

More fish move into the state and there’s larger, more active ones too. Both the Delaware River and the Raritan Bay have fish. The arrivals are coming into the bays and heading up the rivers. Stacking up and making their move eventually to spawn soon. Photo below is a lot of striped bass stacked up like cord wood on Monday afternoon.

Here’s Kory Fishbein with a 46″ pig he caught and quickly released on Sunday. Kory lives in Philly and fishes the Jersey Coast beaches as well as the Delaware River. He shared the photo shortly after releasing it, “I finally made up for the one we lost!” This goes back a few year to when Kory had a monster bass on and I managed to loose it on him trying to net the fish boat side. Massive wood plug that was in the fish’s face and challenging to steer into my XXXL striped bass net. The net wouldn’t stay open due to the current and the fish pushed into the net and snagged up the plug. Fish was laying on top of the net but too far out of reach. One big head shake and the fish was free. It sat and looks at us for what seems like 20 seconds before tail slapping a splash of water in our face.

The LBI surf isn’t know for having good surf fishing in March and usually early April is slow too. This year the beaches have been quiet (other than some bait and gannets) until today. Corey Perich caught a 14.98# 35.75″ bass off the Beach Haven surf on salted clam. Yes I repeat a striped bass was caught off of the Long Beach Island surf. It was weighed in at Jingles. No the fish was not in the Spring Derby but would have been one hell of a first fish on the board.

We have seen and heard of other keeper fish caught in the local area too. Jbroz C. sent in a blurry night time keeper striped bass photo recently,”Caught on live bloodworms at 1am.” We also had a striped bass weigh in a few days ago but the team failed to record the anglers and catch info. Photo below.

Winter Flounder

Now’s the time (and all month) to catch some winter flounder. Brandy Hillegass caught this 2.35# flounder, just a hair shy of 18″ last week while worming for striped bass at the bay. The belly was loaded with freshly stolen bloodworms as well as native brown worms (unsure of the proper name but they were sand worms, super slender and about 6-8″ long). Not everyday that anglers catch winter flounder (which have super small mouths) on a 4/0 inline circle hook! One more reason to scale down to 2/0 circles this time of the year when light tackle worming. Brandy said, “The catch was a great surprise!” Brandy also caught a short striped bass today (Monday) fishing bloods on the bayside. “Thanks for the juicy worms!”

Tog Fishing

Tog hunters didn’t have a great kick off to the short one month (just April) spring tog season. It was sour with poor conditions. Nate Kirby reported, “The inlet was rough and the water was brown. Fishing around back it was weedy.” He’s looking forward to things settling down. Peter Gan reported catching a couple but, “the bite was real slow.”

Fishing the waters around Barnegat Light docks, bulkheads and rocks anglers should find a couple but don’t expect anything phenomenal like the crazy fall fishing. It’s also a good idea to have a plugging rod and a small plug bag when looking for April tog at the Barnegat Inlet. The toggers are usually the first ones top see a wave of bass or blues show up.

Land based tautog fishing can get good in the spring but for the most part it is a boat bottom fishing game so long as the weather allows. Some party boats further up the coast reported slow bottom fishing. Norma K III said they are catching fish but working hard for them, nothing great. They shared that what life they did find wanted “all crab. Not a touch on clam.” Usually clam is a great spring time tog bait. It’s a soft bait and it’s said that at this time tog prefer the soft baits in the spring. Not this day. The cod will hammer and slurp clams so you gotta have them!

Bait Update

And we will. We expect our first delivery of live surf clams this week! We have both live green crab and live white leggers in stock. While on the bait topic, I will share we plan to have fresh bunker towards the later part of the month.

On the bloodworm front, things aren’t looking promising. I’m told theres a couple issues that we are up against; persistence cold is making worm digging hard, recently poor tides, depleted resource from over fishing and also habitat destruction. Muscle dredging into the high water wares tore up the seed beds and without the beds you can’t expect to have a fishery. There’s large areas that were once prime time that are void of worms. We have managed to get some nice worms but this year more than ever we have got a lot of small pins. I’m sharing this to say we don’t want them either! But when the delivery shows up it’s either take it or leave it and small baits are better than no bait, no? If we refuse it then the next delivery (that might be better worms) isn’t coming our way.

I plan to dive more into the bloodworm topic in a future blog. Stay tuned!

Here’s a quick report from Store Staffer Frezza…

After an exceptional March full of striped bass fishing (locally and elsewhere in the state) April really came up fast. Time flies when you are having fun! I’m looking forward to black fish this month but will not loose focus on the bass fishing as it’s good and only getting better.

The fishing on the bayside of LBI continues strong with some nice slot fish on both live bloodworms and artificials. The reports from down my way, Tuckerton – Great Bay are starting but not great.

For me and the boys, the No Live Bait Needed paddle tails are working great (as always) around the bridges and sod banks. Store staffer Danny has been on the Bass since March 1st and his lure of choice is the 5” and 3” NLBN in Greenback and White.

As far as other fishing options… We’ve had a few Winter Flounder reports around the Ship Bottom – Surf City and Causeway Bridges area. Some creeks have white perch active on grass shrimp and bloodworm.

The sedges and sod banks have been loaded with Striped Bass and White Perch. Bloodworms have been working best but Store Staffer Frez and Tyler fished  local to him and picked a few school sized Bass on 3” NLBN on a 1/2oz head. 

Store staffer Paul is in on the action with aforementioned, NLBNS, while also scoring on Super Strikes, Yo-Zuri Mag Darters, SP minnows and Kettle Creeks Paddle Tails.  After, the last moon waned many fish were exclusively feeding on grass shrimp and worm from the sod banks, and teasers worked well at that point to match the hatch. Let’s see what this next moon brings us – Tight Lines!

Updated Spring Hours!

Easter Hours: 6:30 to 3PM

Monday – Thursday: 7am – 7pm
Friday: 7am – 8pm
Saturday: 6:30am – 8pm
Sunday: 6:30am – 6pm

Author: FishHead.Greg

A Long Beach Island native with life long experience fishing and navigating the local waters, Greg is a distinguished Master Captain (the highest qualified operator license), holding a US Coast Guard Masters 50T Near Coastal License with Towing Endorsement. Raised in and now managing his family's bait and tackle business, Fishermans Headquarters (Since 1962, The Saltwater Fishing Bait & Tackle Experts) Greg is daily immersed in fishing. He is the Chief Contributor of (Long Beach Island's best fishing report blog) as well as the Admin for the shop's social media pages (on Instagram and Facebook). Be sure to follow!

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