Northern New Jersey Fishing Report- December 14, 2023

Stripers take diamond jigs and flutter spoons while the surf bite slows, tog fishing is hit or miss out front, and bluefin tuna smash ballyhoo and big paddletails in close.

Northern New Jersey Fishing Report

This will be a December to remember. Even though we’re coming to the end of the year, there are still plenty of fish to be caught. Last Sunday’s blow put a slight wrinkle in participation but bass were caught before, during and shortly after the storm passed. 

And anglers were successfully chasing bluefin at the beginning of the week while big blackfish were caught on the offshore spots once the boats could sail. If the weather continues to cooperate, who knows how long the fishing will last. 
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said bluefin tuna are being caught between the beach and Barnegat Ridge. Trolling ballyhoo is the popular option. From what he’s hearing, the blackfishing has been a bit inconsistent with some folks getting jumbos and others nothing but shorts or just plain nothing. The boats continue to get the best of the striper bite with areas of fish from Sandy Hook on south. 

Danny Stolba at Fish Tail Bait and Tackle in Carteret said things are pretty much the same there as last week with a steady catch of stripers up to 34 inches from the pier. The bait remains frozen bunker. 

Capt. Phil Scioritino at The Tackle Box in Hazlet said bass are still all over the ocean. The boats were on them at the Shrewsbury Rocks earlier this week and he’s sure they will be around until Christmas. Sciortino said he’s been getting good, if unspectacular, tog reports. The Tackle Box, he added, is loaded with gift baskets for the holidays. 

Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle said the beach fishing has slowed down, due in part to lack of participation. He said the folks giving it a shot are still picking fish on sand eel imitations, Avas and shads. He added that Blitz Baits, now available in the shop, make great stocking stuffers. 

Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said the anglers that are still fishing are picking bass off the beach. Avas, bucktails and sand eel imitations are what’s working. Gleason said the bait remains off the beaches and the boats are catching lots of bass.  He stopped at the local beach on Tuesday morning and witnessed a few big explosions not too far out. Those with boats still in the water are chasing bluefin with good success. Hogy paddle tails, NLBN shads and trolled ballyhoo are getting the bites. Gleason said the shop will be running a number of sales ahead of the holiday. 

Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar said there were tons of stripers off the beach in Sea Bright and Long Branch on Tuesday. His charter was after blackfish and Capt. Spinelli found them with several limits caught, a good number of keepers and the big fish of the day, a 13-pound tog, caught by Dave Brink of Port Monmouth. 

The Skylarker out of Belmar shared this photo of Dave Brink from Port Monmouth with the 13-pound blackfish he caught on Tuesday’s trip.

Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar said there’s still plenty of bass around but anglers are scarce. He’s got open boat trips scheduled for Friday and Saturday leaving at 6:30 a.m. Check the website for details. 

Ted Imfeld at The Reel Seat in Brielle said folks fishing the beaches from Shark River down to Barnegat are still catching a lot of stripers on topwater plugs, shads and sand eel imitations. Imfeld said the bluefin bite remains hot with the tuna partial to ballyhoo over poppers and paddle tails. He also said blackfishing has been great on the local reefs. 

Kyle Tangen at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said he heard of big bass up to 30 pounds caught in the surf in the Mantoloking area over the weekend. The weather was bad but the fishing was good on plugs. It’s a slow pick in other spots with smaller fish hitting soft plastics and sand eel imitations. He did say the bass bite picked up back in the Manasquan River under the bridges on small plugs and plastics. Not a lot of people, however, still have their boats in the water. There have been some big tog caught recently on the local reefs. Tangen said his buddy, Matt Brown, caught and released a 28-inch blackfish. Ballyhoo on the troll is providing the more consistent bluefin bite, he said, but the paddle tails are accounting for fish as well. The offshore sea bass bite, he added, has been very good. 

Capt. Danny Gregory on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach can attest to that. His first offshore sea bass trip of the season found excellent fishing and returned with a full boat limit of jumbo fish. He also reported an improvement in the tog fishing with Wednesday’s trip scoring several limits. The Norma K III sails every day for blackfish leaving at 7:30 a.m. and Capt. Gregory runs a 10-hour tog marathon every Monday. 

The Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach got a full boat limit of sea bass on last week’s offshore trip.

Chris Parlow from Captain Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach reported that tog fishing has been outstanding over the last week with many limits and double-digit tog being caught on the reefs, wrecks and inside the Manasquan Inlet. The inshore bluefin bite has still been producing fish in the 5-to 15-mile range. And the outstanding fall striper run also continues with a few jumbo bluefish also being caught.  

Captain Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach shared this photo of Chris Gonzalez with the nice bluefin he caught Sunday fishing inshore.

Capt. Kenny Namowitz on the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach said the blackfishing has been a little up and down with some days seeing plenty of fish come over the rail and others not as many. Wednesday’s trip was a good one, he reported, with a lot more keepers caught and plenty of short life. Check the website for the dates of open boat blackfish trips the Mimi VI has available. Capt. Namowitz also reported that there are still plenty of stripers around offshore. 

This big tog was caught and released by Tony on Wednesday’s trip aboard the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach.

Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick said the striper bite is still not over with bass on the local beaches and just offshore. Blackfishing is picking up outside, he reported, on the wrecks and reefs with some nice size keepers being landed. And he’s still getting reports of bluefin tuna within six or seven miles. 

Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said beach bass continue to be caught, mainly early in the morning. Kupper said they’re hitting a variety of offerings including ripper shads, sand eel imitations, metal and bucktails.  

Frankie Z at Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park said they will probably run out of fishermen before they run out of fish. There are still a lot of bass being caught but fewer folks are trying. He had a report of 15 caught in the surf one morning earlier this week. There are cupcake bunker around and metal-lipped swimmers have been a good choice for lures. Bluefin, he said, are being caught within 10 miles of the beach with NLBN shads in sand eel colors doing the trick. He wanted to thank all those who came into the shop last weekend and donated to the St. Jude’s holiday fundraiser. 

Best Bets for the Weekend

If you can tear yourself away from Christmas shopping, there are still bass to be caught from the beach and the boats. Sand eel imitations, shads and metal-lipped swimmers are working for surfcasters while flutter spoons, Ava jigs and shads are doing the trick on the boats. 

Blackfishing appears to be improving on the reefs and wrecks and bluefin continue to be caught in close. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *