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Fishing Friday: A First Fish, Stripers Biting, Blackfish at the Canal

Joey Duff from Brick reels in his first bass.

Joey Duff from Brick reels in his first bass.

Across the Shore area, anglers are beginning to start their seasons, including 2-year-old Joey Duff from Brick, who caught his first fish in Spring Lake last weekend (pictured with this story). His mother, Jessica, sent in the photo of the big first catch, which was nabbed on a bloodworm. Congratulations, Joey!

On the beachfront, bass were beginning to bite as water temperatures inched closer and closer to more tolerable levels that could spark the spring run.

“There is plenty of fishing room on the beaches, but even with only a few fishermen we are getting reports of bass,” Grumpy of Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported. “One fella came back for more clams and had released a keeper at about 30 inches.”

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Fresh clams and fresh bunker, both available at the shop, are what most anglers are using with success.

Most of the bass being taken were shorts, reports from across the area said. John from The Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights said stripers are being taken from both the ocean and the bay. Island Beach State Park is one of the usual hotspots. Clams are doing the trick on the oceanfront, he said.

“Sporadic short bass on clams from the surf is whats going on at the local beaches,” agreed Mario from Murphy’s Hook House in Toms River. “The Toms River slowed down a little the last couple days with the bass as well but a little father south in the bay is still active with clams, bloods, sands and small swimmers.”

Additionally, Mario said, a customer caught a nice blackfish at the Point Pleasant Canal this week. The tog was an 18-inch, 3-pounder.

The key for fishing the canal is to head over at slack tide when the current isn’t too strong, and drop down either a green crab or a clam strip. Greenies aren’t available too much right now, so the clams should work well. The limit on blackfish right now is four fish at 15 inches. The last day of the open season is April 30. The season will reopen on July 17, with a single-fish limit.

In Barnegat Bay, bluefish have invaded, the report from Grumpy’s said.

“The first report was all in the 1-3 lb range, then, reports of some approaching the 10 lb mark!” according to Grumpy’s report. “Small plugs are the ticket but you may want to wet some poppers too.”

Poppers are my personal favorite way to catch bluefish, as they provide a lot of fun and a decent fight on light tackle. It may be a bit too early, but as the water warms up, the mouth of the Point Pleasant Canal on the Manasquan River is an excellent place to drift and cast.

Cod fishing had its ups and downs on the party boats, but keepers were relatively steady on recent trips, the crew from the Paramount said in a report this week.

“Some trips a lot of little cod with a few keepers, others with just a handful of cod and a few keepers, some ‘ing mixed in with the occasional Pollock and/or blackfish as well,” the report said. “Still seeing life and we are finally seeing the water temps starting to slowly creep up (although it sure doesn’t feel warm today!).”

The Paramount is sailing 10 1/2 hour marathon wreck trips seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The boat sails from Bogan’s Basin in Brielle.

As always, we welcome your reports, catch photos and comments. Send it all to me at!

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