Anglers began catching fish as soon as the weather improved the second half of this past week, with the first weigh-ins of the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic coming in.
According to tournament results in Friday morning, the fish to beat so far is an 18.88-pounder weighed in by Chris Moore of North Beach Haven. The fish was caught on bunker at Holgate.
A clam chomped on the second-place fish thus far, an 18.69-pounder weighed in by Courtland Foos of Wilmington, Del. that was caught in Beach Haven.
Fish have been weighed in island-wide, including Surf City, Barnegat Light and other locations. Though the bass aren't being reeled in every minute, they are around, leading to speculation that a great season could be on the way once the run begins in earnest.
On the next barrier island up, bass fishing was improving, the folks at The Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights said. Customer Jeff Vogt caught a 27-inch bass on a plug (the legal size is 28-inches) and other customers have nabbed blues at Island Beach State Park and at the Kittiwake Ave. beach. The shop is now stocking mullet for bait.
Mullet were swimming "in and around the pocket" this week, according to the report from Grumpy's Tackle in Seaside Park. Water temperatures were now in the lower 60s in the suds, meaning the fishing was on the verge of blowing up.
"You may want to consider getting off that couch!" the report said.
Good sea bass fishing is continuing in the ocean, the crew on board the Jamaica II said. Brad Davis of Brick caught 21 sea bass to 5-pounds, as well as 19 porgies on a recent trip, and Tom Leonard of Manchester boated 24 sea bass.
The sea bass season runs through Oct. 14 before taking a two week break. The Jamaica II will run 12 hour (5 a.m. to 5 p.m.) sea bass trips Saturday and Sunday this weekend, so if you want some tasty fish before the season comes to a temporary end, hop on board for some fun!
The local 'toggers were talking up the blackfish action at the Point Pleasant Canal this week, and Rich at Jersey Hooker Outfitters in Brick was busy organizing an impromptu canal tournament for his customers. Though anglers can only legally keep one 'tog until the bag limit changes to six Nov. 15, the canal seemed to be producing plenty of these fun-to-catch (and very tasty) fish. There are also plenty of small sea bass and drum in the canal, Rich said.
Fishing the canal for blackfish can be accomplished from both land and sea. The current tends to rip through very quickly, limiting boaters to fish the waterway at or near slack tide, but those fishing the banks (most gravitate toward the area near the Route 88 bridge) can often find fish just about any time. Green crabs are the undisputed bait of choice, and Jersey Hooker (up Route 88 in Brick's Midstreams section, north of St. Dominic's Church) has them in stock.
We don't mention much in the way of freshwater fishing in this column, but it should be noted that the state Department of Environmental Protection came and stocked several local waterways with fish this week.
According to state officials, two-year old brook and rainbow trout, averaging 14-to-16 inches, are being stocked in 17 streams and 15 ponds and lakes statewide. Also, three-year old rainbow trout, averaging 18-24 inches, are being released in state waters. All of the fish being released were raised at the DEP’s Pequest Trout Hatchery in Warren County.
Locally, the Manasquan, Metedeconk and Toms rivers were stocked this week.
All fall-stocked waters may be fished as soon as they are stocked, the state said in a news release this week. So if you're looking for a different type of day out fishing, check it out.
On another note, keep sending me your fishing reports! We don't burn spots, but we do like to point anglers in the righr direction, and any advice helps!