This has been a tough year for winter fishing in the NY/NJ Bight so far, but it wasn’t always like that.
Even as foreign fleets were taking vast quantities of ling and whiting from the Mud Hole, the Jamaica and Paramount were still sailing daily at 7:30 out there for the same species in almost any weather. Some days the fishing was good, and on others there was still enough for almost everyone to bring home dinner. That fishing came back after the 200-mile limit went into effect before local draggers destroyed it again with small mesh nets. If there were mild, calm days such as we’ve experienced this month, those party boats would have been packed, I don’t know if anyone knew about all the big sea bass and porgies that were on far offshore wrecks at that time. but the Jamaica wouldn’t have been running almost to the canyons for them when there were fish to be caught locally at a modest fare.
There were also runs of cod on inshore clam beds at that time. On the front cover of the old weekly Anglers News of Feb. 26, 1970 there was a photo of Arthur Anderson of Long Branch with 10 cod (which all look to be in the teens or better) that he caught aboard the Jamaica on the clam beds south of Manasquan Inlet. There were also daily fishing ads for the Jo-Ann III at Atlantic Highlands; the Satellite from Highlands;, the Zephyr from Bayonne; the Viking II from Staten Island; the Cock Robin from Point Pleasant; the Ranger IV from Sheepshead Bay; and the Miss Belmar — as well as the Viking Starlite and Viking Skipper at Montauk. Today we have occasional blackfish trips by the Ocean Explorer for a species that wasn’t targeted during that era.
I was living on Long Island in those days, and the Freeport party boats were enjoying fine winter codfishing at times. A column by Frank Keating in the old Long Island Press on Jan. 21, 1969 noted that the Freeport and Montauk fleets all left anglers on the docks as they sailed early with capacity weekend crowds, The fishing was worth it. At Freeport, the Starstream reported over 500 cod Saturday, and the high hook Sunday on Capt. Al bagged 27 cod on the inshore cod grounds a half-hour from Jones Inlet.
That kind of fishing may not be available, but the wind forecasts are pretty good. Wednesday winds are predicted to be northeast at just 5-10 knots before going to southeast in the afternoon with 1-foot seas. Some snow may fall at that time.