A small craft advisory is up for this evening as southeast winds gust to 25 knots, but the clearing west wind Saturday will bring gusts to 35 knots and a gale warning. All of this sets up a fine Sunday with 5-10-knot south winds and what should be a flat sea.

At Atlantic Highlands, the Sea Hunter didn’t have enough fares to sail, and will not run into the gale tomorrow before resuming daily trips on Sunday. The Fishermen did get out into today’s bad weather, and was rewarded with bass on top. The problem was that they were still fussy as only a few were caught on shads and jigs.

At Seaside Park, Grumpy’s Tackle had word of the first bluefish signs. There was one report at the Island Beach State Park surf, and Big Scott had a blue hit a Tsunami popper in the bay. A legal bass was caught Thursday evening in the IBSP surf on clam.  Betty & Nick’s reported an 11-pound surf striper on bunker chunks. There are lots of 12-18-inch stripers in the bay under the big bridge.

Jim Louro of Spring Lake moved his boat back from Raritan Bay to Manasquan yesterday, but didn’t find any bass or blues in the river there. He’s only heard of a few small stripers in the local surf, and noted that Frank Manzi cast in Shark River without success yesterday.

Jim Hutchinson Sr. reports that “Spring like weather seems to be here now, and the water temperature in the bay is showing some real warming. That bodes well for upcoming fishing in southern Ocean County.

Captain Steve Purul of Reel Fantasea Sportfishing has had some anglers out fishing in the lower reaches of Barnegat Bay and reports the striped bass population there is abundant and a blast on light spinning tackle. He says the size ranges from 12 to 26 inches. He predicts that each passing warm day will bring bigger bass along with the arrival of some bluefish.”

Hutchinson further motes that ” I have been hearing of some good blackfish reports all month with poor weather being the only real stumbling block. Unfortunately, the season closes as of May 1. The experts at Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom report Matt S. is out every chance he gets and recently fished on the “Mary M” and found some good fishing. Matt boated a 13-pound blackfish, and the next day he fished on the “Osprey and limited out. With April winding down fishing is heating up. Currently there are great opportunities to get into good fishing before the end of the month when the blackfish season closes on May 1.”

The LBI Spring Surf Fishing Tournament kicks off on Saturday, April 27. The entry fee is $20 for the 8-week event. Hutchinson has already heard of a few keepers caught on the beach and learned of some positive reports of black drum in the bay. He tried with his son, Jim Jr., earlier this week at the mouth of the Mullica with some clams and did nothing — but plans to try some of their favorite haunts in the Tuckerton Bay area.

Hutchinson notes that a few contests are coming up. The Red Men Lodge of Tuckerton is holding their 12th annual white perch event, Saturday, April 27. There will be cash prizes for the largest fish. The entry fee is $50 per 2-man team. For information please contact James at 609-709-6528. All proceeds will be donated to charity. The festivities begin with a captains’ meeting on Friday at 7pm, and there is a fish fry Saturday at the awards ceremony.

On June 1 the Recreational Fishing Alliance and the Little Egg Harbor PBA will be holding their 7th annual Bass River Classic Summer Flounder Tournament. The proceeds from the day will benefit the two organizations. Center for all the activities is Breeze’s Restaurant at the Viking Yachting Center on the Bass River in New Gretna. Registration fee is $95 per boat and includes food at both the captains meeting and the awards ceremony. The captains meeting will be on May 31 with fishing starting the next morning at 5 a.m.



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