Some N.J. party boats are sold out on morning trips for this weekend’s sea bass season opener, but there may be spaces available on afternoon sailings. The Jamaica from Brielle has room on their Saturday 4:30 p.m. trip, as does the Queen Mary from Point Pleasant on their 3-8 p.m. trip. The Paramount from Brielle may still have space on Sunday at 6:30 a.m. Be sure to check with boats to ensure a spot before the rush subsides during the week.

Miss Belmar Princess couldn’t find ocean stripers yesterday, so they went bottom fishing to catch some ling plus a few blues and cod while releasing lots of sea bass. The Queen Mary had a similar report during Thursday’s trip. The Golden Eagle from Belmar couldn’t find any stripers today, but picked some ling and cod on bottom. They will concentrate on sea bass and ling next week while keeping an eye out for stripers. There may be room on the Saturday evening and Sunday morning trips.

Capt. Ron Santee Jr. said today may have been the first time there wasn’t a hit from the target species on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands even when they were marked. He welcomes a switch to sea bass and ling tomorrow. Trollers were catching stripers today in the same areas.

The Fisherman magazine reported a 55-pound striped bass was trolled on a mo-jo earlier this week by the Little Hawk out of Atlantic Highlands. I wasn’t able to find any mention of that on their web site, though they noted a 51-pounder among the bass trolled yesterday morning. .

Don Marantz fished aboard the Dauntless from Point Pleasant yesterday and had 20 ling. One of the giant tuna caught offshore this week was stuffed with ling, which is a good sign since it had seemed as if spiny dogfish had taken over the Mud Hole in recent years.

At Seaside Park, John Bushell Jr. of Betty & Nick’s Tackle was surprised to see the surf packed with bunkers at sun-up when he did his daily video. Dolphins were holding the bunkers close to the beach, but there was no sign of fish on them.

Grumpy’s Tackle reported that clam and bunker baits have been producing large stripers in the surf, but lures haven’t been as good a bet at present. However, fluke up to 5 pounds are hitting lures well before the season opens on May 22.

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