NJOA fights to open state parks

The New Jersey Outdoor Alliance (NJOA) has been opposed to the closure of state parks due to the pandemic right from the announcement of the executive order by Gov. Murphy, and have been circulating a petition calling for him to change that position. Now, they are asking those who agree the parks should be open for much-needed recreation to contact the governor and legislators to express that opinion. Visit info@njoutdooralliance.org for talking points and links.

Dan, a regular on this blog, said there were a lot of cars in the lots during Saturday’s trout opener, but everyone was well-spaced on the streams — as were the trout. Many caught one or two — and some more. Stocking continues, and there are no special restrictions on those days.

The Hudson River Fisherman’s Association has extended the registration deadline for its 2020 Catch and Release Striper Tournament  to May 1 because the  pandemic has hurt participation. The contest will go on in any case, though prizes may have to be reduced to prevent a loss to the HRFA. Contact Joe Albanese for info at 908 456-2968 — or joealbanese2@hrfanj.org.

Small craft warnings are  up until 2 a.m. Showers are likely in the morning when winds will be northwest at 10-15 knots before going to west with gusts to 20 in the afternoon.

N.J. Fishing rules tighten up

Though fishing has been endorsed in N.J. as good recreation during the pandemic, there’s been quite a bit of confusion as to just what is allowed.

Jim Hutchinson Jr. of The Fisherman magazine has been able to determine through various sources that while party and charter boats can’t take out customers, private boaters can fish with immediate family members while still observing the 6-foot distancing requirement. Tackle shops are allowed to take orders and deliver bait and tackle or leave it outside for a curb pick-up. The Tackle Box in Hazlet has a 24-hour refrigerated dispenser with bait outside the store.

There can be no groups involved, even while fishing from shore. Anglers are responsible for avoiding that by moving away if necessary. That’s likely to be a problem during Saturday’s trout opening day, and the DEP has urged anglers to fish on other days of the long trout season. Hutchinson also got word of the possibility that the May 15 opening of the Striped Bass Bonus Program may be postponed. Applications are not being accepted at present.

Gov. Phil Murphy didn’t change his closure of N.J. state and county parks despite an attack on that executive order by the NJOA which I saw this morning on News 12. Ironically, there was a completely different stance by N.Y. in a press release issued with the following headline:

Please continue down


Boat Launches Are Becoming Available Across the State to Access Great Fishing or Enjoying a Day on the Water

Boaters and Anglers Encouraged to Use Boat Launches Safely and Responsibly, Recreate Locally, and Practice Social Distancing to Prevent Community Spread of COVID-19



There’s a lot of wind on the way, with small craft warnings up Thursday afternoon before going to a gale watch into Friday afternoon. The morning marine forecast is for south winds at 10-15 knots plus gusts to 20 before shifting to southwest with gusts to 30 knots and 4-6-foot seas in the afternoon.

Raritan Bay stripers turn on to chunks

The solid run of striped bass continues in Raritan Bay, but when Joe Massa went out Wednesday on his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina he found that their preferences had changed.

Whereas the bass had gorged on live bunkers last week, they were very fussy when he tried them this time. A friend told him that he had tried chunking with success, so Massa anchored up on readings and ,  sure enough, was soon hooking up. In addition, the bass were all 20-to-30-pounders.

The N.J. Bureau of Fish and Wildlife continues to urge anglers to fish for trout which they’ve been stocking for some time so they can disperse throughout the waters. during the catch and release period when the minimum six-foot distancing is easy to maintain.. Yet, they’re also suggesting that anglers avoid the April 11 opening day as that annual trout mania may involve the crowding which is unacceptable during the pandemic.

As previously noted, the state parks and Wildlife Management Areas remain open and without fees so the public can enjoy safe recreation for their physical and mental health during this stressful period.

Northwest winds are blowing up to 30 knots this afternoon along with some light showers, but move to the northeast at 15-20 knots Saturday morning before dropping to 10-15 in the afternoon. Sunday is looking good so far with a forecast of south winds at a mere 5-10 knots.

N.J. trout season to open on time

The pandemic has affected everything else, but the N.J. trout season will open as scheduled tomorrow. Catherine McCabe, the D.E.P. Commissioner, confirmed that during Gov. Phil Murphy’s press conference today.

She noted that state parks and Wildlife Management Areas remain open and without charges, though offices and rest rooms are closed. Despite the general order to stay at home, recreation while observing social distancing is encouraged. Indeed, McCabe touted the benefits of fishing, and Murphy said a 6-foot rod is good for measuring the distancing requirement. He also noted that this was good news for all but the trout!

There are small craft warnings up to tomorrow afternoon as the northeast wind continues at 15-20 knots before dropping to 10-15 in the afternoon.

Check those striper regs

Some anglers seem to be living in another age. A friend who was at Raritan Bay docks on Saturday talked to fishermen who were bragging about their two-fish striper limits, though all they had were two barely legal bass. It’s been some time since the bag limit in N.J. was two stripers at a minimum of 28 inches. The limit has been one at 28 inches — with a second legal only if it’s at least 43 inches!

The Marine District of New York (south of the George Washington Bridge) is also now open, but the rule there is one at a minimum of 28 inches. If you have that second legal fish in N.J. you’ll be illegal if you cross the line.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reports 5-pound bluefish were caught in the surf north of them just before the northeaster.  Choppers are due to pour in through the inlets any day now. The strong west winds should be flattening out the ocean, and the surf may be clean enough to fish in the next day or two.

At Belmar, the Ocean Explorer plans to fish for blackfish tomorrow, while the Golden Eagle will be seeking stripers. The Big Mohawk is waiting until Thursday at 7 a.m. for tog.

Dave Perruso had good news of shad catches in the Delaware River. There’s been a hot bite from Trenton to Easton, though the shad north of there aren’t biting yet due to the cold waters. Dave took his nephew Todd Perruso out Saturday to catch 37, and Sunday morning he had friends from Easton aboard for 61 shad up to 5 pounds.

The Bi-State Shad Tournament will be contested there April 26 to 29, with $15,000 for the largest shad. Contact Eric Fistler for entry info at 610 762-0440 or http://www.shadfishingcontest.com. There’s also a G3 boat, Yamaha outboard and Bear trailer as a prize.

Keegan Rothman added the HOFNAD Tournament at Birch Grove Park to his list of fishing accomplishments. A trout took the contest, during which he helped disabled kids compete.