SOUTHERN OCEAN COUNTY — Even though the current medical crisis seems to be the primary focus of almost everyone right now, the subject of fishing is on the minds of many of the residents of Southern Ocean County.

Despite the presence of some fish in our area, very few are able to take advantage of this action. There are many rumors going on concerning just what we are allowed to do and what we cannot. I am not the ultimate authority, and since things have been changing so rapidly, the thoughts I am about to present should not be taken as the absolute truth.

They are guidelines as far as what I have learned at the time I write this.

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I do know that party boats and charter boats are not allowed to take customers out fishing. This is a
certainty. Private boaters are allowed to go out in their boats with immediate family members as long
as they are still observing the 6-foot distancing requirement. So my son and I can go out fishing as
long as he fishes in the bow, and I fish in the stern. However, I am not allowed to take my neighbor out regardless of where we fish in the boat.

Bait and tackle shops can take orders for bait and gear although customers are not permitted inside
the shops. The shops can either deliver the goods or leave it outside for a curb pick-up.

You should check to be sure that a tackle shop is open and what their procedures are before planning a trip.
Fishing from shore is permitted at this time as long as the 6-foot distancing is observed. However, many areas have been closed by local, county and state governments so the available areas have been narrowed down. At the time I write this, the beaches on Long Beach Island are closed except for Barnegat Light and Surf City.

Since all New Jersey parks and Ocean County parks are closed, you cannot fish from the beaches of the state park around the lighthouse in Barnegat Light.

Most of the spring and early summer fishing tournaments that I know of have either been canceled or postponed. The striped bass tournament put on by the High Point Volunteer Fire Company in Harvey Cedars is canceled as is the Bass River Classic Fluke Tournament sponsored by the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

The Governor’s Surf fishing Tournament at IBSP has been moved from May to October 25. The statewide JCAA Fluke Tournament has been moved to Sept. 12,

I got a report from Greg at Fisherman’s Headquarters that there are still large numbers of small stripers in our bay waters. Most are throwbacks, but a few are keepers. Don’t forget this year’s regulations call for one fish per day kept and it must be from 28 to under 38-inches in length.

In addition, the blackfishing has been good on area wrecks and reefs while Greg has already heard of a black drumfish being caught and some rumors of bluefish. White perch action has been good for over a month now.

That pretty much takes care of what I know. When more information comes along, I will try to pass it along. Meanwhile, keep doing that social distancing and stay safe.