Water temperatures in the southern Ocean County area are slowly rising into the mid 50’s, and that means the fish are getting more active. At this point good numbers of striped bass are being caught in the bay waters even though most are still under keeper size. While bluefish have still not made an appearance, black drum are beginning to show up in decent numbers already in the Great Bay waters especially.

The weekly fishing report from the Beach Haven Charter Fishing Association tells of Captain Gary Dugan of the “Irish Jig” fishing near the mouth of the Mullica River for some steady action. He managed to boat 20 bass ranging in size from 22-25 inches. He said clam was the ticket to the action.

Captain Brett Taylor of Reel Reaction Charters has been out on the water and says the “back bay bass bite has been pretty good when you can make it out as there are lots of 15-20 inch bass hitting soft plastics at some of the structure locations.” He has heard good things about blackfish action in the ocean on clams, green crabs and white crabs. He has plans to spend a little time looking for some early bluefish.  

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In other BGCFA news Captain Carl Sheppard reports the “Star Fish” has just completed her annual Coast Guard inspection and is certified again this year for up to 19 passengers. Captain Lindsay Fuller reports the “June Bug” is in the boatyard in North Carolina getting her traditional winter maintenance completed.  The boat is getting a new enclosure since the existing one was literally ripped away when a huge vertical wave came up on its nose in the dark on the way south for the winter. Once all work is completed, the “June Bug” will return to Beach Haven for the fishing season.

The “Carolyn Ann III” had another productive weekend of tog fishing. Gina Lawrenson reported plenty of keepers along with a ton of shorts. It was a tie for the pool winner between Don Schueller and Bill Briggs, each with a 4-pounder.

Captain Steve Purul of “Reel Fantasea” Sportfishing found plenty of small stripers on his scouting trip. He noted it was great fun catching the small fish on light tackle as the schools were actually so thick you could see your jig being hit just a few feet below the surface.

Andy Tonnesen at Tony’s Bait and Tackle in Manahawkin says that stripers are being caught around the Causeway bridges on both bloodworms and artificial baits, mainly white or pink shad bodies. He has also heard of some blue claw crabs being caught by residents of the lagoons in Beach Haven West.

Questions on local fishing and fishing reports for future articles can be directed to jamesghutch1@aol.com.