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.

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.

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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. Here’s the Fisherman’s Headquarters Fishing Report Update for Wednesday April 24.

Fish Heads adds the LBI Spring Surf Fishing Tournament kicks off on Saturday, April 27. The entry fee is $20 for the 8-week event. They have already heard of a few keepers caught on the beach.

I have learned of some positive reports of black drumfish in the bay. I tried with my son, Jim Jr., earlier this week at the mouth of the Mullica with some clams and did nothing. In a day or so I plan to try some of our favorite haunts in the Tuckerton Bay area. I hope to have some positive news with a picture next week to share.

We have a few contests coming up in the near future. The closest one as I write this may already be over by the time you read this. 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.

The Beach Haven Marlin and Tuna Club will be holding its LBI Cup Striper Invitational on Saturday, May 25. The captain’s meeting will be held Friday, May 24 at 7 p.m. First place is worth a cool $1500 with $1000 going to second and $500 for third place. Complete information can be found at www.lbicup.com or calling Andres Hernandez at 609-709-0311.

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. I can tell you from past experience that the food is very good.

The captains meeting will be on May 31 with fishing starting the next morning at 5am.Complete information on the event can be found at www.bassriverclassic.com.

I got word from the state that its marine digest is now available online and should be in bait and tackle shops by May 8. If you are anxious to read it, you can find it at https://www.njfishandwildlife.com/digmar19.htm?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

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