Southern New Jersey Fishing Report- December 14, 2023

Double-digit tog are caught around reef and wreck sites, stripers take jigs and live bait in open water, and the surf bite slows while white perch fishing heats up in the backwaters.

Quality tog are coming over the rail for anglers aboard Reel Reaction Sportfishing Charters this week.

Southern New Jersey Fishing Report

Winds, weather, fish and more winds: that was the sentiment over the past week with bluefin, stripers, tog, and some offshore sea bass action.  Bluefin have been fluctuating from 5 to 15 miles out and the latest was a solid bite off the Barnegat Ridge.  Trolled lures, soft plastics, and poppers have been working on these fish over the past several weeks and lots of anglers at all skill levels have been cashing in on the bluefin.  Just remember to have your federal pelagic species permit.  Striper action was still going strong prior to the most recent blow, but it seems that the bulk of the fishery has moved into the Brigantine to Ocean City area.  Areas north are still getting fish, but they seem to be of the smaller variety.  Togging was off the charts in most location from the Sea Girt to the Cape May reef, but the savvy anglers worked specific areas for quality bites.  Offshore sea bassing is upon us and headboats reported some decent quality and quantity over the past few days. 

Here is this week’s rundown: 
Hook House Bait & Tackle in Toms River reported a good number of striped bass still being caught along the beaches of Island Beach State park.  Metals and swim shads were the preferred lures over the past week.  A few anglers reported some white perch action along the Toms River, but the action was pretty sporadic.  The shop has some decent sales coming up with the holidays, so stop in. 

Creekside Outfitters in Waretown reported a decent bite on striped bass for boats working the bathing beach to Harvey Cedars out to 3 nautical miles.  Anglers said jigging metals, live spot, and trolled green umbrellas were the top lures for the bass.  Togging was tough for most working within the 3 mile line and the Barnegat reef site had some keepers and Garden State South was very slow.  It seemed the best bite was from Garden State North and some deeper wrecks with anglers reported double limits of keeper tog. 

Reel Reaction Sportfishing out of Waretown was tight lipped on the location as his charter had 50 keeper tog to 11.5 pounds on the 5-hour charter.  The crew boxed their limit well under 3 hours, while releasing the rest.  Client Matt Windover released a nice female tautog and scored his personal best at 11.5 pounds caught on a 1-ounce tog jig.  The boat has open tog dates for the weekend of December 30th and January 6th weekend. 

After boxing their limit early, anglers aboard Reel Reaction Sportfishing played catch and release with blackfish to 11.5 pounds.

The Super Chic out of Barnegat Light may sail one or two more times depending on the striper and tog bite, but the skipper said they are almost ready to wrap up the season.  The boat did have a few good days over last weekend with lots of striped bass being jigged up on Saturday. 

Tony’s Bait & Tackle in Manahawkin received some reports of white perch already being caught in the Mullica and the shop will do their best to get grass shrimp over the winter.  Striped bass fishing has been better from Harvey Cedars south to the Red Tower off Long Beach Island with lots of jigging and trolling fish being caught.  The fish have ranged from 24 to 40 inches and most were landed a mile to 3 miles out.  Tog fishing was slow on the closer reef sites, but Garden State North and Atlantic City reef seemed to have much better action.  

Tackle Direct in Egg Harbor City reported excellent tog fishing from the reef sites of Ocean City, Wildwood, and Cape May.  The bite has been on for tog on white crabs and jigs from 3/4 oz to 2oz.  The past week was the week for bigger fish with tog up to 16 pounds being caught and released.  The shop received reports of a few boat limits for tog charters.  Striped bass fishing has been mostly trolling umbrella rigs and mojos, or jigging on marks with 2 to 4 oz diamond jigs.  A few of the headboats reported good sea bassing for the beginning of the offshore sea bass season and typically the last two weeks of December offer excellent keeper action. 

Tight Lines Bait & Tackle in Somers Point received a nice batch of bloodworms the past few days as the bite for white perch has jump started along parts of the Mullica River.  Anglers working hi-low rigs tipped with small pieces of blood worm or grass shrimp have been scoring on perch.  Striped bass fishing was good along parts of the back bay, but the solid bite has been in the ocean for anglers running north.  Beach fishing has been somewhat slow with mostly spiny dogfish and the occasional striped bass.  

Badfish Charters in Ocean City reported a solid bay bite on schoolie striped bass and better jig fishing in the ocean.  The skipper also has been using the fly rod for anglers to release fish over 34 inches.  The vessel has a few dates remaining in December, so give Capt. Brian a call to get some striped bass on the fly.

The Cape May and Fortescue area reported better numbers of larger striped bass from 28 to 42 inches being trolled up from the 1 to 3 mile line from Wildwood to Cape May.  Surfcasters are finding the best luck during the early morning and evening off the beaches with black or blurple bombers (jointed & unjointed).  The jetties have been slow for tog according to many anglers with the best action occurring from the boats hitting the deeper reef sites with white crab.  Anglers with vessels capable off running to the Cape May rocks are finding quality sea bass, but the issue of late has been the stronger winds.  The rivers off the south-western side of New Jersey are producing schoolie striped bass and decent white perch action on bloodworms. 

South Jersey Fishing Forecast

The best bet for this weekend is to fish hard on Saturday as Sunday looks like a total repeat of last weekend albeit wind and lots of rain.  If I was a betting man, I would say the bite should be pretty good for multiple species on Saturday as the pre-storm barometer drop usually gets the fish blood flowing.  Bluefin anglers should concentrate their action from the 7 mile to 15-mile range and trolling is the best way to cover ground until you find them.  Always have a popper or Hogy rigged and on the ready as casting to breaking tuna has been a solid ticket.  If your into more of a deep water technical fish, have the bushels of white crabs and the wreck anchors out as the reef sites from 60 to 90 feet have been producing.  Subway cars and barges are the spots to be for solid tautog action and working the ends have been producing better boxes of keepers.  Finally, striped bass action continues but finally parts of extreme South Jersey are getting into the melee.  Hammered diamond, AVA’s, and flutter jigs in the sand-eel finish have been the best lures for jigging anglers.  With only 11 days left for the Christmas holiday, support your local tackle shops to find decent gifts for the anglers in your family! Good Luck, Be Safe, and Tight Lines! 

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