NOTE: The Cape May County Herald is offering full coverage of the COVID-19 / coronavirus emergency to all, with no payment required. We are committed to ensuring our readers can make critical decisions for themselves and their families during this ongoing situation. To continue supporting this vital reporting, please consider a digital subscription or contribution. For more coverage, subscribe to our daily newsletter.

We’ve passed through another month and milestone on the fishing calendar.  

With April's arrival comes the spring blackfish season. Since the striped bass season is a month old - and still slow to develop, other than in local rivers - having another option will be a nice addition to our fishing list.  

We’ve also come through a sluggish winter, where the lack of fishing, boating and outdoor shows made for an excruciating period, with no outings to look forward to. Checking out new products in person is not the same as seeing them online. Yes, they’re new and exciting, but it’s not the same as holding them. This is where you can help your local tackle shops.  

As most are opening or have already done so, it's a meaningful time to stop in, say hi, and see what they have in stock.  

Last week, I named the boats that would be running for blackfish. Of course, as soon as I finished last week's column, or about 15 minutes later, I learned the Porgy IV would be in the mix. Capt. Paul will be sailing daily through April for blackfish since the spring season ends at the end of the month. Here’s to another season of great fishing, Paul.  

The Sea Star III's captain, Chuck, announced that the boat is in the water. He has some painting jobs to finish and is looking at a mid-April date to start their season.  

He has also posted the prime drumfish dates on the website. They are taking reservations and deposits for the dates listed. Due to limited seating, these trips will fill quickly, so call 609-884-3421 to reserve a seat.  

Cameron, from Boulevard Bait and Tackle, was recently out on a “scout mission," tossing out bloodworms for striped bass while fishing from some land-based spots in the waters around Sea Isle. He reported catching 15 stripers in the 16-inch range. The biggest was in the 24-inch range.  

Cameron was using light tackle, which is what he recommends to those who want to have fun. 

The shop is open seven days a week, and Cameron reports that they have nice regular-sized bloodworms and circle hooks.  

For those waiting for pier fishing, Grassy Sound Marina's pier is scheduled to open for weekend fishing April 10. Before you know it, crabs will be coming out of the mud, which will provide an additional activity at the pier.  

Grassy Sound Marina will also be the weigh-in station for the 17th Annual Middle Township Drumfish Tournament. The tournament will be held from 12 p.m. May 14 (line in the water) until the close of the weigh-in scale at noon May 16. For information about the tournament, contact Nancy McDevitt, its coordinator, at 609-425-7272, or visit drumfish@middletownship.com 

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) released news that the 2021 trout season will open at 8 a.m. April 10. To allow for more fishing but also limit crowds, a pre-season catch-and-release period will be held April 1-9.  

From April 10-May 31, you may keep any legal, 9-inch-minimum fish. The daily bag limit, in most trout waters, is six.  

Come June 1 and continuing through March 22, 2022, the legal trout size will remain the same, and the daily bag limit will drop to four fish.  

More than a half-million trout have been released for opening day, so there should be plenty of opportunities to land a nice one. An additional 70,000 to 75,000 trout will be released during the week of May 10.  

Most trout being stocked will average 10.5 inches in length. There will be no in-season closures on any waters.  

Anyone 16 years or older must obtain a New Jersey Freshwater Fishing License and a trout stamp to keep their catches. The documents can be purchased at www.nj.wildlifelicense.com or through license agents.  

In Cape May County, stocked public-accessed waters include Tuckahoe Lake, in the Tuckahoe Wildlife Management Area, and Ponderlodge’s pond, in Villas. Three Atlantic County spots, Birch Grove Park Pond, in Northfield, Hammonton Lake, in Hammonton State Park, and Absecon's Heritage Park, have also been stocked. A list of other areas in the state is available at the NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife website. 

Hopefully, the weather will cooperate so we can enjoy blackfishing. Throw in some stripers, and maybe some perch, trout or largemouth bass, and catches could be ready from all over - let's hope.  

Good luck if you get out and I’ll see you around. 

Submit your fishing news and photos to mrobbins@cmcherald.com. 

Get 'The Wrap', a new way to get the news.

We wrap up the news from the Shore you love, and deliver it to your inbox, weekly.