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Since this is the last issue before the holidays, I would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas and happy holidays. Hopefully, you’ll get all your gift requests answered, which may mean a new fishing pole or reel, or some other fishing wants, will be waiting for you under the tree.  

Since there are only a few shopping days left, don’t forget to visit the local tackle shops and boats for any angling gifts. And remember that gift certificates for fishing trips or any extra fishing needs are always welcome.  

Now, let's get to the fishing report and see how things went recently. 

The recent arrival of striped bass continues to excite anglers in the area. Many nice fish are being caught and the opinion seems to be that the fish seem very healthy. Many fish over 38 inches are being returned to the water, which is a good sign for these popular game fish. The hope is that these fish will have more breeding cycles and add more quality fish to the biomass. 

Another species that is a fall and winter favorite is blackfish. Many young, small fish are being caught and released with the hope that they also continue to breed and populate our local rocks, reefs, and wrecks. 

The Sea Star III, with Capt. Chuck and crew, has officially called it a season. They ended on a good note, as the weather on the final trip “kept getting nicer and nicer.” Nice fish were also being caught but the forecast for the rest of the weekend wasn’t promising and so the decision to wrap up 2021 was made. 

The final trip saw Greg Stremmel win the pool with his 5.75-pound blackfish, while Paul Bodkin was the final high-hook of the year with his four keepers. 

Capt. Chuck wants to thank everyone for a great season, and, after a well-deserved rest, he will be looking forward to kicking it into gear next spring. 

I would like to thank Capt. Chuck and his crew for their weekly reports and pictures. That information goes a long way in helping me complete the column each week. 

The Miss Chris is done for the season, and they would like to thank their patrons for an amazing year of good times on the water. They look forward to seeing everyone next season and plan to start sailing in March. 

I would like to thank Capts. Mike and John, plus crewmember Christian, for the reports and pictures they sent throughout the season. Their weekly contributions help each week and are greatly appreciated. 

The Cape May Lady was out fishing for blackfish recently, plus they had the fun of running into a striped bass blitz while returning to the dock recently. 

One of their trips featured a day of quality results, seeing a 12-pound blackfish, 10 others over 5 pounds, and a few limits amongst the anglers. Paul Tomaski, a regular in our reports throughout the year, had one of the limits. 

Jerry Rau, another steady contributor here, was on the Cape May Lady fishing for blackfish on a day where the “fish were a little picky.” The highlight of the day occurred within the 3-mile line as the boat encountered a striped bass ‘blitz.” There were multiple hookups 

around the boat, which led to “complete mayhem.” Many nice fish cleared the rail coming in, then did it in the opposite direction, as “all were safely released.” 

Paul, from above, was also on a trip on another boat, the Legal Limit, where a friend of his caught his personal best blackfish three times, in order, all in the same day. Walt started his “trip of a lifetime” by catching a 9-pounder that was the biggest he had ever caught. He then caught a 12.4-pounder, which raised the bar a little more. Both of those fish were released to swim another day.  

Then, as the day rolled on, Walt went a few more rungs up the ladder when he bested a 15.3-pound blackfish. Unfortunately, they were unable to revive this fish. The total at the end of the day saw 27 fish go into the box with plenty falling into the 4- to 6-pound range. 

The Fishin’ Fever had four productive trips to the blackfish grounds before the windy weekend. Those trips produced blackfish to 14 pounds. 

Capt. Tom is now booking trips for the spring, summer, and fall seasons of 2022. It’s not too early to start planning a trip for any species you want to target so don’t forget to get in touch with him. 

The Full Ahead made good use of a windy day, after the past weekend, by going fishing for stripers. That plan worked like a charm as the charter caught “quite a few” fish that were then released. They also caught some fish that were smaller than the big fish but were in the keeper-size range. 

The Starfish is running trips every few days if the weather allows. Their patrons are catching some nice fish when the opportunity arises. Check in with them to see when they are sailing. 

Gone Fishin’ IV Sport Fishing Charters has been having fun putting “some quality bass on the deck.” Fishing was so good that they had to dust off the trolling gear. Trolling was the trick that put the fish in the boat. They had two good trips, one on either side of the weekend, that put some smiles on their patrons' faces. Capt. Mark keeps his boat at South Jersey 

Marina, so reach out to him and set up a charter. 

Hands Too Bait and Tackle reported on a nice striper trip for Common Sense Sportfishing. They caught their limit quickly and were back in time for their mid-day meal. They still have days available if you want to set up a trip. 

The last shopping days are now upon us, so if you still need a last-minute gift for the anglers on your list the time has come to take action. Fishing items, trips on local boats for either now or next year, or gift certificates for fishing items are excellent choices. Give the local shops or boats a call and I’m sure they will appreciate your patronage. 

To clear up some confusion, there is one thing to remember. If you're fishing a combination trip for blackfish and striped bass, make sure not to catch any striped bass and then move out past the 3-mile line. Catch your blackfish first since you’re most likely fishing past the 3-mile line at wrecks and reefs farther out. As you return to port and are safely inside the line, then fish for those stripers. Don’t put yourself in a bad position by crossing the line with striped bass in your possession. Remember that the legal area is from the beachfront to 3 miles out. Don’t walk the “fence.” Stay well inside of it. 

Well, it was another good week of action, highlighted by the continued presence of striped bass. It’s been a while since we could say that. The blackfish action is also contributing nicely. Good luck if you get out, remember the rules, and I’ll see you around. 

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