NOTE: Please consider a digital subscription or contribution. For more coverage, subscribe to our daily newsletter.

We're now one full week into the fall blackfish season, but with the way the schedule fell, the results of opening day are included here. What a great opening day it was.  

We're also one day away from Thanksgiving, so I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy holiday. Then, while some go shopping on Black Friday, others like to go fishing for blackfish, and don't forget that the rest of the weekend can also be a great time to go fishing, or shopping, particularly for fishing gear, if you choose.  

No matter how you look at it, it's a busy stretch for everyone. Even though the weather has remained challenging lately, let's look at the fishing scene and see what has been going on.  

The Miss Avalon registered the first double-digit blackfish that I heard of this season. It was one of many nice keepers, with multiple fish over 5 pounds, that were caught during their opening day trip. The honors of catching the big fish went to Rhett Whitton, who landed a 10.43-pounder.  

A sold-out group of anglers enjoyed the results during the cold and breezy day, taking advantage of a well-deserved break in the weather.  

Wednesday had another good day, with the morning being the better part of the day. The afternoon portion of the trip was tougher, as the breeze kicked up to the next level. Overall, the final numbers were good on a day that was led by a 7-pounder.  

Capt. Chuck from the Sea Star III checked in to bring us up to date on the recent happenings.  

During his Sunday trip, angler John Weaver made the most of his one-fish blackfish limit by catching a 9.2-pound blackfish. That's a good way to get pumped up for the arrival of the increased bag limit that arrives with the opening of the fall season on Tuesday.  

The sea bass action during their trips has been “decent to good,” with many nice keepers mixed in, but the keeper-to-shorts ratio has slipped from previous weeks.  

The one thing that anglers this time of year don't want to hear is that dogfish have started to show up. There's nothing worse than getting a hard bite, then a good fight, only to find out you have a dogfish and not the big blackfish you desired. It's then that you realize that your bait was a little off the structure you were targeting, and a neighboring dogfish found it first. Such is fishing. Just bait up and drop down again.  

Recent pool winners with sea bass were Bill Adams (2 pounds), Ken Derolf (2.25), and Rick Conway, with a 1.75-pounder. Winners with triggerfish were Marc Martzall (3.75) and Steve Matthews, with a 4-pounder.  

The captain and crew of the Sea Star III are now targeting blackfish. They sail daily at 9 a.m. and return around 3 p.m. As with any boat, call ahead to see if they are fishing on the day you desire. Some boats may already be charted by a private group that day or may require a reservation, so it's best to plan ahead.  

The Miss Chris and Capt. John will be targeting tautog, aka blackfish, while they run eight-hour trips. Check out their schedule at to grab a seat, or if you have a group, you can rent out the whole boat. Open boat, or group trips, can accommodate up to 30 people, which allows for a comfortable trip and plenty of fishing room.  

Full Ahead Sport Fishing opened their fall blackfish campaign by putting their charters, of the first two days, on the fish. Jim caught the first double-digit tog of the season on Tuesday, a day that saw the charter limit out quickly. The Wednesday charter did just as well, as they limited out with a few fish near 8 pounds and many more in the 3 to 5-pound range.  

Fishin’ Fever Sportfishing Charters also cleaned up during the first couple of days of the season. Day one had their patrons catching a boat limit that included three double-digit fish. The biggest I heard of on day one went to Tommy, who landed a 13-pounder while fishing jig. Day two was another good day, as tog jigs ruled the day.  

The Cape May Lady put their patrons on a hot area of structure on opening day. As a result, they returned early, as they “left ’em chewing,” meaning the fish were still biting when they reached their limit. That's a nice situation to have.  

Bayhound Charters Light Tackle Sportfishing had a very good opening day, as Capt. AI put his boat on the fish.  

The results found those aboard limiting out easily with the biggest tog weighing in at 9 pounds. In addition to the keepers, many short fish contributed to a day of good action. A dozen keeper sea bass helped to fill out the day's catch.  

After a great opening day, Capt. AI is looking forward to some “nice fishing this fall” provided that the weather stays favorable.  

The Starfish was also involved in the opening day action, as they caught some nice tog, as well as some sea bass. They followed up that trip by having another good outing on Wednesday. They sail daily at 8 a.m., but call ahead, as with all boats, to make sure of the time they plan on leaving.  

Sea Isle Bait and Tackle threw a change-up into the report, as they spoke about something else. On opening day for blackfish, they reported that Tim had a great afternoon fishing for striped bass from the Sea Isle surf. He tallied a dozen stripers caught, all of which were shorts. Regardless, it was good to hear that the surf was alive with some stripers. Now, we just need to get some legal-size fish to cruise along the beaches and chase some bait into the surf.  

Hands Too Bait and Tackle reported that Brad and Liam got out on the water on opening day and were rewarded with a nice blackfish. It was a nice fish that appeared to be in the 7-pound-plus range. Nice job, guys.  

The Cape May Lady was working the blackfish over quickly on opening day. They caught their limit on the boat and left to head home while the fish were still chewing.  

They plan on running every Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. They are also planning on 10-hour trips on Sundays that will leave the dock at 6 a.m. and return at 4 p.m. 

They also have plans for a super-pool trip for Nov. 27 that will leave at 6 

a.m. Call ahead to see if any seats are available and to check on other information for this or any other trips.  

Wow, what a great opening day of tog fishing. Lots of fish, limits on every boat, and some big double-digit fish. We even saw some small stripers caught, which gives us some hope that the bigger fish will follow and stay within range of being caught.  

This report should get you excited and ready to fish. Good luck if you get out, catch your limit and I'll see you around. 

Submit fishing news and photos to

Recommended for you

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.