It's the same story from one end of the state to the other. When the weather allows, which is has not been too often lately, fishing in the ocean is very decent.
A couple of captains gave it a try Friday.
Tom Daffin on the Cape May charter boat Fishin Fever IV actually was out the last two days. He had 22 keepers Thursday. Among them was the biggest tog ever caught on his boat at 18.7 pounds. It was a little slower Friday with 12 keepers to 8 pounds. Daffin is among the local captains who double-anchors to stay right on the wrecks. He docks at Utsch's Marina.
The Jamaica II from Brielle, Monmouth County, had a good day with mostly ling with a dozen to 20 per person on board. They had a few codfish and the pool winner was a 12-pound pollack. There was also lots of eels and dogfish.
The last time Capt. Joel Mick had a weather window was last week. He had a crew of five out on the Evelyn Ann charter boat, and they had a nice score of 16 keeper tautog in an overall catch of 50. That's keeping them busy. Mick docks at Snug Harbor on north Massachusetts Avenue near Kammerman's Marina in Atlantic City. He has been there 10 years.
He said he expects to have a trip one day this weekend or Monday. He said tog are still biting on green crab, but later they will start to go for clam, too.
Josh Falcone is in his first season as owner of Viking Outfitters at Viking Village in Barnegat Light. He was there Friday, and asked about a rumored striped bass fish-kill in Connecticut.
A call to striped bass world record holder Greg Myerson of Westbrook, Conn., confirmed the report.
Myerson set the International Game Fish Association record with an 81.88-pound striper he caught in Long Island Sound in 2011. He has been busy plowing snow so he has not been out bass fishing much over the past week or so. Because he has been otherwise occupied, he has not seen it happening.
He speculated that the snow and wicked cold snap they have had up there -"zero to minus-10" he said - may have shocked bass that have been in the rivers.
Myerson knows his striper.
Marine fisheries biologist Rod MacLeod of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said Friday that several hundred striper in the 12- to 20-inch class died probably from thermal shock in one location only - Black Hall River, a small, shallow tributary of the Connecticut River - after a snowstorm and immediate sharp temperature drop. He said the same set of cold-weather circumstances resulted in a similar fish kill there last year.
They were in the "wrong place at the wrong time", MacLeod said.
Incidentally, Myerson will be live and in person for a seminar at the Feb. 5-9 Atlantic City Boat Show on Saturday of that week at Atlantic City Convention Center. Myerson did say he caught striped bass up to two weeks ago in Connecticut.
Back to South Jersey. Falcone said a few surfcasters have been out on the beach on occasion casting lures and plugs for stripers in the surf. That's dedication.
Donald Bondiskey said that he is getting the dust off at Captain Howward's Bait and Tackle in Egg Habor City. Howard Sefton is planning to open Friday through Sunday early February and then go to a full-time schedule late February heading into March when the striped bass season resumes in the rivers and streams. He said they caught some short striper at Clark's Landing on Mullica River right after Christmas, before the Jan. 1 closure. He also said white perch were caught around the Wading River Bridge a week ago.
Bondiskey reported that he and Sefton went looking for grass shrimp for bait but did not find any.
Here are a couple of upcoming seminars for the off-season outdoors calendar.
The Saltwater Sportsman National Seminar Series arrives on Jan. 25 at the Performing Arts Theater at the Long Branch Middle School (Monmouth County). It will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the cost is $55.
Two well-known South Jersey captains have seminars: Steve Purul, who operates the Real Fantasy out of the Barnegat Bay area, and Daffin, who has the Fishin Fever in Cape May. George Poveromo of World of Saltwater Fishing on NBC Sports Network and editor-at-large of Saltwater Sportsman, and fishing writer Nick Honachefsky are the hosts.
The Southern Ocean County Chapter of the Sunshine Foundation has a seminar set for Feb. 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Redman's Lodge, 143 W. Main St. in Tuckerton. Adam Nowalsky, who docks the Karen Ann II right next to Mick and Evelyn Ann in Snug Harbor, is among the seminarians. This one is $20 in advance and $25 at the door.