By Tom Pagliaroli
Weather looks to be a factor for this first full weekend of the NJ Blackfish season, and it looks the same for Delaware scene. Rain and sporty seas are the call, with Saturday's predicted heave between 3-5 feet, subsiding somewhat in the afternoon. Things will settle down Sunday and along with Friday looks like the best shot despite the prediction of rain. Remember, the fish are already wet, and the 2-3 foot swells in the forecast are certainly fishable when it comes to dropping bait straight down. The tog will certainly add to the menu on the bottom boats seeking cod, ling and pollock, as this time of the year generally finds the blackfish inhabiting the wrecks in deeper waters. It still remains a picky pick for cod with pollock not much better. The former are up to pool draining weights of 6 lbs., the latter to 4 lbs. Ling remain on the scarce side, with several boats reporting anywhere from a measly 6 to 10 per trip and these are topping at 2 lbs. If you want to give it a shot this Friday and Saturday, plan on packing and wearing the foul weather gear.
Rehoboth Beach, DE: The Rehoboth Star plans to be chasing blackfish Friday and Saturday as well as Easter Sunday, and Capt. Scott says he's now on the 6:30 a.m. - 3 p.m. springtime schedule. Green crabs and fresh clam are supplied, and the captain plans on probing some his favorite early season wrecks and structures for shots at April togasaurs.
Cape May: "We plan on sailing for tog Friday and Saturday, weather and crowds permitting," says an eager-to-get-going Capt. Paul from the helm of the Porgy IV. The skipper notes that during the early spring, clam is the jam for blackfish. Fresh clam baits will be provided and rod and reel rentals are available. Departure time is 8 a.m. with a planned return by 4 p.m. With the weather forecast not so nice, Capt. Paul recommends calling the boat ahead of time to find out if it he'll be sailing.
Next Thursday afternoon from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Stafford Twp. Municipal Building, 260 East Bay Ave., in Manahawkin, NJ, the NJ Marine Fisheries Council will hear public comment and determine the length limit for the striped bass bonus tag program (either one fish at 28 inches or one between 24 to just under 28 inches), the opening of the summer flounder season (either Saturday May 16 or Saturday May 23) and what could be a disastrous sea bass season as per the mandated 33% reduction. Attendees include recreational anglers as well as party boat and charter boat captains. It's the only opportunity for the 2015 season to let your voice to be heard regarding these vital fisheries issues.