Reel Fun Sportfishing, LLC
Fishing Reports for 2023 covering Sandy Hook, NJ
"Capt. John's Fishing Reports" gives you the latest information about our fishing charters as they occurred.
So bookmark this page and check back with us regularly.


May 21, 2023

Fellow Angler,

Good Morning. As you can see by the enclosed photograph, the great Striper fishing in Raritan Bay continues. Frank Lamondola (center) and his friends caught some beautiful Stripers at various locations in the bay on a rather windy and unsettled afternoon trip.

The weather report from the previous day predicted the windy morning was suppose to settle down by 1 pm, but that never happened and we had to tough it out in rather sloppy water for most of the afternoon....yikes.

Afternoon fishing is great as the amount of boats on the water is a lot less taking the pressure off the fish to run and hide. It's hard to tell from the picture, but those are some really big fish that were all over 32' in length and weighed approx. 15-18 lbs.each. That's one hell of a lot of fillets to take home.

As you may or may not be aware, the fall Striper run is going to change drastically with maximum size being reduced from 38" to 31" after July 2nd. So if you're looking to fish for some bigger fish, now is the time to do it.

To lessen the blow of fall Striper fishing regulations, I strongly urge you to get your Striped Bass Bonus tag for the fall giving you an additional fish to take home. I am making arrangements to have the bonus tags onboard for the fall if I can.

Tight Lines, Capt. John


May 13, 2023

Fellow Angler,

Good Morning and a very happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there.

Pictured is the Greg Lyons group after a day of Striped Bass fishing in Raritan Bay. Not an easy day as the amount of boats fishing scattered the fish all over the bay and to be successful you had to move around to find the fish. A typical Saturday in the bay especially with all the recreational "weekend warriors". So, bottom line, I avoid the fleet at all costs....enough said.

Sailed off to a few of my own locations without a crowd and we hit pay dirt as you can see. These fish had sea lice on their bodies which is an indication that they just arrived into the bay from their journey south of us...probably Chesapeake fish migrating north after their spawn.

That's why you hire charter captains...knowledge.

There are some really BIG beasts (50-60 lb. Stripers) ocean side, but catching those really big girls have to be returned to the water and nothing goes in the cooler. Also on the downside, beating up those magnificent fish in a fight could damage the fish and indirectly kill a fish that produces 200 to 300 thousand eggs in the process. We need our big breeders now more than ever for the future of the fishery...so I'm not hunting down those ocean side Stripers. Additionally, the smaller 15-25 lb. bay fish are much better eating.

I've been reading reports by the head boats, that the bay Fluke fishing has been quite good considering the water has been cool as of late, but is now just entering the low 60's. This appears to be a good beginning to the Fluke season.

So let's go Flukers....it's game on if your interested in putting some flatties in the cooler. Since ocean water temps are still so cold, the Fluke are migrating as far west as they can to warm water in search of a meal.

Our bays and rivers are great places to find and fish for Fluke. We're ready to go if you are.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John


 

April 29, 2023

Fellow Angler,

Yep...that's me with some reel nice Fluke caught last August. You too can be the proud owner of fish like this as the official start of the NJ Fluke season begins this coming Tuesday May 2, 2023.

The bag limit, same as last year, is 2 fish 17-18" and one fish over 18" per angler. So for a 4 person charter, that's 12 legal Fluke in the cooler and a bunch of delicious fillets to take home.

New this year, I am offering a 4 hour "Bay Only" fishing trip for Fluke departing at 7 am and returning at 11 am for those on a limited budget, a limited work schedule or young anglers who get too antsy to fish for 6 hours. That's right, 4 hour relaxing fun fishing for Fluke in the bay for just $495.00 with all rods/reels/bait and tackle included. (Mate gratuity extra)

We will continue our Striper fishing through the month of May but we will take Fluke charters if and when Fluke start to show in decent numbers in the bay and rivers. At that time for new charters, it will be your choice as to whether to fish for Stripers or Fluke. (I am also open to a combo trip for both species if that's what floats your boat but only available on our 6 hour charter and for a small extra fee).

The Striper fishing is holding up well in all areas. Jigging flutter spoons, casting shads and top water lures, live lining and trolling are all producing as these fish are on a feeding binge.

As you can see, the weather this weekend has knocked me off the water, but we will resume Striper fishing this coming week. Although May is quite busy, I still have a few open dates if you want to tussle with a 20-30 lb. Striper. Incredible fish!

As always, "Thank You" for your continued patronage over the years and sincerely hope we have earned your trust. If you would like to make a full charter reservation or get in on one of our Open Boat trips, call me at 908-421-4761.

The fish are here and so are we. Time to fish.

Tight Lines, Capt. John and Crew


April 15, 2023

Just wanted to take this opportunity to alert all my Open Boat fishermen of the dates that we are now taking reservations for Striped Bass fishing.

Here are the dates in May.....

Wednesday May 10.....4 spots open

Friday May 12..............3 spots open

Wednesday May 17......3 spots open

Friday May 19...............4 spots open

As always, the fare for our 6 hour Striper fishing trip for our single anglers is $150.00 with all rods/reels/bait and tackle supplied. (Gratuity for the mate is extra). We depart the dock promptly at 7 am and return around 1 pm.

We now have the availability to fish with live bunker for Striped Bass with the addition of a permanent live well that mate Rich was kind enough to volunteer to take on the task of installing. Now the hard part is finding bunker to put into the live well for bait. Not an easy task at times.

We have also added an enormous supply of custom made Advantage Flutter Spoons, shads, top water plugs and other various lures along with our huge supply of trolling gear to insure that we are well prepared for whatever the fish are looking to eat for breakfast.

Aside from a few slowdowns in action due to weather related issues and/or full and new moon cycles, Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays are alive with Striped Bass.

We would like to "Thank You" for your continued patronage over the years and sincerely hope we have earned your trust.

If you would like to make a full charter reservation or get in on one of our Open Boat trips, call me at 908-421-4761.

The fish are here and so are we. Time to fish.

Tight Lines, Capt. John and Crew


April 15, 2023

Fellow Angler,

Yesterday we ran our annual crew trip with my son and mate Chris, mate Rich and John Cuozzo of Advantage Promotions my marketing guru for fun day on the water. This is an annual crew trip fishing in Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays for Striped Bass.

Casting shads, live lining bunker or trolling usually does the trick. Today we battled some persistent in and out dense fog and the bunker were not to be found in any one spot for us to throw the cast net...hard to read bunker schools with a chop in the bay. So we decided to troll to cover as much water as possible and put some fish in our cooler. We are now trolling a 4 line spread to increase our success rate.

Basically, the fish were spread out all over the place as all vessels were moving and searching as did we. We had to troll to put fish in the cooler as we did put a 4 man limit (4 legal keeper fish) in the cooler and released a dozen more . All fish we kept were in the 32-36" range.....no big slobs like we had the other day. On each and every charter, we do what we have to do to put fish in the cooler for you.

All in all, not a bad day, just a little slow due to that persistent east wind and opposing outgoing tide and that stubborn fog that just wouldn't burn off. Tomorrow is another day.

Honestly, that's the way it is for Striper fishing in Raritan Bay....red hot one day and lukewarm the next. You just never know with these fish. That's why they call it fishing and not catching as they say.

I did get a chance to video some of our trip with a fish on by my son Chris doing the honors...click here please.

If you would like to make a Striper reservation or get in on one of our Open Boat trips (Open Boat dates currently available...April 26th and 28th)

Call me at 908-421-4761 to reserve your spot.

The fish are here and so are we. Time to fish.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John and Crew


April 11, 2023

Fellow Angler,

Did a very special charter today with 3 generations of the Basso family....dad Andrew (holding a 40 lb. Striper), son Beni and grandpop Robert.

Little did we know that we would catch and release the biggest fish of this young season with that 40 lb. Striper that you see here. Incredible fish once you got close to her. We pulled her out of the water just long enough to weigh her and take her picture and then she went back into the water and swam on her merry way. Hopefully, other anglers that catch her release her too. That fish was a very old (16 years) and too valuable to kill for the dinner table. She more than likely had 200 to 300 thousand eggs in her belly. Incredible specimen.

Very eventful day as we started out with 2 quick fish and then it totally shutdown of a few hours until mate Rich spotted a flock of diving birds off in the far distance and we made a bee line toward them and started casting shad lures when all hell broke loose. Cool day to say the least.

It's obvious that a new body of bigger fish have invaded our waters and they are here to entertain us.

Pictured left is 3 keeper fish from the cooler and our tally of legal releases were 8 fish which included that 40 lb'er Striped Bass.

It doesn't get any better than this for so early in the Striper season. So if you're planning on fishing with us, don't hesitate to call now and reserve your date.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John and Crew


April 7, 2023

Fellow Angler,

As you can see by the photo below from our Tuesday charter, we had a nice day on a flat calm and windless day in Raritan Bay. Just wanted to take this opportunity to alert all my Open Boat fishermen that we will be starting our Open Boat trips Wednesday April 26 and every Wednesday and Friday thereafter for those of you who are interested.

Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays are alive with Striped Bass a good 2 weeks ahead of schedule and fishing is really good right now.

I've been asked lately how do we fish for Stripers which starts a long discussion on the art of Striper fishing.

First off let me state that we employ whatever means necessary to put fish in the cooler. That may be casting shads, plugs, lures, flutter spoons, bunker chunking, live-lining as well as trolling.

Striped Bass are bottom feeders, especially the bigger females as the smaller fish tend to swim mid to upper in the water column. We love catching BIG fish, even though by law we are not allowed to retain them. If you want big fish, like we do, then you have to get your presentation within 5 feet of the bottom most of the time.

There was a time when I hated trolling, but ever since the introduction of the MOJO rig, which has been used down south for over 20 years, this lure has been an incredible Bass catching tool. A lure that cruises within 5 feet of the bottom in that sweet zone.

15 years or so ago, we use to clam for Stripers. A really messy day on the water, but in hindsight that fishing was a lot of fun. Get a bushel of sea clams, pick your spot, anchor up and start slinging clams for chum and wait for a hookup. Easy fishing, a lot less gas and everyone was a happy camper. For many reasons, clamming has all but vanished as casting lures, chunking bunker or trolling has taken its place.

Bunker, on the other hand, are great baits to use when bait fishing. Problem is they are not easy to catch in good numbers for a day on the water. If you're not using fresh caught (same day) bunker, you're just wasting your time.

So you get the most bang for your buck, we strive to get you to a productive area with lines in the water as soon as possible.

Here's the bottom line....we do whatever we have to do to put fish in the cooler. If we are lucky enough to find a pod of feeding Stripers, we will cast shads and other lures. If not, then our second choice is to go on the troll to help us find fish to catch.

Whatever it takes to catch Stripers, with the exception of dynamite, we will do to make your day a memorable one. Your happy, I'm happy, the crew is happy.

We would like to "Thank You" for your continued patronage over the years and sincerely hope we have earned your trust. If you would like to make a full charter reservation or get in on one of our Open Boat trips, call me at 908-421-4761.

The fish are here and so are we. Time to fish.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John and Crew


April 4, 2023

Fellow Angler,

Pictured is the Scott Koppa family along with mate Rich with just a few of today's outstanding Striper catch in Raritan Bay. You couldn't ask for better weather or better fishing as the anglers limited out on Stripers, 3 times over. We released all the other fish that we weren't allowed to keep to fight another day.

Incredible day to say the least considering the bigger fish have arrived about 2 weeks earlier than normal probably due to the very mild winter we had. I recorded a 4 minute video of the action as all 3 anglers hooked up at the same time....3 fish on was what I heard in the cabin. This doesn't happen often as I was surprised by all the hooting and hollering going on behind me.

Outstanding job Koppa family. See you again soon.

If you would like to make a Striper reservation or get in on one of our Open Boat trips, call me at 908-421-4761.

The fish are here and so are we. Time to fish.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John and Crew


April 1, 2023

Fellow Angler,

Good morning on this rainy and windy Saturday April 1, 2023. Not a nice day so I thought it would be a good idea to bring you up to date about Striper fishing in and around Sandy Hook, NJ. Bigger Stripers have moved into Raritan and Sandy Hook Bays and are being caught casting lures to these fish.

Fish ranging from 28" to 40" (big fish) are being caught now. I'm usually accustomed to fishing mid April when NY waters open up their season, but the NJ side of the bay is now giving up some really nice fish so the boat is in the water and ready to go for you if you are interested in putting some beautiful Striped Bass in the cooler and on your dinner table.

As stated above, these fish are hungry after a winter layover and are attacking paddle tail shads, top water plugs and flutter spoons throughout the bays when they are schooled up. And when not in schools, the old tried and true method of trolling rigs will surely put those fish in the cooler.

I have to laugh when I recently read postings that "we don't troll"...yea right. Look let me state facts....everybody trolls at times when they have to produce for their anglers. Raritan Bay is a big place for scattered fish swimming around looking for a meal. Regretfully, trolling produces when other means don't because it lets us "cover a lot of water".

I'm not a big fan of trolling. There was a time when I hated it, but when "schools" of Stripers break up, trolling is the final sure-fire way of making the days catch.....hands down. Rather than spend wasted time searching for a tight school to jig, I've got my lines in the water catching fish...it's that simple. We want to catch fish just like you do...even more so. I'm not out for a tour of the bay and either are you. We do what we have to do to put fish in the cooler, however means that is.

If you would like to make a Striper reservation or get in on one of our Open Boat trips, call me at 908-421-4761. The fish are here and so are we.
Time to fish.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John and Crew


March 30, 2023

Fellow Angler,

Just a quick note that the boat is now in her slip and ready for another fishing season. Another day in paradise as they say.

Had two discussions with my fellow charter captains at the marina today and was assured that bunker (bait fish for Stripers) are in thick in the bay, but most of all Striped Bass are being caught in numerous places both in Sandy Hook Bay as well as Raritan Bay.

Good news for sure. Not quite an all out beat down that we had in the fall, but that should come eventually. With the mild winter we had, the arrival of Striped Bass in our waters is early, but who's complaining.

As is customary, mate Rich and mate/son Chris and I we will be doing a crew trip very soon to get a handle on where these fish are taking up residency. We are ready to roll in Jersey waters and then on April 15th in NY waters as well.

If you would like to make a Striper reservation or get in on one of our Open Boat trips, don't hesitate to call me at 908-421-4761.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John and Crew


March 26, 2023

Fellow Angler,

Just wanted to alert you that spring Striped Bass are already starting to show in Raritan Bay. Although some are small sub-legal size fish, they are here just the same. Pretty damn early I would say, but because of the very mild, snow less winter at the shore, the fish are making an early appearance.

Have we been out yet...no, but soon. We are trying to get an early start to our Striper season hopefully to go after these early arrivals. Not quite sure as to the size of these fish, but I hear they are in the 24-28" range...some legals and some throwbacks. Another report I got from a very good source is that a large school of Stripers were ocean side with birds diving on the baitfish the Stripers were attacking just outside of Point Pleasant inlet.

Another very good sign that the migrating fish are on the way...and hungry. Two very encouraging reports from reliable informants. It's good to know people in this business.

We should be ready to roll within the next 7-10 days, so get ready. As is customary, we will be doing a crew trip once the boat is in the water to get a handle on where these fish are taking up residency.

When we are ready to roll, you'll know. If you would like to make a Striper reservation or get in on one of our Open Boat trips, don't hesitate to call me at 908-421-4761.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John and Crew


March 8, 2023

Fellow Angler,

Just a few words about fishing with the season for spring Stripers rapidly approaching.

The NJ Striper season is now officially open (March 1st) as we await the arrival of the spring run of Raritan Bay Striped Bass. Hopefully, the Bass that were so plentiful this past October and November, will reappear for a continuation of the insane fishing that took place in the bay.

Quite frankly, the sport of fishing doesn't get any better than what we experienced last fall as reports from the Chesapeake area were no match for what we encountered here.

Why is that? Tons of bait fish in the bay kept the Stripers feeding for weeks during a feeding binge. I am starting my 19th year in the charter business and nothing prepared me for the massive numbers of Stripers that first appeared on October 7th and lasted right through December....incredible.

Let's all hope for somewhat of a repeat of that fall fishing.

Fluke..the start of the Fluke season is officially now May 2, 2023 until it closes September 27th. The bag limit is, as it was last year, 2 fish 17-18" and one fish over 18" for a total of 3 fish per angler. A 4 man charter then can put 12 legal Fluke in the cooler. 12 fish in the cooler yields a lot of fillets and some really great dinners.

I am now taking reservations for spring Striper charters for either full 4 man private charters or holding your spot for you as a single angler on one of our Wednesday/Friday "Open Boat" fishing trips.

The fare for our "Open Boat" trip is $150.00 p/p or $600.00 for our private 4 man charter. Gratuity for the mate (around 20%) is additional.

Please note that the months of May and June are rapidly filling up the weekends, so I would recommend a weekday trip for lesser boat traffic if you are available.

I hope you are doing well during this mild winter and look forward to your call to make some fishing time together.

Tight Lines ,
Capt. John and Crew


Feb. 23, 2023

Fellow Angler,

Reel Fun Sportfishing is now taking reservations for our special 8hr Doormat Fluke Hunter charters designed especially for the seasoned veteran "bucktailer" fishing ocean wrecks and reefs searching for that PB doormat Fluke.

This is an 8 hour trip for a maximum of 4 anglers fishing the deep water wrecks and reefs where the "big girls and boys" hang out.

The fare is $800.00 for the private charter (4 persons max) with all bait and/or gulp supplied (or bring your own).

Please note...this trip is highly dependant on the weather as I require light winds and calm seas to sail for everyone's safety. We will be sailing a lot of water, but the reward could be a fish of a lifetime for you.

Call me at 908-421-4761 to reserve your date.

Tight Lines,
Capt. John


January 31, 2023

Fellow Angler,

This coming Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, the Saltwater Anglers of Bergen County (SWABC) one of the best fishing clubs in New Jersey, is having their annual anglers flea market.

This is a yearly event and the only one of its kind in the northern New Jersey area for the saltwater angler. Last years flea market was a roaring success as the hall was filled to the brim with numerous vendors selling both new and used fishing gear as well as fishing seminars open to all who attend.

Don't miss this once a year extravaganza of fishing rods, reels, tackle....well you name it and will probably be there for the saltwater angler.

Here is the info......

Date: Sunday February 5, 2023
Place: Hilton Hasbrouck Heights 650 Terrace Ave., Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
Times: 9 am till 3 pm
Admission (Adults) $5.00, Kids under 10 Free

Tight Lines,
Capt. John and Crew


December 29, 2022,

Fellow Angler,

Reel Fun Sportfishing would like to welcome you to our 2023 fishing reports web page. We will be starting our 19th year in the charter fishing business. Here you'll find our fishing reports upon completion of our trips throughout the year fishing both for Striped Bass in the Spring and Fall and Summer Flounder (Fluke).

We usually begin our Spring Striper season around April 15th of every new year and if the fall run of Stripers in 2022 is any indication, the spring run of Bass in Raritan Bay for 2023 could be a real bonanza.

So if you're planning of fishing with us in 2023, please call and make your reservations early for those prime tidal days. I now have my appontment book set up with the full year of daily tides. Our charters are 6 hour trips for Striped Bass in the spring and fall and 6 or 8 hour Fluke trips in the summer.

For our single anglers, we do "Open Boat" fishing every WEdnesday and Friday if we are not booked for a private charter. To learn more about Reel Fun Sportfishing, go to the navigation bar above and read all about what we've been doing for the past 18 years.

You can reach me at 908-421-4761. Let's fish for those spring Striped Bass.

Tight Lines,

Capt. John and Crew


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