Good news (for once) could be coming on the sea bass front. Regulations on the popular fish species could improve in 2012 after two years of tough quota cutbacks which were the over the government's use of faulty fisheries data.
"The outlook for New Jersey looks pretty good," said Peter Hemcheck, New Jersey's representative on the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Instead of a coast-wide management scheme for the species, federal regulators are leaning toward adopting a state-by-state system that will award quotas based on numerous factors, including how targeted a species is in a particular state.
What's better, "everybody underperformed last year," said Hemcheck, referencing the fact that anglers took fewer fish than expected.
Hemcheck said New Jersey's quota could be increased from anywhere between 45 percent and 85 percent in 2012.
Locally, mackerel fishing is beginning to heat up, reports from the Belmar party boats said this week.
"Capt. Jim kept moving the boat on the fish and by days end there were buckets and coolers loaded with Macks," the boat's website said. "One fisherman today caught over 300 macks and almost everyone got 100+."
The boat's Thursday trip was rained out, but they'll be fishing again Friday.
The Jamaica II, out of Brielle, is loading up on porgies on their wreck trips, a report from the boat said. Ling and cod are also being hauled over the rail.
The Point Pleasant party boat are, likewise, targeting ling and cod.
Most of the party boats are reporting that the warm water temperatures, which are hovering around 50 degrees, are keeping the doggies around. There's good news for next season on that species as well; a 35.6 million pound commercial quota could be established for the mid-Atlantic region, sending a few of into the nets and off our hooks. The current quota is 30 million pounds.