Sunday, May 25, 2008: There were anglers every whichaway out there. Success stories centered on seabass and bunker-based stripers. Fluking was so-so – with some above so-so drifts.
I chatted with a few snag-and-drop anglers who have been finding amazing action below the balled up bunker, not far off the beach. That slowed a lot today but the potential is fairly high. This is just the snag-scenario we have been waiting for but the bunker pods are not even close to what we had (number-wise) last year. Of course, there are some major variations this year. The water temps are just freaky. Even though we haven’t had real warm weather, the lowness of the water temps (low 50s) is way cooler than should be expected.
While the bass under the bunker pods are very aggressive, it’s the bunker that might be behaving badly because of the chilly water. I have reports that big bunker are up the Mullica River and in back-bay areas. Those baitfish hunkering down in the bay and rivers may be the baitballs needed to ignite the nearshore (and beach) action.
Speaking of the Mullica, I was up the river (bridges) and heard of bluefish as far upstream as anyone could ever recall. Once again, that could reflect the bait presence.
I don’t report heavily on fluke since the bite is too variable and I already fear over-harvesting. It has to be noted that the Draconian cuts in the allowable recreational fluke poundage also make the allotment vulnerable to overages. I will note that a couple flukers I talked to had decent take-home meat-erial, mainly fish just over the minimum length. I even had a couple fine filets passed my way. I took them to a barbecue and cooked them inside one of those cage-like holders (for flaky fish) with onion circles jammed in. Incredible. I also heard radio chatter among those irritated by shorts. There did seem to be a goodly number of fish when factoring in the throwbacks.
Remember: We’ve all heard that in the not-too-distant future all will be well on the fluke front and the seasons will become long, the minimum size low and the keeper count high. Oh, ye of little faith – like me.
I feel a bit bad for seabass which are a prime target, with other species off the hook due to closed seasons. Still, some very good catches are coming off the wrecks and 3-pounders are not unusual. Squid works wonders.
The surf action remains sketchy – to crappy. Here’s a less than mugged-em report:
“Hi Jay. Cindy and I hit the beach outside of town yesterday from 7:45
to 11:45 pm. Fished the incoming tide using bunker, we released
fourteen smooth dogfish and four skates. The smoothies were of all
sizes from twelve inches to over three feet. Winds were light and the
ocean was a flat as a lake. Shame there were no stripers in the mix. Nick H”
I will have the latest changes to the simply Bassin’ tourney tomorrow. It’s good we extended the length of this event since things are running very late on the surf-striper front.
Hope everyone's enjoying this beautiful Memorial Day weekend. We certainly couldn't have asked for better weather.
We had four trips this week, two back in the bay and two out front. The bay fishery was still mainly small bluefish, although with fluke season opening this weekend we now have some additional options. The occasional striper is being caught on clams, but with water temperatures remaining stuck in the low to mid 50's all week it's starting to look like this coming week will make or break our spring bass season in the bay. Let's hope a few days of warm weather will be enough to get things moving.
We've had large schools of bunker moving along our beaches most of the week, with several very large bass taken by those who happened to be in the right place at the right time. The bite seemed to slow down late in the week, with yesterday's trip finding only some alligator sized bluefish off Island Beach State Park. There's still plenty of bait around, so no doubt the bass will be feeding again shortly.
Capt. Jack Shea
Barnegat Bay Fishing Charters
Hope everyone has a safe and fun Memorial Day Weekend. Let’s not forget this day is to remember our fallen soldiers who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving our county. With the bay bite being slow I ventured outside Thursday and found some incredible action. We had solid action with bass from 18 to 30 pounds. Even with the ocean temp at 53 degrees the bass had no problem swallowing whole bunker and everyone was able land more fish than their limit. Friday was a different story as the bait and bass were few and far between. If you want to get what may be the bass of a life time now is the time! Capt. Alex Majewski Lighthouse Sportfishing Barnegat Bay, NJ
Major event: The Berkeley Striper Club’s 5th Annual Spring Tournament will be held from 5/30 – 6/8. There will be over $6500. in prizes which includes cash and merchandise. The tournament is for fishing from the shore only and the boundaries include all Ocean and Monmouth County waters that are open to the public. There will be prizes awarded for the twelve largest striped bass, the twelve largest bluefish and the two largest weakfish. The entrance fee is only $25. per person and those interested have until 9Pm on 5/30 to enter. The tournament also features several optional calcuttas/pools. Those interested may register by mail by obtaining an application via www.berkeleystriperclub.org or by contacting the club’s tournament director, Paul Haertel at (973) 943-8201. Those wishing to enter in person may do so at Bahr’s Landing, Barnegat Light B&T, Betty and Nick’s, the Dock Outfitters, Fisherman’s Headquarters, Fishermen’s Supply Company, Grumpys, Jersey Joe’s, L&H Woods and Water (Waretown), The Reel Seat, Scott’s, Surf City and Surf Side Bait and Tackle stores.
All profits will go to the club’s “Striped Bass Defense Fund”. In the past the primary beneficiary has been Stripers Forever, the internet group seeking to make striped bass a no sale or game fish along the entire east coast. Thus far over $5000. has been donated to their organization. Lesser amounts have been donated to other organizations as well.