Saturday, May 31, 2008: The near-insane gathering of boats mid-island, near-beach, is an un-missable indicator of where there is a decent biomass of bass, including some fish to 30 pounds – though most fish much smaller. The same snag-and-drop bunker-based action is occurring around Barnegat Inlet and northward – where even larger top-bass are coming to light. In general, the bunker showing yesterday was approaching last year’s level, however today’s brisk souhtr winds are going to make it much tougher to see nervous water above the pods, undoubtedly folks will not be put off by the bump. More than a few folks will be switching to leadered bunker spoons – which haven’t changed in look and shape for at least 75 years (since I recently dug one from an older dump I was exploring on the mainland). The bluefish component of the bunker chasing is huge – both in numbers and size. I hear few people bemoaning the fact all they’re getting are blues while boats nearby are blasting bass. That’s just the luck of the draw. By the by, early a.m. is the best boat time, through daylong action (often bluesier) is there during low-wind stints.
The big question for surfcasters is whether or not the bunker chasing bass will come beachward. And I have to rain on the parade of surfcasters hoping to nick the outside action by casting way out (hey, we all try it) by advising NOT working the suds where the boats are succeeding just outside. There are definitely large bass in the surf zone and a 50-pounder is surely prowling the inside sector as we speak, however, recent history is showing that those near-resident inside fish are quickly drawn into the chase when the bunker pods are near. They move off the beach. Today, though, with the wind-stir, the beach potential is pretty good in all zones, though water temps have again nosed down into the mid and even low 50s (right in the swash, with slightly warmer outside in boat land).
I’m only getting sporadic reports of fluking with the same throwback syndrome – often 8 releases to one keeper – with some glory hole drifts that brings meat to cooler. I have actually heard some folks more philosophical than in recent years, willing to enjoy the frequent hookups for what they are: real decent fishing. Minnows/squid combos remains the main attractant, though GULP people swear by that product.
The Berkeley Striper Club’s 5th Annual Spring Tournament is being 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