Saturday, May 02, 2009: Simply Bassin’ 2009 has begun. Get registered for the hot-hooking 8-week event. Entries can be had at:
Barnegat Light Bait & Tackle, Barnegat Light 609-494-4566
Fisherman's Headquarters, Ship Bottom 609-494-5739
Jingle's Bait & Tackle, Beach Haven 609-492-2795
Surf City Bait & Tackle, Surf City 609-494-2333.
Winds today look very agreeable early on. Getsiffier later.
I had some striper fillets 9from a 28-inhc fish) dropped off by a night fisherman working (I think) the South End, dockside. It went for a small white plastic on a ¾-ounce bullet jig. There was no shortage of smaller fish, many breaking water in the wee hours. There sure seems to be a lot of surface action this spring. That might well be because of the small spearing already hanging near the surface. As oft-noted, tiny spearing show very early in the season, bay. I have seen them under skim ice. Keeper fish are showing these small baitfish and also what might be rainfish.
The beach has realty perked up, bass-wise. I am getting reports from a number of first-time-out folks. There are bass along much of LBI with a real emphasis on the mid-Island zone. Clams are the bait of choice with small plastic working near jetties and in the early and late hours.
The ocean water is still very cold. I took a dip (wetsuited) and put it at barely 50 -- as in, frickin’ bitter. This is obviously not the optimum comfort range of stripers, proving there are larger factors than water temps alone that impact the movement of spring fish since the bite has become very brisk. This also assures some very fast fishing right inside the inlets (enough said). As might be expected, Great Bay (and its warmer water) has drawn in a goodly load of bass, many in the keeper sized range. A guy I know who seldom does Graveling went down yesterday and is headed back today. “A lot of fun,” was his report.
There are even some sizeable bass upriver, both Mullica and Wading. I stopped by a bridge near Leekstown and a less-than-chatty fellow had a very nice striper on a stringer. He was quite willing to show it off but seemed secretive about his bait. I did notice a seemingly filleted road-kill squirrel carcass in a drain at the end of the bridge (gospel truth).
The bluefish are showing in a sketchy way. The rocks, both sides of Barnegat Inlet, have all-head model blues to maybe 8 pounds but averaging much smaller. They were going for plugs when I checked out some action but would surely take chunk baits. There are small blues in the bay but not nearly at the pace we’ve seen by now in recent springs. In fact, some sites usually jumping with blues by now are fully void of them – which is very much to the liking of weakfishermen. Speaking of which: it ain’t that good out there. That’s not to say the sharpies and nightlies aren’t nabbing some sparklers but the weak showing is just that, weak. I have been told (possibly based on theory more than actual observation) that tiderunners have already reached spawning areas, west bay. I can’t debate the point since I lost my X-ray glasses that let me see through waters over at sites near Forked River. I jig-fished weaks in SC a couple nights back and had one sure rap, another fish on and that was it. Felt suspiciously like ocean herring, though.
Togging season is over. Fish and Wildlife officers are taking no prisoners regarding any anglers mistaking the season’s end. The tog issue is very touchy for those officers since there are huge headaches with poachers during the closed season. And, no, that poaching thing hasn’t let up one bit. Small blackfish are still worth big bucks to the Asian and what I call the “live-sushi” markets.