December 21, 2012
Well, sad to say the boat is all winterized and shrink wrapped for its annual period of hibernation. Time now to do a few shows, strip and regrease what always seems like a never ending mountain of reels, and start looking forward to next season. It's been quite a year, highlighted by some spectacular spring and summer fishing followed by the devastation brought to the Jersey Shore this fall by Hurricane Sandy. The highs and lows of 2012 will be remembered for a long time.
In reflecting back on the year just passed, I recognize just how fortunate I am in so many ways. It's not very often that a person gets to do something that they love every day, surrounded by good friends both new and old. Thank you all very much for giving me that opportunity.
Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy and safe holiday season. I'm already looking forward to seeing you all next year.
December 2, 2012
With this crazy weather we've been having, it looks like we'll be wrapping the season up after this week. Between the non-stop wind and the ice on the boat (and around the dock) each morning, I think Mother Nature is telling me it's time to pull the boat and start looking forward to next year.
I did manage to get two final trips in this week, and can honestly say that we left them biting again in 2012. Regular George Selph was aboard on Monday's trip, putting eight bass to 31" in the boat from in front of the inlet on live spot. Then on Friday I had Steve Sweeny and buddies Dave and Tony aboard, landing a dozen bass in the inlet before running north to add another dozen or more on jigs and swim baits. It's always good to end on a high note, and particularly so this year.
November 18, 2012
The persistent NE winds and big seas we've had dogging us most of the week left us with not a lot to report since we tried to resume fishing after the storm. We did make it out on Monday and found the striper bite both inside the inlet and along the beach to be outstanding. Jay Berman and buddies Paul and Joe had easy limits on bass to 36", landing thirty plus stripers on a mix of live spot and trolled Stretch plugs in tight to the beach. Add in a couple of dozen bluefish ranging from seven all the way up to fifteen pounds and it was mayhem on the boat most of the morning. Hopefully we'll be able to get in a couple more trips this coming week before we wrap things up for 2012 after the holiday weekend.
November 7, 2012
Thank you for all the emails, texts and voice messages checking up on us during and in the aftermath of Sandy. I've tried to reply to each of them, but with no power, only intermittent cell service and no internet until last evening I may have missed a couple for which I apologize. We are counting our blessings in coming through this tragic storm with no significant damage to either our home or the boat. Many of our friends and neighbors weren't as fortunate with significant wind and water damage widespread across the area. It's going to be a long time before we've fully recovered from this disaster.
Our fall striper season is currently on hold. All trips through this coming weekend have been canceled while we concentrate on cleanup and allow some of the debris in the water to dissipate. We'll be making a decision over the weekend about when to resume fishing and get in touch with everyone that has trips booked over the final few weeks of our season.
Thank you again for all your support. God bless.
October 28, 2012
Just a quick note as we prepare to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Sandy. The fall striper bite has seriously turned on this week and fishing should be good to excellent once this weather moves through. While we canceled all trips the past couple of days, early in the week regular George Selph banged eight fat bass and several dozen weakfish within a couple minutes ride of the inlet. On Wednesday, Todd Becker was out with his dad Bob hoping to get Bob his first striper ever, and the fish again were in a cooperative mood with a nice mix of bass and blues coming over the side.
We're leaving the boat tied up at the dock through the storm, and should be ready to get back out there as soon as the weather clears. See you after the storm
October 21, 2012
As we expected, all it took was a couple of cool nights to get the fall striped bass season off to a good start. With the shallower bay waters now in the low fifties, the back bay fishing with live bait and clams should be good for the next month or so. The ocean waters are still a little bit on the warm side, but Maja bunker spoons have started to pick up a few fish on the troll. That's a good sign that the migrating fish have started to move into our area and we should be able to break out the jigs once the water cools another few degrees.
With the big swell coming in from offshore this week, most of our time was spent putting fresh line on reels, tuning drags, and generally getting ready for the next month. I did sneak out on Wednesday for a bit, and landed seven bass from 27" to 32" in a little under two hours drifting live spot. With water temps of 51 degrees, the bluefish that so often make live bait fishing difficult were nowhere to be seen and the bass seemed to be keying in on the bait almost as soon as it was dropped down. I didn't have time to try setting up with clams, but the water was perfect and I've no doubt that they would have produced as well.
The fall schedule has gotten pretty full, but I still have openings on October 31 and November 19 for anyone interested in booking that last trip of the year.
October 14, 2012
Looks like things are about to break wide open for the fishing around here. As I noted last week, there's been a tremendous amount of bait along the beachfront for weeks now and more pouring out of the bays every day. All we needed for fishing to get hot was a couple of cool nights to get the water temps down a bit, and convince the fish that it's time to start fattening up for their annual trek south. And that seems to have happened this week.
I had David Volk from Lake Helen, FL out with me on Friday along with his best friend Tom Madjesky from Burlington County. The guys are avid fishermen and knew we might be a little early, but schedules dictated we try this week to get Tom his first striped bass and fortunately the fish cooperated with a steady stream of stripers and bluefish coming over the side throughout the morning. Just for good measure, they added in a couple of small weakfish to complete their Atlantic Inshore Slams all within a few miles of the inlet. That's the way we like to kick off our fall season!
With all the bait we have close to the beach this year, things should only get better from here. The calendar is getting pretty full, but I do still have a couple of openings for anyone looking to get in on what should be another great fall season.
October 6, 2012
It felt strange taking almost the entire month of September off this year. But with my daughter's wedding now behind us, things have finally returned to something like normal around here. And that means it's time to get back to fishing!
I did get out a couple of times this past week with mixed results. Early in the week I made a solo run up the beach looking for signs of the jumbo bluefish or false albacore that should be inshore this time of year. While I did find plenty of small weakfish (hopefully a good sign for next summer), there were no signs of either the blues or albies I was searching for. So back into the bay I ran, settling for filling the cooler with a load of tasty blowfish that I froze up for the winter. Then yesterday regular guest George Selph and I took advantage of the relatively calm ocean conditions and made the run out to Barnegat Ridge, trolling up a bunch of fat albies plus a 5# bonito that came home for dinner and stopping on the way back in to jig up a couple dozen small weakies to complete the slam. Beautiful weather, calms seas, and plenty of fish: doesn't get any better than that.
There's plenty of bait around so now it's just a matter of time until the striper fishing breaks wide open in this area. If it's anything like last year it should be phenomenal. I only have a couple of open dates left for this fall, so now's the time to book that final trip of the year.
September 9, 2012
Just a brief note this week that will probably be my last report for a couple of weeks. With my daughter's wedding day fast approaching, fishing days are likely to be few and far between until later in the month when things get back to normal around here. I did sneak out briefly on Friday and found fluke in the bay still on the bite, putting a nice batch of filets into our freezer for the fall. But most of the action seemed to be right in the inlet itself or very close to it, so it looks like the move out of the bay may finally have started. That's not to say we won't have fluke in the bay right through the end of the month (we always catch some of our largest fluke of the year well into November when the season has long closed), but the bulk of the fish do seem to be starting their annual move eastward.
All the signs are pointing towards an excellent fall striper season this year. Massive bunker schools are still cruising up and down the coast, and the bay is loaded with peanut bunker and mullet that should start streaming out of the inlet once the days start getting shorter and the nights a bit cooler. We'll be mixing it up again this year, fishing with live spot and clams when we're in the bay and moving outside with jigs once the schools of bass get a little thicker. Now's the time to get that fall trip booked while a few prime dates are still available.
September 2, 2012
Hope everyone is enjoying a safe and relaxing holiday weekend. While it's sad to see summer drawing to a close, I have to admit that every year around this time I find myself looking forward to a seeing the bay with less boat traffic, fewer jet skis, and the cooler water that brings our striper fishery back to life.
It should be interesting over the next couple of weeks to see how our back bay fishing develops. It's been several years since we had a decent weakfish run during the summer, and many years since we had one with the quality of fish we had this year. While the Steve Rosenthal party had some quality weakies up to 23" on Tuesday, there were some signs it was slowing down a bit this week as Wednesday's trip with outdoor writer and retired Fisherman editor Pete Barrett had only one brief flurry of activity all morning. We'll have to see if the approaching full moon slowed things down and the fishing rebounds this week, or if they've actually started their migration out of the bay. It's also been a long time since we've been able to fish for fluke in September, but in years past some of the best fluke fishing of the year took place in September and early October. Add in the bluefish, bonito and false albacore that should be making their appearance inshore in September and the next month or so could get interesting.
August 26, 2012
The back bay continues to be the place to be for action in these parts. While fluke and weakfish are the prime targets, we've been seeing a nice mixture of small sea bass, blues, spots, croakers and blowfish joining in most days. Late in the week there were some signs that the hot fluke action we've had for the past few months is starting to slow down, but it's certainly not over yet and probably should hold on through the Labor Day holiday.
Monday I had regular George Selph out on a rare weekday trip targeting weakfish with soft plastics away from all the late summer boat traffic, landing 14 or 15 fish in the 20-24" range before switching over to bottom fishing and adding a fat 10.07 pound fluke to the day's catch. For anyone that thinks the large fluke have all left the bay by now, this true doormat was taken in just five feet of water way in the back. Wednesday was a fun trip with neighbor Charlie D and I loading up on enough blowfish to last the fall in just a couple of hours. Dave and Kevin Kruge were back on Friday looking for some back bay fluke, and while the action was a lot slower than usual they still boxed a nice bay mixture of kingfish and fluke to 22".
We'll be sticking with the back bay fishery right through the holiday weekend, and then see what develops from there. In the meantime, we're starting to fill up our fall striped bass schedule so now's the time to get that trip booked while some prime dates are still open.
August 19, 2012
It might be late August and the water might be getting pretty warm, but back bay fishing continues to produce consistent ultralight action on fluke and without doubt the best weakfish run we've had in years. Fluke fishing in the bay is still pretty much a numbers game and we're generally picking through 20-30 shorts for each keeper that goes in the box, but the action is fast and the light tackle we're using makes even the small ones great fun to catch. On the other hand, the quality of the weakfish we're catching is something we haven't seen in a long time. No, we're not having the 130-150 fish days we had six or seven years ago, but we are getting several dozen fish per outing and all of them are quality fish that each would have been the highlight of the day back then.
Monday I had John Olsen up from Atlanta with his son Bill, daughter-in-law Karen, and granddaughter Annalise looking to get 8 year old Annalise her first saltwater fish. After that was accomplished in the first five minutes, Team Olsen continued to steadily bring fish over the side for the next few hours before heading off early to hit the beach. Friday I had Chip Harter and Paul Buchanan out on their annual summer trip, and we hit the back waters looking for weakfish using ultralights and soft plastics. By the time the bite shut off mid-morning, the guys had landed almost two dozen quality sparklers up to 24 inches long, with only one fish under 20 inches all morning. A couple quick drifts on the way back to the dock added three quality keeper sized fluke to the box to add a nice fat bag of filets for dinner.
As long as this fishing holds up, we're going to keep working the back bay and inlet areas for fluke and weakfish until at least Labor Day. I still have a couple of openings between now and then, so give me a call or shoot me an email if you want to get out before summer draws to a close.
August 5, 2012
Fluke fishing continued to hold up in the back bay this week, although the water temperature by the end of the week was starting to show signs that the excellent fishing we've had for the past few weeks may not have too much longer to go. Fortunately there are enough weakfish around this year that we should have a solid back bay alternative available through August and into September.
Tuesday's trip saw almost non-stop fluke coming over the side for vacationing Mike Hoffman, in from Reading PA along with brothers Steve and Dave. By the end of the morning the brothers Hoffman had landed some 120-130 fluke, mostly shorts but even with a 30-1 ratio there were enough keepers to provide a big bagful of tasty filets for dinner. It was an awesome trip on Wednesday for Suzanne Lane, who brought out her dad Bob and their friend John to give back bay fluking a try. By the time we got back to the dock, close to 100 fluke had come over the side with nine fat ones in the box along with a couple of blues and Bob's nice 21" weakfish that decided to join the party at the end. Things were a little slower yesterday for regular George Selph, but still saw a couple dozen fluke landed and two in the box by morning's end.
There haven't been too many good reports about ocean fluke fishing in this area of late, so we'll probably be sticking to the bay and mixing it up between fluke and weakfish over the next couple of weeks. This is also the time of year when Barnegat Ridge should come to life with bonito and false albacore, so that remains a possibility for something a little different.
July 29, 2012
It's been an interesting week on the bay, with fluke fishing still holding up and what seems to be the best back bay weakfish run we've had since 2008. As I mentioned in last week's report, the back bay fluke bite right now seems to be very tide dependent and largely a numbers game with 25 or more shorts for every keeper. But we have been catching a few weakies while we were fluke fishing, something that hasn't happened around here for several years, so we decided this week to try to target them specifically during the off tides instead of fluke.
Tuesday I had the LBI vacationing Viggiano brothers (Chris, Mike and John) out on their annual Barnegat Bay excursion, and armed with a couple gallons of live grass shrimp we gave it a shot. In just a couple hours, the guys landed close to three dozen beautiful weakfish, the vast majority of which were in the 20-24" range. Once the tide changed we quickly switched over to fluke and landed 25-30 more fish, to finish the day with a nice mix of weakies and fluke in the box. It was a little slower on Wednesday for brothers Frank and John Chestnut, but they still saw their share of quality weakies early before hitting the channels to land a couple dozen fluke after the tide change. On Friday, Medford's Brian Stahre was back with sons Jake and Alex looking strictly for fluke and boxing a couple fat ones before the tide changed and a hot early bite shut down.
The amazing thing about this week is the quality of the weakfish we've been getting. The smallest one this week was still over 16", and the vast majority have been in the 21-24" range! It's still way too early for us to say weakfishing is back to where it was a few years ago, but it certainly is encouraging. With a strict limit of one kept fish person, this is primarily a catch and release fishery so we've been sticking with soft plastic baits and barbless hooks to avoid harming these hard fighting but delicate fish.
July 22, 2012
The weather this past week led us to cancel all three of our planned back bay charters, first due to the excessive heat mid week and then the howling NE winds that raged Thursday night into Saturday. Hopefully that's now behind us and we can get back into a more normal summer fishing routine.
Since the tides looked right, I went out early Wednesday for a quick recon trip before the heat and flies took over and found almost non-stop fluke action over on the east side, landing upwards of thirty fluke in about ninety minutes. Most of them were shorts, but I still ended up with three nice flatties in the box including one that stretched the tape to 26". Since it seems there is still a pretty good body of fluke in the bay, we're going to continue fishing for fluke when the tides are right. Small weakfish also seem to be pretty abundant right now, so we'll probably mix in a bit of grass shrimping for weakies when the tides aren't right for fluke.
July 15, 2012
Back bay fluke action seems to be in a bit of a slowdown right now, possibly due to the really warm water we have from all this 90+ degree weather. Since the bay is so shallow, it heats up pretty quickly in weather like this but if we can just get a couple of cool nights things should go back to normal. We have continued to pick away at fluke all week, so the fish are still there and we just need a break in the weather to get things going again. Small bluefish are still all over the inlet area, and we're seeing houndfish most days around both the inlet and on the flats in back. The good news is that we've been picking up a few weakfish here and there while fluke fishing, so let's hope they're starting to come back. We've seen enough of them that I may look to spend some time specifically looking for them over the next couple of weeks.
July 8, 2012
This week turned out to be mostly a bluefish week for us, as small blues ranging from three quarter pounds up to five pounds seem to be all over the place right now. The lack of larger versions of those yellow eyed demons leads me to believe the big ones are offshore doing their annual July spawning thing right now and we should be seeing them back inshore in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, we've got the ultralights rigged up and ready to go every time these smaller funsters show their faces.
Monday's back bay fluke trip turned into a bluefish bonanza for Mike DiPasquale and sons Daniel (13) and Patrick (11). With the bay producing only a few short fluke early, a quick move to the inlet put the boys into non-stop bluefish action as Mike and I kept busy for the next few hours unhooking and releasing fish. At one point the boys counted fourteen straight casts that resulted in hookups, and landed well over 125-130 fish in a little over two hours.
Friday we made our first run of the season out to Barnegat Ridge looking for bonito with Lou & Mike Pochettino and Mike's 10 year old son Elliot. While the bonies proved to be elusive, small blues again smacked everything we threw at them and left Elliot with a smile and sore arms. Even high speed trolling couldn't get us past the blues, so the Ridge must be absolutely covered with them right now. Yesterday, trying to get away from that brutal heat inshore, regular George Selph and I made the run south to the Garden State North reefsite looking for fluke but the slow action there eventually had us heading back to the inlet to bend some rods on more bluefish. So I guess you could say I've had the blues all week, but that ain't so bad.
July 1, 2012
We didn't do too much fishing this week, so there's not a lot to report. Turns out that the nasty lightning/hail storm we got caught in last week zapped the electronics on the boat, so we're now anxiously waiting for the factory to replace the fried parts and ship them back to me. In the meantime, we're sticking to fluke fishing in the back bay areas and using the down days to take care of some overdue reel maintenance.
There are still plenty of fluke to be had in the bay, but the unseasonably warm weather we've been having and the violent storms of the past two weeks have certainly slowed down the action. We had to move around quite a bit on Thursday's trip to finally get a decent bite going, and Saturday we never really got a bite going all morning. With the bay starting to get really warm and the ocean water finally starting to heat up, it's time to start looking at some of the inshore bumps to provide decent fluke fishing. This also should be prime time for running off to Barnegat Ridge for bonito and other tasty critters, so hopefully we'll get our electronics back in the boat this week and get out there.
June 24, 2012
Well that was quite a week. First, three days of near record setting heat with temperatures in the high nineties and humidity that had us begging for mercy. Then the heat wave gets broken on Friday by one of the nastiest storm systems I've ever been out in, with 8-10 inches of rain in a couple of hours, hail the size of golf balls, sixty mile an hour winds and more cloud to ground lightning than I ever hope to see again. We hunkered down under a bridge for an hour at the height of the storm and felt the temperature drop almost thirty degrees in a matter of minutes. But everyone made it back in safely and it did break the heat, giving us a couple of beautiful summer days for the weekend.
Fluke fishing in the back bay continued to hold up well this week, although the number of keepers was a bit lower than we might have expected. The ratio of shorts to keepers seemed to hover around fifteen to one, but we had pretty consistent action on all three trips this week whenever we could find a decent drift. Hookups were pretty evenly split between Gulp baits and our custom fluke teasers, with white or chartreuse taking turns as the hot colors. Small bluefish around the inlet and on the flats provided some added rod bending action when the drift in the back bay disappeared.
Still plenty of bunker swimming around out front, but it looks like our spring striped bass run is finally over and the fish have migrated north until fall. We'll be concentrating on fluke for the next couple of months, mixing in occasional trips out to Barnegat Ridge when the bonito and false albies make their summer appearance. We still have some prime summer dates open, so now's the time to book that summer outing.
June 17, 2012
An incessant northeast wind kept us pretty much tied to the dock through most of last week, but when we did make it out things were looking pretty good. Lou Noftsier was out with me on Monday along with son-in-law Matt and grandsons Kyle, Andrew and Josiah for their annual start of summer fluke trip. Facing a strong NE wind against tide situation most of the day, the crew still managed a steady pick of fish all morning and finished up with ten nice flatties to 22" in the box. Gulp baits and our custom teasers fished in extremely shallow water produced most of the fish. With all of our mid-week trips canceled due to the wind, I snuck out for a bit myself yesterday and found the fish still there and hungry.
Nothing to report on the striper front this week. It seemed like the bite was turning back on at the end of last week but who knows what this week of wind has done to things. In past years this would have been a prime week for big fish just before they moved north, so we'll just have to wait and see what this week brings us.
June 10, 2012
Striper fishing continued to be slow through the early part of the week, prompting many of us to begin speculating on whether it really could be coming to an early close this year. But by late Thursday the big girls had moved back in and found the bunker again, and it's been game on for jumbo stripers out in front of Island Beach State Park for the past few days. Largest fish of the week honors went to George Selph (again) with a 45 pound bass that inhaled a live bunker on Saturday's trip. This week also brought us our first decent showing of bluefish along the beach, ranging in size from 1-3 pound snappers up to 10-12 pound choppers. On the bay, fluke fishing has started to show signs of life now that our slime grass problem has started to diminish so we'll be targeting the flatties more over the coming weeks. Time to go fishing!
May 27, 2012
Two weeks in a row without a lot new to report. The slime weed in the bay has gotten so bad this year that I've actually given up trying to seduce stripers on clam baits or drifting for fluke in the bay until it cleans up. Hopefully that will happen before our spring striper fishing comes to an end, but it's just been an exercise in futility the past couple of weeks. Small blues are hitting poppers on the flats most mornings and the jetties are producing a few short to legal sized bass when conditions are right, but it's mostly an oceanfront fishery right now.
This week saw a dense fog engulf the inshore waters most days, coupled with some sporty inlet and ocean conditions caused by the storms moving past us offshore. After canceling our trips on Tuesday and Thursday, we finally made it out again yesterday to find huge schools of bunker happily swimming along a mile or so off the beach. Unfortunately there didn't seem to be any bass with them and we returned to the dock after a long day with only a livewell full of future crab bait to show for it. The good news from this week is that there's so much bait around right now that it's just a matter of time before the next body of stripers move into the area and things get going again.
May 20, 2012
Not much to report this week. Several trips were canceled due to NOAA forecasts of rough seas that turned out to be somewhat overstated. When people are traveling 2-3 hours just to get here it's usually better to be conservative and save them the trip if the forecast is poor, but it sure hurts to be tied to the dock when the forecast turns out to be significantly off. We did get out on Wednesday to find a dense fog that shrouded the inlet and coastline all day, and ended up staying in the bay without a great deal of success. So we'll just have to shake it off and put that ugly week behind us.
Not too sure what to expect for this week. The strong and gusty east and northeast winds we're seeing this weekend look like they're going to last until mid week, just about the time our first tropical storm of the season (TS Alberto) arrives on the scene. Hopefully that will bring a decent body of fish into the bay looking for food and shelter, and jump start our spring bay striper fishery that so far has been below average. The good news is that we still should have another month of striper fishing ahead of us when the weather clears up.
May 13, 2012
Strong southerly winds and an early showing of that ugly slime weed we see each spring conspired to make for some slow back bay fishing early in the week, but west winds took over late in the week flattening out the seas and it was game on again with large striped bass out front.
Winds blowing a steady 20-25 knots from the south dictated we stay in the bay for Tuesday's trip, and it seemed like an excellent opportunity to see if clam baits would produce a few fish from the inlet channels. Unfortunately, the aforementioned slime weed made it almost impossible to keep clean baits in the water and turned the day into a total blow out. I'm not sure what slime weed actually is, but it seems to show up each spring when we have cold ocean water meeting warm bay water and lasts until we have a pretty good northeast blow to flush it out. It's a bit early this year, but for the time being we'll have to carefully time our clam fishing to get the cleanest water we can. Bluefish and a few weakfish have finally appeared in the bay, so topwater action should be good for the next month or so.
The good news is that the spring run of large striped bass along the beach seems to be taking hold. It's not crazy fishing yet, but trolling the large #4 Maja spoons in deep water is starting to produce some quality fish. Jim Breslin and his buddies Jim and Jim (no, I'm not making that up) were out with me on Friday and landed fish ranging from 37 to 41 pounds, and George Selph was out again with me yesterday adding his 33 pounder to the mix. These fish are still pretty scattered and mostly out in deeper water, so wire line trolling is name of the game right now. But more of them are arriving each day, and as soon as they find the massive schools of bunker along the beach we'll be in for some epic fishing.
There are still a few open dates left for this spring, so give me a call if you're looking to get a trip in before the bass migrate out of our area.
May 6, 2012
Well striper fishing didn't exactly explode this week, but the good news is that fish have started to reappear after completing their annual spawning rituals and they seem to be the big ones we've been waiting for. Looks like the run of trophy sized fish that we look forward to each spring may be about to get started.
On Monday, Pennsylvanian's Greg McGuigan and John Becker had bass in the low 30 pound class before conditions brought us back in early. Trolling white #4 Maja spoons produced the fish after we switched over from chasing bunker schools. Thursday I had the chance to get out by myself for a couple of hours, releasing a fat 47" fish and dropping another similar sized fish within sight of the net. Both of those fish were found on the outskirts of a massive school of bunker that seemed to stretch non-stop from the North Jetty of IBSP all the way up to Seaside, well over ten miles! Just an unbelievable amount of bunker around right now, so the dinner table is set and we've just got to wait for our striped guests to show up in numbers.
I didn't get much chance to check out the back bay action this week, but typically this is the time of year when clams start producing decent numbers of fish in back. With fluke season opening yesterday, we've now got some decent options for those days that the weather isn't conducive to chasing stripers along the beachfront. Still have a couple of open dates later this month for anyone interested.
April 29, 2012
OK, so maybe we got a little spoiled with the off-the-charts striper fishing we had in early April this year. I was tempted to say that fishing in this area was slow again this week, but the reality of the situation is that fishing is actually quite a bit better than it should be for late April and will only improve from here.
The winds early in the week kept everyone pretty close to the dock, and striper fishing out front late in the week seemed to be a continuation of the "slowdown" we saw last week. But there were some positive signs. Massive schools of adult bunker seem to be all over the beachfront right now, and it's only a matter of time until the schools of ravenous post-spawn stripers find them. The bite has already started north of here and a few larger bass were landed by boats trolling bunker spoons yesterday, so it may be getting close. Back bay action is also starting to pick up, with early morning top water action for bass and blues as well as fishing with fresh clams starting to produce along the channels when the tides are right. And while tomorrow is the final day until July, the blackfish bite has been as good as it gets all month long. So considering that it's still April, fishing right now is pretty good and that's a good sign for the coming weeks.
Will this be the week that fishing explodes around here again? Hard to say but I hope so, and if it does this will be a May to remember.
April 22, 2012
Just a brief update this week since there doesn't seem to be a lot going on at the moment. The epic bass bite we've been enjoying around these parts for the past few weeks seemed to slow down mid week, and had completely ground to a halt by Friday. Whether the fish were just taking a bit of a breather or whether they've moved out of the area remains to be seen. There's still a tremendous amount of bait along the beachfront and reports from up north are still pretty strong, so we'll just have to wait and see what things are like after this series of storms blows through over the next couple of days. I have to keep reminding myself that it's still only April, and that most other years we'd still have a few weeks to go before things even get started.
April 15, 2012
Who would believe that it's only April? Warm sunny days, beautiful evenings, and the striper fishing is completely off the charts!
This is a time of year when we're generally anchored up in one of the channels, sitting in a cold damp boat, picking away at a few winter flounder while we're waiting for the first influx of bluefish to start showing up in the back bay. Instead, we're a mile or two from the inlet under sunny 70 degree skies and getting arm numbing action on 20 to 30 pound striped bass. This has to be a dream!
I had Bensalem's George Selph out yesterday on his first trip of the new season, and the bass certainly cooperated with several dozen linesiders ranging from 15 to almost 30 pounds brought to the boat before leaving the fish biting and heading back in. The early morning action was primarily on the troll, with white #4 Tony Maja bunker spoons getting the majority of hits off of Island Beach State Park. But heading south after a couple of hours to look for more consistent action, we came across a vast school of actively feeding bass that absolutely inhaled the soft plastic lures we worked across the surface. The heavy boat traffic that arrived on the scene finally put an end to the party, but not before we had landed enough big bass on light tackle that our arms were tired and sore when we finally headed for home around noon.
This kind of early season fishing is unprecedented around these parts, so only time will tell how long it will last. But the water temperatures are just about ideal, and there is so much bait around that this could go on for a couple of months if we're lucky. Let's hope we're lucky.
April 8, 2012
Hope everyone's enjoying this gorgeous holiday weekend! Hard to believe it's still early April.
With the boat finally back in the water, we took the opportunity to sneak out for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon to see first hand what was going on. We've been getting reports for the past few weeks of striper fishing ranging from fair to epic along the beachfront, but between my off season tax work and other personal commitments I haven't been able to actually see things for myself. Well let me tell you, the reports are accurate. Flocks of gannets over massive schools of bait and bass, so many birds pounding the water that for 3-5 minutes it would look like a waterfall coming off a cliff. And not just once, that scene seemed to reoccur about every 15 minutes or so. Even in the fall I've never seen anything like it. Just being out there watching it was worth the trip, and the fat 25 pounder in the box when I came back in was a bonus. To my recollection we've never had a striped bass season get started this early around here. I can't believe these are migrating fish already, so I guess they're just fish that stayed around all winter due to the warmer than normal ocean temps. But it sure looks like there were a lot more of them than anyone suspected. I can't wait for next weekend to get out there again.
I'll be tied up with taxes until April 17th this year, but will be resuming full time charters on April 18th. Hopefully this fishing will last through June again this year, but I'd say it's time to get some earlier than usual trips booked.
March 27, 2012
Well it's that time of year again: Barnegat Bay is coming back to life after one of the mildest winters I can recall. It's just about time to start fishing again, and I'm hoping you're all looking forward to this season as much as I am. We'll be dropping the boat back in the water over this coming weekend, and I should have things ready to go by early next week.
This is going to be an interesting year for our springtime striper fishing. Normally we're waiting for the first signs that the migrating bass are showing up in our area, but this year they never really left! I've also gotten a couple of reliable reports of bunker and herring schools along the beachfront, so you can be sure there are some trophy fish not too far behind. The water's still a little on the cool side, but everything points to a season that's several weeks ahead of schedule this year. I'm going to be tied to a desk for the next few weeks, but weather permitting I'm going to try to fish weekends until I can resume my full time charter schedule late in the month.
Plenty of good dates are still available for the spring, but they tend to go pretty quickly once the catching starts. So it's time to book now if you're considering getting out this year.
We'll be resuming our weekly fishing reports once the season gets started, probably in April. In the meantime, if you'd like to read about how we did last year, check out our Fishing Reports from the 2011 season.Fishing Reports from the 2011 season
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