For the first time this season, the words “red hot” were used to refer to the striped bass fishing. It seems as though the backwater bite has broken open and anglers are finally catching big numbers of bass. Tog fishing is steadily improving, and fishermen pushing to deeper water are still finding enough codfish to make it worth the trip.
Delaware Bay Insider Captain Bob Cope reported that there are a lot of stripers around the bay, but getting one to bite has been challenging. The fish are easily spotted on the surface and every once in a while, one will grab a plug, but for the most part Delaware Bay fishing has been a bit tough. On the beaches in Cape May, however, stripers are being taken on clams in good numbers.
Bass are also being caught on the beaches in Sea Isle and Ocean City. According to Bill at Fin-Atic’s in Ocean City, the real fishing has been taking place in the backwaters. The Parkway Bridge behind Ocean City is a very popular area for spring stripers. Clams are the best bait, but bloodworms are also catching. For anglers looking to get some blackfishing in before the season closes on May 1, the wrecks and reefs from just off the beach to 50 or 60 feet of water are producing well at the moment. In the coming weeks, even shorebound anglers will have a good shot at the blackfish, as these fish set up on jetties and bridges before slipping into the backwaters to spawn. Bill said stripers in the Great Egg Harbor River are spawning, and encourages anglers to leave the fish alone until they drop back out after successfully reproducing.
Bill also mentioned that codfish were lingering in 100- to 150-foot depths, and that anglers are having decent luck dropping clams to these fish.
Greg from Fisherman’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom got his second report of a drumfish being taken in the Tuckerton area on Thursday morning. Greg says drum move in around mid-April and the fishing is pretty good until the end of the month. Winter flounder continue to be caught and some stripers are still hitting in the backwaters. Greg also had a report of tautog being caught on the Barnegat Inlet South Jetty.
The scales at Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park have seen some traffic this week with a number of small keeper-size bass falling to clams on Island Beach and in the waters of Barnegat Bay. The beaches have produced a somewhat steady bite with short stripers, and with the water temperature in the high 40s, things should be breaking open very soon.
Some dreary weather on opening trout day made fishing tough this past weekend, but anglers still managed to catch trout. Rest assured that there are plenty more waiting in New Jersey streams and lakes for anglers looking to catch some more of these beautiful freshwater fish.
Best Bets for the Weekend
Well it seems that no matter where you plan on wetting a line in the Garden State this week, if you are after bass, you’ll want to make sure you have clams. As is the case most years, in the early season, clams will outfish bunker chunks and artificial lures. With nice weather forecasted, be sure to call ahead to your local tackle shop to confirm that they have fresh bivalves in stock.
There are only two more weeks of toggin’ left before the spring closure, and the reports lately have been very good. I’d advise packing along some green crabs with your clams and trying for tog around jetties or inshore wrecks after you’ve had your fill of striper fishing.