A sheet of skim ice covered the lagoon behind Margate, NJ as Captain Ed Berger maneuvered the FM Tuna out of the slip and toward Great Egg Inlet. I’d bumped into Ed the day before at Tackle Direct in Egg Harbor Township, and he invited me to join him and his friend Craig Rogers of Steelfin Angling for some striper fishing.
Though it was cold—26 degrees as we left the dock—there was no wind and flat calm seas, a rarity for late November. The fish were scattered, and the bait, bunker, were deep, which made trolling the best option. We were a couple miles off Margate when the rod trolling a Mann’s Stretch 30 doubled over with the first fish of the day.
Staying in that area, the bite was steady, with rod going down every 10 or 15 minutes. The stripers ranged from 34 to 36 inches, and all had sagging guts full of big bunker. They looked like I felt after my second helping of turkey on Thursday night. Mixed in the with bass were a few spiny dogs and a big bluefish.
As Ed was releasing another chunky striper, Craig spotted a fish on the surface and grabbed a topwater-rigged rod out of the rocket launcher, and within a couple twitches, had a bass explode on the lure. At that, we pulled in the trolling gear and began casting with light tackle to breaking bass. The fish were keyed in on tiny baitfish, but we managed a few before heading for the dock.