Like the Energizer Bunny, the bass bite keeps going and going.
While many anglers have put their tackle away for the winter, the stripers show no signs of quitting. They are still in Raritan Bay and gathered in schools off the beaches of Monmouth and Ocean counties.
At the same time, reports on the blackfishing point to an improvement in the action while bluefin tuna are feeding relatively close to shore. Not too bad for mid-December
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said bass anglers are finding stripers at the same place they find them in the spring – way back in Raritan Bay. Hebert said the fish are as far back as Perth Amboy with many of them in the 28- to 36-inch range. Trolling, shads and flutter spoons are all catching fish.
He’s getting reports of an improved blackfish bite, especially on the northern spots.
Hebert also reported good sea bass fishing for those willing to travel.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said the striper fishing is still crazy good in Raritan Bay. The back bay has been the spot with land-based anglers in the area getting fish from the “rocks and docks.”
Sciortino said the NLBN paddle tails and jig heads he’s now carrying are working well on the bay stripers.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said it’s been quiet in the surf there with just a pick of fish to be had for those willing to put the time in.
He heard about the stripers in Raritan Bay but that’s about all the good news he had.
Mike Gleason at Tak Waterman in Long Branch said the bluefin tuna fishing has been very good with Madd Mantis poppers and Hogy paddle tails doing the job. The trick is finding the fish.
The striper bite for the boats, he said, is holding up but it’s gone quiet on the beach. Surfcasters are picking a few fish at night
It’s been quiet as well in the Ocean Grove surf. There’s been fish around after dark but it’s been slow going.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the striper boats out of the marina are still getting fish, mostly to the south of the Shark River Inlet. The beaches have been quiet there as well, he said, with the night providing the better fishing
He said the tog fishing has been decent at the inlet and the flounder fishing is good back in the river. The boats that have been sailing for blackfish, like the Big Mohawk and Capt. Cal II, are coming back to the dock with good catches.
Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters continues to put his customer on stripers. Tuesday’s trip saw a boat limit of bass up to 36 inches and he said there are still plenty of fish around.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar also reported plenty of bass off the beaches and he’s got openings on trips scheduled for the next several days.
Capt. Steve Spinelli on the Skylarker out of Belmar said he’s been catching stripers and blackfish on his most recent trips. The blackfishing is steady if not spectacular with a number of limits while the stripers have been in the 28- to 36-inch range.
John Vafiadis at the Reel Seat in Brielle said the tog fishing has been showing a steady improvement, especially in the keeper department.
He said there are still a few spots open for the Reel Seat’s special blackfish trip this Friday aboard the Big Mohawk. The crew from the shop will be offering tog tips and strategies.
Vafiadis said the striper fishing is still good, just not as crazy as it’s been in recent weeks. He’s heard rumors of sand eels around and suggested that surfcasters might have better luck if they switched from shads to Avas and other sand eel imitations.
He’s been getting good reports on the tuna fishing as well and added that smaller baits seem to be working as he heard the bluefin are feeding on baby hake.
Kyle Tanger at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said he’s had good reports on the bluefin as well 15 to 18 miles out. The number of boats out chasing the tuna rivals that of the summer. Smaller Madd Mantis poppers and stick baits have been working.
The striper fishing has been good for the boats trolling umbrella rigs off the beaches while it’s been a slow go for surfcasters. Kyle said he’s been doing well with bass back in the Manasquan River fishing swimming plugs very slowly at night.
He also said the trout fishing has been very good in the back of the Manasquan River and in local lakes and ponds. He’s been catching a lot of holdover trout up to 20 inches.
Capt. Kenny Namowitz of the Mimi VI out of Point Pleasant Beach reported that the stripers are still all over the place but he’s been concentrating on blackfish.
The fishing has been a little up and down with some days producing more tog than others. There seems to be plenty of fish around, he added. The Mimi VI is sailing open boat for tog on weekdays.
Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle Co. in Brick reported that the local beaches are still producing stripers on shads, metal-lip swimmers and paddle tails. He even had a few reports of blues showing up in the surf.
The striper bite is still hot for the boats, he added, on the troll with umbrella rigs and Mojos and with flutter spoons and large shads.
Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said surfcasters there continue to pick bass on the beach. He said anglers using sand eel imitations are doing better than those throwing shads.
He’s still hoping that all of the stripers up north in the bay make a run south along the coast.
Jenni Ackerman at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said it’s been quiet on the beach lately with only those putting in a lot of time rewarded with fish. But, she said, there have been rumors of sand eels in the area.
There must have been something to them because a late report from Grumpy’s on Wednesday announced a day-long catch of bass from schoolies to 30-inchers on Avas, paddle tails, teasers and Tsunami sand eels.
Fishing Forecast for Northern New Jersey
This season’s incredible bass fishing won’t last forever. The stripers are still in Raritan Bay and off the beaches so a boat trip is your best chance to catch a few before it’s over.
Don’t give up on the beaches yet either. There are indications sand eels have arrived so Avas, teasers and sand eel imitations are worth a try in the suds.