Striped bass anglers have plenty to be grateful for this Thanksgiving as this fall run just keeps running.
The bite has been absolutely insane since last Friday, with big schools of stripers stretching from Raritan Bay down to Island Beach State Park. The sheer number of fish is staggering, with many experienced anglers calling it the best they’ve ever seen.
And it doesn’t seem like it will end anytime soon. There are still loads of bass to the north and plenty of bait continues to move out of the rivers and bays.
Rick Hebert at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said it was a crazy weekend of striper fishing in Raritan Bay and down along the beaches. Now that temperatures are dropping, Hebert said some anglers are turning their attention to blackfish. Local reefs and wrecks are holding fish but he said it usually takes the tog to get used to the colder water before the bite really gets going.
Patrick Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said it’s been incredible fishing on the beaches with bass blitzes from Sandy Hook down to Sea Bright over the weekend. He said his father, Capt. Phil Sciortino, had all the bass he wanted fly fishing with a friend in Raritan Bay on Monday. There are still loads of bass in the back of the bay, he added.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said the beach bite was on fire over the weekend. Sunday saw the fish blitz from Sandy Hook down to Monmouth Beach with OutCast lures, shads, bucktails and poppers all catching fish. Pinto said he’s heard of a few people blackfishing, but not many.
Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said it’s been a wild fall run. He said he’s been chasing stripers for more than 20 years and hadn’t seen anything like this. What he finds amazing about this year is the enormous amount of fish in a wide variety of sizes. He fished a blitz on Sunday that lasted from mid-morning until dark and saw fish up to 30 pounds. They were chasing shads, poppers, swimmers, bucktails and just about anything else thrown at them. Gleason said he’s hoping there will still be a shot at some migrating bluefin.
Last Friday was absolutely nuts in Asbury Park and Ocean Grove with stripers stacked up on the beach. The surf between the Ocean Grove Pier and the first jetty to the south was boiling with bass feasting on peanuts. The fish appeared again on Saturday, just not as thick. Flyrodders were doing especially well in close to the beach.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said the bass fishing hasn’t been this good in years. He was stuck in the shop last Friday when everybody and their brother was calling with reports of unbelievable blitzes from Asbury Park down to Manasquan. Flycaster Bill Massey fished the Sea Girt surf and caught over a dozen bass. Matthews said the fish in Sea Girt ranged from 28 to 40 inches with many in the keeper range. And while the surfcasters were doing well, Matthews said those on the boats did even better. The Big Mohawk and Golden Eagle party boats out of Belmar are among those getting their limits of striped bass. The Big Mohawk will now be blackfishing starting Thanksgiving Day.
Capt. Pete Sykes of Parker Pete’s Sportfishing out of Belmar will be fishing on Thanksgiving but sticking with stripers. He said there is just an insane amount of bass around right now. There could be fish until Christmas, he added. He fished to the north on Tuesday and had 30 keepers come over the rail on the first drift. Parker Pete’s will be running open boat trips on Thanksgiving Day and Friday. Check his Facebook page for next week’s open boat trips.
Capt. Jay Richardella of Side Job Charters out of Belmar wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s the best year ever, but it’s been incredible fishing. He said it’s been lights out fishing pretty much every day with the exception of Sunday when gale winds and frigid temps made for tough going. The fishing bounced right back on Monday with keepers and jumbos in the mix. He’s going to be sticking with stripers and has a few open dates. Capt. Jay can be contacted through his website.
Capt. Steve Spinelli of the Skylarker out of Belmar has been splitting his time between striped bass and blackfish. While the striper fishing has been “lock and load,” blackfishing has been a bit tougher.
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Lloyd Bailey at The Reel Seat in Brielle joined the chorus in praising this year’s striper bite. He’s been catching plenty of bass on the beach on small poppers, gliders and shads. Anything with a small to medium profile has been working best for him. He said he hasn’t heard much on the offshore tog bite, but then again, stripers are getting most of the attention.
Jason Szabo at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach called the bass fishing from Sandy Hook down to Island Beach State Park just spectacular. He said the bite has also been good at night along the beaches with butterfish and sand eels mixed in with all the peanut bunker. There are also stripers at the Manasquan Inlet, back through the river and into the Point Pleasant Canal. There’s tog in the canal as well and on the local reefs and wrecks. He also heard of better offshore sea bass fishing 40 to 80 miles out.
Capt. Danny Gregory on the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach has switched to blackfishing and Monday was a good day with several limits around the boat and plenty of bites. He’s sailing every day 7:30 to 2:30 except Monday when it’s a blackfish marathon from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Chris Parlow from Captain Bill’s Landing in Point Pleasant Beach reported that striper fishing on Tuesday was terrific from Sandy Hook down to Sea Bright. He was among those who got in on the good fishing. Schoolies and keepers were feeding on peanut bunker with swim jigs and topwater plugs were working all day. He also heard of limits of nice blackfish being caught on the local wrecks and reefs.
Frank Giacalone at Gabriel Tackle in Brick reported that there are plenty of stripers on the local beaches. If you’re sailing out of the Manasquan Inlet, he suggests heading north then working your way south. Flutter spoons, swim shads and top water plugs are producing.
Pete Kupper at Charlie’ Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said it was crazy striper fishing over the weekend with a 48-inch bass caught by shop regular Lisa Schardien on a blurple SP Minnow the highlight. Kupper said there were butterfish in the surf there as well. Charlie’s 11th Annual Surf Turkey Striped Bass Tournament kicked off on Wednesday with a guaranteed $2,000 first prize. It’s a catch-and-release tournament and Kupper is hoping all these fish hang around for the weekend.
Ray Kerico at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said the weekend was absolutely crazy. Everyone was waiting for the bass to make their way south and the bass did not disappoint, showing up on Saturday morning. They hit just about everything and Kerico did mention there were butterfish in the bait mix. With all of the fish to the north, he expects more fish to arrive with each passing day.
Best Bets for the Weekend
Bass, bass and more bass. It’s starting to sound like a broken record but not one people are anxious to fix.
Boat and beach anglers are all catching fish and there’s every reason to believe the hot bite will continue. Find the bait and the stripers should be nearby.
Blackfish are the other option with the Point Pleasant Canal, inlets and local reefs and wrecks giving up keepers. Have a happy Thanksgiving.