The bass are here but nasty weather keeps thwarting efforts to catch them.
Only the truly committed are heading out in the wind, rain and sometimes snow to chase stripers. The tough conditions haven’t helped the winter flounder fishing either with only a handful reported caught so far. It’s a fickle time of year so the current state of affairs comes as no big surprise.
Mark Fuduli at Tackle World in Rochelle Park said blood worms are working best in the Hackensack and Hudson rivers for the handful of anglers braving the bad weather. Soft plastics and small plugs are accounting for a few fish as well, he added. Fuduli said waters scheduled for trout stocking will close on Sunday at 8 a.m. for fishing for all species until opening day on April 8.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said bass are being caught in Raritan Bay and the Raritan and Shrewsbury rivers. Bloodworms are working best but a few have been taken on NLBN shads and other small plastics. The Tackle Box will be at the Saltwater Expo in Edison this weekend and the Asbury Park Fishing Show at the Berkley Oceanfront Hotel on Sunday.
Mike Pinto at Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright said the crummy weather has taken the steam out of the start to the season. He’s heard of bass up in the bay on lures and worms but nothing in the way of winter flounder. Pinto did say the shop is expecting a sizable order of Salty C’s wooden plugs in the next week or so.
Mike Gleason at TAK Waterman in Long Branch said things slowed way down with all the rain and wind. There are still bass being caught but not a lot of folks are trying. But, he said, there is bait everywhere with adult bunker up in the bay and in the Shrewsbury and Navesink rivers. Out front, gannets are diving on schools of herring and bunker. Gleason expects the fishing to break open with better weather on the way and the arrival of the new moon on March 21. TAK Waterman will be at the Saltwater Expo this weekend with a variety of lures, including plugs from Swagger Bait Co., along with plenty of TAK Waterman gear and clothing.
Bob Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said it’s been a very quiet week with not much going on close to home. There’s bass to the north and south and he’s heard of a few winter flounder at the top of the Point Pleasant Canal. Fishermen’s Den will be at the Asbury Park Fishing Show, one of the oldest and best plug shows in the nation, this Sunday at the Berkeley Oceanfront Hotel. Doors open at 9 a.m.
Matt Haeger at The Reel Seat in Brielle said it was pretty slow around there this week. The bass are moving around, he said, and if you were in the right spot, there were fish to be had in the back bay. Small X-Raps and Kettle Creeks shads were catching fish.
Kyle Tanger at Fishermen’s Supply in Point Pleasant Beach said the weather has delayed the early spring fishing. It helps to remember it’s still March and while everyone gets excited when bass season opens, conditions are always a question mark. Getting bass to hit artificial lures in cold water, under 45 degrees, is a lot to ask, he said, and that’s where it’s been for the last couple of days. Folks fishing with worms, he said, are catching most of the fish. Fishermen’s Supply will be up in Edison at the Expo this weekend with a full line of Hobie Kayaks. Tanger said if one of those is on your wish list, head to the Expo.
Dennis Palmatier at the Hook House in Toms River said participation fell off a cliff this past week amid all the bad weather. Bass continue to be caught in the Toms River on worms while Yo-Zuri twitch baits and other small plugs have accounted for a few bass in the back bay. The stripers are pretty spread out, he added. The white perch bite slowed down as well and he suspects that’s due to spawning. Palmatier said he’s carrying some new items this year including Gamakatsu sea bass jigs and Tsunami beach carts.
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Pete Kupper at Charlie’s Bait and Tackle in Normandy Beach said the bass are around but there’s nobody really fishing for them. The few folks giving it a try are picking stripers at the bay bridges and the bayside docks in Lavallette. He did hear of a few winter flounder caught in the bay. Heavy chumming led to those catches. Some sunny days and warmer water will help that fishery.
Frankie Z at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park said they’re picking some small bass in the back bay with worms outfishing artificials by a hefty margin. Next Saturday, March 25, Grumpy’s will be holding their big Spring has Sprung Sales Event with Scabelly Lures and Big Rock Plugs on site. There will be seminars and special discounts on a wide variety of tackle.
Tom at Creekside Outfitters in Waretown said they’re picking stripers in the Mullica River and along the sedge banks on plugs and paddle tails. The white perch bite, he added, is still going strong on bloodworms. Although it’s a bit south of Waretown, he did hear of ocean stripers hitting fresh clams by Corson’s Inlet.
Jared Grady at Fishermen’s Headquarters in Ship Bottom said stripers up to 34 inches have been caught in the back bay on bloodworms during the day. Small plugs and plastics are working better at night. The white perch bite, he said, has been slow and he’s heard nothing on the winter flounder front.
Chris at Tight Lines Bait and Tackle in Somers Point said it’s been slow there this week but there have been bass caught on soft plastics, small plugs and bloodworms with Jeffers Landing a good spot. Outgoing tide seems to be best with the warmer water getting the bite going.
Best Bets for the Weekend
It looks like better weather is on the way, at least through Saturday, so there’s a window to get out and fish.
Raritan Bay has been giving up bass on worms from the Bayshore beaches and small plugs and plastics are catching fish in the back bay and the Raritan and Hackensack rivers.
The Toms River and backwaters of Barnegat Bay have also been producing stripers on worms, small plugs and shads.
This year is the 30th year for the Asbury Park Fishing Show and will boast lures from some of the finest plug makers working today. It’s always a good chance to catch up with old friends, find that special plug and stock up on essentials for the coming season.