The striper migration has begun! A mild winter has water temperatures much warmer than the same time last year, and striped bass are on the move, moving toward their spawning grounds in Chesapeake Bay and making their way up the coast.
Chesapeake Bay Striper Report
The Maryland DNR reports that there has been a fair amount of striped bass catch-and-release action in the Susquehanna Flats Catch and Release area this week as water temperatures slowly increase. Most all of the striped bass being caught are males with some exceeding 30 inches.
In the middle bay region, larger female striped bass are moving up toward the spawning reaches in the Nanticoke and Choptank Rivers. If warmer weather prevails the striped bass spawn in these rivers should begin in earnest as early as next week and hopefully will be spread out over the month of April as more striped bass arrive. Fishermen are reminded that these spawning areas in the tidal rivers are strictly off limits to catch and release striped bass fishing.
A few striped bass are being caught close to the surface near the shipping channel edges by trolling. Most of the action can best be described as a very slow pick and the lines off the planer boards are getting the most attention from striped bass. Bay water temperatures in the middle bay region are still in the high 40’s. There continues to be some light tackle action at the Calvert Cliffs Power Plant warm water discharge in the boiling current.
In the lower bay region, the spawning populations of large, female striped bass are moving into the spawning reaches of the tidal Potomac and Patuxent Rivers.
New Jersey Striper Report
The bass are thick around the jetties in Atlantic City and fishermen can’t miss – as long as they use bloodworms, said Noel Feliciano at One Stop Bait and Tackle. Clams and bunker are producing nothing but skates, but once the bloods are on, so are the fish. The only drawback, he said, is the fish are all shorts, but there is plenty of action.
Justin Schenker at Fin-atics in Ocean City reported the bass are there as well, mostly football-sized fish that are hitting worms and clams and soft baits like paddle-tail shads.
The crew at Scott’s Bait and Tackle in Mystic Island reports that there is an abundance of small stripers throughout the area. Best time to fish is at the top of the high tide and the outgoing when the bait is moving. The bait of choice has been bloodworms, but the guys at the shop said there’s been an increase in clam sales so they’re guessing that the fish are beginning to broaden their menu. There have also been reports that bass are chasing herring and bunker into the rivers and there are some bluefish in pursuit as well.
Kurt at Absecon Bay Sportsman reported the bass fishing is finally heating up with stripers back to the Parkway bridges with bloodworms taking the fish. The white perch bite is improving as well and Kurt said the fishing for them appears to best in the Egg Harbor River while the Mullica is holding more bass. Small swimming plugs are also working for bass at night at the Brigantine Bridge.
Short stripers are being caught along the beach in Brigantine according to RipTide Bait and Tackle, but they are still waiting to see the first keeper-sized fish.
Capt. Phil Sciortino at the Tackle Box in Hazlet said there are plenty of bass being caught in Raritan Bay in the Cliffwood Beach area. The fish are mostly shorts, but there’s a load of them, including the occasional keeper. Clams and worms are catching the fish, but as the bay remains packed with bunker, it can’t be long before they’re on the menu.The bass have shown up at the Causeway Bridge, reported Matt at Tony’s Bait and Tackle in Manahawkin. Bloodworms are the bait to use there, he said, while bait and plugs are catching fish at the Power Plant.
New York Striper Report
John from Hudson Park Bait and Tackle in New Rochelle confirms reports of small striped bass being caught on ½-ounce bucktails out of Orchard Beach and Low Harbor. Although the pickings have been slow so far, John says “we need to dust off our gear and get ready now because they will be upon us before we know it.”
Small stripers are also holding steady around the George Washington Bridge and back of Little Neck Bay, as well as in Jamaica Bay as reported by Paul from River Bay Outfitters in Oceanside and Carmine from The Camp Site Sport Shop in Huntington Station.
The holdover striper fishing has been particularly good in the tidal rivers. The Housatonic remains a hot bed for schoolies, and also continues to put up the best quality fish of all the rivers. Better numbers are starting to come from the Connecticut and the Thames. The Providence River and Narrow River typically holds some holdover stripers, but reports from these areas have been dismal. Anglers are predicting that the first sea-lice covered schoolies will likely show up along the Rhode Island coast in the next 7-10 days.
Cape Cod/ Massachusetts
Holdover striped bass have been reported in tidal waters on and off the Cape, along with the first few scout herring. Boston Harbor, and particularly the Mystic River, have also given up a few holdover schoolie stripers. Anglers are predicting that the first sea-lice covered schoolies will likely show up in the third week of April.