From the time I was a youngster just getting into fishing, there was nothing I looked forward to more at Christmas than any kind of fishing tackle. My parents didn’t fish, so the few hooks or floats they gifted were usually not appropriate for the dock fishing I was doing  by bicycle, but I still got a kick out of speculating about how I might be able to put them to use some day.


Though there’s only limited fishing opportunities now, small striped bass should be available in the surf throughout the month and possibly well into January. Thus, relatively light surfcasting gear can be put to use right away.

My favorite surf outfit is the Tsunami Elite 8-foot, 10-inch two-piece rod that’s light enough to cast with all day but still with enough power to handle a big bass should one show up. Even though I drive a Honda Accord, I use that rod as if it were one-piece as with just a a slight bend of the tip it fits in a compact car from the back corner to the front corner. It got a good workout with 40-pound cownose rays in the summer, and is teamed with a Sjimano Spheros SW5000 reel filled with 30-pound braid. That outfit can handle the 3-ounce metals required on a rough day or the light 6-inch Tsunami Halographic Sand Eels that are the go-to attractor on calmer days or when the wind is behind us. Below is a shot Jerry Lasko took of me at IBSP last week with a typical current striper on the outfit described and the Tsunami Sand Eel.


Al's surf bassYou can’t go wrong with a package of the Tsunami eels as a stocking stuffer. Many types of metal  will do the job in heavier water, but I’ve done best with the Run-Off Swimming Sand Eel in silver. Various 1 1/2-to-2-ounce metals with red, white, black or green tails are often effective with the small sand eels that are now the basic forage. Teasers are important, and a wide variety of flies  and small sand eel imitations will do the job. Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant ties up a no-tangle teaser rig that holds the teaser off at an angle so it doesn’t wrap around the leader. Melillo also notes that this is the time to bring in rod and reel repairs so he can work on them over the winter and have everything ready for next season.

If you’re not sure about what to get, a gift certificate is an easy alternative. For boat fishermen the same applies to party and charter boat trips.

Even lighter tackle is appropriate as the end-of-the-season mini-bass take over. I then switch to a light 7-foot rod with a Canyon 350 reel — the same outfit I cast with during the season in Shark River and Point Pleasant Canal.

There wasn’t much news from the surf today as it was still rough from yesterday’s north wind. I talked to one angler leaving Bay Head who hadn’t had a hit. but saw another surfcaster catch a 16-inch striper.  Jim Louro had much better conditions at Belmar than yesterday, and caught two bass that included a slim 24-incher and a mini-bass. His friend J.J. got one before dawn on a teaser, as did Dr. Dave Cheli.

The Ocean Explorer from Belmar had “lock-and-load” blackfishing today as tog hit crabs as soon as they hit bottom. There were many limits plus loads of shorts.

The forecast for Wednesday is NW winds at 15-20 knots before dropping to 10-15 in the afternoon.

At Brielle, the Jamaica is sailing to the far offshore wrecks for jumbo sea bass at 11 p.m. Call 732 528-5014 for reservations. The 100-foot Paramount will be making the same trip 10 p.m. That’s a limited trip at $195. Call 732 528-2117 for reservations.




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