It’s unlikely that anyone was ishing in today’s west gale, but N.J. Shore striper fishing wasn’t always as poor as it’s been lately.
Indeed, one of the most memorable days I ever had was on Dec. 22, 2004, when my personal release count was 106 stripers while casting with relatively light spinning tackle. I also had Capt. Hans Kaspersetz and Hani Fares aboard that day when my Sheri Berri II was based out of Manasquan Inlet.
Shortly after turning south from the inlet, I saw birds dipping off Mantoloking. The bass were feeding on both peanut bunkers and 7-inch herring, and were moving to the south in a 20 mph west wind. I was able to catch so many because I was using a Joe Blaze teaser fly in addition to a Tsunami Shad — and was catching mostly doubleheaders of the bass that ranged up from 16 inches to one that was 30 1/2 inches. Hans and Hani stuck with just the shad, but still caught about 50 to 75 bass each. John Green and other surfcasters were also in on the action most of the time. We ended up off Seaside Park in the afternoon before running back.
About 10 years ago there was also another strange occurrence during Christmas week as Capt. Joe Massa decided to make a last trip with his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina. I joined him along with my son Mike and nephew Bob Correll. Joe was having trouble with his fishfinder as we neared Shrewsbury Rocks, but I told him not to worry about it since birds were up at the inner buoy. Mike was hooked up right away, but it was a cod that had the jig. Though the others caught mostly cod, my rig was producing stripers in a variety of sizes plus bluefish — and we also jigged a blackfish and saw a large bluefin tuna jump right near the buoy. I don’t think that odd mixture of species in shallow waters has occurred since then — but you never know in December!
Yesterday’s storm left us with a big swell and dirty waters, but the west winds should clear that up in the next couple of days. The forecast is for gale warnings to come down this evening before tomorrow morning brings west 10-15-knot winds with gusts to 20.
The Big Mohawk from Belmar will be blackfishing at 6:30 a.m. on Dec. 23 and 24.