Pandemic concerns seem to be cast aside today as anglers frustrated with quarantines took advantage of a calm day to seek out striped bass in Raritan Bay.

Dave Lilly of Hazlet was happy that the boat he used this morning was in the water at Keyport because the roads were clogged with trailers trying to launch at the Keyport ramp. The trolling bite wasn’t what it had been during his previous two trips, and it wasn’t until he changed from the light chartreuse Tony Maja mo-jo to the black pearl model that he started catching stripers steadily in 15-foot depths at the back of the bay.

That dark color seemed to make all the difference as Lilly didn’t see much caught by other trollers or by the fleet of kayackers casting lures. The bass were mostly 34-to-35-inchers. Lilly thought the slower bite might have been due to the cold 42 degree water temperature, whereas it was up to 48 to 50 degrees last week. He talked to a friend who was fishing off Old Orchard and hadn’t seen a bass caught.

On the way back to Keyport later in the morning, Lilly spotted flashing lights at the Keyport ramp and found out that the police had closed the ramp — probably due to prohibited large groups gathering there while waiting to get out.  As a result, he said the arriving boats had to use the Keyport Marina ramp.

When I checked Facebook, there were mentions of similar activity at the Atlantic Highlands Marina and on the water. With so many people not working, there may be a similar situation tomorrow as the forecast is for south winds at just 5-10 knots before shifting to west in the afternoon.

Fishermen should be aware of the danger in fishing in close proximity to friends at this time. Bassmaster reported that a doctor member who went black bass fishing with his buddy recently maintained the six-foot separation by fishing at opposite ends of the boat and sanitizing the net handle after every use.


  1. that’s how you know that I fishing in the early-season no matter how warm it’s been this winter is a day-to-day proposition there is still a lot of cold water that comes down from the Hudson and then to Raritan Bay and there is a lot of cold water that comes in from the ocean up from up North. A Northeast wind will bring that water into the Bay system. Yesterday I know was no bargain for a lot of people and then they should have stayed home and not clog the roadways it is not summer time on the water and it is not May. It is early April and April conditions prevail. One day you catch them the next day you don’t. Shift in the wind plays all kinds of havoc. Yesterday flounder fishing in the navesink was just okay no great shakes. Caught a few short Bass but it was nothing to write home about yesterday just thought you’d like to know Al. Going out again today catch the afternoon tide maybe the waters have warmed again?


  2. Hey AI, I’m a big fan of your reporting. Your
    report on the Raritan river exploding began ”with the pandemic aside’etc. The rest of the piece went on to describe a some what chaotic rush to fish, ramps closed etc. My question is do you think you have an obligation to ask people to stay home for a season due to this pandemic?I think in the coming days we may be seeing allot of fishing spots closing. The beaches, the ramps and Sandy Hook for example ? As a writer who has a large fan based group. have you contemplated urging people to park their boats ? Respectively, Jerry


    1. I’ve been tempted to, but the DEP has been endorsing fishing as recreation if the distancing regulations are observed. That’s hard to do in a boat unless you’re alone, but too broad a regulation might be considered an overreach of government on personal liberty if even the use of a boat by the owner was involved. I’m not boating with others until the pandemic has passed,.

      On the other hand, there’s no reason to stop shore fishing in non-contact areas such as canals and beaches which fit in with the present government rules regarding approved recreation.


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