The current run of very large stripers in NY/NJ Bight and surrounding areas is a most unusual one in that some fishermen don’t want to catch the “big one” because they can’t keep them under the current regulations.
Virtually all stripers over 20 pounds are females and the key factor in maintaining the population. That’s why the the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has chosen to establish a maximum size rather than allowing harvest of a single striper of 28 inches or more. That wouldn’t normally be a problem for the average angler who struggles to catch big fish. but these aren’t normal times. The coastal migratory run heading to southerly spawning areas this fall has so far consisted almost entirely of bass exceeding 30 pounds.
Most of those seeking stripers for food which would rather have a 10-pounder or even much smaller than that right down to the smallest size that’s legal. Some don’t even consider very large stripers to be edible — though restaurants buy jumbos routinely and often pass them off as “groupers” on the menu.
Yet, most striper addicts aren’t concerned with the food value of their favorite fish — but many would like to retain a trophy bass. Fortunately. these days there are many alternatives. That “one for the wall” doesn’t require killing the fish as taxidermists have fiberglass molds for every size striper and only need the length and girth to make a copy. A photo should be added if there is anything unusual about the fish. An acceptable weight for the bass can be obtained by using the formula length times girth to the fork of the tail, divided by 800. There is a wide range of weights based on length, soo girth is vital — and the fork length must be used rather than total length that’s now used for all other purposes.
In order not to further stress the bass, get it back in the water as quickly as possible. Capt. Erwin Heinrich worked all of the big bass we caught yesterday from his Scales & Tales out of Twin Lights Marina in Highlands alongside the boat to be sure they could swim before getting the bite on his hand plus raised fin and body movements indicating that she’s ready to go down.
Though somewhat heavy tackle is a must on party boats in order not to inconvenience others. it’s not necessary on private and charter boats as the waters are relatively shallow, obstructions are rare, and the boat can be moved if necessary. Yesterday I caught bass up to 49 inches after fairly short fights on tackle that looked to be more suitable for freshwater fishing. The prototype carbon fiber Tsunami Air Wave was only 6 1/3 feet, and in combination with a Tsunami Salt X spinning reel filled with 30-pound braid felt like a feather — but allowed me to put lots of pressure on 30 and 40-pound stripers which were alongside within minutes.
Our group of anglers who make our livings in the sportfishing world don’t like to troll and didn’t want to fish bunkers as every year at this time we’ve ben able to do our favorite thing with Erwin by casting lures for big bass. A few fish were raised on surface lures, but it was only the dependable Tsunami Deep 6.5-inch Shad that could distract stripers from the thousands of bunkers available to them. Not only is casting the most satisfying way to fish, but it’s also perfect for release fishing as the bass aren’t harmed at all and can even be quickly sent on their way without taking them out of the water.
The snag and drop technique seemed to be most efficient yesterday, but it results in too many bass ending up gut-hooked while having to be released. If you use that method, strike right away when a hit is felt. Most importantly. use the largest snag hook you can find as the bass probably won’t be able to swallow it before getting hooked in the mouth. That method will be illegal next year when only a circle hook will be allowed with bait.
Heinrich (908 477-7537) took a chance running down the beach where we found lots of spraying bunker schools and stripers that would hit off Sandy Hook. Tom Lynch of Angry Fish Galleries in Point Pleasant Beach was with us and, as a surfcaster, got excited at the possibility of bass driving those bunkers to the beach for an epic bite. We weren’t too far off, and that area may be worth
Jon Falkowski of Linden was fishing aboard the Miss Belmar Princess yesterday as they got into stripers on jigs. He said there were 17 fares aboard with catches ranging from zero to one pro with six. Jon was happy to get a 12-pound keeper on an old Run-Off jig that another angler told him to try. That angler later admitted that he’d never caught anything on it before.
were no reports today, and nothing will be doing tomorrow as a gale warning was posted at 5 p.m. which runs to Friday afternoon. There will be northeast gusts to 40 knots tonight before dropping to 25-30 with gusts to 35 from the north. That wind diminishes to 20-25 knots in the afternoon. However, the weekend looks good.