Quite in contrast to the usually aggressive spring bluefish arriving inshore this month, choppers in the ocean can be very frustrating — especially for party boat anglers who can’t get hits on the metal jigs they normally use. That seemed to be the case Tuesday on the Golden Eagle from Belmar which reported breaking blues and lots of bunkers, but few blues caught.

I experienced the same thing decades ago before finding a relatively simple solution. The problem seems to be that early blues aren’t actually feeding on the surface, but rather just enjoying the warmth of sun-warmed surface waters. They weren’t interested in following a jig into the cold depths. Even poppers didn’t always work on those lazy blues. Yet, by casting a small swimming plug such as a Mambo Minnow, Bomber, or Rebel just far enough beyond and ahead of a surfacing blue and reeling it right by its head the lure would invariably be hit. I hate to deal with the treble hooks. but the results were outstanding. This is a good time to use up any already beat-up plugs with rusty hooks!

Ironically, another good way I found for getting a few early season shark baits in the boat was to very slowly troll the areas blues were showing with small metal jigs that will ride just under the surface. If you catch a “racer” blue that’s long and very skinny, don’t bother bringing it to the fillet board as you’ll find that it has grayish meat and very little of it.

Thursday’s forecast is for northwest winds at 15-20 knots with gusts to 30 which drop to 15-20 in the afternoon.

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