Matching the hatch can be vital even during striper abundance

Bunker spoon pro Dave Lilly ran right into an abundance of bunkers and big stripers in Raritan Bay this morning, but his usually reliable large Tony Maja bunker spoons weren’t getting hit. Then he noticed the bunkers weren’t very large. He switched to a fluke rod with braided line and added a leader with a smaller Tony Maja Lolipop spoon rigged above a mojo to get it down — and it was game on with stripers over 30 pounds after that. Lily thought he had a real monster on at one point, but it turned out to be a doubleheader. He finally boated one bass barely small enough to keep at 37.5 inches on the mojo before heading back arm weary after a couple of hours.

Allen Riley saw the massive bunker schools as he was driving over the Highlands Bridge to the Sandy Hook surf where they were composed of large peanuts and stayed mostly out of range in a big fleet. Surfcasters were able to snag a few bunkers, but none of the anglers hooked up, and dead baits were ignored.

There was a brief, but better showing in the Ocean County surf, where Jerry Lasko finally connected with a 44-incher on bunker this morning as Maren Toleno caught a 45-inch bass.

It was fortunate that Chris Carroll had a day off school as he was able to join his father Bill on Megan Beth from Point Pleasant as they sailed out of Manasquan Inlet right into schools of bunkers being chased by whales and even a big tuna as Chris released his first two jumbo stripers of 40 and 45 inches

The Queen Mary from Point Pleasant had released a half-dozen jumbo stripers by 8 a.m.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar returned from Monday night’s tuna trip with all aboard catching at least one in the 60-80-pound class. They will be striper fishing in the morning when the forecast is for southwest winds at 5-10 knots before increasing to 10-15 with gusts to 20 in the afternoon.

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