Large stripers turn on in Raritan Bay

It isn’t even April yet, but large stripers haveJoe Massa first bass turned on to lures in Raritan Bay.

Joe Massa made a short trip yesterday afternoon with his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina. After only catching small bass on worms, he decided to troll a Rapala X-15 diving plug and soon hooked into a 31-inch bass.

That fishing exploded today. The Tackle Box in Hazlet reported that Andrew and Kenny Dubman had lots of bass up to a 30-pounder while casting shads, and Capt. Johnny Bucktails had a similar report from Just Sayin’ out of Keyport.  E. Brem from Oceanport reported doubleheaders trolling mo-jos. Matt Calabria continues to catch stripers up to a 30-incher from shore using his wormballs.

Wormball bass

Jerry Lasko fished the bay side at Bay Head yesterday evening as Maren Toleno broke the ice for the spring with a 14-inch striper.

I was holding off writing up the annual IGFA Fund-raising Banquet in Spring Lake Heights next month while expecting to get a cancellation notice due to the pandemic — which did come from Jeff Merrill today.

The annual Spring Lake Trout Contest for kids also had to be cancelled.

The weather is turning on us with southeast gusts to  20 knots tonight plus rain. Thursday starts with east winds at 10-15 knots plus gusts to 20 before dropping to northeast at 5-10 along with rain in the afternoon.

Spanish mackerel in the surf

A very unusual showing of Spanish mackerel within range of surfcasters occurred today.  Some years we see a few jumping a little too far out, but that semi-tropical species does come in closer at times. You just have to be at the right place at the right time.

I was at the right place this morning as I cast a popper for stripers at Bay Head around dawn without raising anything or seeing any bait.  Joe Melillo, of Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant,  arrived as I left and caught two big sea robins casting a Run Off Sand Eel jig  — and was still there when the Spanish showed up. He could barely reach them, but caught three on that jig. I also heard that Joe Milko was fishing north of Manasquan Inlet when he saw another angler catch a Spanish on a metal before he switched to a metal and also caught one.  The best bet for them is to make long casts to where they are showing and reel the jig as fast as possible.

Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park didn’t report ant exotics, but noted some small blues are hitting metal in the surf — and fluking in the surf remains very good. They say all you need is Gulp and a bucktail. The Gulp 4-inch Swimming Mullet is standard, but those using the 5-inch Gulp Swinning Mullet or 6-inch Grub are catching more keepers while not getting as many hits.

Shell E. Caris fluke

Shell E. Caris is a famed surf striper pro, but even he is giving fluking some time. This 22-incher weighed 3.55 pounds.

There was lots of short fluke action out of Atlantic Highlands today. Capt. Rob Semkewyc said there were DEP employees aboard his Sea Hunter today who selected several anglers to check. Paul Schuckalo kept them busy as he caught 26 shorts and two keepers.  Capt. Ron Santee was into that short action on the Fishermen, but Scott Ure and his son combined for five keepers. Despite the forecast, it was a beautiful day without a drop of rain.

The Golden Eagle from Belmar had catches of up to a bucket of chub mackerel today along with some sea bass, blues and ling.

Joe Massa decided to make a mid-afternoon  trip with his My Three Sons from Morgan Marina after it became obvious that the dire predictions weren’t likely to occur. The only problem with going out then is that bait is a lot harder to castnet than early in the morning. We couldn’t find any adult bunkers, and only  a few peanuts, but gave the Hudson River a quick shot anyway. I got a good fight out of a 15-pound striper on light conventional tackle before the release, and Joe released a similar bass before we ran back as the south wind started to blow harder.

 

 

Raritan Bay stripers turning on

The one bit of good local fishing news around the snow, rain and wind came from The Tackle Box in Hazlet as they reported lots of short stripers and some keepers caught by shore anglers on worms over the weekend. Coleen Shea of Cranford landed a 33-incher Sunday night, and released five other bass. The shop also noted that the water temperature was up to 49 degrees, and lures were starting to work.

 

Tackle box striperCapt. Joe Massa didn’t have such good fortune Saturday when he made a brief attempt with frozen clam bellies on his new My Three Sons from Morgan Marina. He chummed in very shallow waters, and got the skunk off with a short striper off Union Beach. Joe talked to Capt. Freddy Gamboa, who tried trolling in the bay on Andrea’s Toy from Keyport without success.

Gale warnings are up for Wednesday.