Back Bay/River Striper Season Opens Tuesday
It’s the fishing version of March Madness: the March 1 opener of the bay and tidal river striped bass season opens one second after midnight next Tuesday, and it’s a sure bet that there will be anglers on the banks casting blood worm-baited rigs in the hopes of scoring the first bass of the new season.
We remember in years past the before daylight near shoulder-to-shoulder crowds along Graveling Point in Great Bay at the end of Radio Road on Mystic Island (Little Egg Harbor). This mouth of the Mullica River area was traditionally the first go-to area because its shallows warmed quicker, bringing out the worms and crustaceans which in turn attracted stripers.
There were those years that a keeper would be caught on the opener, but oftentimes it was a couple of weeks, sometimes longer for a legal (28-inch or longer) bass to be dragged up on the muddy bank, but plenty of shorts were caught, sating the striper hunger of us so deprived for the previous few months.
Blood worms are the go-to bait during March and into April. Fresh clam (if you can get it) comes in to its own as the Fool Month progresses; however, it’s the bloods that will do the catching now.
Bloods are expensive, no doubt about it, with the jumbos demanding premium prices. However, if you want to catch bass, you gotta put the cash down or the card in the slot.
Remember, when using natural bait of any kind when fishing for stripers, non-offset circle hooks are the law.
Top early season south Jersey areas include the Mullica River and Graveling Point, and the Egg Harbor, Tuckahoe, Toms, lower Bass, and Maurice rivers. Not to be overlooked are the sedge bank areas in Great Egg Harbor and
Barnegat bays, and the ICW extending from Ocean City down through Stone Harbor.
Looking for big bass? And I mean BIG bass? Then head across the Garden State to the Delaware River. In the long stretch from Bordentown down through Paulsboro, one can expect stripers in the 30-plus pound class, with some in excess of 40-pounds being caught every spring. This is a big water/big tackle scenario (read: surf stick outfits) and only the biggest blood worms need apply.
The daily limit is one fish from 28-inches to less than 38-inches. On the Delaware River below the Calhoun Street Bridge in Trenton, it’s catch-and-release only from April 1-May 31.
Charter skipper and tackle shop owner Captain Dave Showell talks early season stripers 7-8 tomorrow morning on Raack & Fin Radio with host Tom P. He’ll be running an opening day striper and white perch tournament Tuesday. Tune in for the specifics.