Beach or Boat, It’s Bass and Blues
Story by Tom Pagliaroli
The current run of striped bass is developing to be the best springtime sprint in years, be it along the beaches or out front in the depths. An amalgam of lengths and weights, from 18-25 inch schoolies to 40-plus pound robust mamas inhaling bunker chunks and also fresh clam and, on the troll roll, mojo rigs and bunker spoons. And the bluefish are right with them, these tipping the scales from1-2 pound “cocktails” to 8 to 18-pound choppers, slammers and gators.
Currently, the LBI sands in the hamlets of Ship Bottom, Surf City, Harvey Cedars and Loveladies are white bass ‘n blue hot, with Barnegat Inlet hosting hordes of blues. Just to the north, the length of Island Beach State Park is rife with mega-more bluefish than keeper stripers, but it’s rod bending mayhem just the same.
From the floats, better to opt for a charter as the majority of party boats are cashing in on the mind-blowing early season sea bass fishing. All three fisheries are that hot that daily trips are now split, the morning 7:30am-2:30pm session for stripers and bluefish, the 4:30pm-8:30pm afternoon/evening sortie for sea bass. Two that come to mind are the Miss Belmar Princess (732-681-0030) and the Golden Eagle (732-681-6144), both situated in the Belmar Marine Basin.
Sea Bass Blast: An absolute crusher Wednesday opening to the season, with private, charter and party platforms all posting “boat” limits of this delectable wreck resident, sizes ranging from the 12.5-inch minimum up to 5-pounds. Fresh clam and squid strips are the hot baits, although a couple of skippers reported that dancing AVA-17 and AVA-27 diamond jigs, either naked or with yellow or red tails, also proved to be meal makers. The party boat Carolyn Ann III (609-693-4281) sets the standard for springtime sea bass, with the 36-foot Robin Ann (609-879-5269) an ideal choice for a 6-person charter. No matter the boat, plan on a heavy cooler going home.
Tom Foolery: Tomorrow and Saturday, and then next Monday through sunset Friday, May 24, is the last call for gobblers. Overall, it’s been a tough spring turkey season, with weather the major factor, the corollary being there are still plenty of gobblers for the taking out there. During this stage of the game, expect toms to show at the slightest “come hither” cajoling or, just as likely, beating feet because they are tired of mating and have had enough spur-to-head-and-body encounters with rival adults and also jakes (teenagers). There are still permits for various THAs (Turkey Hunting Areas) available for the $21 price tag. Visit www.njfishandwildlife.org, click the Turkey Hunting link, then go to the permit availability section.