With the last gasp of fluke season squarely in the rear-view mirror, attention will undoubtedly turn to striped bass fishing. It’s early October, and while plenty of us will be trying oh-so-hard to nab our first bite of the season, there will be many an hour of “work” sacrificed to the fishing gods instead of yielding a bass dinner.
The not-so-fun part about being a fishing addict, as well as a reporter, is that you often end up knowing too much of the behind the scenes wheeling and dealing that produces our modern fishing regulations. The Reader’s Digest version of the story is that, at the end of the day, federal regulations dictate our state regulations. Our state Marine Fisheries Council is given a set of federally pre-approved sets of regulations to choose from for New Jersey anglers.
This year, the striped bass fishery is being targeted by the federal government for more stringent regulation. The Recreational Fishing Alliance, an advocacy group for anglers, is supporting side of conservationists who want a one-fish per day limit at 28 inches, but the Marine Fisheries Council is recommending a two-fish limit for anglers in New Jersey, the Press of Atlantic City reported Thursday.
According to Richard Degener’s great article in The Press, this will likely mean New Jersey anglers will face a limit of one fish at the present 28 inches and a second fish at a much higher minimum length. Council Chairman Dick Herb, the article said, especially favored the two-fish limit because the “overwhelming majority” of anglers favor the opportunity to catch more than one fish.
The state’s recommendation must still go to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission for approval.
In freshwater news, the state Department of Environmental Protection announced their fall trout stocking schedule on Thursday afternoon.
Waters stocked during the first week of fall stocking, beginning Oct. 7, are the 17 large streams and rivers in northern and coastal areas, such as the Big Flatbrook, Pequest River, South Branch Raritan River, Musconetcong River, and the Manasquan and Toms Rivers. During the second week, 14 ponds and lakes in the central and southern portions of the state are stocked.
In all, 25,000 fish will be stocked, the department announced. Yearling brown and rainbow trout averaging 7 to 9 inches in length will be stocked in 17 streams and 14 lakes and ponds statewide. In addition to the yearling trout, up to 500 brood stock rainbow trout will also be stocked. These brood stock fish, averaging 18 to 24 inches, will be stocked in lakes and ponds during the second week of stocking, with each water body receiving more than 30 of these trophy-sized fish.
There are no closed waters during fall stocking, so fishing can begin immediately. There is a nine inch minimum size limit on trout in New Jersey, and anglers are required to hold a freshwater fishing license with a trout stamp.
On the fishing front, the bass that are biting are hungry for clams an SP Minnors, Grumpy from Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park reported Thursday. The blues are being fooled by metals and poppers, he said, now to a greater extent than in previous weeks.
“The Bass are just beginning to show up and most of the reports are about dusk/early evening on Clams and metals,” his report said. “We are now getting daily reports of sandeels so get ready for the fall run to kick in!”
Sandeels, of course, are often best imitated by Ava metal lures, so stock up on some various sizes and weights in order to ensure you’ll be ready for all surf conditions.
On the blackfish front, they’re generally being caught on the slack tides with green crabs being the best bait, the folks at Reel Life Bait and Tackle reported this week. Big bluefish are being caught in the vicinity of the Klondike, the same report said. Pods of bunker are beginning to be seen in the ocean, but no steady reports of striped bass have come in yet as anglers wait for the run to begin.