Wasn’t planning on this for my column tonight. I’m currently sitting at my kitchen table, listening to the sleet hit the siding outside. There are a few snowflakes mixed in, too. And the cherry on top: I can hear some of the same sleet hitting my boat, parked on its trailer right outside the kitchen window. She was hauled out of the water today, ending another season of boat fishing.
A few days ago the beach was packed with surf anglers, boat traffic in Barnegat Inlet resembled the Fourth of July and, well, I was wearing shorts and loving it. Like it or not, the chilly weather looks like it’s here to stay this time, but the good news is that bundling up could be the price paid for some good fishing.
“The lions share of bass are still being taken in the dark on clams, cut bunker and swimming plugs,” said John from The Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights, in a report Thursday. “Most of your favorite spots are producing so there is really no one or two locations you must be at. Daytime is a different matter altogether and finding the schools of bait is definitely the key.”
Weather and wind looks good for the next few days, John said, so the angler who puts time in will find the fish.
Down the road at Grumpy’s Tackle, the staff agreed with their neighbors.
“The body of bass we have in the neighborhood seems to like having dinner late!” a report said.
Fresh clams, fresh bunker and SP Minnows have been the ticket, according to the folks at the shop.
One of the best ways to get on the fish has been heading out on the party boats this week. The Gambler has been on the bass this week, fishing 3/4 day striper trips daily beginning at 7:30 a.m. The Norma K III, meanwhile, has been focusing on bottom fishing. High hook had 12 sea bass on a trip Wednesday.
“Plenty of action and everyone went home with dinner tonight!” a report from the boat said.
The bergalls could be a pain at times, but the boat was on a steady pick of sea bass, cod and ling. The boat is bottom fishing 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. every day. There’s also a “magic hour” cod and ling trip every Saturday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. The boat is docked in Point Pleasant Beach at Ken’s Landing.
That’s a bit of a sample of what’s going on. For those whose marinas have not yet kicked them out for the season (as mine has!), remember to keep within the three nautical mile limit for striper fishing in the ocean, as the Coast Guard is stepping up poaching patrols. Also keep in mind that the Barnegat Inlet north jetty at Island Beach State Park has reopened to anglers.
As usual, send your catch photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll feature them here for everyone in town to see.