Editor’s note: We’d like to welcome Pell’s Fish and Sport, 335 Mantoloking Road, as our newest sponsor! Pell’s is not only a great community business here in Brick, but Pete and his staff are awesome anglers who are always ready to help out their customers catch fish in any way they can. Most definitely stop by and say hello!
While America was tracking Mary Lee the shark, local anglers were keeping tabs on the start of the spring striped bass season over the past week, with action developing in the surf and in Barnegat Bay.
Small bass are showing up at the Mantoloking Bridge at night on sand worms, said Pete Ordmann of Pell’s Fish and Sport on Mantoloking Road. Most fish are in the 22 to 26 inch range with a few keepers mixed in, Pete said.
Given that it’s mid-May, most of the winter flounder have departed the bridge area, Pete said, though a few stragglers remain. Bluefish action, in the bay and Metedeconk River, has been consistent with one customer reporting a banner day in the area of the BB & BI buoys. The customer reported “nonstop” action on light tackle and small Ava jigs with fish in the 6 to 8 pound range.
Blue crabs are also being caught in the Brick lagoons and at the Mantoloking Bridge, Pete said. And with just a week left until the opening of fluke season, the shop bad a report of a 16-inch fluke in the Manasquan River while jigging blues and a 22-inch fish off the wall at Manasquan Inlet.
In the suds, anglers have had a good pick of small bass on clams with a report of a 15-pounder from the surf at Seaside, the folks at Pell’s said.
“Keeper bass remain in the mix, it’s just hard to get passed the blues,” the folks at The Dock Outfitters said in a report this week. “Cut baits, swimming and popping plugs along with metals are doing the trick on these fish.”
The bass bite moved from place to place, at times, at Island Beach State Park, said Mario from Murphy’s Hook House in Toms River.
“One customer came in yesterday and said he picked up three short bass on calms and a couple small blues on bunker chunks in Seaside Park,” Mario said in a report Thursday. “They seem to be moving in and out, so you might want to move to different spots and find them if you’re not catching.”
That sentiment was echoed by the folks at Grumpy’s Bait and Tackle in Seaside Park.
“The guys who pick a spot and stay there are not doing as well as the guys that go looking for fish (which is part of the fun),” a report from the shop said. “Blind casting a popper into every hole you come accross is a good tactic. A school of bunker was pushed up onto the sand right up the street from the shop yesterday so check the local beaches too! Be one of those guys complaining about arm pain from catching so many!”
The shop has heard of more bunker coming into the area, with bass following. At least two keepers were caught by customers Thursday.
In the ocean, there were reports this week of cod swimming the Sea Girt Reef, Pete from Pell’s said. One customer bagged a 25-pounder there. Blues remained active, Pete said, with customers who made it out the inlet in the fog earlier this week earning 8 to 10 pound fish for their efforts. Large bunker schools were seen north, above Shark River Inlet.
Ling action was picking up on the Dauntless party boat out of Point Pleasant Beach this week, Capt. Willie reported.
“The past couple days’ catches have been between 5 and 15 ling and we are also still catching some nice cod,” he said.
The crew is also seeing more sea bass showing up on customers’ hooks, which is a good sign for the upcoming season.
“As we keep this nice weather, the fishing should get better,” he said.
In other fishing news, the Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament will be held this Sunday at Island Beach State Park.
The family-friendly tournament, which had long been an October staple but made a successful move to the spring last year, offers participants an excellent opportunity to engage in or learn more about the sport of surf fishing, state officials said this week. The tournament runs from 6:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“We saw a renewed enthusiasm for the Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament last spring and registration numbers for this year’s competition are up,” state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said. “We look forward to a great day for anglers and families from New Jersey and neighboring states as we kick off the summer tourism season on our beautiful beaches.”
Last year’s tournament saw more than 200 fish measured and entered in the tournament, the most fish caught in many years.
The individual who catches the overall largest – or longest – fish wins the “Governor’s Award” and will have his or her name engraved on the Governor’s Cup, which is permanently displayed at Island Beach State Park. Fishing equipment is also awarded to winners in a variety of species and age group categories.
The registration fee on the day of the tournament is $20 for ages 18 and older and $5 for ages 13-17. There is no fee for children 12 and under.
All funds raised by the tournament go toward a variety of good causes, including the recent purchase of 15 brand new specialized wheelchairs that provide the disabled and elderly beach access, construction of access ramps for disabled saltwater anglers, surf fishing instruction programs and equipment, and marine education and restoration projects.
For more information about the Governor’s Surf Fishing Tournament visit http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/gsft.htm.
As always, we welcome your catch photos and tips! Send whatever you have to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.