Hungry striped bass and feisty blues kept anglers entertained all weekend long as the spring run began to push into full effect.
Catches were reported up and down the beach, and I personally witnessed a couple being hooked at Bayside Park on the bay in Normandy Beach at sunset. The bass, an inch short of the 28-inch limit, was hooked on the fly and thrown back by a Lavallette local.
“More blues and bass are pushing their way further north in the bay where poppers, swimmers and metals are scoring some nice catches,” a report from The Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights said.
“Scattered blues with some short bass was the word yesterday from the surf,” said Mario of Murphy’s Hook House in Toms River. “Bunker chunks and clams for the bait fisherman and metals, poppers and swimmers with a wire leader for those throwing artificials.”
Gator blues were hitting in the Toms River as well as Barnegat Bay.
Sunday was a particularly good day for surf fishing, the staff at Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park said.
“The surf produced an 11 lb bass as well as lots of shorts and at least one other keeper that didn’t make it to the scale, as well as an assortment of blues with a nearly 14 lb one on the scale,” Grumpy wrote in a report. “Most of the reports involved bait but artificials got some too. The guys that are moving around are the ones doing most of the catching. Dont stick in one area all day!”
Like his colleagues at other shops, Grumpy advocated for poppers to be used to nab bay blues. Personally, this is my favorite way to fish for blues and, quite possibly, my favorite form of bay fishing. The key is to briskly jerk the fishing rod while reel in the lure on top of the water to make it “pop” (hence the name) which attracts the fishing.
Farther offshore, the fleet searching for bass occasionally ran into them, but the true run has yet to begin. The bait is there, so it can’t be long before the spring season starts in earnest, the crew of the Gambler party boat said via social media. Meanwhile, the Gambler has been on mackerel.
“Guys and gals had a great time lifting double and triple headers over the rail,” the captain said.
The boat was tilefishing offshore yesterday.
Blackfish are also keeping anglers happy. They’re elusive as always, but there has been “life on every drop,” according to the crew of the Norma K III out of Point Pleasant Beach.