Capt. Ron Santee said the early breeze and good current produced some keepers up to a 15-pounder and slots on his Fishermen from Atlantic Highlands, but there was no repeat of yesterday's hot action on the next tide change. Both the Golden Eagle from Belmar and Miss Belmar Princess reported catching a few stripers early despite lots of boat traffic before the fishing became very slow the rest of the day as the wind started howling.
Getting out for the early bite is usually so important for the Shore striped bass run that even some party boats are moving up their sailing times in order to be on the grounds when stripers are most likely to be feeding. Sandy Hook Channel has been producing stripers on eels at night, but came alive during the day on Wednesday as both blues and stripers attacked bunker schools coming through.
There was a big improvement in Raritan Bay striper fishing today for the Atlantic Highlands fleet as Sandy Hook Channel was loaded up with bunker schools being blasted by stripers and large blues. Matt Slobodjian at Jim's Tackle in Cape May reports Sea bass fishing has been very good on the wrecks in 20 fathoms.
Chuck Many of Annandale got off to a good start while loading up with bait in the back of Raritan Bay with his Ty Man from Gateway Marina in Highlands as Nellie Greer from Bethlehem Pa. released two stripers up to 25 pounds using the snag drop technique while Many and I had several bass on-and-off. The bite seemed to die on the flood, and a call from Johnny Bucktails drew Many back to Raritan Bay where birds were working during mid-day and Many released a 29-inch striper on his first cast with a Tsunami Shad.
Chunking was slow, but Many released two 35-inch stripers plus a spiny dogfish which had no business in the river. We also had lots of action with very small stripers under birds in both rivers, though Many did find a 29-incher among them on a heavier Tsunami Shad.
Boats were driving the fish down, but he did get in one good drift that produced keepers. Capt. Rob Semkewyc found bass on top right away with his Sea Hunter, but other boats put them down -- and the fish moved fast after that, He only got in two good drifts that produced several keepers.
Allen Riley of South Plainfield was at the latter area Thursday morning when there was a brief shot after 8 a. m. when John Mazzeo of South Plainfield hooked a 27-inch striper Reports from the south weren't any better. There was an impressive weigh-in at Betty Nick's -- a 21 5 16-pound striper on bunker at Area 7 in the park.
The Hi-Mar Striper Club's Fall 40-hour Bob Kamienski Striped Bass Tournament ended up with good weather last weekend after being postponed the previous weekend due to gale warnings. The striper tournament season concludes this weekend with the Staten Island Tuna Club's Big Bass Shootout from Saturday night through Sunday.
The Miss Belmar Princess reported a big change in fishing today, as stripers were scarce but jumbo bluefish moved in from the deep waters where they had been located to crash on bunkers inshore. Surfcasting in the Ocean County surf was poor again, and there weren't even any hopeful signs from the boats looking for bunkers.
Tommy Cox made the ride worthwhile by catching two 15-pound bass in a row on a popper in Lavallette around first light, but that was it as there was no bait in that area. I joined John Green in his beach buggy, and we checked the beaches down to Seaside without seeing a thing caught after he had many shots on CJ wood poppers to big bass the previous two days.