Not surprisingly, there were no surf or boat reports from this morning as a hard northwest wind combined with temperatures around 10 degrees to keep even the most dedicated at home. The forecast is for much better weather the next few days, and lighter west winds should at least calm the ocean a bit.
Striped bass also seemed to prefer the warmer breezes that have prevailed this winter as I didn't hear of any caught by the regulars at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant, including one who had started in Island Beach State Park. There were some anglers braving the cold when I checked Bay Head and Point Pleasant in the afternoon, but no word of any bass or the herring that have been holding them.
Tom Hollywood of Staten Island had a limit up to 8 1 2 pounds today, but Palisades Kenny was red hot with four tog from 8 1 2 to 11 pounds. I fished the same northern Ocean County beach that was loaded with herring Saturday evening and produced two short bass on Mambo Minnows for me.
Then this morning there was a 12-pound bass that Wayne Kopsky of Howell caught on a white shad at Bay Head, and a 16 1 4-pounder by Matt Smith of Greenwich, N. Y on an SP Minnow in the park. The Bay Head surf was loaded with herring all morning, but Bob Correll of that town only saw one bass taken on a snagged herring while all lures were ignored.
Pisano opted to spend his last days at home with hospice care, and I feel fortunate to have visited him a weeks ago when he was still able to discuss the glory days of Mud Hole giant tuna fishing -- of which he was a pioneer. Though there was no surf blitz to report today, the following report from Capt. Dave De Gennaro of Hi Flier out of Barnegat indicated there are still lots of stripers in our waters Sailed today with a full Open Boat and the fishing was awesome.
He saw bass of various sizes from shorts to 25 pounds plus 10-to-15-pound blues pushing adult bunkers up on the beaches even as the northeast wind made it difficult to cast even heavy lures. I have caught school stripers almost to the end of January some years when water temperatures didn't drop too low, but asking for another big bass blitz and even bluefish in January is truly praying for a miracle even though the water remains warm enough.
After an amazing day of December blitz fishing in the surf, there were no positive reports from anyone today as big seas were crashing on the beaches. While most party boats have stopped seeking stripers and blues, Capt. Dave De Gennaro is counting on those west winds to provide suitable boating conditions for even smaller boats, as he's ready to get back to sea for stripers, blues, and even school bluefins should they show inshore.
Amberg said a friend released a blue of about 15 pounds, a keeper striper, and a short bass when those fish trapped bunkers between a jetty and the beach. He saw blues in the 10-to-15-pound class plus bass ranging from barely short up to 25 pounds being caught on shad lures and metals as bunkers were pushed onto the beach.
There were lots of anglers on Ocean County beaches today after the reports of big stripers being hooked there Saturday. There was also a report from a group in Island Beach State Park that had caught seven short stripers and saw a 33-incher hooked by another fisherman.
Yet, there was a sudden rush to the beaches in the Seaside Park area today after Betty Nick's Tackle in that town posted reports of big bass in the surf this morning. Grumpy's Tackle in Seaside Park had an earlier report of a 38-inch, 15. 75-pound striper that hit an SP Minnow cast by Jay Thompson on Christmas Day.