Though some stripers have been caught trolling and by casting jigs in Raritan Bay, those fish have been slow to turn onto the bunkers which have been abundant there for weeks. Massa released a similar bass on the next drift before we headed in after proving our point with three bass and a couple of other hits on just four bunkers.
Given that water temperatures of 45 to 47 degrees in the ocean aren't much lower than in Raritan Bay (where stripers are active), it seems likely that bass are also feeding along the coast. Capt. Steve Dellaportas of the charter boat Striper Sniper had one just over 10 pounds on Saturday.
There might be a window of opportunity Saturday morning in Raritan Bay in a lighter southeast wind before it switches to a howling northwester in the afternoon. The southeast is bad news for surfcasters as Betty Nick's in Seaside Park reported there was a big sea there this morning.
President Gerald Ford signed the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Management Act on April 13, 1976, culminating a sad period in American history during which massive foreign fishing fleets destroyed our marine resources as close as 12 miles from shore. There was no Recreational Fishing Alliance to turn to in those days, so I called together those party boat captains plus sportsmen and conservationists aboard Capt. Les Baletti's Palace II at Hoboken on a February night in 1972 to form an organization to fight for a 200-mile limit just as Ecuador had done to protect their waters from American tuna seiners.
Gary Quon, of Tady Lures, had received a photo of a nice striper that Cat. Unfortunately, there were gale warning up for south winds offshore as this was written -- and it appears it will be windy every day through Monday.
That should be perfect for chasing stripers in Raritan Bay, or even for offshore fishing before the winds change -- though it will be very cold before the sun gets high in the sky. Capt. Vinnie Vetere hasn't started running his Katfish Carters out of Great Kills as yet, but he's very happy with the fishing vacation he enjoyed at Zancudo Lodge in Costa Rica.
The International Game Fish Association (IGFA) holds their 1th annual Fundraising Banquet Auction from 7 to 11 p. m. Friday at Doolan's Shore Club in Spring Lake, Cocktails are followed by a hot and cold buffet before the 20,000 Fishing Tackle Bonanza Auction. With wind and cold in the forecast, there probably won't be much fishing on Tuesday, but there might be a window of opportunity Wednesday morning in between strong north winds and the switch to a gusty southeast that afternoon.
Grumpy's also noted some shorts had been caught in the surf on buckrails, but that clams were required on Saturday. Bob Matthews, at Fisherman's Den in Belmar Marina, reports the blackfish boats also had some impressive winter flounder on Saturday.
The 31-pounder was caught on bunker chunks cast from Union Beach. Though stripers exploded on cast and trolled lures this week for boaters, that was also the first report I've received of a striper hitting bunker despite the fact that bunkers have been abundant in Raritan Bay for a couple of weeks.
Wind gusts to 40 and 50 mph are forecast from Saturday night into Sunday. Friday's winds appear to have kept party boats in port, but Capt. Fred Gamboa trolled stripers in Raritan Bay -- just as he's been doing for three days with Andrea's Toy from Keyport.