Last Friday's column noted how striped bass anglers were once again bailed out by the Hudson River spawning stock which produced consistent fishing in that river plus Raritan Bay while the coastal migratory was slow again in the spring before providing some shots of hot action off Ocean County in the fall prior to a decent showing of school stripers that worked out well for the party boat fleet due to the change to a slot bass in the bonus bass program. Surfcasters did well with those blues in that area at times, but I never saw any repeat of the spring bluefish blitz of the year before in the Bay Head to Point Pleasant area.
There may be a brief window of opportunity for anglers this week before the predicted weekend snow storm. Most of the bass that seem to be wintering there were in the 35-inch class, but they also had one larger striper
The Atlantic City Boat Show will move into the Convention Center from Feb. 3 to 7. He's been working many days at the new Fisherman's Den North in Atlantic Highlands Harbor -- which will be open in the spring.
There were a lot more herring than mackerel today when Capt. Jimmy Elliott made his first mackerel trip with the Golden Eagle from Belmar, but it was a start -- and there were more mackerel caught than during the last two terrible winters. With gale warning up for northwest winds that could hit 40 mph Monday morning, and more to come along with very cold temperatures, the Golden Eagle won't be sailing until Thursday -- when the forecast is for modest winds and seas.
There was also exciting news from the southern end of the state as Capt. Al Crudele III of Bayhound Charters (609 602-2662) at Sea Isle City got into large stripers just south of his inlet. They had intended to fish for blackfish, but had to stay out of federal waters after catching stripers, and found mostly short tog in shallow waters impacted by a big swell.
As nice as the start of the winter was, we've been taking a beating since then. Though Saturday's northeaster will likely push fishing aside after a nice Friday, it isn't expected to be anything like the storm-force prediction from earlier in the week.
After watching too many spawning-size striped bass gaffed in Raritan Bay during the unprecedented summer bite there in 2014, I wasn't too confident about whether the Hudson River stock would once again provide us with striper fishng much better than most other coastal states. Though the summer striped bass fishery in Raritan Bay wasn't up to the previous year's standards, Many always managed at least schoolies -- and usually some large bass as the Hudson River stock bailed us out after another spotty ocean fishery on bunker schools with the coastal migrants.
The wind is supposed to drop below today's gale, but there are still small craft warnings posted. That's nothing compared with what's expected Saturday with storm-force east winds and seas up to 21 feet.