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A mild winter and early spring often results in a good April bite of mostly short stripers on clams for Raritan Bay boaters, but this year the bass have been on herring and hitting lures. Furthermore, stripers over 28 inches have been common. Capt. Lou Grazioso of Wall said he had a great Sunday morning in the back of the bay as lots of bass were marked, and they readily responded to jigs. He then joined Johnny Bucktails out of Keyport in the afternoon as the hot bite continued on Tsunami Shads in pearl white. Trollers were also going well with those fish. There was a glitch in the fishery on Tuesday as the bass were still being marked, but weren't responding to the jigs. Tank Matraxia of Lyndhurst joined Johnny Bucktails' crew that morning and was surprised that bass weren't being snagged by the jigs they were casting as the marks were so thick. Yet, only one in the teens was boated that way. A switch to chunking produced another.  The bite turned back on again somewhat Wednesday, though Grazioso said the bass wanted the Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow plug that day. Art Berkman of Pompton Plains not only did well with stripers that morning, but also caught the first fluke reported to this column while casting the plug. Berkman was back out with Grazioso on Thursday morning only to find the bass being fussy again. Even the trollers weren't doing very well, but they started getting hits right away when they switched to Crystal Minnow Deep-Divers. Berkman forwarded a photo of a bass fat with eggs and estimated at 22 pounds that he released. Those females will be spawning in May, and should be released for the long-term health of the Hudson River stock. Smaller male bass are common now, and more suitable for the plate. The northwest wind created rough conditions, and the water temperature dropped a bit to 52 degrees. Berkman heard that Tagged Fish from Highlands got into stripers in the ocean during a Thursday trip intended for cod. Joe Melillo, at Castaways Tackle in Point Pleasant, reports tripers have been hitting small lures in the surf from Manasquan to Mantoloking at dawn and dusk. Winter flounder have turned on in Manasquan River and at the north end of Barnegat Bay. Grumpy's Tackle in Seaside Park is still hoping for the first bluefish report, but reports school stripers in the surf on clams and small lures -- plus many more in Barnegat Bay on bloodworms and small plugs. A few flounder are being caught off local piers and in the rivers. Crabs are starting to show.  As noted in last week's column, the IGFA N.J. Representatives will be holding their annual fundraising banquet on Friday, April 21 at 7 p.m. in Doolan's Shore Club, Rt. 71, Spring Lake Heights. The $75 tickets can be ordered from Jeff Merrill at 908 451-1110 or jeffmerrill2@verizon.net Blackfishing offshore improved along with the weather this week. Both the Big Mohawk and Ocean Explorer from Belmar reported good tog results. The latter had an angler with a limit on Tuesday that included a tog over 12 pounds. The Big Mohawk will be sailing early Friday and Saturday at 6 a.m. Mimi VI from Point Pleasant sails open for blackfish Saturday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., but will not sail on Easter Sunday. The Tackle Box in Hazlet reported some good shore fishing results with bass on the Bayshore for anglers casting clams. Bloodworms were also effective during the full moon worm hatch. Joe Delgado of Long Branch caught his casting SP Minnows. Loads of

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