Striped bass were heard about that were still reeled from Maurice River, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. The upper river seemed to fish best, where the fish were spawning or getting off the spawn. Bloodworms were usually fished for the bass, and herring used to be fished that are also spawning in the river, but herring became illegal to possess in recent years. A couple of good-sized stripers were bloodwormed that were reported. White perch fishing was good on brackish rivers like that. A few drum were known to be caught from places like the surf, where they show up first each year. Boaters anticipated the bay’s run of drum soon. Fresh clams for bait were difficult to obtain. Sharon in past years has been talking about the clams becoming scarce, and the situation was becoming dire now. Boaters fishing for drum like to fish and chum with the clams. Clams in the shell were difficult to obtain, and shucked clams were more available. That seemed because larger boats that clam farther from shore, shucking the clams, had better results at clamming Maybe drum anglers will want to fish with a half-bushel of clams in the shell and a half-bushel of shucked to make getting the bait easier. Fresh bunker is in good supply. Plenty of bloodworms are carried, and a few green crabs are stocked. Green crabs were hardly available this time last year, and more are on tap this year. Good-sized bluefish were reported fought from back bays last week. Last spring was a banner season for large blues, probably the best in 10 years. A couple of weakfish were said to be grabbed along jetties, and this is the time of season when weaks are hooked along jetties on bloodworms under a float. Blueclaw crabbing began, and people crabbed for them now. First, commercial crabbers were into a run of she-crabs this year, and now the public is crabbing. Business was pretty brisk this weekend. Wind was often relentless for boaters and anglers. The Girls Place, located on Route 47, just after Route 55 ends, carries a large supply of bait and tackle, and is the long, one-story, yellow building on the right. It’s on the way to the bay.
Crabbing will become available from the rental boats beginning on the weekend of May 21 at Beaver Dam Boat Rentals, Paul said. That’s the weekend before Memorial Day weekend, and signs seemed promising for crabbing this year. Commercial crabbers already trapped the blueclaws. Gillnetters who caught white perch around the mouths of creeks a month ago were seeing small crabs. Someone said the shore at Fortescue was littered with 1-inch crabs recently. Those will grow to 5 inches by July. This was early to see crabs stirring around, and the warm winter seemed a cause. Sometimes cold winters kill crabs, making them scarce the next spring through fall. That seemed to happen last year. Customers crab and fish from rental boats towed up Oranokin Creek, running past the shop. Nothing was heard about fishing on the creek yet this year. Fish might’ve swum the creek, but just nothing was heard. A few keeper striped bass were reportedly banked at Fortescue from the bay’s shore. Beaver Dam provides everything needed for crabbing, from bait, traps and nets to snacks, drinks and suntan lotion. Rental kayaks and canoes are also available to paddle the scenic creek during the season. Visit Beaver Dam’s website.
One boater landed three keeper-sized striped bass, keeping a limit of one, near the Salem power plant on a trip, said Bruce from Money Island Marina. Regulations allow an angler to bag one striper 28 inches to less than 43 and one 43 inches or longer per day. Chunks of bunker are a usual bait for stripers in that area. Be aware that Delaware River’s striper fishing is closed in April and May from Salem River to Trenton’s Calhoun Street Bridge, and in the tributaries in that stretch, for spawning. The plant is at the confluence of Salem River and the Delaware. Not much else was heard about fishing, including no reports about drum from the bay yet. But few anglers had boats in the water yet this season. Fishing from the docks was slow, but one half of a new fishing dock was installed yesterday at the marina. That’s in addition to a fishing dock that was new last year. The docks are on Nantuxent Creek, running past the marina. Fishing can be good from the docks during different times of year, including for white perch, small stripers and croakers. The marina features a bait and tackle shop, a boat ramp, boat slips, dry-dock boat storage, the fishing docks and gas. A 12-foot aluminum boat with a 2.5 h.p. outboard is available to rent to fish the creek. Baits stocked throughout the season can include fresh bunker, minnows and all the frozen baits, like spearing and squid. Live grass shrimp are usually carried on weekends when in demand, and sometimes on other days, when in demand or someone wants.
Capt. Tom from Erica Leigh Charters heard about no drum from the bay yet, he said. But he was working on the boat, concentrating on readying the vessel for the fishing season. Trips aboard sail for drum in May. A few striped bass, including a few keepers, were beached at Fortescue from shore.
A buddy’s trip cranked up two drum, including one sizable or 70-some pounds, from the bay Saturday, Capt. George from the Heavy Hitter said. Some drum were caught that day on the bay, and Heavy Hitter will fish the bay for them in May. George knew about another trip that headed for drum Sunday on the bay, but turned back, because of white caps. Though wind blew northeast on the ocean Sunday on a trip on the Heavy Hitter, wind blew northwest inland. Westerly wind can rough up Delaware Bay on the New Jersey side. The trip that turned back expected to return and fish for drum that night, Sunday night, on the bay. The Heavy Hitter sailed for blackfish on the ocean Saturday and Sunday. Catches were decent, not limiting out, but hooking plenty, including small. The fishing was better on Saturday than on Sunday, and weather was better on Saturday. Wind blew probably 15 to 20 knots Sunday, and seas were bumpy then. The tautog preferred clams for bait, and hardly touched crabs. A couple were hooked on crabs Saturday. Clams have been scarce for bait. Telephone if interested in blackfishing, because the tog are biting, and the season for them will be closed beginning Sunday. Or telephone if interested in drum fishing.
Drum 25 or 30 pounds that were boated from the bay began to be reported a little, Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle said Thursday in a phone call. Places known to produce drum in the early season can include 20-Foot Slough or flats a couple of miles up the bay, like north of Coxhall Creek or off Pierces Point, and at Joe’s Tip, or places like that. Drum were heaved from the bay’s surf, but also from the ocean surf at Poverty Beach. Bluefish and striped bass popped up in the surf in both the bay and ocean in Cape May. Neither seemed to hold them best, or the fish seemed to move day to day. The blues were sizable, and anglers kept eyes peeled for roving packs of the racers. Nick and friends got into them that way, seeing a couple of packs, hooking up. Fish bunker or lures for the blues. The drum and stripers were clammed, but some of the stripers were plugged. Weakfish catches began to be heard about a little from toward the south side of the Coast Guard station. They should begin to spread to the different surf jetties. Anglers fish bloodworms for the weaks, floated under bobbers along jetties. The bloods could catch stripers, too. Blackfish caught were heard about more from ocean boaters than jetty anglers. Some good catches, sometimes including blackfish heavier than 10 pounds, were made on the ocean. As waters warm, more of the tautog should begin to be picked along jetties. Blackfish season will be closed beginning in May, though. In the back bay, small stripers, a couple of better-sized, were played at bridges at night. No bluefish were heard about from the back bay, but a good run of blues took off there last spring.