Report from Tuesday, December 2:
Striped bass fishing seemed okay on the ocean, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. Boaters seemed to troll pretty good catches of good-sized stripers there, and not much was heard about sizable stripers from Delaware Bay. Plenty of small stripers swam the bay, and anglers reportedly boated fairly good catches of larger stripers far south on the bay, in the ocean, really, toward the mouth of the bay, on bait. Fishing with fresh bunker is the popular way to catch the bay’s stripers in autumn. The bunker was scarce, though, and so anglers along the southern bay, or the ocean there, clammed or eeled the fish. The bunker was scarce because windy weather, like on Friday, kept bunker boats from sailing locally. Sharon usually makes the trip north toward Barnegat to obtain fresh bunker, when the baitfish is scarce locally. But not many bunker schooled that far north anymore, so bunker was unavailable there, too. Most bunker along the coast schooled from about Atlantic City to Ocean City. That’s where most large stripers seemed to gather, too. But other baits, like clams or eels, will catch stripers. The shop will still stock fresh bunker when available. Telephone ahead to order the bunker, and the shop will obtain it if available, and let you know if the bait isn’t. The store can still obtain fresh clams, and eels and bloodworms are carried. So are green crabs and other baits. Green crabs were sold for blackfishing, but no results were heard about the angling. White perch were landed from brackish rivers and creeks like the Maurice River. 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. The shop will be open about another couple of weeks before being closed for a winter break.
The party boat Salt Talk is finished fishing for the year, Capt. Howard said. He thanks anglers who fished aboard this year. Trips fished for striped bass Tuesday and Saturday, and one throwback, he thought, was landed on Tuesday’s outing. One private boat returned with a better-sized striper, but from the southern bay, toward Brandywine Lighthouse. The Salt Talk fished at all different places near Fortescue. Maybe striper fishing will turn on near Fortescue still this season, but the angling was no good there so far. Howard hopes for better striper fishing next fall. The trips Tuesday and Saturday fished with chunks of bunker, but also fished eels a little. The bay was clear and cold, 44 or 45 degrees, according to the boat’s gauge, on the trips. Howard filled a bucket with the bay’s water on one of the trips, and skim ice formed. Fishing usually resumes on the Salt Talk with summer flounder trips, when the flounder season is opened in spring. The season was opened in late May in recent years. Drum trips usually fish the bay aboard in late May, too.
Striper fishing seemed slow on the bay and at the Cape May Rips, said Capt. George from the Heavy Hitter. One angler from the docks talked about a good catch from the bay, but that was unconfirmed, and other reports talked about slow results. The Heavy Hitter’s been trolling stripers from the ocean. Seven stripers to 37 pounds and a couple of blues 5 or 6 pounds were trolled on the ocean Saturday aboard with Lou Nicole’s charter. So the catch was pretty good, he said, and the trip fished toward Corson’s Inlet with Stretch plugs. The ocean was clearer farther north like that than toward Cape May, and some of the best striper fishing seemed to be toward Atlantic City. The water was 49 degrees, still a good temperature for striper fishing, “still up there pretty good,” he said. A striper trip aboard Sunday was cancelled because of forecasts for 30-knot wind.
Small stripers about 24 inches swam the bay, said Capt. Frank from Melanie Anne Sport Fishing Charters. A trip aboard clobbered sizable stripers on the ocean Sunday to the north on the troll. Seas were terrible in wind, and few boats fished that day, but the anglers wanted to go. A trip also trolled healthy-sized stripers aboard Saturday on the ocean to the north. The fishing seemed spottier than before, maybe because of southerly wind. That wind frequently slows the ocean’s fishing near the coast, because it cools water along the ocean’s shore, because of upwelling. But wind direction is changing now. The boat also blackfished on the ocean, and the tautog moved deeper than before. A few keepers remained at the reef, but anglers had to weed through small blackfish to bag them there. So trips now pushed deeper for the tautog. Small sea bass also bit on the reef.