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Far26's Fishing Blog
» 28 October 2006

Fall Fishing at Its Finest

No matter what method or area one chooses to fish, the time to get out on the water is now!

I made the rounds this week and witnessed some great action up and down the coast. Anglers are scoring some very nice-sized striped bass on artificial lures as well as live and cut baits. Live eels, fresh clams, and bunker produced for the bait anglers this week, while surface plugs and soft-plastic baits worked well for those choosing to fish with artificial baits. Those fishing with plugs or jigs should consider tying on a small teaser, as it seems the bass are keying in on the massive amounts of 2 to 3-inch silver sides that are now present in much of our skinny-water areas.

Some of the best fishing reports came from those fishing around bridges, piers, and creek mouths, as baitfish often tend to congregate in these areas.

Nighttime fishing has been tough this week. On many nights, it felt more like December than late-October. The crowds definitely thinned out, as angler participation was down over the last few days, most likely due to the 30-degree air temperatures and what seemed like a constant 15 to 20-mph northwest wind. Time invested by diehard anglers paid off, as the hot bass action was enough to keep them warm on the coldest of nights.

I experienced a great bite while plugging the South Jersey sod banks and fishing soft-plastic baits around the bridges. Better numbers of 28 to 38-inch striped bass are mixing in with the more numerous 22 to 28-inch fish.

We should continue to see an improvement in size as the migratory fish head down from the north. I found that fishing during certain tidal stages did not seem as important as usual this week. My best catches were made by moving around until I found schooling fish. If you don’t find fish at your first stop, continue on to your second or even third location. Chances are the bass are feeding nearby and a quick move can turn a slow night into one you won’t soon forget. Smile

This 19.2-pound bass was just one of many to bend my rod this week...

This post edited by Far26 10:23 AM 02/27/2007

posted by Far26 at 04:22 AM | 0 comments

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» 20 October 2006

They're Heeeeeere!

The fall run has officially started! up

Striped bass are showing up in good numbers all over our back bays, coastal rivers, and inlets. While it seems most of the backwater bass are between 20 and 26 inches, we are beginning to see more 28 to 34-inch fish in the mix. Some reports of larger bass have come from anglers fishing out front under the bunker schools, we can only hope a few of those big fish make their way into our backwaters!

I logged some hours this week and found plenty of bass, bluefish, and weakfish. The best striper action occurred during the early portion of the week, right after the cold front passed through. Keeper-sized bass were much easier to come by before the mid-week warm up. Stable weather and mild air temperatures slowed the crazy striper action, but put the weakfish on the feed. A good mix of fish really helped to keep things interesting.

Last night, I fished most of the falling tide and found lots of weakfish and bluefish during the top of the tide. The weakfish kept me busy until the bass bite picked up right before low water. I headed a little north for the incoming tide and was pleasantly surprised to find bass feeding on the surface. I was into small fish right away until a 33-inch bass inhaled my pink Zoom. After a well-spirited battle, I landed my best fish of the night right before the skies opened up and the rain came down. The rain wasn’t enough to stop me from fishing, but it did send the bass packing.

As if the stripers, weakfish, and bluefish weren’t enough to keep an angler busy, the tog bite has been picking up steadily around the bridges and rock piles. Talk about specks also seems to be much more common lately. The night action has been so good that I haven’t been able to take advantage of these great fisheries, but I have plenty of fishing pals to tell me what I’ve been missing, including some great freshwater brook trout action. That old saying couldn't be more true, "So many fish, so little time."

It’s time to go fishing! Smile

A sweet 33-inch backwater bass...

This post edited by Far26 10:22 AM 02/27/2007

posted by Far26 at 07:08 PM | 0 comments

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» 13 October 2006

A Cold Blast!

I think it’s fair to say that it was a little chilly out on the water last night. On the way home this morning, air temperatures were in the high thirties! This shot of cold air should be just what we need to get those striped bass moving!

Last weekend’s nor’easter didn’t seem to affect the backwaters near as much as expected. During the early portion of the week, tides did run a little higher than normal, but the water clarity improved quickly. Many seasoned anglers thought the big blow would end the late-summer type pattern and usher in our first wave of striped bass.

I also anticipated a great week of striper fishing, instead I found summer flounder, bluefish, short bass, and a bunch of weakfish. If some quality bass were to show up soon, fishing action would be great!

While on the water this week, it seemed the best bite occurred during the incoming tide. Most of the weakfish were holding near structure, while striped bass were thick around creek mouths and on the shallow flats. Some late-season fluke were close to the inlets and bluefish remain thick just about everywhere. Peanut bunker and spearing continue to fill most of our back bay creeks and channels. I even witnessed some 4 and 5-inch squid holding up near a backwater bulkhead.

I expect to hear some good things over the weekend, as the first wave of quality bass have already made their way into the northern portion of our state. You can bet I’ll be out early and often! Smile

I took this 17-inch summer flounder at 11 PM on the last day of the season! This flatfish very well might have been the last legal fluke taken by anyone during the 2006 season...

This post edited by Far26 10:21 AM 02/27/2007

posted by Far26 at 07:22 AM | 0 comments

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» 06 October 2006

Another Week of Weakfish

I love this time of year! Smile

Back bay fishing in New Jersey is about as good as it gets. Tremendous numbers of bluefish continue to inundate our waters, while weakfish have increased in both numbers and size. Recent reports of blackfish catches have been very good and the almighty striped bass run is just about to get under way!

While weakfish have been my target species, I've taken quite a few bluefish, striped bass, and even some late-season flatfish. Bluefish action has been non-stop, as 1 to 3-pound can be found harassing schools of spearing, mullet, and peanut bunker. Striped bass catches are slowly increasing, as I found a few keeper-sized bass up to 31 inches, mixed in with a bunch of 20 to 26-inch stripers. I doubt many are targeting fluke this late in the season, but there are still some quality flatfish around, as I've taken fish up to 4 pounds while bouncing soft-plastic baits near the bottom. The outgoing tides seem to be providing the most action, however, I have taken some quality fish on the rising tide, as well.

I've been so busy chasing weakfish that I haven't had time to fish for tog, but the reports seem to be getting better each day. There have been some 3 to 6-pound tog caught recently and there are plenty of smaller blackfish around to provide steady action. I have an appointment with some green crabs at a local rock pile later this week!

The late-summer run of weakfish was great, but the weakfish bite over the last two weeks has been on fire! Not only are spike weakfish everywhere, now we're starting to see good numbers of fish in the 22 to 26-inch range. Over the last two weeks, I've partaken in some of the best weakfish action I've experienced in quite some time! While I'm not seeing the 8 to 14-pound tiderunners of the spring run, the 4 to 6-pound fish have been around in amazing numbers. Take advantage of this fishery while you can, as it won't be long before these weakfish move off to their wintering grounds.

Where did all these weakfish come from?

Over the last few seasons, many anglers, including myself, have been concerned about the lack of weakfish in our waters. While many don't believe that there has been a total collapse in the fishery, most anglers would find it difficult to argue that weakfish catches have declined each season since 2002.

Those that govern our fisheries have already mentioned cutting bag limits, raising size limits, and I've even heard some talk about a total moratorium on weakfish. New regulations were not forced upon us this season, mostly due to an overwhelming amount of late-season weakfish catches reported from the Raritan Bay complex in 2005 and some acknowledgement that the fishery catch reports were far from accurate.

After much doom and gloom talk, this year's run of weakfish has been an unsuspected surprise. I'm not sure if anyone knows where these fish came from, but it sure was nice to see favorable weakfish reports again this season!

This post edited by Far26 10:18 AM 02/27/2007

posted by Far26 at 03:08 AM | 0 comments

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About Me
I've spent the last 16 years trying to figure out the fish that swim in our South Jersey backwaters and I must say, I've enjoyed every minute of it! During that time, I've made some great friends and together we've learned a bunch by spending plenty of time on the water. Tiderunner weakfish grab most of my attention, however striped bass and fluke aren't far behind. I also enjoy writing about fishing. Over the last few seasons, I've had feature articles published in most of our local magazines. Currently, I'm writing weekly fishing reports (Townsends-Hereford Inlets) for Nor'East Saltwater. Some of my feature articles are linked below.

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•  Tackle Testing Tiderunners
•  NJ Grand Slam
•  Finesse Fishing
•  While You Were Sleeping
•  The Wonderful World of Weakfish
•  Its No Fluke: Big Backwater Summer Flounder

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