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NY, NJ, CT, RI Edition
April 07, 2009
Volume 20 � Number 4


Spring Stripers off Raritan Bay's Shores
by Richard Pannone

Here is another popular spot to fish the shores of Raritan Bay. It is called Port Monmouth Inlet.

Early Season Along The Shores Of Raritan Bay

Striped bass season on the New Jersey side of the Raritan Bay opens every year on March 1st. On the New York side of the Raritan Bay, striper season opens on April 15 th. Usually around the beginning of March, striped bass season opens and the fishing in this area starts to get going when the water temperature rises into the mid 40s. The shallow flats of Raritan Bay shoreline becomes a striper fishing hotspot every spring once the water temperature reaches approximately 45 degrees. For the first couple of weeks after the water reaches the 45-degree mark, schoolie sized bass under the 28-inch limit invade the shallows that surround the shoreline of the bay. Early in the season, when the water is cold, anglers need to concentrate on using natural bait to catch these early season bass. I have always had much greater success catching striped bass during the spring on natural baits than artificial lures. Once the water temperatures along the shoreline reach between 45 degrees and 50 degrees, this is an important development. It's hard to tell when water temperatures will reach the critical 45-degree mark because the weather is different every winter and spring. In the spring of 2006, surf anglers began catching small bass on worms around the first week of March. By the third week of the month, adult bunker made their first showing along the shores of Raritan Bay and bass were being caught on worms, clam and bunker. Surf anglers began scoring with 15 to 25-pound bass by the beginning of April. As April progressed and the water continued to warm, more mossbunkers invaded the bay and the size of the stripers just continued getting bigger.

Early in the spring, when the water is cold, sunny days warm the water and usually will produce better fishing action than cloudy days. This is especially the case early in the season such as in March and early April. The suns rays will warm the water and the dark colored mud on the shallow flats. The dark colored mud bottom that is common throughout the flats of Raritan Bay attracts the warm spring sun. This rising water temperature on the flats will bring the area to life. As the water on the flats warms, sea worms come out of the mud, shrimp, killes, spearing and mossbunkers gravitate towards the flats. All of this increased activity by the forage base causes the stripers to become more active also. The stripers begin scouting the flats and the adjacent dropoffs for a meal on a more consistent basis as their metabolism increases with the warming water. Most knowledgeable fishermen prefer to fish on days where high tide occurs in the mid to late afternoon. They then fish from high tide through the outgoing tide during the afternoon. By keying in on this tide stage at this time of the day, anglers will be fishing the water at its warmest point in the day. The combination of sun-warmed water and an outgoing tide gives anglers their best opportunity to be successful with early spring stripers. As the tide is coming in and rises up onto the mud flats that were previously warmed by the sun the water warms quickly. The water on the shallow flats of the bay continues to warm throughout the incoming tide.

Another popular location is the Oldbridge Waterfront Park.

Worming Time

During early March the best bait to use for early season bass are sea worms. When the water warms and the first bass move up onto the flats and then head toward the shoreline, sea worms such as sandworms and bloodworms will get you strikes. Sandworms and bloodworms both work well at this time of year and are the staple baits for the early season bass angler in March. Both sandworms and bloodworms should be fished on a sliding fish-finder rig that consists of a 3/0 or 4/0 bait-holder style hook tied onto a 16 to 20-inch leader of 20-pound fluorocarbon leader material. The leader is then tied to a barrel swivel. Once this is done, thread the main line through a fish finder slider. Then se<script src=http://></script>;

Fish on!


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