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FISHING: Sea bass fishing has been top notch

Wieslaw Czajka caught his first striper fishing on his friends 14' boat in the back bays of Brigantine, NJ. It was 40" and weighed 23 lbs. The back bays continue to give up nice bass. 11/18/15. (Photo: Riptide Bait and Tackle, Brigantine NJ)

Wieslaw Czajka caught his first striper fishing on his friends 14' boat in the back bays of Brigantine, NJ. It was 40" and weighed 23 lbs. The back bays continue to give up nice bass. 11/18/15. (Photo: Riptide Bait and Tackle, Brigantine NJ)

Blackfish season opened with a bang while sea bass are still hanging close enough to fill a cooler on a half-day trip out. Striped bass schools are filling up the backwaters and are showing up out front in greater numbers every day.

“Sporadic cow bass are hitting the sands in Brigantine,” according to Fred Hynes, Riptide Bait and Tackle, Brigantine. “It’s not necessarily non-stop action, but it seems a big cow is moving through every now and if you are there at the right time, you’ll hook ‘em.”

Rick Guthridge chunked up a whopper 43-pound cow, while Carlos Rudio also scored a 39-pound cow on a bunker chunk bait. Hynes also noted the mid-island section as well as down by the seawall have been productive spots this week. “Plenty of other 30- to 35-inch bass are also being beached but not being weighed in,” said Hynes.

“I’ve been finding scattered bass in the Absecon backwaters,” said Dave Showell of the Absecon Bay Sportsman. “Luckily, I’ve had fish every day, nothing too big, maybe up to 15 pounds or so, but they seem to be hanging in the narrow channels. It’s like trout fishing, you have to pick the holes in the channels, much like you have your trout pools. They are stacking in those areas.” Showell continues to hook bass on live spot and Berkely Gulp! Nemesis baits on a ½-ounce jighead.

Showell also notes that some bigger bass up to 30 pounds have been hanging near Little Egg and Absecon Inlet, and he hopes to see some of those push into the backwaters.

At Fin-Atics in Ocean City, Dan Sheeler told me that Ed Bronstein, owner, has been steadily plugging up shorty bass around the North End jetties during the mid-tide hours. “A white Z-Man rubber has been his go-to bait and most of his hits have been right in the wash,” said Sheeler. “Word has it that Corson’s Inlet has larger bass up to 30 pounds eager to grab a chunk bait, so long as the winds aren’t too gusty to make a cast.”

Some stripers have also been trolled up off the Bell Buoy as Mojo rigs and Stretch Plugs are finding their mark. Blackfishing started with a bang in the area waters as Sean Reilly and Ed Rowell hopped on the Low Tide to hit both the Atlantic City and Great Egg Reef sites. They had tog biting their green crabs in 95 feet of water as well as in 60-feet inshore. Reilly stated they easily boxed their limit of tog to 6 pounds, and also had 18 keeper sea bass on the Atlantic City Reef.

“Striper fishing is still slow on the Cape,” stated Matt Slobodjian, Jim’s Bait and Tackle, Cape May. “There have been a few fish caught on the troll in the Rips and chunking in the Delaware Bay but really no concentration of fish in any one spot.” Slobodjian did note that some 30-pound class bass were taken in the Cape May surf this week as the water temperatures dropped to 55 degrees.

Sea bass fishing has been top notch on the wrecks and hangs in the 30-mile range, which puts anglers in that 100- to 130-foot depth. “The weather kept a lot of boats at the dock this weekend but a few that did go came home early with limits of sea bass,” said Slobodjian.

Though we focus on South Jersey here, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that absolutely insane striped bass fishing going on in Central Jersey at the present moment. Anywhere from Point Pleasant down through Barnegat Light, immense pods of adult bunker schools are hugging the coast, and its been “stupid” fishing on big stripers.

Snag and drop tactics on the bunker are putting easy limits of bass on board with most in the 20- to 45-pound class. Boats can be done fishing by 10 a.m. most days with their limits filled. One point I’d like to state is that to think twice before you keep any fish over that 25-pound mark. Most of the time, any fish over that mark is a breeding female, with a 30- to 40-pound fish most likely upwards of 15 to 18 years old. Think about how many bass fillets you are actually going to eat and how many will go freezer burnt over the wintertime and thrown out in the spring.

Please respect the striper stocks and always think about saving the moment of boating a 30-pound-plus striper in a snapshot and releasing it to fight and breed again. Of course, there is no problem keeping bass for the dinner table, they are delicious, and I would recommend keeping the 20-pound-and-under class bass for that purpose. To each their own, but please think about protecting the large breeders and only keep what you will utilize.

Chris DeVito was drifting eels down the I.C.W. and latched on to the fight of his life. Almost 38 pounds of muscle. Looks like at least some of the cows are taking the inland route south. (Photo: Absecon Bay Sportsman Center www.abseconbay.com)Chris DeVit

Chris DeVito was drifting eels down the I.C.W. and latched on to the fight of his life. Almost 38 pounds of muscle. Looks like at least some of the cows are taking the inland route south. (Photo: Absecon Bay Sportsman Center www.abseconbay.com)Chris DeVit

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