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Fishing heats up as spring-like temperatures arrive - Ocean City Sentinel: Fishing

Fishing Report Fishing heats up as spring-like temperatures arrive

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Posted: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 11:19 am

Spring-like temperatures have finally arrived — actually, as I am writing this, it is more like summer, with a high in the 70s.

What is it they say about spring? Love is in the air? Well, it certainly is in the water. Many fish spend the winter in southern waters and then return north in the spring to spawn. Striped bass, weakfish, drum and more move into New Jersey waters to reproduce. Estuaries such as the Delaware Bay provide protected areas with plenty of nutrients for the next generation of many species.

One species that moves into our waters in the spring is the black drum. The drum move into the bays, usually around the first full moon in April (it may be later, especially if the water is colder than the April average). The first fish to be caught are on average smaller fish, “puppy drum.” In the following weeks, the bigger drum show up.

The black drum is one of the largest fish available to inland anglers in New Jersey. The state record is 109 pounds, caught by Nick Henry in 2008. Drum are bottom feeders, and usually frequent oyster and mussel beds. The most common fishing technique is anchoring the boat and using fresh surf clams as bait. Alternative baits are green crabs and shedder crabs. Choosing the right place to anchor is crucial to targeting black drum. For the best results, pay close attention to fishing reports and stop in your local tackle shop for the latest information.

Another interesting fact, the drum derives its name because it makes a drumming sound. During mating, male drum make a low-frequency sound with their swim bladder. Fishing a beautiful spring evening to the sound of drum is a unique experience that all outdoor enthusiasts should experience at least once.

Fishing Reports

Atlantic City:

Noel Feliciano, owner of One Stop Bait and Tackle, said fishing has improved, with many more keeper striped bass, weakfish and black drum being caught. The hot spots are the T jetty and Melrose Avenue jetty. Bluefish also have made an appearance, but not in great numbers yet.

Ocean City:

Bill Wiggins, of Fin-Atics, said there was a lot of action on the beaches and the backbays. Bluefish, stripers and drum are being caught along the beaches. Corson’s Inlet has been especially good on both sides; bait of choice is surf clam. Along the backbays, nice weakies are being caught on plugs and stripers on fresh bunker.

Sea Isle City:

Sea Isle Bait and Tackle’s Mike Cunningham reported very good striper fishing in the surf. He also has seen kingfish, blowfish and some bluefish in the surf. He said the backbays are producing some nice weakfish and cocktail blues. The shop is running an opening day flounder tournament. Call the shop for details.

Nicole Keba-Conti, of Two Chums Bait & Tackle, said “there’s lots of fish around, that’s for sure. We’ve had a couple keeper stripers weighed in this weekend, but more drum than anything else. It’s pretty awesome. The most surprising thing is all the blowfish that have shown up. People are having a blast catching them.”


“Finally we are starting to see keeper stripers in the surf. Some are being caught before first light on bombers, while others after sunrise are still being caught on clam or plastics ot bucktails,” said Tammy Carbohn, of Avalon Hodge Podge Bait & Tackle. “The blues and weakies are still in the bay and are getting bigger and better. Bloodworms and plastics are working well.” Current hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.

Rio Grande:

“Now that we’ve had a few days of sunshine, the bite has turned on,” said Kathy Algard, of Sterling Harbor Bait and Tackle. “Weakfish are being caught in the backbays on gulp and Mirr-O-Lures.”

Algard said George Danley, of Wildwood, checked in with a 3-pound, 15-ounce weakie caught near Cold Spring Inlet on gulp.

Schoolie stripers can be caught at night around bridges and dock lights with top water lures.

“The gnats have arrived, the dogwoods are blooming and the drumfish bite has turned on in the Delaware Bay. Both the Delaware and Jersey sides of the bay have produced good catches of drumfish. There are plenty of schoolie-size striped bass around the inlets and along the beachfront, with an occasional bunker,” Algard said.

Jesse Bowman, of Wildwood, landed a 40-inch striped bass on his 30th birthday near Cold Spring Inlet.

Crabby Jack reports that the crabs are emerging from the mud. Cheryl Bulifant, of Cape May Court House, had a dozen or so nice crabs after a few hours of crabbing along Richardson Channel.

Cape May:

Matt Slobodjian at Jim’s Bait and Tackle weighed a 32.5pound striped bass for Paul Podbutsky. Dave Gonzalez, of Wynnewood, Pa., brought in a 27.6-pound fish he caught on clams on a North Cape May beach.

“Saturday the bite was on at the Ferry jetty early in the morning on artificials. There were quite a few people with multiple hook-ups. Lighter-color plugs seemed to be working best,” Slobodjian said.

Weakfish reports are slow coming in. Most of the anglers floating bloodworms are having trouble getting past the herring and small stripers, and a few trout are still being caught.

Blowfish are showing up along the beachfront in Cape May. While not in huge numbers, if you get on them you can usually get enough for dinner.

Rusty Zeigler, of Off The Hook Bait and Tackle in Cape May, said the stripers are being caught on many beaches in the area from North Wildwood, Cape May, Cape May Point and North Cape May. The bait of choice has been fresh bunker.

He weighed a 36-pound bass for Sean McKeeves caught on a Cape May beach. Zeigler also said stripers are being caught in the lower Delaware Bay, reports are coming in from the 20 foot slough and Pierces Point. Black drum have arrived, with a very good bite on the Delaware side of the bay, around Slaughter Beach. Some drum have been caught on the New Jersey side around Tussey’s Slough.

Weakfish were caught around jetties in North Cape May and Cape May Point on bucktails and bloodworms.

Captain Skip Jastremski, of Stalker Sportfishing Charters, had the Mike Cook group out on Saturday and came back with nine black drum to 35 pounds. He still has openings for drum charters until early June. Call (609) 972-5218.

Captain Timmy Tanghare, of Clean Sweep Sportfishing, is still fishing out of the Cohansey River. On Saturday, he had the Bob Scott party on a striper charter and pulled in nine fish up to 36 pounds. Earlier in the week, he had a charter with 52-pound bass. Tanghare said he feels there is one more wave of fish coming off spawn that should be heading down the bay in the next week. He will be fishing out of Hinch Marina in Cape May starting next week.

Chuck Hinchcliffe is proprietor of Off the Hook Bait and Tackle at 989 Ocean Drive in Cape May.

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