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Fishing Report - Ocean City Sentinel: Fishing

Fishing Report

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Posted: Thursday, May 8, 2014 12:09 pm

After an overly long and bitter winter, spring has finally arrived at the South Jersey shore.

This is my favorite time in Cape May. Not only is nature in its cycle of rebirth, but the local businesses come alive as well.

The marinas are busy painting and launching boats, and the hotels and restaurants are opening for the season.

Spring is also the beginning of fishing season for most recreational anglers. After wintering in southern waters, the striped bass returns to the coast of New Jersey.

Locally, they move into the Delaware Bay around March to spawn. They move up the bay into the fresh water in the rivers to reproduce.

After they have spawned and dropped eggs, they are focused on replenishing the calories they have just expended. This is when the spring striper run gets into full swing.

The first bite occurs far up the Delaware Bay, close to the spawning grounds. It starts as far up the Delaware River as Trenton and progresses down toward the bay throughout April and May.

Fresh bunker is the bait of choice, although surf clams are also viable bait. This can lead to a combination catch of black drum later in the spring.

The black drum tend to show up in mid-May, and I will discuss them in a future column.

Fishing Reports

Atlantic City:

Noel Feliciano, at One Stop Bait and Tackle in Atlantic City, said they are picking up schoolie-size striped bass along the beaches and jetties. They are biting on pink zoom lures, clam and bloodworms.

The biggest fish this week was 23.6 pounds. Things should only get better as he reported bunker thick in the bays.

He also reported some black drum being caught.

Ocean City:

Justin Schenker, of Fin-Atics in Ocean City, reports decent numbers of small striped bass around Corson’s Inlet. The biggest he saw last weekend was 20 pounds. The bait of choice is fresh bunker.

He also said weakfish are present in and around Corson’s Inlet and in the backbays. He said anglers are having success with gulp baits in nuclear chicken color and pink zooms. The weakfish are averaging 5 to 7 pounds. Also, small 3- to 5-pound bluefish are mixed in with the weakies.

Avalon:

Tammy Carbohn, of Avalon Hodge Podge, said stripers are being caught in the surf, but so far averaging only between 16” and 20”. The Eighth Street jetty was the hot spot again last weekend. The tog fishing is still good, however it is catch and release at this time of year. Herring are still in the surf and almost as big as the stripers. The blues and weakies in the bay are getting bigger and better. Metal lures or mullet are working for the blues, and plastics for the weakies. Current hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.

Wildwood:

Kathy Algard, of Sterling Harbor Bait and Tackle, said the weather finally cleared up for the weekend, which gave everyone a chance to get their boats ready or get out for a day of fishing.

Those who got out fishing found drumfish on the Delaware side of the bay near Slaughter Beach. Some weakfish have been caught in the backbays of Avalon, Stone Harbor and Wildwood. Surf anglers saw some action, with some black drum and schoolie stripers, and an occasional keeper mainly on clam baits. Capt Joe Gillan, of the Y-Knot out of Wildwood, had a great early season trip out to the Baltimore Canyon and loaded up on tile fish up to 26 pounds.

Cape May:

Utsch’s Bait and Tackle’s Fred Klug reported some nice tautog catches from last week.

Capt. Tom Daffin, of Fishin’ Fever Charters, weighed a 13.5-pound tog.

And a slip holder, Maria, had 13 keeper tog to 10.3 pounds.

Rusty Zeigler, at Off the Hook Bait and Tackle in Cape May, told me about 15-year-old Gator Yaros and his catch of 39” and 41” stripers from a North Cape May beach using bunker.

Also, one of their slip holders, Ed Pickul, landed a 40”, 30-pound striper near Ship John Light.

Clean Sweep Sportfishing (normally out of Hinch Marina) moved its boat up to the Cohansey River to take advantage of the early post-spawn bite. Clean Sweep’s Capt. Timmy reported eight stripers to 31 pounds and a catfish.

Port Elizabeth:

Sharon Garton, of The Girls Place Bait & Tackle, told me of good action on the beaches around Fortescue and Whale Beach. For boat anglers, she said the fish were being caught in areas close to the Salem plant and were moving into waters around Ship John Light.

I also talked to some bunker netters, and they have been seeing more stripers in the Maurice River Cove.

With the reports I am seeing and the warming temperatures, we should start to see stripers in the mid-bay waters shortly, maybe even starting this week. Also, the black drum bite should be picking up as we move toward the next full moon.

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

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