Four More Days. Four. More. Days.
This report is being published 4 days prior to the opening of winter flounder and the opening of the back bays for striped bass in New Jersey. Winter may not officially end until March 20th, but for the New Jersey Saltwater angler, winter ends in FOUR MORE DAYS.
We’ve been preparing for “Angler’s Spring.“ We have been receiving some big shipments into the shop, and we have restocked almost everything we can in the online store. From many of the Shimano reels to VMC Inline hooks, to Yo-Zuri Hydro Minnows, to lots of Tsunami rods, and so much more, we have bulked up.
We have also added some new stuff. First, we added the new Daiwa Saltist MQ spinning reels. The original Saltist were highly successful and sought after light tackle saltwater spinning reels. The MQ version is even better. Daiwa added the monocoque body design, which improves strength, water resistance, and allows for a larger main gear to be used, which gives you more cranking power in a smaller reel. We only had a few come in and these will go fast.
S&S Bucktails came out with two new products that work well together, and we now have them both in stock. The first is their exciting new foray into the soft plastics game. The S&S Bucktails Savage Shads are 9 inch soft plastic jerk baits that weigh 1.1 oz on their own. They have stouter head to hold a big saltwater jig head but taper down to a very thin tail for lots of action. They can be rigged on any plain jig head or with a weighted or unweighted wide gap swimbait hook. You could also use them as a trailer for more standard styles of bucktails. They are going to be a killer for stiped bass, redfish, snook and even tuna.
S&S Bucktails also came out with the perfect jig head to rig their new soft plastics. The S&S Bucktails Northeast Jighead works perfectly with the Savage Shads, but will also work perfectly with any other soft plastics, such as Kettle Creek shads, Sluggos, and even Got-Cha curly tails. They come in sizes from ½ oz to 2 oz and come with a long shank, 4X strong hook.
So we don’t have an official fishing report because the area where the fish currently should be is closed to fishing (but for only 4 more days), so we cannot tell you what they have been hitting or areas to look based on reports, but we can tell you what worked last year (and the year before, and the year before that…).
If you are going for stripers, you are going to want to go to areas where the water warms up first. Stay away from the inlets as the tides will continually flush cold water in and out of the bay. Look for areas with muddy bottom where the sun will warm the water a few degrees more than other areas. This time of year those few degrees make a difference. Having some shallow mud flats near deeper water allows the stripers to have warm water and a place to hide out in the daytime. Having some mild current doesn’t hurt either. So where can you find this type of spot? The west side of Barnegat Bay and the rivers and streams that feed into the bay. (And that is the closest you are going to get to a spot burn from us…).
What should you use? If you are going to fish bait, bloodworms and clam works. When using clam, cut it into smaller pieces. Don’t forget, if you are fishing for striped bass with natural bait, you need to use inline circle hooks.
For lures you want to keep it moderately sized and under. A Daiwa SP minnow is about the biggest thing you will want to show (I know, I know, someone is going to send me an e-mail saying they caught a 40 pounder last year on an 8 inch wooden metal lipped swimmer. I am sure you did, but that was an anomaly). Last year, Kettle creek shads, and 3” and 4” Tsunami shads or Storm shads, and Vudu Shrimp were the hot soft plastic lures. Hard plastic lures that worked well were the small Rapala X-Raps, the small Yo-Zuri Mag Darters, smaller Scabelly Gliders, and Midway Swizzle Sticks. Sorry the last two are currently sold out (we are working on getting more), but I wanted to mention them for those angler who have them so they can properly pack their tackle bag.
For your rod and reel, you want to scale that down too. Leave your 9 foot and 10 foot surf rods at home. Seven to eight foot rods that can throw down to a half ounce (or less) are perfect for this. Rods such as the 7.5 foot ODM DNA Back Bay or 8 foot ODM DNA. Pair them with a 3000 or 4000 size Shimano TwinPower, Stradic, or Vanford, a 3500 or 4500 size Penn Slammer IV or Slammer IV DX, or a 4000 size Daiwa BG MQ or Saltist MQ.
For those looking for winter flounder, you are going to want to find the same conditions the bass are looking for. To target them from shore, you need a light rod that can handle weights from 1 oz to 3 oz. We have the flounder rigs you will need. For bait you will want to use bloodworms, small pieces of clam, or Fishbites. (or any combo of those three things). We will also have clam chum logs, and the chum pots, as you are going to want to chum them to you.
Ray has been a busy beaver the past couple of weeks. He has put in multiple restock orders with multiple companies, has unloaded a dozen delivery trucks, built a new wall in the shop, moved stock around, moved tools around, and restocked the online store. Well, maybe some of those things he just told people to do. Still, we are going to give him the busy beaver award this month.