Sometimes, just sometimes, it pays to not have any expectations…

Despite reports of schoolie bass in Keyport and Cliffwood the past week, fishing on our side of the bay had been–in a word–dead.  That lead me to have somewhat muted expectations for last night’s trip.  That feeling persisted with a strong south wind blowing in my face as I stepped onto the sand.  It was a nice night, it just didn’t feel like a great fishing night at first.  That was until the first two casts yielded two strong hits and from that point on…things were looking up.

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While I couldn’t say it was epic, it sure was fun.  13 bass to 8 pounds were landed last night from 6:30 PM until 11:30 PM. Nearly all were landed by a visiting fisherman from Pennsylvania who apparently found out exactly why they call them schoolies.  At one point, he hit for 5 bass on five consecutive casts.  All fish were caught on fresh surf clam and most were just shy keeper size.  It was great to see these healthy looking bass in such great numbers.

Surprisingly, these resident bass turned their noses up at sandworms which—in this author’s experience—is unusual for small bass, but that’s the beauty of fishing…the sheer mystery of it all.

Looking forward, the Spring run should blow wide open in about 2 weeks with some hefty bass.  With reports of peanut and adult bunker in the southern bays and good reports of herring and bunker marked in Raritan Bay, these resident bass shouldjm1d pack on the pounds in short order and that 8 pounder should be in a 15 in a fairly short time.  Here’s to hoping that we all fish responsibly and let these schoolies have a chance to bulk up.

I’d love a couple of nice filets for the grill this time of year, but I also know that the 7lber I put back last night could be the Fall’s 50lber.  If you’re looking for meat, I’d be  a little more patient and let them grow a little.  You won’t be disappointed.

Here’s to the start of a good fishing season!

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