Spring is here when a young man’s fancy turns to love and middle-aged married men’s fancy turns to surf fishing!
It is as good of a spring run as this writer has seen in a two decades of sand under his boots. There are stripers of all sizes all around the island and blues are making incursions as well. (This fisherman has cut line to prove it…) Clam is still proving the bait of choice from the sand, but a few were caught on bunker the other night for the first time this season. The big boys (there are pictures all over social media of 20+ lbs fish) are hanging more toward the channels and the middle of the bay. Drifting on the outgoing seems to be the prefered method, but more than a few boats were choosing to anchor up the other night and let the fish come to them.
While word on the exact plug of choice is scarce, the sharpies have been cruising. Working rips and bars, they’ve been bringing some of the mid-range bass in and a few have even found bragging-level fish. SP Minnows have been working a little further south in New Jersey, so it’s reasonable to guess that a good, dark-colored, crank with a nice wiggle in the tail would the the first one to tie on. As that there are gators around, a pencil popper would be the next to get splashed. Either way, working smaller plugs to imitate the smaller bunker that’s out there would not be a bad choice.
It is still too early to have them blitzing so if you’re tossing plugs…mileage is going to add up. With the winter storms, the bars and cuts have shifted. The big rips are still there on the hard tides, but the smaller ones that these just-out-of-schoolie-size like are more subtle. Finding them is not easy in the dark so a little blue-sky reconnoiter might be worthwhile.
Throw a little notebook and maybe even the binoculars in the bag, grab your plugging pole and walk the beaches after sun up. Note the time and tide of the rips and bars you spot. Cast of course…but remember nighttime is the right time and plan your plugging around the evening equivalent of what you’ve spotted in the day time. That bar that is fully exposed in the early morning might very well be fully covered and holding fish at dusk.
The fish are packing on the pounds due to the huge bunker populations. The 24″ fish in this picture had a nice belly to him. These are well-fed fish that will be ripping drag and tipping scales at 30 lbs in just a few more weeks. Warm days, but cool nights might help them stick around all through May.
So here’s to all you love-sick young men…get it out of your system now…there’s good fishing to be done!