NOAA Water Temp Chart

For the first time since late May, we’re in the zone in Raritan Bay. 69 degrees in the bay for the last 12-20 hours will mean that the resident bass will be starting to feed longer and stronger.

Don’t expect 30 lber’s, but schoolies are hitting a lot hard than they did in the past few weeks. Last night from the beach, it was slow…really slow…but schoolies were wrangled. That isn’t the story though.

What has changed is the way they hit. Last week and the week before, with water temperatures in the 70’s, these 17″-20″ were light-biting and taste-testing baits. Last night, the hits were strong and more like a bass hit should be. Small (4/0) octo-circle hi-lo’s with clam and bunker did well. Eels did not. I will admit I was wrong and a bit surprised. Then again maybe not.

The water was gin clear and dead calm. The 10+ knot winds that they were predicting never materialized. Which was a little disappointing. It has been a fairly clear pattern this year with the bass in Raritan Bay…the stiffer the wind, the better the bite. With cool, clear, water—if we could put a little (5-9 knts) wind against an outgoing tide at sunset, I would be surprised if the bite wasn’t constant.

From the freshwater front, the ponds on the island are definitely starting their fall patterns. Spinners and stick-baits have been exploded on by bucketmouths in the 5 lbs class. Which is a respectable fish in my book.

Looking ahead, the next few days should see water temperatures in the bay falling a bit further and boating conditions ideal. My advice…

Go down to the sea in ships (okay 14′ center consoles, kayaks, party boats what-have-you) and do your business in the great waters (Personally, I think NY Harbor and Raritan Bay are great waters.)