April is ending up strong.  Schoolie bass are being picked from the surf at regular intervals and that is a beautiful thing.  These healthy, almost keeper-size, fish are a lot of fun…if you know where to cast.

It is becoming clear that the difference of 10-15 feet in where you’re casting makes the difference between catching a lot, catching a few, and getting skunked.

A lot of evidence is coming in that these fish are feeding in narrow bands vertical to the shore line and not the usually parallel lines of fish moving back and forth.  Very often, a school of bass or even blues (more on that later) will push the shoreline horizontally.  That makes dead-stick fishing with 3 or 4 fisherman a relatively even affair.  When fish move in their normal pattern, most of the time, the hook-up rate is evenly spread amongst the line of fisherman.  That hasn’t been the case this spring.

Some of the evidence comes in the form of when and where we’ve been catching.  For many of the fishermen I’ve spoken to, outgoing with the wind in your face has been the most productive.  Warmer water spilling off the warmer sandy bottoms and discharges from tidal creeks are probably aiding this pattern.

With a lot of reports coming in that one out of three or four fishermen are hooking in consistently, while the others are just watching…leads me to believe that these resident bass schools are formed in tight lines extending out from the wash.  This may very well have to do with the stubbornly cold water.  A plume of warm water may be forcing fish into longer more linear schools than typical football-shaped school. Whatever the case may be, it is clear that the usual tactics may not work this early spring.

My advice would be to, if you find the school, move your poles around to maximize your chances and find the fish.  With the cold water and these apparent feeding patterns…they’re not going to come to you…you’re going to have to cast to them.

This weekend’s cold snap isn’t going to help matters much either.

With consistent reports of blues from southern Jersey, I’m going to start running one wire-leader rod from here on in because it is only a matter of days before the gators show up.  In this author’s opinion, it would be nice to have smaller blues mix in with the larger bass.  This always prove a fun night in the surf with two rods singing out as things start running.

Finally, a word on kids and surf fishing…

Take a minute.  Consider this, how soon do you start teaching the younger generations about surf fishing?  It is hard.  You want them to enjoy the sport, but it takes a little bit of time to realize that they don’t always have the patience and fortitude to sit for the hours and wait—like we do–so what to do?  For a lot of the fisherman I talk to they push off taking their kids because, “they don’t really fish…”

To that I say, “So what?” Isn’t the point to get out, get off the couch, get on the sand, and learn that life is more than 1080p of

It may take a while, but kids  will come around to surf fishing and when they do...watch out...They'll steal your good spots!

It may take a while, but kids will come around to surf fishing and when they do…watch out…They’ll steal your good spots!

FPS video games and liking-tweeting-youtubing?  I say, they’ll learn to tend a pole when the lose a run or they see you land a 15 lber.  We, as adults, relish the simple peace and calm of fishing because we need to quiet our world down, tap the brakes, and decompress.  Our kids minds need to race, they need to be noisy, they need the whirlwind…it can’t be helped.

Let them run, let them dig, bring a ball, a frisbee, a—whatever–as long as its not digital…They’ll come around.  Believe me…

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