Go To The Homepage
Features
Hot Spots

GRASSY CHANNEL IN GREAT BAY

Most say Great Bay, some say the ICW. Preferences aside, the fact of the matter is that the approximately three-mile long and 3/4-mile wide swath stretching from Buoy 139 in Great Bay to the top of Little Beach in Brigantine at Little Egg Inlet (see Homeport chart #11), is the perfect venue to experience all that springtime fishing has to offer along Jersey’s bayside coastline.
By Tom Pagliaroli
GRASSY CHANNEL IN GREAT BAY

To be sure, the April through June period offers prime opportunities for the likes of striped bass, black drum, blues and fluke, with the latter a viable top end o’ the channel target through September.

In the summertime you’ll also find a mix of kingfish, croakers, snapper and cocktail blues and blowfish. You’ll also find an exciting way to spend a sweaty July evening playing catch and release with Grassy’s rip-your-face-off menhaden and mackerel munching brown sharks.

However, it’s the April, May and June period that exemplifies the angling intensity that this over achieving venue has to offer.

Named for the predominant sea lettuce vegetation (Ulva Lacttucca in marine biologist parlance) along the bottom, the channel’s structure also includes patches of oyster and mussel beds, which spring drum and stripers just love. The mean depth fluctuates between 6 and 8 feet, with a maximum reach between 13 and 14 feet. According to Grassy guru Scottie Albertson at Scott’s Bait & Tackle on Mystic Island, there are two sloughs with depths approaching 18 feet, which he calls “best for fluke from mid-August through September until the season closes.”

Typically, newly arriving linesiders appear in mid to late March, joining the ranks of Mullica bass that have moved down into the bay. The bass will range from 16 to 32 inches although fish in excess of 40 inches are caught on occasion. While bloodworms are the preferred entrée along the flats at Graveling Point, fresh clam is the jam for bass in the Grass.

The drum rolls begin in late April and continue into the first week or two of June. While this fishery continues to improve from decades gone by, it does fluctuate from year to year. Grassy boomers to 60-plus pounds are common, and there are reports every season of a few boomers in the 70s coming over the gunwales. Drum are all about fresh chowder clam sitting pretty on the bottom, and it’s a given that it will be necessary to smash open a few and toss them over to get things going. Don’t skimp on the bivalve - better figure on a bushel for a drum beat. By all means contact area bait shops to reserve a basket because when the booming begins this bait can suddenly become scarce.

Maniacal swarms of 3/4- to 2-1/2-pound bluefish invade Grassy en masse by the second week in May, and as if on cue, the stripers begin their exodus. The rampage continues through June, with trips of mackerel and a trolled No. 3 Clark spoon wreaking havoc on the hordes.

Grassy fluke are notoriously fond of spearing as soon as this baitfish shows in May, right around the season opener. The squid/spearing tandem and a spearing on a 3/8- to 3/4-ounce Spro bucktail will put a limit in the livewell, especially during the early going. From mid-June through the summer and into September, the tried ‘n true Tuckerton Sandwich (calamari/killie combo) is the go-to for some keepers.

Grassy flounder generally max at 21 to 22 inches, but during the last week or so of the season in the deeper reaches up by Little Beach, a live snapper, spot, finger or peanut could put a 2-foot flatfish on ice.

Explore Product Partners: