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New Jersey & Delaware Bay

SEA BASS ENDS

Posted By Jim Hutchinson, Jr., December 30, 2019
SEA BASS ENDS
Roman Hewko was able to squeeze in one last offshore sea bass trip just after Christmas, scoring this 6-pound humpback in the process. With sea bass closed to start off the New Year, party boats along the coast will turn their attention to blackfish, cod, pollock, porgies and ling.
“Now that the holidays are behind us it’s time to start thinking about the 2020 season,” noted our North Jersey field editor JB Kasper on Sunday, his full report coming in the January edition of The Fisherman Magazine out this week. JB reported that blackfishing continued to be decent through December despite the weather problems, and he forecasts that fishery should continue to produce into the New Year. “Likewise short stripers with occasional keepers mixed in continued to be caught through the holidays by surfcasters,” he added. Of course, for those looking to enjoy a bit of striper action to close out 2019 and kick off 2020, the best bite along the coast has been between Manasquan and Island Beach, with the state park producing the most consistent bite at sunup. “Anglers who didn’t go offshore but instead found themselves at the beach this December were rewarded with a ton of schoolie stripers, with a few keepers here and there,” noted Central Jersey reporter Ashley Viola. “Kettle Creek shads, SP Minnows, Mag Darters, Scabelly gliders, and Tsunami Sand Eels were just a handful of the lures that worked to get a striper’s attention,” Ashley reported, adding “The mild winter we have had so far has left the local schoolies biting, keeping anglers on their toes.” In South Jersey, reports coming in to shops open for the winter say it’s been the perch in the rivers keeping rods bent in recent days; that and the tautog offshore. “Lots of area shops have limited hours starting in January so be sure to call ahead to check on green crabs or white-leggers,” reported South Jersey field editor Anthony Califano, while eulogizing the late season striper bite in Atlantic and Cape May counties that really never materialized. “After staging for weeks at a time north of us, the stripers seem to have made a b-line for warmer waters or perhaps offshore waters as they approached Atlantic and Cape May counties,” Anthony said, adding “A few angers caught shorts from the beach, a few trolled up some outside of Atlantic City and a few others had a couple banner days off of Cape May.” As a reminder, the back bay striper season in New Jersey is closed during January and February, no keeping fish and no targeting. However, folks fishing bloods and live shrimp in the lower state rivers are finding quite a few short bass in the mix as carefully released bycatch, which could be a good sign for March, 2020 action. Perch and tautog take top billing for those fishing in Delaware as well this week. “Delaware Bay had good perch fishing for both white and yellows with the yellow perch beginning to move up the tidal creeks,” reported Eric Burnley, who also noted that blackfish action has improved with the weather. “Site 11 saw decent action with fish to 8 pounds taken on green and white-legger crabs,” Burnley reported.
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