It’s almost April, and the weather is getting a little more cooperative.
So are the striped bass and white perch.
Cliff Higbee said from Higbee’s Marina in Fortescue on Friday afternoon that striped bass are active all day long, and surf-casters at the bulkhead and beach there are catching anywhere from six up to 10 or 12 shorts each day in the Delaware Bay. Cliff said they are “having a ball.”
He said he has not had a weigh-in of a keeper yet, but they are “getting close”.
He said a school of bunker went by off Fortescue, and a few surf-casters snagged some to use as bait for striped bass, but they did not connect. There, like just about everywhere else, it is mainly bloodworm for bait.
He said he has been as “busy as a dog” at the the marina.
Noel Feliciano posted a photo on his One-Stop Bait and Tackle page on Facebook from a fisher identified only as Kevin with a 391/2-inch striped bass he returned to the water live after catching it with a bloodworm. He also reported that Jim Farley had a striper doubleheader, with the largest of the two measuring a keeper-size 29 inches. That was in the Great Egg Harbor River.
Dave Showell at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center in Absecon said striped bass of “every size” from 10 inches to the minimum of 28 inches and a few bigger are in both the Great Egg Harbor and Mullica rivers and their feeder streams. Dave said more striped bass are showing up every day.
Howard Sefton at Capt. Howard’s Bait and Tackle in Egg Harbor City echoed the other reports. He also said the nicer weather has brought out the fishers.
A call to Old Inlet Bait and Tackle in Rehoboth Beach at Delaware Seashore State Park resulted in a report that sounded similar to the South Jersey ones except for one difference. They are catching “loads” of mostly short bass, just like here, but they’re finding them in the surf. The surf at Rehoboth was 47 degrees Friday.
They have seen any bluefish there, according to the report.
Michael Cunningham provided a report Friday from Sea Isle City Bait and Tackle about one of his customers catching striped bass in surf at Strathmere last Saturday. He was using bloodworm as bait. Mike said Tuckahoe River has produced a couple of keepers mixed with those short bass.
Cunnigham said those early season surfcasters were hooking up with spiny dogfish. A number of that species washed up on the beaches in Atlantic County last weekend.
He said he is baited up at the shop, including with green crab for Monday’s opening of tautog season Monday. The tog season runs for the month of April with a four-fish daily possession limit and a 15-inch minimum length.
Feliciano is a super promoter of fishing in the Atlantic City-Atlantic County area. He has a tautog tournament running for April offering $150, $100 and $50 for the first-, second- and third-heaviest tog.
There is no signup or entry fee. Just catch a nice tog and bring it into One-Stop in Atlantic City.
The tautog opener has some of the area’s party and charter boats geared up.
Mike O’Neill is the captain of the Stray Cat open/charter boat that operates from Seaview Harbor Marina in Great Egg Inlet.
He said Friday he was done painting was in the final stages of cleaning up and re-rigging the reels. He will runan open boat 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the first two weeks of April for anyone who wants to join the crew. He said he will be running every day he can for tog.
Call 609-391-9630 to sign up.
The Cape May Lady party boat also starts running Monday, leaving 8 a.m. from Wildwood.
White perch have been consistent in the area’s rivers and streams that also hold those striper. Some genuine jumbos are among them.
Here is a calendar item: The Landisville Gunning Club has its statewide white perch contest scheduled for April 13.
The prizes are $1,000, $500 and $250 for the three heaviest fish, plus a lunker award based on entries. The cost is $30 per person, $15 for youth 10 and under and $10 for active military and disabled vets.
The contest will run from 6 a.m. to the 2 p.m. weigh-in at the clubhouse.
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Michael Shepherd is the retired sports editor of The Press. His column appears Saturdays in print and Fridays online.