The weather couldn’t have been much better over the weekend with skies dotted with sunshine and acres of striped bass to go with it, although they did get stingy at times.
It certainly brought a lot of anglers and it got a bit crowded in the bunkers with all the boat traffic. Saturday turned out to be one of those epic fall days where many anglers landed again with bass on ice and some color in their faces.
Sunday, not so much. Maybe the traffic pushed the fish down, but the captains weren’t so lucky with the fish biting. It was one of the few snags in what have been several weeks of phenomenal fishing since the remnants of Hurricane Ian passed through early last month.
There were fish that landed in boats from the Atlantic highlands to the seashore. There were also a lot more keeper fish in the mix as the smaller groups gathered and limited the early catches, especially on Saturday morning, the better of the two days. As the water cools, smaller fish will likely enter.
On Sunday, the fish seemed to bite briefly in the morning and then became increasingly difficult to hook.
Adam Krentzman of Brick fished the Endgame, part of Point Pleasant Beach’s Blue Runner sportfishing fleet, and said they were releasing fish by mid-morning Saturday. They were jigging or throwing poppers on the bass. He said they were fishing within sight of the Highlands. He said some of the throwbacks were real “shirts.”
Queen Mary was away both days. Dave Riback was excited about Saturday’s catch, which was made with barbels, spoons, and live bait. He said it was some of the best fall keeper action he’s seen with fish covering the spectrum in size from shorts to fish over 38 inches that had to be released.
On Sunday he said they had a handful of fish early and that was it. For the rest of the day, he just read fish and bait but said the fish didn’t want to cooperate.
As for the surf, the northern beaches of Monmouth County from Monmouth Beach have been fishing very well. Bobby Matthews at Fisherman’s Den in Belmar said there were plenty of 30- to 36-inch fish in the wash. He said for two to three hours Saturday there was a solid bite on that stretch of beach.
There was some action in Ocean County. Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park had a couple of heavy bass from the Seaside to Island Beach area, but no heavy bass at the Long Beach Island Fall Surf Fishing Classic.