The remnants of a rare November hurricane could throw a wrench into any weekend striped bass plan.
As of Thursday morning, NOAA forecast that Nicole, which hit mainland Florida as a hurricane Wednesday afternoon before weakening to a tropical storm, will skirt the region tonight from inland. Coupled with strong gusts of southerly wind, it is expected to generate a slow swell that will build throughout the day on Friday, reaching wave heights of 11 feet tomorrow before subsiding.
If the wind shifts to the west in time and reduces the swell, Sunday may be salvageable. If not, it will be a weekend of dockside work for the crews instead of chasing stripers in the bunkers.
There was considerably less traffic on the water during the week after warm weekend temperatures brought in crowds of anglers. The few boats that were out found the bass in shallow, 60-degree water along the northern coast of Monmouth County.
It’s likely that another wave of large scratches has entered. Fish Monger II skipper Capt. Jerry Postorino noticed them Tuesday and said the bite hasn’t slowed. He was one of the only boats out and said his group had bass after bass in the 40-pound class. Sometimes the party had several bass at once as they had the fish hooked on the beach. Postorino ended the day early with a ton of fish released and a limit of keepers.
Wednesday in the same area. Capt. Rich Falcone of the Golden Eagle said they got on the fish early in the morning south of Asbury Park. As the day wore on, he hit the bunkers in the shallows and stuck with them, heading north to the beach, catching bass all the way. They saw a full range of fish from keepers to jumbo bass that had to be thrown back for another day.
Thursday got off to a good start with a morning report from the Queen Mary already on the fish by 8 am.
Beach action in this same general was just as good, according to Giglio’s Bait and Tackle in Sea Bright. There was a bit of wind that made it difficult to throw poppers, but the bass stayed away from the weighted bucktails. Giglio said surf casters were struggling with the same 40 pounds that surfers were with.
The race has been slower on Ocean County beaches. Grumpy’s Tackle in Seaside Park has been getting some weights and information from surf casters on the beach of fish hitting Yo-Zuri Mag Darters and Scabelly swimmers. Fish come in both day and night.
Further down, Long Beach Island has been pretty quiet. Only a couple of casualties came into the Long Beach Island Surf Fishing Classic this week, and that was on Monday. In fact, the contest has seen far more blackfish from Barnegat Inlet anglers than any other fish.