The boat crept stealthily away from the confines of the harbor and rapidly accelerated, settling in at a cruise speed of 33 knots with the bow aimed just west of the flashing Bug Light. As the sleek 30-footer rounded Sandy Hook and altered course to the east the cloudless sky began to pinken over gentle smooth swells. Anticipation rising, the 3 fisherpeople aboard scanned the horizon as the fiery orb of the sun peeked above a watery grave, and 1/2 mile off the port bow a small low cloud emerged. The captain shifted course towards it as a smile formed on his face that widely split his beard and as they neared the cloud it transformed into hundreds of screaming, diving sea birds over a patch of ocean broken by hordes of peanut bunker trying to abandon their liquid environment. Explosions of spray betrayed the presence of something larger taking advantage of the poor peanuts! Terrified, attempting to escape piscatorial predators from below, the small baitfish were also being picked off by airborne predators above with no safe exit in sight.
Positioning the boat uptide of the feathered frenzy and killing the motors allowed the craft to slowly drift towards the scene of the carnage. One angler moved towards the bow with a fly rod rigged with a shooting head armed with a tan and white Fuzz Cat Fly in his hands as the other two picked up light spinning outfits, one loaded with a Mr. Bunker plug and the next boasting a 2 ounce shad jig. Seconds after this assortment of lures flew from the boat and touched the water, pandemonium ensued! All 3 rods arched over deeply and 3 reel drags sang out in a staccato scream as feisty stripers fought to rid themselves of the annoying lures. The captain nimbly danced around the deck netting, unhooking, and releasing the fish, enabling the anglers to get right back in action. The torrid pace lasted a couple of hours with stripers from 26 to 38 inches avidly attacking any lure tossed at them. But then, as more boats arrived, the action slowed a bit. As the captain was catching his breath he saw a huge splash up front that sounded like a cinder block had been dropped overboard. The fly guy muttered “Holy..er..Cow!” as the rod tip buried itself beneath the surface and line smoked from the reel! Fifteen minutes later, after some hard runs and heavy headshaking in the depths, a fat 43-dinch bass slid into the waiting net. The fly was removed from the jaw, pictures were rapidly taken, and the great fish was revived and freed to glide away.
As they headed back to the harbor anticipating a late breakfast the crew teased each other as they relived the moments battling fish and the adrenalin charged casting techniques that resulted in 62 stripers caught, with all being released!
Fellow fisherpeople, this type of action is happening now so get out and fish! Let’s briefly touch on local reports. Capt. Ron on the Fishermen says the jig fishing today Sunday was excellent for stripers and blues with all aboard catching numerous fish. Blackfish season opened up today and Capt. Jerry on the Fish Monger told me he nailed a full boat limit of mixed sized blacks (72 fish!) for his 12 customers, sounds like a great day to me. Some small stripers were caught in the surf at Sandy Hook but it seems that better action and bigger stripers and blues were beached a bit south in the Monmouth Beach to Long Branch stretch. I think I will be hitting the beach tomorrow with the fly rod and I had better get to work tying some flies so we’ll wrap this up. See you here next week, till then, Hook Em Up!
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