.......striper fishing as you know it might just be over. Just my opinion, but I really have to wonder. Looking back at falls past, and even the rest of this year, things are definitely different. Blame the reduction in bass numbers, a change in migration patterns, a change in bait migrations and timing, beach replenishment, or just cyclical events that keep us guessing each spring and fall.
Today I was up and out before first light. Kind of blistery conditions on the beach with temps just about 30 degrees, even lower with the wind that was blowing over 25. No signs of birds, bait or bass which has become the early morning norm. Again, these are my results as there are anglers out there picking a bass here and there along the Jersey Shore.....but this isn't normal.
Outside of bass on bunker during the spring it was a poor season. Summer was non-existant as far as early morning "popping" of resident bass along the beaches. The fall has been a disappointment, outside of a few days to a week of bass blitzing on bunker. What was interesting was that some of those beach blitzes had bass chasing butterfish and spike weakfish.....rather than a strong showing of peanut bunker.
This early summer Marthas Vineyard was slow. Montauk this fall was great if you are an albie angler outside of a late but short flurry of bass in early October. On the Jersey Shore we had a slow mullet run that was squashed by a few nor'easters that disrupted that action.
Now.....we wait and hope for sand eels......
There is always a panic when the fishing goes dead. Will the bass pass us by? Will the bait show up? And one of the most important things, for surf fly rodders, is having bait that that holds bass within our range. The bunker and other bait fish are on the move. Sometimes they travel near the beaches while other times they get pushed in by the bass and the blues. Just because, if and when, the sand eels arrive, there's guarantee it will make for a good sand eel bite.
IBSP Fall 2011
I think back to Island Beach State Park in fall 2011. It was, well, cliche, but "epic". The sand eels and the bass were they for a solid week to two weeks. The surfcasters and the boat guys had the best fishing, and taking, ever. It was good for the flyrodder, but a lot of times, depending on the tides and surf, it was mostly a spin-throwing-metal over the sand bar time fishery. Even this time last year,
IBSP November 19 2013
exactly to the day, there was a steady sand eel bite going on down south. You can read that blog post HERE. But this is a different year.....and we are either behind schedule or it just may be one of those "things" that happens and we won't have them around.
But not to be a danny downer....it is still early and there is still hope.
I checked into Stripers Online and saw a thread discussing "interaction" between boats and surfcasters. Since I was talking about IBSP I wanted to share this photo that was posted, I can't give credit to the image maker because it has been shared around so much. I guess desperate times call for desperate measures and the party boats have been nearly beaching themselves to get on the fish.
As far as "hope" and the rest of the fall season is concerned. There are still bass in the bays and the rivers. I got a call from a friend last week who is an Ironworker working on a north Jersey bridge that spans an urban river. He said there was an all out blitz of bass on peanut bunker that lasted for hours. Another friend who guides had a steady bite of bass on flys and spin tackle "in the back" so maybe on the next moon we'll see a late bait run out front, hopefully followed by the bass, if they aren't planning to go up into the Hudson for the winter.
In the meantime.....you have to hold onto hope, and just fish. Looks like temps will be back up into the 60's next week, which will at least be easier on the fingers in this 30 degree weather.