• Posted by Nick Honachefsky
  • On April 4, 2018
  • Comments
  •  2

Before bunker schools move into the area, fresh or salted clams are a solid bet to score your first fish from the surf in April.

Jersey’s spring striper run is just kicking off. Generally shorter in stature, April bass average in the 20 to 26-inch bracket and can be fickle when feeding at the start of the season. Even though clamming is relatively simple, there are some tricks to the trade.

Start off with a general Hi-Lo rig, tied with a 75-pound Spro Barrel Swivel, a 36-inch section of 40-pound Triplefish monofilament leader to which a dropper loop is tied 16 inches down from the swivel, with another dropper tied 16 inches down from that and with the remaining tag end a double overhand knot is tied to cinch on a 3 to 5-ounce Pyramid sinker. On the droppers, loop on size 3/0 to 4/0 Gamakatsu Baitholder hooks.

Early season bass tend to mouth baits more often than not, so a hi-lo rig, when planted firmly into the sand with the Pyramid sinker, helps to set the hook immediately as there is no give as with a slider rig. The key to success is not to overload the hook with a gob of bait. Use a slender 2 to 3 inch cut of clam tongue as bait. Small bass will have a much easier time sucking down a bite sized morsel.

Focus on lower tides and set up in a nice hole or slough three hours before the dead low tide and the three hours of the incoming the skinny waters will warm up considerably faster than deeper waters, encouraging bass to feed. Spring shorties tend to short strike clam baits. It can be frustrating to see the rod getting hit and not hooking up. If you have the rod in a sand spike, you’ll miss the hit most times. Hold the rod in your hand and when you feel that first tap hit, immediately set the hook.

Spring shorties are notorious for hit and run tactics and a quick hookset is warranted. Though morning and evening tides are always considered best times to fish for stripers, do not overlook mid-day afternoon hours during the colder month of April. When the sun is high in the sky from noon onward, the waters and surrounding air warms considerably faster, sparking bass to feed during what is generally considered unconventional times. Put all this intel into play, and you’ll be tied tight to your first surf striper of the season.

Gear Used


Power Swivels

These amazing swivels are made of high-grade stainless steel with a gunmetal black finish. They offer super smooth rotation and unbelievable strength at 1.5 times stronger than standard barrel swivels despite their tiny appearance.


Triple Fish

Monofilament Leader 50yds Clear

Triple Fish Monofilament Leader is the perfect combination of great quality and great value. As an angler, you don’t have to give up reliability or spend a boat load, as this mono leader is economy priced. This monofilament leader is long lasting and dependable.



Pyramid Sinkers

Pyramid Sinkers are often used in the surf or in situations needing your bait to hold in heavy current. The pointed edges help prevent your bait from rolling away with the current, and typically buries itself in the sand for an ideal hold.



ST-8 Striped Bass High/Low Rig

Aqua-Clear ST-8 Striped Bass High/Low Casting Rig. The Rig comes with 2 6/0 Bait Holder Hooks with 18/9” Leaders. Long sturdy hooks ensure catching and holding your fish. This rig is great for striper. Be prepared with Aqua-Clear.



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