• Posted by Nick Honachefsky
  • On March 15, 2019
  • Comments
  •  3

The backwater bass season has now reopened as of March 1st, and a mild winter season may mean one heck of a spring striper fishery as bass are already biting ahead of schedule.

Water temps in Jersey’s backwaters are bumping around between 36 to 44 degrees, cold for sure, but believe it or not striped bass have been hitting in the tidal rivers all through the winter as white perch anglers have been hooking them inadvertently. Tidal creeks that empty into the shallow bays are prime time locations to find bass on the feed, albeit most of the bass caught in the months of March and early April will be in the 20 to 27-inch range. Hot areas include the Mullica River, Maurice River, Toms River, and Great Egg River systems.

Light tackle gear provides a fun fight on the scrappy stripers. Match up a 6-1/2 to 7-foot St. Croix Tidemaster rod rated for 8 to 14-pound with a Shimano 4000 Stradic reel, spooled with 20-pound Power Pro braid.

Baits work best in the cold water including bloodworms, sandworms and bits of clam. Rigs that work most always include small floats to keep the worm baits off the bay bottom and fluttering around in the water column as an unearthed worm might present itself.

A hi-lo float rig tied with 30-pound test monofilament and two dropper loops each fixed with a small half inch pill float and a size #1 to 1/0 Sproat or long shank Baitholder hook work well to hold the long worm bait secure to the hook. Thread a half or whole worm on the hook shank, leaving the back end of it fluttering off from the bend in the hook. The key to success is really to fish during sunrise until 8 AM or at the last of the sunset at dusk into the night hours as the bite usually turns on big time.

Already this year, we’ve had 30 fish nights while casting from the sodbanks as stripers seem to come through in waves. Scale down the tackle, grab fresh worm baits and hit the river systems for early season striper fun.


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