Striped bass season reopened in Jersey's backwaters on March 1st, and its been a bananas bite since the first minute. Don't get hyped to catch any slobs though, as 95% of the fish are schoolie size of 18 to 26 inches long, but right now its about quantity over quality.
By far, the easiest way to score first of the year stripers is by bloodworming. Start by going with medium-light tackle rods like a 7-foot Shimano Teramar TMSE70M matched with a Quantum Iron 30 reel, spooled with 20 to 30-pound Power Pro braided line.
For rigs, scale down from a regular striper type rig with large hooks and grab a pre-packaged Fin Strike/Aqua Clear Hi-Lo Kingfish/Spot pill float rig equipped with size #2 Mustad Baitholder or Pacific Bass hooks and a 2-ounce bank sinker for weight. The pill floats allow the bloodworms to float just off the bottom a bit as the stripers patrol the mud flats to suck them down as if they just popped out of the muddy bottom. Rig a half bloodworm threaded onto the hook shank, leaving a good inch or two to dangle off the bend. When tides are ripping, a fishfinder slide rig will lay the bloodworm out better in the current, consisting of a braid-friendly slide sinker clip, a 75-pound Spro Barrel Swivel, 24-inch section of 25-pound Seaguar Fluorocarbon Leader and a size 2/0 Gamakatsu Baitholder hook on the end.
Hot spots for early season stripers are anywhere you can find water temps that are above 48 degrees. Annual Jersey producers are back bay areas as well as river systems such as at Graveling Point in Great Bay, Toms River, Absecon Creek and the Great Egg River. If the bite is fast and furious, hold the pole in your hand to set the hook, otherwise put it down in a rod spike and watch it closely as the scrappy stripers have the ability to pull the rod into the water if you turn a blind eye. I hit a night trip this week with five other friends while the low pressure dropped right before the Nor'Easter and a 5 hour session had us tallying up 109 stripers, and we left them biting. Don't wait! The bass are already here, grab some bloods and hit it during the dark hours.
- Shimano Teramar Inshore NE Rod
- Aqua-Clear Kingfish Spot Perch Rigs
- TackleDirect Bank Sinker
- Quantum Iron Inshore spinning Reel