As we slide into December, the Fall Run of stripers is still running strong along the Jersey Coast, but will begin to tail out near the middle to end of the month.
In the suds, larger bass are generally replaced by shorties ranging from rat size of 10 inches up to schoolies of 17 to 23 inches and "old slot" class of 24 to 27 inches. That means its time to scale down your gear to near light tackle proportions to get your money's worth with the spunky stripers.
I employ a St. Croix Tidemaster TIS76MF rod with a Shimano Stradic 5000 reel, spooled with 30-pound green Power Pro. A general rig consists of a 50-pound Spro Barrel swivel, with a 30-inch section of 25-pound Seaguar fluorocarbon leader to which a dropper loop is tied 12 inches below the swivel, then on the end, a 30-pound DuoLock snap swivel. On the dropper attach a size 2/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hook with a Vision rainfish or Felmlee eel, or 2/0 white hair bucktail.
There are many interchangeable lures to switch on and off the DuoLock swivel, all depending on bait present in the area. If sand eels are present, then the Ava 007 jigs with green or black tails work, as do the Tsunami sand eels and Deadly Dick metals. Peanut bunker dopplegangers include 3 to 4-inch Storm and Tsunami shads. Bomber plugs and Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows are fine offerings when herring and spearing are in the surf. Surf shorty action has been intense lately up and down the coast.
I've been bailing short bass for the past two weeks straight, with average catches about 8 to 15 fish each outing. No, they're not the 40-pound pigs we like to brag about, but man are they fun to catch on light gear. Put in your time during false dawn and just after sundown for the best shot when the shorties are most active.
- St. Croix Tidemaster TIS76MF Spinning Rod
- Shimano ST5000XGFK Stradic FK Spinning Reel
- Tsunami Swim Shad Lures
- Deadly Dick Long Casting / Jigging Lures