Congratulations to our June winners for Fin-atics 3rd Annual Fluke Derby. Ken Ruckle of Egg Harbor Township, NJ took 1st Place with a 25-1/2″ 5.34lb Flatty on June 10th out of his kayak! Second place was Brian Schuler from Seaville, NJ with a 24″ 4.95lb flounder, while Third place was taken by Mike Gardner of Petersburg, NJ with a 24-1/2″ 4.64lb fish. June was a tough month locally for flounder fishing due to all the rain and wind, so an extra congrats to our winners is in order. Weather so far in July has been better and water temps are on the rise so I would expect a few bigger fish this month. Good luck to all our entrants and remember it is never to late to enter and it is always FREE with a chance to win up to $1500 in Fin-atics Gift Cards. If you would like to enter, stop by the store, call us at (609)398-2248 or email your name, address, phone number and date of birth (only if you are under 14 years old so we may qualify you as a junior angler). Good luck to everyone for the month of July and August.
Striped Bass fishing often comes down to catching fish while trolling. Trolling for Striped Bass in New Jersey can be a very effective method to catch Striped Bass when they are not schooled up in large numbers. Often you will find a run of fish that are in broken up schools and are feeding on bunker, sand eels or herring. The trick is to mimic the size of baitfish that the Stripers are foraging on; sometimes it may be small 4-5in bait while other times it can be an 11-12in size.
The waters off New Jersey have a variety of baitfish in them depending on the time of year. We often see Sand Eels, Spearing, Anchovies, Butterfish, Herring, Mackerel or Bunker in near shore and off shore waters. Imitating the baitfish is the key to success while trolling our waters and there are many different lures available that will accomplish this goal. The first and foremost rule to trolling for Striped Bass is your speed, the SLOWER THE BETTER! Once you remember this important rule the more productive your fishing experience will be. The second rule is that a good fish finder is a must for this type of fishing. If you can’t find the bait you won’t find many Stripers.
The easiest method to imitate a small school of bait fish is the use of an umbrella rig. The last few years we have seen great production with 9ers Lures, a New England based manufacturer of umbrella rigs. What makes them unique is that they are tangle free, in comparison to traditional styled umbrella rigs. Their 6-way bar has baits directly attached at a raked back angle, making it a tangle-free fishing experience. Choose either a rig with tubes to imitate small baitfish or one with shads to imitate the larger baitfish. Troll these lures on the “flat” lines directly behind the boat; trolling them from outriggers is very impractical. You will need to use a trolling weight or downrigger to get these lures to the depth of water the Stripers are feeding in.
Another good lure that has produced consistently over the years is the Mann’s Stretch 25+ and Stretch 30+. These lures are designed with a large lip and as their name implies, will swim up to 25+ feet and 30+ feet deep respectively. You will be amazed at how quickly these lures dive to depth when you troll them. These lures should also be trolled on a “flat” line because of the pressure they put on a rod while they are trolled. I often find that the Stretch 30+ will produce more strikes than the 25+ when Bunker is the large adult size because of the profile they present.
Choose a stout rod and reel to troll these types of lures, because they apply a lot of pressure while trolled. Today’s braided super lines are a great choice for this type of trolling as they have far less drag in the water than monofilament. However, you should still use a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader to attach the lure so when reaching for the leader you don’t cut up your hands on the braid. Common sizes for the braid are from 30-50lb and leaders should be from 50-80lb.
Chunking Bunker for Striped Bass can be a very productive method for catching that trophy linesider. It is a very simple method that will produce bites in a variety of conditions and different areas of the bay or ocean. Most often this fishing technique is used from an anchored boat but it also can work from areas such as a pier, dock or bridge. Take a Bunker (Menhaden), cut it up into pieces about 2 inches long and throw a few at time into the water, chunking is just as it sounds.
The trick is not to chunk too many at a time, get the Stripers feeding on them but not enough to satisfy their hunger. I find that a dozen bunker will last for about 2 hours of slow and steady chunking, of course if the bite is on it will go much faster. Use a larger piece of Bunker, usually a head or mid-section 4-5 inches wide as a bait with a large 8/0 to 10/0 hook (circle hook or J-hook based on your personal preference) . Drift or cast the baited hook, using a fish finder style rig out behind the boat or away a bit from the pier. Use of a Baitrunner or conventional reel with a clicker is important here so you may leave the reel in free-spool, the fish can pick the bait up and not feel the sinker or drag of the reel.
Find a place to anchor or a spot on a pier where your bait will drift into a hole, the edge of a drop off or a nice rip current and fish it a couple hours before or after the change of a tide. The current slows a bit and your chunks won’t be carried away as fast during this time. I have found that there is no set tide, high or low that will produce all the time, the time of day and season will dictate when they bite. Striped Bass are the most unpredictable of fish when it comes to their behavior, they may bite on the top of the incoming tide one week and the bottom of the outgoing another. Put the time in and you will eventually learn their patterns for the area you are fishing at the time of year you choose to fish it. This will help narrow down the when and where to fish and increase your chances of landing that once in a lifetime Striped Bass.