Welcome to April, and with it comes change, specifically in the form of the new regulations for striped bass.
As a reminder, you can keep one fish daily, and that fish must be a minimum of 28 inches and no more than a maximum of 38 inches. In other words, make sure your fish falls into that slot. Measure carefully, and make sure it’s not slightly under the minimum or over the maximum.
Another change arrived with the opening of the spring blackfish season. In April, you may keep a bag-limit of four fish each day, at a minimum size of 15 inches. Getting out on a boat to catch them is another story. Read on.
The “more of the same” is the fact that there is still uncertainty if boats can go out or not. I heard some anglers were discussing the idea of getting a trip together, but when the weather didn’t cooperate, the whole point became moot.
Whether they would have been able to go out seems debatable. The uncertainty revolves around the question of a large boat, with minimal people, and the fact that there could have been at least six feet between people. As much as people would want to go, the question remains about the legality of actually doing so.
Due to this, the fleet is staying tied up at the dock. With that in mind, and since individual anglers can go out, fishing off a local rock pile may be your best option.
While there for blackfish, remember to have bucktails and rubber baits for any passing bluefish or striped bass with you.
As you can imagine, fishing action has been very limited. Results have been slow to arrive, but I have heard of fish arriving in our backwaters. The immediate areas around the inlets figure to be the best places to try if you go.
Some shops are open for bait and supplies. The best advice is to call ahead and see if, then how, they are operating.
If you don’t mind a short ride to Atlantic County, fishing for striped bass in the rivers and local bays is heating up. Bloodworms are a great bait to start with, and you may also want to have a few bunker on hand, so you can chunk them up and use them as a second offering.
These tips can also be used in the waters closer to home. Fish have to be swimming around our waters, too, so you can bet they are on the lookout for a meal.
Another area to check out if you can is the bayside area near the ferry, in Lower Township. That area is always great for early season striped bass. The shallow areas warm up nicely if it’s a sunny day, and that warmer water tends to get the fish moving sooner than deep-water areas do. Some fish have already been caught there, though I didn’t get any reports about that area this past week.
Remember, if you need bait or supplies for an individual outing, your local shops would love to help you. Check to see if they’re open and what procedures they are using. Vending machines and curbside pick-up are favorites right now.
Another idea I heard about is that some boats are promoting gift card purchases. Like the holiday season, they are perfect right now. You can use them at a future date on an open boat, or you can book a future date now.
Most importantly, the captain now gets an important influx of funds, which can be used to get through this tough time.
Other news is that the trout season has opened April 1, for catch and release fishing only. Normally, fishing would not be allowed during the pre-season stocking period.
Through midnight April 10, all trout must be released immediately. Regular season, size and bag limits apply for all other species.
The regular trout season opens at 8 a.m. April 11. Trout may be kept at that time by following the established regulations. Remember to have your freshwater license and trout stamp with you.
Finally, don’t forget that this is a great time to catch up on rod and reel maintenance that you didn't finish during the winter. It’s also a great time to tie some rigs.
Recently, I came across my vise and fly-tying materials and figured it's a great time to make some new teasers. You may also want to get creative and make new items.
Cleaning out your tackle box is another chore that is always being put off but could easily be done now. Hopefully, these ideas will help all of us get through these tough times.
Take care, be safe, and I’ll see you around.
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