A striped bass I caught from the sand, 11-10-2014
The first breath of the November woods ends my saltwater fishing season. Bowhunting has my full attention at this point. I logged well over 100 saltwater fishing trips this year, I will post a season review soon.
Striped bass continue to be the best bite in Cape May County waters. However, do not expect to drive the beaches and find them schooled up under the birds. The beaches have produced very few stripers this season, reserved for the skilled and dedicated fishermen. The same way for the rips and traditional fall chunking spots in the Delaware Bay, so far. I had 47 degree water temperature at my dock today, 49 degrees at my fishing spot in the back waters.
Chip Gruff worked the rocks for this striped bass.
Chris shows a nice striped bass. 11-2014
The bluefish were thick and feeding aggressively today. They destroyed bags of my favorite rubber baits. I was targeting weakfish , but the blues were not allowing my jig to get by them. Actually, it was nice to find them in our back waters in good numbers. I continued to fish until I was out of rubber baits. They are the perfect size for eating. Bluefish would make a great addition to a labor day barbecue. They should be cooked the same day they are caught to ensure the best flavor.
One of today’s stripers attacks my lure.
I headed directly to a spot that I knew was holding bait for the last week. Today I wanted to see if the spot was holding more than keeper flounder. I pulled the anchor knowing the area was holding stripers and weakfish. After, I fished for flounder shortly, catching a nice 23″ keeper. Then I headed to the shallow water to hunt for stripers. I found a good number of stripers. One smoked my drag during a couple of good runs, he was between 30 and 40 inches. Thanks to the clear shallow water I got a good look, before he shook the hook. I continued fishing and catching nice stripers , but the big one got away today. The water temperature that was holding the fish was 70 degrees.
One of today’s stripers takes a close look at my lure.
Today felt so much like fall, I decided to forgo flounder fishing to hunt summer stripers. It was refreshing to find them with very little effort. I was sloppy in my approach to the spots , but I still hooked up at most locations. In one area they were feeding on peanut bunker and they had no interest in my favorite paddle tail. What is exciting is the amount of bait fish I continue to see in the area this year. If the numbers of bait fish hold, this fall striper fishing will be much better than last year.
John and his 5 back bay keeper flounder
We were jumped by a gang of mad strawberry flies at my dock this morning.Keep in mind, that if you run into strawberry flies , hold your ground and swat, you can clear them out in a short time. After rumbling with the strawberry natives we loaded the skiff and were on our way.With the weekend fishing pressure coupled with the conditions, it took some effort to zero in on the fish. We fished 3.5 hours, the water temperature was 65 degrees, the bite window was narrow. It is was a good morning fishing with John.
Short stripers have gathered in good numbers at select locations on the Delaware Bay side of Cape May County. There has been at least one keeper striper caught from the ocean beach side of the county. Blood worms are the only bait to use at this point. There has been 3 summer flounder caught and one confirmed 8 # weakfish. This cold snap will slow the bite until the temperature bounces back up.
Cape May co. Speckled sea trout
Ray with the first speck of the season, he released the speck seconds after the picture was shot. Every year a scout speck is caught about two weeks before the main body of specks show up. The new moon tide will hold the season’s forecast.
One day in November 2008 I was on my way home in my skiff . The sky was blue with big, cumulus clouds and the water looked tropical. The air was cool with the smell of fall. I had left my dock at 2:00 AM to hunt Speckled sea trout. Armed with over four generations of local fishing knowledge and a passion for fishing that has cost me, well a few friends. I know it was a tall order to catch a speck for Elise’s special recipe. To catch a speckled trout in Cape May County, NJ a multitude of conditions most converge. Water temperature, wind direction, wind speed , water clarity , salinity level and noise level, i.e., wave runners, cigarette boats, and other fisherman. This morning I felt good . All conditions were falling in line. I just need one thing, luck! When I had finished tying the boat up. I was staring at two speckled trout . I had a great fishing trip and Elise had her fresh speckled trout. I also returned with something more! I had a realization, If I had choice to live any where on this planet , I would pick my home right here in Cape May county NJ. I love it here Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall!
The August back bay flounder bite continues to be slow but steady. Wayne and Jon put off their annual June flounder fishing vacation until August, due to the record rain fall in June (poor fishing conditions). They fished five of their 7 day vacation in the back bay. We found keeper flounder on every trip coupled with weakfish. The water temperature was 72 degrees on the top of the incoming today. Fishing pressure has been very light in the back bay during the week.
Ken McDermott, Chip Gruff and Steve Wonder
Jim and Debbie Moors have created a Cape May County, NJ tradition with their annual Back bay flounder tournament. If you are a sport fisherman you should make time for this annual event. This year, due to the record rainfall, coupled recently with SW wind, the challenge has been finding clean water in the correct temperature range for flounder. During the tournament, areas containing the correct conditions were not only hard to find, the conditions only held for a short period of the tide. The upside to this years prevailing conditions, is large flounder remain in the back bay areas later in the summer. Chip Gruff caught a doormat flounder in the back bay on 7-25-13 , his second jumbo of the season. However, Steve Wonder caught the heaviest flounder during the tournament. The Weakfish continue to bite when the conditions are good. Ed Teise caught and released a beautiful weakfish along with a few summer stripped bass on 7-25-13. I caught three mid summer back bay keeper flounder during my last trip 7-22-13. Gotta love summer at the seashore in Cape May County, NJ.