Back Bay/River Striper season kicks off Tuesday


It’s the fishing version of March Madness: the March 1st opening of the bay and tidal river striped bass season opens a second after midnight next Tuesday, and it’s a safe bet that there will be anglers on the banks casting bloodworm-baited rigs in the hopes of marking the first bass of the new season.

We remember the pre-dawn years spent near side-by-side crowds along Graveling Point in Great Bay, at the end of Radio Road on Mystic Island (Little Egg Harbor). This mouth of the Mullica River region was traditionally the first hotspot because its shallows warmed up faster, bringing out worms and crustaceans which in turn attracted scratches.

Absecon Bay Sports Center

Absecon Bay Sports Center

There were those years when a keeper was caught on the first game, but often it was a few weeks, sometimes more for a legal bass (28 inches or more) to be dragged to the muddy shore, but a lot of shorts were caught , satiating the stripper hunger of us so deprived for the past few months.

Bloodworms are the favorite bait in March and April. The fresh clam (if you can get hold of it) comes into its own as the month of the fool progresses; however, it is the bloods that will make the capture now.

Absecon Bay Sports Center

Absecon Bay Sports Center

Bloods are expensive, there’s no doubt, with jumbos demanding high prices. However, if you want to catch bass, you have to put the money or card in the slot.

Remember that when using natural bait of any kind when strip fishing, non-staggered circle hooks are the law.

Key areas of South Jersey early in the season include the Mullica River and Graveling Point, as well as the Egg Harbor, Tuckahoe, Toms, Lower Bass and Maurice Rivers. Don’t overlook the sedge shoal areas of Great Egg Harbor and

Barnegat Bays and ICW stretching from Ocean City to Stone Harbor.

Absecon Bay Sports Center

Absecon Bay Sports Center

Looking for big bass? And I mean BIG bass? Then, cross the Garden State to the Delaware River. In the long stretch from Bordentown to Paulsboro, stripers can be expected in the over 30 pound class, with some over 40 pounds being caught each spring. This is a big water/big tackle scenario (read: surf stick outfits) and only the biggest bloodworms should apply.

The daily limit is one fish 28 inches to less than 38 inches. On the Delaware River, under the Calhoun Street Bridge in Trenton, catch and release is only April 1 through May 31.

Absecon Bay Sports Center

Absecon Bay Sports Center

Captain Dave Showell, charter skipper and tackle shop owner, talks early season stripers 7-8 tomorrow morning on Raack & Fin Radio with host Tom P. He will be hosting a striper tournament and white pole on Tuesday. Agree for details.

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