Central & North Jersey
The striped bass fishing along the New Jersey coast, and certainly in the Delaware River, is the best many have seen in 10 years. In my opinion, the Delaware River is fishing the best that I have ever seen.
For the saltwater angler, the lure and fly bite situated off of central and north Jersey has been absolutely nuts. With gannets dive bombing from high in the sky on bunker and herring, really big striped bass are gorging below. Word all week was that charter captains were limiting out by 8 a.m.
"Just find the birds and you'll catch," said Capt. Frank Crescitelli of Fin Chaser Charters on Staten Island, N.Y.
Many believe that this huge body of striped bass is staging off Sandy Hook, N.J., and preparing to shoot up the Hudson River to carry out their spawn. Others feel that this school of bass is the missing population of that really hasn't showed up on the Chesapeake Bay. I guess only Mother Nature knows the real truth but if you truly want to fly or light tackle 20- to 40-pound striped bass, this is the place to fish and it is one right now. Get up here and check it out before it's over.
Most anglers have been jigging 2- to 4-ounce metal jigs such as a T-hex or Ava while others are simply slow retrieving Guides Choice Bunker Boy plugs back to the boat. A growing group of fishermen are downsizing their outfits to include low profile reels and swimbait style rods that many largemouth bass anglers or redfish fishermen would use. Thanks to the growing trend in fishing braided lines, these non typical striper outfits are small and lightweight and have been re-constructed to withstand not only saltwater environments but also the power of 30-pound striped bass.
Delaware River — Pa. / N.J. Border
I have been fishing the Delaware River for striped bass since the 80s. With that said, this river is fishing the best it has ever fished in all the years I have been on the river. Many fishing guides and fellow anglers alike are experiencing double digit striper days while using live herring. This past week alone, I had as many as 18 stripers, up to 20 pounds on one drift. Double and triple headers have been common all week.
Using 3-hook sabiki bait rigs, anglers are catching up to a daily limit of ten river herring per person. Specialized jet boats and homemade live-well systems enable a boat of three anglers to carry 30 herring for a long day of fishing. This year, we are running through herring in an hour, forcing us to throw plugs that closely mimic herring. It appears that with no rain and all sun this week, our river is in prime shape for a successful spawn. The striper population could really use it.
Long Island Sound — Conn.
Further up the striper coast, Captain Blaine Anderson of Anderson Guide Service reported that striper fishing has begun to pick up along the Connecticut River Confluence within Long Island Sound.
Anderson said "I expect it to be on fire by May 1." More to come from Capt. Anderson next week.
Editor's note: Capt. Chris Gatley can be found with his fishing clients chasing striped bass in front of the Statue of Liberty, or heading offshore to the Atlantic Ocean canyons off the N.J. / N.Y. coast for tuna. His articles on cutting-edge fishing techniques can be found in The Fisherman Magazine, and he's a regular presenter at key sports shows during the winter months (when he's not pursuing whatever he can find in East Coast rivers).