The best thing that can be said is that stripers have finally arrived off South Jersey over the last few days in the numbers we have experienced in past years. I heard reports of limit catches all along the coast and best of all many were caught within the 3 mile line. Overall, it can be said stripers are now here and can be caught on jigs, surface poppers and trolling especially if you can find bird play.
Now for the Delaware Bay and what I have picked up about what is currently happening for the bunker chunking fleet as of Sunday November 16, 2014. Basically nothing is the best way to put it except for an occasional one here and one there in the lower bay. There have been shorts caught up the bay much like last season but overall not much is happening as of today. It seems the large schools have not made it south of Wildwood and the million dollar question is will they stay out in the open ocean or will they enter the Delaware Bay? We should have an answer within the next week or so after this cold front passes which will lower water temperatures and should result in more stripers showing up off South Jersey and Delaware.
Last fall we never really got into the chunk bite until early December and it only lasted a short time as we ended up trolling most of late November and December. My best advice would be if you want to catch stripers, be prepared to troll out front in the open ocean as that is what saved our season in 2013. Unfortunately for those who prefer chunking, 2014 is starting to look a lot like last fall when most of the larger stripers stayed out of the bay in the open ocean where trolling proved exceptional for us. In 2103 we were able to put together a decent striper season by trolling mostly umbrella rigs right along the 3 mile line on the hills and lumps off south Jersey north of Cape May. It is starting to look like a repeat of 2013 unless the bay fishing picks up the next week which certainly could happen and that is what we are hoping for. Although chunking on lighter tackle is the method we prefer to use for catching stripers on the Hooked Up II, we will troll if that is what it takes to provide exceptional catches for our customers. In 2013 we ran up to 25 miles on a few trips to locations where the troll and jig bite was on fire within the 3 mile line and we are prepared to do this again this year if we need to. In 2012 we had a fantastic chunking season and limited out using frozen bunker on our last trip December 28, 2012 so it will be interesting to see what develops over the next couple of weeks on the bay. Overall it can be said the striper fishing is now happening as more fish have moved into our area and this is what we all have been waiting for. The next month or so should provide some excellent striper fishing like it did in past years and that is the real message behind this post.
On the Hooked Up II we have rescheduled almost all our charters to late November and early December and it looks like it will be perfect timing with the fish now showing up locally. The big question at the present time is will the stripers enter the Delaware Bay in good numbers or will they stay out in the open ocean? We will know the answer shortly.