by Frank Ruczynski
If we're going to have a fall run it better happen soon! South Jersey fall runs aren't like they used to be, but the late-season migration still provides some of the best action of the year. The big weekend storm is over. With a few passing tides and decreasing winds, the water should clean up quickly. Before the storm, coastal water temperatures were well over 60 degrees in Atlantic City and Cape May. This morning, the monitoring stations have our beachfront water temperature just a little over 50 degrees. Over the next few days, water temps should stabilize and be perfect for a good bass bite!Bring on the Stripers!
Right before the blow, migrating linesiders were pushing down from Sandy Hook towards Asbury and Island Beach State Park. Our northern neighbors reported a major push of sizable striped bass and bluefish late last week just as the storm cranked up. It will be interesting to see where those fish show up after the dust settles. I'm hoping they pushed even further south.
While waiting for the migratory fish, I experienced some great summerlike backwater action. Snapper bluefish, weakfish, summer flounder, and small striped bass provided a steady bite before the nor'easter. I spotted tons of peanut bunker, silversides, and a few pods of mullet, too. I expect the storm sent most of the summer species packing for warmer waters.Good numbers of weakfish around should bode well for the future.
Our resident striped bass remain active throughout the summer months, but they really turned on the feedbag after our first cold shot and following northwest wind. Late last week, I found a bunch of hungry little stripers set up along a shadow line and blowing up on passing silversides. The pint-sized striped bass are fun on light tackle and I enjoy tagging them. I just received a bundle of new tags from the American Littoral Society and I'm hoping to tag a bunch of fish before the season's end. Hungry Little Stripers
My search for South Jersey redfish was a bust this season. After last season's big push of red drum, I had high expectations this year. It's possible that a few may show up over the next few weeks, but I put in a fair amount of time and decided I'm done chasing unicorns. Once the water cleans up a little, I'll make the rounds to see if I can find a few specks (spotted sea trout.)
When I'm not fishing along the coastline, I'm usually plying the nearby lakes and ponds. Largemouth bass, chain pickerel, yellow perch, and crappie provide some great fall action. Views of a beautiful autumn landscapes with a bent rod are high on my to-do list. Throw in thousands of state-stocked trout and I'm in heaven.
This year's fall trout fishing was a little different than the last few years. The state hatchery had some issues and the big brook trout that I look forward to each October were replaced by much smaller rainbow and brown trout. Knowing this may not go over well with those of us that purchased trout stamps, the state added thirty big rainbows to each stocked pond and lake. Looking back, I believe the state made the best out of a bad situation. I'm interested to hear their plans for the winter trout stocking. I'll keep you posted.One of the many big trout stocked into our local waters.
Fortunately, I reside in an area surrounded by ponds and lakes, many of which were on the state's trout-stocking list. My son, Jake, and I visited three separate stocked waters and had a blast catching beefy rainbow trout at each venue. While some anglers frown upon stocked trout, my son and I thoroughly enjoy our time on the water chasing these over-sized "truckbows." Good Times!
After the great trout action, I found myself feeling a little spoiled. With a forecast high of 75 degrees last Tuesday, I decided it was time to pack up the kayaks and make a trip to a local lake. I had a feeling it would be my last day on the yak in shorts and a t-shirt. After a short paddle, I had fish jumping on both sides of me. I positioned myself in a small channel and had largemouth bass schooled up on a stump field on one side and chain pickerel patrolling the flats on the other. It seemed like every cast was a follow, strike or hook up.
I spent the entire day on the lake and enjoyed everything it had to offer. I was surrounded by picturesque fall colors while a bevy of swans circled above and a pair of whistling bald eagles watched from a nearby tree. Catching fish and a bent rod is great, but it becomes much more when you learn to appreciate all of the little things. A Beautiful Fall Day
Whatever the rest of the season offers, make sure to get out there and make the most of it. You know where I'll be.