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Capt. Steve Byrne

Steve Byrne is a charter captain and fishing addict. He holds the current IGFA weakfish 30# line-class record, & guided his two sons to IGFA records of their own. "Catching stripers for 40 years, I love releasing big fish to catch them another day!"

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May 28, 2012

Bass on the Bunker Schools

by Capt. Steve Byrne

I did a few trips last week, but they were limited to Raritan Bay – either because of time restrictions, or weather conditions. The bay is loaded with bunker, but water temperatures are high and bluefish are in complete control.

Thursday afternoon's trip got off to a late start, as Sal, Mike & Natalie got stuck in Manhattan traffic. We stayed close to the harbor to avoid getting abused by the southeast wind. It took about ten minutes to get the fish started, and then it was constant fish for 2.5 hours. The trio brought 30 to 40 medium to large bluefish to the boat & had enough. They ended the quick trip with sore arms and washed up for dinner.

That trip was preceded by Wednesday's trip with father & son Ron & Jake. The guys had similar bluefish action for 5 solid hours, easily tangling with 50 bluefish.

On Saturday I took care of some maintenance and fueled up the boat for Monday. We finally had an opportunity to fish the bunker schools on the ocean, so Steve C met me at 5AM and we headed out with a well full of bunker.

The amount of bunker on the ocean is just plain silly. We fished around the bunker schools and found slow action, but quality fish. Steve released this fat bass after a great fight, and we caught some mid-teens bluefish.

On the way back in there were some birds working south of Romer, so we broke out the spinning gear and caught some 4 to 8-pound bluefish on poppers.

You can find schools of bunker along the Jersey coast, or around Breezy Point and east from there. I like netting bunker in the harbor & bringing it out with me, but you can snag them on the ocean too.

I am still using circle hooks, putting the hook in the bottom jaw and out through the nose. It works. Just be sure to fish in free spool, with the clicker on – and let them eat. Then just reel nice & easy, and the circle does the work for you.

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