by Capt. Steve Byrne
I spent Friday afternoon and all day Saturday manning the Noreast.com booth at the Somerset Saltwater Fishing Show, and I got to meet a bunch of noreast.com members. There was Billy40, MoJo (both halves), Bobby Waldbaums (with Mrs. Waldbaums), sifisherman, Cbass and several more members, whose names escape me at the moment; I must be getting old.
The show was great, but let's get to the important stuff!
Stripers are here in good numbers. Both Raritan and Jamaica Bays are producing bass into the teens, which I can't ever remember happening this early in the year. Bunker are in the bays in their usual favorite spots – harbors, coves, etc. – and guys are snagging them and chunking.
If you're going out to give it a shot, try dark colored, muddy bottoms. The mud absorbs the warmth of the sun and the fish love that warmer water this time of year. If you can, fish incoming. Low water is early afternoon for the next few days, so late afternoon and into the evening should be good.
In Raritan Bay, there are reports of bass from Keyport, Union Beach and Laurence Harbor; pretty much any area in the back of the bay is good. Jamaica Bay is holding fish also, but I have heard fewer reports from there. That is probably due to access issues – surfcasters can just drive up to the spots in Raritan to fish, but most of Jamaica Bay is best suited for yaks. It's still cold for kayaks to be on the water, and every year there are reports of kayakers drowning after falling into frigid waters.
Let's be smart here: if you do go out in the yak, go with a buddy and wear a lifejacket. Truthfully, I'm no kayak expert, but I think that if you don't have a dry suit you have no business being on the water this early in the season. Be careful.
I'll have my boat in the water soon & hope to have some first-hand reports for you.