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Frank Ruczynski

I've spent the last twenty-five years chasing the fish that swim in our local waters and I've enjoyed every minute of it! During that time, I've made some remarkable friends and together we've learned a great deal by spending loads of time on the water.

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November 01, 2013

Sweet and Salty

by Frank Ruczynski

‘Tis the season: the month of November offers South Jersey anglers some great fishing opportunities highlighted by truckloads of sweet-water trout and tons of salty striped bass. Over the last few weeks, the state stocked thousands of super-sized trout in many of our local waterways, with hundreds more heading our way in the coming weeks. Striped bass action hasn't quite reached full tilt, but action is picking up and should continue to do so for the entire month of November. It's a great time to be fishing in South Jersey!

The best of both worlds!

I've been fishing day and night with solid results. My days have been spent chasing trout along the banks of streams, creeks, rivers, ponds, and lakes. By dusk, I'm in my car and headed down Route 55 to cover the back bays, inlets, and beachfront for striped bass. Believe it or not, I welcomed this morning's storm as I needed some time to catch up on sleep, household chores, and my blog.

Fall beauties

A few weeks ago, big, beautiful brook and rainbow trout were stocked into many of our waterways. For some reason, the trout haven't received much attention from local anglers. I can't figure out why the fall stocking doesn't seem to garner the same attention as the spring season. The weather is perfect, crowds are minimal, and the average trout is at least twice the size as the spring fish. I've visited a bunch of the freshly-stocked venues and more times than not, I have the area to myself. Don't get me wrong, I love having the lake and hundreds of trout to myself, but I just can't figure out why more anglers don't take advantage of the great fishing action.

Our limit of brook trout

With so many fish available locally, I've had my little sidekick, Jake, with me on most trips. We've been fishing spinners and the fish have been eager to chase them down. Over the years, I've thrown all kinds of spinners, but I've settled on one that seems to receive strikes much more than the others. It's made by Thomas and it's a nickel/gold double spinner. Just in the last few weeks, I've caught hundreds of trout on this spinner. The spinner casts a mile, tracks smoothly, and provides more flash than any other spinner I've ever thrown. I have a few more left in my bag, but I'll be making a bulk order before the end of the season.

Jake with a beautiful brookie

While there are still plenty of big brookies swimming in our recently stocked waters, the truck will be visiting again on Tuesday, November 25. This time, hundreds of 14 to 18-inch rainbow trout will be tossed into some of our neighborhood lakes and ponds. For a complete list of stocked waters feel free to visit the NJ Fish and Wildlife site.

Ok, it's time to get salty and talk about stripers. To be honest, the striped bass action has been a little slow to start as mild, ocean temperatures seem like the new normal. I can remember, not that long ago, when some of the best back bay action took place in October; that's just not the case anymore. Over the last handful of seasons, it seems like the bulk of the migratory bass arrive in our waters sometime between mid-November and December. Thinking back, I can remember the time between Halloween and Thanksgiving offered the hottest action; however, more recently, the best opportunity at numbers of striped bass seems to have shifted a little later into the season with the best bite occurring between Thanksgiving and Christmas, especially in the southernmost portion of the state.

Julia with a limit of backwater bass on 10/28/13

Although I'm certain the fall migration starts a little later than it used to, I'm still out there giving it my all. There are enough striped bass around to hold my interest and in the last few days the action really picked up. While there usually seems to be plenty of 18 to 26-inch bass around in the backwaters, recently, there's been a push of sea lice covered 26 to 32-inch fish. With the water temps still hovering around 60 degrees, I've hooked into a few weakfish and a bunch of out-of-season summer flounder. We need the water temperature to drop a bit more before we experience any serious striped bass action.

Striped bass with sea lice

With high expectations over the next few weeks, I've decided to start tagging many of the fish I catch during the fall migration. I did a bunch of research and talked to the great people over at the American Littoral Society in great depth about the science of fish tagging. I've bothered Jeff Dement, the ALS Fish Tagging Director, a bunch over the last few weeks with email, phone calls, orders, and questions and he's been a pleasure to talk to each and every time. I'm looking forward to sharing my fish tagging stories in the coming weeks.

My tagging packet from the American Littoral Society

Well, it looks like the storm is over and the front pushed through. You know what that means: it's time to pack up the gear and get ready to hit the water. I'll catch up on sleep later. Get out while you can because the holidays and Old Man Winter will be here before you know it.

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