by Frank Ruczynski
The month of May offers South Jersey anglers some of the best fishing opportunities of the year. Big, hungry striped bass are pouring out of the rivers and scouring the surf for food; weakfish action is as good as it's been in years; bluefish seem to be just about everywhere, and summer flounder season finally opens next Friday, May 23. If that's not enough, over the last few days, anglers also reported the season's first blowfish, kingfish, and croaker catches. Throw in some of the best largemouth bass fishing of the season and it's not difficult to see why May is my favorite month to fish.
The striped bass run was a little late this season, but it seems to be in full swing now, especially for anglers fishing in Cape May County. The recent bite has been good in the lower Delaware Bay, around Cape May Point, and along the oceanfront beaches. Clams are the bait of choice with incoming tide offering some of the best action. I'm a little late to the party, but I plan on visiting some friends and a few linesiders later next week. Father and son team Cody and Don Miller with a pair of Cape May linesiders that weighed 23 and 33 pounds respectively.
Weakfish receive much of my attention and while the bite has been incredible, I can't help to think I'm missing out on some other action, but I just can't pull myself away. The action has been steady and dependable with most days yielding more than a handful of 24 to 28-inch weakfish. I've shared lots of time chasing these backwater beauties with friends and family and we've made some great catches together. I know these big spawning weakfish won't be around long so I'm trying to make the most of it.Jennifer Ruczynski with a back bay beauty
After close to a month of catching weakfish, I've had some time to figure out a few things. In the area I'm fishing, creek mouths and bottleneck areas produce better on the outgoing tides while the fish seem to be holding along channel edges in about 10 to 14 feet of water during the incoming tide. Low-light conditions are best, but fish can be caught throughout the day if boat traffic is minimal. When wind and current make fishing light jigs difficult, bottom bouncing sandworms or bloodworms can save the day. Worming for weakfish
While on the subject of figuring out a few things, I wish I purchased a kayak years ago. For years, I was a land-based angler and spent countless hours wading back bay flats, but the kayak has opened up so many new opportunities. First and foremost, it allows me access to waters unreachable from land. The kayak also permits me to keep my bait in the strike zone longer as I can position myself perfectly for the best angle for presentation. With no engine noise, I can paddle over the fish all day without spooking them. Kayaks really do offer the best of both worlds. Kayak Weakfish
When the weather forecast is for heavy rain or winds over 20 mph, I leave the kayak at home and try some other types of fishing. On Wednesday, I decided to take Jake a little further north on his first bluefish trip. With a stiff northeast wind, I figured we'd toss some metals at the inlet and hope to run into a few bruisers. Jake and I set up along the seawall and were into bluefish right away. The action wasn't crazy, but there were enough bluefish around to keep us busy for a few hours. Jake had his hands full with the 9-foot rod, but he kept at it and ended up landing a couple on his own. We ended the morning with over a dozen fish to 9 pounds. After this trip, I have a feeling catching sunfish at the pond will never be the same.Jake is singing the blues.
Speaking of ponds, over the weekend, I was out at one of the local parks with the family and noticed largemouth bass lined up all over the shoreline. On Tuesday morning, I had some errands to run, but not before a few casts at the park pond. I threw a rubber worm out into the middle of the pond and was surprised when a big bass took my worm and went airborne. After a little back and forth, I slid a hefty 22-inch lunker up onto the shoreline. I admired her for a moment and sent her on her way. I fished the pond for another hour and landed three more decent largemouth bass before packing it up.Freshwater Fun
That old saying, "So many fish, so little time" was probably coined in May. I'm already having a tough time keeping up and let's not forget the 2014 summer flounder season is just days away. I caught a few flatties while jigging for weakfish so I know there here and hungry. The weekend weather looks great so get out there and bend a rod. Hungry flatties are waiting for us!