The stripers are now leaving the bay after spawning and we were able to provide some fun for our customers with a decent but not great catch of stripers. We were fortunate to find some fresh bunker and that was the key along with two of the hardest working most knowledge mates you will ever find on a charter boat. All our regular charter trips end up being anywhere from 8-10 hours in length as we are now trying for both drum and stripers and the guys work the whole time. Just ask any of our customers about our crew and you will only hear the highest praise regardless if we have a decent catch or one of those slow fishing days as we never quit trying or fish by the clock unless the Flyers are playing in the 7th game like last night and yesterday’s trip was for only 9 hours. My normal bunker source is not fishing for them due to lack of demand so we have been doing a little scrambling to find the good stuff lately. No big secret where we were fishing as there have been quite a few other boats in the neighborhood but it was in really SHALLOW WATER AND NO WHERE NEAR AS FAR UP THE BAY AS WE FISHED LAST WEEK FOR STRIPERS. Our Temperature gauge showed 70 degrees at the end of the outgoing yesterday but still only around 60 degree up around the traditional drum grounds and by the Cape May Ferry Terminal. We caught fish on both the incoming and outgoing but overall I like the end and beginning of the incoming tide but only when there are not strong NW winds. That is a whole other story but yesterday we had no wind and fished almost the whole outgoing for stripers but on our previous trip we caught a few on the start of the incoming as the winds were coming from the SW blowing over 20 knots. The water was as chocolate colored as can be and there is no way the stripers are feeding other than by scent in that crappy colored water. Some of them were loaded with snails and a few ling but no bunker was in their stomach at all. Go figure. I am convinced these fish are waiting for the Herring to leave the streams and rivers and try to ambush them as they make their way back out into the open ocean but that is just on of my craze theories going back 30 years ago when we used to live line Herring in the spring for trophy stripers around the mouths any stream they went up to spawn. This was my most favorite way to catch big stripers along with a surface popper but have not fished this way in many many years.
We tried drum fishing on yesterday’s trip starting around 5:00 pm on our way back to Cape May along with fishing for stripers and it was horrible. We moved half way back towards Cape May but out in the deeper water and tried a couple of different edges where we have caught lots of Black Drum in the past in mid-May but nothing except sharks and more sharks. The locations where we fished has sea temperatures of 60 and 63 degrees drop as the water temperature drop very quickly as you run south from where we were striper fishing. No matter where we went you could not put a clam in the water let alone a piece of bunker with the doggies showing up within minutes. Absolutely horrible how many doggies are out there in the cooler deeper water now? We even tried some shallow water locations (63-64 degree water) within a short run of the Ferry Terminal on the way home hoping that we might somewhere absolutely nobody has tried yet since they are now leaving the bay but nothing but doggies everywhere we dropped our anchor and we did not chum at all to try to avoid them. You have to go up the bay and get into that really warm water to avoid the doggies is what we found on our last few trips and especially yesterday. My guess is the drum are now spawning and not eating and this should change real quick the next few days as the water is warming up some and we should see some real good action real soon plus the doggies should be leaving the bay and heading out to the ocean at least I hope that happens.
I am sitting home today because today’s charter did not want any part of striper fishing as they prefer drum only and that is probably what is going to happen tomorrow as well. Yesterday’s group did not mind switching to stripers as I advised them they would be wasting their money drum fishing and they gladly switched. We may run an open boat on Sunday for stripers if any on wants to go but right now I am not running any drum trips period as they just are not feeding and stick to stripers until the drum bite actually starts. We will also run at least a few open boats trips later this week for either stripers or Black Drum as we are open on May 19, 20, and 21. If the weather gets warmer we might even do an open boat all night drum-striper trip which would be the first of spring season for us but only if the weather starts to act like spring as it can get really cold out on the bay at night or even in the day at times.
Yesterday's group with a few nice stripers in the mid-20 lb range. Nothing red hot by any means but still some decent action and we missed a couple run-offs as well plus we might have caught a few more stripers but opted to move back closer to Cape May and try for Black Drum. Our biggest went 30 lbs and 43 inches from the last few days and one gentleman did catch his very first striper ever which is always a enjoyable experience for him and his friends. I posted a picture of yesterday's group to show how large the cockpit of the Hooked Up II is and how much actual fishing room it provides. Again nothing red hot by any means but right now stripers seem to be about the only show in town on the Delaware Bay.