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Great - Good - Bad - Ugly ???

Well the season is just about over, ahh not really until the ball drops in NY at midnight 12/31/05,but it is over - isn't it ??
It has been it seems the last couple of weeks, last weekend we found dirty muddy too cold water at a few different backbay locations. I can remember fishing right on up to New Years Eve and just bailing fish in the back on plugs in years past - and unless something drastically changes over the next week I just do not see that happening this year anywhere in NJ.

And it was a strange year for me, it seemed to start very slow,although I did pick up a few Bass in April after nothing in March.

It felt like everything was delayed a month or so and we never really recovered from a wet/cold Spring.Although Some Areas Did Turn On With Alot Of Action But For The Most Part The Places That I Fish Between IBSP & OC Was Too Slow For My Liking.
And before you knew it, backbay water temps skyrocketed way up to just some ridiculous
high water temps. Then these guys invaded our waters -

And so did the crowds of fishermen that summer brings as well.A saving grace for us this year was the addition of our kayak -

Which opened alot more opportunities for us but again all we seem to find was small stripers -

Which I guess is a good thing for the future and after reading the SB Stock Assessment recruitment of young fish (age 1)which was at 12.7 million this year and was close to the average recruitment observed since the stock was first declared recovered in 1995. So I should wear my sunglasses at night because the future is so bright :cool: Will See.

The Fall Run, Did It Start Yet ? :rolleyes:
Yeah, there was a period of maybe a couple of weeks where we had some decent fish where quite a few anglers caught keeper fish in both the slot range and +34" fish by both plugging and backbay clam belly fishing. But really I believe those back to back to back Storms just wiped out most of the bait and add in one of the coldest Novembers and Decembers in some time really put the clamp down on the season.

The brite spot was the period the other month were we had the GREEN GLOW in the water,truely one of the most amazing things I ever saw. Watching Stripers come up from the depths and attacting bunker was quite a sight like watching fireworks exploding in the water.. At least for me, I know alot of fishermen found it a turn off
but I managed some of my nicer fish of the season
sight casting onto these glowing objects.

So To Sum Up My Season Somewhere In-Between Good and Bad - How About A Bad +

But the best part about a season closing down for the year is that another one will be right around the corner. You take what you learned over the past year along with another season under your belt and go right back at it. Why ?

Because We Love It - Striped Bass Fishing.....


* So - Lets Here How You Made Out This Year BACKBAY BASSING and share your ratings and or any pictures/observations you might have.

Thanks,,,


-

[ 12-21-2005, 12:03 PM: Message edited by: NIGHTSTRIKES ]
 

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This had to be the worst BackBay stiper season I've ever had. I didn't get out as much as I had in previous years due to back problems and work but when I did get out the fishing was below average at best.

Like Steve said the water temps in the summer hurt the fishing as well as the extremly cold Nov. and Dec. I also believe all the big bluefish invading the back bays really cut down on our ability to get to the bass during May and June. There were some times when I couldn't get a pinkie anywhere near the bottom before it got inhaled by a 3lb blue.

I caught bass preety much every time I went out the only problem was that they averaged 16-18 inches with just a few slots mixed in. Last year I was fishing up close to Christmas and my last trip this year was around Thanksgiving. It just hasn't been worth going out.

Lets hope the spring run starts on time and brings us some bigger fish as well.
 

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Behind Avalon/SIC was not very good at all. Not nearly as good as the last 3 years...only managed 1 big keeper, a few slots and whole bunch of little guys.
I agree with Nightstrikes, the season got off a month behind and never quite caught up. Last year, my partner and I were catch big keepers into late July at night....

Let's hope next year is better,,,
 

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I personally thought the season was above average in numbers but not size, the spring run as always produced larger bass, as everyone has said everything was about 3 weeks behind, the big weakies that normally make themselves known in late april and early May, really didn't show in good numbers until late May early June, as far as the fall run goes i thought it was great from the mullet run all the way to the end of November, the surf at LBI was very good to me this year, i was averaging about 15 fish per outing while plugging. During the mullet run and just after, the size of the bass were larger, as the fall run continued the fish got smaller but became more abundant, the whole month of November i think we only had one fish over 34 inches, so as far as numbers go i would say this year was above average, as far as size definately below average!
 

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My season was not as good as past years.I missed the spring with knee surgery,and didn't get going until memorial day.I did surprisingly well with bass using shedder throughout June and July.The fall season was not like it had been in other years,none of my go to spots produced consistently.The good part of that was i tried and found new spots.Most fish were tweeners but i did manage 3 @ 35" to 36"{my wife had 2 of the 3}.The surf was not that productive for me,had not one keeper in the surf this year.There doesn't seem to be the structure on some of the South Jersey beaches that there was in the past.All in all not a bad year but definetly not a great one for me.Better to have a mediocre fishing season than not one at all.MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL.!!!!GO GIANTS!!!!!!PEACE.
 

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As i posted on the striped bass forum, my nighttime summer was insane lots of fish and much bigger fish than my fall.My summer unlike up north had no bluefish , it was great and even with the insane water temps my best night in the summer for stiper the water temp in the back was 82 Peanut bunker schools really came through this year for an all out frenzy and blitzing at night in cape may county.But this wasn't a bridge game. Bridges have not been productive; saying that you can spend an entire tide on one bridge and catch 20 fish everynight like 2001. For me anyway.

Spring was also good with alot of slammer blues mixed in in the back which I have yet to see these past years. With the inlux of spot I had no problem coaxing even the biggest Striped bass to bite in july and august. My misfortune was not bringijng spot on nights when I saw my biggest bass. I will tell you this there is no better feeling in fishing than letting a trophy go free. Seeing that fish that you fought for dear life to land swim away free because you felt like letting it go is way better then any dockside weigh in. Nowing that fish is going to spawn next year and produce thousands of more striped bass because of your consideration. I know alot of people on this board know just what I am talking about.

Dec was very good until our first sleet than it was a very slow pick. Last december I was still bailing 20 bass easily a night with the glow in the water.

Most of my fishing was done with the aid of a kayak to get to the shallowest flats at night were the bass had peanut bunker pinned for hours.
Best weapons this summer/fall was definetly 1/4 ounce plugs and bayside shrimp. 15 pound Spiderwire stealth teflon braid(awesome line) 20# zero flourocarbon leader,
2500 stradic and Gloomis greenwater handled everything that in hooked while tossing the littest offerings. I also did very well with skimmer jigs tipped with sand flea for sight fishing striped bass on the flats. Weakfishing was very good towards the end of august landed 15 or more on a tide. They like sand fleas too.

Thanks as well to NightStrikes for the Black/purple bomber suggestion. Very odd how it outperforms the solid black bombers, the fish must see the contrast in the dark.

Verygood season overall could have seen some bigger fish this fall and a longer december bite in the back bays. But I am convinced Our summer fishery was the fall School as well and they departed a little early this year due to the snow and sleet. But hopefully there is plenty of resident bass around in case we have a freak warm up before the new year and for season open next spring.

Thanks to everybody on the homeport board for your reports this year. I can always count on knowing the pulse of the backbay estuaries by reading the reports and sharing my success and short comings as well. Good luck for the rest december and hopefully we will be pounding the fish in the early spring. In like a lion out like a lamb.

Merry Christmas and a Healthy New Year For All

The Insomniac

[ 12-21-2005, 02:41 PM: Message edited by: insomniac ]
 

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Have only been fishing the salt for Stripers for 11-12yrs. Note: the first 5-6 yrs I never caught a twinkie in the salt. That is a fish under 18". That icludes the surf.Even in the earliest learning stages- I either struck out-caught few fish -they would have been no less than what is considered currently a legal size. I never caught giant fish in the back-but the majority were 27-30". (some larger some-slightly smaller) I didn't keep any fish until about 5 yrs ago. At that time I started keeping 5-6 fish per year.
4 yrs back I caught my first tiny bass. I thought it was "cute". Then I caught them regularly with a mix of larger fish and I thought it was a good sign for the future. This fall in the back-that is all that I caught. I managed one "keeper" that was 25".
I caught mant stripers,weaks,flounder & blues this fall. They were all small fish. I use artificals and fish mostly the OC area. So I still know how to catch-but I noticed a a real lack of fish with any size. I'd keep a light set-up in the car if I didn't have to worry about leaving a better rig in the vehicle.
I'm not about to stop but catching tiny fish with my usual set-up is wearing on me. It's a 70 mile drive each way. The only plugs in my ever growing collection that are even getting a work-out are the old standards.
I won't complain any more- you asked. It was a dismal fall for me -in the back.
 

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Last year I killed the bass on some rips drifting eels from late october to the end of november. Nights with 4-12 fish all 20+ pounds werent uncommon. Most nights I averaged 2-3 fish myself, largest going 32.7 pounds. Largest two on my boat was a 42.8 and a 39. This year the fish werent there. I went up and tried to mark fish at my favorite spot and they just never showed up. I would take the ride only to find water. I decided to try different methods and fished with clams on the outter bars of the LEI. Had 1 day out of 7 with stripers. 3 to be exact largest 27.5 inches. Biggest fish this year came from the mullica river on a bunker head, 4 feet of water. Fish went 15 pounds. Now I know the weather was weird and thats what im blaming it on. My sure fire way to catch this year never turned on, but I did get a chance to try other spots and techniques. Even though I only caught a bass 4 out of 20 or so trips, I now have different methods and spots to try. For my third year, I vow to catch a striped one in the suds.
 

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I fished with a buddy since my boat was not running and our back bay season was very ugly. We fished from GB Inlet to TI many days and we didnt even get a bite on. It sucked. Some days we had grass, other days too much wind. We had the basic bait, eels, bunker and clams. Can only wish 2006 is better.
 

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Gator i have to agree I am not seeing the big fat 34 to 38 inch fish rolling around. Lots and Lots of small fish. Maybe its a cycle , Maybe its the weather , Maybe they were more north outfront, I agree. This next season I think may answer alot of questions. These fish put on , I read 4 inches a year. And if we don't get alot of rain this spring ( lol ) Maybe we will have more qaulity fish holding over in the spring. They come up the coast and they are not about to vacation in muddy cold back bays, thgey will continue north and we won't see the likes of them in the fall either if we get very very cold temp they will stay offshore and work their south. Lets hope for a drought . High salinity and clear clean water. It has been wet these past few years.
 

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Best year ever numerically speaking (slot and above) but only one above the 34" mark. For me the "hot" time when I picked up most of the fish was during a three week period in November. Was slow before and after that period.
 

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Overall this was the worst year for stripers
since I started fishing for them a few years
ago. Things took a while to get started in the
spring, but April was a great month for number
and size. May and June, usually the most
productive spring months, were slow. Lots of
small bass, but nothing to get excited about.
Like a few of you mentioned, July was very
productive with a lot of slots and tweeners.
Then came the fall... :rolleyes: Luckily, I kept
waiting for things to pick up, so I didn't
waste much time. Sure there were a few
flurries, especially further north, but it was
real slow where I fish. I think the problem was
the mild fall in south Jersey. Everything
stayed north, then all of the sudden the temps
dropped off...air and water. Unlike years past,
we never saw the bigger bass move in back. Oh
well, that's what keeps it exciting...every year
is different. Happy hibernation!

[ 12-21-2005, 05:46 PM: Message edited by: earlybird ]
 

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I haven?t been fishing bass in the Salt too long; this was my second year after a 15 year hiatus. Fishing here (I?m in Maine) was pretty good lots of small bass after May and lasting until Oct.; but I had a few of good size (36?+ not keepers here in Maine) in Aug-Sept. I was mostly fishing Storms, needles, and mags. Trips to the ditch (my second home) were also pretty productive. In Southern ME I saw a many good sized fish landed from the surf. I guess I?m still in the ?learning curve?
 

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My numbers were pretty close to average for the year. After our late start, we had some great fishing for all species, but the fall run was short lived and pretty much turned out to be a big disappointment.
I'd like to see a few more tiderunners around, but what they lacked in numbers they really made up for in size.
Each year my goal is to catch at least one species that beats my personal best. Most years it's stripers or weakfish, but this year it was summer flounder. I'm already looking forward to next season! Lets hope for an early start next year!

3/31 First striper of the season


My first decent bass came just days later


Our first weakfish weren't far behind, 4/21


An early May tiderunner


My personal best back bay flattie 9.3 pounds


My last decent fall bass came late in November


Even made my first cover......


I have a million other pictures, but I better save some room for you guys.

I hope everyone has a great 2006 season!
 

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The spring started off average for me, some nice fish caught...Then I suffered a major injury which put me out of the game till July.

The fall started out pretty normal, catching shorts and slots. Numbers were good.
We kept waiting for the larger 30-40inch fish to show up in force but their showing was short lived to non-exisent. Did catch a few decent fish to 36inches or so but they were so few and far between. Most of the time it was the same old shorts and slots.

On a side note: Just cause theres lots of little guys around now does not mean the fishery is being managed properly or is in good shape, dont be fooled...Remember its gonna take at least 10 years till those twinkies get of decent size. Theres a whole class of fish missing and thats scary. Thats gonna leave a lot of down time and some seriously slow years of fishing for anything of decent size in good numbers.

[ 12-21-2005, 10:44 PM: Message edited by: KeysKid ]
 

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This was one weird season. One day a rental boat heads out and catches 17 stripers. Next day four boats out and total of 9. Same conditions yet night and day results.

Water temps were all over the place and that will screw up any fishing. The season started late and ended early. One bright spot was a friend of mine who has been doing the belly thing for years and has it down pat. He worked hard and said he had a very good season. His boat is still in the water just in case.

I'd rate the season a B-
 

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HAd a above avg. spring / summer run and lousy fall run. Ended up with 925 for the year with 65% keepers (if i kept the legal ones) actually last week in Aug. was the best big fish 4-40"+ avg. sizes were 36" Then it died off fast. Best night was 87 bass 50 for me and 37 for my partner.
 

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Had a pretty decent Spring. I did get some decent Bass in the Mullica on the spawn. Released the females and kept a couple males. It was neat to see them rolling up on top on the spawn.

I concentrated in the surf this year. Those late night drives aren't as easy as they used to be! I did manage a pretty good tide runner. I also did pretty good with the trout in the freshwater.

As for my fall... Well it started with a fall that laid me up for 2 months and didn't get me fishing again until early November. I did get a few small bass in the surf but nothing to get overly excited about.

The difference this year is not the fishery but time. I just don't have the time to put in as in years before. Between trying to keep the Mrs. happy with some long awaited remodeling and carting my son to baseball, soccer, basketball, hockey & parties there doesn't leave much time to fish. Instead of fishing tides, weather & wind I fish when I can. I'm not complaing. My family is #1 to me. Besides I'm one of the older dads and the "Milf" action is pretty good! lol

Here's some of my highlights..

Here's Beege with a decent IBSP Blue...



Here's a spring tiderunner. Photos were compliments of Frank & Dave...





How about a little sweetwater action...



 

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Steve,
Foe me the spring strated late, but the spring run seemd to produce larger fish than this fall. Earlybird was kind enough to bring me along for a few runs and we were into the larger fish. Summer seemed to produce the cookie cutter size fish but by no means did the bigger fish hang in. Fall for me was below average even though I put more time in different places I still did not catch as many keeper fish. Weakies I caught more of this fall versus spring but that seems to be for me the last couple of years. Oh well, hopefully all of those little guys will come back and see us next year. You know what they say, fishing at night still beats hanging at home watching the idiot box. I would like to say that I had fun fishing with friends like Hank the Crank, Brent and Rich, Spanish Fly and Steve when we could get together. Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season everyone. Keith the bagman
 

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Originally Posted By: the bagman

I would like to say that I had fun fishing with friends like Hank the Crank, Brent and Rich, Spanish Fly and Steve when we could get together. Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season everyone. Keith the bagman
Same here Keith! Hopefully we can repeat some
of the early spring bridge runs...
 
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