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Thursday, July 18, 2024

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Fishing Line: March 15

Happy anglers with their Opening Day stripers. 
Courtesy Absecon Bay Sportsman Center

Happy anglers with their Opening Day stripers. 

By Mark Robbins

It didn’t take long for the striped bass in the South Jersey area to establish their presence. In reality, with the mild winter we have experienced, the bass were always around and active to some extent. The difference now is that we are into the month of March, and striped bass can be legally targeted.  

You’ll need to remember a few rules, such as using in-line circle hooks if you are using a natural bait, either dead or alive, plus the size and bag limits established for this fishery. That’s easy enough, as the bag limit is one fish daily, and the size must range from 28 inches to no greater than 37.99 inches. Above or beyond those measurements, well, they must be released.  

With that in mind, let’s see what happened as the season opened.  

The opening day contest at Absecon Bay Sportsman Center was very busy and was over almost as soon as it started. Actually, it did last the whole day, as five keepers were recorded before the day ended.  

Rick Ravenstahl was the first to enter the store with a keeper bass. His winner was 29-inches long and tipped the scales at 10.9 pounds. Congratulations, Rick, for being up and on them early.  

The second official keeper was registered by Martin Alaxcon, whose entrant cleared the 28-inch minimum and took the scales to the 10.2-pound mark.  

Three other keepers were brought in that day, with the highlight being the fish that claimed the Heaviest of the Day prize. That winner was Vince Trasatti, whose 33-inch keeper weighed in at 15.5 pounds.  

The second-place fish, in the heaviest striped bass category, went to Gene Stevenson. He also caught a 33-inch striper, but it was a little lighter. It weighed 14.6 pounds and joined the list of very respectable fish brought in on opening day.  

If opening day is any indicator, it looks like we could be in for a terrific spring of striped bass fishing. Let’s hope this pattern holds and spreads throughout our entire area. Until then, remember that the rivers of Atlantic County aren’t that far away, and with results like we’ve seen, they are easily worth your effort to try.  

While you’re up there, remember to have a light tackle set up so you can target some Perch. They have been providing plenty of action. Just have some bloodworms or grass shrimp aboard, bait up and get ready for some action.  

In the previous column, I mentioned that the new blackfish season will open April 1 and run through April 30. You can keep four fish at 15 inches. Since then, the regulations and dates of the new flounder and sea bass seasons have been released.  

You’ll want to keep the date of May 2 available as that is the opening day for the summer flounder season. The season will run through Sept. 27, and the size and bag limits will remain the same as last year. Those were three fish daily, with two measuring from 17 to less than 18 inches and the other being 18 inches or greater. 

For the Delaware Bay, the regulations are three fish at 17 inches, while at Island Beach State Park, you can keep two fish at a minimum of 16 inches.  

The first segment of the four-segment sea bass season opens May 17 and will run until June 19. You may keep 10 fish that measure at least 12.5 inches. The 12.5-inch length will remain the minimum size throughout the year. The bag limit will vary from one fish from July 1 through Aug. 31 to 10 fish from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31. The final segment will have a bag limit of 15 fish and run from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31.     

I have a few reminders to mention. First, you’ll want to register for the Saltwater Registry. All you’ll need to do is go and search the term NJDEP Saltwater Registry, and the website will pop up. Just follow the instructions, enter the requested information then print out your card. It only took about five minutes from start to finish, and if it saves you some hassle and a fine later on, it’s definitely worth your time.  

The second reminder is that the Red Raider Fishing Sale and Flea Market is March 18. It’s being held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. at the Ocean City Civic Center at 5th Street and the Boardwalk. There will be free parking, refreshments, and door prizes. Also, there will be a $4 admission fee for adults, while children ages 6 to 13 will be admitted for $1. All proceeds go directly to the Ocean City School Fishing Clubs.     

Finally, the three-day Saltwater Fishing Expo starts this Friday and runs through Sunday. It will be held at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison. There will be plenty of attractions and seminars to check out and product giveaways each day.  

Also, Sunday will be Family Day where the first 100 children who are accompanied by a paying adult can get a free Daiwa Rod and Reel Combo. Check out saltwater.sportshows.com for more information and a seminar schedule.  

As you can see, the sleeping giant, a.k.a. the South Jersey fishing scene, is awakening from its winter slumber. Admittedly, and due to a mild winter, fishing never really took a deep sleep, so it’s time to get ready if you’re not there yet, and who knows, maybe you’re already out there trying for some striped bass or perch. Either way, take care, and I’ll see you around.  

Submit fishing news and photos to mrobbins@cmcherald.com. 

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