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This week was good fishing for striped bass and blackfish. By Dan Radel Wochit

Sound the alarm because big bass up to 40 pounds has moved into southern Jersey waters. Add to that the superb wreck and reef fishing for blackfish and sea bass and you’ve got a sweet 1-2 punch to hit this weekend.

“Boats were crushing bass before the seas kicked up,” said Andy Grossman, Riptide Bait and Tackle, Brigantine. “They were trolling Mojo ball rigs, sometimes substituting out the paddletail shad for a BKD white/pearl soft plastic. Stretch 30 plugs also had their fair share of bass with fish in the 20- to 40-pound class.” Captain Jim of the Greg Mar reported that the morning bite was slow but picked up big time after 3 p.m. most days. Grossman suggests to bump off to the 40- to 50-foot depths but to be wary of the three-mile line where the authorities have been issuing tickets for striper fishing outside the line.

“There is an unbelievable amount of small stripers in the backwaters,” reported Justin Schenker, Fin-Atics, Ocean City. “I was fishing by the Parkway Bridge on my kayak and released 51 bass in an hour and a half. I’m not kidding. The biggest was only about 18 inches though, but I was literally catching doubleheaders on every drop of a soft plastic and teaser.” Schenker also stated that the 9th Street bridge has been holding bigger bass as his customers have been dropping live eels and frozen shedder crabs to land linesiders up to 23 pounds. “It’s been an early morning bite there. One customer had five bass over 20 pounds on those frozen shedder crabs.”

Blackfishing is still running full force in the backwater piers and rockpiles off the Longport Bridge, while a few larger stripers are hanging around the Bell Buoy and northward off of Wreck Inlet. Captain Sean Reilly and Ed Rowell fished the Low Tide trolling Mojos at Wreck Inlet to land five bass between 20 and 35 pounds. Reilly also hopped aboard Captain Al Crudele’s Bayhound to put a beatdown on some blackfish on the nearshore reefs where scores of 3 to 7 pounders were pulled up and a few trophy whitechinners over the 10-pound mark also hit the deck.

“Sea bass fishing is holding up well on the wrecks on the 20 Fathom line,” stated Matt Slobodjian, Jim’s Bait and Tackle, Cape May. “Be careful though, there are a lot of big bluefish around the wrecks as well, clipping off lines and cutting sea bass in half on the way up.” Slobodjian also heard word that jumbo sea bass in the 4- to 7-pound bracket are now colonizing the offshore rockpiles inside of the Wilmington Canyon. That’s a good sign as sea bass season closes after Dec. 31, so get out to those offshore rockpiles now to load up the cooler. “We still await striped bass to really move into the area off the Rips and inside the Delaware Bay, but hopefully those waves that are north of us will come on down any day now,” added Slobodjian.

As this will be the last column until springtime, I figured there are a few potential Christmas gifts I used with success this year that you may want to surprise your favorite angler with:

Rapala Coastal lure series - Includes eight new offerings, but two stand out for Jersey anglers - the XRap Long Cast and the XRap Subwalk. 4-3/4 to 5-1/2 inches long in all the usual color patterns. $9.99 - $11.99

XTRA-TUF boots – Neoprene rubber 6-inch ankle deck boot and 12-inch deck boot. A must-have for any serious boat angler. $79.99 - $89.99

Williamson Gomoku jigs – Bullet-casting capability for blues, bass and weakfish - $4.99 - $8.99

Hobie Soft Cooler Fish Bag – Extremely practical zip cooler for your kayak or boat catch - $129 - $179

Re-Fuel Charger - a 24 Hour Action Battery Pack for GoPro Hero 3, 3+ and 4 cameras. $129

And of course, for the perfect Christmas gift for any New Jersey fisherman, grab an autographed copy of my book, “The Jersey Surf Diaries”, a complete 10 year logbook of fishing in New Jersey loaded with tips, tactics, and just plain good stories. $16.95 plus $3.95 S&H, to order please contact me at beachnut33@hotmail.com.

The rest of December should see loads of action on sea bass offshore and blackfish on the wrecks in the 60- to 100-foot depths, and plenty of striped bass taking up residence alongshore and filtering into the Cape May Rips and Delaware Bay area. Last year, the bass run lasted well into January, so there will be plenty of fishing to keep you occupied to round out the year.

I would like to thank all the readers who check in each week! Have a very safe and Merry Christmas season and see you in 2017!

Nick Honachefsky: beachnut33@hotmail.com

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