It's easy enough to know whether it's time to "spring forward" or "fall back," but few of us really know anything about Daylight Saving Time. Buzz60
March 1 signaled the reopening of New Jersey striped-bass fishing in our back bays — all waters from inlet mouths back as far west as you want to go.
Back bays were closed to striped-bass fishing in January and February, so with the springlike weather we had most of last month, you can probably expect striped bass to be biting small swimming plugs, shads, worms or clams. It will still be important, however, to seek out the warmest water you can find. This means staying away from the oceanfront and fishing as far west into the back bays as you can.
Offshore party boat fishing for cod, pollock, and ling is a viable option for the next several weeks, as party boats head out for these fish. Blackfish season is now closed but will reopen on April 1 and run through April 30 with a four-fish daily bag limit of fish measuring at least 15 inches. Winter flounder season is open in New Jersey, with a two-fish daily for fish measuring at least 12 inches. Heavy chumming will be important early in the season to get the flounders to stir from the mud.
The Jersey fluke wars have begun. In February, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission voted 7-3 in favor of Option 5 of the Summer Flounder Draft Addendum XXVIII for 2017 recreational measures for fluke. What does this mean? For the New Jersey recreational angler there is a three-fish daily bag limit at 19 inches with a 128-day season, pending further approvals, including the Secretary of Commerce.
The vote drew a strong and immediate response from Bob Martin, head of the state Department of Environmental Protection: “We are outraged by the summer flounder quota reductions approved today by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and National Marine Fisheries Service. The actions will disproportionately impact New Jersey more than any other state along the coast. Combined with previous cuts to the commercial industry, today’s actions will result in extreme hardships to the thousands of small businesses up and down the coast, from party-boat and bait-and-tackle shop operators, to hotel and restaurant owners, who have families to feed, bills to pay and employees who could lose their jobs with this option implemented. We understand the long-term impacts of overfishing a species. But we also know for a fact that fluke are abundant, and the population is stable off New Jersey.
"We will use every legal and administrative tool available to stop these unfair cuts that will devastate our state’s fishing industry and have far-reaching impacts on the Shore economy. We will work to ensure that sound science replaces the current outdated, whipsaw form of management that has harmed our fishing communities for far too long. The state of New Jersey will also work with our congressional delegation to make sorely needed changes to the Magnuson-Stevens Act that governs our marine fisheries to provide more flexibility and common sense in the decision-making process.”
Events: The Atlantic City Boat Show is underway at the Convention Center and will run through Sunday. Show hours are Friday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is $16 for adults and free fro children 15 and younger.
Best Bet: Striped-bass fishing in New Jersey back-bay waters is now open. Expect to catch fish from 24 to 28 inches. Winter flounder season is also open in Jersey waters with a two-fish daily bag limit at 12 inches. Offshore action for cod, pollock, and ling will improve this month. Blackfish season is closed until April 1.
Hot Baits: Dead sticking bloodworms or half a clam belly will take small striped bass at this time both in the back-bay and along the oceanfront. On the offshore wrecks, cod and pollock will bite clam baits or jig and tube combos. For ling try using ghost shrimp Gulp.
Tip of the Week: All saltwater anglers must register with the state Saltwater Recreational Registry Program before fishing in 2017. Anglers who registered in 2016 are reminded that registrations expire at the end of each calendar year and must be renewed annually. Registration is free and can only be done online at www.saltwaterregistry.nj.gov. Send reader’s questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help Wanted: Is your town or club hosting an event that would interest the South Jersey outdoor community? We would like to publish it in this column. The best way to contact me is by email at email@example.com