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The massive bluefish blitzes continue to take center stage in all of our backbays and rivers as anglers up and down the coast wait for striped bass to show up along our ocean waters.

Boaters trolling for striped bass in the bays have been inundated with big blues in the 8-to 15-pound ranges attacking any artificials that are thrown into the water. These fish can wreak havoc on your gear, so if you don’t want to mess with them it would be best to move to a different area if that is all you are catching.

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If you just like to get a deep bend in your rod, however, then they are a lot of fun to catch on light tackle. The blues are hitting 6-inch SP or Bomber style swimming plugs and crashing poppers on the surface.

Fishing the swimming plugs has been very effective as these big blues like big herring type baits. These adult bluefish are in the bays and rivers to feed. The 6-inch plugs are also good to use because they rarely get bit off because of their length. So you won’t lose any hardware but you still must be careful of the treble hooks.

When using 40- to 50-pound test leader you can quickly lift and swing the bluefish into the boat without having to worry about it getting tangled in a net or gaffing the fish for no reason.

Ocean waters are now at 54 degrees, but boaters that were out this past Saturday had very little luck finding any bunker or bass. Sunday was a blowout with the northeast wind. It’s still a waiting game right now for the bunker and bass to show up as they do every year. Typically, the next two weeks is when we start to see concentrations of bunker and bass build along our coast.

Blackfish season ended on April 30th and it looks like it did so on a high note. Many party boat captains reported catches from 6-to-8 pounds with a fair number 9-11 pounds. The season will be closed from May 1 through July 16 and then reopen from July 17 through Nov. 15 with a one-fish daily bag limit at 15 inches. And finish from Nov. 16 through Dec. 31 with a six-fish daily bag limit at 15 inches.

Don’t forget that you need to register in New Jersey to do any saltwater fishing. Go to the state’s website at www.nj.gov/dep/saltwaterregistry and take care of it in a minute or two.

Best bet: Big bluefish in the 8- to 15-pound ranges have invaded all of our backbays and rivers and are wreaking havoc for boaters trying to troll for striped bass. They are, however, great fun for those who like the sport of the catch on light tackle. Ocean waters are now at 54 degrees but still lacking any concentration of bunker and striped bass.

Hot baits: Fishing six-inch SP minnows or Bomber style swimming plugs or surface poppers are catching big bluefish at this time.

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