The striped bass migration throughout the Mid-Atlantic states is picking up with the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel region yielding plenty of fish.
Along the bridge pillars, most anglers are casting bucktails and swim shad, but big bass hunters are focusing their efforts on the ocean side of the bridge. Drifting eels under baseball-sized floats accounts for some very large striped bass, especially this time of year.
Look for this area to heat up as plenty of bass are still making their way south through the Cape May Rips and Delaware Bay Region.
The Cape May Rips, at the southern tip of New Jersey, is producing plenty of striped bass with really big bluefish mixed in. This shallow structure offers plenty of choices and styles of fishing, from fly-rodding to casting lures to bump-trolling eels.
"Once this water cools some more, the bluefish will move out," said Capt. Skip Jastremski of Stalker Charters. "Expect our bass fishing in the rips to explode."
Jastremski prefers to cast a 1-ounce bucktails (Spro hair Jigs) tipped with chartreuse twister tails and slow reel the lure back to the boat.
While some big bass are falling to bunker in central New Jersey, the tog fishing remains excellent. Some really big tog are falling to the scales, including an 11-pounder released by Capt. Frank Masseria of Vitamin Sea Charters.
"My customer felt that such a big fish deserved to live and fight another day," the commercial black fisherman said when asked why he let such a big prize go.
"The number of 5-6 pound tog is an encouraging sign for next year's season," Capt. Rich Kosztyu of MR Charters said. "The best tog fishing for me seems to be the 65-foot depths."
It appears the state of New Jersey will offer the 2010 saltwater fishing license at no charge.
This will enable the state to collect a current list of anglers while obtaining better fishery information. After one year, the decision will be made whether to keep the license free or to place a nominal charge, covering administrative and other costs.
The consensus here in New Jersey is this: Sportsmen have no qualms about paying for a saltwater license. The backlash comes when sportsmen learn that the revenues raised are redistributed to other sectors in the state government and not used for fishing related concerns.
Other states in the northeast have already implemented a registry or license and the fees vary from $15 to $45 depending upon residency.
Editor's note: Capt. Chris Gatley can be found with his fishing clients chasing striped bass in front of the Statue of Liberty, or heading offshore to the Atlantic Ocean canyons off the NJ/NY coast for tuna. His articles on cutting-edge fishing techniques can be found in The Fisherman Magazine, and he's a regular presenter at key sports shows during the winter months (when he's not pursuing whatever he can find in East Coast rivers).