Story by Tom Pagliaroli

Finally!

The surf, that upper lip of the Atlantic, is in scream mode as the stripers and, yes, big bluefish, have moved in and affixed the feed bags.

To be sure, it’s been a rod ‘n reel rodeo along the beaches from Ocean City up through Point Pleasant, and sand soldiers are scoring smashes, thrashes and hits with fresh bunker, fresh and salted clam, plug and metal ordinance.

The meat of the springtime run is a few weeks late, and although there were brief periods of action the past month, the tardiness is directly attributed to the frigid April weather and prolonged cold ocean temperatures.

Stripers of all sizes are being dragged from the wash, and by the day it’s been an increase in the number of keepers (28-inches or greater) as opposed to “schoolies” anywhere from 16 to 25 or so inches.

The blues are mixed sizes as well, but there are rapidly increasing numbers of fish that are “chopper” and “slammer” size (6-10 lbs.) with a few gator (12 lbs. plus) putting the slash to bunker baits, plugs and metals.

The best part about the spring surf thing is that tide or time do not appear to matter: the fish are on the move and on the feed and can show and chow at any time, from the first crack of daylight through the inky midnight skies. It’s just too much fun!

For up-to-the-minute action updates, contact the following: Manasquan/Point Pleasant/Ortley Beach -Fisherman’s Supply (732-892-2058); Seaside/Island Beach State Park- Grumpy’s Bait & Tackle (732-830-1900); Long Beach Island- Surf City Bait & Tackle (609-494-2333); Atlantic City- One Stop Bait & Tackle (609-348-9450; Ocean City- Fin-Atics Marine Supply (609-398-2248).

Surf Tournament Supreme: The 27th Annual Governor’s Surf Tournament will be next Sunday, May 20, rain or shine, at Island Beach State Park. This is a monstrously popular event with upwards of 600 anglers of all ages expected. Loads upon loads of prizes, great camaraderie and of tantamount importance, the arrival of the bluefish should make for some great fishing. Visit www.njfishandwildlife.com, click on the Saltwater Fishing link for the finny skinny.

Trout Times: Yep, trout continue being stocked and will be through the Friday of the Memorial Day weekend. This coming week it looks like this for The Hawk listening area (the number of trout stocked in parenthesis): Hochhocksen Brook (120), Manasquan River (600), North Branch of the Metedeconk (200), South Branch of the Metedeconk (310), Toms River (330) and Toms River Trout Conservation Area (130). All of these will be dosed with rainbows Monday, May 14, and with the exception of the Hochhocksen, fishing is not legal until 5 p.m.