Story by Tom Pagliaroli

It’s a striped bass explosion along the northern and central stretches of the Garden State coast, and these are nuclear detonations for sure, going by the sizes of the linesiders.

How big? Forty-five to 50-pounds not uncommon, with loads in the 25 to 40-pound class inhaling a variety of jigs.

With ocean temperatures hovering at the 61-63 degree mark and sure to drop another few degrees during the upcoming nights putting it in the super-prime feeding zone, figure the shoulder-aching action to continue for another couple of weeks, maybe longer.

It’s the bigger stripers, mostly all “cows” (females) that being the autumn migration down the coast to the likes of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, with the sizes of the bass getting shorter and skinnier as November progresses. However, never discount the late cow arrivals, as these are picked off not only from boats but also along the beaches, particularly during the first week or two in November.

How: It’s all about jigging, followed by the “snag ‘n drop” with bunker as those schools appear and provide a striper feast. Currently, it’s all about the sand eel bounty, with bunker a secondary, but still appetizing, entree. Jigs such as the Slo-Pitch, Run Off Hammered and AVA (both plain and tailed), and Butterfly in the 4 to 7-ounce sizes (predicated on depth and current) are putting slabs o’ stripers on ice. “Don’t bring light tackle!”, admonishes Capt. Rich Falcone on the Golden Eagle, where bass in the 40 to 50-plus lb. range have been lost to snapped lines, snapped rods and straightened hooks. Advises the skipper, “Heavy action rods and lines at least 40-lb. test!”

Where: The middle stretch of the Jersey coast, most notably Brielle and Belmar. The Golden Eagle and Miss Belmar Princess are currently the cow-ropers, and by the end of next week, it’ll be the Miss Barnegat Light.

Striper Bonus Tag: Last chance at procuring a Striped Bass Bonus Tag that gets you a bass from 24 to just under 28-inches. The deadline is October 31. Visit www.njfishandwildlife.com and click the saltwater fishing link. This is a snail mail dealio, and any application dated beyond 10/31, even if completed prior, will be rejected. Get to it!

Photo by Tom P

Turkey Time: The Fall Turkey season kicks on Saturday and then continues through next week through Saturday, November 2. The limit is one turkey of either sex, and the bird must be brought the same day to one of the mandatory check stations. Permits ($21) are still available.

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