It's hard to determine whether the spring striped bass run is beginning early, or the fall striped bass run never ended.
With sand eels having been spotted in the suds at Island Beach State Park through February, it's hard to believe that we're transitioning into a new period of striped bass fishing when the last one seemingly never came to a full close.
With temperatures spiking near the 70 degree range this week (and more warm weather predicted for next week) it's no surprise that anglers will be hitting the beach in the hopes of hooking their first bass of 2012.
Valerie Zak, owner of Oceanside Bait and Tackle in the Brighton Beach section of Long Beach Township, said a good number of folks were driving on the beach Thursday hunting for a honey hole. I haven't heard about any big catches reported on LBI yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear about a couple being hooked this weekend.
The first striped bass of the year taken at Graveling Point in Little Egg Harbor was weighed in at Scott's Bait and Tackle on Thursday.
"It's only going to get better from here," owner Scott Albertson said on the shop's website.
A good number of shorts were hooked from the sod banks at the point, too, lately, he said.
Most of the striper action this week has been reported near the warm waters of Oyster Creek, helped out by the Oyster Creek Generating Station. Any number of baits will entice these year-round fish, but soft plastics represent the preferred method, most local bait shops will tell you.
Just remember, when fishing the Route 9 bridge, the east side of the bridge is considered salt water and the west side is considered fresh water. To fish the west side, a fresh water license is required.
Further north up the bay, anglers occasionally hooked stripers at night, according to the folks at The Dock Outfitters in Seaside Heights. Blood worms and small plugs are doing the job, according to a report from the shop. The Dock will stock fresh clams and live bloods this weekend, according to the shop's website.
This time of year, the Route 37 bridge is a hot spot. Use dark colored lures to create a shadow that contrasts with the moonlight and wait for a hit. The bay water is still chilly, however, so take precautions if you're going to fish from a kayak.
The majority of fishing across the Shore area was still from party boats, however.
The Dauntless, out of Point Pleasant Beach, will be splashed today after taking a week off in dry dock. When the boat was hauled, the crew left the fishing biting.
"The ling action over the last two weeks has been good, with this warm weather and water," a report on the boat's website said.
The boat will begin sailing daily Saturday, March 10.
If you hook a striped bass this weekend, send your photos to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll make sure to add them to next week's report!