Anglers wait all year for a taste of November. The Fall Run will be in full swing with stripers by the tens of thousands moving through the Garden State waters, both attainable by boat anglers and surf fishermen alike. While bass take top billing, schools of ravaging bluefish will also be attacking the myriad bait schools around. Bottom brawlers are happy to know that blackfish season “reopens” on November 16th and lasts through December 31st, with a 6 fish bag limit at the 15-inch minimum size. Black sea bass season has also reopened with a 15 fish bag limit at a 12.5-inch minimum size that lasts until December 31st. don’t forget, winter flounder season is also open to December 31st with a two fish bag and 12-inch minimum size.
The big time push of striped bass will have anglers chomping at the bit to get dialed into rod bending linesider frenzies. The mouth of the R-Bay is usually the setup spot as bass will push the bunker schools into the bay to feed actively upon. The relatively new movement of Mojo balling will hook plenty of bass in Swash Channel, Flynn’s Knoll and even way back into Chapel Hill Channel if the schools push the bunker deep into the bay. Troll Mojo balls as well as shad bar rigs in chartreuse or white, as well as the old school Stretch 25 plugs in blue/chartreuse white and bunker patterns over the edges of the deeper channels to see who’s home to take the hit. Though it hasn’t happened in some years, there is a solid population of winter flounder around nowadays and they may just be back on the bite in their old school haunts inside the bay near Romer Shoal, just outside at the sticks or even further back in the bay by the Ammo Pier or Keyport Flats area. It’s a crapshoot if they show up, but be prepared with size #6 Chestertown hooks, plenty of clam chum and enough rods out that your boat can handle at any given time. The more bait you have down with scent in the water, the better your odds of connecting.
As blackfish and sea bass seasons were closed in October, bottom fishermen had to adjust targets to fill the coolers, and luckily, the porgies were cooperating big time. Scup were absolutely littering the inshore rockpiles at spots like the Rattlesnake, The Farms, 17 Fathoms and Cholera Bank. It was drop and reel fishing, literally non-stop action on most days where a bit of clam bait dropped down on a size #2 beak hook would be inhaled before it even hit bottom. Each day, party boats were amassing catches of thousands of porgies, with a liberal 50 fish bag and 9-inch minimum size restriction. Porgy fishing should remain hot and heavy throughout the end of the year around rockpiles in the 2 to 15 mile range. Ling should be moving back offshore to the Mud Hole area wrecks like the Arundo, the Lillian and the Oil Wreck this month as well, providing cooler loading action for bottom bouncers. The same clam baits or bergall strips will hang plenty of the whiskered fellows. But for all intents and purposes, this month is about striped bass fishing. Look to hug the shoreline in Asbury Park, off the Spring Lake Hotel and along the Deal jetties where bass will have bunker schools pinned against the rocks and close to shore as snag-n-drop tactics as well as trolling bunker spoons, umbrella rigs and shad bar setups will hang plenty of bass in the 15 to 40-pound range. Blackfish will also be tops on most anglers hit lists with the 6 fish limit coming back in focus. Tog haven’t moved too far off yet, so you can target them effectively at spots like the Sandy Hook Reef, Sea Girt Reef, Rattlesnake, Klondike and Shark River Reef. Generally, you’ll be fishing water depths of 50 to 100 feet, depending on the water temperatures at the time of year. Bring plenty of green crabs to hang the boxers, but to target true whitechinners of 8-pounds and greater, bring some whitelegger crabs to get the job done. Flounder pounders can check out the Shark River Inlet area as they historically have come back into to winter over in the shallows by the Tennis Courts and the Drawbridge area.
This time of year, I’m chasing bass that blow up bunker schools at the early part of November, and then they chase the sand eels as the little treats come out of the sands on the cold November mornings. Work depths from right in the surf out to about 40 feet of water and utilize Ava Jigs, Tsunami Sand eels, Hogy Epoxy jigs, Felmlee Eels, and Live Target sand eel imitations. In the early part of the month, bass will be actively pursuing jigs such as Kroc Spoons, Crippled Herrings and Ava 47 to 87 size jigs as the lively presentations ignite an aggression strike as they feed to fatten up for the long winter ahead. As we push further into November and December, and waters dive into the low 50s and high 40s, bass will be more apt to hit trolled offerings like bunker spoons and shad bar rigs. Remember when rigging shad bars, always have a large 8 to 10-inch shad trailing behind the rest of the 5 to 6 inch shads as bass will key in on that trailing big baitfish imitation and the 20 to 30 pounders will always jump on that trailer hooked shad. This section of coast looks to the Axel Carlson Reef or the Manasquan Reef to hold those late fall blackfish hanging around the low lying structure of the army tanks, tire units and sunken barges. Sea bass at this time of year will be holding on the further off reefs like the Garden State North and South sites where larger high profile wrecks attract sea bass to feed before they make their move to their offshore wintering grounds. Here squid and clam baits will dial you into a plethora of sea bass up to 4 pounds. If we’re lucky, we may see ling colonize the midshore wrecks where a day out plying the 75 to 150 foot depths can fill up your cooler with dozens of ling to hit the frying pan.cooler with dozens of ling to hit the frying pan.
Bluefin tuna will be on the top of most big game anglers charts as they should be moving back through the midshore and offshore grounds on their way migrating down the Eastern Seaboard. BFT can be found anywhere the bait schools of sand eels or herring are, and that can be a mile off the beach out to 50 miles. Be prepared to throw topwater poppers, Hogy jigs or RonZ lures at the feeding packs of BFT. Canyon tuna will be on their rampage southward, moving into the lower canyons at Wilmington, Baltimore and even the Norfolk canyon where longfin tuna will be the main game in town. The remnants of yellowfin will be as far south as possible, but longfin tuna and medium class bluefin should still be hanging in the Hudson, Toms and Lindenkohl Canyons during the early part of November. If you want to switch it up from tuna, try exploring the 50 to 80 mile offshore wrecks to see if the humpback trophy caliber black sea bass have made it out to the edge of the continental shelf yet. There’s also an opportunity at the 30 to 60 mile wrecks to find plenty of large whale cod up to 40 pounds as well as a smattering of pollock up to 30 pounds.
November is truly a month of activity, get out and get yours before it gets a little too cold for comfort!